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“Psychology” comes from two words: psyche and logos. The word psyche
(pronounced “sigh-key”) is from the Greek word Ψυχη – meaning “breath of
life”, i.e. “soul or spirit”, loosely translated as MIND.
define by picture about psychology
The Greek letter Ψ (spelled “psi”, and pronounced “sigh”) is now used as the
the international symbol for Psychology.
Hence, Psychology was originally defined as: the study of the mind.
But, this isn’t how most Psychologists define Psychology today.

Towards a Definition

Most Psychologists try hard to make a clear distinction between what is proper
Psychology, and what isn’t.
So, how do Psychologists define “Psychology”? Well, there are difficulties in
finding one universally accepted definition. Although most Psychologists agree
that it is important to be scientific – to avoid muddled thinking – it’s not always
clear exactly what this means.
Another difficulty is the practical problem – some say “impossibility”! – of
studying the “mind” directly. Indeed, even trying to define “mind” is very
difficult. Some Psychologists have avoided this completely, especially the
Behaviorists, like B. F. Skinner and J. B. Watson.
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In practice, therefore, most Psychologists concentrate on what is observable and
“We do not need to try to discover what personalities, states of mind, feelings… really are in order to get on with a scientific analysis of behavior.”
“Never use the terms consciousness, mental states, mind…”
measurable in a person’s behavior, including the biological processes in the
body. At the same time, despite the extreme views of certain Behaviourists, the
“mind” is still generally considered to be central to the subject.
Thus, a commonly accepted “working definition” is:
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior of humans and
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Psychology, on the other hand, is mainly about individuals or small groups of
people, as in Social Psychology.
There are also differences in the methods used. In Psychology, there is an emphasis
on experiments, but in Sociology that method is not usually possible – for
practical and ethical reasons – so observations and surveys are more commonly
Doesn’t that definition also apply to Sociology?
It is similar, but Sociology is generally about the study of large groups of people – in societies or sub-cultures.

What Does Psychology Include?

Unlike the Natural Sciences, Psychology doesn’t have one unifying theory or
particular approach…
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We shall look at the 6 main approaches or perspectives within Psychology:

The Sections Within Psychology

In addition to the different perspectives, the subject can be divided into various
areas of study in university departments. A typical division would look like this:
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To qualify as a Psychologist requires a recognized qualification at degree level
(e.g. BSc Hons) and membership of a relevant Professional Association, for
example one of the following:
the BPS – British Psychological Society (founded 1901),
the APA – American Psychological Association (founded 1893),
the APS – American Psychological Society (founded 1988).

Psychology and Psychiatry?

There is a common confusion between the two. Put simply, the difference is this:
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Psychiatrists have a Medical Degree, plus a Psychiatric Qualification, and
belong to a Medical Association. (Only they have the authority to prescribe
drugs.) But some Psychologists also specialize, with extra training, in helping
people with mental disorders – they are Clinical Psychologists.
To qualify as a Clinical Psychologist requires a good Psychology Degree (at
least a 2.1) plus relevant work experience (e.g. nursing, social or care work) and
a recognized Clinical qualification (e.g. a BPS approved Diploma or Masters
Some Clinical Psychologists base their therapies, like traditional Psychiatrists,
on Psychoanalysis (e.g. the Tavistock Clinic), while others use Behaviour
Therapy and Modification (e.g. the Maudsley Clinic). (These therapies are
described later.)
A Psychologist studies all human behavior – normal and abnormal.
A Psychiatrist is a DOCTOR who specializes in abnormal behavior – “mental disorders”.

Is Psychology a Science?

Since the definition includes “scientific study”, this begs the question: “What is
Science?”. To most people, “science” conjures up images of laboratories with
test-tubes, complex measuring equipment, etc. This is appropriate because it
emphasizes the importance of EXPERIMENTS, which can only be properly
carried out in controlled conditions.
Experiments are conducted to try to find the CAUSES of EFFECTS, in all
scientific subjects.
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So, Psychologists have to use various research METHODS other than just

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