Due to the broadness of psychology, psychology is broken down in to many areas of study. Below we have identified some areas of study in psychology with brief descriptions.
Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns of behavior, emotion and thought, which may or may not be understood as precipitating a mental disorder. Although many behaviors could be considered as abnormal, this branch of psychology generally deals with behavior in a clinical context. There is a long history of attempts to understand and control behavior deemed to be aberrant or deviant (statistically, morally or in some other sense), and there is often cultural variation in the approach taken. The field of abnormal psychology identifies multiple causes for different conditions, employing diverse theories from the general field of psychology and elsewhere, and much still hinges on what exactly is meant by "abnormal". There has traditionally been a divide between psychological and biological explanations, reflecting a philosophical dualism in regard to the mind body problem. There have also been different approaches in trying to classify mental disorders. Abnormal includes three different categories, they are subnormal, supernormal and paranormal.
Behavioral neuroscience, also known as biological psychology, biopsychology, or psychobiology is the application of the principles of biology (in particular neurobiology), to the study of physiological, genetic, and developmental mechanisms of behavior in humans and non-human animals. It typically investigates at the level of neurons, neurotransmitters, brain circuitry and the basic biological processes that underlie normal and abnormal behavior. Often, experiments in behavioral neuroscience involve non-human animal models (such as rats and mice, and non-human primates) which have implications for better understanding of human pathology and therefore contribute to evidence-based practice.
Clinical psychology is an integration of the science, theory and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective and behavioral well-being and personal development. Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration. In many countries, clinical psychology is regulated as a health care profession.
Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes such as "attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity, and thinking." Much of the work derived from cognitive psychology has been integrated into various other modern disciplines of psychological study including educational psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and economics.
Comparative psychology refers to the scientific study of the behavior, and mental processes of non-human animals, especially as these relate to the phylogenetic history, adaptive significance, and development of behavior. Research in this area addresses many different issues, uses many different methods, and explores the behavior of many different species, from insects to primates.
Comparative psychology is sometimes assumed to emphasize cross-species comparisons, including those between humans and animals. However, some researchers feel that direct comparisons should not be the sole focus of comparative psychology and that intense focus on a single organism to understand its behavior is just as desirable; if not more so. Donald Dewsbury reviewed the works of several psychologists and their definitions and concluded that the object of comparative psychology is to establish principles of generality focusing on both proximate and ultimate causation.
Counseling psychology is a psychological specialty that encompasses research and applied work in several broad domains: counseling process and outcome; supervision and training; career development and counseling; and prevention and health. Some unifying themes among counseling psychologists include a focus on assets and strengths, person–environment interactions, educational and career development, brief interactions, and a focus on intact personalities. In the United States, the premier scholarly journals of the profession are the Journal of Counseling Psychology and The Counseling Psychologist.
Developmental psychology is the scientific study of changes that occur in human beings over the course of their life. Originally concerned with infants and children, the field has expanded to include adolescence, adult development, aging, and the entire lifespan. This field examines change across a broad range of topics including motor skills and other psycho-physiological processes; cognitive development involving areas such as problem solving, moral understanding, and conceptual understanding; language acquisition; social, personality, and emotional development; and self-concept and identity formation. Some of the most famous developmental psychologists consist of Erik Erikson who studied psychosocial development. Erikson proposed the Psychosocial Stages in 1959. Another famous developmental psychology was Sigmund Freud who studied psychosexual development.
Educational psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of human learning. The study of learning processes, from both cognitive and behavioral perspectives, allows researchers to understand individual differences in intelligence, cognitive development, affect, motivation, self-regulation, and self-concept, as well as their role in learning. The field of educational psychology relies heavily on quantitative methods, including testing and measurement, to enhance educational activities related to instructional design, classroom management, and assessment, which serve to facilitate learning processes in various educational settings across the lifespan.
Experimental psychology refers to work done by those who apply experimental methods to the study of behavior and the processes that underlie it. Experimental psychologists employ human participants and animal subjects to study a great many topics, including, among others sensation & perception, memory, cognition, learning, motivation, emotion; developmental processes, social psychology, and the neural substrates of all of these.
