Psychology is an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. Psychology also refers to the application of such knowledge to various spheres of human activity, including relating to individuals’ daily lives and the treatment of mental illness.
Psychology differs from the other social sciences — anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology — in that psychology seeks to explain the mental processes and behavior of individuals. Whereas biology and neuroscience study the biological or neural processes and how they relate to the mental effects they subjectively produce, psychology is primarily concerned with the interaction of mental processes and behavior on a systemic level. The subfield of neuropsychology studies the actual neural processes while biological psychology studies the biological bases of behavior and mental states.
The contemporary social studies curriculum has its roots in the Progressive education movement of the early twentieth century. With its emphasis on the nature of the individual learner and on the process of learning itself, the movement challenged the assumptions of subject-centered curricula. Until this time, the social studies curriculum was composed of discrete subject areas, with a primary emphasis on history. To a slightly lesser degree, geography and civics were also featured, completing the triumvirate.
According to the study conducted by leadership consulting firm Bain & Company, companies like Apple, Google, and Netflix are 40 percent more productive than the average company. Some may think that this is a product of the hiring pool; big companies generally attract a more talented group of recruits. With unique benefits and prowess in the industry, this must be the case. Wrong. Google and Apple have found a way to answer the most fundamental question in management: How do you balance productivity while maintaining employee satisfaction and commitment?
Companies such as Google have approximately the same percentage of “star players” as other companies, but instead of spreading out the talent, they group them dynamically to achieve more throughout the day. This grouping focuses on grouping key players in the most business-critical roles, and is the key to success for the overall company. You’ve heard the saying “You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” and in the case of Apple, there were no weak links, making their productivity extremely high overall. To make matters more complicated, the fast-paced workplace and technology changes, including the diversity of employees and the global marketplace, takes a considerable toll on employee expectations, as do the overall stresses of the business performance. Apple is just one example of a company that figured out one of the pieces to this puzzle, but it is illustrative of what is happening in the workplace all around the globe.
Contemporary managers are witnessing changes in technologies, markets, competition, workforce demographics, employee expectations, and ethical standards. At the heart of these changes is the issue of how to manage people effectively. To attain corporate objectives, each manager must discover how to develop and maintain a workforce that can meet today’s needs while getting ready for tomorrow’s challenges.
Questions such as these point to the issue of effective management. That is, what can managers do to improve both organizational and employee performance? Effective management requires an in-depth knowledge of financial management, marketing research and consumer behavior, accounting and control practices, manufacturing and production techniques, and quantitative methods. In addition, however, effective management requires “people skills.” That is, a good manager must be able to motivate his employees, to lead skillfully, to make appropriate and timely decisions, to communicate effectively, to organize work, to deal with organizational politics, and to work to develop both employees and the organization as a whole. These issues constitute the subject of this course. We shall examine principles of the behavioral sciences that can help managers improve both their own skills and abilities and those of their subordinates in order to enhance organizational performance and effectiveness.