Explain The Nature of Psychology by Giving Examples

The word, ‘Psychology’ is derived from two Greek words, ‘Psyche’ and ‘Logos’. Psyche means ‘soul’ and ‘Logos’ means ‘science’.

So, the original definition of psychology was “science of the soul.” The purpose of psychology, according to older psychologists, was to investigate the make-up, history, and destiny of the human soul. However, soul is a metaphysical concept. We cannot do scientific studies on the soul since it cannot be seen, observed, or touched.

Psychology was referred to as the “Science of Mind” in the 18th century. Psychology, according to William James (1892), is the study of mental processes. However, there is some ambiguity in the word “mind” due to disagreements over the definition and purposes of the mind.

Modern psychologists defined psychology as the “Science of Consciousness”.

  • James Sully (1884) defined psychology as the “Science of the Inner World”.
  • Wilhelm Wundt (1892) defined psychology as the science which studies the “internal experiences”. But there are three levels of consciousness -conscious, subconscious and the unconscious and so this definition also was not accepted by some.

Thus psychology first lost its soul, then its mind and then its consciousness. At present only its behaviour exists.

  • William McDugall (1905) defined psychology as the “Science of Behaviour”
  • Psychology should, therefore, be defined as a “science of behaviour and experiences on human beings.” (B.F. Skinner)
  • According to Crow and Crow, “Psychology is the study of human behaviour and human relationship.”

Nature of Psychology

Psychology is presently considered as a behavioural science.

The nature of psychology can be divided in the following headings:

  • Psychology as a science of the soul: The word,
    ‘Psychology is derived from two Greek words, ‘Psyche and ‘Logos’. Psyche means ‘soul’ and ‘Logos’ means
    ‘science. Thus psychology was first defined as the
    “science of soul”
  • Psychology as a study of Mind: Some psychologists considered psychology as a science of the mind. The term mind was considered better and it was substituted for the soul. Mind is a combination of the sum total of mental processes and it stands for personal internal experiences of man. E.g., pleasure and pains hopes and wish etc.
  • Psychology as a science of consciousness: Psychology was also defined as a science of consciousness. Consciousness means to be aware of the situation, to be fully alive to the situation or to be most wakeful to the situation. Hence consciousness stands for the inner experience of man.
  • Psychology as a science of behaviour: The latest definition of psychology is in terms of behaviour. According to Watson psychology is the positive science of behaviour. Behaviour includes physical and mental behaviour, normal as well as abnormal behaviour, and human as well as animal behaviour.