Psychology as a Science of Consciousness and Behaviour – Essay

Failing to define the nature of soul and mind, the psychologists defined psychology as a science of consciousness. The definition was considered too narrow as this did not include the unconscious and preconscious activities of mind.

The Freud-Einstein Letters: 'Why War?' |

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Freud in his psycho analytical theory described that mind consists of 3 states-preconscious, unconscious and conscious. About 9/10th part of behaviour is determined by unconscious and preconscious mind whereas only 1/10th part is determined by conscious mind.

But in Freud’s terminology, unconscious mind plays a major role in the development of personality of an individual. This definition was also discarded.


Psychology as a Science of Behaviour

Psychology was finally defined as the science of behaviour where the term behaviour carries a very wide meaning. According to Woodworth, “Any manifestation of life is is activity” and behaviour is a collective name of all such activities. It includes all types of activities such as cognitive, affective and conative. So behaviour refers to entire life activities and experiences of all living organisms.

According to Watson, “Psychology is the positive science of behaviour.”

According to Skinner, “Psychology deals with responses to any and every kind of situation that life presents by adjustment activities.”


According to Bernard, “Behaviour is an attempt of the organism to adjust to the multiple stimuli which impinge on it.” Behaviour is classified in three categories according to its content:

(a) Cognitive Behaviour where it dominantly knows or thinking, e.g., solving questions.

(b) Effective Behaviour where the dominance is of feeling, e.g., the emotional experience of anger, fear, jealousy etc.

(c) Conative Behaviour where the dominance is of motor activity, e.g., cycling, playing hockey etc.


According to Crow and Crow, “Psychology is the study of human behaviour and human relationship.”

According to Munns, “Psychology today concerns itself with the scientific investigation of behaviour.”

According to Garrison, “Psychology is concerned with observable human behaviour.”

Thus, it can be concluded that psychology is a behavioural science which helps us to describe, understand, predict and control behaviour.

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