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professional organization representing psychologists in the United States

focus on observing and controlling behavior

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study of how biology influences behavior

perspective that asserts that biology, psychology, and social factors interact to determine an individual’s health

area of psychology that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders and other problematic patterns of behavior

study of cognitions, or thoughts, and their relationship to experiences and actions

area of psychology that focuses on improving emotional, social, vocational, and other aspects of the lives of psychologically healthy individuals

scientific study of development across a lifespan

long research paper about research that was conducted as a part of the candidate’s doctoral training

method for acquiring knowledge based on observation, including experimentation, rather than a method based only on forms of logical argument or previous authorities

area of psychology that applies the science and practice of psychology to issues within and related to the justice system

focused on how mental activities helped an organism adapt to its environment

perspective within psychology that emphasizes the potential for good that is innate to all humans

process by which someone examines their own conscious experience in an attempt to break it into its component parts

suffix that denotes “scientific study of”

study of patterns of thoughts and behaviors that make each individual unique

consistent pattern of thought and behavior

(doctor of philosophy) doctoral degree conferred in many disciplinary perspectives housed in a traditional college of liberal arts and sciences

allows programs and broaden their research skills under the supervision of other professionals in the field

focus on the role of the unconscious in affecting conscious behavior

scientific study of the mind and behavior

(doctor of psychology) doctoral degree that places less emphasis on research-oriented skills and focuses more on application of psychological principles in the clinical context

32 Chapter 1 | Introduction to Psychology

This OpenStax book is available for free at http://cnx.org/content/col31502/1.4



sport and exercise psychology


area of psychology that focuses on the interactions between mental and emotional factors and physical performance in sports, exercise, and other activities

understanding the conscious experience through introspection


1.1 What Is Psychology? Psychology is defined as the scientific study of mind and behavior. Students of psychology develop critical thinking skills, become familiar with the scientific method, and recognize the complexity of behavior.

1.2 History of Psychology Before the time of Wundt and James, questions about the mind were considered by philosophers. However, both Wundt and James helped create psychology as a distinct scientific discipline. Wundt was a structuralist, which meant he believed that our cognitive experience was best understood by breaking that experience into its component parts. He thought this was best accomplished by introspection.

William James was the first American psychologist, and he was a proponent of functionalism. This particular perspective focused on how mental activities served as adaptive responses to an organism’s environment. Like Wundt, James also relied on introspection; however, his research approach also incorporated more objective measures as well.

Sigmund Freud believed that understanding the unconscious mind was absolutely critical to understand conscious behavior. This was especially true for individuals that he saw who suffered from various hysterias and neuroses. Freud relied on dream analysis, slips of the tongue, and free association as means to access the unconscious. Psychoanalytic theory remained a dominant force in clinical psychology for several decades.

Gestalt psychology was very influential in Europe. Gestalt psychology takes a holistic view of an individual and his experiences. As the Nazis came to power in Germany, Wertheimer, Koffka, and Köhler immigrated to the United States. Although they left their laboratories and their research behind, they did introduce America to Gestalt ideas. Some of the principles of Gestalt psychology are still very influential in the study of sensation and perception.

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