In Psychology, we present the big ideas in psychology from a science perspective. We examine the history of psychology, and consider what psychological researchers actually do. We describe the factors that shape psychological research, such as a psychologist's training, which theories psychologists study, and how they interpret findings. And we explore issues that researchers and the public may have difficulty understanding, such as emotion, perception, attention, memory, and personality. For each topic, we explain the big ideas in a simplified way, and make suggestions for further reading. We also examine the relation between psychological theory and physical theory, as well as the relation between psychological and social theory. We explain the big ideas of the scientific method, and show how psychologists use both quantitative and qualitative techniques. We begin with the big idea that the mind is as natural as the body. We explain how psychologists study the mind through physiology and medicine, and examine the brain, nervous system, and hormones.
We present the big ideas of the scientific method. We explain how psychologists make inferences, and test their theories. We discuss how psychologists test and explain the brain, nervous system, and hormones.
So what exactly is psychology? The best way to start is by examining the big ideas that have helped shape modern psychological research. As it turns out, Psychology was the first truly scientific study of the mind and mental processes. More than two hundred years ago, Scottish biologist James Burroughs asked how the mind works. His answer: As bodily processes, the brain runs on nerve impulses and chemical messengers. Just as a machine such as a car works, because its internal parts are controlled by electric impulses sent from a central unit (the brain), so too the mind operates through a central mechanism of thought and feeling. Over the following century, psychologists studied the brain, nervous system, and mind to identify the mental mechanisms that underlie thought and feeling. But it wasn't until the early 20th Century that researchers began to systematically study the mind as a process. The psychologist John Watson began to establish psychological research as a rigorous, scientific endeavor. He founded the Psychological Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in 1902, and this lab transformed psychology from an esoteric discipline into a serious scientific study.
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