An Intro to Psychology
Psychology has been around for ages, long before anyone called it that. In fact, psychology is rooted in the philosophical thinking of Aristo, Descartes and others. There's a saying among psychologists that the difference between philosophers and psychologists is that the former only speculate, while the latter empirically research what they speculate about. This is an understatement of the differences between the two, of course, and psychology, much like other sciences, has actually emerged from philosophy.
In psychology we ask questions about the world around us, especially ones related to the mind. And as such, psychology is all about people. The way we think, behave, feel, and interact with each other and with the environment.
Contrary to popular belief, psychology is not a mere theoretical science where people lie on couches and pour their troubled thoughts in front of a nodding, bored looking, bold, beard-trimmed, middle-aged person. Psychology first emerged as an empirical science, when Wilhelm Wundt opened the Institute for Experimental Psychology at the University of Leipzig in Germany in 1879. His first experiments dealt with the perception of taste, smell & color. Today, the fields of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology continue to explore these basic questions, but have evolved in the past century and a half to more complicated ones. Known representatives of these fileds include John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, and more recent ones like Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman and Daniel Schacter.
The last couple of decades have also seen the rise of a new hybrid: the economical psychologist, better known as Behavioral Economists. These new “creatures” employ behavioral psychology in the understanding of economical thought, state and structure. Amongst them, you have probably heard of Dan Arieli, Daniel Kahneman (again) and Richard Thaler.
We must also remember that when dealing with the human creature, we are almost always dealing with social constructs. Humans interact with each another, so Social Psychology plays an important part in understanding behavior.
So what is this all about?
I will periodically write an article that touches on one of the fields that relate to a start-up, or any other company for that matter, during some point in its life cycle. These posts will hopefully give you insights about addressing your audience, be it your users, customers or employees (even employers, if you have them), about conversion, retention, or choose your favorite "-ions". This will be accomplished by exposing you to empirical data collected from real experiments, and then adding my perspective on product and/or marketing to it.
Bear in mind that this is not meant as a “to-do list” for the perfect site/app/company, since no such list exists (or we’d all be billionaires). It will provide advice, which you’ll often have to accommodate to your specific product. It will point out things to avoid, although here too, your judgement and discretion are advised.
Eduardo A. Schilman, Ph.D
Eduardo A. Schilman, Ph.D