Introductory Psychology for Nursing and Allied Health Sciences AB Salgado
Chapter Notes

Save Clear

Nursing Practice, Psychology and Human BehaviorChapter 1

Nurses as professionals are continuously dealing with human beings. Thorough understanding of human behavior is necessary in order to ensure the delivery of quality and effective nursing interventions. Thus, prior to your deployment in the hospital for the clinical posting and related learning experiences, psychology is offered in the curriculum to strengthen your understanding of the clients that you may come across in the hospitals, community health centres or polyclinics.
The study of psychology and human behavior is interesting. You will discover the wonder of human beings with whom you are going to deal with as a registered nurse. You will be fascinated by the study of the different structures of your body, their functions and deficiencies as well as their relationships with your motives, your fears, and your joys. Psychology as a science may give a good foundation for the better comprehension of human beings in their totality, which in turn, may pave the way in the understanding of one's self, i.e. if you are really serious to process your behavior and you are open to change.
Modern men are able to derive immeasurable benefits in psychology. By shaping constructive behavior, changing undesirable or disruptive behavior, clearing blocks to attain a happy life, building teams and effective human relationships, releasing powers in every individual, all for the sake of man's happiness and a good life, psychology as a science made so much contributions to mankind.
Your study of psychology will enable you to appreciate your totality, your individuality and your peculiarity as a nurse. You will understand your abilities, i.e. cognitive-how you think; affective-your feelings, values and attitudes; psychomotor-your skills, and lastly, humanistic-a view that as a human being, you cannot be reduced to components, your uniqueness, awareness, the choices and desires that you make and your value, creativity and search for meaning which are 3advocated by contemporary psychologists like Abraham Maslow, Carl Roger and in nursing, by Florence Nightingale and Martha Rogers, one of the nursing theorists who advocated humanistic nursing practice.
From the principles of human behavior, their application specifically in the nursing science, psychology would help you gain a thorough understanding of yourselves and that of others so that you can serve better your clients and colleagues who are working for the delivery of quality nursing care.
Socrates opined, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. From this, you will start the discovery of yourselves so that after three to four years in the nursing school, you can have a good self-concept.
Some people believe that psychology studies only people, the way they think as well as the outside manifestation of what they think, i.e. their behavior. While it is true that we study people, psychologist also studies animals. In fact, many of the researches that laid the foundation of psychology as a science involve dogs, monkeys and other animals like in the case of Ivan Petrovich Pavlov and BF Skinner.
zoom view
Fig. 1.1: Martha Rogers, nurse-theorist (humanistic nursing)
zoom view
Fig. 1.2: Florence Nightingale, the founder of nursing
The term psychology originated from the Greek words psyche (soul) and logos (study). To the early Greeks, there were two types of soul, one which dies when the body ceases to function that is controlled by the thymus and the other one does not disappear even when the body dies, i.e. psyche. The meaning which really fits the subject matter of psychology, human behavior, is the soul that dies with the body and that is the thymus. Now if the soul is the subject matter of psychology, is it possible to conduct logos of soul? This is not what the psychologists study, not the soul.
In nursing, psychology is the study of human behavior in relation to the client's condition and the implementation of the psychosocial aspects of care that include:
  1. Behavioral
  2. Cognitive
  3. Cultural
Psychologists undertake scientific endeavours, not mind-reading, not even a clairvoyant, or reader of the future event like. Psychologists generally do not make hasty conclusions or generalisations about human beings. Psychologists are also very cautious in labelling people or in making assumptions and generalisations about the behaviors of other people. They follow scientific procedure and evaluation making conclusions particularly when it involves human behavior. Nursing as a science utilizes the same, since the nursing profession needs to assert itself as independent as well as distinct from medical sciences. As a science that utilizes scientific method, psychology first raises a problem; second, formulates a hypothesis or a tentative answer to a problem; third, gathers data concerning the problem; fourth, the data gathered or the findings or results are tested against the hypothesis that was formulated earlier; and fifth, from these findings, makes a generalization or a conclusion. This process is a cycle until the truth or law may be derived from different theories.
Scientific method is defined as a step by step process of explaining particular problem. It is considered as an indispensable tool by all psychologists at work. In nursing, this is the nursing process in which, a nurse tries to find problems and solves these problems.
Crawford defines that the scientific method is simply a systematic and refined technique of thinking, employing specialized tools, instruments and procedures in order to obtain an adequate solution of a particular problem. It starts with a problem, then the collection of data or facts, critical analysis of the data and drawing the conclusion.
Research involves original work instead of a mere exercise of personal opinion. It evolves from a genuine desire to know. Since biology is a highly experimental science, a controlled environment must have to be observed and the steps of scientific method are to be followed, such as:6
  1. Identification of the problem: From the pool of knowledge that a psychologist acquires throughout his training, he can select a phenomenon to guide him in the formulation of problems, which he tries to study.
  2. Formulation of hypothesis: A hypothesis is defined as a tentative answer to a problem. After the formulation of general and specific problems, the researcher must formulate a tentative answer to guide him until he finishes his study. The hypothesis can be proven or disproved.
  3. Collection of data: A research psychologist may consider two sources of data, the primary and the secondary sources. The psychologist uses any of the following ways of gathering data: descriptive, historical or the experimental method. He may even use observation or case study. He designs his approach or techniques and prepares all the instruments or tools needed while gathering the data. The psychologist surveys, interviews, observes, experiments and collects all the relevant data involving the problem. Also, he uses statistics or measurements to calculate the differences, relationship and relevance of the data gathered with the identified problems.
