After reading this article you will learn about the :- 1. Meaning of Psychology 2. Psychology among Sciences 3. Province 4. Definitions 5. Methods.
Meaning of Psychology:
The term ‘psychology’, literally means the science of the soul. (Psyche—soul; logos =science). Formerly, psychology was a part of metaphysics, and dealt with the nature, origin, and destiny of the soul. It was called rational psychology. But modern psychology is empirical, and does not deal with the problems relating to the soul.
It deals with mental process apart from the soul or mental substance. It is the science of experience and behaviour, which tells us how the mind works and behaves. It can predict the behaviour of an individual, and control it to a certain extent by putting him under proper conditions. It seeks to discover the laws of mind.
Psychology is concerned with the experience and behaviour of the individual. Behaviour is the expression of experience, which belongs to a subject, and which is due to the interaction of subject and object. It implies the duality of subject and object. If there were no subject and object, there would be no experience.
Experience presupposes a subject, or mind, or self that experiences an object, and involves the reality of subject and object. So Psychology has to assume the reality of the subject, or mind as an experiment, but it does not enquire into its nature. Modern psychology tries to explain the nature and development of experience and behaviour.
The modern Behaviourists reject the notions of mind and consciousness, and regard psychology as the science of behaviour or response of an organism to the stimulus. They reduce psychology to a biological science. They regard the so-called mental processes as mere responses of an organism to stimuli in the environment, and define psychology as the science of behaviour. We do not believe in the doctrine of Behaviourism.
We believe in subjective experience and its outward expression or behaviour. Fear or anger is an experience. Trembling or striking is a behaviour. Empirical psychology banished the soul from psychology, and Behaviourism banished the mind and the mental processes from it.
Psychology among Sciences:
There are sciences of matter, life and mind. Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, etc., are physical sciences, since they deal with the phenomena of matter. Physics deals with heat, light, electricity and other physical phenomena. Chemistry deals with chemical combinations of elements. Astronomy deals with the heavenly bodies. These are physical sciences. Botany deals with the phenomena of plant life.
Zoology deals with the phenomena of animal life. Physiology deals with the functions of the animal and human bodies. These deal with the phenomena of life. These are biological sciences. Psychology deals with mental processes and purposive behaviour. It deals with physiological processes also which accompany them. Psychology is the science of experience and telic behaviour.
(a) The Nature of Science:
A science is a systematic body of knowledge relating to a certain subject. It deals with a particular department of phenomena. Physical sciences study the nature of physical systems. Biological sciences study the nature of living systems. Psychological science studies the nature of mental processes and telic behaviour.
A science adopts observation, experiment, comparison and classification as methods of investigation of its data. In descriptive sciences, there is observation with classification. In experimental sciences, observation is supplemented by experiment.
Psychology observes mental processes, compares them with one another, and groups them under different classes. It also makes use of experiments with the help of instruments. Psychology, as a science, adopts scientific methods.
A science seeks to explain the phenomena within its scope. Explanation is the ultimate aim of a science. A phenomenon is explained by a law of nature; and a law is explained by a higher law of nature. The fall of bodies is explained by the law of gravitation of the earth. The laws of planetary motions are explained by the law of attraction. Psychology also tries to explain mental processes by the laws of mind.
Thus explanation generally takes the form of generalisation. But sometimes it consists in the framing of a hypothesis. The phenomena of light are explained by the flow of energy or emission of light quanta. Light quantum or photon is a hypothetical construct.
Its existence has been assumed by scientists. Similarly, psychology assumes the existence of the subconscious or the unconscious in order to explain the phenomena of retention, recollection, recognition, dreams and the like. Thus it explains mental processes by the laws of mind. Psychological explanation is scientific explanation. Sometimes psychology explains mental processes by physiological processes also.
A science starts with certain assumptions about its subject-matter. Chemistry, Physics, etc., assume the reality of matter and energy. Similarly, the psychologist assumes the reality of mind, the reality of the environment, and the capacity of the mind to interact with the environment. These are the fundamental assumptions of psychology.
