What Are The Various Types Of Psychology?

By Robert Porter

Updated May 23, 2019

Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault

Psychology is a vast area of study that spans across many different topics and can even intertwine with other disciplines, such as biology and anthropology. Because of this, several different niches exist and attempt to answer questions about the mind and behavior in specific contexts. This article will outline some of the types of psychology that you'll be sure to find interesting.

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Clinical Psychology

One of the subfields that many people might be somewhat familiar with already is clinical psychology. This goal of clinical psychologists is to help diagnose and treat the different mental conditions that people face, mainly through therapy, rather than prescription drugs.

However, clinical psychologists can work closely with psychiatrists (those who can prescribe drugs) and even help them with their diagnoses. To do this, these types of psychologists might be tasked with carrying out psychological tests and non-drug treatments. [1]

A clinical psychologist might work with those affected by depression, anxiety, addiction, and even learning disorders, to name a few of the common conditions that are treated by professionals in this area.

Because of the demand for their services, clinical psychologists tend to be abundant and can be found in different capacities, such as schools and hospitals.

Forensic Psychology

If you're a fan of crime television, forensic psychology is another field that you may have heard of already. A forensic psychologist works in conjunction with the justice system and can help understand criminal behavior.

For example, a forensic psychologist might interview a criminal to get a look into his or her head at the time of an event. By doing so, they can learn what their motives might have been and evaluate how much of a threat they pose on society.

These individuals can also help victims of a crime find closure and even prevent future crimes from occurring. Outside of criminal law, forensic psychologists are also often involved with family law, such as custody cases.

Lastly, they might be involved with criminal profiling sometimes; however, this is usually assigned to law enforcement officers who are trained to do so. [2]

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Neuropsychology

Neuropsychologists are interested in the anatomy and the mechanics of the brain and nervous system and how it affects one's cognitive abilities and behavior.

One of the most frequent issues that neuropsychologists deal with is head trauma. Whether it's through a car accident or high-contact sports, any brain injury can potentially have profound effects on how someone thinks and behaves.

To examine the cognitive effects, a specialist can perform a neurological assessment to judge a brain's performance in the aftermath of accidents, diseases like Alzheimer's, and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. [3]

Additionally, a neuropsychologist has a lot of advanced tools at his or her disposal and can monitor the electrical activity in a patient's brain through means such as EMG and EEG, which stand for electromyogram and electroencephalogram, respectively.

Occupational Psychology

Sometimes referred to as an Industrial Organizational psychologist, an occupational psychologist is concerned with how humans behave in the workplace. Typically, they are contracted by a business to reform their practices and make work-life better for employers and employees.

Whether it's on an individual level or in a group setting, people will be examined, and the information that is retrieved can be used to further the success of an organization and even solve problems for them. For example, this type of psychology can be involved in training programs or seminars that are designed to improve teamwork or manage stress.

Certain professions are inherently more stressful than others and would benefit from an occupational psychologist. A study involving a British police force found that occupational stress resulted in lower job satisfaction, but coping strategies directly improved this. [4]

Many companies, especially large corporations, will also opt for an occupational psychologist to help create a happier and more productive work environment because this will have a positive effect on profits.

Evolutionary Psychology

Evolutionary psychology is a fascinating field for many individuals because it helps answer questions about life history. Thus, it utilizes ideas from biology, anthropology, and more!

An evolutionary psychologist works to understand how the human mind has changed over time through natural selection. Our ancestors have faced many challenges in the past, and because of this, the brain has adapted in response to these issues.

To find explanations for our behavior, these types of psychologists can examine current traits that we have and look at the past. For instance, the primal need to make friends stems from the need to form alliances for food and protection, as well as increasing one's likelihood to find a mate.

They can also postulate what the future might hold for us too; since most of us have an instinctual fear of dangerous animals, it's possible that thousands of years from now, we could develop an aversion to vehicles, because of the risks they pose. [5]

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Social Psychology

In general, people's behavior tends to change based on who they are around, whether we are aware of it or not.

This branch of psychology examines how our brain can shift gears during various social settings; certain situations or individuals can greatly alter one's thoughts and behaviors, including one's decision making.

Groups are a great example of this, and it can bring out different responses in the individuals within it. Some people might become shy and more withdrawn in large groups, while others may become more sociable. Through social psychology, we have learned that such responses can be traced to a fear of being judged or the desire to fit in.

Similarly, public speaking is another well-researched topic in social psychology, and studies show that people think they look nervous than they appear to be, which is known as the illusion of transparency. [6] Nonetheless, it's believed that public speaking anxiety is the norm, rather than the opposite.

