Psychology is the study of mind and behavior.[1] Its subject matter includes the behavior of humans and nonhumans, both conscious and unconscious phenomena, and mental processes such as thoughts, feelings, and motives. Psychology is an academic discipline of immense scope, crossing the boundaries between the natural and social sciences. Biological psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, linking the discipline to neuroscience. As social scientists, psychologists aim to understand the behavior of individuals and groups.[2][3]

A professional practitioner or researcher involved in the discipline is called a psychologist. Some psychologists can also be classified as behavioral or cognitive scientists. Some psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior. Others explore the physiological and neurobiological 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.[4] 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.[5][6][7] Many psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing psychotherapy 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, or hospitals). Another group of psychologists is employed in industrial and organizational settings.[8] Yet others are involved in work on human development, aging, sports, health, forensic science, education, and the media.

  1. ^ Frequently asked questions about APA Retrieved on November 28th, 2023.
  2. ^ Fernald LD (2008). Psychology: Six perspectives Archived 8 June 2020 at the Wayback Machine (pp.12–15). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  3. ^ Hockenbury & Hockenbury. Psychology. Worth Publishers, 2010.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ O'Neil, H.F.; cited in Coon, D.; Mitterer, J.O. (2008). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind and behavior Archived 18 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine (12th ed., pp. 15–16). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
  6. ^ "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. Archived 2 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  7. ^ Farberow NL, Eiduson B (1971). "To petition to join APA as a section of Division 12, the Division of Clinical Psychology". Journal of Personality Assessment. Taylor & Francis Online. 35 (3): 205–206. doi:10.1080/00223891.1971.10119654. Archived from the original on 3 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022. Clinical psychology is the practice of psychology, especially as a means of furthering human welfare and knowledge.
  8. ^ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at Archived 4 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine (visited 8 July 2010).

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