A science demands self-consistency within its own sphere; its facts and laws must be consistent with one another. If there are apparent contradictions among them, they must be removed. Psychology also aims at a self-consistent body of knowledge relating to mental processes. Thus psychology is a natural science of mental processes and behaviour.
(b) Psychology is a Natural of Positive Science:
Psychology is a natural or positive science. It deals with a definite subject-matter viz., mental processes. It studies mental processes and their expressions in the organism by observation and experiment, and seeks to explain mental processes in the context of concomitant physiological processes and physical stimuli.
It believes that all mental processes are determined by their causes, and tries to explain them by the laws of mind and some hypotheses. It aims at a systematic and self-consistent body of knowledge relating to mental processes. So it is a natural science.
The psychologist explains complex mental processes by analysing them into simpler ones, traces the growth and development of each mental process, and shows the connection between mental processes and physiological processes and physical objects and social events constituting the environment.
Complex mental modes are explained by analysing them into their simple constituents. The growth and development of mental processes are traced through different stages to their origin. Mental processes are explained by their concomitant neural processes.
Province of Psychology:
Psychology is the science of mental processes and telic behaviour. My mental processes are open to my inner perception or introspection. I can experience my pleasure, pain, joy, sorrow, etc., by looking within. Introspection can reveal my own experience. Psychology is primarily concerned with the study of mental processes.
But I cannot directly observe the mental processes of others. I can infer their mental processes from their telic behaviour. The mental processes of others are expressed in their behaviour. I can observe their behaviour directly, and infer from it their inner mental processes.
Looks, gesture, language, etc., are the outward expressions of mental processes. These are a key to the minds of others. Hence, the study of purposive behaviour also comes within the scope of psychology: Behaviour is the outward organic expression of mental processes.
Mental processes are accompanied by physiological processes, and cannot be adequately explained without them. We observe light. Light waves strike our eyes and act on the retina and produce certain reactions there. They are conducted by the optic nerves to the brain. Then only we perceive light.
If we leave out of account the physiological processes, we cannot account for the sensation of light. Hence physiological processes also come within the scope of psychology. It must study the nervous system, sense-organs, and muscles which are intimately connected with mental processes.
Mental processes are sometimes produced by external stimuli. Air waves produce sensations of sounds. Light waves produce sensations of colours. External stimuli produce sensations of colours, sounds, etc. Emotions are excited by particular situations. Joy is excited by the sight of a friend.
Fear is excited by the sight of a tiger at large. These mental processes cannot be explained without reference to the external objects. Psychology deals with external stimuli as related to the mental processes.
Psychology deals with all types of behaviour—human behaviour and animal behaviour. It deals with the different aspects of the human behaviour—the child behaviour, the adolescent behaviour, the adult behaviour, and the senile behaviour. It deals with the normal behaviour and the abnormal behaviour. It deals with the individual behaviour and the collective behaviour.
Psychology studies the nature of collective behaviour. It studies the customs and manners, myths and legends, religion and folklore, language and literature of people in order to infer their mental development from them. These are the objective products of collective behaviour. Psychology deals with the peculiar traits of the crowd behaviour. Social psychology deals with the peculiar traits of the collective behaviour.
Thus psychology deals with the following:
(1) Mental processes;
(2) Their expressions in behaviour,
(3) Their concomitant physiological processes;
(4) Their external stimuli;
(5) Animal behaviour, human mind, normal behaviour, and abnormal behaviour; and
(6) The peculiar traits and the objective products of collective behaviour.
These are the objects of psychological investigation.
Definitions of Psychology:
Etymologically psychology means the science of the soul, viz., ‘psyche’ mean ‘soul’ and ‘logos’ means ‘science.’ The earlier psychologists maintained that the function of psychology was to study the nature, origin and the destiny of the human soul. Modern psychologists, however, doubt the existence of the soul since there is no empirical evidence for its existence.
Many of the earlier psychologists, however, believed in the existence of the mind. Some contemporary psychologists also believe in the existence of the mind.
