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The study of behavioral and mental processes.


the view that knowledge originates in and experience and that science should, therefore, rely on observation and experimentation.

Wilhelm Wundt

Father of modern psychology. Professor at University of Leipzig.

Edward Bradford Titchener

Early psychologist. Creator and proponent of structuralism.


An early school of psychology that used introspection to explore the structural elements of the human mind.

William James

Early psychologist. Father of functionalism.


A school of psychology that focused on how our mental and behavioral processes function - how they enable us to adapt, survive, and flourish.

Mary Whiton Calkins

Early psychologist. Finished graduate program at Harvard, was refused PhD. Pioneering memory researcher and the first woman to be president of the American Psychological Association.

Magaret Floy Washburn

Early psychologist. First woman to receive a psychology degree. Synthesized animal behavior with her book, The Animal Mind.

Experimental Psychology

The study of behavior and thinking using the experimental method.


The view that psychology (1) should be an objective science that (2) studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most researchers today agree with (1) but not (2).

Humanistic Psychology

Historically significant perspective that emphasized the growth potential of healthy people and the individual's potential for personal growth.

Cognitive Neuroscience

The inter-disciplinary study of the brain activity linked with cognition (including perception, thinking, memory, and language).

Sigmund Freud

Controversial psychologist who introduced psychoanalysis.

John B Watson and Rosalie Rayner

Working with Rayner, Watson championed psychology as the science of behavior.

B.F. Skinner

A leading behaviorist who rejected introspection and studied how consequences shape behavior

Nature-Nurture Issue

Psychology's big issue. The longstanding controversy over the relative contributions that genes and experience make to the development of psychological traits and behaviors. Today's science sees traits and behaviors arising from the intersection of nature and nurture.

Natural Selection

The principle that among the range of inherited trait variations, those contributing to reproduction and survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding generations.

Charles Darwin

Argued that Natural Selection shapes behaviors as well as bodies.

Levels of Analysis

The different complementary views, from biological to physiological to social-cultural, for analyzing any given phenomenon.

Biopsychosocial Approach

An integrated approach that incorporates biological, physiological, and social-cultural levels of analysis.

Biological Psychology

A branch of psychology that the studies the links between biological (including neuroscience and behavior genetics) and psychological processes.

Evolutionary Psychology

The study of the roots of behavior and mental processes using the principle of Natural Selection.

Psychodynamic Psychology

A branch of psychology that studies how unconscious drives and conflicts influence human behavior, and uses that information to treat people with psychological disorders.

Behavioral Psychology

The scientific study of observable behavior, and its explanation by principles of learning.

Cognitive Psychology

The scientific study of all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating.

Social-cultural Psychology

The study of how situations and cultures affect our behavior and thinking.


The scientific study of the measurement of human abilities, attitudes, and traits.

Basic Research

Pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base.

Developmental Psychology

The scientific study of physical, cognitive, and social change throughout the life span.

Educational Psychology

The study of how psychological processes affect and can enhance teaching and learning.

Personality Psychology

The study of an individual's characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.

Social Psychology

The scientific study of how we think about, influence, and relate to one another.

Applied Research

Scientific study that aims to solve practical problems.

Industrial-organizational (I/O) Psychology

The application of psychological concepts and methods to optimizing human behavior in workplaces.

Human Factors Psychology

The study of how people and machines interact and the design of safe and easily used machines and environments.

Counseling Psychology

A branch of psychology that assists people with problems in living (often related to school, work, or marriage) and in achieving greater well being.

Clinical Psychology

A branch of psychology that studies, assess, and treats people with psychological disorders.


A branch of medicine dealing with psychological disorders; practiced by physicians who often provide medical (for example, drugs) treatments as a well as psychological therapy.

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