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Psychological science: Content, methodology, history and profession

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Relations of psychological science to common-sense psychology.
    1. Difference between modern scientific psychology and folk psychology.
    2. Failure to recall something from long-term.
  3. How should psychology be classified among the disciplines?
  4. Human behavior as a shared object of study.
    1. Correlated biological-medical sciences.
    2. Correlated social sciences.
    3. Other cross-disciplinary links.
  5. Psychological methodology.
  6. Varieties and criteria of psychological methodology.
  7. Ethics of psychological investigations.
  8. Theoretical psychology.
  9. Conclusion.

People have always had to study each other's behavior closely, but it was only in the nineteenth century that psychology emerged as an academic and scientific discipline, and only in the twentieth century that it also became a major field of professional activity. References to the human mind and how it may operate and translate into overt behavior can be traced back to specimens of written history, poetry, and philosophical speculations dating centuries B.C.E. During the last one hundred years, psychological science has made tremendous strides, both in understanding behavior and mental processes and in applying this to practical problems, for example, in education and health, in industry and other work contexts, and in personal guidance and psychotherapy.

[...] Beyond the health sector and education, other applied sciences closely linked with psychology include business in these fields psychological knowledge is sought and applied to develop more effective problem solving strategies. Finally, psychology has traditional links with philosophy and epistemology (the descriptive and normative analysis of scientific knowledge acquisition) and is a contributing field of science to such multi-disciplinary sciences as neuroscience and cognitive science. Neuroscience covers the scientific study of the structure and functioning of the nervous system, including so called behavioral neuroscience that specializes in the study of behavior and experience in a neurobiological context. [...]

[...] Psychological Methodology The methods of psychological science enable psychologists to gain knowledge about human behavior and conscious experience by systematic observation and experiment and to investigate, on the basis of such data, variations, dependencies, causes, correlates, and consequences of human behavior. In this way empirical generalizations become feasible and descriptive laws of behavior can be deduced and tested. One important distinction in psychological methodology relates to the objectivity versus subjectivity of a method, that is, the degree to which its application and results prove independent of the persons applying the method, their explicit or implicit expectations, beliefs, or values. [...]

[...] Ethics of Psychological Investigations Next to standards of methodology, psychological research both with human and nonhuman participants must also meet criteria of professional ethics. They are included in the codes of ethics devised by the psychological associations of many countries. Some may even be part of the legal codes in a country. In research with human participants, the principle of informed consent is considered indispensable (with only few and special exceptions as in orderly penal procedure). Informed consent is a guiding principle in national professional codes of ethics for psychology. [...]

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