1.1 Psychology Defined

The word “psychology” comes from the Greek words “psyche,” meaning life, and “logos,” meaning explanation

Formally defined, psychology is the scientific study of mind and behaviour

Psychology is a common area of study for students, a popular topic in the public media, and a part of our everyday lives. Since we are frequently exposed to the work of psychologists in our everyday lives, most of us have an idea about what psychology is and type of work that psychologists perform. Throughout the course, I expect that you may find that at least some of your preconceptions about psychology will be challenged and changed, and you will learn that psychology is a field that will provide you with new ways of thinking about your own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

For example, many people are unaware of the diversity within the field of psychology. Psychology is not one discipline, but rather a collection of many sub-disciplines that all share at least some common approaches and that work together and exchange knowledge (Yang & Chiu, 2009).  Researchers use a variety of methods, including observation, questionnaires, interviews, and laboratory studies, to help them describe, explain, predict, and change human behaviours.

Many psychologists work in research laboratories at universities, hospitals, and other field settings (e.g., schools, businesses) where they study the behaviour of humans and animals. Despite the differences in their interests, areas of study, and approaches, all psychologists have one thing in common: they rely on scientific methods. Research psychologists use scientific methods to create new knowledge about the causes of behaviour, whereas psychologist-practitioners, such as clinical, counselling, industrial-organizational, and school psychologists, use existing research to enhance the everyday life of others. The science of psychology is important for both researchers and practitioners.

When it comes to understanding behaviour in the workplace, we will focus our attention on an area within psychology-practitioner area of psychology called organizational behaviour (OB). We will explore this area of study in more detail in the next section of this chapter.


This section is adapted from:

Chapter 1: Introducing Psychology by Charles Stangor and Jennifer Walinga, Introduction to Psychology – 1st Canadian EditionBCcampus and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Yang, Y.-J., & Chiu, C.-Y. (2009). Mapping the structure and dynamics of psychological knowledge: Forty years of APA journal citations (1970–2009). Review of General Psychology, 13(4), 349–356.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Psychology, Communication, and the Canadian Workplace Copyright © 2022 by Laura Westmaas, BA, MSc is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book