Psychology is a field of science that focuses on the psyche and human behavior. Psychology as a scientific discipline and social science tries to understand the behavior of both individual people and entire groups. The effects of research in the field of psychology serve the whole society. Psychologists help both individuals and groups through therapy or by giving advice or consulting. Psychology is helpful in many areas of life: business, administration, sport, health care or justice, to name a few.
History of psychology
Already in antiquity, the human psyche was the object of lively interest. This interest was treated as part of the philosophy. Among the ancient philosophers who dealt with this topic, mention should be made of Plato, Thales or Aristotle.
Interest in the human psyche was also a feature of the philosophy of the Enlightenment. German philosopher Christian Wolff treated psychology as a science. Nevertheless, Immanuel Kant questioned the credibility of psychology based on experimental research, arguing that it could not be a natural science, because thought processes cannot be measured in any way, and therefore cannot be mathematically described and cannot be the subject of experiments.
The beginnings of psychology as a scientific discipline and the beginning of gathering empirical knowledge in this area can be dated to around the mid-nineteenth century. The birth of psychology as a science took place in Germany. In the work Elemente der Psychophysik published in 1860 Gustav Fechner argued against Kant’s rejection of experimental research in psychology. In 1879 Wilhelm Wundt created the first first psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig. This event is considered by many to be the birth of experimental psychology.
Soon, such laboratories began to appear at universities in other countries of the world. At the end of the 19th century, the first scientific associations of psychologists began to be created (e.g. Polskie Towarzystwo Psychologiczne is such an association in Poland), and the first international congress took place in Paris in 1889, during Exposition Universelle, a world’s fair held in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
Schools of psychology
There are various schools within psychology that assume a different approach to problems related to the psyche and human behavior. These include psychodynamic school (psychoanalysis), which was initiated by Sigismund Freud, Gestalt psychology (gestaltism) and behavioral school.