Psychology for Graduate Nurses (for BSc & Post Basic Nursing Students) Rajesh G Konnur
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Introduction to PsychologyChapter 1

Today, we all are in a stressful world, facing many challenges against us. To overcome these challenges, we have to know the root cause and its effects. The study which deals with aspects of life is psychology.
Psychology was born of two parents, philosophy and physiology. Psychology has rich roots dating back to the views of Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, on the nature of mind, the soul, the body, and of human experience. One of the earliest debates about human psychology is still raging today, the question of whether human capabilities are inborn or acquired through experience. The nativist view is that human beings enter the world with an inborn store of knowledge and understands of reality. Early philosophers believed that the knowledge and understanding could be accessed through careful reasoning and introspection. Descartes, in the 17th century, supported the nativist view by arguing that some ideas (such as God, the self perfection, and infinity) are innate at birth. Descartes is also notable for his conception of the body as a machine that can be studied as other machines are studied. This is the root of modern day information processing perspectives on the mind.
The empiricist views that knowledge is acquired through experience and interactions with the world. This view is strongly 2associated with 17th century English philosopher John Locke. According to Locke, humans are born with tabula rasa, or with a blank state, onto which experience in the world writes all knowledge and understanding. This perspective gave birth to associationist psychology. The associationists denied inborn ideas or capabilities of the mind. Instead, they argued that the mind was filled with ideas that entered by way of the senses and then become associated through such principles as similarity, contrast, and contiguities. Current research findings on memory and learning is related to earlier association theory.
These days, the debate between nativism and empiricism is referred to as the nature versus nurture debate. Although some psychologists would still argue that human thought and behavior is the result primarily of biology or primarily of experience, most psychologists take a more integrated approach, acknowledging that biological processes (such as heredity or processes in the brain) affect thoughts and behavior, but experience also leaves its mark on thoughts and behavior.
For clear understanding, the development of psychology can be divided as below:
  1. The early age of prescientific psychology.
  2. The modern age of scientific psychology.
  3. Contemporary psychology.
Early Age of Prescientific Psychology
In the earliest period of the history of psychology, theorists were answered quite unscientifically on the basis of superstition and speculations as follows.
It was believed that a person's behavior was the result of his fate which was bound to be influenced by the movements of the planets. Besides the role of planets, demons, spirit, ghosts and other supernatural forces were held responsible for human actions. The causes and forms of human behavior were being located outside the human being.
Modern Age of Scientific Psychology
In the 19th century with the influence of research in the field of physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and technology and other 3natural sciences, it was felt that human behavior should be tested. While explaining how the study of human behavior should be performed, the researchers presented their views in different systems or schools of psychology. These are presented as follows.
Wilbelm Wundt (The father of experimental psychology) a German physician who established the world's first psychological laboratory at Leipzing in 1879. His experiments focused on conscious experience involving one's thoughts, feelings, sen-sations, perceptions and ideas. He experimented on the speed of thought and applied scientific methodology of physiologists. He built a device called a thought meter. As he emphasized on the analysis of the components of consciousness by using the art of introspection or self observation; the approach to psychology was named as structuralism.
It was the first American approach to the study of psychology. John Dewey (1859–1952) and William James (1842–1910) were propagated functionalism. The pioneers recognized the mind to be a recent development in the evolutionary process, the function of which was to aid man's adjustment to his environment. The theorists further emphasized that habits were nothing but the functions of the nervous system.
Behaviorism and S-R psychology
American Psychologist, John B Watson (1878–1958), developed behaviorism. He concluded that the whole idea of consciousness is absurd. Consciousness cannot be proved by any scientific test, cannot be seen, nor touched, nor exhibited in a test tube. Even if exists it cannot be studied in a scientific way; because it is subjected to private inspection. Therefore, if we intend to make psychology a science of behavior, we have to discard altogether not only the concept of consciousness but also all the mentalistic notion like soul, mind, mental life, images and ideas, dreams or the actions of a supposed unconscious mind. For this reason, behaviorism was also referred to as black box psychology because its earlier 4proponents considered the mind to be like a mysterious black box whose contents could never be examined objectively.
