General psychology is the science that studies human behaviour as a response to a stimulus, and the responses vary according to the stimuli. The term «Psychology» is derived from two Greek words (Psyche), meaning soul, and (Logos), meaning science or research. The compound word means psychology or psychological research.
This science studies the behavioural interactions of the individual with their verbal types, mental, emotional or affective, and the interrelationships between them for the purpose of understanding this behaviour and finding appropriate ways to analyze and understand it, and predicting the problems and obstacles that may conflict with the individual in a particular situation and his expected reactions towards them.
Psychology, as a science, helps us understand the different patterns of personalities. Therefore, the practical branches of psychology abound in the modern era, such as industrial psychology, criminal psychology, social psychology, and several other sub-branches and classifications that tackle certain areas in a given field.
Personality psychology is also a branch of general psychology. This science is concerned with studying the behavioural characteristics and emotional phenomena of individuals, which are usually called personality. Psychology is the science that studies the psychological characteristics of humans, such as temperament, behavioural patterns, motives and abilities, and all the factors affecting them.
In addition to studying the role of the unconscious in programming behaviour and the importance of experiences and experiences that affected the process of creating and creating personal traits in childhood. Among the scientists who worked in the field of analyzing personality patterns is the Swiss scientist Carl Yang, who was a student and apprentice of Freud. He benefited from the psychoanalysis theory of Freud by studying personality elements and psychological features in order to spot their potential.
There are various tests in the field of personality analysis, which enjoy many benefits as they increase an individual’s level of awareness about themselves and their surroundings, in addition to providing alternatives for decision making and interacting with the environment while highlighting the positive and negative aspects of each of them. Moreover, these tests enable a person in recognizing strengths and ways to enhance them and realizing weaknesses and how to get rid of them.
Character Composition Elements
Physical behaviour and psychological behaviour play crucial roles in the personality of an individual and their harmonious interaction. However, the mechanism of this behavioural interaction may be innate, such as motherhood, breastfeeding and other preparations and behavioural patterns that are born with the individual. It may be environmental that the individual acquires gradually through the experiences that he is exposed to in his different age stages, and the instinct may be a self-preparation of the individual.
It is activated by environmental conditions and conditions, and the personality can be defined as an integrated and relatively stable system, which is the innate or acquired physical and psychological features or phenomena that characterize a particular individual. The mechanism of an individual’s interaction with their physical and social environment,
Initial components of the personality can be present as follows:
- The body: It is the body with the soul as a complete unit. It is an important component of the structure of the personality of an individual. There is no doubt that the body, whether it is in a normal state or has certain defect, affects the mood of the individual and the way they interact with themselves and their society negatively or positively.
- Mood: Mood is one of the essential elements in building personality. Where some see that mood is a result of the interaction of chemical elements in the body, where the mood varies according to these interactions, and it is inevitable that there is general emotional energy in the individual that produces behaviours based on the individual’s level of intelligence, and the instincts that motivate them according to the change in the nature of the situation.
- Intelligence and abilities: It has been prooved that the intelligence and mental competencies of the individual affect the formation of the personality of the individual and his favourable compatibility with themselves and their communities; however, the interactions of individuals vary according to their different mental abilities, in addition to their abstract perception of facts, daily accidents, and others.
- The environment: the environment plays an essential role in forming the first building blocks in the centring of the individual’s personality. The atmosphere is created first from home, which shows the impact of the parents’ educational level on all economic, moral and other aspects, in addition to the proper upbringing methods produce normal and stable individuals far from deviation and secondly the school. A balanced and constructive school environment creates educated, aware and advanced generations.
Psychoanalysis, which focused on the features and components of the personality, was founded by Freud, who divided it into three sections, as follows:
- Ego: is in control of voluntary movements as a result of interactions between sensory and muscular perception, in addition to the task of studying external environmental stimuli and storing them as experiences in order to avoid exposure to negative experiences and adapt to moderate ones.
- The Superego: is a storehouse of ideals, morals, conscience, goodness, truth and all the attributes of higher values, acting as a psychological watchdog. The mechanism of the Superego is greatly affected by the role of parents and the educators who replace them, and the crucial personalities have a significant impact on the individual, besides the effects of the cultural and educational level.
