Psychology Class 11 Chapter 1

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Class 11 Chapter 1 What is Psychology

Psychology class 11 chapter 1 is an interesting and riveting chapter that answers some of the questions which we have always had like what exactly is,” Psychology all about?”, ” What is its application in our everyday life?.” The answers to the above questions will unfold in the given blog where all the crucial topics of Psychology Class 11 chapter 1 have been covered.

Psychology Class 11 Chapter 1: Concepts

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Psychology is defined formally as a science that studies mental processes, experiences and behaviours in different contexts. We will further understand the meaning of mental processes, behaviours and experiences in detail

  • Mental Processes are usually used when we think or to solve a problem, to know or remember something. One level at which these mental processes are reflected in brain activity. Unlike the brain, our mind does not have a physical structure or a definite location.
  • Experiences are subjective in nature which are studied by psychologists. One important thing about experiences is that we cannot directly observe or know someone else’s experience, only the experiencing person can be aware or conscious of her or his experiences.
  • Behaviours are responses or reactions we make or activities we engage in. Behaviours may be simple or complex, short or enduring. Some behaviours are overt which means they can be outwardly seen or sensed by an observer whereas some behaviours are covert which means that they cannot be easily spotted and seen by other people

Psychology as a Discipline

Psychology is a discipline that studies about human behaviour, mental processes, experiences in different contexts:

  • It makes us understand how our mind works and how certain mental processes result in a specific type of behaviour.
  • Psychology as a Discipline today has two parallel streams namely-
    • Natural Science
    • Social Science

Psychology as a Natural Science

Psychology as a Natural Science largely focuses on biological principles to explain human behaviour.

  • It assumes that all behavioural phenomena have causes which can be discovered if we can collect data systematically under controlled conditions.
  • The main aim of the researcher is to understand the cause and effect relationship so that an accurate prediction of the behavioural phenomena can be made.
  • Psychologists use hypothetical deductive model to prove their hypothesis
  • By the application of this model,many psychologists gave theories on topics like Motivation, Memory etc.

Psychology as a Social Science

Psychology as a Social Science focuses on how behavioural phenomena can be explained in terms of interaction that takes place between the person and the socio-cultural context of which he/she is a part

  • Studies human behavior in social context
  • Humans are not only impacted by their socio-cultural contexts,they also create them as well.
  • Focuses on humans and communities as social beings in relation to their social culture and physical environment.

Understanding Mind and Behaviour

It is true that the mind cannot exist without the brain but the mind is a separate entity:

  • Earlier it was believed that there is no relationship between mind and body but now as per various researches in neuroscience prove that there is indeed a relationship between mind and Behaviour
  • A new discipline called Psychoneuroimmunology has emerged in recent times which primarily explains the significant role of the mind in strengthening our immune system.
  • Common sense does not always equate with Psychological studies
  • Common sense is based on hindsight. Psychology as a science looks for patterns of behaviour which can be predicted and not explained after the behaviour occurs.
  • Common Sense tells us that an individual is not able to perform the best in front audience but Psychological studies have shown that  if you have practiced well,you may actually perform better than expected because the presence of others helps in enhancing performance.

Also Read: Motivation and Emotion Class 11 Notes

The Evolution of Psychology

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The evolution of Psychology can be traced way back to 1879 when the first experimental laboratory was established in Leipzig, Germany by Wilhelm Wundt and he was interested in the study of conscious experience and wanted to analyse building blocks of the mind. Due to the fact that Psychologists during Wundt’s time started analysing the structure of the mind through introspection, they were also called structuralists. Later on, this approach was taken over by a functionalist approach. Introduced by an American psychologist, William James, the functionalist approach utilised the study of the human mind instead of focusing on the structure of the mind.


  • It was proposed by Wilhelm Wundt and structuralism is considered the oldest school of psychology.
  • Structuralists were interested in the analysis of the human mind and its structure
  • They were interested in conscious experience and wanted to study the building blocks of the mind
  • They used the introspection method to study mental processes and experiences


  • Functionalism school of psychology was proposed by William James
  • They focused on what the mind does and the function of consciousness in adjustment to the environment
  • According to functionalists, Consciousness is an ongoing mental process that cannot be broken down into parts.


  • This school of psychology was proposed by John B.Watson who viewed Psychology as a science of behaviour in terms of stimuli and responses.
  • Our response to stimulus in the environment are  the basic building blocks of our personality
  • Watson emphasized on observable and verifiable response to stimuli and he was profoundly interested in the study of learning

Gestalt Psychology

  • This school of psychology was in contrast to structuralism and it was founded in Germany by Wertheimer, Kohler and Koffka.
  • It primarily focused on perceptual Organization (Organization of what we see)
  • As per Gestalt Psychology, we look at the world, our Perceptual experience is more than its components.
  • For example, when we look at a chair. We do not see four wooden legs but we recognise it completely as a table


  • It was proposed by Dr Sigmund Freud
  • As per this school of psychology, human behaviour is viewed as a dynamic manifestation of unconscious desires and conflicts about which we are not completely aware at present.
  • Practical implementation of this school of psychology helps us to understand and cure psychological disorders.