Various definitions of psychology are briefly discussed below:—
(i) Psychology is the Science of Mind:
In 1892 William James defined psychology as the ‘science of mental processes’. In his view, psychology may be defined in terms of conscious states.
This definition is open to two criticisms. First sciences are of two kinds, viz., natural science and value science. Psychology is a natural science, since it deals with mental processes as they actually happen in the mind. It may be called a behaviour science. Logic, Ethics, and Esthetics are value sciences. So the word science is ambiguous. It should be specified as a behaviour science.
Secondly, the word mind is ambiguous. It may mean mental substance, or the mental processes, or the mental substance and mental processes both. Modern psychology deals with mental processes and their expressions in telic behaviour.
It does not deal with mental substance. Thirdly, the word mind implies a certain unity and continuity which characterize a normal human being. It is wholly lacking in dream states, or in mental derangements, or in animals.
But psychology deals with the mental processes of all minds, human and animal, normal and abnormal. Fourthly, psychology deals also with behaviour, physiological processes and external stimuli and social events connected with mental processes. These are secondary objects of psychological investigation. Hence it is better to define psychology as the science of mental processes.
(ii) Psychology is the Science of Consciousness:
In 1884 James Sully defined psychology as the science of the ‘inner world’ as distinguished from physical science which study the physical phenomena. In 1892 Wilhelm Wundt defined psychology as the science which studies the ‘internal experiences’.
These psychologists gave up the metaphysical concept of mind as a spiritual substance. Some psychologists, particularly the structuralists, defined human mind as the ‘sum total of conscious experiences’.
This definition is wrong for the following reasons. First, the word science should be specified as natural or positive. Psychology is a behaviour science, and deals with experience and behaviour of individuals. It is not a value science.
Secondly, psychology deals with different forms of mental processes and behaviour. Hence, the term ‘consciousness’ is ambiguous.
Thirdly, psychology deals also with behaviour, physiological processes, and external stimuli which are related to consciousness.
(iii) Psychology is the Science of Behaviour:
In 1905 William McDougall defined psychology as the ‘science of behaviour’. In 1911 W. B. Pillsbury also defined psychology as the ‘science of behaviour’. Nevertheless, during this period most of the psychologists did not completely overlook the importance of consciousness which accompanies behaviour.
J. B. Watson, however, discarded the concepts of the ‘mind’, ‘consciousness’, ‘purpose’ and the like from psychological use, and defined psychology as ‘the science of behaviour’. In his view, psychology as a science studies the response pattern of an individual in reaction to the stimuli coming from the environment.
This definition is defective for the following reasons. First, psychology is a positive science, and should be mentioned definitely. Psychology tells us how we do actually behave, and does not tell us like Ethics, how we ought to behave. It tells us how living organisms, human and animal, behave in response to particular stimuli.
Psychology is a positive science. Secondly, psychology is primarily concerned with the study of experience or consciousness. It is concerned with behaviour as its purposive expression. Behaviour is unintelligible without experience. Psychology is the science of experience and purposive behaviour.
The Behaviourists define psychology as the science of behaviour, which is the mechanical response of the organism to a stimulus, Psychology, according to them, does not deal with mind, consciousness, and mental processes. It dispenses with introspection altogether.
It employs the methods of observation and experiment for psychological investigation. It studies the behaviour of the living organisms. The Behaviourists reduce psychology to a branch of biological science.
But this appears to be absurd. Behaviour is inexplicable with-out experience. Behaviour is not merely a physical phenomenon, and cannot be explained apart from experience. So the Behaviourist psychology which dispenses with mental processes seems to be absurd. Psychology is not a physical science, but a science of mind, which deals with experience and purposive behavior experience being a mental process.
(iv) Psychology is the Science of the Experience and Behaviour of the Individual in Relation to his Environment:
K. Koffka holds that even though the concept of ‘consciousness’ cannot be completely discarded from psychological vocabulary the main aim of psychology is the study of behaviour.