- The Id: is the source of vital and biological psychological energy. The primitive image of the formation of the personality of the individual before being refined by society and the environment. Where the activity and interactions of a given person are dominated by the drive of pleasure and pain; however, in most cases, it is the Superego who is the controller of these activities.
The goals that psychology seeks to achieve are many, including:
- Understand and explain behaviour.
- Predict what the behaviour will be.
- Regulating and controlling behaviour.
Fields of Psychology
Psychology is mainly divided into two schools:
- Analytical school and its founder Sigmund Freud.
- Conditional school and its founder Pavlov.
From those two schools, several branches emerged that took the theoretical form of this science.
Main theoretical branches:
1. Experimental Psychology: This branch is concerned with the study of cognitive and motor abilities and processes, primarily visual and auditory perception and mental processes.
2. Physiological Psychology: It explores the physiological bases of behaviour, as this branch seeks to discover the relationship between physiological processes and behaviour.
3. Evolutionary Psychology: studies the changes that occur to a person during his life (beginning of his formation in the mother’s womb until his life ends).
4. Social Psychology: It deals with the study of the influence of the group on the behaviour of individuals, as well as the study of the behaviour of the individual in the group.
1. Educational Psychology: This branch is concerned with academic education and academic achievement.
2. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: It applies the principles of psychology in the field of industry and organizations to solve work-related problems in order to raise production efficiency.
Subfields of Psychology
- Parasympathetic Psychology
Abnormal psychology is the study of strange behaviour in order to describe, anticipate, interpret, and change abnormal patterns of work. Non-standard psychology studies the nature and causes of the psychology of diseases, and this information is applied in clinical psychology to cure patients who suffer from mental disorders.
It can be challenging to draw the line between standard and non-standard behaviours. In general, atypical behaviours must be maladaptive and cause significant discomfort to the individual in order to be considered research-wise and clinical-wise important. According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), behaviours may be considered atypical if they are associated with disability or distress, violate social norms, or cause dysfunction.
2. Paranormal Psychology
Paranormal psychology is the study of behaviour and experiences related to what is often called the paranormal, without assuming the existence of anything supernatural. Parapsychologists try to find logical and non-paranormal explanations, supported by empirical evidence, for how psychological and physical factors can combine to give the impression of a paranormal activity even though it is not.
Beyond deception or self-deception, such explanations may include cognitive biases, psychological abnormalities, personality factors, developmental issues, and the nature of memory. British psychologist Chris French is a distinguished researcher in the field of parapsychology, having established the Parapsychology Research Unit (APRU) in the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London.
3. Behavioural Genetics
Behavioural genetics uses genetically useful designs to understand the nature and origins of individual differences in behaviour. In focusing on the reasons of individual differences, behavioural genetics differs from evolutionary psychology, the latter tending to focus on commonalities in humans. Behavioural genetics is closely associated with the predisposition and stress model of pathology as well as the nature versus nurture debate.
Francis Galton led research into behavioural genetics through his seminal work in family studies and twin studies after it fell out of favour during the eugenic movement of the early part of the twentieth century through to World War II. The renaissance of behavioural genetics research began in the 1960s and rose to prominence in the 1980s and beyond.
At the time, twin studies and adoption studies were conducted on a wide range of behavioural traits, including personality, cognitive ability, mental illness, medical illness, and many others. The general conclusion of this great work is that all behavioural and medical features and actual measures of the environment are moderately hereditary.
Leveraging the Human Genome Project, the latest work in behavioural genetics uses modern techniques in array-based genotype analysis, genome sequencing, and other omics to directly measure genetic variants. So these genetic variants can be tested for association with behavioural traits and disorders, for example, through gene effects research. This approach to understanding genetic influences on behaviour has met with several successes, for example, in schizophrenia. Psychogenetics is a branch of behavioural genetics.
It is the scientific study of the strong bases of behaviour and mental states. Given that all behaviours are intertwined with the nervous system, biopsychologists feel it makes sense to study how the brain works in order to understand behaviour. This is the approach followed in biopsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuropsychology.
Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that aims to understand how the structure and function of the brain relate to particular psychological and behavioural processes. Neuropsychology is mainly concerned with understanding brain damage in an effort to work on normal psychological function. Cognitive psychologists often use neuroimaging tools, which can help them notice which areas of the brain are active during a particular task.
5. Cognitive Psychology
Cognitive psychology studies the knowledge and underlying mental processes of mental activity. His areas of research include perception, learning, problem-solving, rationality, thinking, memory, attention, language, and feeling. Conventional cognitive psychology is associated with a school of thought known as epistemology, whose adherents advocate a model of mental function information processing guided by functionalism and experimental psychology.
It is worth mentioning that cognitive science is an interdisciplinary project of cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists, researchers in the field of artificial intelligence, linguists, human-computer interaction, computational neuroscience, logicians, and sociologists. Computer models are sometimes used to simulate phenomena of interest. Computer models provide a tool for studying the functional organization of the mind while neuroscience provides measures of brain activity.
6. Comparative Psychology
Comparative psychology refers to the study of the behaviour and mental life of non-human animals. It is related to disciplines outside of psychology that study animal behaviour, such as animal ethology. Even though the field of psychology is primarily concerned with humans, animal behaviour and mental processes also constitute an important section of psychological research.
This is either a topic in its own right (e.g., animal intelligence and animal behaviour) or with a heavy emphasis on evolutionary links and, somewhat more controversially, a way to get a deeper insight into human psychology. This is achieved by comparison or through animal models of emotional and behavioural systems as demonstrated in neuropsychology (e.g. affective neuroscience and social neuroscience).
7. Counselling Psychology
Counselling psychology seeks to facilitate interpersonal and lifelong functioning with an emphasis on emotional, social, occupational, educational, health, developmental, and organizational concerns. Counsellors are primarily clinicians, who use psychotherapy and other interventions to treat patients. Traditionally, counselling psychology has focused more on typical developmental issues and everyday stresses rather than pathology, but this difference has diminished over time. Counselling psychologists work in a variety of settings, including universities, hospitals, schools, government organizations, businesses, private clinics, and community mental health centres.
8. Developmental Psychology
Developmental psychology, which focuses primarily on the development of the human mind over the course of life, seeks to understand how people perceive, understand, and act in life and how these processes change as they age. This science may focus on mental, cognitive, neurological, social, or moral development. That is to say that researchers who study children use a number of unique research methods to obtain observations in natural environments or to engage them in experimental tasks.
These tasks often mimic specially designed toys and activities that are fun and scientifically useful for a child, and researchers have also devised clever ways to study infants’ mental processes. In addition to studying children, developmental psychologists also study ageing and the processes throughout life, especially during times of rapid change (such as adolescence and old age). Developmental psychologists draw on the full range of theorists in scientific psychology to guide their research.
Mental health is the level of psychological well-being or a disorder-free mind, “the psychological state of a person who has a good emotional and behavioural level.” From the point of view of positive psychology or a holistic view of mental health, it can include the individual’s ability to enjoy life and create a balance between life activities and requirements to achieve psychological resilience.
Stress, depression, anxiety, and relationship problems are the type of challenges a person who suffers from a disorder in their behavioural health may face. Those people would struggle with sadness, addiction, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, and mood disorders, in addition to several other psychological disorders.
Counsellors, therapists, life coaches, psychologists, nurses, and physicians can help manage behavioural health concerns by addressing them in ways such as therapy, counselling, or medication sessions. The new field of global mental health is the field of study, research, and expertise that prioritizes improving mental health and achieving equity in its field for all people in the world.
The Importance of Mental Health
Maintaining good mental health is vital for living a comfortable life, unlike poor mental health, which hinders its owner from living a better life. Good mental health helps a person to live their life to the fullest, productively and enjoy it, as well as reducing the risk of suffering from a wide range of mental illnesses.
Here are some of the critical points that illustrate the importance of a person’s mental health:
- Improve physical health
Mental health has a significant impact on physical health, as neglect or weakness increases the risk of many potentially dangerous diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.
