What is Psychology?
When we think about psychology, the mind automatically comes into the picture. Indeed, psychology as a discipline is the study of the mind and how it influences daily life. While this definition might be universal in some way, psychology involves studying both human and animal behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Over the decades, it has become necessary to study the human experiences which affect or are influenced by the brain. Psychology studies many aspects of life such as health, sports, cognitive processes, and social behavior in relation to the brain since it influences all of these.
Science vs. Profession
Mostly, psychology is a science since it involves studying the mind and behavior. Scientists need observation and measurement to come up with sound conclusions. Therefore, psychology is the observation of the mind and human behavior is the evidence that is used to conclude psychological concepts. Psychology is applied in solving many problems that relate to human behavior.
As a profession, psychology requires one to be trained to acquire critical thinking skills that will help him or her to work in different settings. Psychologists apply their knowledge to deal with people in the most appropriate way that will eventually help them function better. Many who study psychology may choose to work in different fields where their knowledge might help them solve certain problems. For example, sports psychologists focus on the development of sportspeople in order for them to perform optimally.
Psychologists are not psychiatrists. While both professions require one to have extensive knowledge in psychology, they differ in their job description. Psychologists interact with people in their daily life and help them improve or avoid mental and physical problems as in sports psychology. Psychiatrists, however, are doctors that study, diagnose, and treat patients suffering from mental illnesses. Since they are medical doctors, they are authorized to prescribe drugs for patients and monitor their development.
The reasons for the inception of psychology in the past was to understand different concepts that were argued by philosophers. Psychology seeks to answer questions such as; Why humans do what they do? Why is it that some people behave differently from what is considered to be normal behavior?, and How do people come up with ideas? among others.
To answer these questions, it becomes necessary to study the brain since it seems to control people and what they do. Given the complexity of the brain, psychologists have to study it carefully offering evidence from all the research they conduct. All the aspects they investigate such as emotions, thoughts, perceptions, memory, and dreams are invisible. Hence, they have to rely on behavior patterns that have been closely monitored to conclude their theories.
Branches of Psychology
Being a science with wide applications, psychology has many branches that are usually classified differently depending on the institutions of learning. The following represent the common branches of psychology.
* Cognitive Psychology
Here, psychologists study how the brain processes information and solve problems. Furthermore, it investigates how people communicate, language, and their memory patterns. Applications of cognitive psychology include improving the decision-making process and memory.
* Clinical Psychology
Clinical Psychology involves assessment in order to understand and alleviate discomfort and disability among people. Here, people are encouraged to improve themselves by adapting and adjusting to certain situations that may be unfavorable. Some of the aspects of human development that a clinical psychologist may strive to improve include emotional, social, behavioral, and intellectual properties.
* Evolutionary Psychology
Evolutionary psychology studies how human behavior has been influenced by the evolution process. psychologists will try to understand the key features of humans that have changed or remained unchanged during the evolution process. For example, a common contention by evolutionary psychologists is that the human brained is tuned to automatically learn and understand language without being taught in a formal manner. Evolutionary psychologists also believe that reading and writing have to be taught to an individual.
* Developmental Psychology
Here, psychologists examine the psychological changes that take place in a person’s life span. To achieve this goal, psychologists study infants and children since most changes happen at this stage. Today, however, psychologists have included adults and teenagers in these studies. some of the aspects that are investigated include motor skills, emotions, learning language, the forming of identities, and problem-solving throughout the life span among others.
* Forensic Psychology
Psychologists apply their knowledge to help in the apprehension of criminals. Here, psychologists are required to understand the laws of a country before they can be involved in any investigation. They interact a lot with lawyers, judges, and other professionals within the legal system. They offer testimony in court in cases regarding psychological expertise.
Neuropsychologists study the brain and its relation to clear behaviors. In order to accomplish their goals, they record electrical information obtained from brain cells, and they can predict the behavior of animals and people in case of a brain injury.
* Health Psychology
Health Psychologists study the behaviors of a person and how they influence his or her health or illness. They also strive to accomplish any connection between the socioeconomic background of a patient and his or her illness. While medical doctors might focus on treating the illness health psychologists focus on the patient.
* Social Psychology
Social psychology investigates the impact of people on the behavior of others. How society perceives certain matters may affect what an individual thinks and how he or she behaves. People’s thoughts and feelings are often influenced by society and psychologists study the impact of this influence
* Occupational Psychology
Occupational psychology studies the performance of employees at work. It also provides an understanding of how a group of people behaves when working and how their behaviors influence the functioning of organizations.
Psychology can be applied to many aspects of life. Sports people and health and fitness enthusiasts depend on psychology for maximum performance of their tasks. Health and fitness is a science, and psychology provides answers to commitment in fitness.