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NIOS Class 12 Psychology Chapter 1 Psychology: understanding self and others
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Psychology: understanding self and others
Intext Questions & Answers
Q. 1. Choose the correct alternative:
1. Psychology is most appropriately defined as the:
(a) Study of mind.
(b) Scientific study of unconscious mental processes.
(c) Science of brain, mind and behaviour.
(d) Science of behaviour and knowledge.
Ans: (c) Science of brain, mind and behaviour.
Q. 2. Which one of the following is not used by psychologists?
(b) Reading lines of one’s palms.
Ans: (b) reading lines of one’s palm.
Q. 3. Match the following statements:
|(1) Biological perspective positive||(a) human beings as force|
|(2) Behavioural perspective||(b) behaviour involves mental process|
|(3) Psychodynamic perspective||(c) function of biological entity|
|(4) Cognitive perspective||(d) harmony of mind, body and spirit|
|(5) Humanistic perspective||(e) unconscious aspect of mind|
|(6) Indian perspective||(f) function of environmental characteristics|
|(1) Biological perspective positive||(c) function of biological entity|
|(2) Behavioural perspective process||(f) function of environmental characteristics|
|(3) Psychodynamic perspective||(e) unconscious aspect of mind|
|(4) Cognitive perspective||(b) behaviour involves mental process|
|(5) Humanistic perspective||(a) human beings as process|
|(6) Indian perspective||(d) harmony of mind, body and spirit|
Q. 4. State whether the following statements are True or False.
(i) Sociology and psychology help to understand the influence of social context on human behaviour.
(ii) Anthropology studies the evolution of mankind and development of civilization.
(iii) Education and psychology are unrelated.
(iv) Human behaviour does not have any biological foundation.
Q. 5. Choose the correct alternative:
1. Which of the following psychologists is most involved in the treatment of psychological problems:
(a) counselling psychologist.
(b) community psychologist.
(c) clinical psychologist.
(d) social psychologist.
Ans: (c) clinical psychologist.
2. Suppose you are writing an article on the factors that attract people to one another and lead to friendship. It is likely that you will try to read books written by a:
(a) developmental psychologist.
(b) educational psychologist.
(c) social psychologist.
(d) community psychologist.
Ans: (c) social psychologist.
3. You are attending a meeting/seminar of psychologists. You find that one talk is on infant perceptual abilities, the second is on adult socialisation, and the third deals with physical changes in the elderly. What is your guess about the specialisation of these psychologists?
Ans: (d) Developmental.
1. Describe the nature of psychology.
Ans: A moment’s reflection will make it clear that in all the above questions brain, mind or mental activities and behaviour are involved. Any observable action is an outcome of the coordination of the brain, mind and behaviour. Brain has a physical structure whereas the mind is considered a functional correlate of brain. Psychology tries to understand the laws and principles characterising the linkages across them in a scientific manner.
In our everyday life we behave in different ways and use the term ‘behaviour’ to refer to the verbal and physiological responses and actions. Interest in psychological issues has a long past. However, attempts to formalise the understanding of psychological phenomena in modern sense started only during the 19th century. It was influenced by the developments in the disciplines of philosophy as well as natural sciences.
Today psychology is considered as a science as well as a profession contributing to the improvement in quality of life. It focuses primarily on the study of various aspects of mental and behavioural functioning. Psychologists use scientific methods to understand the causes of behavioural phenomena and develop principles and theories about them. They attempt to understand various questions related to human behaviour.
In the course of its growth, in this century, psychology has expanded in many directions and has encompassed almost all areas of human life. Thus we can say that psychology is a scientific study of mind, brain and behaviour.
2. Explain the psychodynamic perspective in psychology.
Ans: Unlike physical objects and animals, human beings are self-conscious and can, therefore, subject themselves to their own study. This capacity to reflect about oneself makes the study of human behaviour and related processes quite complex. The complexity of studying human behaviour is further increased due to multiple causes involved in it. For example, let us see the case of someone who complains that a colleague of his/her is not working or performing upto the mark. This behaviour can occur due to many factors independently or jointly. It may be due to lack of ability or lack of motivation or lack of supportive climate at the workplace or some problem at home. Any one of these factors or their combination may result in poor performance. This is true for most of the behavioural phenomena.
