Psychology is the science of behaviour. Mind as well as behaviour constitutes the subject-matter of Psychology. Psychology like other sciences employs certain methods for establishing cause- effect relations.
With the help of a planned procedure we try to discover the causes of phenomena that we observe and also we try to know the effects of those phenomena.
Thus, methods employed in Psychology are attempts to find the responses of the given stimuli and stimuli of the given responses. The methods of Psychology are- (1) Observation, (2) Experiment, (3) Introspection and (4) Psychoanalysis.
The main method of Psychology, as of all sciences, is observation. Observation is a regulated perception. To observe is to look at a thing closely and to take careful note of several parts and details.
Observation of the behaviour of others is an important method of Psychological study. By observing their behaviour we know what is going on in their mind.
We observe bodily behaviour-movement of the limbs, facial expression, heart-beat, breathing and the like. A man’s anger is known from his clenched fist, loud voice, contoured face, gnashing teeth and quivering lips.
1. We have to study mind in general and this we can do through observation. We study the mental processes of other human beings by observing their behaviour when they are angry or happy or sad or wonderstruck.
It is helpful in studying the mental life and behaviour of savages, children, animals, abnormal people, the people whose language we do not understand and illiterate people suitable words to convey an adequate idea of their mental processes.
1. We do not observe impartially. We not only perceive but apperceive. We think that other people and animals think and feel in same way as we do. We look at the world through coloured glasses.
2. Observation without the help of instruments is no doubt subjective, because the observer may unconsciously neglect those factors of the situation which he does not expect. Moreover, the human senses have only limited powers.
The teacher cannot observe the actions of all the students in a class of even twenty and even if he can observe he cannot record every item. This defect can be considerably reduced if instrumental aid is taken.
3. The mind does not always manifest itself in observable behaviour. Cognitive processes such as thinking, reasoning and imagining etc., have no counterparts in bodily behaviour.
4. The behaviour of a hypocrite defies all explanation. How would you explain crocodile tears of one who is out to deceive you?