An introduction to the science of psychology

Define social psychology and understand how it is different from other areas of psychology. List at least three major areas of study in social psychology. Introduction We live in a world where, increasingly, people of all backgrounds have smart phones.

An introduction to the science of psychology

An introduction to the science of psychology

This definition enjoyed widespread currency for decades. However, this meaning was contested, notably by radical behaviorists such as John B. Watsonwho in his manifesto defined the discipline of psychology as the acquisition of information useful to the control of behavior.

Also since James defined it, the term more strongly connotes techniques of scientific experimentation. History of psychology The ancient civilizations of EgyptGreeceChinaIndiaand Persia all engaged in the philosophical study of psychology. Historians note that Greek philosophers, including ThalesPlatoand Aristotle especially in his De Anima treatise[14] addressed the workings of the mind.

This body of knowledge involves insights drawn from introspection and observation, as well as techniques for focused thinking and acting.

It frames the universe as a division of, and interaction between, physical reality and mental reality, with an emphasis on purifying the mind in order to increase virtue and power.

Chinese scholarship focused on the brain advanced in the Qing Dynasty with the work of Western-educated Fang Yizhi —Liu Zhi —and Wang Qingren — Wang Qingren emphasized the importance of the brain as the center of the nervous system, linked mental disorder with brain diseases, investigated the causes of dreams and insomnia, and advanced a theory of hemispheric lateralization in brain function.

Divergent Hindu doctrines, and Buddhismhave challenged this hierarchy of selves, but have all emphasized the importance of reaching higher awareness. Yoga is a range of techniques used in pursuit of this goal.


However, Indian doctrines influenced Western thinking via the Theosophical Societya New Age group which became popular among Euro-American intellectuals. In Germany, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz — applied his principles of calculus to the mind, arguing that mental activity took place on an indivisible continuum—most notably, that among an infinity of human perceptions and desires, the difference between conscious and unconscious awareness is only a matter of degree.

Christian Wolff identified psychology as its own science, writing Psychologia empirica in and Psychologia rationalis in This notion advanced further under Immanuel Kantwho established the idea of anthropologywith psychology as an important subdivision.

However, Kant explicitly and notoriously rejected the idea of experimental psychology, writing that "the empirical doctrine of the soul can also never approach chemistry even as a systematic art of analysis or experimental doctrine, for in it the manifold of inner observation can be separated only by mere division in thought, and cannot then be held separate and recombined at will but still less does another thinking subject suffer himself to be experimented upon to suit our purposeand even observation by itself already changes and displaces the state of the observed object.

However, this discipline did not yet embrace experimentation. Gustav Fechner began conducting psychophysics research in Leipzig in the s, articulating the principle that human perception of a stimulus varies logarithmically according to its intensity. Wundt, in turn, came to Leipzig University, establishing the psychological laboratory which brought experimental psychology to the world.

Wundt focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components, motivated in part by an analogy to recent advances in chemistry, and its successful investigation of the elements and structure of material.

Stanley Hall who studied with Wundt, formed a psychology lab at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, which became internationally influential.

Hall, in turn, trained Yujiro Motora, who brought experimental psychology, emphasizing psychophysics, to the Imperial University of Tokyo.Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope and diverse interests that, when taken together, seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of epiphenomena they manifest.

An Introduction to the Science of Social Psychology by Robert Biswas-Diener is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike International License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available in our Licensing Agreement. A brief history of psychology. Photo: Sigmund Freud. Photo courtesy of US Library of Congress..


Here are a few key milestones from the history of psychology and psychiatry over the last few hundred years. PSYCH Introduction to Psychology.

Page path. Home / Courses / Course Catalog The course begins with a short overview of how psychology developed as an academic discipline and an introduction to a number of the principal methodologies most commonly deployed in its study.

Political Science. Professional Development. Psychology. The science that seeks to understand behavior and mental processes and to apply that understanding in the service of human welfare.

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An introduction to the science of psychology
Introduction | Introduction to Psychology | Brain and Cognitive Sciences | MIT OpenCourseWare