Thus, we find that while psychologists do use scientific methods they cannot operate like physical or natural scientists. They have to take into account a large number of factors while studying behaviour. They share the characteristics of physical as well as social sciences.
However, the psychological predictions are complex and have certain limitations because the subject understudy is the human mind which itself is influenced by various factors. Their accuracy is limited by the stimuli used, type of tools used, environmental conditions and by the nature of psychological processes under study. The dynamic nature of psychological processes make generalizations difficult. Such generalizations are probablistic in nature. In other words they indicate that under the given conditions the chance is that so and so event may take place.
While studying human behaviour we need to remember the following:
(i) Changes are observed in individuals due to maturation, learning and ageing.
(ii) Human behaviour at any moment is a joint function of the personal characteristics and the properties of environment.
(iii) The measurement of psychological attributes (e.g., personality, intelligence, interest, attitude) is usually indirect and based on inferences.
(iv) Many aspects of social behaviour are rule-governed and culture specific.
(v) Human behaviour is usually determined by multiple causes.
The analysis and understanding of psychological phenomena essentially implies some model of human being. These models are rooted in certain cultural and philosophical assumptions. This is one important reason why there exist many approaches or perspectives to understand human behaviour.
Let us study more about these perspectives below: Biological perspective: It considers human beings as nothing but a biological structure. Treating behaviour in purely physical terms, it looks at the internal physiological structures (e.g., brain, nervous system).
Subscribing to a materialistic view it asserts that all behaviour has a physiological basis. In this view the working of the nervous system and the role of genetic factors in shaping behaviour become major concerns. It is held that all social and psychological processes are derived from biological processes. This view prefers analysis of complex phenomena in terms of smaller units. It has revealed the mysteries of brain functioning. The studies on effects of drugs on behaviour, consequences of electrical stimulation of various parts of brain, influence of meditation and altered states of consciousness have shown interesting results.
Behavioural Per spective:
This perspective stresses on the role of environmental stimuli in determining the way people act. It argues that what we are is largely the result of past learning.
Accordingly, the overt or observable behaviour becomes the subject matter of psychology. This approach does not give importance to consciousness and subjective mental states. In this tradition observable behaviour and its relationship with environmental conditions is the main focus of study. Its Proponent W.J. Watson and exponent B.F. Skinner believed in the objective study of behaviour. Behaviourism has many variants but all share common interest in learning and use explanations based on observable events.
We are often unaware of the true reasons for our actions. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psycho-analysis, is closely associated with this view. Focusing on motivational questions about behaviour, this perspective examines the role of internal processes. It believes that each behaviour has a cause and that cause is to be found in the mind. It is held that much of our behaviour is governed by the unconscious processes that lie outside the range of our awareness. This view uses the observations of people suffering from mental disorders and considers early childhood experiences as determinants of adult behaviour. According to this view, human being is driven primarily by sexual and aggressive instincts. The neo-Freudians like Horney, Erikson and Erich Fromm have developed psycho-analysis in various forms. Similarly Jung and Adler developed different traditions.
The main focus of this view is on how people know, understand and think about the world. Much of our behavior involves mental or cognitive processes such as perceiving, remembering and thinking. They are as important as environmental stimuli in understanding our behavior. They mediate between environmental stimuli and organism’s responses. They function in organized and systematic way. As active organisms, we process information and act upon it. Our cognitions determine the course of our behavior. We observe the environment and respond on the basis of its interpretation. Our thoughts are both causes as well as results of our overt actions. This perspective has links with the emerging fields of cognitive science and artificial intelligence.
Often termed as a third force, this perspective views humans as basically good and responsible beings. It is also held that one’s behaviour is not simply determined by either past experiences or the current circumstances. People can make choices. The emphasis in on ‘free will’.
