What is psychology?

Having a good understanding of what psychology is is crucial to anyone wishing to explore the subject in greater depth. Now it may sound like something really obvious to say, but psychology is one of the terms that are often classified without any real consideration of its true meaning.

A classic case is the normal response you receive from people when you tell them that you teach psychology; namely, “You’d better be careful about what I’m saying” or “So you know what I’m thinking?” I know I should not, but my default response to these reactions tends to be “absolute” and “not at all … but so say is not it?”

But it is actually a serious point because there is clearly a lot of confusion about psychology. In fact, I met psychology students who arrived at the end of their career and admitted that they are still not 100% sure of what psychology is.

Definitions of psychology

To help understand the ambiguity about psychology, let’s start by looking at a few definitions.

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Psychology is the scientific study of people, mind and behavior. It is both a thriving academic discipline and a vital academic practice. (The British Psychological Society) The scientific study of individuals behavior and their mental processes. (American Psychological Association)

The common theme in all of these definitions is that psychology is fundamentally related to the understanding of behavior.

So what’s the problem?

Basically, there is no agreement. Within psychology there are several levels of explanation that are often competitive when it comes to understanding behavior. When you begin to study psychology, you quickly realize how unequal a subject is and sometimes it can be overwhelming.

Keep it easy

Especially when you start. Just hold the idea that psychology is really about behavior. You can not expect to know all the different ways of explaining behavior right away; but as you are presented more and more, you will find that you will soon be able to explain the behavior within a suitable psychological framework.


For more information about all main sections and subdivisions within psychology, you can do so by visiting https://itspsychology.com

It should not be confused with psychiatry

A very common misconception about psychology is that it is the same if not synonymous with psychiatry. It is not. Psychiatry is a distinctive medical specialty (all psychiatrists have a medical degree) who primarily deal with mental illness. Psychology has a much broader focus and is not inextricably linked to the concept of mental illness.


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