Psychology: definitions, branches, history and how to become one (2023)

Psychology, according to the American Psychological Association, is the study of the mind and behavior. It is the study of the mind, how it works and how it affects behavior.

ÖWHAT addsthat it "encompasses all aspects of human experience, from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to the care of the elderly".

Psychologists and psychiatrists work together to help people withMental healthconditions, but they are not exactly the same.

A psychologist treats a patient through psychotherapy and helps relieve symptoms through behavior changes. The role of the psychiatrist, being a doctor, is more focused on prescribing medication and other interventions to treat mental illness.

Fast facts on psychology

  • Psychology is the study of behavior and the mind.
  • There are different types of psychology such as cognitive, forensic, social and developmental psychology.
  • A person with a medical condition that affects their mental health may benefit from evaluation and treatment by a mental health professional.
  • A psychologist can offer treatment that focuses on behavioral adjustments.
  • A psychiatrist is a doctor who is likely to focus on the medical treatment of mental health problems.

Psychology: definitions, branches, history and how to become one (1)
A psychologist's work can range from advising people with anxiety to advising companies on how to build better teams.

The mind is very complex and the disorders associated with it can be difficult to treat.

Thought processes, emotions, memories, dreams, perceptions, etc. cannot be seen physically like a rash or a heart defect.

Although physical signs of some mental health problems can be seen, such as B. the plaques that develop with itAlzheimer, many theories of psychology are based on the observation of human behavior.

a practicing psychologistwill meetPatients conduct investigations to find out what their concerns are and what is troubling them, and recommend or offer treatment, such as counseling and psychotherapy.

Psychologists can also have other roles. You can conduct studies to advise health officials and others on social and other policies, assess children with learning disabilities at school, run workshops to prevent bullying, work with corporate recruitment teams, and more.

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There are different types of psychology that serve different purposes. There's no set way to classify them, but here are some common types.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology integrates science, theory, and practice to understand, predict, and alleviate adjustment problems, disabilities, and conditions. It favors adjustment, adaptation and personal development.

A clinical psychologist focuses on the intellectual, emotional, biological, psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of human performance throughout a person's life, across different cultures and socioeconomic levels.

Clinical psychology can help us to understand, prevent and alleviate psychologically induced ailments or dysfunctions and promote individual well-being and personal development.

Psychological assessment and psychotherapy are central to the practice of clinical psychology, but clinical psychologists are often involved in research, training, forensic testimony, and other areas as well.

cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology studies internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, learning, and language. It examines how people think, perceive, communicate, remember and learn. It is closely related toneuroscience, philosophy and linguistics.

Cognitive psychologists study how people take in, process, and store information.

Practical uses include improving memory, increasing accuracy in decision-making, or setting up educational programs to enhance learning.

developmental psychology

This is the scientific study of the systematic psychological changes a person experiences throughout their lifetime, often referred to as human development.

It is aimed not only at babies and toddlers, but also at teenagers, adults and seniors.

Factors include motor skills, problem solving, moral understanding, language acquisition, emotions, personality, self-concept, and identity formation.

It also discusses innate mental structures versus learning through experience, or how a person's characteristics interact with environmental factors and how this affects development.

Developmental psychology overlaps with fields such as linguistics.


Evolutionary psychology studies how human behavior, such as language, has been influenced by psychological adaptations during evolution.

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An evolutionary psychologist believes that many human psychological traits are adaptive because they have allowed us to survive for thousands of years.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology involves the application of psychology to criminal investigations and the law.

A forensic psychologist practices psychology as a science in the criminal justice system and civil courts.

It is about assessing the psychological factors that can influence a case or behavior and presenting the results to the court.

psychological health

Health psychology is also called behavioral medicine or medical psychology.

Analyzes how behavior, biology, and social context affect disease and health.

Typically, a doctor first looks at the biological causes of a disease, while a health psychologist focuses on the whole person and what affects their state of health. This may include your socioeconomic status, education and background, and behaviors that may affect the disease, such as: B. following instructions and taking medication.

Health psychologists often work alongside other healthcare professionals in clinical settings.


Neuropsychology analyzes the structure and function of the brain in relation to psychological processes and behavior. A neuropsychology may be involved when a condition involves brain damage and assessments that record electrical activity in the brain.

A neuropsychological evaluation is used to determine if a person is likely to experience behavioral problems after a suspected or diagnosed brain injury, such as:AVK.