2. Helping recover from organic diseases
Cancer patients who have even minor mental health problems are less likely to win compared to people with good mental health.
3. Enhance sleep quality
Sleep disorders, including insomnia, are among the problems closely related to mental health.
4. Increase energy levels
Poor mental health drains energy, as it leads to a continuous feeling of fatigue and exhaustion that does not stop unless the problem or psychological disorder is treated.
5. Avoid negative habits
Poor mental health, in some cases, leads to resorting to negative habits in order to deal with disturbing psychological symptoms, for example, by resorting to smoking or using sedative medications without consulting a doctor.
6. Maintain optimism
Good mental health helps in dealing with obstacles and difficulties with an optimistic perspective, which leads to overcoming them and not letting them affect a person’s life and achievements.
7. Helping deal with life changes
When exposed to an event that leads to radical changes in life, such as leaving a toxic relationship or marriage or moving from one job to another, the importance of mental health lies in helping an individual deal with and overcome differences without psychological damage.
8. Increase productivity
Tired mental health and the psychological disorders that accompany it lead to poor productivity and delayed delivery of tasks at work, in addition to a large number of sick leaves.
9. Improving relationships with others
Poor mental health leads to many complications that negatively affect relationships with others, including resorting to isolation from them.
10. Maintain a healthy weight
Mental health is also crucial in improving a person’s lifestyle and preventing a significant increase in their weight. Those who suffer from a psychological problem or disorder have less interest in exercising and choosing healthy food, leading to weight gain and obesity.
Professional Ethics and Etiquette
Ethical standards have changed over time, and some famous earlier studies are considered unethical today and in violation of the laws in force now, such as the American Psychological Association Ethics Code, the Canadian Human Research Act, and Belmont Report.
The most critical contemporary standard is voluntary reporting and consent. The Nuremberg Code was established after World War II due to Nazi abuses of the subjects studied (experiment subjects). Later, most countries (and scientific journals) adopted the Helsinki Declaration, and in the United States, the National Institutes of Health established an «Ethical Review Board» in 1966.
- Research on Humans
University psychology departments have ethics committees dedicated to the rights and safety of learners, and researchers must obtain their consent before any procedure is conducted on an experiment to protect the interests of human participants and laboratory animals. Among the most important ethical issues:
- Practising within the field of competence.
- Maintaining confidentiality with patients.
- Voiding sexual relations with them.
Another important principle is prior consent; the patient or the person being studied should understand and freely choose the procedure to which he is subject.
- Research on Animals
Current ethical principles state that the use of non-human animals for scientific purposes is only acceptable when the benefits of the research outweigh the harm (physical or psychological) done to the animals. Bearing this in mind, psychologists can use certain research techniques on animals that cannot even be used on humans, provided that it does not affect their mental and physical health.
Research Methods in Psychology
- Inner meditation
It is a necessary method followed by psychology because it searches for intangible things that only one person feels, as the feeling of pleasure is a personal feeling that another person does not realize. It is a method that depends in its generalization on the ability of description, so the person must accurately describe the internal state and express it in language, that is, the person’s observation of himself.
Inward contemplation is a method by which psychology is unique from others and distinguishes it from all other sciences. The disadvantages of inner meditation may include the following:
- They operate on the subject of the subconscious.
- Observing phenomena when they occur is impossible; however, this can be retrieved after their occurrence, and the recovered image is generally weaker than the original.
- A person cannot perceive themselves at the same time as the phenomenon, which means that they cannot perform two mental operations at the same time.
- External Observation:
It is a method we use when we want to explain the behaviour of others by what appears on their faces and their behaviour. Sometimes in observation, the conclusion may be wrong, given the many differences between people, because some of the appearances that appear to some individuals may be artificial, knowing that individuals differ in their nature and in the ways in which they express their feelings of shame.
It is observation under limited conditions that can be controlled, and thus experiment differs from external observation. The psychologist may face difficulty when conducting experiments, which is the multiplicity of factors and conditions that are related to the phenomenon because man is affected by many overlapping factors and is not affected by a single element. The results of the experiment depend on two types of elements:
- External factors: These are the surrounding circumstances and the stimuli they contain.
