Psychology (ch 2)

Psychology, broadly construed, is concerned with the explanation of organisms' behavior. Early in its development, psychology was primarily pursued as a branch of philosophy. Psychology began to emerge as a distinct discipline with the 'introspectionists' of the late ninteenth century, commonly associated with Wilhelm Wundt. Introspectionism relied primarily upon subjects' verbal reports of their own conscious experience. Conversely, the heir to introspectionism, behaviorism, rejected the study of such 'inner' mental phenomena (consciousness, for example) as unscientific, and took as the goal of psychology the explanation of behavior in terms of laws linking input (stimuli) to ouput (responses).

Although behaviorism dominated the field for the first half of this century, many researchers began to doubt its ability to provide a satisfactory account of behavior, especially more complex behavior such as human linguistic abilities. Psychology today is of a much broader scope, covering a wide variety of mental phenomena and utilizing a range of experimental methods. Current topics include: memory, perception, learning, reasoning, language production and comprehension, problem solving, reading, attention, and a variety of mental disorders and impairments. In the interest of developing reliable conclusions, most psychological research is undertaken in controlled experimental settings and uses systematic methods.

Note: Psychology is often mistakenly identified with psychiatrywhich is a branch of medicine and subdivision of psychology concerned with the care and treatment of mental disorders.

See Also: Neurophysiology, Linguistics.


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