What is Psychology? - Meaning, Definition, Nature, Scope & Importance -->

What is Psychology? - Meaning, Definition, Nature, Scope & Importance

What is Psychology?



Introduction and Origin of Psychology


The word psychology is originally derived from two Greek words i.e.; ‘psycho’ and logos’‘Psycho’ meaning ‘soul’ and ‘logos’ meaning study. So, originally psychology means the study of soul or science of the soul.


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Meaning of Psychology


Psychology as the science of the soul

The earliest meaning of psychology was the science of the soul. Philosophers like Pluto, Aristotle, and Descartes interpreted psychology according to this concept. Soul has been neither measured nor has been seen by anyone, so this meaning of psychology was rejected.

Psychology as a science of mind

Philosophers in the middle ages consider psychology as the science of mind. But they could not find the location of the mind. Hence psychology as the science of mind could not progress.

Psychology as the science of consciousness

In the 19th century, some psychologists like William James, Wilhelm Wundt, and others consider psychology as a science of consciousness. By consciousness, the psychologists meant awareness or wakefulness. A great psychologist Freud objected to this meaning of psychology. He said that man is only 10% conscious of his activities. Mostly he is unconscious. So psychology cannot be given the meaning of science of consciousness. Hence this meaning was also rejected.

Psychology as a science of behavior

It is the latest meaning of psychology. Psychology tells us about our behavior. Behavior includes all the activities that man does. It includes internal and external behavior, conscious as well as unconscious behavior. Behavior can be observed. All psychologists are agreed on this meaning of psychology.

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Importance of Psychology


  • Psychology as a modern discipline aims at understanding the complexities of mental processes, experience, and behavior of individuals located in a socio-cultural matrix.
  • The central task of psychology is to describe, understand, predict, and control behaviors in diverse situations.
  • Psychology attempts to understand the complexities of human nature, identify the regularities and patterns in the way people behave and develop theories and laws about them.

Thus psychology may be defined as the scientific study of mental processes, experiences, and behaviors.



Definition of Psychology


Here are some of the few and general definitions of psychology by different authors and psychologists like Woodworth, skinner, crow, and crow, etc.

According to Woodworth: “The Psychology deals with the activities of the individual in relation to his environment.”
Skinner: “Psychology is the science of behavior and experience.”
Munns: “Psychology today concerns with the scientific investigation of behavior.”
Crow & Crow: “Psychology is the study of human behavior and human relationships.”


From the above definitions of psychology, we have analyzed that:


  1. Psychology studies the mental processes
  2. Psychology deals with behavior
  3. Psychologists are interested in the study of the experiences of the people
  4. Almost all Psychologists use scientific methods in their studies

Psychology studies the mental processes: 

Mental processes are the activities largely taking place in the brain? However, they cannot be considered as purely physiological or bodily activities. They are related to not only the mental representations and neural activities taking place in the brain but are significantly linked with the objects, events, and activities existing in the outer world.

Psychology deals with behavior: 

Psychologist attends to all forms of behavior. The behaviors may be of short or long duration, simple or complex, verbal or motor, overt, or covert.

Psychologists are interested in the study of the experiences of the people: 

Psychologist studies personal experiences such as dreams, sleep, or conditions in which consciousness is alerted or any experience which one has in everyday life.

Almost all Psychologists use scientific methods in their studies: 

Psychologists use scientific methods for studying mental processes, experiences, and behaviors.

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Nature of Psychology


It is an accepted reality that the nature of the subject psychology is quite scientific. This fact has been properly recognized by the eminent psychologists and thinkers as may be inferred out of the definitions of psychology (in terms of scientific study or science of behavior).