Humanistic Perspective

  • Humanistic Perspective was proposed by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow
  • It laid emphasis on the free will of human beings and their actions are not predetermined by any force.
  • As per this school of psychology, human beings strive to grow and unleash their true potential which lies within them.
  • All human beings have an innate tendency to attain a state of self-actualization and the nature of human activities is that they are goal-oriented.

Cognitive Perspective

  • It was proposed by Jean Piaget and Vygotsky.
  • This approach is considered as a fusion of the Gestalt Approach and Structuralism
  • Lays emphasis on cognition which means thinking, understanding, perceiving, memorising etc
  • They view the human mind as an information processing system just like a computer and mind receives, processes, transforms, stores and retrieves information.

Must Read: Thinking Class 11 Psychology Notes

Psychology Class 11 Chapter 1: Branches

Branches of Psychology- Class 11 Chapter 1
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Various fields of specialization in psychology have emerged over the years which have been comprehensively elucidated below-

Cognitive Psychology

  • It investigates mental processes involved in the acquisition, storage, manipulation and transformation of information received from the environment along with its use and communication
  • Major cognitive processes are attention, perception, memory, problem solving and decision-making etc.

Biological Psychology

  • Focuses on the relationship between the behavior and physical system, including the brain and the rest of the nervous system, immune system and genetics


  • Psychologists and Neuroscientists are working together and studying the role of neurotransmitters which are responsible for neural communication in different areas of the brain and associated mental functions.
  • Comprehensive research is carried out on people with the normal functioning of the brain and as well as on people with damaged brains by use of advanced and recent technologies like EEG, PET etc.

Developmental Psychology

  • It studies the physical, social and psychological changes that occur at different stages and ages over life-span, from conception to old age.

Social Psychology

  • This branch of Psychology explores how people are affected by their social environments, how people think about the world around them and how they try to impact people around them.
  • Topics such as Prosocial behaviour, Attitude Formation, Prejudice are of keen interest to social Psychologists

Cultural Psychology

  • Lays emphasis on the role of culture in attaining a deep understanding of human behaviour, thought and emotion.
  • The main assumption of Cultural Psychology is that human behaviour is not only a reflection of human-biological potential but also a product of culture.

Environmental Psychology

  • It studies the interaction of physical factors such as temperature, humidity, pollution and natural disasters on human behaviour.
  • The influence of the physical arrangement of the workplace on health, the emotional state is understood in environmental Psychology

Health Psychology

  • It lays emphasis on the role of psychological factors such as anxiety, stress, fear in the development, prevention and treatment of illness
  • Areas of keen interest for a health Psychologist are coping with stress, promotion of health-enhancing factors etc.

Clinical Psychology

  • Clinical Psychology deals with the causes, treatment and prevention of some of the major psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, eating disorders and chronic substance abuse.

Counselling Psychology

  • Counselling Psychology aims to improve everyday functioning by helping people solve problems of their daily life and effectively cope up with challenging situations.

Industrial/Organisational Psychology

  • This branch of Psychology mainly deals with both the employees and the organization which have employed them. They are focused on training employees, improving work conditions and developing selection criteria for employees.

Educational Psychology

  • It lays emphasis on understanding how people of all ages understand and learn things. Educational Psychologists mainly develop instructional methods and materials used to train people both in Educational and work settings.

Sports Psychology

  • Sports Psychology focuses on the application of Psychological principles to improve the performance of athletes.

Other Emerging Fields of Psychology

Psychology has always been of multidisciplinary nature and because of this nature of Psychology, various other fields of Psychology have emerged which are described as follows-

  • Political Psychology
  • Aviation Psychology
  • Space Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Military Psychology
  • Community Psychology
  • Managerial Psychology
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Development of Psychology in India

  • Indian philosophical tradition was already known to practice various mental processes and reflections on human consciousness, self, mind-body relations, and a variety of mental functions. But when it comes to the modern study of the human mind, such evolutionary study was highly influenced by the Western school of thought only.
  • The first offical experiment with Modern Psychology in India happened in 1916 at the Calcutta University where Dr. N.N. Sengupta initiated the first modern experiments on Psychological fields.
  • Departments of Psychology in the Universities of Mysore and Patna were other early centres of teaching and research in psychology.
  • Durganand Sinha in his book ‘Psychology in a Third World Country: The Indian Experience’ categorises the evolution of Indian Psychology as the pre-independence phase, and the 1960s phase.

