Sunday, November 23, 2014

10 Things You Need to Know About Psychology

Are you new to the study of psychology? It may seem like a vast and daunting topic at first, but understanding a few basic facts can make it easier to get started. The following are just a few of the important things you need to know about this fascinating topic. Once you have a strong understanding of the basics, you will be better prepared to explore psychology in greater depth.
AB37901.jpg - Mittermeier / Getty Images
Mittermeier / Getty Images

1. Psychology Is the Study of the Mind and Behavior

Psychology is the study of the mental processes and behavior. The term psychology comes from the Greek wordpsyche meaning "breath, spirit, soul" and the logia meaning "study of." Psychology emerged from biology and philosophy and is closely linked to other disciplines including sociology, medicine, linguistics, and anthropology.
Psychology research methods - Rich Legg/iStockPhoto
Rich Legg/iStockPhoto

2. Psychology Uses Scientific Methods

One of the most common myths about psychology is that it is just "common sense." Unlike common sense, psychology relies on scientific methods to investigate questions and arrive at conclusions. It is through using empirical methods that researchers are able to discover relationships between different variables. Psychologists use a range of techniques to study the human mind and behavior, including naturalistic observation, experiments, case studies, and questionnaires.
Perspectives in psychology - Emiliano Hernandez
Emiliano Hernandez

3. Psychologists Take Many Different Perspectives

Topics and questions in psychology can be looked at in a number of different ways. Let's take the topic of violence as an example. Some psychologists may look at how biological influences contribute to violence, while other psychologists might look at factors like culture, family relationships, social pressure, and situational variables influence violence. Some of the major perspectives in psychology include the:
  • Biological perspective
  • Cognitive perspective
  • Behavioral perspective
  • Evolutionary perspective
  • Humanistic perspective

4. Psychology Has a Many Subfields

There are many different branches of psychology. Introductory students often explore the basics of these various specialty areas, but further exploration of each individual field may depend on what course of study you select. Some of the biggest subfields within psychology are clinical psychology, personality psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology.
Psychotherapy - Konstantin Binder
Konstantin Binder

5. Psychology Is Not Just About Therapy

When you think of psychology, do you envision a therapist with a notepad jotting down ideas as a client recounts childhood experiences? While therapy is certainly a big part of psychology, it is not the only thing that psychologists do. In fact, many psychologists don't work in the field of mental health at all. Psychology encompasses other areas including teaching, research and consulting. Psychologists work in a wide variety of settings, including:
  • Colleges and universities
  • Private corporations
  • K-12 Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Government offices

6. Psychology Is All Around You

Psychology is not just an academic subject that exists only in classrooms, research labs, and mental health offices. The principles of psychology can be seen all around you in everyday situations. The television commercials and print ads you see everyday rely on psychology to develop marketing messages that influence and persuade people to purchase the advertised products. The websites you visit on a regular basis utilize psychology to understand how people read, use and interpret online information.

7. Psychology Explores Both Real-World and Theoretical Issues

As you begin your study of psychology, it might seem like some of the theories and research you learn about do not really apply to real-life problems. It is important to remember, however, that psychology is both an applied and theoretical subject. Some researchers focus on adding information to our overall body of knowledge about the human mind and behavior (known as basic research), while other concentrate directly on solving problems and applying psychological problems to real-world situations (known asapplied research).
Careers in psychology - YinYang/iStockPhoto

8. Psychology Offers a Wide Range of Career Options

If you are thinking about majoring in psychology, then you should be pleased to discover that there are many different career paths to choose from. Different career options depend largely on your educational level and work experience, so it is important to research the required training and licensing requirements of your chosen specialty area. Just a few of the possible career options include clinical psychologyforensic psychology,health psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology.

9. Psychology Studies Both Normal and Abnormal Behavior

When many people think about psychology, they immediately think about the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behavior. However, it is important to remember that psychology studies normal behavior as well.

10. Psychology Seeks to Describe, Explain, Predict, Modify and Improve Behaviors

There are four major goals of psychology:
  • To describe human thought and behavior
  • To explain why these behaviors occur
  • To predict how, why and when these behaviors will occur again in the future
  • To modify and improve behaviors to better the lives of individuals and society as a whole

As you can see, psychology is a rich and fascinating subject that has practical applications in many different areas of life. If you have ever wanted to learn more about why people think and act the way they do, then studying psychology is a great way to gain greater insight into the human experience.

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