Introduction to Psychology
Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope and diverse interests that, when taken together, seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of epiphenomena they manifest. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.
In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.
Psychologists explore behavior and mental processes, including perception, cognition, attention, emotion (affect), intelligence, phenomenology, motivation (conation), brain functioning, and personality. This extends to interaction between people, such as interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind. Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some—especially clinical and counseling psychologists—at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a "hub science", with psychological findings linking to research and perspectives from the social sciences, natural sciences, medicine, humanities, and philosophy.
Psychology is the science of the mind and behavior. The word "psychology" comes from the Greek word psyche meaning "breath, spirit, soul", and the Greek word logia meaning the study of something.
According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, psychology is "The profession (clinical psychology), scholarly discipline (academic psychology), and science (research psychology) concerned with the behavior of humans and animals, and related mental and physiologic processes." Although psychology may also include the study of the mind and behavior of animals, in this article psychology refers to humans.
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Fast facts on psychology
Here are some key points about psychology. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- Psychology is the study of behavior and the mind.
- We are unable to physically see mental processes such as thoughts, memories, dreams and perceptions.
- Clinical psychology is an integration science, theory, and practice.
- Cognitive psychology investigates internal mental processes such as how people think, perceive and communicate.
- Developmental psychology is the study of how a person develops psychologically over the course of their life.
- Evolutionary psychology examines how psychological adjustments during evolution have affected human behavior.
- Forensic psychology is the application of psychology to the process of criminal investigation and the law.
- Health psychology observes how health can be influenced by behavior, biology and social context.
- Neuropsychology examines the how the brain functions in relation to different behaviors and psychological processes.
- Occupational psychology investigates how people perform at work in order to develop an understanding of how organizations function.
- Social psychology is a study of how the behavior and thoughts of people are influenced by the actual or implied presence of others.
Scope of Psychology:
The field of psychology can be understood by various subfields of psychology making an attempt in meeting the goals of psychology.
In the most fundamental sense, human beings are biological organisms. Physiological functions and the structure of our body work together to influence our behaviour. Biopsychology is the branch that specializes in the area. Bio-psychologists may examine the ways in which specific sites in the brain which are related to disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or they may try to determine how our sensations are related to our behaviour.
Here the studies are with respect to how people grow and change throughout their life from prenatal stages, through childhood, adulthood and old age. Developmental psychologists work in a variety of settings like colleges, schools, healthcare centres, business centres, government and non-profit organizations, etc. They are also very much involved in studies of the disturbed children and advising parents about helping such children.
This branch helps to explain both consistency and change in a person’s behaviour over time, from birth till the end of life through the influence of parents, siblings, playmates, school, society and culture. It also studies the individual traits that differentiate the behaviour of one person from that of another person.
This explores the relations between the psychological factors and physical ailments and disease. Health psychologists focus on health maintenance and promotion of behaviour related to good health such as exercise, health habits and discouraging unhealthy behaviours like smoking, drug abuse and alcoholism.
Health psychologists work in healthcare setting and also in colleges and universities where they conduct research. They analyse and attempt to improve the healthcare system and formulate health policies.
It deals with the assessment and intervention of abnormal behaviour. As some observe and believe that psychological disorders arise from a person’s unresolved conflicts and unconscious motives, others maintain that some of these patterns are merely learned responses, which can be unlearned with training, still others are contend with the knowledge of thinking that there are biological basis to certain psychological disorders, especially the more serious ones. Clinical psychologists are employed in hospitals, clinics and private practice. They often work closely with other specialists in the field of mental health.
This focuses primarily on educational, social and career adjustment problems. Counselling psychologists advise students on effective study habits and the kinds of job they might be best suited for, and provide help concerned with mild problems of social nature and strengthen healthy lifestyle, economical and emotional adjustments.
They make use of tests to measure aptitudes, interests and personality characteristics. They also do marriage and family counselling, provide strategies to improve family relations.
Educational psychologists are concerned with all the concepts of education. This includes the study of motivation, intelligence, personality, use of rewards and punishments, size of the class, expectations, the personality traits and the effectiveness of the teacher, the student-teacher relationship, the attitudes, etc. It is also concerned with designing tests to evaluate student performance. They also help in designing the curriculum to make learning more interesting and enjoyable to children.
Educational psychology is used in elementary and secondary schools, planning and supervising special education, training teachers, counselling students having problems, assessing students with learning difficulties such as poor writing and reading skills and lack of concentration.
This studies the effect of society on the thoughts, feelings and actions of people. Our behaviour is not only the result of just our personality and predisposition. Social and environmental factors affect the way we think, say and do. Social psychologists conduct experiments to determine the effects of various groups, group pressures and influence on behaviour.
