psy·​chol·​o·​gy | \ sī-ˈkä-lə-jē How to pronounce psychology (audio) \
plural psychologies

Definition of psychology

1 : the science of mind and behavior
2a : the mental or behavioral characteristics of an individual or group
b : the study of mind and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity
3 : a theory or system of psychology Freudian psychology the psychology of Jung

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The Roots of Psychology

The word psychology was formed by combining the Greek psychē (meaning “breath, principle of life, life, soul,”) with –logia (which comes from the Greek logos, meaning “speech, word, reason”). An early use appears in Nicholas Culpeper’s mid-17th century translation of Simeon Partliz’s A New Method of Physick, in which it is stated that “Psychologie is the knowledg of the Soul.” Today, psychology is concerned with the science or study of the mind and behavior. Many branches of psychology are differentiated by the specific field to which they belong, such as animal psychology, child psychology, and sports psychology.

Examples of psychology in a Sentence

She studied psychology in college. the psychology of an athlete the psychology of crowd behavior We need to understand the psychologies of the two people involved in the incident.
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Recent Examples on the Web Mary Hodorowicz, a clinical assistant professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, said that speaking your goals out loud can help some people better actualize them. Phil Davis,, "No, it’s not weird to talk to yourself. Baltimore mental health experts point to pandemic, unrest as possible reasons," 22 Dec. 2020 But the pandemic has forced us to alter many of those rituals, said Dr. Jeffrey Janata, the chief of University Hospitals’ division of psychology. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, "‘It’s been a bad year’: Ex-husband’s delayed funeral was only the start of a devastating 2020 - Coping through COVID," 20 Dec. 2020 The caveat is that these facial expressions do not provide a readout of emotion or intention, asserts Jeffrey Cohn, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, who also peer-reviewed the paper. Emily Willingham, Scientific American, "A Smile at a Wedding and a Cheer at a Soccer Game Are Alike the World Over," 17 Dec. 2020 Jelena Kecmanovic is a founding director of the Arlington/DC Behavior Therapy Institute and an adjunct professor of psychology at Georgetown University. Washington Post, "If your pandemic partner is getting on your last nerve, try these tips to repair your relationship," 2 Dec. 2020 This may reflect the growing effort by Americans to connect through good, old-fashioned conversation, said Pamela Rutledge, a psychology professor and expert on social media and technology at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara. Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times, "How a bawdy online game is helping friends stay connected during the pandemic," 28 Nov. 2020 Scientific American delved into these issues with Eli J. Finkel, a psychology professor at Northwestern University and lead author of the new Science paper. Christie Aschwanden, Scientific American, "Why Hatred and 'Othering' of Political Foes Has Spiked to Extreme Levels," 29 Oct. 2020 The humorist David Sedaris, considering the psychology of the undecided voter, once envisioned a scenario on an airplane. Washington Post, "In a year of political anger, undecided voters inspire a special kind of scorn," 18 Oct. 2020 Avoiding tension can get a bad rap as a coping tactic, said Shevaun Neupert, an associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who specializes in how people prepare and respond to stress. Terry Ward, CNN, "Not everyone is sad to be missing the holidays with family this year," 9 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'psychology.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of psychology

1749, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for psychology

New Latin psychologia, from psych- + -logia -logy

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Learn More about psychology

Time Traveler for psychology

Time Traveler

The first known use of psychology was in 1749

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Statistics for psychology

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Psychology.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for psychology


How to pronounce psychology (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of psychology

: the science or study of the mind and behavior
: the way a person or group thinks


psy·​chol·​o·​gy | \ sī-ˈkä-lə-jē How to pronounce psychology (audio) \

Kids Definition of psychology

: the science that studies the mind and behavior


psy·​chol·​o·​gy | \ -jē How to pronounce psychology (audio) \
plural psychologies

Medical Definition of psychology

1 : the science of mind and behavior
2a : the mental or behavioral characteristics typical of an individual or group or a particular form of behavior mob psychology the psychology of arson
b : the study of mind and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity color psychology the psychology of learning
3 : a treatise on or a school, system, or branch of psychology

More from Merriam-Webster on psychology

Nglish: Translation of psychology for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of psychology for Arabic Speakers

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