Forensic psychology is the intersection between psychology and the justice system. It involves understanding fundamental legal principles, particularly with regard to expert witness testimony and the specific content area of concern (e.g., competence to stand trial, child custody and visitation, or workplace discrimination), as well as relevant jurisdictional considerations (e.g., in the United States, the definition of insanity in criminal trials differs from state to state) in order to be able to interact appropriately with judges, attorneys and other legal professionals. An important aspect of forensic psychology is the ability to testify in court as an expert witness, reformulating psychological findings into the legal language of the courtroom, providing information to legal personnel in a way that can be understood. Further, in order to be a credible witness the forensic psychologist must understand the philosophy, rules, and standards of the judicial system. Primary is an understanding of the adversarial system. There are also rules about hearsay evidence and most importantly, the exclusionary rule. Lack of a firm grasp of these procedures will result in the forensic psychologist losing credibility in the courtroom. A forensic psychologist can be trained in clinical, social, organizational or any other branch of psychology.
Health psychology is the study of psychological and behavioral processes in health, illness, and healthcare. It is concerned with understanding how psychological, behavioral, and cultural factors contribute to physical health and illness. Psychological factors can affect health directly. For example, chronically occurring environmental stressors affecting the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, cumulatively, can harm health. Behavioral factors can also affect a person's health. For example, certain behaviors can, over time, harm (smoking, excessive alcohol consumption) or enhance health (exercise, low fat diet). Health psychologists take a bio psychosocial approach. In other words, health psychologists understand health to be the product not only of biological processes (e.g., a virus, tumor, etc.) but also of psychological (e.g., thoughts and beliefs), behavioral (e.g., habits), and social processes (e.g., socioeconomic status and ethnicity).
Human Factors Psychology
Human factor psychology studies people in their workplace(ergonomics) to create a more productive and safe work place environment. Human factor psychology plays a key role in computing, product design, engineering and manufacturing.
Industrial Organizational Psychology
Industrial and organizational psychology (also known as I–O psychology, occupational psychology, work psychology, WO psychology, IWO psychology and business psychology) is the scientific study of human behavior in the workplace and applies psychological theories and principles to organizations. I-O psychologists are trained in the scientist–practitioner model. I-O psychologists contribute to an organization's success by improving the performance, satisfaction, safety, health and well-being of its employees. An I–O psychologist conducts research on employee behaviors and attitudes, and how these can be improved through hiring practices, training programs, feedback, and management systems. I–O psychologists also help organizations and their employees transition among periods of change and organization development.
I-O psychology is one of the 14 recognized specialties and proficiencies in professional psychology in the United States and is represented by Division 14 of the American Psychological Association (APA), known formally as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). In the UK, industrial and organizational psychologists are referred to as occupational psychologists and one of 7 'protected titles' and specializations in psychology regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. In Australia, the title organizational psychologist is also protected by law and is regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Organizational psychology is one of nine areas of specialist endorsement for psychology practice in Australia.Graduate programs at both the Masters and Doctorate level are offered worldwide. In the UK graduate degrees are accredited by the British Psychological Society and required as part of the process to become an occupational psychologist.In Europe someone with a specialist EuroPsy Certificate in Work and organizational Psychology is a fully qualified psychologist and an expert in the work psychology field with further advanced education and training.
Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies personality and its variation between individuals. Its areas of focus include:
- Construction of a coherent picture of the individual and their major psychological processes
- Investigation of individual psychological differences
- Investigation of human nature and psychological similarities between individuals
"Personality" is a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences their environment, cognitions, emotions, motivations, and behavioral science in various situations. The word "personality" originates from the Latin persona, which means mask. In i making changes the theatre of the ancient Latin-speaking world, the mask was not used as a plot device to disguise the identity of a character, but instead was a convention employed to represent or typify that character.
School psychology is a field that applies principles of educational psychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, community psychology, and applied behavior analysis to meet children's and adolescents' behavioral health and learning needs in a collaborative manner with educators and parents. School psychologists are educated in psychology, child and adolescent development, child and adolescent psychopathology, education, family and parenting practices, learning theories, and personality theories. They are knowledgeable about effective instruction and effective schools. They are trained to carry out psychological testing and psychoeducational assessment, counseling, and consultation, and in the ethical, legal and administrative codes of their profession.
In psychology, social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. In this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all psychological variables that are measurable in a human being. The statement that others' presence may be imagined or implied suggests that we are prone to social influence even when no other people are present, such as when watching television, or following internalized cultural norms. Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the interaction of mental states and immediate social situations. In general, social psychologists have a preference for laboratory-based, empirical findings. Social psychology theories tend to be specific and focused, rather than global and general.
Sport psychology is an interdisciplinary science that draws on knowledge from many related fields including biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology and psychology. It involves the study of how psychological factors affect performance and how participation in sport and exercise affect psychological and physical factors. In addition to instruction and training of psychological skills for performance improvement, applied sport psychology may include work with athletes, coaches, and parents regarding injury, rehabilitation, communication, team building, and career transitions.