What is Psychology - Solutions

 CBSE Class 11 Pyschology

NCERT Solutions
What is Psychology

1. What is behaviour? Give examples of overt and covert behaviour?

Ans. Behaviours are responses or reactions we make or activities we engage in that can be measured. Some behaviours are overt. They can be outwardly seen or sensed by an observer. Some are internal or covert. All behaviours, covert or overt, are associated with or triggered by some stimulus in the environment or changes that happen internally.

A person running to catch train is an example of overt behaviour.

A student taking an examination can feel his/her heart pounding. This is an example of covert behaviour.

2. How can you distinguish scientific psychology from the popular notions about the discipline of Psychology?

Ans. Scientific psychology is different from the popular notions about the discipline of Psychology.

The popular theories of human behaviour are based on common sense and may or may not be true if investigated scientifically. Common sensical explanations of human behaviour are based on hindsight and explain very little. Common sense is based on hindsight.

Psychology as a science looks for patterns of behaviour which can be predicted and not explained after the behaviour occurs. Scientific knowledge generated by psychology often runs against common sense.

Dweck's study on children (who gave up too easily when faced with difficult problems or failures) distinguishes scientific psychology from commonsense notions. For instance, commonsense tells us to give them easy problems, first in order to increase their success rate so that their confidence goes up.

However, Dweck found that children who had always succeeded because they were given easy problems could not cope up with difficult problems and gave up faster in comparison to those who had experience of both success and failure and were taught to put more effort to deal with difficult problems.

For example, The music room is located near XII standard in a school. The common sense notion assumes that there will be a lot of disturbance to the students but empirical study may reveal that music sound coming from the music room is helping the students by reduced stress level and decreased boredom.

Such studies prove that predictions based on empirical studies are reliable and valid.

3. Give a brief account of the evolution of psychology.

Ans. Psychology as a modern discipline, which is influenced to a large extent by Western developments, has a short history. It grew out of ancient philosophy concerned with questions of psychological significance.

The formal beginning of modern psychology can be traced back to 1879 when the first experimental laboratory was established in Leipzig, Germany by Wilhelm Wundt. It emerges as a scientific discipline in the following phases:

1. Structuralism: Psychologists during Wundt’s time analysed the structure of the mind through introspection and therefore were called structuralists. It is the oldest school/approach to psychology, and it was proposed by Wilhelm Wundt. They were interested in conscious experience and wanted to study the building blocks of mind.

However, introspection as a method did not satisfy many other psychologists. It was considered less scientific because the introspective reports could not be verified by outside observers. This led to the development of new perspectives in psychology.

2. Functionalism: An American psychologist, William James, developed what was called a functionalist approach to the study of the human mind.

Instead of focusing on the structure of the mind, functionalists believe that psychology should instead study what the mind does and how behaviour functions in making people deal with their environment. For example, functionalists focused on how behaviour enabled people to satisfy their needs.

According the them, consciousness as an ongoing stream of mental process interacting with the environment formed the core of psychology.

A very influential educational thinker of the time, John Dewey, used functionalism to argue that human beings seek to function effectively by adapting to their environment.

3. Gestalt Psychology: Gestalt psychology emerged in Germany in the early 20th century as a reaction to the structuralism of Wundt. It was founded in Germany by Wertheimer, Kohler and Koffka.

Instead of looking at the components of the mind, the Gestalt psychologists argued that when we look at the world our perceptual experience is more than the sum of the components of the perception.

In other words, what we experience is more than the inputs received from our environment. When, for example, light from a series of flashing bulbs falls on our retina, we actually experience movement of light.

Thus, our perceptual experience is more than the elements. Experience is holistic; it is a Gestalt.

4. Behaviourism: John Watson rejected the ideas of mind and consciousness as subject matters of psychology. He was greatly influenced by the work of physiologists like Ivan Pavlov on classical conditioning.

For Watson, mind is not observable and introspection is subjective because it cannot be verified by another observer.

According to him, scientific psychology must focus on what is observable and verifiable. He defined psychology as a study of behaviour or responses (to stimuli) which can be measured and studied objectively.

Behaviourism of Watson was further developed by many influential psychologists who are known as behaviourists. Most prominent among them was Skinner who applied behaviourism to a wide range of situations and popularised the approach.

Although behaviourists dominated the field of psychology for several decades after Watson, a number of other approaches and views about psychology and its subject matter were developing around the same time.

5. Psychoanalysis: Founded by Sigmund Freud who viewed human behaviour as a dynamic manifestation of unconscious desires and conflicts. He founded psychoanalysis as a system to understand and cure psychological disorders.

Freudian psychoanalysis viewed human beings as motivated by unconscious desire for gratification of pleasure seeking (and often, sexual) desires.

6. Humanism: The humanistic perspective in psychology took a more positive view of human nature. Humanists, such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, emphasised the free will of human beings and their natural striving to grow and unfold their inner potential.

