What Is Psychology?
There’s a lot of confusion out there about psychology. According to some popular television programs and movies, psychologists are super-sleuths that can use their understanding of the human mind to solve crimes and predict a criminal’s next move. Other popular depictions present the psychologist as a gray and bearded older gentleman, seated in a stately office lined with books, who spends his days listening to clients ramble on about their difficult childhoods.
So what’s the truth about psychology? The fact is that there is a little bit of truth in these stereotypical portrayals, but there is actually a lot more to psychology than you might initially think. There is a tremendous diversity in psychology careers, and it is perhaps this enormous range of career paths that contributes to some of the misconceptions about psychology and what psychologists do. Sure, there are psychologists who help solve crimes and there are plenty of professionals who help people deal with mental health issues. But did you know that there are also psychologists who help create healthier workplaces or that design and implement public health programs? Or that there are others psychologists who investigate topics such as airplane safety, computer design, and military life?
Let’s start by answering the basic question:
What exactly psychology is?
Psychology is both an applied and academic field that studies the human mind and behavior. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain how we think, act and feel. As most people already realize, a large part of psychology is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to applications for psychology. In addition to mental health, psychology can be applied to a variety of issues that impact health and daily life including performance enhancement, self-help, ergonomics, motivation, productivity, and much more.