  4. The analysis or classification and tabulation of data: Interpretation with the use of statistic is necessary to come out with a believable outcome. Measurement is indispensable tool of the scientific method, this helps to keep the result as accurate as possible.
  5. The synthesis of data (hypothesis testing): or the formulation of generalization and principles that may substantiate or refute the hypothesis. After collecting, organizing, and sorting the data, the psychologist finds out whether the data gathered support, affirm, or reject the hypothesis. If there is enough evidence or proof, then he can accept his hypothesis.
  6. Conclusion or Generalization: When the findings are tested against the hypothesis, the psychologist may now arrive at a generalization which will now be formulated as a in the principle about human behavior. Then, this enables him 7to predict future behavior. As a result, the psychologist can now make recommendations to solve the problem or suggestions for the improvement of human conditions or even suggestions regarding the process of investigation itself.
Since psychology is a science, it therefore requires the practitioners to possess the following qualifications:
  1. Creativity: A research psychologist must find a way to collect data and perform his study in instances that he lacks necessary tools and equipment to use for his research. He learns to manipulate his immediate condition in order to come out with his desired results.
  2. Curiosity: A research psychologist finds time to question the phenomenon that intrigues him. It is necessary to delve on every aspect of the problem, which he does not know but he wants to know.
  3. Objectivity: A research psychologist removes all personal prejudices and biases in carrying his research study.
  4. Open-mindedness: A research psychologist is ready to receive criticisms from his colleagues with whom he collaborates. If he finds that his procedures do not work, he is ready to discard his problem and look for another one.
    zoom view
    Fig. 1.3: The paradigm showing the psychological research process
  5. Critical Thinking: A research psychologist is equipped with the ability to think as the situation warrants and the capability to think of a particular remedy whenever he needs it.
  6. Logical Outlook: A research psychologist focuses his attention on the reasonability of his research. His subject and methods must be confined in the realm of reality and within his financial capability.
  7. Patience: The work he does must not require immediate result, particularly if he performs developmental research. He must wait for a proper time to gather his data. In cases that the result is at hand, he must verify it extensively before he announces it to the public.
  8. Perseverance: A research psychologist will find challenges from his discarded problems like in the case of world renowned inventor of the incandescent bulb, Thomas Alba Edison. He learns to find more time looking for opportunities somewhere. If he fails on his first attempt, he tries again to investigate another phenomenon until such time that he becomes successful.
  9. Accepting Authority: A research psychologist must not become a jack of all trade, he must know his limitation. He learns to ask the assistance of his colleagues whenever he needs them.
A research psychologist must accept his failure if it is inevitable and, he must be proud of the result of his investigation if it is successful.
The cycle does not end at the formulation of a conclusion. It is possible that after making the generalization, another problem or sub-problem of almost similar nature may arise, thus after the psychologist is about to solve the problem, a new one may emerge along the way.
In recent decades, psychology continuously improves resulting into the birth of several disciplines including those of the most 9recent like the school psychology which I belong. Among the other disciplines are the following:
  1. Research psychologists are those truly engaged in experimental research conducting experimentation on the behaviors of animals and man. Most of the time, these researchers use the scientific method as what other scientists do.
  2. School psychologists design and implement programs on students with problems in school. They specifically do behavior modification, and other discipline related functions of the school's guidance programmes.
  3. Educational psychologists work with children in academic settings particularly focused on how the students can possibly maximize their learning potentials by designing test and other educational instruction.
  4. Clinical psychologists study and treat mental and behavioral disorders, typically the more serious ones. Clinical psychologists often specialize in working with people of different age ranges or who have specific disorders, and psychotherapy and psychological testing are a large part of the work they do.
  5. Counselling psychologists typically work with people who have less severe disorders, people who are having problems with their marriage or other aspects of their lives, or those who want guidance with regard to choosing a vocation.
  6. Cognitive psychologists come in many varieties, but they have in common an interest in understanding basic mental processes such as how we think, learn, and remember.
  7. Social psychologists are primarily interested in how individuals influence and are influenced by others, including how a person's behavior may vary from one social situation to the next.
  8. Developmental psychologists study how people grow and change throughout the lifespan, from conception to death. They often specialize in a certain age range, or an aspect 10of development such as personality, cognition, or intelligence.
  9. Industrial or organizational psychologists focus their efforts on work settings and are concerned with issues ranging from job performance to organizational processes and structures as a whole. Some are concerned with human factors such as the “fit” between people and machines.
  10. Forensic psychologists work on a variety of issues involving judicial and correctional systems. One specialty in this area is evaluating “insanity” pleas of the accused.
  • The study of psychology is a key part of nursing training.
  • The psychology of nursing care is built around the concept derived from the different disciplines which that are studied by psychologists.
  • Psychology helps the nurse to become holistic in the care of her clients in various set up like schools, community, family, secondary and tertiary hospitals which focus on the different levels of care such as promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative nursing care.
  • The nurse can use always use various types of psychological nursing interventions such as the therapeutic use of touch which for centuries existed from the time Florence Nightingale founded nursing.
  • The therapeutic use of smile as well as the therapeutic use of self or presence can help the nurse practitioner to effectively deliver her nursing care plans to the clients.
  1. Explain the relevance of psychology to nursing practice.
  2. Illustrate the psychology of nursing care.
  3. Discuss how can a nurse can make use of himself therapeutically.