Critical criminology and the social sciences
Critical criminology and the social sciences

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Critical criminology and the social sciences

1.1 Psychology

In the following video, Professor Mark Fenton-O’Creevy introduces the discipline of psychology.

Activity 1

Spend some time watching the video, and then try to summarise the defining characteristic(s) of psychology as an academic discipline in the text box below.

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Transcript: Video 1

The British Psychological Society describes psychology as the scientific study of the mind and how it dictates and influences our behaviour, from communication and memory to thought and emotion. Psychology has a strong focus on individual behaviour, although many psychologists are also interested in the ways in which we function in social groups and how social organisation influences our behaviour. Psychologists study problems of mental health, but also study normal human functioning. This includes how memory, emotions, reasoning, motivation, and decision making work and the influence of individual differences and context in each of these. While psychology is an important base discipline I draw on my own work, I believe that most real world problems need insights from multiple disciplines to understand and resolve them. I'm a professor of organisational behaviour who does research on the financial behaviour and decision making of both professionals, such as investment bank traders, and the rest of us in the everyday world. Organisational behaviour, at least as I practise it, draws on insights from psychology, sociology, and economics, and sometimes from wider disciplines, such as philosophy and history, to understand the behaviour of organisations and individuals within organisations. This behaviour needs to be understood in multiple contexts, including culture, social, economic and political institutions, markets, government regulation and other regulation, and the habits, routines, and systems that we construct to make organisations function. Often, we distinguish between macro organisational behaviour, the study of organisations in their wider social, political, and economic contexts, and micro organisational behaviour, the study of individuals' behaviour in the context of organisations they are members of and the wider context of their membership in other social groups. In my own research, I've had a particular focus on an area which has had insufficient attention, how we draw on emotions as well as reasoning capacities in making financial decisions.
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Perhaps the most defining characteristic of the discipline of psychology is that it involves the study of the mind, and how the mind influences one’s behaviour. While people often regard psychology as having a strong focus on the individual, many psychologists also focus on how individuals function within social groups, and how different forms of social organisation can influence an individual’s attitudes and behaviour.


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