Give a historical account of emergence of Psychology as a science.
Psychology is a vast field which studies behavioural aspects of human beings. It started as a branch of Philosophy. In 1879, Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig (Germany) and so Psychology emerged as an independent branch of knowledge.
The word Psychology is derived from the Greek words 'Psyche' (meaning soul or mind) and 'Logos' (meaning science or branch of knowledge). Thus, the literal meaning of Psychology was 'Science of the soul or science of the mind'. However, neither soul or mind can be described in concrete terms nor scientifically observed. Hence, the definition of psychology was modified.
Willhelm Wundt explained Psychology as the study of 'conscious experience'.
Sigmund Freud explained Psychology as the study of the unconscious and stressed the importance of early childhood experiences. However, neither consciousness nor 'unconscious' are directly observable.
John Watson defined psychology as 'a science of behaviour'. Today, Psychology is defined as, 'the scientific study of human behaviour and mental process'. The key terms in this definition are behaviour, mental processes, scientific method.
- Behaviour - It includes anything that a person or animal does, that can be observed, recorded and studied. It is an organism's response to the stimuli present in the environment. This is represented as the S-O-R model of behaviour. ('S' stands for stimulus, 'O' stands for organism and 'R' stands for Response of the organism). Stimulus refers to any physical event or condition that gives rise to a reaction or activity of a sense organ. It can be external (e.g., sound wave stimulates the ear) or internal (e.g., stimuli for hunger)
Organism refer to the human being or animal.
Response refer to the reaction of the reaction of the organism to a stimulus. This involves the activity of muscles and glands.
Behaviour includes overt activities (bodily movements like walking, dancing, singing, etc which can be observed directly) and covert activities(mental processes like thinking, feelings, forgetting, etc.).
- Mental processes include thinking, emotion, forgetting, motivation, etc. These mental processes can be measured through how people react to different situations and problems in their lives.
- Scientific method - Science is a body of systematic knowledge that is gathered by careful observation, measurement and experimentation. The results of observation and experiments can be generalized for analysis and prediction of behaviour.