Psychology is a subject that fascinates academics and the public alike, seemingly bridging the gaps between science and the human soul. When discussing the applications of psychology, UCT Professor Johan Louw described psychology as the hub of science that connects almost all of the biological, social, mathematical and behavioral sciences, making it an incredibly large and diverse field. To understand just how broad and deep the subject psychology truly is, let’s take a closer look at some of its different fields.
Psychology is a subject that fascinates academics and the public alike, seemingly bridging the gaps between science and the human soul. When discussing the applications of psychology, UCT Professor Johan Louw described psychology as the hub of science that connects almost all of the biological, social, mathematical and behavioral sciences, making it an incredibly large and diverse field. To understand just how broad and deep the subject psychology truly is, let’s take a closer look at some of its different fields. Key takeaways Broadly defined, psychology is the study of mind and behavior
Different branches of psychology have emerged to help study different topics of interest within the field. Psychology can be broadly classified into 16 branches
1913, a researcher named Hideyo Noguchi discovered the bacterium responsible for syphilis in the brain of a deceased mental hospital patient. At the time, syphilis was a horrifying condition with no reliable treatment that was believed to drive its victims insane. Why is this important? Well, because this was the first time someone had found biological evidence of what was considered at the time to be a psychological problem. For the first time, the scientific world had reason to investigate the relationship between our physiology and our psychological health. Since then, the various fields of biological psychology have studied the genetic and physiological mechanisms of behavior in humans; it is an area that is interested in the “nature” rather than “nurture” of psychology. As a field, it has made enormous contributions to our understanding of where mental health problems come from and how they develop.
Also known as abnormal or clinical psychology, this branch of psychology involves the categorization, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems. Despite being only one part of a huge discipline, it attracts a lot of public interest, often giving the incorrect impression that it is what psychology is all about! The field of psychopathology is often associated with clinical psychologists, given that they often work is hospitals and mental health clinics, where diagnosis and treatment takes place. In reality, psychopathology is a field that all psychologists are familiar with. At what point do behaviors become abnormal and what do we use as a foundation for normality? What life circumstances make mental health problems worse, or better? How do we help people live with long term conditions in healthy and adaptive ways? These are some of the questions you are likely to answer within this field.
This field of psychology combines neuroscience and the study of psychology to learn how our brain and our cognitive, behavioral and emotional functioning are related. Studying the roles that brain structures and neurotransmitters play this fields helps us understand how neurological problems can affect our daily living and how we can address them. Interestingly, late in 2019, it was announced that one could formally register as neuropsychologist in South Africa, making it the most recent addition to the recognized categories of psychologists. These psychologists will most likely to work in medical and research settings, where they will consult on and study neurological problems like traumatic brain injuries, strokes and neurodegenerative diseases. Is it true that one’s personality can change after a brain injury? How do we prevent cognitive decline associated with aging? How are neurotransmitters and mood related? These are some of the questions the field of neuropsychology has sought the answers to.
4. Educational Psychology
Educational psychology is the scientific study of human behavior in an educational setting and, as such, it is interested in determining and harnessing the learning potential of people. In learning settings such as schools and universities, educational psychologists might evaluate educational programs, conduct research on factors that affect learning and consult on cases where students or pupils have different learning needs. In South Africa, an educational psychologist is one of the six categories of psychologist that one can register as, following the completion of a recognized master’s degree. When compared to other psychologists, educational psychologists tend to make more use of psychometric assessments, like IQ tests, in their day to day work. Together with in-depth interviewing, these tests help to create a holistic picture of learners who are gifted, neuro-diverse or having a tough time at school and make recommendations how to best approach their learning.
Tell us about your thoughtsWrite message