They argued that behaviourism with its emphasis on behaviour as determined by environmental conditions undermines human freedom and dignity and takes a mechanistic view of human nature.

7. Cognitive Perspective/Constructivism: Aspects of Gestalt approach and structuralism were combined and led to the development of the cognitive perspective which focuses on how we know about the world.

Cognition is the process of knowing. It involves thinking, understanding, perceiving, memorising, problem solving and a host of other mental processes by which our knowledge of the world develops, making us able to deal with the environment in specific ways

Some cognitive psychologists view the human mind as an information processing system like the computer. Mind, according to this view is like a computer and it receives, processes, transforms, stores and retrieves information.

Modern cognitive psychology views human beings as actively constructing their minds through their exploration into the physical and the social world. This view is sometimes called constructivism.

Piaget’s view of child development is considered a constructivist theory of development of the mind. Another Russian psychologist Vygotsky went even further to suggest that the human mind develops through social and cultural processes in which the mind is viewed as culturally constructed through joint interaction between adults and children.

4. What are the problems for which collaboration of psychologists with other disciplines can be fruitful? Take any two problems to explain.

Ans. Psychology is located at the intersection of many fields of knowledge pertaining to human functioning. Whereever there is human being, there is application of psychological principles. Two examples that can explain the problem are:

  1. It contributes to the growth of other disciplines and draws subject-matter from them as well. For instance, In the study of brain and behaviour psychology shares its knowledge with neurology, physiology, biology, medicine and computer science.
  2. In studying the meaning; growth and the development of human behaviour in a socio-cultural context, psychology shares its knowledge with anthropology, sociology, social work, political science and economics.

5. Differentiate between (a) a psychologist and a psychiatrist (b) a counsellor and a clinical psychologist.

Ans. (a) A psychologists and a psychiatrist are different in the following ways:

A psychologist is someone who possesses the knowledge of psychology and holds recognized degree in the field; they work in diverse areas, like teaching, counselling, community etc.

A psychiatrist on the other hand has a medical degree with years of specialised training in the treatment of psychological disorders. One important distinction is that psychiatrists can prescribe medications and give electroshock treatments.

Clinical Psychologist and psychiatrist are different in the qualification and in roles. Clinical Psychologist cannot administer or prescribe drugs whereas psychiatrists are medical professionals are trained in administering medicine/drugs to treat mental disorders.

(b) Difference between a counsellor and a clinical psychologist


A counselling psychologists work with students, advising them about personal problems and career planning. A counsellor provides advice to the persons who suffer from motivational and emotional problems, they provide vocational guidance also.

A clinical psychologist also helps people with behavioural, mental and emotional problems. A clinical psychologist has a degree in psychology, which includes intensive training in treating people with psychological disorders. They are post- graduate in Psychology and are specialised professionals. They provide therapy for various mental disorders, anxiety, fear or stress of any type. They use interview and administer psychological tests to diagnose the client's problem.

6. Describe some of the areas of everyday life where understanding of psychology can be put to practice.

Ans: Psychology is not only a subject that satisfies curiosities of our mind about human nature, but it is also a subject that offers solutions to a variety of problems. It ranges from personal to family, a community or even national and international dimensions.

The solution of these problems may involve political, economic and social reforms: however, these problems are a result of unhealthy thinking, negative attitude towards people and self and undesirable patterns of behaviour.

A psychological analysis of these problems helps both in having a deeper understanding of these problems and also finding effective solutions.

Psychology enables an individual to understand oneself in a balanced and positive way without being reactionary, in order to deal with everyday challenges and meet with personal expectations.

Therefore, understanding of psychology enables a person to build stronger relationships at community level and improve individual strength.

7. How can knowledge of the field of environmental psychology be used to promote environment friendly behaviour?

Ans. Environmental psychology studies the interaction between natural and man-made environment and human behaviour. The knowledge of environmental psychology can help us to prevent big disasters. We can learn to modify our behaviour in order to prevent any unwanted and painful outcome.

For example, if we know the hazards of growing population, we can certainly apply some measure to stop population growth.

Human cleanliness behaviour may be promoted by knowledge of environmental psychology.

8. In terms of helping solve an important social problem such as crime, which branch of psychology do you think is most suitable. Identify the field and discuss the concerns of the psychologists working in this field.

Ans. The branch of social psychology is the most suitable for solving problems like crime.

It explores through thought process of people and their influence on other. Social psychologists are concerned with topics like attitude, conformity, obedience to authority, social motivation, inter-group relations, etc.

In answering such questions the knowledge of psychology for Lawyers and criminologists is also very essential. If they have the knowledge of psychology then they can understand how well a witness remembers the incident? How well can he/she report such facts when taking the witness stand in the court, whether the witness is providing right information etc.