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All in the Mind, 3rd Edition by Dimitrios Tsivrikos, Adrian Furnham

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1 Introduction: Public Beliefs About Psychology

1.1 Introduction

Psychology is a new science – barely 140 years old. It has an official “birth date” of the 1880s in Germany. With new methods and discoveries we understand more and more about such things as how the brain operates, why people behave the way they do, and the causes of human unhappiness. In fact psychology looks as if it is on the edge of some great discoveries thanks to developments in neuroscience, statistics, and data gathering.

What people who study psychology often say is that it gives you an “aha” experience. “Aha” is the expression of surprised happiness that comes with insight. “Aha” experiences often occur when psychology can offer explanations for seemingly bizarre or irrational behavior: why people spend money when depressed; why anorexics starve themselves; why clever people make such bad decisions.

Psychology provides a rich vocabulary through which it can describe and explain behavior. Psychological terms like passive‐aggressive, obsessive‐compulsive, and self‐actualization are part of many individuals’ vocabulary.

There is a joke about “psychobabble,” which is the misuse or overuse of psychological language and concepts, but this usually occurs only in the popular press and by non‐psychologists. Some psychological theories are counterintuitive – that is, a number of the theories are not what common sense suggests. Some theories are quite commonsensical but there are also several that are not. ...

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