Difference between revisions of "Psychology"

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Psychology is the systematic study and evaluation of [[mind]] and [[behavior]]. There is a primary division between [[Clinical psychology | clinical]] or applied psychology which focuses on helping people directly through various applications of theory and [[Experimental psychology | experimental]] or research oriented psychology which focuses on applying the scientific method to ascertain the foundations of thought and action.   
 
Psychology is the systematic study and evaluation of [[mind]] and [[behavior]]. There is a primary division between [[Clinical psychology | clinical]] or applied psychology which focuses on helping people directly through various applications of theory and [[Experimental psychology | experimental]] or research oriented psychology which focuses on applying the scientific method to ascertain the foundations of thought and action.   
  
The word psychology comes from the ancient Greek ψυχή psyche ("soul," "mind") and -λογία -ology ("study").
 
  
==Paradigms of Psychology==
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Unlike fields such as [[physics]] or [[biology]] that attempt to work towards a uniting frame or [[theory]] for all hypothesis generated, psychology has traditionally focused on defining different schools of thought with substantially different unifying principles and little effort is made to unite these different schools. Most meta-analysis of the field divides psychologist into 5 different paradigms:
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*[[Cognitive psychology]]- This school of thought has a strong focus on understanding the mechanisms of mind in order to explain behavior. It often uses analogies to computers to accomplish this task, one of its great themes is the idea of the [[Computational Theory of Mind]].
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*[[Behavioral psychology]]- This school of thought views the mind of the organism as a black box which is impossible to describe empirically, therefore the focus is on understanding behavior as a byproduct of environment. [[Ivan Pavlov]] and [[B.F. Skinner]] epitomize this philosophy with their focus on [[classical conditioning]] and [[instrumental learning]].
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*[[Psychoanalytic psychology]]- This school of thought attempts to understand mind and behavior as a product of the unconscious. It is most closely linked with the ideas of [[Sigmund Freud]] and [[Carl Jung]]. Freud believed that much of behavior is related to repressed sexuality, while Jung and others extended his ideas to include other forms of repression. Psychoanalytic psychology is primarily used in clinical settings though it is not unheard of for researchers to appeal to Freudian concepts.
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*[[Existential psychology]] and [[Humanistic psychology]]- While these schools of thought differ in some fundamental ways they are often linked together because of their focus on differences and the importance of the individual over generalized rules. Existential Psychology emerges from French [[Existential philosophy]] most notably linked to [[Jean-Paul Sartre]]. It places great importance on [[Existential angst]] as an inevitability of existence, and that the role of psychology is to help individuals recognize their angst and come to terms with it. Humanistic approaches to psychology are closely linked to the ideas of [[Abraham Maslow]] and his idea of the [[Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs | Hierarchy of Needs]]. To Maslow psychological illness is a consequence of the difference between the idealized self and the actual self, the role of the psychologist is to help the person either adjust his idealized self image or improve his actual self. [[Carl Roger]]'s ideas of [[Client Centered Therapy]] are also closely linked to humanistic approaches.
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*[[Evolutionary psychology]] and [[Biology of psychology | Biologic based psychology]]- These approaches attempt to understand mind and behavior as products of [[biology | biologic]] interactions and [[Theory of Evolution | evolutionary history]]. This school of thought is heavily researched based. Evolutionary Psychology is a relatively recent development, and many of its proponents believe that a strongly biologic approach to psychology may ultimately serve as a unifying principle for the field of psychology.
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== History ==
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===Foundation of the Field===
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Psychology is viewed as a relatively young discipline. The start of the modern concept is often attributed to [[Wilhelm Wundt]] (the "father of psychology"). Wundt attempted to quantify human thought into basic elements, he was inspired by the success of chemistry and physics in describing the world by component pieces such as [[atoms]] and [[elements]]. Wundt also founded the first modern laboratory for the study of psychology. This was done in 1879 at [[Leipzig University]] in [[Germany]]. Wundt's ideas were picked up by his student [[Edward B. Titchener]] who coined the term [[structuralism]] to describe it. Structuralism would come to dominate the study of psychology for most of the late 19th century and early 20th century.