Themes Of Research and Application

Themes that provide Direction to research and application of Psychology are mentioned as follows-

  • Psychology, like other sciences, attempts to develop principles of behaviour and mental processes.
  • Human Behaviour is a function of both the attributes of persons and environment
  • Human Behaviour is caused
  • Understanding of human behaviour is culturally constructed
  • Human Behaviour can be controlled and modified through the application of psychological principles.

Basic V/s Applied Psychology

  • Basic Psychology provides us with theories and principles that form the basis of application of Psychology
  • Applied Psychology provides us with different contexts in which the theories and principles derived from research can be meaningfully applied.

Must Read: Learning Class 11 Notes

Psychology And Other Disciplines

Psychology shares its knowledge with literature, art, science, commerce, music etc. Some of the Major disciplines linked to the field of psychology are discussed below-

Music And Fine Art

Music and Psychology are complementary in nature which means that they go hand in hand as they help in uplifting mood and productivity at work as well.

Architecture And Engineering

Psychology and Architecture go hand in hand as well. One of the important jobs of an architect is to provide a physical space that satisfies their client mentally and aesthetically.

Mass Communication

Mass Communication is related to Psychology as well as the impact of media on the formation of attitudes on children and their behaviour is a domain where both of these disciplines come together.

  • Other fields which are related to Psychology are mentioned below-
    • Law
    • Medicine
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Economics

Types of Psychologists At Work

Psychologists work at various human service areas and these are described below-

  • Clinical Psychologists mainly deal with patients who suffer from severe psychological disorders such as Depression, Schizophrenia, Anxiety, Eating Disorders etc.
  • Counselling Psychologists help clients deal with everyday challenges and interpersonal issues such as career problems, self-esteem issues, Relationship and family problems etc.
  • Organizational Psychologist Helps employees improve upon their overall well-being along with their productivity and also they focus on making such a kind of workplace environment which is very enriching for the employees.

Psychology In Everyday life

There is no denial about the fact that Psychology plays a crucial role in our everyday life.

  • Helps in solving our day to day problems in very effective and efficient manner
  • Principles and methods of Psychology help us in analysing and understanding our relationship with others
  • Helps us in attaining self-awareness and thus,that helps in improving our decision-making
  • Various methods and techniques of Psychology helps us in improving our learning and memorising abilities
  • Thus, Psychology indeed plays a crucial role in our lives.

PPT on What is Psychology

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NCERT Solutions for Psychology Class 11 Chapter 1

Give a brief account of the evolution of Psychology

Various schools of psychology like structuralism, functionalism, Humanism, Gestalt Psychology aptly explain the evolution of psychology.

Describe some of the areas of everyday life where understanding of psychology can be put to practice. 

Everyday application of Psychology helps us in decision making, problem-solving, enhancing our learning and memorising ability, attaining self-awareness etc.

In terms of helping solve an important social problem such as crime, which branch of psychology do you think is most suitable. Identify the field and discuss the concerns of the psychologists working

The best branch of psychology in the given case is Forensic Psychology.

What is behaviour? Give examples of overt and covert behaviour?

Behaviour refers to any response of an organism that can be measured. Any covert or overt action/reaction a person does can be observed in some ways. A person running to catch a train is an example of overt behaviour. The working of human memory or problem-solving might be thought of as behaviour, even though they cannot be observed directly but must be inferred from their product.

How can you distinguish scientific psychology from the popular notions about the discipline of Psychology?

The popular theories of human behaviour are based on common sense and may or may not be true if investigated scientifically.
Common sense is based on hindsight. Psychology as science looks for patterns of behaviour that can be predicted and not explained after the behaviour occurs.
Dweck’s study on children (who gave up too easily when faced with difficult problems or failures) is worth mentioning here.
Common sense tells us to give them easy problems, first in order to increase their success rate so that their confidence goes up.
Dweck found that children who had always succeeded because they were given easy problems could not cope up with difficult problems and gave up faster in comparison to those who had the experience of both success and failure and were taught to put more effort to deal with difficult problems. Such studies prove that predictions based on empirical studies are reliable and valid.

What are the problems for which collaboration of psychologists with other disciplines can be fruitful? Take any two problems to explain.

Psychology is located at the intersection of many fields of knowledge pertaining to human functioning.
It contributes to the growth of other disciplines and draws subject matter from them as well.
In the study of brain and behaviour, psychology shares its knowledge with neurology, physiology, biology, medicine and computer science.
In studying the meaning, growth and development of human behaviour in a socio-cultural context, psychology shares its knowledge with anthropology, sociology, social work, political science and economics.

Must Read: Human Development Notes for Class 11

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