The results may allow a doctor to provide treatment that may help individuals achieve possible improvements in the cognitive damage that has occurred.

industrial psychology

Industrial or organizational psychologists are involved in evaluating and making recommendations about people's performance in work and education.

They help organizations find more effective ways of working and understand how people and groups behave at work.

This information can help improve effectiveness, efficiency, job satisfaction, and employee retention.

social psychology

Social psychology uses scientific methods to understand how social influences affect human behavior. Attempts to explain how feelings, behavior, and thoughts are affected by the real, imagined, or implied presence of other people.

A social psychologist studies group behavior, social cognition, nonverbal behavior, conformity, aggression, prejudice, and leadership. Social perception and social interaction are considered keys to understanding social behavior.

Othersbranches belongMilitary, consumer, educational, cross-cultural and environmental psychology. The number of branches continues to grow.

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In a philosophical context, psychology existed in ancient Greece, Egypt, India, Persia and China thousands of years ago.

I am 387 BC BC,suggested Platothat the brain is where mental processes take place, and in 335 B.C. Aristotle suggested it was the heart.

Avicenna, the famous Muslim physician, born in 980 AD,examined and treated Epilepsy, nightmares and bad memory. It is said to be the first hospitals to treat psychiatric problemscreated by Islamic doctorsin the Middle Ages.

In 1774, Franz Mesmer suggested that hypnosis, or "mesmerism," might help cure some types of mental illness.

In 1793 Philippe Pinel released the first patients with mental health problems from prison, a move that marked a step towards more humane treatment.

In 1879, Wilhelm Wundt, Germany, established psychology as a distinct experimental field of study. He created the first laboratory for psychological research exclusively at the University of Leipzig. Today, Wundt is considered the father of psychology.

In 1890, the American philosopher William James published a book entitled Principles of Psychology. It has been discussed by psychologists around the world for many decades. That same year, New York State passed the State Care Act, requiring people with mental health problems to leave impoverished homes and go to the hospital for treatment.

In 1890 the American Psychological Association (APA) was founded under the direction of G. Stanley Hall.

Hermann Abbingaus, who lived from 1850 to 1909 and worked at the University of Berlin, was the first psychologist to comprehensively research memory.

Ivan Pavlov, who lived from 1849 to 1936, conducted the famous experiment showing that dogs salivate when waiting for food and introduced the concept of "conditioning".

The Austrian Sigmund Freud, who lived from 1856 to 1939, introduced the field of psychoanalysis, a form of psychotherapy. He used interpretive methods, introspection, and clinical observation to understand the mind.

He focused on unconscious conflict resolution, mental anxiety and psychopathology. Freud argued that the unconscious is responsible for most people's thoughts and behavior and for mental health problems.

E. B. Titchener, an American, was a strong believer in structuralism, which focuses on the question, "What is consciousness?"

William James and John Dewey were strong believers in functionalism, which addressed the question, "What is consciousness for?"

(Video) History of Psychology | Psychology

The debate between functionalists and structuralists led to a rapidly growing interest in psychology in the United States and elsewhere, and the establishment of the first psychology laboratory in the United States at Johns Hopkins University.


In 1913, an American psychologist, John B. Watson, started a new movement that changed the focus of psychology.

Behavior, he argued, is not the result of internal mental processes but the result of our response to the environment.

Behaviorism focused on how people learn new behaviors from the environment.


Humanists viewed behaviorism and psychoanalytic theory as highly dehumanizing.

Rather than being victims of the environment or the unconscious, they proposed that humans are inherently good and that our own mental processes play an active role in our behavior.

The humanist movement places great emphasis on emotions, free will, and a subjective view of experience.

cognitive theory

Introduced in the 1970s, it is considered the newest school of thought in psychology.

Cognitive theorists believe that we take in information from our environment through our senses and then mentally process, organize, manipulate, remember and relate the data to the information already stored.

Cognitive theory applies to language, memory, learning, perceptual systems, mental disorders, and dreams.


Psychologists today study all of these approaches and choose from each approach the one that seems best for a given situation.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a psychologist in the United States can: apermitted to practicewith a PhD in Psychology from an accredited university. Also, each state has licensing requirements.

Read the article in Spanish.


What do you learn in history of psychology? ›

Studying the field's successes and mistakes, alongside today's emerging findings, teaches students how to think critically about psychology, they say. Psychology history also demonstrates how the field began and developed in response to modern culture, politics, economics and current events.

