Author: B. R. Hergenhahn
Publisher: Wadsworth / Thomson Learning; 4th edition (2001)
The definition of psychology has changed as the focus of psychology has changed. At various times in history, psychology has been defined as the study of the psyche or the mind, of the spirit, of consciousness, and more recently as the study of, or the science of, behavior. Perhaps, then, we can arrive at an acceptable definition of modern psychology by observing the activities of contemporary psychologists:
• Some seek the biological correlates of mental events such as sensation, perception, or ideation.
• Some concentrate on understanding the principles that govern learning and memory.
• Some seek to understand humans by studying nonhuman animals.
• Some study unconscious motivation.
• Some seek to improve industrial-organizational productivity, educational practices, or child-rear-
ing practices by utilizing psychological principles.
• Some attempt to explain human behavior in terms of evolutionary theory.
• Some attempt to account for individual differences among people in such areas as personality, intelligence, and creativity.
• Some are primarily interested in perfecting therapeutic tools that can be used to help individuals with mental disturbances.
• Some focus on the strategies that people use in adjusting to the environment or in problem solving.
• Some study how language develops and how, once developed, it relates to a variety of cultural
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