Important Definitions Chapter 1
What is Psychology Definitions
Psychology: The scientific study of the causes of behaviour; also, the application of the findings of psychological research to the
solution of problems.
Causal Event: An event that causes another event to occur.
Physiological Psychology: The branch of psychology that studies the physiological basis of behaviour.
Comparative Psychology: The branch of psychology that studies the behaviours of a variety of organisms in an attempt to understand
the adaptive and functional significance of the behaviours and their relation to evolution.
Behavioural Analysis: The branch of psychology that studies the effect of the environment on behaviour-primarily, the effects of the
consequences of behaviours on behaviours themselves.
Behavioural Genetics: The branch of psychology that studies the role of genetics in behaviour.
Cognitive Psychology: The branch of psychology that studies complex behaviours and mental processes such as perception, attention,
learning, and memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation, and problem solving.
Cognitive Neuroscience: The branch of psychology that attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions by studying the
brain mechanisms that are responsible for them.
Developmental Psychology: The branch of psychology that studies the change in behavioural, perceptual, and cognitive capacities of
organisms as a function of age and experience.
Social Psychology: The branch of psychology devoted to the study of the effects people have on each other’s behaviour.
Personality Psychology: The branch of psychology that attempts to categorize and understand the causes of individual differences in
patterns of behaviour.
Evolutionary Psychology: The branch of psychology that explains how behaviour in terms of adaptive advantages that specific
behaviours provided during the evolution of a species. The evolutionary psychologists use natural selection as a guiding principle.
Cross-Culture Psychology: The branch of psychology that studies the effects of culture on behaviour.
Clinical Psychology: The branch of psychology devoted to the investigation and treatment of abnormal behaviour and psychological
The growth of psychology as a science definitions
Animism: The belief that all animals and all moving objects possess spirits providing their motive force.
Reflex: An automatic response to a stimulus, such as the blink reflex to the sudden unexpected approach of an object toward the eyes.
Dualism: The philosophical belief that reality consists of mind and matter.
Model: A relatively simple system that works on known principles and is able to do at least some of the things that a more complex
system can do.
Empiricism: the philosophical view that all knowledge is obtained through the senses.
Materialism: A philosophical belief that reality can be known only through an understanding of the physical world, of which the
mind is a part.
Doctrine of Specific Nerve Energies: Johannes Müller’s observation that different nerve fibres convey specific information from one
part of the body to the brain or from the brain to one part of the body.
Experimental Ablation: The removal or destruction of a portion of the brain of an experimental animal for the purpose of studying
the functions of that region. Psychophysics: The branch of psychology that measures the quantitative relation between physical and perceptual experience.
Determinism: The doctrine that behaviour is the result of prior events.
Law of Effect: Thorndike’s observation that stimuli that occur as a consequence of a response can increase or decrease the likelihood
of making that response again.
Major trends in the development of psychology definitions
Structuralism: The system of experimental psychology that began with Wundt; it emphasized introspective analysis of perception
Introspection: Literally, “looking within”, in an attempt to describe one’s own memories, perceptions, cognitive processes, or
Functionalism: The strategy of understanding a species’ structural or behavioural features by attempting to establish their usefulness
with respect to survival and reproductive success.
Behaviourism: A movement is psychology that asserts that the only proper subject matter for a study in psychology is observable
Humanistic Psychology: An approach to the study of Human Behaviour that emphasizes human experience, choice and creativity,
self-realization, and positive growth. Emerged as a response to behaviourism and psychoanalysis.
Gestalt psychology: A movement in psychology which emphasized that cognitive processes could be understood by studying their
organization, not their elements.
Information Processing: An approach used by cognitive psychologists to explain the workings of the brain; information received
through the senses is processed by systems of neurons in the brain.
Applied areas of Psychology
Type of Psychologist Area of application Typical Employment setting
Clinical Neuropsychologists Identification and treatment of the behavioural Hospitals, in association with
consequences of nervous system disorders and specialists who treat diseases of the
injuries nervous system
Clinical Psychologists Identification, assessment, and treatment of Private practice and hospitals
Community Psychologists Welfare of individuals in the social system, Community organizations
especially those who are disa