R. S. Woodworth defines psychology as the “science of activities of the individual.” In his view, the term ‘activity’ must be taken in a very broad sense to include organic as well as mental activities. This definition may be taken as partially satisfactory if we understand its implications rightly. However, this definition is open to certain criticisms.
First, psychology is a positive science. Secondly, it deals with experience like perceiving, remembering, imagining, thinking, feeling, emotion, volition, and the like, and behaviour like reflex action, instinctive action, voluntary action, and habitual action.
Thirdly, the individual is the psycho-physical organism. Psychology deals with experience and purposive behaviour mental processes and their expressions through bodily actions.
Fourthly, the environment acts upon the individual through the sense-organs or receptors, and the individual reacts to the environment through muscles or effectors. Environment includes the physical environment as well as the social environment. Personality of an individual grows through social interaction.
(v) Psychology is the Science of Experience and Behaviour:
Psychology may be defined as the science of experience and purposive behaviour of individuals who process the relevant information from the environment for satisfactory adjustment. The behaviour of an individual is not like that of a machine which is pre-set to react to incoming stimuli.
Behaviour of an individual involves choice of an alternative out of a set of alternatives after he processes the information proceeding from the environment.
It involves decision-making in the choice of an alternative on the basis of previous experience which is stored in memory, and on the basis of anticipated future through understanding of the logical structure of the occurrence of events in nature.
‘An individual has genetic potentiality for logical thinking which he may further cultivate and develop through learning, and he has the ability for the application of his formalized conceptual framework to the understanding of the environment.
His behaviour is not merely the expression of cumulative past experiences but it is also anticipative in its nature especially because he is capable of abstract thinking, and applying his logical and mathematical strategies for the solution of complex problems.
In brief, behaviour of an individual involves purposiveness, intelligent decision-making, free choice of an alternative out of a multitude, and creative spontaneity. In sum, psychology is the science of experience and telic behaviour of individuals. This standpoint has been taken in this book.
Methods of Psychology:
Psychology investigates its date by introspection, inspection or observation and experiment.
Psychology is the science of mental processes. I can observe my own mental processes by introspection, or inner perception. To introspect is to attend to one’s own experience. It is the subjective method. It is not random internal perception, but regulated observation of one’s own mental processes.
This is the characteristic method of psychology, which is not available to other natural sciences. It is the fundamental method of psychology. Observation and experiment are based upon introspection.
Introspection has a unique advantage. Our mental processes are always available to us for inner observation or introspection. Introspection gives us direct, immediate, certain and exact knowledge of our own mental processes.
But it can give us knowledge of our own mental processes alone. Hence, it cannot give us general knowledge of the laws of mind. Therefore, introspection should be supplemented by observation and experiment. However, introspection can never be dispensed with, as the Behaviourists wrongly hold, because it is the basis of observation and experiment.
According to J. B. Watson, introspection has no value as a method of psychological investigation. Some of the psychologists who were contemporaries of Watson noticed this over enthusiasm in discarding introspection as psychological method.
K. Koffka found that not merely human individuals, but also animals make use of consciousness and thought in understanding and learning new problems. William McDougall also retained the ‘mentalistic’ concepts even though he defined psychology as the science of behaviour.
Woodworth and Marquis maintain that introspection is ‘a form of observation. A subject is expected to give report of his mental states after certain types of experiments are performed on him.’
Criticisms of the Introspection:
There are some difficulties of the introspective method. First, mental processes are vague and obscure in comparison with material objects. It is easy to observe material objects. But it is difficult to observe mental processes which are vague. Material objects are clear and distinct. But mental processes are obscure. Hence, it is difficult to introspect mental processes.
This difficulty can be overcome by practice. Introspection requires a power of abstraction which can be acquired by habit. Abstraction is withdrawal of the mind from external objects and fixing it on mental processes. Introspection requires concentration of mind on mental processes, which depends upon practice.
