Psychology has been at the center of our lives and in every aspect of our daily lives since the day we were born. It deals with our happiness, sadness, joy, wishes and curiosities. Apart from our emotions, it is also interested in how we raise our children, our business life, and the problems in our marriage. Although psychology is often seen as an abstract discipline, it also examines the situations in which people act. Psychology is a multi-faceted science that both conducts scientific research and puts those researches into practice. Let’s go a little deeper and talk about what psychology is, its subfields and its founder, Wilhelm Wunt, and other scientists who contributed to psychology.
How is psychology defined in the scientific field?
Psychology is the science that studies the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Psychology deals with human thoughts, feelings, personal or interpersonal problems. Although it is popularly known as psychology, it contains the meaning of the word psychology in our language.
Foundation of Psychological Science
The term “psychology” was first introduced in the 16th century by Marko Marulić as a fusion of research terms as soul research. Before psychology became a science of its own, it was a subfield of philosophy until the 1870s. In 1879, research was started in “Leipzig Germany”, the first laboratory dedicated to psychological research in Germany by Wilhelm Wunt. In the days when psychology was first studied, there were two dominant theoretical perspectives: structuralism and functionalism. Structuralism sought to examine and explain the structure of human movements, was concerned with uncovering the essential components of mental states and activities pioneered by Wilhelm Wunt (1832-1920). The term structuralism comes from Edward Titchener, a student of Wunt’s student, the American psychologist. Structuralism is based on the procedure of introspection, which examines the structure of the mind as subjects perform a task and from the subjects’ descriptions of their experiences. However, introspection has proven to be an unreliable method as there are individual differences in the reports of the subjects. Despite the failure of introspection, Wundt is an important figure in psychology. The founder of the functionalism school is William Wunt. James developed the school of functionalism in opposition to structuralism. He argues that the function of human movements should be investigated, not their structure. William James was also greatly influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution. The theory of evolution is concerned with how people reflect their mental thoughts on their actions and the results they reflect. And this is connected with the school of functionalism. The school of functionalism also cares about projected results: it wonders if it is useful, efficient, practical. Structuralism “what?” While addressing the question of functionalism, “why?” addresses the question.
Basic Sub-Fields of Psychology
Psychology is very rich in its subfields; It has 40-50 sub-domains and almost all of these domains are interconnected. Although it is not possible to explain all of them, let’s examine the basic sub-fields together.
Institutional Sub-Fields of Psychology:
Cognitive psychology is the field that focuses on internal mental states. It has continued to grow since it emerged in the 1960s. This field focuses on the science of how people think, learn and remember. It is the broadest study of mental processes such as thinking, caring, remembering, making decisions, and judging. Cognitive psychologists believe that mental processes should be studied. Although these processes cannot be observed directly, behaviors can be observed and inferences can be made from these behaviors. The main focus of cognitive psychologists is mental processes and some of these processes are as follows; attention, memory, perception.
Experimental psychology is the branch of psychology that uses scientific methods to study the brain and behavior. experimental psychologists; works in a variety of places, including private schools, universities, research centers, government and private businesses. Experimental psychologists use the scientific method to study a range of human behavior and psychological phenomena. This branch of psychology is often seen as a separate subfield within psychology, but experimental techniques and methods are actually widely used in every subfield of psychology. Some of the methods used in experimental psychology include experiments, correlation studies, case studies, and natural observation.
Developmental psychology is a scientific approach that aims to explain growth, change, and consistency throughout life. Developmental psychology; It looks at how a person’s thinking, feeling, and behavior change throughout their life. While these psychologists usually specialize in an area such as infant, child, adolescent, or geriatric development, others may study the effects of developmental delays. An important part of the theories in this discipline focuses on development because this is the period in which the most change occurs during an individual’s lifetime. This field covers a wide variety of topics, including everything from prenatal development to Alzheimer’s disease.
Personality psychology is the branch of psychology that focuses on the study of thought patterns, emotions, and behaviors that make each individual unique. Classical theories of personality include Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality and Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Personality psychologists can study how different factors such as genetics, parenting, and social experiences affect how personality develops and changes.