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Structuralism's goal was to describe all of Wundt's elements of thought. It used a technique called [[introspection]], where volunteers were trained to breakdown their thoughts into basic elements and then shown various objects or exposed to various concepts and asked to describe the basic elements of their thoughts. For example, if shown a book a subject would attempt to describe the elements of what he is seeing by shape, and color but with out reference to higher order concepts such as "binding", "cover" or "pages."
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The use of introspection and structuralism's seemingly inherent subjectiveness created a backlash that developed into a the concept of [[functionalism]]. This idea is most famously put forth by [[William James]]. It attempted to understand mind and behavior not as a "how" but as a "why." It was heavily influenced by [[Charles Darwin]] and the [[Theory of evolution]]. It would later serve as the foundation for the behaviorist movement.
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At the same time that structuralism and functionalism were being developed and debated Sigmund Freud was developing his ideas. [[Psychodynamics]] had an enormous influence on psychology and in many ways that influence continues to this day. While many of his ideas have been discredited Freud also was the first to introduce several core ideas into the field. These include: the concept of an [[unconscious]] mind being able to change and direct behavior, and that people go through developmental stages in which their mind and behavior change as they grow up and grow old.
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===Development of Behaviorism===
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[[Image:Skinner box.jpg |right|thumb|200px|The famous Skinner Box that B.F. Skinner used in his work on instrumental learning]]
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At the turn of the century Ivan Pavlov started his work on the [[gastric reflex]] in [[dogs]]. He discovered that a salivary response could be activated by a cue such as a bell ringing if that cue was linked to the presentation of food. This concept was developed into the idea of classical conditioning. This work was absolutely pivotal in the history of psychology. It became combined with the concepts developed in functionalism and the field of behavioral psychology was born. Behavioral psychology was, in many ways, a reaction to the introspection, subjective based methods of structuralist and their goal of understanding the elements of the mind. Behaviorist abandoned the concept of mind as a scientific concept all together. Instead they attempted to describe all behavior as merely the product of inputs from the environment and outputs from the organism. The mind was viewed as a [[black box]] and never examined.
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Pavlov, and later B.F. Skinner, as well as many others were able to formulate precise mathematical descriptions of training regimes and reactions. It was hoped that psychology could became a [[hard science]] like physics with mathematically rigorous theories. Skinner is most known for his work with [[operational conditioning]] or [[instrumental learning]] where small changes in behavior are rewarded in order to create complex behavior. This is perhaps most epitomized by the [[Skinner box]] in which he trained pigeons to perform many complex actions to get rewards.
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Skinner also thought that all of human behavior was a function of conditioning and instrumental learning. He wrote several non-fiction books such as [[Beyond Freedom and Dignity]] (rumor has it that he enjoyed placing his initials B.F. at th start of his works) and several fiction books including [[Waldon 2]] advocating the creation of [[Utopian society | Utopian societies]] based on instrumental learning.
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===The Cognitive Revolution===
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During the 1960s several developments altered the course of psychological research. The first was the creation of the [[computer]] and the ideas of [[Allen Turing]]. People quickly saw the analogy between computers and the human brain and thought that perhaps a mathematically rigorous concept of the mind could be developed. On another front several experiments had begin turning up anomalous results. One of the most famous is the [[Garcia effect]] where an animal that is exposed to a novel food and then made sick instantly learns to no longer desire that food, however, if it is a food the animal has plenty of pre-exposure to it did not instantly acquire the conditioned dislike. This instantaneous acquisition in one condition and not in another could not be explained without cracking open the black box of the mind and allowing it to effect behavior.
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Noam Chomsky is also credited with bringing down the behaviorist. Skinner was attempting to describe the acquisition of language as instrumental learning but Chomsky showed that language acquisition follow set rules that seemed innate in the person. A famous example of this is in errors that children make when learning grammar. Chomsky pointed out that children often will attempt to universally apply a grammatical rule and say something like "I runned to the store." Attempts to model language acquisition on computers that could make similar errors required certain innate rule sets existing at the beginning of language acquisition. A purely behaviorist approach was infeasible.
