What is Psychology?
Psychology is the science that studies behavior and the physiological, cognitive and emotional processes that underlie it. And it is the profession that applies the accumulated knowledge of this science to practical problems.
Psychology as the study of behavior?
Although the field studies both human and non-human animals, most of our curriculum at Shasta College focuses on aspects of human behavior, with some information about animal behavior to round things out. When we talk about behavior and mental processes, what does this mean? It pretty much is anything that a person might do. This could include running a race, making a decision, feeling surprised, angry, or happy, having high blood pressure, communicating with others, experiencing hallucinations, or eating a meal. Anything from normal to abnormal; common or rare.
Psychology as a science?
How can we study the subject matter of psychology—behavior, emotions, thinking—as a science? Isn’t science about chemicals, lab equipment and test tubes? Well, science is not the stuff that you study, but how you study it.
Science is a way of knowing. It is a way of seeking out information, interpreting that information and making conclusions. Science is a way of thinking about information; to follow a scientific way of thinking means that you are thorough and careful, systematic, and work to avoid bias and false conclusions. Psychologists work hard to find more objective and careful ways to study human behavior to reach well supported conclusions. If you take a psychology course, we hope that some of this critical thinking will rub off on you and the way that you interpret what you see around you.
Psychology as an application of knowledge?
Of course, taking one psychology class (or even a few) will not make you a professional! However, much of the course content will be aimed at developing a better understanding of yourself, of those around you, and how the world around us makes us who we are and influences our behaviors and choices. You might also learn to better adapt your own behavior toward coping with the challenges that life throws your way. Psychology has much to offer in that regard.
Links to Explore Psychology
- Association for Psychological Science (News from the world of psychology)
- American Psychological Association (More news from the world of psychology)
- Psychology Resources (listed by Yale University Library)
- Psychology Resources (listed by Princeton University's Psychology Library)
- Psychology Tests (Participate through the BBC's Science & Nature homepage)
For more information, contact the ACSS Division.