7 Fields in Psychology You Might Want to Specialize In

Cartoon outlines of people with different patterned brains for psychology

Psychology is a scientific field focusing on the mind and behavior. Psychology is a relatively new science, with most of the advancement and study happening within the last 150 to 200 years. When psychology first became a widely studied field, psychologists spent their time looking for cause and effect to discover the underlying mental processes involved in behavior.

Today, psychology still uses a cause-and-effect approach, but psychologists understand that many factors influence behavior. If you choose to study psychology, you will have a choice to explore a number of subfields within psychology.

Psychological Research and Ethics

Psychological research and ethics is a rewarding field for people with an interest in the scientific process. Because psychology is a science, it requires the investigation of the causes of behavior. These investigations must be systematic and based on research, including observation and measurement. Researchers back up theoretical interpretation with data and analysis. When working with human subjects, there are ethical issues about how researchers should treat people.

Child and Adolescent Psychology

Adolescent psychology focuses on understanding and applying the psychology to people from infancy to adolescence. This field often focuses on the basic psychological needs of children and adolescents. Child and adolescent psychologists study the cognitive development and behavior of children and adolescents, as well as family dynamics and other social influences.

Social Psychology

Social psychology focuses on the study of humans in social contexts. Social psychologists study the influence of others on an individual’s thoughts or behaviors, and make interpretations and predictions about the feelings, beliefs and behaviors of people.

Adult Development and Aging

The psychological subfield of adult development and aging is a relatively new one because of a lower life expectancy before the twentieth century. As life expectancy grew, the study of behaviors and thoughts during adulthood and old age grew with it. The study of adult development focuses on many different aspects of adulthood, but one major topic that drives the field is how people change during development and aging.

Sports Psychology

Sports psychology is the study of how behaviors and thoughts affect sports and athletic performance. Sports psychologists work with athletes and coaches to increase motivation based on research and theories. A sports psychologist uses techniques to assess and develop the mental skills needed to enhance performance in athletic environments. They may also counsel athletes about developmental and social issues related to sports participation.

Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscientists study connection between biology and cognition. In other words, how does the biological brain produce our thoughts, feelings and behaviors? They study brain development to show how the brain changes, as well as the effects of injury and disease on the brain. This field studies specific areas of the brain that are involved in thinking and other mental processes, investigating how the brain controls mental activities.

Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychologists study atypical behavior, or behavior that is unusual for members of a society, including mental health disorders and treatments. Studies can be different across cultural groups or generations, since psychologists consider something abnormal if it is statistically uncommon in the population in question. Abnormal psychology may also include the study of social norms and the standards for acceptable behavior. Abnormal behaviors happen outside of these norms and are worth studying so that psychologists can get a better idea of their psychological causes.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in psychology, consider enrolling in Grand Canyon University’s Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree program, offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This program’s comprehensive curriculum will introduce you to the various subfields of psychology. To learn more, visit our website or click on the Request More Information button at the top of this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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