A branch of behaviorism known as S-R psychology (stimulus –response) remains an important force in modern psychology. It states that our behavior is the product of our immediate environment and of our past experiences. S-R psychologists have shown that the associations we experience—the pleasant or unpleasant consequences following our actions and our observations of the actions of those around us, called social learning, often determine our responses. Through behavioral technology, problems such as aggression, phobias, shyness and poor study habits can be corrected.
Gestalt psychology was born against structuralism and functionalism in Germany. The most prominent members of this school were Max Wertheimer (1880–1943). Wolfgang Kobler (1887–1967), Kurt Kofflea (1886–1941) and Kurt Lewin (1890–1947).
The word Gestalt is a German noun. In English it is termed as “configuration” or more simply, which means “an organized whole in contrast to a collection of parts”. It is opposed to the atomistic and molecular approach to behavior. Gestalt theorists views an individual perceives the thing as a whole and not as a mere collection of its constituents or elements. The meaning of sensation or perception is always related to the total situation. Perception involves a problem of organization. A thing is perceived as a relationship within a field which includes the thing, the viewer and a complex background incorporating the viewer's purpose and previous experiences. Gestalt theorists asserted that there lies definitely a sort of organization between the stimulus and response which helps in forming a new gestalt (an organized whole).
For example: when looking at watch, what is seen is a watch? It may be that a watch consists of color, brightness and a form but when perceived by the mind all these components become a pattern, or a gestalt. The propognists of this theory, further claim that when the components of a thing are brought together by the mind something new, even more valuable and 5comprehensive than the original components may emerge consolidating the statement that the “whole is different from the sum of its parts”. As a result, the human behavior is characterized as an intelligent behavior rather than simple stimulus-response mechanization. An individual perceives the situation as a whole and after seeing and evaluating the different relationships in relation to the available environment takes the proper decision in an intelligent way: although quite often all of a sudden. Gestalt psychology used the term “insight” to describe this type of human behavior and summarized the behavioral processes as:
  1. Perception of the situation as a whole
  2. Seeing and judging the relationships between various factors involved in the situation
  3. Taking an immediate decision and behaving accordingly.
Gestalt psychology opposed traditional psychology and deplored the “brick and mortar” concept of structuralism— meaning elements “bricks” bound by association “mortar”—and were equally dissatisfied with the S-R conditioning or machine like explanation of human behavior.
The Gestalt psychology is still prevalent throughout modern psychology. It is now well appreciated that many experiences must be analyzed and understood as whole entities and cannot necessarily be broken into constituent parts.
Psychoanalytic theory was developed by a Viennese physician, Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). The theory comprises the following views.
Freud claimed that the mind is like an iceberg in that most of it is hidden beneath the surface. The conscious part occupies only one-tenth portion of the total mental life. In fact, there is an even stronger force-underlying behavior, the unconscious. This vast part of the mental life of human beings remains hidden and usually inaccessible. It contains all the repressed wishes, desires, feelings, drives and motives—many of which 6relate to sex and aggression. This hidden treasure of the human mental life is responsible for most of his behavior. The key to the solution of most behavioral problems lies in bringing the unconscious to the conscious level.
Psychoanalytic Method
Sigmund Freud emphasized more importance to the long forgotten or repressed childhood experiences for the determination of problems of adulthood. His method is known as psychoanalytical method for the solution of behavioral problems. It involves the process of analyzing the underlying unconscious behavior. Freud advocated the following techniques:
Free Association
In this technique the affected individual is made to lie on a couch and say anything that comes into his or her mind, no matter how trivial or ridiculous it may seem.
Dream Analysis
Sigmund Freud argues that dreams are disguised representations of repressed desires, which appear in symbolic form. This is known as the dream's latent content. In this view, the purpose of dreams is to provide unconscious gratification, so that certain desires can be satisfied and thus, will not intrude into the sleeper's life when he is awake. Only the surface or manifest content of dreams is open to straight forward observation.
The analysis of these dreams can reveal the unconscious mind and thus, may take to the roots of the abnormalities.
Analysis of the Daily Psychopathology
The repressed desires or experiences lying in the unconscious can also be revealed through day to day psychopathology in terms of the slips of the tongue, slips of the pen, forgotten names and forgotten appointments, lost gifts and mislaid possessions.
