Understanding Psychology: Basics for Beginners (2023)

What is psychology in simple terms?

"Does that mean you can read minds?", "Can you tell me what I'm thinking?", "Okay, then I have to be careful with you." These are some of the clichés you've heard when you do that Mentioned psychology. Psychology is not about reading minds; It's not a discipline how to join the X-Men. Psychology is about people's minds, but not in the way people would like to believe. So what is psychology? First, psychology was the study of consciousness, of what is happening inside the mind; this was after Wundt. His research focused on analyzing feelings and sensations through introspection and describing what goes on in the mind. However, this type of perspective was gradually discarded. With Watson, psychology soon became known as the study of what is observable, ie, overt behavior. This is called behaviorism.

Understanding Psychology: Basics for Beginners (1)

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The most important changes occurred in the 1960s as the discipline expanded its scope to study mental events that Watson had excluded. Technological advances made it possible to study these mental events (or cognitive processes). Individual reactions to stimuli could be measured and conclusions drawn from them. In addition, there has been a growing body of research on mental processes. Together, these two developments can be called the cognitive revolution. Taking all these developments into account, psychology can now be defined as “the science of behavior and cognitive processes” (Baron, 1998). In other words, psychology analyzes "all aspects of human behavior and experience" (Baron, 1998). The definition consists of two components:Behaviorjcognitive processes. Behavior is any observable action of an organism. Cognitive processes, on the other hand, are one's thoughts, mental images, how one argues, one's memories, etc.

Key Perspectives in Psychology

When studying behavior, there are several perspectives to consider. Before we delve into them, let's set up a scenario to better understand them: when a woman goes on stage, the audience applauds, and then she starts singing. According to the behavioral perspective, which focuses on overt behavior, the emphasis would be on the overt actions of the singer and the audience. The cognitive perspective, which examines cognitive processes, what is thought and how to reason; Here the emphasis or focus would be on the singer's thoughts, her memories of the song she is singing. The third is biological, which deals with "biological events and processes underlying behavior" (Baron, 1998). From this perspective, one would look at one's emotions while singing, the audience's emotions, and how these are reflected physiologically. Socio-cultural aspects of social behavior and the influence of culture on one's own behavior; then one would wonder if singing on stage is a common event/activity in that culture. Psychodynamics explores personality and unconscious behavioral processes; With this perspective, one might wonder about her personality and the reasons (conscious or unconscious) that led her to this stage of singing. The evolutionary perspective considers the possible role of inherited behavioral tendencies.

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methods in psychology

The scientific method has been integrated to explain human behavior and provide a better understanding of it. Systematic methods for data collection are used here. Data is collected as accurately as possible and is free from bias. This inclusion makes “psychology a science” (Baron, 1998). There are certain methods used by psychologists to understand human behavior. These are the basic concepts taught in an introductory psychology course. Observation is a fundamental technique for understanding behavior. There are two types of observation: naturalistic observation and systematic observation. The first involves observing behavior as it naturally occurs; for example, just watching people in, say, a mall. The latter in this case means carefully observing and measuring the events and processes of the world or behavior; for example, watching children play during recess to understand how they interact and play.

Next comes the case study method, which collects detailed information about a specific individual, which is then used to develop principles of behavior. An example of this could be gathering detailed information about Joe Goldberg to understand why he does what he does. However, when that person is particularly unique, it may be inappropriate to generalize to others. With this method, too, there is a risk of developing bias. In the polling method, a large group of people answer questions about their views or behavior. This method can collect information from a large group and can be created quickly. A simple example of this could be the polls that appear before YouTube videos.

The correlation method attempts to determine whether two variables are related and to what extent. For example, the more coffee you drink, the longer you stay awake. Psychologists look for correlations between variables to "make accurate predictions about behavior" (Baron, 1998). It should be noted, however, that correlation does not imply causation; other factors may play a role. Finally, in the experimental method, one variable, the independent variable, is systematically changed and the effects of these changes on the other variable, the dependent variable, are measured. So when one variable causes changes in the other, the relationship between the variables is said to be causal. For example, a researcher might study the effects of different amounts of sleep (independent variable) on performance (dependent variable). In addition, the experimenter must be careful with confounding variables, factors affecting the experiment.

