Portal:Psychology
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Portal:Psychology

Welcome to the psychology portal

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Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties, joining this way the broader neuro-scientific group of researchers. As a social science, it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.

Psychologists explore behavior and mental processes, including perception, cognition, attention, emotion, intelligence, subjective experiences, motivation, brain functioning, and personality. This extends to interaction between people, such as interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind. Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some--especially clinical and counseling psychologists--at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a "hub science" in that medicine tends to draw psychological research via neurology and psychiatry, whereas social sciences most commonly draws directly from sub-disciplines within psychology.

While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in several spheres of human activity. By many accounts psychology ultimately aims to benefit society. The majority of psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior, and typically work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings (e.g., medical schools, hospitals). Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, or in other areas such as human development and aging, sports, health, and the media, as well as in forensic investigation and other aspects of law.

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Cognitive flexibility has been described as the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. Cognitive flexibility is usually described as one of the executive functions. Two subcategories of cognitive flexibility are task switching and cognitive shifting, depending on whether the change happens unconsciously or consciously, respectively.

Cognitive flexibility varies during the lifespan of an individual. In addition, certain conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder are associated with reduced cognitive flexibility. Since cognitive flexibility is a vital component of learning, deficits in this area might have other implications. Read more...

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Bellevue Hospital front gate, New York City
image credit: Jim.henderson

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  • "No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience." -- John Locke

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Donata Francescato (born April 17, 1944 in Arona, Italy) is an Italian community psychologist and academic, trained in the United States, and known in academia and the media for her work on sex roles, communes, and personal and organizational empowerment. Her work in community psychology led to the discipline being recognized in 1985 as a compulsory subject in Italian universities where psychology is taught as a major subject.

Francescato is currently the Scientific Director of the post-graduate School of Specialization in clinical community psychology and psychotherapy at ASPIC (Associazione per lo Sviluppo Psicologico dell'Individuo e della Comunità, Association for the Psychological Development of the Individual and the Community). Previously, she was a Full Professor of Community Psychology at the University of Rome, a position she retired from in 2014 at the age of 70. Read more...

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