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The word psychology has had several different meanings from ancient to modern times. Here is its present definition: Psychology is the science that studies the Behavior of organisms.
Modern psychology is considered a science because it bases its conclusions on data, information obtained by systematic observations. Behavior has three aspects: (1) cognitive processes, (2) emotional states, and (3) actions. The behavior of dogs, rats, pigeons, and monkeys can be legitimately included in the study of psychology. When animals are used in experiments, the implicit goal is often to explore how such basic processes as learning and motivation, as studied in animals, can cast a light on our under standing of human behavior.
The Greek word psyche means soul. Consequently, to philosophers living 400 to 300 B.C., psychology was the – study of the soul. This was the meaning given by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
The ancient philosophers asserted that the soul is the seat of consciousness. It is consciousness that makes mental life possible.
Working at Harvard a little more than one hundred years ago, James defined psychology as ―the science of mental life. He believed that the purpose of psychology should be to investigate such mental processes as thinking, memory, and perception.
Contemporary scientific psychology has four explicit goals: describe, explain, predict, and control behavior.
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