Structure of Personality
Freud divided his topographic model of personality into three major systems that interact to govern human behavior, the Id, the Ego and the Superego:
7Id: The Id is the most primitive part of the personality, from which the ego and the superego later develop. It is present in the newborn infant and consists of the basic biological impulses (or drives): the need to eat, to drink, to eliminate wastes, to avoid pain and to gain sexual (sensual) pleasure. Freud believed that aggression is also a basic biological drive. The Id seeks immediate gratification of these impulses. The Id operates on the pleasure principle: It endeavors to obtain pleasure and to avoid pain, regardless of the external circumstances.
Ego: It develops out of the Id and acts as an intermediary between the forces, i.e. instinctual demands of the realities of the external world and ethical, moral demands of the superego. The ego acts on reality principle. The gratification of impulses must be delayed until the situation is appropriate. It is essentially the executive part of the personality. It decides what actions are appropriate and which Id impulses will be satisfied and in what manner. The ego mediates among the demands of the Id, the realities of the world and the demands of the superego.
Superego: It is the ethical-moral aspect of the psyche. It judges whether actions are right or wrong. The superego is the internalized representation of the values and morals of society and comprises the individual's conscience as well as his or her image of the morally ideal person (ego ideal).
zoom view
Fig. 1.1: Freud's structural model of mind (Ref by Dr Kasturi Psychaitric Nursing)
The superego develops in response to parental rewards and punishments.
All behavior, according to Freud, can be understood in terms of the dynamic equilibrium among Id, ego and superego. The Id demands to satisfy its needs and appetites while the ego tries both, to control the Id in terms of reality and to appease the superego. The well adjusted individual is governed by the ego, the anxious neurotic by guilt from his superego; the psychopathic by his Id. The aim of psychoanalysis is to restore the balance, where Id was ‘there shall ego be’.
Psychosexual Development
In Freud's view, child development is an important predictor of later adult personality. During development, each person passes through five psychosexual stages. Sex is the life urge or fundamental motive in life. All physical pleasures arising from any of the organs or any of the functions are ultimately sexual in nature. Sexuality is not the characteristic of only the adolescent. Children from the very beginning also have sexual desires. This, he quoted as infantile sexuality.
Oral stage (Birth …. 1 year): In this stage, mouth represents the first sex organ for providing pleasure to the child. The beginning is made with the pleasure received from the mother's nipple or the “bottle”, thereafter; it is used to derive pleasure by putting anything …… pen, stick, his own fingers, etc.
Anal stage (1 …. 3 years): The interest of the child shifts from the mouth to the organs of elimination, i.e. anus or the urethra. He derives pleasure by holding back or letting go of the body's waste material through the anus or urethra. The anal stage reaches its peak once toilet training is successful.
Phallic stage (4 …. 6 years): In this stage, child derives the greatest pleasure from stimulating the genitals. The child also comes to identify with the same sex parent, a critical step, toward developing into a healthy mature adult. At this stage, children come to know the biological differences between the sexes and derive pleasure by playing and manipulating the genital organs. This stage, according to Freud, may gave birth to a number of complexes like deprivation and electra complexes in girls and castration and oedipus complexes in boys. Deprivation is the result of 9the feeling generated into the minds of the little girls that they have been deprived of the male organs by their mothers. Castration complex is generated in boys through the fear of being deprived of the male organs certainly as a result of the organ if they did not leave the habit of playing with it. Oedipus and electra are the results of the sexual attraction or pleasure the children receive in the company of the opposite sex parent. In case, the like sex parent frustrates the desire, expresses his or her resentment and is not friendly to the boy or girl, the child may be likely to develop oedipus or electra complex by loving more the opposite sex parent and rather hating the like sex parent.
Latency stage (6 years …. puberty): At this stage, boys and girls prefer to be in the company of their own sex and even neglect or hate the members of opposite sex.
Genital stage (Puberty … adulthood): In this stage, heterosexual desire awakens and attraction toward opposite sex. According to Freud, if transition does not go smoothly, it gives rise to developmental problems. Fixation may occur at any stage. For example, if a child's Id does not receive enough satisfaction during the oral stage, the child may be reluctant to leave that stage until he feels fully satisfied. Fixation may be positive or negative.