How did psychology become a field of study? ›

Psychology emerged as a field of knowledge in the late nineteenth century as a progression from the fields of physiology and psychophysics. Many early psychologists were trained as physiologists, and were exploring the nature and function of the nervous system.

How to get into psychology? ›

You'll need a first or upper second class degree, and evidence of excellent research skills to apply. You'll also need relevant work experience. In some specialisms this could mean a minimum of 12 months working in a relevant role before you begin a postgraduate course.

What are the 8 areas of psychology? ›

  • #1 - Abnormal Psychology. ...
  • #2 - Biopsychology. ...
  • #3 - Social Psychology. ...
  • #4 - Cognitive Psychology. ...
  • #5 - Developmental Psychology. ...
  • #6 - Personality Psychology. ...
  • #7- Forensic Psychology. ...
  • #8 - Industrial-Organizational Psychology.
Dec 2, 2021

What is history in psychology? ›

Summary. Historical psychology claims that the mind has a history, that is, that our ways of thinking, reasoning, perceiving, feeling, and acting are not necessarily universal or invariable, but are instead subject to modifications over time and space.

Do you need history for psychology? ›

There are no specific subjects needed, but Life Science or Biology will come as an advantage because, psychology has a lot of focus on the human brain and sensory systems. If you have an NQF level 4 certificate with an Admissions Point Score (APS) of over 21+ points, you are likely to qualify for a psychology degree.

Why history taking is important in psychology? ›

Objectives: The history taking will enable the clinician to organise the patient's story, filter the information which links to common musculoskeletal disorders by means of clinical reasoning, to fully understand the patient's present health status and to form a provisional diagnosis.

How did psychology begin? ›

So how did psychology get its start? Wilhelm Wundt founded the first exclusive psychology laboratory in 1879; it was a laboratory that conducted experiments related to matters in experimental psychology. However, the study of, and interest in, human behavior has been with us probably since humans walked the earth.

What are the main roots of psychology? ›

Psychology derives its roots from ancient Greek culture. It literally means “the study of the mind.” According to modern day psychologists, the science of behavior and mental processes is called psychology.

Who started the study of psychology? ›

Two men, working in the 19th century, are generally credited as being the founders of psychology as a science and academic discipline that was distinct from philosophy. Their names were Wilhelm Wundt and William James.

Can I become a psychologist without a degree? ›

Becoming a Qualified Psychologist

Working in psychology is a professional career. This means that you need to hold specific qualifications to practise in this field. To become a psychologist, you will need to have an undergraduate degree in psychology that has been accredited by The British Psychological Society.

Does psychology require math? ›

Most psychology undergraduate programs have a math requirement — but don't let this deter you from pursuing an online psychology degree.

What GPA is needed for psychology? ›

Psychology is the second most popular major in the country. That means the competition for jobs is high. In order to compete with other recent graduates, you would want to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in addition to other types of experience (internships, research, involvement, etc.)

How many types of concepts are there psychology? ›

There are five different psychological concepts. They are biological, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and humanistic.

What are the 10 approaches to psychology? ›

There are ten different approaches to psychology. The historical approaches include: Structuralism, Functionalism, Gestalt, and Behaviorism; while the modern approaches are: the Biological approach, Cognitive approach, Behavioral approach, Psychodynamic approach, and Humanistic approach.

What are the four big ideas in psychology? ›

Big idea 1 - Critical thinking is smart thinking. Big idea 2 - Behavior is a biopsychosocial event. Big idea 3 - We operate with a two-track mind. Big idea 4 - Psychology explores human strengths as well as challenges.

What are the 5 pillars of psychology? ›

  • mental and physical health.
  • cognitive.
  • biological.
  • social and personality.
  • developmental.

How do I start a career in psychology? ›

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is required in Psychology. The curriculum focuses on personality development, psychotherapy, stress management, and neuro-psychology. Postgraduate specialisation is available, with an MA or M.Sc. in Psychology, Social Work, or Counselling.

What are the 9 Applied Psychology? ›

Some of the areas of applied psychology include counseling psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, engineering psychology, occupational health psychology, legal psychology, school psychology, sports psychology, community psychology, neuropsychology, medical psychology and clinical psychology, evolutionary ...

Do history and psychology go together? ›

History and Psychology combines the study of the past and the human mind and behaviour. You will explore the social, economic, political, and cultural forces that have shaped global history as well as the biological influences and social pressures that affect how people think, act, and feel.

