College of Arts and Science
LECTURE NOTES ON GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY (No. 1)
Nature of Psychology
A. Psychology - the term psychology derives from the Greek roots psyche, meaning “soul” or “mind,” and logos, meaning “word.” Psychology is literally the study of the mind or soul and people defined it that way until the early 1900s. Around 1920, psychologists became disenchanted with the idea of studying the mind. First, research deals with what we observe, and the mind is unobservable. Second, talking about “the mind” implies it is a thing or object. Mental activity is a process. It is not like the river but like the flow of the river, not like the automobile but like the movement of the automobile. Beginning in the early 1900s, psychologists defined their field as the study of behaviour. Psychology is the systematic study of behaviour and experience.
Science – is a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.
Behavior – as defined psychologically, refers to actions or activities of the individual as matters of psychological study. While behaviour most often refers to what is outwardly or overtly manifested, it may also mean those activities that are hidden or covert, those not visible to the naked eye.
B. Objectives or Goals of Psychology
1. To describe behaviour
2. To identify factors that help predict behaviour
3. To understand or explain behaviour by identifying causes that bring about certain effects 4. To control or change behaviour
C. Scope of Psychology
a. Greek Influence – Democritus believed that atoms from our environment enter through our sense organs enabling us to perceive the world around us. Plato said the mind or soul is distinct in its own right and is God given. The soul is composed of three parts – head exerts reasons, heart exerts noble impulses and the diaphragm (seat of our passions. According to Aristotle, our perceptions is the result of two processes (1) the use of medium (the air which fills space) and which affects our sense organs (2) ability of the form of the object to leave its substance and to pass directly to the perceiver. Galen contributed that differences in behaviour is attributable to the “humors” or vital juices of the body: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. Hence, he correspondingly named temperaments sanguine (cheerful), phlegmatic (sluggish), melancholic (sad) and choleric (irascible). b. Medieval period – St. Augustine introduced the use of introspection (the description of one’s own conscious processes) distinguished some faculties such as will, memory, imagination etc. c. Pre-Modern period – philosopher Rene Descartes formulated a theory of mind-body interaction. George Berkeley in his theory of knowledge said that ideas become the only reality. d. Scientific - it was in 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt, a German psychologist, founded his Psychological Laboratory at Leipzig, Germany which earned for Wundt the title of Father of Scientific Psychology. He first undertook the experimental approach. Cattell founded the psychological laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. In France, Philippe Pinel enlightened psychological interpretation of insanity. Alfred Binet started the first intelligence tests. In England, Charles Darwin published Origin of the Species and natural selection. In Germany, Max Wertheimer worked on the organization of mental processes.
D. Schools or Systems in Psychology
1. Structuralism – (Introspective or Elementarism) – headed by Edward Titchener, maintained that the task of psychology according to this group (a) analyze consciousness into its component elements (sensations, perception, thought processes) (b) to have the subject report it through his own sensory experiences through the method of...
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