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Lesson One: What Is Psychology?

An Introduction to Psychology

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Lesson One: What Is Psychology?

Welcome to lesson one of the free Psychology 101 course! In this introductory lesson, we will focus on learning more about psychology as a discipline. While psychology is one of the most popular classes on college campuses, it is actually a relatively young subject. For this lesson, focus on getting a solid grasp of the basics including some of the major subfields and the history of psychology.

Psychology is often defined as the study of the mind and behavior. Before you can begin studying in earnest, you need to understand some of the basics.

Goals for This Week:

  • Learn the basics
  • Become familiar with psychology's history
  • Learn more about contemporary views on psychology
  • Understand the different areas in psychology
  • Learn how you can become a consumer of psychology

Click the links below to read the articles and resources related to each topic in this lesson. Don't worry, there's no homework! This is a self-directed lesson, which means it is up to you to read the material and learn the information. Good luck!

Getting Started

Before you begin studying psychology, you need to gain a clear understanding of exactly what psychology is. When did psychology originate? What do psychologists study? This first lesson will answer these questions and more, providing you with a good foundation for further study of this vast and fascinating subject. Read the following article to learn more about psychology basics.

A Look Back

In order to understand where we are going, it sometimes helps to take a look at where we have been. While psychology is a relatively young discipline, it has a rich and colorful history. With iconic figures like Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner, studying the history of psychology provides an intriguing glimpse into the minds of some of preeminent thinkers of the past century. Read this article to get a brief overview of the history of psychology.

Psychology Today

Various topics and issues in psychology can be approached from a number of different perspectives. In order to study or explain a specific problem, a researcher might look at the biological, environmental, cognitive or cultural influences that may have played key roles. As you are reading this lesson, think about your own outlook. Which perspectives would you use to explain different behaviors? Learn more about the different perspectives in psychology.

Areas of Interest

Psychology is a diverse field, so there are many different careers and specialties for students to consider. Whether you are interested in a career in psychology or you simply want to better understand what different professionals do in this highly varied field, learning more about the different specialty areas can give you a better feel for the depth and breadth of this subject. Start exploring some of the major specialty areas in psychology.

Understanding Psychology

Nearly every day new reports about the findings of the latest psychology studies are broadcast on television, shared on the Internet, printed in newspapers or discussed on daytime talk shows. The first step toward becoming a wise consumer of psychology research is to learn how to evaluate the different news reports you see in popular media sources each day. In this article, we will explore how you can become an informed psychology consumer.

Final Thoughts

That's it for this lesson! Clearly, there is quite a bit of information here to take in. Once you feel that you are ready, feel free to move on to lesson two of the course. I would recommend giving yourself a brief break from the material, and then come back and review the information from lesson one before moving on to lesson two.

If you find yourself struggling, be sure to check out our great collection of study tips for psychology students. We also have advice on how to study for a psychology exam and how to take good psychology notes.

Sign-Up for the Psychology 101 E-Course

If you want to receive each lesson in your inbox rather than having to remember to visit the site each week, then be sure to sign up for the Psychology 101 E-course. It's completely free and one lesson will arrive via email each week. Be sure to check out the Psychology 101 e-course FAQ page to answers to some of the most common questions.

For even more psychology articles and resources, don't forget to subscribe to the weekly About.com Psychology newsletter!

Next: Lesson Two

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