They investigate on the effects of propaganda, persuation, conformity, conflict, integration, race, prejudice and aggression. These investigations explain many incidents that would otherwise be difficult to understand. Social psychologists work largely in colleges and universities and also other organizations.
Industrial and Organizational Psychology:
The private and public organizations apply psychology to management and employee training, supervision of personnel, improve communication within the organization, counselling employees and reduce industrial disputes.
Thus we can say that in organizational and industrial sectors not only the psychological effects of working attitude of the employees are considered but also the physical aspects are given importance to make workers feel healthy.
It is the branch that studies the processes of sensing, perceiving, learning, thinking, etc. by using scientific methods. The outcome of the experimental psychology is cognitive psychology which focuses on studying higher mental processes including thinking, knowing, reasoning, judging and decision-making. Experimental psychologists often do research in lab by frequently using animals as their experimental subjects.
It focuses on the relationships between people and their physical and social surroundings. For example, the density of population and its relationship with crime, the noise pollution and its harmful effects and the influence of overcrowding upon lifestyle, etc.
12. Psychology of Women:
This concentrates on psychological factors of women’s behaviour and development. It focuses on a broad range of issues such as discrimination against women, the possibility of structural differences in the brain of men and women, the effect of hormones on behaviour, and the cause of violence against women, fear of success, outsmarting nature of women with respect to men in various accomplishments.
13. Sports and Exercise Psychology:
It studies the role of motivation in sport, social aspects of sport and physiological issues like importance of training on muscle development, the coordination between eye and hand, the muscular coordination in track and field, swimming and gymnastics.
14. Cognitive Psychology:
It has its roots in the cognitive outlook of the Gestalt principles. It studies thinking, memory, language, development, perception, imagery and other mental processes in order to peep into the higher human mental functions like insight, creativity and problem-solving. The names of psychologists like Edward Tolman and Jean Piaget are associated with the propagation of the ideas of this school of thought.
Skill and Competencies needed in Psychology
- Communication. ...
- Numeracy. ...
- Research. ...
- Ethics. ...
- Patience. ...
- Academic writing and presentation skills.
- Critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Abstract reasoning.
- Communication and interpersonal skills.
- Leadership and teamwork skills.
- Organization/time management skills.
- Goal setting and prioritizing.
- Knowledge of and experience with basic techniques of statistical analysis
- General research skills including database searching, conducting literature reviews, synthesizing and interpreting vast amounts of information, designing and conducting new research, data analysis, and interpreting and understanding both your own and other’s research results
Job Opportunities and Career Options in Psychology
Psychology is a very broad field and graduates of psychology can access a lot of career opportunities. Psychologists perform a different duties in several industries. For example, psychologists that works health services sector may provide mental evaluation and healthcare services in clinics, hospitals, schools, or in the private sector. They can also work in applied settings, including industry, business, nonprofit organizations, or government, providing training, conducting research and designing organizational systems.
The following are some job roles for psychologists:
- Clinical psychologist
- Counselling psychologist
- Educational psychologist
- Forensic psychologist
- Further education teacher
- Health psychologist
- High intensity therapist
- Occupational psychologist
- Primary care graduate mental health worker
- Psychological wellbeing practitioner
- Sport and exercise psychologist
- Advice worker
- Careers adviser
- Human resources officer
- Life coach
- Market researcher
- Play therapist
- Mental Health Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist.
- Recreational Therapist.
- School Career Counselor.
- Career Counselor.
- Special Education Teacher.
- Forensic Psychologist
- Army Mental Health Specialist
- Career Counseling
- Child Counseling
- Child Abuse Counselor
- Community Counseling
- Domestic Violence Counseling
- Gerontological Counseling
- Licensed Professional Counseling
- Marriage, Family and Child Counseling
- Military Chaplain
- Military Counselor
- Multi-Cultural Counseling
- Rehabilitation Counseling
- Substance Abuse Counseling
- Art Therapist
- Exercise Therapist
- Existential Therapist
- Marriage and Family Therapist
- Music Therapist
Admission Requirements for the study of Psychology in Nigeria
The O'level subject combination and requirements needed to study Psychology;
You require; Five SSCE credit passes in Government or History, English Language and three other subjects. At least a pass in Mathematics is required.
In UTME, please note that English Language is Compulsory for this course. Therefore, the three (3) other JAMB UTME subject combination needed to study Psychology under the Faculty of Social & Management Sciences in the above Universities include;
Any three subjects from Arts or Social Science.