Saturday, June 15, 2024

A Brief Introduction To Psychology


The word Psychology is derived from two Greek words- ‘Psyche’– meaning soul and ‘Logos’– meaning study or Science. Therefore, the study of the soul is the literal meaning of Psychology.

American Professor Walter Bowers Pillsbury defined psychology as the ‘science of human behavior’. It studies the human mind, the conscious, and unconscious phenomena, feelings, and thoughts. There are many vague and unclear definitions of Psychology like:

  • “the study of the soul”
  • “the science of the soul”
  • ‘the science of conscious experience”
  • “the science of human behavior”
  • “the science of activities of an individual”

Though these definitions explain some parts of the subject they are not complete and do not tell about what the subject deals with. Psychology means “the scientific study of behavior and mental processes and they are affected by the organism’s physical and mental states and external environment.”

 According to CT Morgan “psychology is the science of human and animal behavior, and it includes the application of this science to human problems.”

Goals of Psychology

  • To describe the behavior and mental processes
  • To understand these behaviors and mental processes
  • To predict behavior and mental process
  • To control or modify the behavior patterns and mental processes

Here it is important to understand what is Behaviour and Mental Process: 

  • Behaviour is anything that a person or animal does which can be observed. It is unlike the mind, thoughts, or feelings. Behaviour is an important route through which internal mental events can be studied.
  • Mental Process is an umbrella term that is used to describe any process the mind can perform. It includes all the things the human mind can do naturally. Some examples of mental processes are memory, perception, reasoning, thinking, imagination, etc.

Fields of Application

The application of psychology is as varied as human activities themselves. There are many branches of psychology showing the different arenas where its principles can be used for the benefit of man.

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology
  • School and Educational psychology
  • Experimental and physiological psychology
  • Industrial and organizational psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Community psychology

Some applied fields of psychology are:

  • Psychology applied to Crime
  • Psychology applied to Military Affairs
  • Psychology in Law
  • Psychology in Administration
  • Psychology in Mental Health.

Influence of Heredity & Environment on a Person

Both Heredity and the Environment determine how an individual is going to be.

Let us first understand what Heredity and Environment mean.

Heredity is the transmission of traits from parents to children via genes. These traits are both physical- height, hair color, skin color, vision, and mental- intelligence, temperament. Humans have 23 pairs (46 total) of chromosomes, at the time of conception 23 chromosomes from mother and 23 from father are transmitted to the offspring.

  • Male- 22 Autosomes + XY
  • Female- 22 Autosomes + XX

All these chromosomes carry the genes which have the traits of parents. Like chromosomes genes also occur in pairs and some are dominant while some are recessive. What gene will be expressed, that is, what trait the child will have depends on the type of gene pair.

  1. Dominant gene from one parent and recessive gene from the other
  2. Dominant genes from both parents
  3. Recessive genes from both parents

The environment consists of all factors that have acted on an individual from the outside. Heredity is a one-time phenomenon that only acts at the time of conception, but from right after birth it is the environment that affects the individual. The physical structure, personality, behavior, perception all is determined by the type of environment the individual is subjected to.

The environment is of two types:

  1. Internal Environment(From conception to birth- 9 months) –
    While the fetus is in the womb it receives all the nutrition from the mother’s body. The physical and mental health of the mother determines the growth of the baby. Her habits, mental state, attitude, interests, etc everything affect the internal environment around the baby and in turn its development.
  2. External Environment (Afterbirth)

This constitutes all the environmental aspects an individual is subjected to after birth. The external environment again has two components:

  • Physical environment– includes the physical aspects of the environment like earth, water, food & nutrition, money, etc.
  • Social or Cultural Environment– includes- family, parents, neighborhood, peers, religion, teachers, communication, etc.

There is no clearly defined role of either Heredity or Environment in explaining why an individual has a particular behavior or trait. It is still controversial that what behaviors are inherited and what is learned. The development of a person in terms of traits and personalities occurs when the environmental factors interact with inherited traits.

Curt Stern gave the Rubber-band analogy in which he compared the inherited characteristic or trait to the stretchability of a rubber band. Every rubber band has a different amount of built-in potential stretch and how much it can get stretched will depend both on its stretchability and the external pressure exerted by people. He compared this pressure exerted by people to the environment. Thus, concluding that human behavior is a result of interaction between nature and nurture.


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