What is Psychology?

The moment you say “I am a Psychologist”, people think that you have the capacity to tell what’s going in their mind. Just to make it clear that Psychologists are not mind readers but they can make a calculative guess and try to understand the cause of a particular behaviour.

Now, what is Psychology? Psychology is derived from the greek roots “psyche” meaning soul or mind and “logos” meaning study. Thus, simply put forth, Psychology is the scientific study of our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

The most comprehensive definition of Psychology is “the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes and how they are affected by organism’s physical state, mental state and external environment.”

There are some interesting phrases in this definition. Let us now break them up in smaller chunks and try to understand each of them better.

Scientific Study – Any study to be termed as scientific requires the following parameters to be fulfilled:

  1. Theoretical Framework – A strong conceptual understanding of the topic to be studied. It is the content which is readily available through literature review.
  2. Testable Hypothesis – It is a basic requirement for any experiment to be conducted. A hypothesis is a testable tentative statement which may or may not be true. It is either accepted or rejected on the basis of data collection, interpretation and testing. The hypothesis should be clear without any ambiguity. For example, Attendance in class affects the grades of a student.
  3. Empirical evidence – It means that the hypothesis should be related to something which can be proved and for which we can have some evidence. For example, ‘Students who cheat in exams will go to hell after dying’ cannot be considered as a good hypothesis as we cannot validate through evidences.

Behaviour and Mental Processes – Behaviour here refers to the overt behaviour and responses which can be observed whereas mental processes refers to our internal experiences like thoughts, feelings, memories and emotions.

Organisms – Psychology not only study human beings but also various other organism like cats, dogs, rat and even cockroaches 🙂

Physical State – By physical state we predominantly focus on the biological or physiological aspects of the organisms most of which is monitored by the brain and the central nervous system.

Mental State – The field of psychology studies the conscious as well as the unconscious mental states with the help of many brain activity monitoring techniques

External Environment – There has always been an ongoing debate on whether human behaviour is considered to be the outcome of the Nature (Heredity) or Nurture (Environment). Psychology as a field studies both the aspect as it also considers the role of external environment on an organism’s thoughts, feelings and behavious.

Food for Thought

  1. Identify the factors or events that has evolved you the way you are.
  2. Are these factors same for everyone?

Keep wondering and keep learning!!!

Thus, in short, we have understood what actually Psychology is. For more topics on Psychology explained in simple and lucid manner, keep reading this blog.

Also, you may mention in the comments section any particular topic for which you need simple and easy explanation.

2 thoughts on “What is Psychology?

  1. Great analysis. Now we could also understand little bit about this study. I feel one needs patience and enthusiasm to sstudy this course.

    Liked by 1 person

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