Psychological ideas are used frequently in everyday life. They can be found in the media or discussed with your friends or even strangers. Psychological research findings are regularly found on TV, radio, the internet and in newspapers. You come across all sorts of different kinds of psychological information; such as origins of behaviour, consciousness the brain and emotions. These are always under debate in many different countries. These public debates help us to make psychology a visible part of everyday life. Media coverage can confuse us when wanting to find out about psychology. Psychological knowledge can be presented in a number of different ways. Common sense
- Ideas have long been presented in the media; a good illustration of this kind of common sense is the topic of leadership. Gordon Brown is the prime minister of Britain; he is regularly under discussion in the media.
- He is commonly talked about in everyday language; the media often raises questions on; leadership qualities, is he good at his job? Is he fit to rule the country? He’s failing as a leader. His private life.
- The media can also present dubious interpretations of psychology, they are largely drawn upon to support arguments that journalists want to make.
- Recently in many countries there are books, radio programmes, articles and TV series that deal with psychological research and debate in a serious manner.
- The public attack recently on Gordon Brown has raised many questions for the public by the media.
- People will now know that he has had a rough time and battled to save the sight in one eye and lost it in the other as a result of the rugby accident.
- Has he got some sort of dependency or addiction to prescription medication?
- This man cannot hold his own in an interview. He has to return to pre-prepared statements and grandstanding in response to almost every question.
- It has been presented as a public attack on Mr. Brown. I don’t believe it has been handled in a serious balanced way or with sufficient evidence. Journalist other people have personally and professionally attacked Mr. Brown.
Psychology has a social impact: Psychology has relevance to everyday concerns, the ease with which it can be popularised and used. Psychological knowledge; some dubious, some accurate, is absorbed into the culture and incorporated into the language we use.
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- Psychological concepts have entered popular discourse. They include the notion that we are predisposed, through evolution and the functioning of our brains and nervous systems, to behave in certain ways. Psychoanalytic ideas are commonplace in many cultures; the centrality of sexuality and its repression, the idea that Freudian ‘slips’ – mistakes of action – reveal unconscious motivation. Some people speak of having short-term and long-term memories; they recognize that they use different strategies for remembering details of recent and distant events. Many people have absorbed the psychological notion that what happens to us in childhood has an influence on our psychological functioning over the rest of our lives. The importance of parenting has also become part of ordinary talk, some children complain about not getting enough ‘quality time ‘ with their parents.
- Furthermore, psychologists are increasingly being called on to give expert evidence on questions as legal decisions. Psychology has an impact on our beliefs about ourselves and how life should be lived as well as on our everyday behaviours.
- There is a pathway of influence from psychology to society. This is not a one-way street. Psychological research often addresses questions that originate in common-sense understandings. This direction of influence between psychology and the ordinary could suggest that psychology is no more than common sense. But as a field of enquiry, psychology is about much more than common sense; it investigates its subject matter.
- Psychology is evidence-based. This can be knowledge about people and psychological processes that are common in the culture or it could come from personal experiences. It is often called common sense. One tradition in the study of personality began from the ordinary-language adjectives that everyone uses to describe people’s characteristics. Psychological researchers have chosen research topics and studied them in ways that reflect their own life concerns.
- Evidence-based research findings often contradict the common-sense understandings of the time; they can produce new understandings that eventually become accepted as common sense. Psychologists may begin from ‘ordinary’ knowledge or their own preoccupations, they start formulating their research questions using the existing body of psychological knowledge (the literature) and the evidence-based research. Developments can lead to entirely new research directions. A new direction is a neuropsychology and the increasing application of brain-imaging techniques; it is a way of understanding behaviour and mental processes.
The diversity of psychology. Psychology is concerned with the full range of what makes us human, psychology has always been a diverse, multi-perspective discipline. Philosophers asked the first psychology questions, then by biologists, physiologists and medical scientists. The origins are visible if we consider the four ‘founders’ of psychology.
- In 1877, Charles Darwin put forward the theory of evolution, Darwin became a renowned biological scientist. His infant observation study was about his son’s behaviours and emotions. Darwin was trying to find out what his baby’s internal mental states might be. This was the data that later provided the evidence for his theory of evolution.
- Wilhelm Wundt opened the first psychological laboratory in 1879. His methods included the use of the scientific experimental method, introspection and ethnography.
- William James trained in philosophy, medicine and physiology, he published the influential Principles of Psychology in 1890, also advocated a multi-method approach that included introspection and observation.
- Sigmund Freud, a research physiologist opened his psychology consulting room in Vienna in 1886. Freud was working at the same time as Wundt and James. He pioneered a method that involved listening closely to people’s personal accounts of their symptoms and emotions, and their lives. He asked insightful questions, he attended to the particulars of language use and unconscious phenomena.
- The four founders’ methods; observation, description, experimentation, introspection and focus on language gave psychology the beginnings of its diverse traditions. Some are still used today.
- Psychology has diverse roots; different psychologists have different approaches and methods. They have not always happily coexisted. There have been many heated debates and will be many more. What can be thought of as ‘real’ or ‘legitimate’ evidence? Different cultures and countries generate their own assumptions about what to study and how to use the knowledge.
- During the Second World War, many European psychologists fled the country. Their European ideas and way of thinking about psychology led some psychologists to direct their research to issues like authoritarianism, conformity, prejudice, leadership, small-group dynamics and attitudes.
- There have been gradual cultural shifts; ways of thinking about how knowledge should be gained and evaluated. Different historical periods can produce dominant trends in psychology. They occur almost simultaneously in different countries.
- In psychology, historical times have been characterized by the dominance of different methods and theories; dissatisfaction- the limitations of introspection as a method of enquiry.
- This difficulty of the method of looking inward into the conscious mind, data can be collected by this mean, led to the rise of behaviourism. Psychologists should study only behaviours that are observable from the outside and should not make assumptions about mental states and the goings-on inside the head.
- There was a ‘cognitive revolution’ in the 1960s; it was an important shift in thinking about psychology. Psychologists began to take a greater interest in what goes on in the mind. This is known as cognitive psychology. It starts with the study of learning and then became the study of information processing associated with mental activities such as attention, perception and memory.
- Recently there has been a second cognitive revolution; a broadening of focus from mental processes to studying how meaning is understood through cultural practices and language.
- Psychologists are increasingly concerned with investigating issues relevant to people’s everyday functioning; their social and cultural contexts. The practical and professional application of psychology is important in many areas of life.
- Psychologists work as consultants, therapists, and professional advisors in a range of settings such as education, the workplace, sport and mental health; they research areas of immediate practical concern such as dyslexia, stress, police interviewing of eye-witnesses, and autism.
- So, whilst earlier traditions like psychoanalysis or behaviourism still contribute and produce important innovations, the discipline of psychology has continued to develop in ways that have fostered an ever broader range of perspectives. No one approach is either ‘right’, or adequate for answering all psychological questions. As a result, psychology is now seen as legitimately multifaceted.
- http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=177341 accessed07/10/09
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Psychology accessed 07/10/09