What is Psychology?
Andrew M. Colman
1999, London: Routledge. Pp. xii + 204. ISBN 0-415-16901-1 (hardback), ISBN 0-415-16902-x (paperback)
Chinese edition: Colman, A. M. (2008). What is psychology? (3rd ed., Guo, Y. Y., Chen, J. W., & Sun, D. Y., Trans.). Beijing: China Renmin University Press, ISBN 978-7-300-09796-591
Preface to the second edition
Preface to the first edition
1. Getting started
What psychology is not
2. Beyond common sense: A self-assessment quiz
Answers and explanations
Interpretation of scores
3. The subject matter of psychology
Basic research and applied psychology
Main areas of psychological research
Biological aspects of behaviour
Sensation and perception
Learning and skills
Motivation and emotion
Individual differences and personality
Research methods and statistics
History of psychology
Research methods and statistics
Statistics: The basic ideas
The origins and development of psychology
Emergence of the discipline
The era of schools
Psychology as a profession
Psychology teaching and research
Clinical and counselling psychology
Educational and school psychology
Occupational and industrial/organizational psychology
Forensic and criminological psychology
How to become a psychologist
This is an updated and considerably improved version of the book. The second edition remained steadily in demand for a decade, but during that time psychology and the world moved on and the need for a new edition gradually increased until it could no longer be ignored. The publisher eventually asked me for a third edition, and my literary agent gently but firmly prodded me into writing it. I used the opportunity to make numerous improvements, both large and small.
The subtitle that was appended to the second edition has been dropped, because the reason for it -- another book with the same title -- has disappeared. Almost every chapter has been thoroughly rewritten. The bibliographic references have been substantially extended and updated, and I have tried wherever possible to include the best of the most recent publications. I have occasionally cited Internet web sites in addition to books and articles, especially in chapter 6 where readers need the latest information about training and careers, but also to a lesser extent elsewhere in the book.
I have improved and tidied up chapters 1 and 2, but I have refrained form changing the questions in the self-assessment quiz in chapter 2, although I have thoroughly updated the explanations of the answers. One reason for keeping the original questions is that researchers have used the quiz to test the knowledge of prospective students of psychology and have published the results, and these normative data have enabled me to recalibrate the interpretation of scores on the basis of something slightly more solid than inspired guesswork.
In chapter 3, devoted to the subject matter of psychology, I have had to revise the content substantially in the light of recent developments. It is (once again) surprising how quickly psychology has changed -- each time I revise this book I feel like exclaiming, “My, how you've grown!”. I have introduced material on cognitive neuropsychology, new techniques of brain imaging, and cognitive research into imagery; I have updated the discussion of artificial intelligence to incorporate computational and connectionist models, and I have beefed up the discussion of mental disorders to bring it into line with the current terminology of the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV); and I have introduced numerous other rejuvenations. I have radically restructured the discussion of research methods in chapter 4, separating correlational studies from quasi-experiments and adding brief discussions of qualitative research methods and multiple regression techniques to reflect changing fashions in psychological research. I have slightly improved chapter 5, on the history of psychology, and have added the dates of historical personalities to provide a more precise sense of time. I have had to make substantial changes to chapter 6, on the professions of psychology, to reflect changes affecting clinical psychology, counselling psychology, and above all forensic and criminological psychology, and to take account of emerging professions of health psychology and sports psychology. I have made numerous other improvements, both cosmetic and substantive, throughout the book.
The cartoons used in the first and second editions were drawn almost 30 years ago by and were beginning to show their age. I am delighted that the original artist Angela Chorley was willing to create a new set of cartoons for this edition.
Andrew M. Colman
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