As an example of fixation, an individual might remain immature in his social relations and engage excessively in oral activities, such as eating, talking and smoking. Such behavior in adolescence might result from negative or positive fixation during the oral stage. Any fixation can lead to problems. If a child's Id was not satisfied during toilet training, because of the demands made by parents, the child may get satisfaction through undue retention-an anal fixation. Freud believed that such an anal retentive personality would be expressed as selfishness, stinginess, lying, etc.
Recent developments in contemporary psychology: The theorists of different schools of psychology the structuralism, functionalism, behaviorism, gestaltitism and psychoanalysis focuses on the weaknesses of other schools. Today's psychology witnesses an electic approach in dealing with human behavior by accepting the fact that the different view points help in one way or other in studying the complex human behavior by throwing light on other aspects of life.
10Humanistic psychology: This uses humanism in psychology. The theorists like Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Arthur Combs, Caviar Rogers, Gordon All posts have contributed towards its inception and growth. This gives more value to human being by not considering him merely as a sophisticated machine or victim of conflict between Id and ego. It considers him as a purposeful being; capable of adapting himself to his environment and choosing his own course of action toward self-actualization.
Transpersonal Psychology
This is one of the latest approaches in contemporary psychology. The contribution of Abraham Maslow in terms of realization of self, one's fullest potential considered the corner-stone of this school of psychology. It focuses on attention on the study of personal experiences that seem to transcend ordinary existence. In other terms, what we think and how we do feel in our altered states of awareness may be focus area of the transpersonal psychology. These states may be reached during severe stress and distress or in the moments of great excitement and happiness. They may be aroused during periods of sleep or deep concentration. Practically, they may be induced with the help of the influences brought about by specific drugs, religious practices, yoga and transcendental meditation, etc.
Cognitive Psychology
Cognition refers to thinking, remembering and perceiving. Wilhelm Wundt, Donald Broadbent, is the main theorists of cognitive psychology. It is the result of intellectualism which believes in higher cognitive abilities and capacities of human being for his adaptation to his environment and struggle for perfection. It studies all about man's thinking, memory, language, development, perception, imagery and other higher mental processes in order to study the mental functions like insight, creativity and problem solving. Cognitive psychologists are totally opposed to the stimulus response approach of the behaviorists. They maintain that there is something more to learning and behaving man just single responses to stimuli. The human mind does not accept information from its environment in exactly the same form and style as it is conveyed to him. The conveyed information is compared with the already stored information in the mind; it is then analyzed and often enlarged upon, for giving 11it a quite new form. Then, it is subjected to interpretation and use or storage according to the needs of the situation.
The newer contribution to psychology by Herbert Simon who research on how psychological phenomena could be simulated using the computer. Man is a information-processing system. The human being viewed as a processor of information. The senses provide an input channel for information, mental operations are applied to the input; the transformed input creates a mental structure interacts with others in memory to generate a response.
Another major change in modern psychology is the development of modern linguistics. The linguistics theorizes about the mental structures required to comprehend and to speak a language. The pioneering work was done by Noam Chomsky. A development in the field of psycholinguistics provides the first significant psychological analysis of language.
Definition of Psychology
The word “psychology” is derived from two Greek words, ‘psycho’ and ‘logos; psyche means ‘soul’ and ‘logos’ means ‘the study of’. Hence, the earliest definition of psychology was that it is the study of ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’. The word ‘soul’ was used rather very vaguely and there were many interpretations that could be given to it. Hence later on, the term ‘mind’ replaced ‘soul’. Thereafter, psychology was regarded as the study of an individual's mind or mental processes. This definition was given up as unsatisfactory because the mind as an object does not exist; what exists is only the brain. In other words, the mind is not a thing but a ‘function’. It is difficult to study the mind apart from what it does. In other terms, we can study it only when it functions or operates in human, behavior or activities.
Psychology has also been defined as the science of con-sciousness. Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) defined psychology as the science of immediate experience with consciousness being the main subject matter.
Titchner (1867–1927), the leader of the structuralists defines psychology as the science of conscious experience which is dependent upon the experiencing person.