Health Psychology

Biological factors, like bacteria and viruses, aren't always the sole reason for someone's health status; in fact, social and cultural issues can influence a person's well-being.

Take stress for example. It can be caused by multiple different things, such as work, relationships, finances, and bereavement to name a few. Depending on how one copes with stress, it can have a significantly negative effect on someone's overall health. Someone who is overly stressed might not have an appetite and increase his or her risk of cardiovascular problems.

Behaviors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug use are also great examples of how certain habits can result in serious health consequences, and a social psychologist might research the risk factors for these kinds of activities. [7]

In addition to examining the relationship between human behavior and wellness, a health psychologist may work with patients in finding solutions to their issues. Similarly to a clinical psychologist, this is another one of the types of psychology that also blends the field with medicine and may find work in the same capacities.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychologists are dedicated to the study of learning behaviors, and thus, are commonly found in schools for all ages, but are primarily known for working with younger individuals.

A couple of areas that an educational psychologist may be interested in are gifted learners and those with learning disabilities. Each has different ways of retaining information, and these types of psychologists will try to understand their learning methods.

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In addition to this, an educational psychologist can help improve student's learning experiences and better their outcome in school. Even gifted and talented students who naturally excel in academics, art, or athleticism may still be separated from students in their class and require special attention, depending on how far ahead they are in comparison to others in the same age group.

Typically attending school will not be enough to stimulate these students and special programs will be required. According to the National Association For Gifted Students, a "coordinated and comprehensive structure of formal and informal services" is necessary to facilitate gifted learning [8].

Consumer Psychologist

No matter where you reside in the world, purchases and material exchanges are constantly being made, and people have certain buying habits.

A consumer psychologist studies these specific behaviors along with what influences them. For example, if people prefer one brand of soft drink over a different one, they want to know why this is the case. Businesses may employ one of these to learn about these kinds of trends so they can better serve the customer's needs.

Emotions can also influence how and why we buy things, and a consumer psychologist may be interested in behaviors such as retail therapy, which is the act of buying things to cope with the negativity and stresses of life. [9]

Out of all of the types of psychology, this is one of the oldest subfields; however, it is also a growing one, especially with the rise of e-commerce. Related to this, a consumer psychologist might want to understand why some people prefer to shop online rather than in-person, or vice-versa.

Conclusion

Being one of the broadest fields, psychology allows people to branch out and specialize in certain areas that interest them the most. These are some of the major types of psychology that one can become involved with and try to address specific questions regarding behavior and even help people.

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Whether you're attracted to the medical aspect of clinical psychology or you're fascinated by evolutionary psychology, to name a couple of examples, each subfield has something great to offer and is worth pursuing.

If you've enjoyed this article, and importantly learned something new about the different types of psychologists out there, consider reading more informative articles like this one on BetterHelp.com. On top of articles like this one, BetterHelp provides professional advice and counseling from licensed professionals.

References

  1. Rahmattullah Khan bin Abdul Wahab Khan. (2008). Why do we Need More Clinical Psychologists? The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, 15(2). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341881/.
  2. Torres, A. N., Boccaccini, M. T., & Miller, H. A. (2006). Perceptions of the validity and utility of criminal profiling among forensic psychologists and psychiatrists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(1), 51-58. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.37.1.51
  3. Harvey, P. D., Ph.D. (2012). Clinical applications of neuropsychological assessment. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 14(1). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341654/.
  4. Ortega, A., Brenner, S., & Leather, P. (2007). Occupational Stress, Coping and Personality in the Police: An SEM Study [Abstract]. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 9(1), 36-50. doi:10.1350/ijps.2007.9.1.36
  5. Hagen, E. H. (2002). What is evolutionary psychology? Retrieved April 3, 2019, from http://human.projects.anth.ucsb.edu/epfaq/ep.html
  6. MacInnis, Mackinnon, & MacIntyre. (2010). The illusion of transparency and normative beliefs about anxiety during public speaking. Current Research in Social Psychology, 15(4). Retrieved from https://uiowa.edu/crisp/sites/uiowa.edu.crisp/files/15.4.pdf.
  7. Kaplan, R. M. (2009). Health Psychology: Where Are We And Where Do We Go From Here? Mens Sana Monographs,7(1), 3. doi:10.4103/0973-1229.43584
  8. Gessner, S. L., Ph.D. (2007). Meeting the Needs of Academically Advanced Students: When School Is Not Enough. VincentCurtis Educational Register. Retrieved from https://www.giftedstudy.org/resources/pdf/article_gessner_educational_register.pdf.
  9. Lewis, K. (2017). The Influence of Emotions on Our Shopping Habits. Siegel Institute Ethics Research Scholars, 1(3). Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=siers.

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