Secondly, since mental processes are fleeting and evanescent by their nature, they elude grasp of internal perception. Mild emotions are fleeting, and tend to vanish when we attend to them. Mild anger, fear and other emotions tend to disappear when they are attended to.
Thoughts, feelings, emotions or desires change from moment to moment. Mental processes cannot be detained for introspection like houses, trees, pens or pencils. They may vanish entirely when we try to introspect them.
This difficulty can be overcome by memory. If some mental processes vanish when we attend to them, we may call memory to our aid. We can easily retrospect what we failed to introspect. Further, if we cultivate the habit of mental alertness, we can introspect even the fleeting mental processes. If we are always on our guard, we may attend to even the fleeting mental processes as they occur.
This requires a certain amount of vigilance. Furthermore, the difficulty can be overcome by the collaboration of experts. If many expert psychologists investigate their own similar fleeting mental processes, they may record their experiences and compare notes with one another.
Thirdly, though two scientists can observe the same object in other natural sciences, two psychologists cannot observe the same mental processes (e.g., fear). But they can observe the similar emotions of fear in their own minds and compare their experiences with one another.
The same mental process (e.g., fear) cannot be experienced by many minds. But they can experience similar mental processes. The same identical mental process cannot be observed by many minds.
Two psychologists can never observe the same mental process. This is impossible from the nature of the case. But still this difficulty can be minimised by the co-operation of experts. Introspection of a particular kind of mental process should be carried on by a number of experts in co-operation; and they should compare the results of their introspection with one another.
Fourthly, introspection implies a cleavage in the observing mind, for the same mind is the observer and the observed. Introspection requires that the same-mind be the observer and the observed.
But how can the same mind turn back upon itself and make itself the object of observation? The same mind cannot divide itself into two parts—the knower and the known, subject, and object. Therefore, Comte thinks introspection to be impossible.
This theoretical objection contradicts the direct, evidence of experience. We do introspect our mental processes, e.g., joy, sorrow, etc. Introspection is a fact of experience. I feel joy, and I know that I feel joy. I am conscious; and sometimes I know that I am conscious. Thus I am self-conscious. Self-consciousness is a special privilege of the human mind. It is a fact of direct experience, and cannot be argued out of existence.
In introspection the mind is the knower and its mental process is the known object. So there is some difference in it between the knower and the known, just as the mind can observe an external object, so it can observe a mental process. The former is external perception, while the latter is internal perception.
We may cultivate the habit of taking fleeting glances at our mental processes as they actually happen. We can easily introspect a calm mental process without destroying it, if it does not overwhelm the mind. The act of introspection and the mental activity can be carried on simultaneously.
Lastly, introspection sometimes involves attention to a mental process (e.g., perception) which is produced by an external object. When we attend to the mental process, we withdraw attention from the object, and as soon as we withdraw attention from the object, the mental process vanishes. Thus introspection is impossible.
This difficulty can be overcome in this way. We can attend to more than one thing at the same time. We can attend to the mental process and the object at the same time. Here attention is divided between two things. Or we can attend to the object and the mental process in quick succession.
Here there is oscillation of attention between the mental process and the object. Or we can take transient side-glimpses of the mental process, call them together, and gather a satisfactory account of it. We can also being memory to our aid, which is free from this difficulty. All the difficulties of introspection can be overcome by habit and discipline of mind It requires a power of abstraction and mental alertness.
Introspection gives us knowledge of our mental processes. It gives us knowledge of the individual mind. But psychology is a science of mind, not of any individual mind. It seeks to arrive at the general laws of mind which hold true of all minds. So introspection of one’s own mind must be supplemented by the observation of other minds.
Every individual has certain peculiarities which are not shared by others. So, unless we observe the minds of others, we cannot ascertain the general truths about minds. Psychology cannot be a science unless it supplements introspection by observation.
Observation is the objective method of studying the behaviour of individuals. The date which is studied through observation can be carefully analysed, measured, classified and interpreted. We can infer the mental processes of other persons, through observation of their behaviour. My friend is angry with somebody. I observe his behaviour.
