Simply Psychology

Chapter 1 – What is Psychology?

  * The scientific study of behaviour. British Psychological Society defines psychology as “the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour.”
  * Key argument – behaviourists said the best way for psychology to become a science was to focus on behaviour – can be observed and measured.
  * Before behaviourism, most psychologists argued that psychology should be based on people’s reports of their thoughts and feelings – introspection. Was dismissed by behaviourists as unscientific because we cannot observe and measure mental processes.
  * Most psychologists are interested in the internal processes producing behaviour – not necessarily the behaviour itself.
  * E.g. Psychologists studying the extreme reactions of anxious patients to stressful circumstances do not only focus on their patient’s behaviour, mainly interested in understanding WHY anxious patients behave as they do.

  * Task of understanding human (and animal) behaviour is a challenging one. Important reason for this is because our behaviour is typically determined by several different things, including the following:

  * The specific stimuli presented to us.

  * Our genetic endowment, what we have inherited from our parents.

  * Our physiological system.

  * Our cognitive system (perceptions, thoughts, memories).

  * The social environment.

  * The cultural environment.

  * Our previous life experiences (including childhood).

  * Our personal characteristics (intelligence, personality, mental health).

Key Terms
  * Psychology – a scientific discipline designed to understand the behaviour of humans and other species.
  * Behaviourism – an approach to psychology started in the United States by John Watson, according to which psychologists should focus on observable stimuli and responses.
  * Introspection – study of the human mind based on people’s reports of their thoughts and...