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branches of psychology

Psychology is a huge discipline with a number of concepts to consider. There are several sub-areas of this discipline. First up is clinical psychology, which deals with “the diagnosis, causes, and treatment of mental disorders” (Baron, 1998). Experimental psychology, as the name suggests, is concerned with understanding fundamental psychological processes such as learning, cognition, and motivation. Biopsychology examines the biological basis of behavior. Here it is understood that everything biological is psychological and vice versa. Developmental psychology examines how people change not only physically but also cognitively and socially over the course of their lives. This subfield is huge in itself and you can find prominent figures in this subfield such as Piaget and Vygotsky. Educational psychology deals with all aspects of the educational process. It focuses on how teachers teach and how students learn, and most importantly, how learning can be improved. Social psychology deals with aspects of social behavior and thinking, how one thinks and interacts with others. It deals with concepts such as non-verbal communication, attitudes, interpersonal relationships, social cognition, and the like.

Cognitive psychology analyzes cognitive processes such as memory, decision-making, reasoning, etc. Industrial psychology studies behavior in the workplace. It addresses factors such as group behavior, decision-making, motivation, workplace analysis and training in an organisation/workplace. Counseling psychology is dedicated to people with personal problems that are not related to mental disorders. There are many other subfields such as sport psychology, cross-cultural psychology, positive psychology, etc. It seems that the discipline is constantly evolving.

Psychologist versus Psychiatrist

When one is introduced to psychology, one is exposed to the basic concepts and ideas mentioned above. Another important concept that anyone interested in this field should know is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist. They are similar but different. Psychologists are trained in graduate psychology programs. A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a doctor who specializes in treating mental disorders. However, many psychologists specialize in treating these disorders and therefore focus on the same issues as psychiatrists. Furthermore, the two "work together in the same psychiatric facility" (Baron, 1998).

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The concepts covered in this article are explained very briefly and are likely to be introduced in the first few lessons of a basic psychology course. Because the subject is vast, it's difficult to cover everything that psychology has to offer in one article. Psychology is a very interesting and useful discipline. It is useful in that one is able to better understand people and oneself; one is able to understand the inner workings of the human mind and can therefore understand why people do what they do. With psychology you can try to be a better version of yourself and maybe if you are interested in helping others to do so. You might not be able to read someone else's mind, but you'd like to think you're pretty close.


Baron, R. A. (1998). Chapter 1 Psychology A science... and a perspective.Psychology(4theHrsg.), S. 5-23. Pearson.

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What are the basic things to learn in psychology? ›

Psychology majors develop a broad understanding of human behavior as well as the skills to understand and interpret research findings concerning human behavior. The psychology curriculum includes courses in cognitive, developmental, behavioral and neural studies, learning, personality, social and clinical psychology.

What are the 5 concepts of psychology? ›

There are five different psychological concepts. They are biological, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and humanistic. Each concept claims a different idea for the motivator behind human behavior, but all concepts seek to understand human behavior on a deeper, more scientific level.

What is the first step to learning psychology? ›

Take a psychology 101 class to learn the most basic material. If you want to take a class that offers the most general introduction to psychology, try to find a psychology 101 course. Courses with a 101 course number are usually designed for students with no prior education in the topic.

What should I know before studying psychology? ›

You will need to research, read and understand a variety of resources to support your written assignments, presentations and tests. In addition, you will use your study skills to design your own experiments, interpret the findings and present the results. Furthermore, maths plays a critical role in psychology.

What is dark psychology? ›

Dark psychology is the science and art of manipulation and mind control. Psychology alone is the study of how the human mind and thoughts behave and make us interact with others. Dark psychology is when people use maneuvers, motivations, manipulations, persuasion, and compulsion to achieve their goals.

What are the 4 main types of psychology? ›

There are different types of psychology, such as cognitive, forensic, social, and developmental psychology.

What are the 4 types of human behavior? ›

A study on human behavior has revealed that 90% of the population can be classified into four basic personality types: Optimistic, Pessimistic, Trusting and Envious. However, the latter of the four types, Envious, is the most common, with 30% compared to 20% for each of the other groups.

What are the 7 principles of learning in psychology? ›

The seven principles of adult learning include self-direction, transformation, experience, mentorship, mental orientation, motivation, and readiness to learn.