He frowns, howls, grinds his teeth, closes his first, and assumes a threatening attitude. I observe these organic expressions, and infer from them that there is anger in his mind, because these are the expressions of anger. The process of inference may be subconscious. I interpret his behaviour in the light of my own experience.
When I got angry I found that my anger was expressed in such behaviour. Hence, I infer from my friend’s behaviour that he is angry. No one can directly observe what is happening in the minds of others. He can only interpret their external signs on the analogy of his own experience. These external signs constitute their behaviour.
Thus observation of other minds includes the following factors:
(i) Perception of behaviour;
(ii) Conscious or subconscious inference of a mental process from the behaviour;
(iii) Interpretation of the behaviour of other persons in terms of our own experience.
In order that we may be able to infer the experience of others, it is necessary that we have similar experiences. Observation is based on intro-section. There cannot be interpretation of others’ behaviour without prior introspection of our own similar mental processes. But observation cannot supplant introspection.
Criticisms of the Method of Observation:
Observation is vitiated by certain defects. First, there is a tendency in the human mind to read its own thoughts, feelings and tendencies into other minds. A pious man is apt to think every other person to be pious. A rogue has a tendency to think that every other person is a rogue. The interpretation of other’s behaviour rests on the analogy of one’s own experience.
The greater is the difference between the observer’s mind and the observed mind, the greater is the difficulty in studying the mind of the latter. It is very difficult to know the child mind, the mind of the savage, the animal mind, and the abnormal mind, because they are far remote from our minds. We should be very cautious in interpreting their behaviour.
The difficulty can be overcome by constructive imagination and the technique inference. Psychologist has in his own experience all the constituent elements by which he can interpret others’ behaviour. Only he will have to analyse his complex experience into its constituent aspects and re-compound them in such a way as to explain the behaviour of others correctly.
He should adopt a principle of caution. In order to explain the behaviour of a lower simpler mind, he should appeal to a rudimentary form of consciousness.
Secondly, bias and prejudice vitiate our observation of other minds, and affect our interpretation of others’ behaviour. We do not usually find fault with our friends, but we always find fault with our enemies. A mother does not usually find defects in the conduct of her son.
This difficulty can be overcome by cultivating an impartial attitude of mind. A psychologist’s mind should be free from bias and prejudice. He should cultivate a dispassionate attitude, and place himself in the position of the individual observed by him.
Thirdly, hypocrisy of the person whose mind is observed is a harrier to the correct interpretation of his behaviour. A person may always smile and yet be a villain. His behaviour may not give a genuine indication of his mental processes.
This difficulty may be remedied by close observation of various aspects of his behaviour. A psychologist can effectively overcome all the difficulties of observation by constructive imagination and cautious and circumspect observation.
Experimental method is employed in psychological science for testing behaviour. In designing a test a psychologist deals with one variable at a time while the other variables are kept constant. It enables a psychologist to have-objective knowledge of the various factors which influence the behaviour of an individual.
It is observation under prearranged conditions. In experiment we eliminate irrelevant circumstances and isolate relevant ones. Experiment is the observation of the mental processes of other minds under test conditions.
The experimenter controls the-conditions under which he observes a mental process. He varies one condition only, keeping the other conditions constant, and notes the difference in the result. The one condition that is varied is the independent variable.
The results are changes in the dependent variable, which are produced by changes in the independent variable. For example, memory depends upon the number of impressions received, attention and interest.
In order to determine the nature of its dependence upon the number of impressions, we must keep attention and interest constant, and vary only the number of impressions received. Memory is the dependent variable. The number of impressions is- the independent variable.
Generally the stimulus or the conditions of the organism that is varied in the independent variable of an experiment, and the responses are its dependent variables.
Responses include (1) external behaviour, e.g., movements of a rat along the pathway of a maze, (2) physiological processes, e.g., increased heartbeat, etc., and (3) speech, e.g.,’ verbal expressions of the subject’s experience, e.g., descriptions of sensations, thoughts, feelings, etc.
