Psychology: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:01 Tell Me How You Feel
  • 0:33 Psychology
  • 1:57 Subfields of Psychology
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson you will discover what psychology is, what psychologists do and explore the subfields of this discipline. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Tell Me How You Feel

Lean back. Close your eyes. Think of your earliest memory. Hold that in your mind. Now, tell me how that makes you feel.

Assuming that I could actually hear you right now, I could be studying your behavior, your mood, your memory, or countless other things about your brain. The brain is a complex organ and the key to what really makes us human. So, the study of how we use the brain is pretty important. And for that, we turn to psychologists.


At its broadest definition, psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. This is what psychologists do. By examining both individual behaviors as well as the behavior of groups, psychologists work towards understanding human activity, treating mental disorders, and counseling people to help them achieve emotional stability.

Psychology as a discipline encompasses a wide range of studies including perception, attention, comprehension, intelligence, emotions, personality, behavior, relationships, and even the subconscious. There's a lot going on in our minds and psychologists are dedicated to understanding every bit.

In terms of research, psychology holds an interesting place amongst other fields. Psychology is concerned with social behavior, so in many ways it is related to the social sciences and humanities, like anthropology and philosophy. Psychologists use many similar research techniques as these disciplines, including interviews and observing behavior. At the same time, psychology relies on a very scientific method, using carefully designed experiments to produce reliable data about behavior, emotions, or brain chemistry. Through years of observations and experiments, psychologists have determined ways to test for emotional stability or mental illness and have developed counseling techniques to ease emotional pain, encourage mental development, or promote healthy behavior.

Subfields of Psychology

Psychology is a big area of study, so there a several subfields where researchers focus on more specific parts of the mind. Biological psychology is the study of the relationship between behavior and the brain itself. These researchers look at brain chemistry, brain function, and the biological roots of certain behaviors. For example, if a part of the brain is physically damaged, it could affect memory or result in a change of personality. Biological psychologists research how one affects the other.

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