1.1 What is Psychology?

1.1 What is Psychology?

The word, ‘Psychology’ is derived from two Greek words, ‘Psyche’ and ‘Logos’. Psyche means ‘soul’ and ‘Logos’ means ‘science’. Thus psychology was first defined as the ‘science of soul”. According to earlier psychologists, the function of psychology was to study the nature, origin and destiny of the human soul. But soul is something metaphysical. It cannot be seen, observed and touched and we cannot make scientific experiments on soul.

In the 18th century, psychology was understood as the ‘Science of Mind’. William James (1892) defined psychology as the science of mental processes. But the word ‘mind’ is also quite ambiguous as there was confusion regarding the nature and functions of mind.  Modern psychologists defined psychology as the “Science of Consciousness”. James Sully (1884) defined psychology as the “Science of the Inner World”. Wilhelm Wundt (1892) defined psychology as the science which studies the “internal experiences’. But there are three levels of consciousness – conscious, subconscious and the unconscious and so this definition also was not accepted by some. Thus psychology first lost its soul, then its mind and then its consciousness. At present only its behaviour aspect exists. William McDugall (1905) defined psychology as the “Science of Behaviour”, W.B. Pillsbury (1911) and J.B. Watson (1912) also defined psychology as the science of behavior.

Behaviour generally means overt activities which can be observed and measured scientifically. But one’s behaviour is always influenced by his experiences. So when we study one’s behaviour we must also study his experiences. Psychology should, therefore, be defined as a “science of behaviour and experiences on human beings” (B.F. Skinner). Crow and Crow define, “Psychology is the study of human behaviour and human relationship”.

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