What are the four pillars of psychology? ›

Dr Lake talks about 4 pillars of mental health and health: getting enough sleep, regular physical activity, healthy nutrition, and a practice addressed at stress management. In order to optimize your mental well being, a healthy diet with the essential nutrients are vital to healthy brain function.

What is the simplest form of learning in psychology? ›

Conditioning--The simplest form of learning.

Where do I start with psychology? ›

To start a psychology career, you'll need to get at least a master's degree (for school psychology) or a doctorate to practice in other specialties. To get licensed to practice psychology, you'll need to earn the required degree, pass a state and/or national exam, and fulfill other licensing requirements.

What are the three basic types of learning in psychology? ›

Three Major Types of Learning
  • Learning through association - Classical Conditioning.
  • Learning through consequences – Operant Conditioning.
  • Learning through observation – Modeling/Observational Learning.

What do you study in first year psychology? ›

You'll study development psychology, among other topics. In your first year, you will cover a wide range of topics within Psychology: modules on memory, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology and social psychology. You will also study other sciences as they relate to Psychology, such as evolution and genetics.

Why is psychology so hard? ›

According to students studying psychology, there is quite a lot of reading that you need to do. Psychology is one of the more difficult degrees and many of your assignments will require you to cite your sources and will require you to back up a lot of the arguments that you have.

How difficult is studying psychology? ›

Psychology is not one of the most straightforward degrees to obtain since it requires a great deal of time and dedication. You can choose how many units you complete at a time, however most students complete four units/subjects simultaneously.

How do you tell if someone is using reverse psychology on you? ›

Signs of Reverse Psychology
  1. A person might make overly negative comments that seem to be designed to garner a reaction.
  2. You feel like someone wants you to do something but they won't make a direct request.
  3. Someone keeps harping on the same idea to the point that you find yourself wanting to do the opposite.
Feb 28, 2023

How do you manipulate a manipulator? ›

6 ways to disarm a manipulator
  1. Postpone your answer. Don't give them an answer on the spot. ...
  2. Question their motivations. Manipulators often hide their real motivations because they don't like to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviors. ...
  3. Show disinterest. ...
  4. Impose boundaries. ...
  5. Keep your self-respect. ...
  6. Apply fogging.
Jun 23, 2021

How do you read someone's mind psychology? ›

Five Ways To Read Someone's Mind
  1. Start With Generational Differences. Understanding someone's generation can give insight about how he or she thinks. ...
  2. Recognize Hot Buttons. ...
  3. Consider Personalities. ...
  4. Look for Nonverbal Communication. ...
  5. Be a Good Listener.
Aug 24, 2015

What is psychology in simple words? ›

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior. Psychologists are actively involved in studying and understanding mental processes, brain functions, and behavior.

What is the difference between mental health and psychology? ›

While a master's in psychology emphasizes assessment and tailors treatment to specific mental disorders, a master's in clinical mental health counseling focuses on holistic treatment. Clinical mental health counselors may administer therapeutic tests with the proper education, training, and supervised experience.

What's the meaning of cognitive? ›

cognitive. adjective. cog·​ni·​tive ˈkäg-nət-iv. : of, relating to, or being conscious mental activities (as thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining, learning words, and using language)

What is the difference between personality and behavior? ›

Essentially, personality is referred to as the combination of values, views, set responses, patterns of thought and characteristics which are relatively stable aspects of an individual. Behaviour on the other hand, is how that individual comes across to others in their actions.

What are the two 2 types of human behavior? ›

Voluntary and involuntary behaviour

Voluntary behaviour is the type of human behaviour that human beings can control and often depend on human wants. Such human behaviours include writing, talking, swimming and walking. Involuntary behaviour occurs naturally, with little control or thought.

What are 3 types of social behavior? ›

Social behavior characterizes the interactions that occur among individuals. These can be aggressive, mutualistic, cooperative, altruistic, and parental.

What are the golden rules in psychology? ›

"The golden rule is steeped in empathy: the basic premise of do to the other as you want done to you or even what you hope for others is what you hope for yourself," says Ramani Durvasula, a professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. "That actually means attending to other people."

What are the 10 mental health principles? ›

The 10 fundamental components of mental health recovery include the following principles:
  • Self-Direction. ...
  • Individualized and Person-Centered. ...
  • Empowerment. ...
  • Holistic. ...
  • Non-Linear. ...
  • Strengths-Based. ...
  • Peer Support. ...
  • Respect.

