Psychologists explore concepts such as perception, cognition, attention, emotion, phenomenology, motivation, brain functioning, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind. Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some—especially clinical and counseling psychologists—at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a "hub science", with psychological findings linking to research and perspectives from the social sciences, natural sciences, medicine, and the humanities, such as philosophy.
While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in many different spheres of human activity. The majority of psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior, and typically work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings . Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, or in other areas such as human development and aging, sports, health, and the media, as well as in forensic investigation and other aspects of law.
The word psychology literally means, "study of the soul" . The Latin word psychologia was first used by the Croatian humanist and Latinist Marko Marulić in his book, Psichiologia de ratione animae humanae in the late 15th century or early 16th century. The earliest known reference to the word psychology in English was by Steven Blankaart in 1694 in The Physical Dictionary which refers to "Anatomy, which treats of the Body, and Psychology, which treats of the Soul."
The study of psychology in a philosophical context dates back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, China, India, and Persia. Historians point to the writings of ancient Greek philosophers, such as Thales, Plato, and Aristotle, as the first significant body of work in the West to be rich in psychological thought. As early as the 4th century BC, Greek physician Hippocrates theorized that mental disorders were of a physical, rather than divine, nature.
German physician Wilhelm Wundt is credited with introducing psychological discovery into a laboratory setting. Known as the "father of experimental psychology", Wundt focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components, motivated in part by an analogy to recent advances in chemistry, and its successful investigation of the elements and structure of material. Although Wundt, himself, was not a structuralist, his student Edward Titchener, a major figure in early American psychology, was a structuralist thinker opposed to functionalist approaches.
Functionalism formed as a reaction to the theories of the structuralist school of thought and was heavily influenced by the work of the American philosopher, scientist, and psychologist William…