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Kendra Cherry

What Exactly Is Psychology, Anyway?

By March 27, 2014

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what is psychology?

What exactly is psychology? While it may seem like a very basic question, it is one of the most common questions asked by students new to the study of psychology. During your first lecture of an introductory psychology class, your instructor might spend some time going around the room asking students to explain what they think psychology involves. During my first psychology class, one girl made a dramatic point of waving her fingers over another student's head and pretending to read his thoughts. Unfortunately, such misconceptions about psychology abound and part of the confusion stems from stereotyped portrayals of psychologists in popular media as well as the diverse careers paths of those holding psychology degrees.

The simplest definition of psychology is that it is the study of the mind and behavior. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion and behavior. Applications of psychology include mental health treatment, performance enhancement, self-help, ergonomics, and many other areas affecting health and daily life. It's difficult to capture everything that psychology encompasses in just a brief definition, but topics such as development, personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivations, and social behaviors represent just a portion of what psychology seeks to understand and explain.

Learn more about some of the basics of psychology in this definition of psychology.

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