Understanding Psychology

Chapter 1: Introducing Psychology

Chapter Overviews

Chapter 1 is an overview of psychology, the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.

Section 1 describes the reasons psychologists study human behavior and the goals of psychology. Learning about psychology can help students gain a better understanding of their own behaviors, knowledge about how psychologists study human and animal behavior, and practical applications for enriching their lives.

Section 2 explores the historical approaches to psychology, including structuralism, functionalism, inheritable traits, and Gestalt psychology. Today, the most important approaches to the study of psychology are the psychoanalytic, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive, and biological approaches. The newest approach to psychology, the sociocultural approach, analyzes the effects of culture, politics, and socioeconomics on behavior.

Section 3 discusses the work of psychologists, details the differences between psychiatrists and psychologists, and discusses the many specialty fields in psychology, including clinical, developmental, educational, community, industrial/organizational, and experimental psychology.

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