Psychologists define psychology as the science of behaviour and mental/cognitive processes. Behaviour is generally defined as anything we do, especially if it can be observed as talking, eating, running, fighting, etc. Psychologists study the behaviour of people and animals in a variety of settings. On the other hand, they also study mental/cognitive processes, which include thinking, dreaming, remembering and problem-solving, etc. These cognitive activities are usually not directly observable and are often studies through reports provided by human research subjects. Psychologist often studies biological and physiological processes that accompany both behaviour and mental processes. for example, brain waves during dreaming and heart rate during emotion are studied in psychology. In general terms, we can say that Psychology is the study of what organisms (not just people of course) feel and how they think.
In short, we claim scientific status for psychology because it meets two criteria. It has an organised body of knowledge and uses of scientific methods. More about Psychology consult link.
contents that are important to study in psychology
- Motivation in Psychology
- Sensation in Psychology
- Perception in psychology
- Emotion in Psychology
- Memory in psychology
1. Motivation – Psychology
The word motivation stems from the Latin word ”Mover” which means to excite. The motive is an inner force which urges man to move towards any goal. Motivation is a process of directing and maintaining a behaviour until the desired goal is achieved either biologically or psychologically. Some of the motives are essential for human survival while some are essential for sustaining a healthy, happy, and successful life.
Primary motives are essential for survival which are unlearned and common to both humans and animals. Primary motives are hunger drive, thirst drive, temperature regulation, sleep drive, fatigue, sex drive, and air. And secondary motives are learned motives that can differ from animal to animal and person to person and it includes Achievement motive, affiliation, curiosity, aggression, needs for appreciation, social approval, and numerous other specialised motives.
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
We could say that we do things for basically two reasons: because they are fun or pleasurable (intrinsic motivation), or because they will lead to something in the environment that we want (extrinsic motivation). This could describe the difference between work and play. You might read your textbook because you enjoy it intrinsically, or you might read it to earn a good grade (extrinsic motivation) in class. Or more likely it is the combination of both.
2. Sensation – Psychology
Sensation occurs when we experience stimuli through our sensory organs. When we see, hear, taste, or feel something, the stimuli activate our sensory receptor cells and the nerve impulses travel through our nervous system to the sensory areas of the brain and then sensation occurs. Different types of stimuli activate different sense organs. The sensation of the stimulus differs in their intensity of energy that activates receptor cells of a human organ. Receptors are the sensory cells that are used to transport information from the sensory organs to the brain stimulated by the stimulus. The stimulus has the intensity to activate receptor cells and this intensity will later convert into neural codes in our sensory cells and travel to the brain. This process of converting intensity energy into neural codes are called Transduction.
3. Perception – Psychology
perception is the process of interpreting the information in the brain gathered by the process of sensation. The perception is determined by the condition of stimulus and characteristics of the perceiver. The condition of stimulus means physical energies of the stimulus and the characteristics of the perceiver mean the motives, attitudes, and personality of the perceiver. there are two factors of perception;
- Objective factors/stimulus field
- Subjective factors/characteristics of the perceiver
Objective factors of perception/ Stimulus field
In certain instances, perception may be determined primarily by the stimulus involved. There are a number of characteristics of stimuli that influence our perception. These are;
- Movement: The moving objects are more easily perceived than a stationary object. for example, flickering lights are perceived more than non-flickering lights. A moving vehicle is perceived more than a stationed vehicle.
- Intensity: More intense light, sound or smell are perceived more easily than less intense ones. for example, a high voltage bulb will be observed quicker than a low voltage bulb.
- Novelty: new kinds of objects are perceived quickly. Advertising agencies use to adopt this technique very effectively. for example, the latest fashion dress, shoes, pen, etc.
- Size: Bigger and smaller objects are perceived more than the average level size of an object.
- Change: A change in our environment draws our attention quickly. for example, a showpiece placed in a new place, a ratio playing a song stops due to electricity failure are more perceived.
- Repetition: When a stimulus is presented repeatedly our attention is diverted, for example, the repeated horn of a fire brigade or ambulance.
- Colour: colourful objects are perceived more quickly than black and white colours.
- Clarity: An object or sound that can be experienced clearly draws our attention than the stimuli which are not clear. for example, during night times stars and planets which are seen clearly draw our attention.
