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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Branches of Psychology

Branches of Psychology:
Psychology is not a single enterprise. Rather, it is a coalition of specialities, each identified by the adjective that precedes the word ‘psychology’. So, for example, developmental psychology encompasses agerelated changes across the lifespan, clinical psychology focuses on the causes and treatment of psychological disorders and adjustment problems, physiological psychology investigates the association between physiology and behaviour/mind, cognitive psychology looks at basic mental processes, and so on. The main list of subfields of psychology are the following:
Abnormal psychology: Nature and development of abnormal behaviour, thoughts, feelings associated with distress or impaired functioning that is not a culturally expected response to an event
Behaviour genetics: Impact of heredity on animal and human behaviour
Clinical psychology: Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders and disabilities
Cognitive neuroscience: Neuronal basis of mental processes
Cognitive psychology: Study of the processes by which sensory information is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, retrieved and used
Developmental psychology the study of age-related changes across the life span and clinical psychology focuses on the causes and treatment of psychological disorders and adjustment problems such as depression and phobias ; and physiological psychology investigates the association between the brain and behaviour; cognitive psychology examines fundamental mental processes such as perception, thinking, memory, language.
Community psychology: Person–environment interactions and the ways society impacts upon individual and community functioning. Focuses on social issues, social institutions, and other settings that influence individuals, groups, and organizations. Emphasizes changing social systems to prevent psychological problems
Comparative psychology: The study of behaviour in different species
Consumer psychology: The effects of advertising, marketing, packaging, and display on the behaviour of purchasers
Counselling psychology: Traditionally associated with the field of education, counselling psychology may include vocational guidance as well as helping persons resolve problems or role issues related to work or school or family matters
Cross-cultural psychology: Impact of culture on human behaviour
Developmental psychology: Change in behavioural and mental processes over the life span
Developmental psychopathology: The origins and course of individual patterns of behavioural maladaptation whatever the age of onset, causes or transformations in behavioural manifestation
Educational psychology (also called school psychology): Diagnosis and treatment of educational, emotional, and behavioural problems in children and teenagers
Environmental psychology: Relationships between human behaviour and the physical environment
Ergonomic psychology (also called human factors and engineering psychology): Design of tasks, equipment, and work places to maximize performance and well-being and to minimize fatigue, boredom and accidents
Evolutionary psychology: Applies an evolutionary perspective to understanding human behaviour and mental processes
Family psychology: Study of the family as a system, and of relationships within the system
Forensic and criminological psychology: Psychological aspects of legal processes and crimes
Health psychology: Lifestyle and physical health, the identification of psychological causes and correlates of health and illness, psychological aspects of health promotion and the prevention and treatment of illness
Mathematical/quantitative psychology: Development of mathematical models of behaviour and derivation of statistical methods for analysing data collected by psychologists
Medical psychology (also referred to as behavioural medicine): Psychological aspects of medical practice, the doctor–patient relationship, reactions to medical advice,
improving treatment compliance. Psychological issues that arise in medical treatment of children and adolescents have given rise to the field of pediatric psychology Neuropsychology: Study of the impact of disorders of the nervous system (especially the brain) on behaviour
Organizational psychology: Study of structures and functions of organizations and the activities of the people within them. Included in its remit are job satisfaction, employee attitudes and motivation, and their effects on absenteeism, labour turnover, and organizational productivity and efficiency
Personality psychology/Individual Differences: Study of characteristics that make each person unique
Social psychology: Investigation of the reciprocal influence of the individual and his or her social context
Sport/exercise psychology: Reciprocal effects of psychological factors on sports/exercise

The number of specialities make psychology a wide-reaching subject with rather fuzzy boundaries. So, you may well ask, ‘What is the glue that holds psychology together as a discipline?’ If there is any one thing, it is psychology’s reliance on a philosophical view known as empiricism. (empiricism the belief that knowledge comes from observation and experience, and sensory experience is the source of all knowledge) Empiricists believe that knowledge comes from observation and experience (the Greek empeiria literally means ‘experience’).
This viewpoint tells us that all hypotheses about human functioning should have an observable consequence, which can be confirmed or refuted by data collection and statistical testing. Psychologists are therefore united by their commitment to empirical research as a means of achieving their shared goal of understanding, predicting and changing human behaviour. To this end, they study not only humans but numerous other species too, including fruit flies, cockroaches, rats, cats, dogs, horses and our closest relative, the chimpanzee. Some psychologists use a laboratory, and others study creatures in their natural habitat.

Another way to address these question is to look for overlap in the content of various psychology textbooks. A psychologist called J.D. Matarazzo did this, and found a consensus on ‘the core content in every generation since 1890’ (despite dramatic increases in knowledge base. Four major content areas were represented over this 100-year period:
1. biological bases of behaviour, 2. cognitive and affective processes,
3. developmental processes, and 4. social bases of behaviour.

Psychology as a Science

Psychology as a Science:
Psychology comes complete with a full array of pedagogical features to enhance the content and make it easier to absorb. As this is the most comprehensive introductory psychology textbook on the market, there is a great deal of information here – our pedagogical features make this information more accessible, giving you the freedom and ability to go into as little or as much depth as you want, when you want. Psychology is made up of a wide range of sub-disciplines, and switching between them can often be difficult. Psychology is present in every aspect of human behaviour. It is everywhere you look and an intrinsic part of everything you do.

Psychology is often defined as ‘the science of behaviour’. Certainly, psychologists invest a considerable amount of time and effort in observing and measuring behaviour. But they are also interested in what people say about their experiences.
Rather than studying a person’s behaviour in isolation, they use the behaviour to find out about mental and biological processes, motives and personality traits. Therefore a definition of psychology as ‘the science of behaviour’ is inadequate.
So, what is psychology?? One way to answer this question is to start with the word itself. ‘Psychology’literally means ‘science of the mind’ (psycho meaning ‘mind’, or ‘mental’, and -logy meaning‘science’). A better definition of psychology might be ‘the science of behaviour and mental processes’, and indeed this is the definition offered in most introductory psychology textbooks.

Here is a selection of the many activities that psychologists engage in and the settings in which they do so:
-Teaching and developing training programmes (universities, colleges, hospitals, industry, government) -Scientific research (universities, private and government research institutes, industry) - Diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems (hospitals, community service agencies, private practice)-Personality testing, vocational testing and test development (personnel departments of organizations, consulting firms) - Advising government on policies (all levels of government) - Diagnosis and treatment of learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural problems that impair education (nurseries, schools, special education units, universities) - Designing machines, computers, systems (e.g. assembly lines), traffic signs etc. that are optimal for human use (industry, government) - Providing expertise to the legal system (prisons, courts, consulting firms) - Developing advertising and marketing strategies (business) - Helping athletes improve performance (professional sports teams, government sports institutes)

Given this diversity of activities it should be no surprise that it is impossible to identify a common set of characteristics (or even a single characteristic) that sets psychologists apart from sociologists, anthropologists, biologists and so on. What does this mean for you, as you begin your study of psychology!! It means that the subject you have chosen to explore is more complex than it might appear at first sight – which makes it all the more fascinating.