Psychology Introduction Project

By Jacob B., Stephen C., Lucas C., Steven L. and Blake L.

Origins of Psychology

What we consider psychology first began to be studied all the way back in around 600 BC, beginning with the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus. He was innovative in the Greek fields of astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, but he brought around the need to explain natural phenomena with rationalized hypothesis. He wanted to find proofs of the truths of the time. He would go onto influence Aristotle and Plato, as they would be famous for their methods of inquiry in the field of psychology, that would last to this day. However, psychology, or mental philosophy as it was called, was generally based on theological and non-empirical explanations; many of the theories or “truths” of the budging field were not being test. In the 19th century, direct observation became much more popular as the method of testing theories. Unfortunately, since mental philosophy was such a small and fledgling field, there was much experimentation done at all through most of the first half of the 1800’s. In the second half, perception, thought, and learning began to be studied scientifically. This opened the door for the notion that the mind needed to be studied in revolutionarily new ways, and this led the way to the modern psychology that we know and use today.

History of Psychology (major approaches and figures that proposed them)

Early philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had an interest in the union of mind and body. However, they relied mostly on their assumptions about the world and lacked scientific tools to accurately asses the world. An example of a false assumption is Dualism which was described by Descartes. He suggested that the body and mind were completely separate. This belief of free will is at odds with the position of determinism, where mental processes are governed by physical actions.

In the nineteenth century, physiologists following the scientific method conducted important experiments to learn more about the mind. Hermann von Helmholtz studied the speed of transmission for nerves and researchers at the University of Berlin stimulated exposed brains of rats to create muscle movement.


Structuralism

Wilhelm Wundt, a nineteenth century German scientist, pioneered structuralism, an approach to psychology that involves breaking down experiences of the world into the basic parts. Subjects in his experiments would observe and report their own experiences. Wilhelm wanted to model the study of psychology after other sciences like chemistry and physics by finding the building blocks of human experience.


Functionalism

In the late eighteenth century, William James created a new study of psychology that focused on the functions of mental processes. He believed that branches of psychology that studied the mechanics of the brain like structuralism were important, but that studying the applications of mental functions was more important. William, inspired by the theory of evolution, tried to understand how brains can adapt to different circumstances. In addition, the studies of functionalism included some of the first experiments with nonhuman subjects.


In the late eighteenth century, William James created a new study of psychology that focused on the functions of mental processes. He believed that branches of psychology that studied the mechanics of the brain like structuralism were important, but that studying the applications of mental functions was more important. William, inspired by the theory of evolution, tried to understand how brains can adapt to different circumstances. In addition, the studies of functionalism included some of the first experiments with nonhuman subjects.


Psychoanalysis

During the same time as structuralism, Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud developed a method to talk with patients with neurotic disorders. He discovered that when patients talked about their experiences, their symptoms would disappear. Sigmund Freud’s work is well known by many non-psychologists, but psychoanalysis was not particularly revolutionary for psychology. His work has been criticized for lack of evidence and studies.


Humanistic Psychology


Humanistic Psychology developed from the criticism of psychoanalysis. It emphasizes the role of free will rather than the environment or unconscious processes. Humanist psychologists believe that all human beings are trying to find self-actualization they focus on feelings like love and feeling needed instead of scientific experiments.

Goals of Psychology

All physiologists share the three main goals of psychology that are understanding, predicting and controlling or understanding. Through describing the behavior of humans and other animals, we are better able to understand it and gain a better perspective on what is considered normal and abnormal. Psychology researchers utilize a range of research methods to help describe behavior. And in addition to describing psychologists are also interested in explaining behavior. Throughout psychology's history, many different theories have emerged to help explain various aspects of human behavior.


Another primary goal of psychology is to predict how we think and act. Psychologists, like all good scientists, create hypothesizes to test if their theories are correct. They also use hindsight bias to explain events after they have occurred, as if they could have foreseen it. Once psychologists understand more about what happens and why it happens, they can use that information to make predictions about when, why, and how it might happen again in the future.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, psychology strives to control or influence behavior to make lasting changes in people's lives. Psychologists might take what they know and learn from experiments and use the information to further enhance the human race's well-being.

Fields of Specialization and Careers in Psychology

  • Cognitive Psychology

-Cognitive psychology focuses our attention on the complex processes of thinking, memory, language, problem solving, and creativity. Cognitive psychologists are most interested in internal mental processes, rather than behavioral processes. They most often work at colleges and universities, government agencies, corporate businesses, and in private consulting.
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  • Developmental Psychology


-Developmental psychologists study how we develop intellectually, socially, and emotionally over our lives. Developmental psychologists usually research and teach in academic settings, but many are consultants for day care centers, schools, or social service agencies.

  • Health Psychology

-Health psychology is the study of psychological and behavioral processes in health, illness, and healthcare. Health psychologists may design and conduct programs that help individuals stop smoking, manage stress, lose weight, and stay fit. Many health psychologists work in hospitals, medical schools, rehabilitation centers, academic settings, and private practice.
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Scope of Psychology

Psychology in itself covers many fields including Cognitive, Developmental, and Health fields. Psychologists seek the results of the effect by its cause. It is studying the operations of the mind. The core of psychology is the investigation of the soul and mind, but the sheer scope of psychology extends far beyond that. Some of the studies include 'Rational' and 'Empirical' psychology. In fact, this large scope lets the studies of psychology be compared or contrasted with different sciences altogether. Some of these include the studies of Cosmology, Logic and Ethics.

Relation to Cosmology:

This is a study that differentiates from Psychology for the most part. While Psychology studies the mind of an individual, Cosmology covers much broader topics such as time, space, and the laws that govern the universe. While this perspective shrinks the idea of psychology down in terms of scope, it increases its importance in the life of man.

Relation to Logic:

Both Psychology and Logic study one's mental states. However, logic is limited to focusing on cognitive operations, or one's intuition, rather than emotions. Unlike psychology, the study of Logic is less speculative and more practical. Psychological studies treat one's thought as a subject, while Logic investigates thought for an object. With psychology, studies are directed towards the 'cause and effect' process between mental states.

Relation to Ethics:

Ethics, like logic, searches for the result of human action. But unlike logic, it sanctions the ideal of morality, virtues, vices, and rules of conduct.

Relation to Physiology:


Psychology also connects to physiology as well. Physiology explores the structure of living organisms on a molecular level, so it widens the scope of Psychology even further, to microscopic detail.
Thank you for paying close attention as we have taken you through this brief, yet intense introduction to the art of Psychology. The rich history of this ever growing phenomena has opened doors in scientific fields no one thought possible, all by studying the most important organ, the human brain. And we would argue an Intro to this ever growing field is useful for all. The ability to better understand your brain and its many functions and emotions can be useful in a plethora of ways. A art clouded in mystery and myth, that can unlock the secret to human behavior. Truly amazing.

'Fore you go!

What's the difference between a psychologist and a magician?

A magician pulls rabbits out of hats, whereas a psychologist pulls habits out of rats.