Watson (1878–1958) defines psychology as a science and as a science it is to limit itself to the study and analysis of publicly observable elements such as the behavior of the subject rather than subjective matters like his private mental states.12
Meaning of Science and Behavior
Science has been defined as “systematic study of knowledge” concerning the relationship between the cause and effect of a particular phenomena. In order to collect the scientific data and systematized material, science employs various kinds of methods of enquiry such as observation, classification, formulation of hypothesis, analysis and interpretation of evidence, etc. It also organizes and develops our knowledge of the world, we live on. Psychology too aims at same thing. It uses scientific methods to study human behavior. It also helps us to understand, control and predict human behavior.
Psychology is a positive or natural science, not a normative one. It describes the facts of human behavior and its laws as they are rather than as they ought to be. Ethics is a normative science because it deals with behavior as it should be. Logic is a normative science because it deals with how we should think. In positive sciences, we merely describe behavior as we discover or find it without evaluating it, without saying whether it is good or bad; but in normative sciences, we evaluate behavior and thus, attempt to influence or improve the behavior of others.
Behavior includes all types of human activities – motor activities like walking and speaking; cognitive activities such as perceiving, remembering, thinking or reasoning; and emotional activities like feeling happy, sad, angry, or afraid. It is both bodily and mental. Mental behavior such as thinking, reasoning, imaging, problem solving, analyzing as “mental experiences or processes”. Bodily behavior refers to the movements and action of the body in response to a situation.
Our behavior is a matter of growth and development from infancy to old age. At each stage, our behavior shows certain unique characteristic features. Psychology as a science of behavior studies these characteristic features, and compares and contrasts them from each stage to another. It also studies the differences in behavior, between an individual and another in the same stage of development, between man and animal, between a normal person and psychologically deviated or abnormal person.13
Scope includes the limits, branches, topics and subject matter. The field of operation and application of the subject of psychology is too vast. It studies, describes, explains, explores and does scientific findings in behavior of the living organisms. Behavior includes all types of life activities and experiences, which includes cognitive, conative, implicit, or explicit, conscious, unconscious/ subconscious, affective of a living entity. The term living organisms includes all the living creatures created by the almighty on this earth and space irrespective of their species, caste, color, age, and sex, mental or physical state. Thus, it studies all aspects of normalcy, abnormal, children, adult, criminals, consumers and producers belonging to different walkers of human life—all are studied under the umbrella of psychology. It also studies the behavior of the animals, insects, birds and even plant life. Thus, it studies all aspects of human life activities.
Branches/Areas of Specialization
For convenience, the subject of psychology is divided into pure psychology and applied psychology.
Pure Psychology
It provides the framework and theory. Its contents deal with the formulation of psychological principles and theories. Pure psychology suggests various methods and techniques for the assessment, analysis, and improvement of behavior.
Applied Psychology
It is the use of pure psychology in a pragmatic way. It discusses ways and means of the applications of psychological rules, principles, theories, and techniques with reference to the real practical life situations.
Branches of Pure Psychology
General psychology: It deals with the general principles of psychology. General psychology describes the 14universal characteristics of human behavior and is concerned with the mental life of the normal human beings.
Abnormal psychology: It describes and explains the behavior of abnormal people in relation to their own environment. The etiological, symptoms and sign, syndromes, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitative aspects of the abnormalities of behavior from the subject matter of this branch.
Comparative and animal psychology: It studies the behavior of animals and compares and contrasts it with that of human beings.
Physiological psychology: Concerns the structure and functions of sense organs, nervous system muscles and glands underlying all behavior. It lays emphasis on the influence of bodily factors on human behavior.
Social psychology: This branch of psychology deals with the group behavior and inter-relationships of people with others, group dynamics, likes and dislikes interests and attitudes, social distance and prejudices of the people in their personal and social relationships from the subject matter of this branch.
Experimental psychology: It describes and explains the ways and means of carrying out psychological experiments following scientific methods in controlled or laboratory settings for the study of mental processes and behavior. This investigates the areas such as sensation, perception, learning, memory, motivation, forgetting, etc. in humans and other animals. This emphasis on basic research, i.e. knowledge for its own sake without much consideration as to its applications.
