Updated: Jun 26
According to you, what is psychology?
Is psychology only for those who are crazy or out of their minds and for those who want to treat mad people?
After studying psychology, professionally what does an individual actually do?
Most of you reading this article, may or may not know the answers to the above questions and honestly, I don’t blame you. Fact is that in spite of being a little over 100 years old, Psychology is still a relatively new field in comparison to other fields like physics, biology, engineering, chemistry, mathematics, etc.
Even in the 21st century, there are a lot of myths and stereotypes surrounding psychology and the field of mental health. In this article I am going to answer the above questions and also give you a number of reasons why you should take an interest in psychology.
What is psychology?
Psychology is the scientific study of human and animal behavior, emotions and thought (cognitive) processes. It is a scientific field established to understand behavior, thinking and emotions amongst different species. A discipline that tries to understand how the mind works. It tries to explain how a person might function alone or in a group. Mental health is a discipline within psychology.
Is psychology only for those who are mad and for those who want to treat mad people?
As mentioned above, psychology is a scientific study of behavior, cognition and emotions among various species. Psychology is not at all limited to people with mental illnesses or those whom we tend to call ‘Mad’. Similarly, the people who study psychology or psychiatry, not only treat those with mental illnesses, but also work in a number of other fields with numerous other roles and responsibilities.
Lets get some more insight into the work done by psychologists & mental health professionals!
After studying psychology, professionally what does an individual actually do?
Over the decades, the field of psychology and the work of psychologists has spread across multiple areas of our human lives. The American Psychological Association (APA) which is one of the strongest professional bodies of psychologists has divisions of psychology which are more than 50 in number. Besides the APA, there are numerous other bodies or associations that focus on Psychology, like British Psychological Society, Spanish Psychological Association, Australian Psychological Society, Indian Psychological Association, Federation of German Psychologist’s Association etc. Here are some of the areas where psychologists work:
Clinical Psychology- It focuses on the study of mental disorders, diagnosis, causes and treatment of disorders are explored.
Counselling and Guidance- These are popular areas which help people deal with personal problems, issues of adjustment and career choice.
Educational Psychology- It deals with teaching-learning processes primarily in school settings. Classroom behavior and effective interaction with teachers are the main areas of focus.
Cognitive Psychology- It is a core area of psychology which studies basic cognitive processes such as memory, thinking, reasoning, language and decision-making.
Industrial / Organizational Psychology- Under the impact of industrialization, quality of life at the workplace has become a major concern. At the same time recruitment, training, motivation, performance, appraisal and the use of technology have become crucial concerns. Industrial/Organizational psychology tends to all these issues.
Social Psychology- It deals with behavior in social context and explores various forms of social behavior. (Example: Co-operation, prejudice, conflict, leadership, intergroup conflict, relationships, etc). Applied social psychology focuses on applications of social psychology to various fields such as education, environment, health, and societal development.
Forensic Psychology - Forensic psychology, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is the application of clinical specialties to the legal arena. This definition emphasizes the application of clinical psychology to the forensic setting.
Evolutionary Psychology and Psychobiology- This specialization investigates evolution of behavior and biological bases and correlates of behavior.
Developmental Psychology- Developmental psychology is a scientific approach which aims to explain growth, change and consistency though the lifespan. Developmental psychology looks at how thinking, feeling, and behavior change throughout a person’s life.
Why is studying psychology beneficial to you?
You Understand Yourself Better: As you study about how humans develop mentally, how our unique personalities interact with the different environmental factors and impact us, you will gain a better understanding of yourself.
Improve Your Understanding of Others: When you study psychology, you are able to gain a better understanding of and identify the real influences and motivations behind other people’s behaviors.
Psychology Helps in Understanding Relationships: Psychology offers you a lot of knowledge on personal, family and professional relationships. It will help you manage and solve all personal and professional relationships related problems that you or others in your social circle may experience.
Learn about Research Methods: Having a basic understanding of psychological research methods can help you understand some of the many claims that you will see in magazines, books, advertisements, movies, television shows etc. Becoming a better informed consumer of psychology will enable you to understand the difference between the truth and fiction that is usually presented to you in the form of fake facts and myths about psychology.
Develop an Insight into Mental Illnesses: While you might not be interested in becoming a psychologist professionally, by studying psychology you can gain an understanding of how mental illnesses are diagnosed and treated.
Psychology Helps Build Critical Thinking Skills: As you study psychology, you will learn more about cognitive processes, decision making skills, problem solving etc, all of which will help you develop critical thinking skills.
Help You Be A Better Communicator: Studying topics like emotions, non-verbal communication, language etc will help you improve your own communication and interpersonal skills. At the same time you will also be able to identify patterns and signs in other’s verbal and non-verbal communication.
Learn About Human Development: As you study how humans develop over a lifespan, you will be able to understand your parents as well as your children better. You will also be able to understand yourself as you go through different stages in your life.
Improve Your Memory, Decision Making and Leadership Skills: When you study psychology and understand more about yourself as a person and understand your interaction with others, you develop skills to improve your memory, leadership and decision making skills.
Psychology Can be Fun and Fascinating: Studying psychology will give you immense knowledge about the inner workings of our complex human brain, how environmental factors interact with and influence people, how people behave when they are alone versus when they are in social situations etc. A lot of things that you read in psychology are surely bound to shock, surprise, astonish and amuse you.
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