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What is Psychology?

Although definitions of psychology differ, most psychologists would agree on several things: First, psychology is a discipline that utilizes the scientific method. Second, psychology is concerned with the study of behavior, both of human beings and of animals. Finally, psychology's focus in recent years has also emphasized the study of mental processes (such as perception, memory, emotion, states of consciousness, and so forth). While psychology is a science, it reflects many diverse philosophical viewpoints that are not themselves open to scientific inquiry. (For instance, questions about free will and determinism, whether human nature is essentially good or bad, and so forth, cannot be answered by science, but they are questions that are important to psychology's subject matter and on which various theories of psychology sometimes take different positions.)

Psychology as a discipline has a wide range of subfields in which one can specialize. Some psychologists study how the brain and nervous system process information. Psychologists also study how memory works - what helps us to remember things, how we forget things, and whether or not our memories are reliable. Other psychologists work as consultants to businesses and organizations to help make personnel decisions and create productive working conditions. Psychologists work in schools, providing assessment of students with mental retardation and learning disabilities, and helping to create productive learning environments. Psychologists are also engaged in studying and treating mental illnesses, such as depression, eating disorders, and dementia. This is just a very short sample of the many things that psychologists do.

 



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