- Internal factors: These control the person’s mood and general psychological state.
1. Sigmund Freud
Austrian psychiatrist, born in 1865 and died in 1939. He is the founder of psychoanalysis and one of the most important founders of modern psychology. He was interested in the study of neurological medicine and the dialogue between the patient and their psychiatrist.
One of his most important theories is also the definition of the term libido, which he considered one of the most important factors affecting human behaviour. His most important works include The Interpretation of Dreams, The Future of an Illusion, and Moses and Monotheism.
2. Alfred Adler
Austrian psychiatrist, born in 1870 and died in 1937. He was the first to establish individual psychology. He was one of Sigmund Freud’s students who differed from him in his theories, the most important of which was the feeling of inferiority, as he believed that the feeling of inferiority was one of the basic factors in the formation and growth of an individual’s personality.
Adler had more than 300 publications between books and articles. Among his most important books is a book entitled The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology, The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler, and Superiority and Social Interest: A Collection of Later Writings, that came in 12 volumes. He has had many articles and researches that have been published in many psychology journals in several languages. One of his most important books that have been translated into English is the study of organ deficiency and psychological compensation.
3. Gordon Allport
An American psychologist was born in 1897 and died in 1967. He was one of the most important psychologists who established personality psychology, as he believed that the human personality is based on three variables: habits, attitudes, and human traits.
He worked as a university professor and excelled in his job. Many of the most famous psychologists were his students, including Jerome Brunner and Anthony Greenwald. Among his most important books are Studies in expressive movement, The Nature of Prejudice, and Personality: A Psychological Interpretation.
4. Albert Bandura
Canadian psychologist, born in 1925 and died in 2021. He was famous for his interest and contributions to social psychology, specifically social cognition theory and personality psychology. He had many contributions in the field of cognitive psychology and laid the foundation of the theory of self-efficacy, and launched the Bobo doll experiment in 1961.
Albert bandura has been ranked among the most influential psychologists in history, and also ranked as the greatest psychologist alive, and has received numerous awards, perhaps the most important of which is the Grawemeyer Award in Psychology in 2008.
5. Jean Piaget
A Swiss psychologist and philosopher, born in 1896 and died in 1980. He was one of the most important founders of developmental psychology. He is best known for the theory of cognitive development that greatly influenced many fields such as developmental psychology, philosophy, precursors, artificial intelligence and other sciences.
He was the pioneer of the constructivist school of psychology. Among his most famous books are Language and Thought in the Child and Judgment and Reasoning in the Child, in which he explained how the child’s thinking develops in the various stages of his life.
6. Charles Spearman:
British psychologist, born in 1863 and died in 1945. He was a pioneer of factor analysis and the owner of the rank coefficient, and he has made many contributions and research in statistics and in the field of human intelligence. Spearman was a professor of logic and mental sciences at the University of London.
Charles Spearman was the president of the British Psychological Association and editor-in-chief of the Journal of General Psychology. Among his most influential books were The Nature of Intelligence and Fields of Knowledge and another book called The Scale of Intelligence.
7. Wilhelm Reich
Austrian psychoanalyst and sociologist, born in 1897 and died in 1957, had great contributions to the field of psychoanalysis and had a great influence on the development of psychiatry. Among his most important books are The Collective Psychology of Fascism, The Sexual Revolution, and Personality Analysis.
8. Abraham Maslow
An American psychologist was born in 1908 and died in 1970. One of his most prominent innovations is the «Maslow pyramid», or the hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory based on arranging human needs in a hierarchical manner. He was one of the founders of the Laughlin Institute in California. Among his most important books are Towards Psychology of Being, Motivation and Personality, and The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.
9. Anna Freud
Austrian psychologist, born in 1895 and died in 1982. She is the daughter of the scientist Sigmund Freud, and she is considered one of the founders of child psychoanalysis. Anna Freud was the president and member of the Austrian Psychoanalytic Association in Austria and was the head of the Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis in Vienna.
One of her most prominent and famous books is the book entitled The Ego and Defensive Mechanisms, through which she explained the rotating ego in a person’s psychological life and its impact on psychoanalytic therapy.