Genetic psychology/Developmental psychology: It studies the behavior from birth to old age, and the factors that influence the growth and development of human behavior. Special areas of interest include the development of language, social attachments, emotions, thinking and perception.
Clinical psychology: It focuses on understanding, diagnosing, and treating abnormal or deviant behaviors.
Para psychology: It deals with extra sensory perceptions, cases of re-birth-telepathy and allied problems.
Geo psychology: It describes and explains the relation of physical environment especially weather, climate, soil, and land scape with behavior.15
Branches of Applied Psychology
Educational psychology: It is concerned with human learning and development in educational settings. It involves scientific study of techniques that can be used to enhance learning. It studies the teaching process, learner-learning process and the environment.
Industrial psychology: It tries to seek application of the psychological principles, theories and techniques for the study of human behavior in relation to industrial environment. It studies the taste and interests of the consumers, advertising and sale of products, selection, training and placing, solving labor problems, establishing harmonious relationship between employee and employer, strengthening morals of the workers and increasing production.
Legal psychology: This branch emphasis on the behavior of the persons like clients, criminals, witnesses, etc. in their own surroundings with the application of the psychological principles.
Community psychology: It studies the principles, ideals and points to view and help solve social problems and to help individuals adapt to their work and living groups.
Military psychology: It is concerned with the use of psychological principles and techniques in the world of military science. How to keep the morale of the soldiers and citizens high during war, how to fight war of propaganda and intelligence services, how to secure better recruitment and improvement strategies, organizational climate and leadership, etc.
Political psychology This branch of psychology deals itself with the use of psychological principles and techniques in studying the politics and deriving political gains. The knowledge of the dynamics of the group behavior, judgment of the public opinion, qualities of the leadership, psychology of the propaganda, suggestions and the art of diplomacy, etc.
Why we need psychology in nursing sciences? The nursing profession deals with human behavior. Understanding and analyzing the different complex human interactions enable the nurse to serve the humanity in a better way. Primarily it helps
To know and understand herself: Psychology helps to know the individual himself or herself. Understanding motives, desires, 16emotions and ambitions of her helps to serve better. Individual nurse will realize how her personality is highly unique and complex, her thinking, feeling, reasoning, problem solving, decision making will help to understand the basic mental processes which lie behind behavior psychology will help to better assess her own abilities, limitations and her reaction to others and to various situations. This insights her to know her own behavior.
Psychology will help to understand others: Nurse has to serve, study and live with different categories of people in society. With scientific psychological background, the nurse will understand the people in a better way. She will study and learn why others differ in thinking, reasoning, likes and dislikes, abilities, beliefs and cultural customs. She will make allowances for other's shortcomings and idiosyncrasies and will develop the positive attitude towards life and humanity. However, psychology will not solve all the problems of nurses but it enhances in understanding the human nature.
Study of the psychology will help: The nurse to appreciate the necessity of changing the environment or surrounding and guide her how to do this. The change in the environment is sometimes necessary for better adjustment and optimal living. For example, Wearing hearing aids will help to overcome the sensory deficiencies and to assist them in their attempts to achieve a more harmonious relationship with the surroundings.
Psychology will throw light on the interdependence: It includes the body, mind, and spirit. Knowing and applying the principles of psychology in work place helps to break the boredom and burnout. Coordial and harmony between herself and others at work and home will ease her anxiety and contributes for happy living.
In all these situations, psychology will make the nurse to stand in good stead, knowing herself better and insight's into other's behavior.
Methods of Psychology
The discovery of new knowledge in psychology is based on research tools and procedures. These procedures are known as methods of psychology. These are:17
  1. Experimental method
  2. Correlational method
  3. Observation method
  4. Survey method
  5. Clinical case method
  6. Case studies
  7. Testing.
Experimental Method
The scientific experiment is one of the powerful research tools to find out answers. The essential purpose is to discover what leads to what. In this method, strictly following the research steps to solve the problem and permitting for cause and effect relationships.
