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MPTUO1a: Unit 1 Videos / Intro to Psychology
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Video: Intro to Psychology

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Video TranscriptIntro to Psychology

“Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes such as cognition and emotion.”

Psychology is an academic and applied discipline that describes consciousness, behavior, and social interaction and attempts to explain the scientific study of mental processes and behavior and the subconscious neurological bases of behavior, in humans and animals. Psychology also refers to the application of such knowledge to various spheres of human activity, including problems of individuals’ daily lives and the treatment of mental illness.

Psychology is an academic discipline of immense scope. It includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties. As a social science, psychology aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

A professional practitioner or researcher in the field of psychology is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.

Psychologists explore behavior and mental processes including perception, cognition, attention, emotion, intelligence, subjective experiences, motivation, brain functioning, and personality. This extends to interaction between people, such as interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind.

Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some—especially clinical and counseling psychologists—at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a “hub science” in that medicine tends to draw psychological research via neurology and psychiatry, whereas social sciences most commonly draw directly from sub-disciplines within psychology.

While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in several spheres of human activity. By many accounts psychology ultimately aims to benefit society. The majority of psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior, and typically work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings (e.g., medical schools, hospitals). Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, or in other areas such as human development and aging, sports, health, and the media, as well as in forensic investigation and other aspects of law.

Psychology differs from other social sciences including anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology, in that it seeks to explain the mental processes and behavior of individuals. Psychology differs from biology and neuroscience in that it is primarily concerned with the interaction of mental processes and behavior on a systemic level, as opposed to studying the biological or neural processes themselves. In contrast, the subfield of neuropsychology studies the actual neural processes and how they relate to the mental effects they subjectively produce.

Psychology is largely concerned with humans, although the behavior and mental processes of animals can also be part of psychology research, either as a subject in its own right (e.g. animal cognition and ethology), or somewhat more controversially, as a way of gaining an insight into human psychology by means of comparison (including comparative psychology).

Psychology does not necessarily refer to the brain or nervous system and can be framed purely in terms of phenomenological or information processing theories of mind. Understanding of brain function is increasingly being included in psychological theory and practice, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence, neuropsychology, and cognitive neuroscience. Empirical psychology is primarily devoted to describing human experience and behavior as it occurs in real life.

In the past two decades or so, psychology has begun to examine the relationship between consciousness and the brain or nervous system. It is still not clear in what ways these interact: does consciousness determine brain states or do brain states determine consciousness – or are both going on in various ways? Perhaps to understand this you need to know the definition of “consciousness” and “brain state” – or is consciousness some sort of complicated “illusion” which bears no direct relationship to neural processes?

The late 19th century marks the start of psychology as a scientific enterprise. The year 1879 is commonly seen as the start of psychology as an independent field of study, because in that year German scientist Wilhelm Wundt founded the first laboratory dedicated exclusively to psychological research in Leipzig, Germany. Wundt combined philosophical introspection with techniques and laboratory apparatuses brought over from his physiological studies with Helmholtz, as well as many of his own design. This experimental introspection contrasted with what had been called psychology until then, a branch of philosophy where people introspected themselves. Introspection is the direct observation or rumination of one’s own heart, mind and/or soul and its processes, as opposed to extrospection – the observation of things external to one’s self.


The above video and transcript use material from the Wikipedia articles “Introduction to Psychology” and “Psychology“, which are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Sources:

  1. Introduction to Psychology. (n.d.). In Wikibooks. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Psychology
  2. Psychology. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology

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