Subjective factors of perception/characteristics of the perceiver
These factors refer to individuals. these are inherent in people. There are many subjective factors that determine our attention. and they are;
- Interest and values: Interests and values have a great great deal to do with perception. we attend to those aspects of our world that relate to our interests. A botany professor and a sailor in the park attend to quite different aspects of the stimuli involved. the botany professor may attend to a particular flora found in the park; the sailor attends to the fauna found in the park scarcely noting that there are eleven tresses.
- motives and needs: When people are motivated, they tend to see and hear what they want to see and hear. Our motives and need may lead us to expect to perceive certain things. In other words, we may be set to perceive the world in ways that agree with our motives and match our needs.
- Age: Age brings change in perception as well. There is a vast difference in perception of things between a newborn infant and an elder person. A child perceives a moon in quite a different way as compared to a young person.
- Preparatory setup: This refers to a person’s readiness to respond to one kind of sensory input, but not to other kinds. for instance, a husband who is expecting an important telephone call may hear the telephone ring in the night, but his wife may not. the wife, on the other hand, may be more likely to hear the baby crying than the telephone.
4. Emotion – Psychology
We all know something about feelings and emotions through our own experiences. No one needs to be told that anger, fear, joy and hate are typical human emotions. We are also aware of the importance of such feelings in our behaviour. What we do is often motivated by our feelings. But what exactly is meant by the term ”emotion”?
The word ”emotion” is derived from the Latin word ”emovere”, which means to stir up, agitate or excite.
What is an emotion? there is no concise definition because emotion can be anything at once. First of all the way, we feel we’re emotional. Secondly, bodily or physiological patterns of emotional response, thirdly expression of verbal and non-verbal communication of emotions. Thus, we can use a general definition: Emotions are feeling that generally have both physiological and cognitive elements that influence behaviour.
Consider, for example, how it feels to be happy. First, you obviously experience a feeling that you can differentiate from other emotions. It is likely you also experience some physical changes in your body. Perhaps your heart rate increases or you find yourself jumping for joy. Finally, the emotion probably encompasses cognitive elements, your understanding, and evaluation of the meaning of what is happening in your environment prompt your feelings of happiness and you express this feeling in your behaviour.
In short, emotion is defined as an experience that has a subjective feeling, cognitive interpretation, physiological reaction, and behavioural expression.
5. Memory – Psychology
what is memory and why we remember certain things and forget others? Psychologist define memory as the capacity to record, retain and retrieve information. Without memory, learning would be impossible; people could not build on past experiences or adapt their knowledge to new situations.
The process of memory depends on three steps: recording (encoding), retaining (storage), and retrieval (recall). First, the information as gathered must be classified and arranged so that it can be stored. This is the process of encoding. second, information must produce some trace or other permanent or semi permanent change in the brain, which will remain until the information is needed. This is the process of storage. Storage may be long term or short term. Finally, when it is needed, the information must be retrieved. Retrieval is a process acting upon the stored trace that arouses a suitable behaviour flow based on the stored information. Here we have to discuss three processes of memory:
1. Recording or encoding (Learning)
2. Retaining or storage (Retention)
3. Retrieval (Recall and Recognition)
1. Recording or encoding (Learning)
The first process of encoding consists of a process of identifying the stimulus. In the human, this process may be accomplished by naming the stimulus, and short-term memory for words or numbers can often be supplemented by a process of verbal rehearsal, in which the subject repeatedly remembers the items and says it to himself. It also appears that visual situations can be imagined and thereby held for a fairly long time in short term storage. Encoding in long term storage appears to be a much more radical reworking of the information, for long term storage requires that a meaningful pattern may be extracted from the information.
2. Retaining or storage ( Retention )
The second process or stage of memory is storage. Memory specialists speak of placing information in storage, the location in the memory system in which material is saved. If the material is not stored adequately in the first place, it cannot later be recalled. When items of information are placed in the long term store, they are put into organised categories where they reside for days, months, years or a lifetime.
3. Retrieval or Recall
Memory depends on one last process: retrieval. In retrieval, material in memory storage is located, brought into awareness and used. When we remember something, the copy of the item is withdrawn or retrieved from the long term store. Imagine yourself asking someone for a telephone number you do not know. (It is in the other person’s long term store but not in yours). The person tells you the number (it was retrieved and resulted in an output), and off you go to dial it.
Although the processes of recording, retaining, and retrieving are necessary for the memory to operate successfully, they do not describe the specific manner in which material is entered into our storehouse of memories. Many psychologists studying memory suggest that there are different stages through which information must travel if it is to be remembered.