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Thus cognitive psychology was born as a reaction against behaviorist. Cognitive psychologist attempted to understand the black box of the mind through computational analysis, modeling and rigorous experimentation. Also during this time clinical psychology was having its own revolution with psychoanalysis being questioned by existential and humanist approaches.
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===Developments to the present===
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[[Image:FMRI.jpg |left|thumb|200px| Example of the modern imaging techinque of fMRI which has revolutionized psychology]]
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In addition to cognitive psychology social psychology was also coming into its own.  [[Stanley Milgram]] published his works on the [[Milgram experiment]] which demonstrated that normal individuals would obey an authority figure and endanger the health and life of other people. This was also linked to [[Philip Zimbardo]]'s work on the [[Stanford prison experiment]] demonstrating the ability for college students to quickly turn into torturers. Other important concepts such as [[diffusion of responsibility]] and [[cognitive dissonance]] were being developed in experimental laboratories. In the 1970s [[E.O. Wilson]] published his book on [[sociobiology]], this work as well as much of the work in social psychology got picked up by researchers with a strong biologic and evolutionary influence. It ultimately emerged as the field of [[Evolutionary psychology]] in the late 1980's and is currently one of the most hotly contested and productive areas of psychological research.
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Technological developments during the last 30 years have also drastically altered the field of psychology. Computer processing power and memory increases have allowed researchers to develop models of many areas of cognition. More importantly imaging techniques that allowed psychologist to non-invasively peer into the mind of living people and see what areas are functionally active have revolutionized much of psychology.   
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Clinical work on [[psychotropic]] drugs for treatment of various psychosis such as schizophrenia, bi-polar and depression have also allowed researchers to start to understand the neurochemistry involved.
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== Fields of Psychology ==
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While embracing one or several (referred to as eclectic) of the paradigms listed earlier individual psychologist, psychiatrist and therapist can work in a range of sub-fields that deal with the total spectrum of human interactions. These include but are not limited to:
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*[[Community psychology]]
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*[[Affective psychology]]
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*[[Developmental psychology]] is the study of how mental processes and behavior change with aging.
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*[[Health psychology | Health psychology/behavioral medicine]] focuses on the impact of psychological factors on behaviors that are relevant to physical health.  Researchers in this field study topics such as substance abuse, obesity, and exercise.
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*[[Industrial psychology | Industrial/organizational psychology]]
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*[[Neuroscience]]
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*[[Social psychology]] is the study of social behavior or interpersonal interactions.  Social psychologists study issues such as the way in which attitudes towards other people are formed, or the effect that our perceptions of another person's behavior have on our interactions with that person.
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*[[Abnormal psychology]]
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== Research in Psychology ==
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[[Category:Science]]
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[[Category:psychology]]
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Revision as of 09:58, 24 April 2007

Psychology is the scientific study and evaluation of mental and emotional processes, personality, behavior, and relationships, both interpersonal and intrapersonal. Psychology can also refers to the application of that knowledge to various spheres of human activity, including correcting problems that affect individuals' daily lives and the treatment of mental health issues.

Psychology differs from the other social sciences — anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology — in seeking to explain the thinking, emotion and behavior of individuals, couples, families and other social groups. Psychology differs from biology and neuroscience in that it is primarily concerned with mind rather than brain, in other words experience and behavior rather than brain structure or chemistry. However, the subfield of neuropsychology studies the actual neural processes and how these relate to the mental and experiential phenomena. It is clear that life experience influences brain states and vice-versa in complex ways.

Psychology is the systematic study and evaluation of mind and behavior. There is a primary division between clinical or applied psychology which focuses on helping people directly through various applications of theory and experimental or research oriented psychology which focuses on applying the scientific method to ascertain the foundations of thought and action.


Tom Cruise says this is a lie. Therefore we should all believe Tom Cruise. Suck a dick.