The typical psychological experiment involves the co-operation of two observers the experimenter proper and his ‘subject’. The experimenter arranges the physical conditions under which the subject’s experience is tested. He gives a stimulus which evokes an experience in the ‘subject’. The ‘subject’ introspects his experience and gives expression to it in his behaviour.
The ‘subject’ introspects his own experience, while the experimenter observes his behaviour .The ‘subject’ observes his inner mental processes from within; the experimenter observes their outer manifestations in his behaviour. Thus experiment involves introspection and observation—introspection on the part of the ‘subject’ and observation on the part of the experimenter.
Development in experimental method progresses from the stage of simple description of behaviour to the stage of systematic exploration. Systematic observation, experimental design and interpretation of results are closely related to one another. The psychological data which are obtained through experimental method acquire significance when they are all systematically interpreted.
Criticisms of Experiment:
The experimental method has its own limitations. We cannot control all the conditions adequately. Especially we cannot vary the independent variable as widely as we desire. For instance, it is difficult to induce in the ‘subject’ all degrees of an emotion (e.g., fear) from zero to the maximum under the same conditions. Some mental processes occur only under normal conditions of mental life.
In experiments on association of ideas isolated words are presented to a person successively, and he is called upon to name the first idea which each of them suggests to him. Thus, continuity of interest, which determines the association of ideas in normal mental life, is excluded. Hence experiments interfere with the normal flow of ideas in the mind.
Sometimes they modify the mental process of the ‘subject’ under artificial conditions of observation. So the experimenter should be very cautious and circumspect in observing the behaviour of the ‘subject’, and the ‘subject’ should have great mental alertness in introspecting his mental processes as they occur normally in his mind.
Experiment has many advantages over observation. It can multiply instances as often as we like. It can study a mental process under a variety of conditions. It can eliminate irrelevant circumstances and isolate relevant ones. It can study a mental process or behaviour coolly and attentively.
The experimenter arranged the physical conditions under which he investigates the subject’s experience. He knows exactly where and when to look. He is well ‘set’ or prepared for accurate observation. He records his observation immediately and avoids memory error. Experiment can measure the quantitative relations of mental processes to psychological processes and physical stimuli.
It attempts to make psychology an exact science by quantitative measurements. Experimental psychology is called “New Psychology.” Thus introspection, observation and experiment are the methods of psychological investigation. Introspection is the subjective method. Observation and experiment are the objective methods.
There are certain other minor methods of psychological investigation. They are the following:
IV. The Statistical Method:
The statistical method plays a very important part in psychological science. Valid conclusions may be drawn and predictions of future behaviour patterns of individuals can be made on the basis of the analysis and interpretation of statistical data.
Statistics provides numerical information about events which take place in a definite period of time and in a given area. It gives us information about the logical structure of past happenings, but it does not give us any information about the occurrence of events in future. It may render some valuable service for the prediction of future events on the basis of our knowledge of the logical structure of the occurrence of events in the past.
However, the element of chance in the prediction of a future event made on the basis of statistical information cannot be ruled out. Ludwig von Mises, therefore, doubts the existence of the so called ‘statistical loves’. Modern psychology applied the statistical method to discover relationships between two factors which are significant.
It consists in the application of mathematics to experimental investigation in psychology. In order to find out the relationship between nutrition and intelligence, the psychologist has to apply the statistical method to groups of persons with different dietary habits and different degrees of intelligence scored by them and find out the average.
The statistical method is indispensable in standardizing intelligence, ability, personality, and other psychological tests. It is necessary in experimental investigations when more than one variable at a time is to be dealt with. It is necessary in interpreting experimental data dealing with complex factors. ‘Raw’ data should be arranged and systematized according to certain statistical techniques in order to yield reliable results.
V. The Comparative Method:
In comparative method we compare the nervous systems and the different degrees of intelligence among different species of animals, and find that the size and weight of the brain in relation to the body are intimately connected with intelligence. The heavier brain carries the greater intelligence. Among human beings the greater is the size of complexity of the brain, the greater is the intelligence.
