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Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, including feelings and thoughts. It is an academic discipline of immense scope, crossing the boundaries between the natural and social sciences. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, linking the discipline to neuroscience. As a social science, psychologists aim to understand the behavior of individuals and groups.[1][2] Ψ (or psi) is a Greek letter which is commonly associated with the science of psychology.

A professional practitioner or researcher involved in the discipline is called a psychologist. Some psychologists can also be classified as social, behavioral, or cognitive scientists. Some psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior. Others explore the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.

Psychologists are involved in research on perception, cognition, attention, emotion, intelligence, subjective experiences, motivation, brain functioning, and personality. Psychologists' interests extend to interpersonal relationships, psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas within social psychology. They also consider the unconscious mind.[3] Research psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. Some, but not all, clinical and counseling psychologists rely on symbolic interpretation.

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.[4][5] Many psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Other psychologists conduct scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior. Typically the latter group of psychologists work in academic settings (e.g., universities, medical schools, hospitals). Another group of psychologists is employed in industrial and organizational settings.[6] Yet others are involved in work on human development, aging, sports, health, forensics, and the media.

  1. ^ Fernald LD (2008). Psychology: Six perspectives (pp.12–15). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  2. ^ Hockenbury & Hockenbury. Psychology. Worth Publishers, 2010.
  3. ^ Psychoanalysis and other forms of depth psychology are most typically associated with theories about the unconscious mind. By contrast, behaviorists consider such phenomena as classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Cognitivists explore implicit memory, automaticity, and subliminal messages, all of which are understood either to bypass or to occur outside of conscious effort or attention. Indeed, cognitive-behavioral therapists counsel their clients to become aware of maladaptive thought patterns, the nature of which the clients previously had not been conscious.
  4. ^ O'Neil, H.F.; cited in Coon, D.; Mitterer, J.O. (2008). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind and behavior (12th ed., pp. 15–16). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
  5. ^ "The mission of the APA [American Psychological Association] is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives"; APA (2010). About APA. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  6. ^ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at bls.gov (visited 8 July 2010).

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