Chapter summary imageWhat can psychology teach us?

WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY AND WHY DOES IT FASCINATE US?

  • Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes.
  • We study psychology in response to a fundamental curiosity about ourselves and our world.

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY?

  • The Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato believed that knowledge is built within us, whereas John Locke believed that the human mind is a blank slate at birth.
  • William Wundt, the “father of psychology,” set up his laboratory in 1879. His student, Edward Titchener, founded structuralism. James Mark Baldwin established the first psychology laboratory in North America at the University of Toronto. William James proposed functionalism.
  • Modern approaches to psychology include Gestalt psychology, Freud’s psychodynamic theory, behaviourism, the humanistic approach, cognitive psychology, and evolutionary psychology.

WHAT MAJOR QUESTIONS DO PSYCHOLOGISTS SEEK TO ANSWER?

  • The question of whether our traits, behaviours, and mental processes are primarily the result of inherited characteristics (nature) or environmental factors (nurture) has been, and continues to be, a controversial topic in psychology.
  • Most psychologists agree that humans are influenced by a unique combination of hereditary and environmental factors.

WHAT ARE SOME DIFFERENT SUBTYPES OF PSYCHOLOGY?

  • Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat people with mental or behavioural problems, whereas academic psychologists teach and carry out psychological research.
  • Applied psychology refers to the use of psychological theory and practice to tackle real-world problems. Industrial/organizational psychologists and sports psychologists are examples of people who use applied psychology day-to-day.