A dog’s brain weighs about 120 grams. A gorilla’s brain weighs about 400 grams. A human brain weighs about 1500 grams. So a gorilla is more intelligent than a dog, and a man is more intelligent than a gorilla.
But intelligence does not depend upon the mere size or weight of the brain. An elephant’s brain and a whale’s brain are much larger than a human brain. But man is more intelligent than these animals because intelligence depends upon the weight of the brain in relation to the weight of the body.
The weight of man’s brain is 1/50 of his body weight. The weight of the elephant’s brain is 1/500 of its body weight. The weight of the whale’s brain is 1/1000 of its body weight.
VI. The Genetic or Development Method:
In genetic method we trace the genesis or growth and development of the mind in the individual or the race. We may trace mental development in man from the child to the adult as it proceeds; and we may similarly trace mental development in the animal world.
We may trace the development of mentality in general, or of some particular mental process. For example, we may trace the growth of the human personality through early childhood, later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
We may also trace the growth and development of the idea of the external world, or time, or space, or causality, or the self, or God in the child behaviour, the adolescent behaviour, and the adult behaviour. Likewise, we may trace the development of feeling or emotion, or volition, or imagination, or thought through different stages. We apply here the genetic or development method.
Conceptual development is of the nature of organic growth or unfoldment from within. Conceptual growth means unfoldment of innate capacities through interaction with the environment. The environment acts upon the personality, and the personality reacts upon it. The mind is not a tabula rasa or and empty tablet.
It has a native endowment or innate capacities which are enriched owing to the interaction with the environment. Innate potentialities are enriched specially through interaction with the social environment. Heredity and environment both account for the conceptual development of an individual.
VII. The Clinical Method:
Clinical methods were devised by psychiatrists for the diagnosis of various types of behaviour disorders and personality disorders. These methods were developed out of clinical practice. A. H. Maslow and B. Mittlemah maintain that abnormal behaviour of persons may be defined in terms of symptoms.
They define ‘symptoms’ as a disturbance in some aspect of an individual’s functioning which is often objectively observable and is usually connected with subjective suffering.
The causes of personality disorder of an individual may be diagnosed by certain clinical methods. Clinical methods help us understand the abnormal forms of mental life with a view to preventing or curing them. It investigates mental disturbances due to brain disease, the loss of mental powers with advancing age and maladjustments in insanity.
It deals with temporary and permanent mental derangements. It deals with obsession, delusion, hypnosis, double personality, multiple personality and the like.
Clinical methods may be classified into two types, viz., the psycho-analytical methods and the modern diagnostic methods. The psycho-analytic methods include the Free Association, Dream analysis, and World Association or Controlled Association. The contemporary diagnostic methods include Medical Evaluation. Psychological Evaluation and Sociological Evaluation.
VIII. The Case History Method:
The Case History method is used to diagnose behaviour difficulties in individuals. Psychologists have to prepare a case history of persons who have personality disorders. The causes of the trouble—physical, psychological, and social must be found out.
Very often the behaviour disorder depends upon the social environment and the individual’s limitations. It is not due to mere moral depravity. For example, the delinquence of a problem child is investigated by this method. A child of a good family may steal.
The psychologist has to construct a history of the case to date. He has to unearth the personal troubles of the individual by winning his confidence and engaging him in free talks and with the help of the parents, teachers, friends, etc. He has to trace the behaviour disorder of the problem child to its sources in his past life and then direct them to socially acceptable channels.
His behaviour disorder or delinquency may be due to lack of affection at home, ill-treatment of a step-mother or a step-father, or lavish affection of the mother or the father or both, bad company, immoral neighbours, or inability to cope with school work, or his possession of greater intelligence than what is required for his class work.
Such causes have to be found out and proper remedy for them has to be adopted for the cause of behaviour disorders. The case history method depends largely on memory of incidents which were observed inaccurately or which were over- interpreted. It is liable to be vitiated by the neglect of negative cases. The child guidance clinics employ the case history method.