The subjective experiences and interpretations of the people are important in determining the course of their actions. The theories must be useful not only for understanding people but also for understanding one’s own life. In this perspective, self-actualization and spirituality play important role. It tries to see the pattern in life histories of the people. It emphasises the phenomenal or experiential world of the people. Abraham Maslow and Rogers were the chief proponents of this view.
The Indian thought system has discussed the problem of human life from a broader perspective. A human being is embedded in relationship with environment and divinity; and of mind, body and soul is emphasized. People are attracted to objects of desire unmindfully and that creates problems. People are ignorant of their true nature. The difficulties in life are because we are not aware of the potentialities and misidentify with physical objects. The remedy is proposed in terms of various forms of Yoga like Bhakti, Gyan, Karma and Raj yogas. In addition, there have been many other developments in all these systems and other traditions.
3. How is psychology related to education?
Ans: As a behavioral science, psychology is situated at the intersection of many subjects. The psychological investigations share interest with different branches of biological sciences, social sciences and humanities. All these knowledge areas are collectively known as behavioural sciences. In recent years linkage of psychology with different subjects has been recognized. Now multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies are increasingly receiving greater attention. Let us see how psychology is related to other disciplines.
The social or collective aspect of human behaviour is a matter of common concern for the students of as well as psychology. However, the levels and approaches of the two are different. Both the disciplines help us to understand the influences of social context on human behaviour. Both analyse social phenomena such as leadership, socialisation etc. However, sociology is molar and focuses on broader or macro units. It stresses on the study of groups and communities, while psychology focuses more on individuals. It is interesting to note that society comprises individuals. Hence both are interrelated. It also uses experimental surveys and observational methods for collecting information.
Anthropology tries to understand the evolution of mankind and development of civilization. It also focuses on the characteristics and processes of culture by detailed observation and recording the lives of people through participant observation in different cultural groups. In contrast, psychology tries to establish generalisations about human behaviour. These generalizations are often limited by the culture in which research is conducted. In recent years the relationship between culture and psychology has become closer. The psychological studies which respond to the needs of culture have shown that there are important differences and similarities in the nature and expression of emotions, self concept, motives, personality, norms, morality and child-rearing across different cultures.
Education and psychology have a history of very long association. The theory and practice of education is based on the principles and findings about various psychological processes like learning, memory, motivation, personality and intelligence. Also, effective class-room teaching and learning is possible only when teachers are trained in the principles of human development. Children are active learners who process information and act accordingly. A teacher, therefore, is required to be skillful in the techniques of motivation and communication. Teachers are often required to provide guidance and counselling to students and parents.
Similarly evaluation of students requires basic understanding of the principles and procedures of psychological assessment. Biology and Neuroscience: One of the main concerns of psychologists is to understand the biological foundations of behaviour.
Many breakthroughs in understanding, controlling and modifying behaviour have come from the knowledge of the functioning of brain and nervous system. Localization of brain functions, nature and properties of nerve impulse, biological factors in arousal and motivation, role of various parts of brain in determining psychological functioning constitutes an exciting area of enquiry.
4. Discuss the fields of clinical psychology and industrial psychology.
Ans: In the course of its disciplinary journey, psychology has diversified and expanded in many directions. Beginning with experimental and physiological psychology which focus on the basic psychological processes, attention was shifted to the application of psychology in different spheres of life. In the following paragraphs we shall briefly study the different branches of psychology.
(a) Experimental and Cognitive Psychology:
Traditionally experimental psychology has been concerned with the study of psychological processes such as sensation, perception, learning, memory, motivation, emotion, etc. The goal is to understand the principles underlying these processes with the help of experimental method. For a long time this area has dominated the scene. With increasing information this field has diversified. The new field of cognitive psychology happens to be the closest one to experimental psychology. This field tries to explain processes involved in the perception, comprehension and use of information for various purposes. Thus reasoning, problem solving, attention and related processes are being analysed with sophisticated methods and tools. This branch tries to understand the fundamental causes of behaviour.
