Understanding Different Fields of Psychology

Person gesturing in therapy session

Psychology is a scientific field focusing on the mind and behavior. It is a relatively new science, with most of the advancement and contributions to this arena occurring within the past 150 to 200 years. When psychology first became a widely studied field, psychologists spent their time looking for cause and effect relationships, to ascertain the underlying mental processes involved in behavior.

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

Psychological Research and Ethics

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

Child and Adolescent Psychology

Adolescent psychology focuses on understanding and applying the practice of 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 20th 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 their 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 obtain a better idea of their psychological causes.

Benefits of Majoring in Psychology

There are many benefits of majoring in psychology and the career itself can be very rewarding. Here are some beneficial reasons for earning a psychology degree.

  • Wide variety in careers: One of the many benefits of pursuing a career in psychology Is the wide selection and types of psychology from which to choose. Majoring in psychology can lead you to many career paths, which is very reassuring and allows you to find a path that is the best fit for you.1
  • Learning about yourself and others: In becoming a psychologist, there are some questions you may ask yourself along the way. These questions include, “Why do people behave in a certain way?” and “Am I interested in learning more about people’s emotions, actions and thoughts?” By having your own interest in these subjects, you will be able to learn more about the individuals you will be helping.
  • Having rewarding work: If you enjoy working out difficult problems and helping people through challenges, then psychology may be the right career field for you. You have the opportunity to dig deeper and understand people by conducting behavioral, emotional and cognitive exercises.
  • Changing people’s lives: Helping people work through their problems and struggles can allow them to change and experience improved physical, emotional and mental health.
  • Research and observe data: Leading or helping to run psychology studies leads to many hours being spent on researching methods, tactics and statistics. Learning to gather and organize data can be an impactful skill to have as a psychologist.
  • Networking professionally: Psychology degrees provide you with opportunities to undertake internships or practicums, and research projects. Getting your voice out there in the professional world while earning your degree can impress potential employers by showcasing the skills you have gained from your studies. Getting your voice out there in the professional world while earning your degree can impress potential employers by showcasing the skills you have gained from your studies.
  • Studying something you’re passionate about: If you enjoy working with individuals and are passionate about psychology, then you should consider getting a degree in this field. Getting to know the type of psychology you want to study can be an adventure in itself.

Educational Requirements for Psychology

There are some educational requirements you need to fulfill in order to become a certified psychologist. All careers within psychology require a master’s or education specialists’ degree at minimum. However, many psychology professions require a doctorate-level degree and some amount of certified work experience.

Please visit our College of Humanities and Social Sciences to see what programs Grand Canyon University has to offer. To learn more, click on the Request More Information button at the top of this page.

1Retrieved from TheBestSchools, What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree? in January 2022

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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