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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Understand the etymology of the word “psychology”
  • Define psychology
  • Understand the merits of an education in psychology

In Greek mythology, Psyche was a mortal woman whose beauty was so great that it rivaled that of the goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodite became so jealous of Psyche that she sent her son, Eros, to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest man in the world. However, Eros accidentally pricked himself with the tip of his arrow and fell madly in love with Psyche himself. He took Psyche to his palace and showered her with gifts, yet she could never see his face. While visiting Psyche, her sisters roused suspicion in Psyche about her mysterious lover, and eventually, Psyche betrayed Eros’ wishes to remain unseen to her ( [link] ). Because of this betrayal, Eros abandoned Psyche. When Psyche appealed to Aphrodite to reunite her with Eros, Aphrodite gave her a series of impossible tasks to complete. Psyche managed to complete all of these trials; ultimately, her perseverance paid off as she was reunited with Eros and was ultimately transformed into a goddess herself (Ashliman, 2001; Greek Myths&Greek Mythology, 2014).

A photograph shows a sculpture of a winged man embracing a woman from behind.
Antonio Canova's sculpture depicts Eros and Psyche.

Psyche comes to represent the human soul’s triumph over the misfortunes of life in the pursuit of true happiness (Bulfinch, 1855); in fact, the Greek word psyche    means soul, and it is often represented as a butterfly. The word psychology was coined at a time when the concepts of soul and mind were not as clearly distinguished (Green, 2001). The root ology    denotes scientific study of, and psychology    refers to the scientific study of the mind. Since science studies only observable phenomena and the mind is not directly observable, we expand this definition to the scientific study of mind and behavior.

The scientific study of any aspect of the world uses the scientific method to acquire knowledge. To apply the scientific method, a researcher with a question about how or why something happens will propose a tentative explanation, called a hypothesis, to explain the phenomenon. A hypothesis is not just any explanation; it should fit into the context of a scientific theory. A scientific theory is a broad explanation or group of explanations for some aspect of the natural world that is consistently supported by evidence over time. A theory is the best understanding that we have of that part of the natural world. Armed with the hypothesis, the researcher then makes observations or, better still, carries out an experiment to test the validity of the hypothesis. That test and its results are then published so that others can check the results or build on them. It is necessary that any explanation in science be testable, which means that the phenomenon must be perceivable and measurable. For example, that a bird sings because it is happy is not a testable hypothesis, since we have no way to measure the happiness of a bird. We must ask a different question, perhaps about the brain state of the bird, since this can be measured. In general, science deals only with matter and energy, that is, those things that can be measured, and it cannot arrive at knowledge about values and morality. This is one reason why our scientific understanding of the mind is so limited, since thoughts, at least as we experience them, are neither matter nor energy. The scientific method is also a form of empiricism. An empirical method    for acquiring knowledge is one based on observation, including experimentation, rather than a method based only on forms of logical argument or previous authorities.

Questions & Answers

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Abhilasha Reply
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Where can I find a standardized questionnaire for my research entitled Social media and it's relation to social behavior?
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psychological treatment stands a great role in complete recovery
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Discuss the historical development of intelligence testing.
Surey Reply
Maybe it's more important to study different fields because there could be a link between them all.
Heidi Reply
Discuss the historical development of intelligence testing.
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Francis Reply
How do you deal with a person who is a narcissist?
Michelle Reply
Avoid contact with them or try Grey Rock method. ofc don't let them feel they r being ignored otherwise its gna get lot worse.
1. Learning about how the mind works (interpreting our thoughts/logic/reasoning) can be applied to philosophy; 2. Learnsing the anatomy & physiology of our brain & body can be applied to biology; 3. Studying a person's behavior & their social interactions with other people correlates with sociology.
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*Our* own individual perceptions of how things work will only be *our* truth unless convinced otherwise by evidence from outside resources.
Heidi Reply
what is psychology
Antwi Reply
psychology is a systematic study about human brain,mind, thinking pattern, and cognition.
psychology is the scientific study of behaviour of it's mental processes.
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igbacher Reply
example of a case study
Kathryn Reply
how does the Constitution of the body affect growth and development
Jasmine Reply
Describe the primary emotions
Kudzai Reply
anger, fear, disgust, sadness, surprise, anticipation, trust and joy are the 8 primary emotions
why did Sena did nt get infected and die?
hi what's the reason we couldn't sleep at night
Mustakim Reply
hello there, reasons depends upon the person. most famous reasons are Stress, Anxiety, Overthinking, Had adequately slept in other times of Day, Sleeping Disorders, etc.,
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Nysa Reply
how many total types of psychotherapy ?

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Source:  OpenStax, Psychology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11629/1.5
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