What are the 6 ethical guidelines in psychology? ›

There are a number of important issues that researchers should be mindful of when undertaking investigations, with regards to the selection and subsequent treatment of their participants:
  • Confidentiality. ...
  • Informed consent. ...
  • Deception. ...
  • Debriefing. ...
  • Right to withdraw. ...
  • Protection of participants. ...
  • Working with animals.
Mar 22, 2021

What are the three 3 laws of Thorndike's theory? ›

This work led to Thorndike's Laws. According to these Laws, learning is achieved when an individual is able to form associations between a particular stimulus and a response. The three main laws are the Law of Readiness, the Law of Exercise, and the Law of Effect.

What are the 5 basic principles of learning? ›

5 Principles of Learning
  • Learning takes Time. It takes time to learn worthwhile academic content. ...
  • Learning is Social. Most learning is an interactive endeavor. ...
  • Learning is Personal. ...
  • Learning is Transferable. ...
  • Effort produces Achievement.
Dec 24, 2017

What are the 4 basic principles of learning? ›

Four learning principles of PBL
  • Constructive education. Learning should be an active process, in which you gain knowledge from your experiences and interactions with your environment. ...
  • Learning in a relevant context. ...
  • Collaborative learning. ...
  • Self-directed education.

What are the 5 fingers of psychology? ›

The five major perspectives in psychology are biological, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive and humanistic.

What are the 5 domains of mental health? ›

There are five main aspects of personal health: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual.

What are the 5 major domains of personality? ›

(23) The Five-Factor Model (FFM) is a multidimensional personality model that specifies that most stable individual differences in emotions, cognition, and behavior can be described by five independent domains: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness.

How can I be good at psychology? ›

  1. Start With the Basics. Before you begin studying any topic in great depth, it is important to make sure that you have a strong grasp of the basics. ...
  2. Focus on Developing Effective Study Habits. ...
  3. Sharpen Your Writing Skills. ...
  4. Participate in Psychology Research. ...
  5. Delve Deeper Into the Subject.
Apr 5, 2021

What is cognitive learning? ›

What is Cognitive Learning? Cognitive learning is an active style of learning that focuses on helping you learn how to maximize your brain's potential. It makes it easier for you to connect new information with existing ideas hence deepening your memory and retention capacity.

What is simplest type of learning? ›

The simplest kind of learning is called conditioning. Two types of conditioning have been identified. The first one is called classical conditioning, and the second instrumental/operant conditioning. In addition, we have observational learning, cognitive learning, verbal learning, concept learning, and skill learning.

What are stages of memory? ›

Stages of Memory Creation

The brain has three types of memory processes: sensory register, short-term memory, and long-term memory.

What skills do you learn in psychology class? ›

Because Psychology is so diverse in its focus and research, it also prepares students for a wide variety of careers. It helps students develop universally useful skills like communication, critical-thinking, and a proficiency with statistics and data.

What is the most important thing you learned in psychology? ›

Develop Critical Thinking Skills

As you study psychology you will learn more about topics such as the scientific method, decision-making, and problem-solving, all of which might help you hone your ability to think deeply and critically about different issues.

What kind of people are good at psychology? ›

Effective psychologists must have some degree of these common traits, which passionate students can cultivate over time.
  • Active Listeners. Communication is one of the most important skills a psychologist can possess. ...
  • Empathetic Professionals. ...
  • Ethical Individuals. ...
  • Patient Counselors. ...
  • Lifelong Learners.
Nov 25, 2019

How is psychology used in everyday life? ›

Essentially, psychology helps people in large part because it can explain why people act the way they do. With this kind of professional insight, a psychologist can help people improve their decision making, stress management and behavior based on understanding past behavior to better predict future behavior.

Is it easy to study psychology? ›

Psychology is one of the more difficult degrees and many of your assignments will require you to cite your sources and will require you to back up a lot of the arguments that you have.

What are three major reasons why we study psychology? ›

7 Reasons to Study Psychology
  • Develop domain-specific knowledge. ...
  • Understand yourself. ...
  • Understand the people around you. ...
  • Improve your communication skills. ...
  • Cultivate the ability to research. ...
  • Sharpen your critical thinking. ...
  • Enhance your employability.


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