(b) Physiological and Comparative Psychology:
This field of inquiry is devoted to the analysis of biological foundations of behaviour. It asserts that all behaviour can be reduced to various physiological processes. For instance, activities in the cerebral cortex and hypothalamus are found to be systematically related to thinking and motivation. The field of comparative psychology investigates the dimensions and complexities of behaviour among animals like rats, pigeons and monkeys and compares those across species.
(c) Developmental Psychology:
This subfield of psychology deals with the problem of changes in behaviour throughout the lifespan. These changes take place in physical, motor, cognitive, personality, emotional, social and linguistic domains. Study of these changes may be undertaken by following the same person for a longer period. Alternatively, one may study people of different age groups. The first approach is called longitudinal and the second is crosssectional. Important divisions of this branch include child psychology, adolescent psychology, and psychology of adulthood and aging. The study of developmental psychopathology has great significance for rehabilitation of children with disabilities and behaviour problems.
(d) Social Psychology:
Interactions with other human beings are one of the most significant aspects of our life. Social psychology tries to understand the influence of other individuals and groups on our behaviour. Perceiving other individuals, forming attitudes, persuading others to change their views, prejudice, interpersonal attraction, group decision, social motivation and leadership are important themes in social psychology. More recently, great concern has been shown for applications and a new specialisation entitled applied social psychology has emerged. Social psychology has particularly benefited from the contributions from sociologists.
(e) Educational and School Psychology:
As an applied field this branch of psychology tries to help solve the problems of teaching and learning in a classroom setting. It helps the students and teachers both to deal more effectively with the learning situations. Much of the work of educational psychologists is devoted to the areas of curriculum planning, teacher-training and instruction-design. Psychology of learning and motivation supplies the necessary theoretical framework and empirical data regarding the learning process, the principles of learning, reinforcement, transfer of training, retention and forgetting. Educational psychologists plan and suggest curriculum to a school board in the light of student’s interest, abilities, and needs. The job of school psychologists is to deal with more immediate problems in the school. The school psychologists are particularly concerned with diagnosis of learning difficulties and their remediation, and vocational and other forms of counselling.
(f) Counseling Psychology:
A counselling psychologist deals with people who have milder emotional and personal problems. She/he tries to enable an individual to utilise his/her present resources most effectively in solving personal problems. Thus a counselor’s task is to modify behaviour in areas like marital life, delinquency, school maladjustment, dispute in work setting, etc. The counsellor systematically changes the behaviour through various procedures including behaviour modification, modelling, sensitization and rational thinking.
(g) Clinical Psychology:
The general image of a clinical psychologist is that of a doctor who diagnoses psychological disorders and treats them using psychotherapy. But s/he is not a doctor and should not be confused with a psychiatrist who holds a medical degree. S/he uses various techniques to relieve the symptoms and to help people understand the reasons of their problems. A clinical psychologist strives at changing personality in order to enable a person to cope with his/her situation in an adaptive manner. A clinical psychologist mainly aims at the identification of negative or problematic aspects in development and their alleviation. For example, a clinical psychologist, treating phobia, a kind of unreasonable fear behaviour, tries to remove reinforcements that maintain the behaviour, and at the same time provide reinforcement in order to promote learning of more rational and effective coping patterns in people.
(h) Industrial/ Organizational (I/O) Psychology:
Psychologists working in this area help industries and other organizations in personnel selection, training, solving problems related to communication, productivity, and interpersonal and intergroup relations. Various interventions for organizational development (e.g., team building, development of communication skills, goal setting, job design) are currently employed to improve the conditions of work setting and enhancing the quality of products.
(i) Environmental Psychology:
This is a relatively new field of psychology which specializes in understanding the relationship between human beings and the environment. Environmental planning, environmental perception and attitude, design of environments, environmental stressors (e.g., crowding, pollution, disasters) and environmental attitudes are being studied. The goal is to save the environment and improve its quality.