In general, we may call the nature of a subject scientific if it fulfills the following criteria;
  1. Possesses a body of facts and is able to support it through universal laws and principles.
  2. Doesn’t believe in hearsay, stereotype, or superstitions.
  3. Believe in cause and effect relationship.
  4. Is capable to turn its theory into practice by having its applied aspect.
  5. Adopts the method of objective investigation, systematic and controlled observation, and scientific approach.
  6. Stands for generalization, verifiability, and modification of the observed results.
  7. Helps in predicting future developments.
  8. Psychology possesses a well-organized theory that is supported by relevant psychological laws & principles.
  9. It has its applied aspects in the form of various branches of applied psychology like industrial, legal, clinical, and educational psychology.
  10. It believes that behavior has its roots, factors of its cause, and influence.
  11. It emphasizes the search for truth by advocating objectivity, reliability, and validity in the assessment of behavior.
  12. The methods and techniques employed in the study of the behavior in psychology are quite scientific.

On the basis of the above characteristics, it may be established that psychology is a science. Its nature is quite scientific and not philosophical or mysterious as well supposed to be in the past.

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Scope of Psychology


Well... Psychology is chiefly concerned with human behavior. Anything that has a direct bearing on the behavior of an individual can be included in the scope of psychology. The scope of psychology includes its fields of study.

---> We can study the Scope of Psychology from the Various fields or areas discussed below:
  1. Developmental processes
  2. Cognition
  3. Personality
  4. Cross-cultural and cultural psychology
  5. Comparative physiological psychology
  6. Abnormal psychology
  7. Clinical and counseling psychology
  8. Education and learning process
  9. Environmental psychology
  10. Industrial and organizational psychology
  11. Social psychology
  12. Psychological assessment
  13. Other fields

Developmental processes: 

It deals with the development of perception, cognition, language, skills, personality, and social relationships of an individual. It also tells us about the stages of growth, principles of growth, and factors of growth.

Cognition: 

Cognitive psychology deals with the conscious & unconscious mental processes, sensation and perception, conditioning and learning, attention & consciousness, sleep and dreaming, memory and forgetting, reasoning and decision making, imagining, problem-solving, & language.

Personality: 

All that is discussed in psychology is ultimately concerned with the psychological concept of personality. Personality can be understood as an umbrella enveloping all the aspects of psychology related to human behavior

Cross-cultural and cultural psychology: 

It is the study of the ways in which social and cultural forces shape human behavior and how they too in return are shaped by human behavior.

Comparative physiological psychology: 

It deals with the study of similarities and differences between the behaviors of various animals.

Abnormal psychology: 

It seeks to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior that is considered strange or unusual. Its main focus is on classification, assessment, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders.

Clinical and counseling psychology: 

The clinical psychologist is a trained practitioner who diagnoses and treats psychological disorders. The counselor helps those with mild problems of social and emotional adjustments.

Education and learning process: 

This field is concerned with all aspects of educational problems like learning, teacher training, classroom situation, counseling of children, etc. Psychology also studies the meaning of learning, theories, factors, and principles of learning.

Environmental psychology: 

This field deals with the interaction between the physical world like noise, heat, humidity, pollution, and crowding, etc. and human behavior.

Industrial and organizational psychology: 

It studies the principles of psychology to the workplace. It tries to investigate the factors that affect people working in an organization.

Social psychology: 

It attempts to understand the nature and causes of individual behavior and thought in social situations.

Psychological assessment: 

It deals with the assessment of aptitude, intelligence, personality, attitude, values, and many other psychological characteristics.

Other fields: 

Other fields are military psychology, forensic psychology, rural psychology, managerial psychology, political psychology, etc.



Download Powerpoint Presentation and PDF Notes of Psychology


The topics which are covered in the PPT PDF are:
  • What is Psychology? How do we define psychology?
  • What are the major psychological perspectives?
  • Psychology as a science
  • Why study Psychology?
  • Scientific psychology
  • How Accurate is the Image of Psychology?
  • Typical images of Psychology
  • Where did Psychology come from?
  • History of Psychology
  • Structuralism Psychology
  • Functionalism in Psychology
  • Psychological Perspectives
  • Freud contribution
  • Psychoanalytic Theory
  • Behaviorism and psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Research and Professional Areas in Psychology
  • Experimental Psychologists
  • Applied Psychologists
  • Psychology Today

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