True/Classical Experiment
In psychological experiment, the researcher manipulates the some variables to observe the consequences. A variable is any changeable element or event that can be manipulated or studied in controllable or noncontrollable situations. The researcher tries to keep other conditions constant and looks forward for an effect or variation on the system under observation. Psychology is concerned with science of behavior; the psychologist looks for an effect of the experimental changes on behavior.
A variable that initiates some activity is known as a stimulus. The resulting activity or consequent event, if it involves action by any organism is called a response. The stimulus of wheezing in a bedridden person probably would awaken, which is a response. In research, stimuli are also known as S-variables and responses as R-variables.
Aspects of the organism are known as our variables. If the person were drugged, these conditions would influence her response to the shaking. A person's age, weight, gender, educational level and personality traits are difficult to define, but they influence the individual's response, which are in interest.
While conducting an experiment the investigator must generate hypothesis, subject selection, operationalizing the terms, finding out reliability and validity, control, analysis of results will be done 18in a scientific manner with advanced application of mathematical and statistical instruments.
Rule of one variable
In doing experiment, the investigator must decide which stimulus is variable to manipulate in relation to which response. The true or classical experimental method follows the rule of one variable, only one variable or multi is manipulated at any given moment. If an effect is observed, i.e. if change is observed in some response, then it is assumed to be the result of the manipulated factor, especially if other potentially influential factors are well controlled.
Independent variables (IV):
The investigator determines which variable is to be manipulated, that variable is known as independent variables. Changes in this factor are independent of all other aspects of the experiment. The researcher manipulates the IV in accordance with the basic problem in the study. If the investigator wants to know the influence of high temperature and pulse, temperature is considered as an independent variable.
Dependent Variable (DV)
The value of DV depends on the value of IV, the one independently chosen and directly manipulated by the experimenter.
  • Experiment method is not an ideal of choice if experiment might be dangerous for the subjects.
  • The conclusions derived from experiment may be limited.
  • Experimental method sometimes interferes with the very thing it is trying to measure.
Correlation method: This is a nonexperimental research design. A correlation is defined as a relationship between two variables such that when one variable systematically increases the other will systematically alter.
For example: There is a strong correlation between IQ and health. The more IQ one tends to be having very low/fewer health problems and the lower IQ level shows high health problems. Both the data are correlational and but can be find out the underlying cause and effect.
19Observational method: The aim of the observational method is to study behavior in its natural setting, without asking any question or administrating any tests. The researcher simply observes and records what happens in the natural environment. He gathers ideas and makes hypotheses for subsequent testing in a more controlled setting.
Naturalistic observation is most often used to investigate behavior in the natural environment outside of the laboratory. Technically, a natural environment is defined as any environment that the researcher has not purposely manipulated for reasons of conducting study, i.e. one in which things are going on much as they would be regardless of the presence of the researcher, e.g. observing the children at playground.
Types of Natural Observation
The main aim of naturalistic observation is careful observing without any bias, e.g. a researcher might ask what behavior, if any, characterize the dreaming process? This question might be answered by careful observation by examining people who fall asleep. The types are:
Overt Observation
Here, the subject is aware of the observer, who may use checklists, rating scales and other devices for keeping systematic records of the behavior.
For example: observation of a sleeping person. In Overt obser-vation, observer observes several gross body movements, changes in posture, relaxation movements, etc. After sometime, brief twitching movements of arms and legs, similar twitching in the face and heaving breathing.
Covert Observation
In covert observation, subjects are unaware that research data are being collected from them. The researcher proceeds in an un-obstructive manner, insofar as possible. Observational method is greatly used in studying the behavior of animals and children. Thorndike has observed animals such as cats and white mice in mazes and puzzle boxes have given the idea of learning process.
For accurate results, one observation must be objective in nature. It must be free from biases and prejudices.20
  • Does not yield in depth knowledge of any phenomena because nature is a complex phenomenon.
  • Many number of factors influences cause and effect relations
  • Risk of contamination in overt observation, while in covert observation, lacks the close contact with the subjects.
  • Difficult to generalize the findings.
Survey method: A survey method is also one type of research method. A survey obtains information about the prevalence, distribution and inter-relation of variables within a population.
