Psychology: Definition and Meaning

In common everyday lingo, psychology has become an oft-used word. Nevertheless, is there a correlation between the scientific explanation of the discipline and the everyday usage of the term?

Meaning and Definition

Some individuals think psychology involves investigating people and the factors influencing their conduct. Psychologists research people, but they also research animals. Furthermore, psychologists research more than just what people do to comprehend better what drives behavior and what animals do. A bid to comprehend better what drives behavior and what animals do, as well as what transpires within their bodies and brains. Psychology is not just relevant to psychologists; it is a gateway science, and results from psychological studies are acknowledged and applied in various domains, including climate change, health, and cancer research.

The systematic exploration of behavior and thought mechanisms is known as psychology. All our outer or overt activities and responses, such as speaking, making facial gestures, and moving, are called behavior. The phrase "mental processes" refers to our minds' covert, internal activities, including reasoning, emotion, and memory. Why "scientific"? Researchers must monitor animals' and people's behavior and mental functions to study them. Every time a human being monitors someone or something, there is a chance that the observers will only see what they anticipate seeing. Psychologists do not want these potential biases to lead to them making unreliable observations. They take a systematic approach to research psychology because they aim to be as accurate and meticulous as possible.

  • British Psychological Society − Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behavior. It is both a thriving academic discipline and a vital professional practice.

  • American Psychological Association − The scientific study of the behavior of individuals and their mental processes.

  • Charles E Skinner − Psychology deals with responses to any and every kind of situation that life presents. By responses or behavior is meant all forms of processes, adjustment, activities, and experiences of the organism.

  • Kurt Koffka − Psychology is the scientific study of the behavior of living creatures in their contact with the outer world.

  • James Drever − Psychology is the positive science which studies the behavior of men and animals, so far as that behavior is regarded as an expression of that inner life of thought and feeling which we call mental life.

"The science of sentient and nonhuman behavior; it entails applying this knowledge to human issues," according to psychology. This definition refers to psychology as a science in the first half. The second portion of the definition talks about using psychological concepts to solve difficulties in everyday life. Can psychology offer solutions to life's issues? We are also curious about the definition of the word "behavior. Which comes first, behavior or the mind, thoughts or feelings? Another concern would be whether psychology is the sole field of study for human and animal behavior.

While the label "mind" pertains to subjective states and mechanisms, including thoughts and emotions that cannot be conclusively proven and must instead be deduced from tangible, quantifiable reactions, the term "behavior" encapsulates actions and reactions that we can immediately observe. For instance, we are unable to observe Tina's anxiety immediately, and instead, we must extrapolate Tina's emotions from her verbal declaration that she feels anxious. The complexity of behavior makes it difficult to research it scientifically.

The patterns of thought we develop—habits that entail critical thinking—maybe even more significant than the concepts we learn in psychology. Instead of only receiving information, critical thinking entails participating actively in the process of understanding the environment in which we live. It is crucial to consider the ramifications of the material for our life and community, what it means, and how it relates to our experiences. Evaluating something's validity when it is offered as reality is another aspect of critical thinking. Think about the following inquiries whenever anyone reveals to us a brand-new "truth," for instance −

Mental Activities

Mental activities are the brain and cognitive functions connected to cognition.

  • We engage in mental processes when we ponder, recall, or resolve a problem.

  • Even though their mechanisms intertwine, these cognitions are distinct from neurological ones.

  • As our encounters and interactions in this environment get organically organized into a system that is in charge of the incidence of diverse mental processes, the mind arises and develops.

  • Mental functions such as perception, problem-solving, learning, and reasoning are a few examples.


Learning gained through real-world situations is referred to as an experience.

  • Impressions are subjective and unique to each person.

  • We are unable to observe or understand someone's experience firsthand.

  • Only the individual experiencing something can be cognizant or aware of it, and experiences become part of our attention or consciousness in this way.

  • Both internal and external variables have an impact on experiences.

  • A thorough examination of a wide spectrum of internal and external circumstances can help understand the essence of the experience.

  • Experiences are significant because they form the foundation of our knowledge.


Our actions, reactions, and behaviors comprise our behaviors. For instance, just before taking a test, one can feel their heart racing.

  • Some actions, such as thinking, may be straightforward or intricate, transitory or persistent.

  • On the other hand, behaviors—such as laughing—can be overtly perceived or observed outwardly.

  • Stimulus Response Relations, or S-R, can describe any behavior. Any action, whether overt or covert, has a stimulus connected with it or is caused by it.

  • The stimulus, as well as the reaction, may come from within or without.

  • Due to the variability of the organism, the very same stimulus can elicit distinct reactions.

  • It emphasizes a person's individuality and variety, which set him apart from others.

Psychology as a Field of Study

  • It examines mental processes, behavior, and experience.

  • It aims to comprehend and illustrate how the mind functions and how various mental processes lead to various behaviors.

  • When we see our worldview or methods of conceptualizing the world, have an impact on how we perceive our actions and encounters.

  • Psychologists try to reduce these prejudices in their interpretations of behavior and experience.

  • Some people do this by rendering their assessment impartial and analytical.

Others who believe that selectivity is an essential component of the human encounter attempt to explicate behavior from the perspective of individuals experiencing it. Psychology continues to be a source of fundamentals for neuroscience and computer science.


Psychology derives its name from the Greek words "psyche," which means "soul," and "logos," which means "knowledge." The early psychologists argued that psychology's purpose was to investigate the human spirit's make-up, history, and fate. However, because there is no concrete evidence to support the soul's presence, contemporary psychologists question its existence. However, many of the early psychologists held the view that the mind was real. Some modern psychologists also concur that there is a mind. In this essence, the science and field of psychology keep evolving, both in terms of the strides it makes and debates on what its true nature entails.

Updated on: 10-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started