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affected by the real, imaginary, or implied presence of others. Attribution to others, imagined or implied, indicates that we are prone to social influence even when no one else is present, such as when watching television or following internalized cultural norms. A fundamental subject in social psychology is the study of attitudes. Attitudes; It takes place in almost every area of the discipline, including conformity, interpersonal attractiveness, social perception, and prejudice. Social psychologists focus on how people perceive and interact with others.
Applied Subfields of Psychology:
Forensic psychology is a field that combines psychology and legal practice. Those working in this field benefit from psychological expertise as applied to the justice system. The word ‘forensic’ comes from the Latin word ‘forensics’, meaning the court system or ‘forum’ of Ancient Rome. Forensic psychologists testify in court cases, prepare children to testify, evaluate children in suspected child abuse. Environmental psychology is a field that studies the relationship between the environment and human behavior. It examines the impact of environmental conditions on human behavior and the impact of various actions of people on the social and physical environment.
Counseling psychology is one of psychology’s largest individual subfields. It focuses on treating patients experiencing mental distress and a wide range of psychological symptoms. The Counseling Psychology Association defines the field as one that can improve interpersonal functioning throughout life by addressing concerns about health, work, family, marriage, and more, as well as improving social and emotional health.
Psychology of Religion
The psychology of religion is a field that deals with and examines the psychological aspects of one’s unique religious life. The psychology of religion wants to comprehend and examine the religious life of man with all its depth and breadth and show its relationship with spiritual events. The psychology of religion does not argue over the orders and prohibitions of religion. It only examines the reflections of religion on the individual.
Education psychology; Instructional psychology is a field that studies subjects such as schools and student concerns. Apart from this, it also examines issues such as giftedness, learning difficulties, teaching process and individual differences. Educational psychologists study how students learn to improve student outcomes.
Industrial-organizational psychology is a field that applies psychological principles to investigate workplace issues such as productivity and behavior. This area of psychology maximizes employee well-being and increases productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Some psychologists in this field work in areas such as human factors, ergonomics, and human-computer interaction.
Physiological psychology is a field of psychology that deals with how physiology, genetics, and biology affect emotional responses, memory, mental illness, states of consciousness, and sensory perception. Studies in physiological psychology explore topics including brain development, visual perception, movement disorders, nervous system, sleep stages, and escape behaviors.
Clinical psychology is the field that deals with the evaluation and treatment of mental illness, abnormal behavior and psychiatric disorders. Clinicians often work in private practice, but many also work in community centers or at universities and colleges. Others are; work in hospital settings or mental health clinics as part of a collaborative team that may include doctors, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals.
Neuropsychology is a field that studies the relationships between brain processes and mechanisms on the one hand, and cognition and behavioral control on the other. Neuropsychology; It is divided into three main branches: experimental neuropsychology, clinical neuropsychology and cognitive neuropsychology. Neuropsychologists generally work in research-oriented areas such as universities, laboratories, or clinical areas such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
Psychopharmacology is the field that deals with the use of drugs in the treatment of mental disorders. Psychopharmacologists need to understand all clinically relevant pharmacokinetic principles (what the body does to the drug) and pharmacodynamics (what drugs do to the body).
Health psychology is a specialty that focuses on how biology, psychology, behavior, and social factors affect health and illness. This field is focused on the prevention and treatment of disease and illness as well as promoting health. Health psychologists are concerned with improving health in a wide variety of fields. It also deals with health-related issues such as weight management, smoking cessation, stress management, and nutrition. They can also research how people cope with illness and help patients look for new, more effective coping strategies.
Sports psychology is a field that studies how psychology affects sport, athletic performance, exercise, and physical activity. Some sports psychologists work with professional athletes and coaches to improve performance and increase motivation. Other professionals use exercise and sport to improve people’s lives and well-being throughout their entire lives.
Traffic psychology examines the psychological processes underlying the behavior of pedestrians and drivers in traffic. Traffic psychology makes important contributions to the development of accident prevention. Psychology, as we mentioned above, is a very broad science, it has a trace in every aspect of our lives. It seems that in the future, it will become a part of our lives, not just as a trace.