Surveys obtain information about people actions, knowledge, intentions, opinions and attitudes by means of self-report, i.e. study samples may respond to a set of questions. Surveys which yield quantitative data primarily may be cross-sectional or longitudinal (e.g. panel studies). Any information that can reliably be obtained by direct questioning can be gathered in a survey, but mostly includes brief responses (e.g. yes/no, always/sometimes/never average/ good/excellent).
Survey data can be collected in a number of ways. Most popular method of collecting data is through interview. Interview may be personal and telephonic.
Case Studies
Case studies are in depth investigations of a single subject or a small number of entities. The entity may be an individual, of institution, community or other social unit. In a case study, researcher obtain descriptive information in detail and may examine relationships among different phenomena or trends over time. It attempts to analyze and understand issues that are important to the history, development or circumstances of the entity under study.
The main focus of case study is on determining the dynamics of why an individual thinks, behavior or develops in a particular manner rather than on what his or her status, progress or actions are studied over a considerable period. Data are collected prospectively as well as retrospective. It is a useful way to explore the phenomena in depth. The information obtained can be used to develop hypotheses and can further be tested. The intensive probing that characterizes case studies often leads to insights about 21previously unsuspected relationships. It also helps to clarify the concepts regarding phenomena. For example, psychotherapy.
  • Difficult to impart objectivity
  • Lacks generalizability.
Test can be used to investigate the behavior. These can be valuable research instrument. Tests are used to measure many aptitudes, abilities and personalities. Test also may make it possible to measure various characteristics of people by testing large groups of individuals at one time. So these are used in education, business, clinicals, the military, and industry. These may be administered individually, often for the purpose of clinical, intellectual or personality assessment.
For examples:
IQ test—to test intelligence.
Rorschach ink blots test to—test personality.
Minnesota multiphasic personality inventory (MMPT)—to test personality type.
Thematic appreciation test (TAT).
  • Psychology is the study of behavior and mental processes.
  • There are many different areas of specialization within psychology. Among them are neuropsychological, psychobiological, developmental, general, educational, legal, military, industrial, para psychology and clinical psychology.
  • Psychology was born of two parents, philosophy and physiology. The union of the philosopher's questions and the psychologist's careful scientific investigations and analysis lead to psychological research which began in a laboratory in Leipzig, Germany in 1879.
  • The first experimental physiology laboratory was started by Wilhelm Wundt who was interested in analyzing the mind. This has given birth to Structuralism, relied on the technique of introspection.
  • John Dewey and William James introduced functionalism. They believed that human consciousness and behavior must serve a function.22
  • John B Watson developed an objective system of psychology he called behaviorism. The product of this, S-R psychology that values our behavior is determined by our immediate environment or previous history of learning.
  • In Germany, Structuralism was born. Gestalt psychologist argue that conscious sensations can be examined but that the whole experience must be taken for what it is.
  • Psychoanalytical theory was developed by a Viennese physician, Sigmund Freud. Its roots are in neurology and medicine.
  • Humanistic psychology differs from other philosophies. Humanists believe that people have free will and a need to achieve self-actualization.
  • The biological approach to study of psychology is the new trend. It concerns itself with the investigation of the brain, nervous system, genetic inheritance and biology of the organism as pertain to behavior and mental processes.
  • Cognitive psychology is the study of internal mental processes, which include thinking, memory, concept formation, forgetting and the processing of information.
  • All scientific research relies on systematic and objective methods of observing, recording and describing events. The experimental study is one of the most powerful tools to conduct the study.
  • Data from correlations are valuable because they allow us to make predictions. However, cause-effect relationships cannot make merely because a correlation exists.
  • In naturalistic observation, researcher refrains from directly interacting with the subjects they are observing. Naturalistic observation is most often used to investigate behavior in natural environment in which the researcher refrains from manipulation.
  • Other research tools used by psychological researchers include case studies, surveys, clinical case methods and testing.
  • All the work in scientific psychology is aimed at a common goal to predict, to explain and eventually to control behavior.
Questions for Introspection
  1. Define psychology. Describe its meaning.
  2. What are the various branches of psychology?
  3. Why psychology is considered as a science?
  4. Why nurses have to study psychology?
  5. What are the different research approaches in psychology?
  6. Explain the term behavior by providing an illustration.