Meaning and definition of psychology| Branches of psychology

 Meaning and definition of psychology| Branches of psychology

Meaning and definition of psychology| Branches of psychology

Etymology of psychology:

The word psychology is derived from two Greek words "psyche" And "logos" Psyche means soul and logos, means the study. Thus, originally psychology was defined as the study of "soul" Or "spirit". But later on philosopher defined psyche as mind, because of this, psychology began to be regarded as the study of an individual mind or mental process. Through time, this later definition of psychology was given up because the mind as an object doesn't exist. And cannot be observed and measured objectively. 

There are some concepts in this definition which need further explanation, the term "science" And behavior. "

Definition of psychology:

Defining psychology is not easy because of both the wide scope of its concern and the philosophical difference among practitioners:

Psychology is "the science of human and animals behavior; it includes the application of this science to human problems".

" Psychology is the science dealing with the mind and with mental and emotional processes, or science of human and animals behavior "- Webster's new world college dictionary. 

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Psychology as a science:

A science is a body of systematized knowledge that is gathered by carefully observing and measuring events. Psychologist do experiments and make observations which other can repeat, they obtain data, often in the form of quantitative measurements, which others can verify. 

As a science, psychology is systemic. Data from experiments and observations are essential, but for them to make some sense in helping us understand events, they must be organized in some ways. Scientific theories are important tools for the organized facts. 

Another important part of most science psychology included is measurement, defined as the assignment of number to object or events according to certain rules. Measurements in psychology is often more difficult than it is in science such as physics and chemistry because many of the things psychologist study cannot be measured directly by physical scale. 


Behavior in its broader sense includes all types of human activities. 


a. Motor activities (walking, speaking) 

b. Cognitive activities (perceiving, remembering, thinking, reasoning) 

c. Emotional activities (feeling, happy, sad, angry, afraid) 

Behavior is both mental and bodily:

a. Mental behavior are thinking, reasoning, imagination, and other mental experience or process. 

b. Bodily behavior refers to the movement and action of the body in response to a situation. 

Behavior is the reaction of an individual to a particular environment. The environment exerts influence on individual. That influence is called stimulus. 

The stimulus in turn arouses an activity from the individual and this is called the response. 

Example:- A man may be admitted to a hospital for a surgical operation (stimulus). The man feels frightened and worries because he is uncertain what may happen next (response). 

Behavior shows growth and development from the early years of infancy to maturity and old age. Psychology as a science studies how behavior grows and develop from infancy to old age and also studies behavioural difference between people. 

In general there are four major facts proposed in relation to the nature of behavior. These are :

1. Behavior has a bodily basis. 

2. Behavior is dynamic

3. Behavior varies from person to person

4. Behavior is social. 

Psychology collect facts of behavior by means of objectives method such as observation and experiments and predict human behavior. 

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The Branches of psychology:

Psychology can be linked to a large extended family, each of the branches of psychology can be considered as nephew, aunt, uncle, and cousin who may not interact on day to day basis. But have blood relationship. 

Some of the branches of psychology are given below:

1. Experimental psychology:

a. Generally they use controlled laboratory experiments to pursue their study. 

b. Basic topics studies includes:


- Perception

- Learning

- Memory

- Problem solving

- communication


- Motivation

Experiments are made not only on human beings; but also on animals. This is because that animals research leads to human research that can give us insight into the behavior of our own species. 

2. Psychological psychology:

This branches of psychology looks for explanation of behavior in the psychological structure of human and animals. Some of the question by psychological psychologist includes:

a. What psychological changes occur in people during sleep and dreaming? 

b. What is the relationship between the incidence of motorway accident and changes in the psychological function of the body at different times of the day?. 

3. Developmental psychology:

a. Its concern is about behavioral development over the entire life span. It is also concerned with psychological concept, such as: learning, memory, motivation and thinking. 

b. The following are question raised by developmental psychologists. 

- How soon can babies perceive depth? 

- How do children develop the concept of the self? 

- is language acquisition only a question of biological maturation, learning or it has any relation to social interaction? 

4. Personality psychology:

a. Some people are highly competitive and hostile (type A behavior) 

b. Some people tend to be relaxed and don't feel the pressure of time (type B behavior) 

c. The study of the relation between personality and behavior is an example of research in personality psychology. 

d. It studies individual difference in behavior and why people not react in a similar way to the same situation. 

5. Social psychology:

Social psychology is a wide ranging field of study. Among the topics that can be studied are:

- Friendship formation

- conflict

- perception of other people. 

- Aggressiveness. 

6. Clinical psychology:

a. It is the study, diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behavior. 

b. It looks for possible biological, educational and environmental causes of disorder. 

c. The aim is to change the environment that leads to disorder. 

d. Clinical psychologists give advice to community workers on how to handle psychological problems. 

Other branches of psychology are :

- Educational psychology. 

- Industrial and organizational psychology

- work psychology

- military psychology

- Health psychology etc... 

Emerging fields:

- Psychology of women

- environmental psychology

- forensic psychology

- program evaluation psychology. 


Given the diversity of roles that psychologists play many psychologists in our country are employed by institutions of higher education and secondary schools. Very few psychologists work in human service organizations like hospital, social affairs and non governmental organization as consultant. However, nowadays the importance of psychology is getting better attention in our society. 

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