The term Psychological has been used to describe many conditions, but some are misleading. “Hard-wired” suggests that genetics rigidly dictate complex psychological traits and behaviors. Other terms are not incorrect per se, but are commonly misused. “Splitting” carries a specific meaning in psychodynamic theory, but is often used to refer to borderline personality disorder or staff members attempting to separate each other. Some terms are ambiguous or are both.
Philosophers debated a number of topics that are now studied by modern psychology. Structuralism, which was first advocated by Wilhelm Wundt, focused on decomposing mental processes into their fundamental elements. The term “functionalism” is a combination of the two, and was later popularized by Edward Titchener, an American psychologist trained by Wundt. In addition to being “soft”, psychology is also becoming more scientific, using experimental research findings to develop evidence-based theories and strategies.
The discipline of psychology is a vast one with many sub-fields. While it made its greatest advances over the past 150 years, its roots date back to ancient Greece, when philosophers like Aristotle and Plato were working on the mind. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle contributed to the development of psychology. There are various areas of psychological study that have emerged, and the field has become increasingly interdisciplinary in recent years.
Clinical psychology studies the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, while cognitive psychology is the study of human thought processes, including memory, perception, decision-making, language acquisition, and learning. Comparative psychology studies animal behavior and developmental psychology examines human growth over the life span. Other branches of psychology study behavior in contexts such as forensics and industrial-organizational psychology. Forensic psychology uses psychological principles in the legal system and industrial-organizational psychology aims to improve work performance.