About - The Discipline

The Discipline

Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and its associated biological and mental processes. It is a rapidly developing field touching on all aspects of human endeavour. The goal of a scientific understanding of human behaviour and its underlying mental processes is supplemented by investigations of animal behaviour. Psychologists systematically test ideas and beliefs against phenomena that are measurable, and open to observation by others. The following are a few examples of the varied questions of interest to psychology today:

  • What are the bases for attractions between people and how do we know when we are in a good relationship?
  • How do biological make-up and life experiences combine to produce secure and competent adults, and those who are not so well adjusted?
  • What can be done to rehabilitate or manage the mentally ill, those unable to copie in modern society or those who engage in criminal behaviour?
  • What factors make for stable, happy families, and healthy lifestyles?
  • When one member of a family becomes seriously ill, how does the person and their family cope and how are relationships affected ?
  • How can we assist managers and employees to make important decisions in the workplace?
  • Why do our powers of attention appear to be limited and selective? Does information we have ignored or claim not to have seen affect us later? To what extent are we consciously aware of the things going on in our brains?
  • Young children often fail to see things from the point of view of others so what is involved in acquiring the ability to see the world from someone else's perspective?
  • Is learning a language the same as learning to ride a bike? Are different brain systems used for learning skills and for acquiring knowledge?
  • Is memory a single entity or is it composed of a number of different sub systems each supported by different brain structures and processes?
  • How best can we understand choice and preference?
  • What factors contribute to the cause and maintenance of problems such as depression, eating disorders and anxiety?
  • What is "earthquake brain"?
  • How do we help individuals cope with natural disasters like earthquakes?
  • A variety of psychotherapies have been developed for treating people with psychological problems. Which psychotherapies are the most effective and for which problems? Can we match the psychotherapy to the individual to promote the most optimal response?
  • How do we assist people who have had psychological problems to maintain wellness and prevent relapse?

Knowledge about these topics and many others is currently being advanced through research performed by staff and students in the Department. Postgraduate students in psychology are important contributors to such research.

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