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Chapter 1: What is Psychology?
Any knowledge discipline is hard to define. Firstly, because it evolves continuously. Secondly, because the range of phenomena it studies cannot be captured by any one definition. This is even more true of psychology.
Long time back, students like yourself were told that the term psychology is derived from two Greek words psyche meaning soul and logos meaning science or study of a subject.
Thus, psychology was a study of the soul or mind. But since then it has moved away considerably from this focus and established itself as a scientific discipline which deals with processes underlying human experience and behaviour.
The range of phenomena it studies, some of which we mentioned above, are spread over several levels, viz. individual, dyadic (two person) group, and organisational.
They also have biological as well as social bases. Naturally, therefore, the methods required to study them also vary greatly depending on the phenomenon one wants to study.
A discipline is defined both in terms of what it studies and how it studies. In fact, more in terms of how or method/s it uses.
Keeping this in view, psychology is defined formally as a science which studies mental processes, experiences and behaviour in different contexts.
In doing so, it uses methods of biological and social sciences to obtain data systematically.
It makes sense of these data so that they can be organised as knowledge. Let us try to understand the three terms used in the definition, namely, mental processes, experience, and behaviour.
When we say experiences are internal to the experiencing person, then we refer to states of consciousness or awareness or mental processes.
We use our mental processes when we think or try to solve a problem, to know or remember something.
One level at which these mental processes are reflected is the brain activity. As we think or solve a mathematical problem, our brain activities can be observed using different techniques of brain imaging.
However, we cannot say that brain activities and mental processes are the same, although they are interdependent.
Mental activities and neural activities are mutually overlapping processes but, they are not identical. Unlike the brain, the mind does not have a physical structure or has a location.
Mind emerges and evolves as our interactions and experiences in this world get dynamically organised in the form of a system which is responsible for the occurrence of various mental processes.
Brain activities provide important clues as to how our mind functions.
But the consciousness of our own experiences and mental processes are much more than the neural or brain activities.
Even when we are asleep some mental activities go on. We dream, and receive some information such as a knock on the door while we are asleep.
Some psychologists have shown that we also learn and remember in our sleep.
Mental processes, such as remembering, learning, knowing, perceiving, feeling are of interest to psychologists.
They study these processes to try to understand how the mind works and to help us improve the uses and applications of these mental capacities.
Psychologists also study experiences of people. Experiences are subjective in nature. We cannot directly observe or know someone else’s experience.
Only the experiencing person can be aware or be conscious of her or his experiences.
Thus, experiences are embedded in our awareness or consciousness.
Psychologists have focused on experiences of pain being experienced by terminally ill patients or of psychological pain felt in bereavement, besides experiences which lead to positive feelings, such as in romantic encounters.
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 Psychology Chapter 1 What is Psychology?
question 1. What are the problems for which collaboration of psychologists with other disciplines can be fruitful? Take any two problems to explain.
Answer: Psychology is located at the intersection of many fields of knowledge pertaining to human functioning.
- It contributes to the growth of other disciplines and draws subject-matter from them as well.
- In the study of brain and behaviour psychology shares its knowledge with neurology, physiology, biology, medicine and computer science.
- In studying the meaning, growth and the development of human behaviour in a socio-cultural context, psychology shares its knowledge with anthropology, sociology, social work, political science and economics.
Question 2. Differentiate between (a) a psychologist and a psychiatrist (b) a counsellor and a clinical psychologist.
(a) Psychologist—A psychologist is someone who possesses the knowledge of psychology and holds recognized degree in the field; they work in diverse areas, like teaching, counselling, community etc.
Psychiatrist—They are qualified medical-practitioners who are concerned with psychological well-being of individuals. Clinical Psychologist and psychiatrist are different in the qualification and in roles.
Clinical Psychologist cannot administer or prescribe drugs whereas psychiatrists are medical professionals and trained in administering medicine/drugs to treat mental disorders.
(b) Counsellor—A counsellor provides advice to the persons who suffer from motivational and emotional problems, they provide vocational guidance also.
Clinical psychologist—A clinical psychologist also helps people with behavioural, mental and emotional problems.
- They are post- graduate in Psychology and are specialised professionals.
- They provide therapy for various mental disorders, anxiety, fear or stress of any type.
- They use interview and administer psychological tests to diagnose the client’s problem.
Question 3. Describe some of the areas of everyday life where understanding of psychology can be put to practice.
- Psychology is not only a subject that satisfies curiosities of our mind about human nature, but it is also a subject that offers solutions to a variety of problems. It ranges from personal to family, a community or even national and international dimensions.
- The solution of these problems may involve political, economic and social reforms; however, these problems are a result of unhealthy thinking, negative attitude towards people and self and undesirable patterns of behaviour.
- A psychological analysis of these problems helps both in having a deeper understanding of these problems and also finding effective solutions.
- Psychology enables an individual to understand oneself in a balanced and positive way without being reactionary, in order to deal with everyday challenges and meet with personal expectations.
- Therefore, understanding of psychology enables a person to build stronger relationships at community level and improve individual strength.
Question 4. How can knowledge of the field of environmental psychology be used to promote environment friendly behaviour?
Answer: Environmental psychology studies the interaction between natural and man-made environment and human behaviour.
- The knowledge of environmental psychology can help us prevent big disasters.
- We can learn to modify our behaviour to prevent any unwanted and painful outcome.
- For example, if we know the hazards of growing population, we can certainly apply some measure to stop population growth.
NCERT Class 11 Psychology Textbook Chapter 1 What is Psychology With Answer PDF Free Download