The Four Goals Of Psychology: What Are They?

Don't Go Into Therapy Without Setting Some Important Goals to Work Towards!
The Right Online Therapist Will Help You Achieve Goals.


Psychology is a science, which focuses on understanding a person's emotion, personality and mind through scientific studies, experiments, observation and research. There are four goals of psychology and they are as follows:

  1. Describe

Describing a problem, an issue or behaviour is the first goal of psychology. Descriptions help psychologists to distinguish between normal and abnormal behaviour as well as gain a more accurate understanding and perspective on human and animal behaviour, actions and thoughts. A variety of research methods such as case studies, surveys, self-tests and natural observation are used to achieve this goal.

  1. Explain

Explaining behaviour goes hand in hand with describing it. This helps in providing answers to questions about why people react in a certain way, why they do the things they do and the factors which affect personality, mental health, actions etc. With the help of scientific experiments - to make sure they get the same results every time - psychologists formulate mini and grand theories to explain aspects of human behaviour and psychology.

  1. Predict

By understanding why something happens and how it happens, psychologists are better able to predict what will happen or how someone will react or behave. They are able to foresee a pattern of behaviour. Prediction gives them the ability to change or control behaviour.

  1. Change / Control:

This final goal is the most important goal in psychology. It works to impact and bring about changes in people's lives and influence their behaviour.

These four goals are designed to improve a person's life and bring about positive changes by weeding out negative things.



A perfect example of the four goals in action and how they can be useful in our everyday life is seen in Ivan Pavlov's dog experiment, better known as classical conditioning. Pavlov noticed his dogs would start to salivate whenever they saw the lab technician bringing their food. He deduced that this was a learned behaviour since the dogs hadn't initially reacted that way. But over time, the dogs had learned that if the technician would bring them food, then seeing the technician automatically got them excited.

Pavlov decided to test this theory by ringing a bell every time the dogs were fed. After repeating this for several times, the dogs began to associate the sound of the ringing bell with food and began to salivate every time the bell was rung. Through his experiment, Pavlov successfully managed to change the dogs' behaviour and teach them a new one. This theory has become one of the most significant breakthroughs in psychology. The four goals are used in one way or another in almost every aspect of someone's life, sometimes even unconsciously.

For instance, by using Pavlov's theory and by following the four goals of psychology, people are capable of changing behaviour and getting the results they want (both good and bad). For example, parents and teachers use these steps to discipline children and to demonstrate good behaviour. Couples can use them in their relationships. Companies use these methods with employees and for training programs etc. These goals are also used in rehabilitation programs, psychotherapy as well as other treatment programs.

Don't Go Into Therapy Without Setting Some Important Goals to Work Towards!
The Right Online Therapist Will Help You Achieve Goals.


The four goals can also be used independently in your personal life if you're working hard to change a habit or to overcome a difficulty. Sometimes, it's easier to get through a problem with guidance from a professional, but you may feel shy or hesitant about seeking in person help. Many online resources such as Better Help are available to provide online counselling and support.

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