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What is Psychology and what do Psychologists do?

What exactly is Psychology? What is it that psychologists do? Can you read my mind? Can you tell if a person is lying?…………..

These are only a few of the questions which most people ask me when I say I am a psychologist. More often than not, most people already have answers to these questions, thanks to their preconceived notions about and misconception of this complex field. And without waiting for my answer to their questions, they move on to chatting amongst themselves about how stress levels are increasing and how important it is to have psychologists to help lessen this stress level!!!

This routine of people asking questions about the field of psychology and not giving me a chance to explain to them what it actually means to be a psychologist and to see that the misconceptions continue to exist and grow leaves me very uncomfortable.

And so here is an attempt at explaining what Psychology is. According to me, Psychology is a science which endeavors to answer the “WHYs” of human behavior. ‘Why do individuals exhibit aggressive behavior?’, ‘Why does an individual dream?’, ‘Why does an individual lie?’, ‘Why does an individual decide to commit suicide while another individual despite being in a similar situation decide to fight the problem?’ etc.

While psychology mostly deals with answering the ‘why’ of human behavior, the field does not restrict itself to these questions. It also deals with the ‘what’ and ‘how’. Describing the field as “the mind studying itself” will also justify the scope of this field.

Considering the complex and perplexing nature of the human mind and behavior, the field of psychology is fascinating. It goes beyond mere guessing and incorporates the empiricism of science in deciphering the human nature. Considering the convolutions inherent in the effort at understanding the mind, one may ask, why embark on such an expedition. I would say, despite the intricacies involved, investing the resources of time and energy in furthering the field of psychology is the need of the hour. Human society is continuously evolving. It is growing at a rapid pace. It may not be completely wrong to say that the growth of human society, especially in terms of technology and economy, is reaching an all-time high. This growth and development has necessitated research in various fields and psychology is one of them.

While psychology tries to answer some of the longstanding and fundamental questions that plague man, it also concerns itself to find solutions to some of the most daunting problems present in the contemporary human society. For instance, rising crime levels is a concern that is being worked upon. And it is psychologists who can make the maximum amount of contribution in understanding this problem and also finding a feasible solution. It is my belief that seemingly disconnected societal problems like poverty, communal riots, bribery, rising population, environmental issues etc require the unique perspective offered by psychologists in explaining the phenomenon and also finding a solution. I base this belief on the fact that the root of most of these contemporary societal problems can be traced back to human beings and their very nature. In other words, it is of paramount importance to study and understand the nature of man if one is attempting to truly solve the problems created by man himself.

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