There are several similarities between psychology and society. These two are also interdependent and inter-related. Psychology concerns itself with the study of human mannerisms and way of thinking. On the other hand, humans are the main component of any society. This is the main relationship between psychology and society. Moreover, psychology can be termed as a study of the relationship between organisms (humans) and their environment.
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Thus, psychology is a study of how human beings in any society react to their environment. Psychology works at arriving at laws of human behavior as well as those of mental life (Slavich, 2009). Such laws are at most times responsible for shaping and governing societies. The social relationships that go on in a society are very important to psychological studies. Therefore, psychology and society are two inter-dependent entities. In addition, their inter-relation cannot be ignored.
Psychology is an important field of study with several benefits to the society. The knowledge and practices of psychology can have positive impacts on a society. One of the practices advocated for by psychology is that of self-knowledge. Each individual is an integral part of his/her society.
Psychological studies advocate for each individual to understand his/her own personality and behaviors. A society with individuals who possess a good amount of self-knowledge is likely to be more advanced than that with individuals of less self-knowledge. For instance, individuals with self-knowledge set goals that are consistent with their own personalities.
Thus, their productivity increases and this benefits their society directly. There are those who feel that over-reliance on psychological theories places a huge burden on a society. The rationale behind this argument is that these theories may be conflicting and at times unsubstantiated. Hence, a society bears the burden of sorting which theories to rally behind.
Psychological influence on political and social issues is notable. Politics is a science that relies heavily on internal mechanisms including those of the human mind. A politician has to work with an audience’s psychology for better success. Social psychology focuses on how individuals think about one another and their relationship to one another.
This concept is very important in the field of politics. When it comes to social issues, psychology still has a significant impact. This usually comes to play in times of conflict resolution. In conflict resolution, the one heading the exercise has to have an understanding of the psychology of the conflicting parties.
Social and political events do at times impact psychology. Whenever a significant event occurs, psychologists will always unearth the psychological theories behind the event. For instance, if the event revolves around an individual or a group of individuals, personality theories are usually cited. Personality psychology studies a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.
A good example when this branch of psychology was focused on was when pop icon Michael Jackson died. All aspects of his life were being focused on with a view of understanding his personality. This included his life as a child.
The study of psychology encompasses various areas of study. Each of these areas is dependent on other areas of study in psychology. The inter-relation between these sub divisions is what makes psychology a wholesome science. One area of study that appealed to me was that of developmental psychology. Developmental psychology is the study of how human beings develop during their entire lifespan.
This area of psychology is mostly applied to child development and monitoring. Since its conceptualization, developmental psychology has expanded to include topics such as motor skills and language acquisition. As a science, developmental psychology has been applied in areas such as education, child development, and forensic psychology.
Development psychology’s roots can be traced as far back as the fifteenth century. Plato, one of the earliest philosophers, was of the view that there is a relationship between the physical and non-physical aspects of the human being. According to him, human beings have an aspect of pre-existing knowledge. Another historical figure connected to developmental psychology is Rene Descartes.
Descartes used the ideas of developmental psychology to advocate for proper methods of studying theology. John Locke came shortly after Descartes and was of the idea that the mind is a blank slate. According to him, human beings develop through experiences with their environment. He is famous for starting the nature versus nurture debate. After these two scholars, various other scholars made their contribution to this study.
Charles Darwin is the more famous of these mostly because of his work in the evolution theory. He believed that human beings developed certain behaviors for them to fit in their environment. His concept of “survival for the fittest” has earned him both immense praise and criticism. Stanley Hall came after Darwin and translated the latter’s principles to fit in with human development.
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Hall founded the American Psychological Association and was the first to employ the questionnaire method when doing research (Wood & Boyd, 2006). After Hall, came Watson in the early 1900s. Watson focused mostly on behaviorism. By doing so, he ignored the importance of introspective traits in developmental psychology. He also advocated for the use of scientific methods in the study of psychology.
Some of the later contributors to developmental psychology include Arnold Gesell and Sigmund Freud. Gesell was of the view that there was an “inner timetable” to development and a child has to be of the right age for him/her to benefit from a certain development. Freud on his part is one of the most avid contributors to developmental psychology. Freud addresses various subjects among them the issue of libido discharge, shaping of personality, and the role of a parent/guardian in development.
The history of psychology is important to all would-be psychologists. Psychology became an independent discipline around the late 1800s. However, its roots go as far back as ancient Greece. This is why for an aspiring psychologist it is important to correlate various psychological developments with developments in the then societies.
Psychology like other disciplines has evolved over the years. All those who contributed to this evolution had to refer to their predecessors. This is why a psychology scholar cannot afford to ignore the works of his/her predecessors. There have been instances when some psychology theories and approaches have been ignored only for them to be re-adopted later.
In such cases, knowledge of history on the subject plays a major role in appropriation of such theories. The backward-reflection gives scholars an overview of where the science has come from and possibly, where it is headed. In conclusion, a historical reflection of psychology gives a scholar the necessary perspectives in its study. These include the human development, philosophical, and scientific perspectives.
Slavich, G. M. (2009). Psychology and society: How society shapes science and science shapes society. The Clinical Psychologist, 62(1), 9-10.
Wood, C.E. & Boyd D. (2006). Mastering the world of psychology. Boston, Mass: Allyn & Bacon.