What is cognitive psychology history? ›

Cognitive psychology is the scientific investigation of human cognition, that is, all our mental abilities – perceiving, learning, remembering, thinking, reasoning, and understanding. The term “cognition” stems from the Latin word “ cognoscere” or "to know".

Can you study history and psychology? ›

Combining your history and psychology studies gives you a wide range of modules to choose from. We teach social, cultural, and political history from the early modern period through to the present day, focusing in particular on the British Isles, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and India.

What course should I take to become a psychologist? ›

Students who want to pursue a degree in BS in Psychology are encouraged to take the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) strand under the Academic track. The curriculum focuses on human behavior, literature, education, politics, liberal arts, and society.

Is it hard to study psychology? ›

Psychology is one of the more difficult degrees and many of your assignments will require you to cite your sources and will require you to back up a lot of the arguments that you have.

How long is a psychology degree? ›

A bachelor's degree in psychology is an undergraduate-level degree that typically takes four years to complete. At many universities, students can choose between a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree.

What is the most important idea in the history of psychology? ›

One of the most influential schools of thought within psychology's history was behaviorism. Behaviorism focused on making psychology an objective science by studying overt behavior and deemphasizing the importance of unobservable mental processes.

Why is it important to study the history of cognitive psychology? ›

Recap. Findings from cognitive psychology help us understand how people think, including how they acquire and store memories. By knowing more about how these processes work, psychologists can develop new ways of helping people with cognitive problems.

What are five significant events from the history of psychology? ›

History of Psychology: Timeline
  • 1879. First psychology laboratory. ...
  • 1883. First American psychology laboratory. ...
  • 1886. First doctorate in psychology. ...
  • 1888. First professor of psychology. ...
  • 1892. APA founded. ...
  • 1896. Functionalism. ...
  • 1896. First psychology clinic. ...
  • 1900. Interpretation of Dreams.

What was psychology first called? ›

Their work was called psychophysics, and it introduced methods for measuring the relationship between physical stimuli and human perception that would serve as the basis for the new science of psychology (Fancher & Rutherford, 2011).

How did psychology evolve? ›

Psychology evolved from philosophy, science, medicine and theology. Psychology evolved out of a coalescence of natural science and the branch of philosophy known as epistemology or the theory of knowledge. In the beginning, psychology was a 3-way synthesis of physics, physiology and mental philosophy.

When did psychology become? ›

Psychology Emerges as a Separate Discipline

He later opened the world's first psychology lab in 1879 at the University of Leipzig. This event is generally considered the official start of psychology as a separate and distinct scientific discipline.

What is the oldest branch of psychology? ›

Psychoanalysis is one of the oldest branches of psychology. It grew out of the work of the famed psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that people were influenced by unconscious forces.

What is the most important part of psychology? ›

Among the major goals of psychology are to describe, explain, predict, and improve human behavior. Some psychologists accomplish this by contributing to our basic understanding of how people think, feel, and behave. Others work in applied settings to solve real-world problems that have an impact on everyday life.

Who is a father of psychology? ›

Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (1832–1920) is known to posterity as the “father of experimental psychology” and the founder of the first psychology laboratory (Boring 1950: 317, 322, 344–5), whence he exerted enormous influence on the development of psychology as a discipline, especially in the United States.

Who taught psychology? ›

William James initially taught physiology as Harvard, as he had a medical degree, but then taught the first psychology course offered in the US, as well as the first use of a classroom lab to study psychology.

What is the fastest way to become a psychologist? ›

To become a clinical psychologist, you'll need a doctoral-level degree, either a PhD or a PsyD. Most clinical psychologist doctoral programs will require five to seven years of study to complete beyond the bachelor's and master's degrees.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a therapist? ›

Licensed therapists must have, at minimum, a master's degree in a field related to psychotherapy. Psychologists must have a doctorate-level degree such as a PhD or PsyD.

What career path is psychology? ›

Studying psychology can lead to opportunities in business, healthcare, education, and the nonprofit sector. Psych majors may also pursue careers in government, social services, or law.

Does a psychologist get paid well? ›

A mid-career Psychologist with 4-9 years of experience earns an average salary of ₹5.3 Lakhs per year, while an experienced Psychologist with 10-20 years of experience earns an average salary of ₹6.5 Lakhs per year.

Does psychology need calculus? ›

A bachelor's in psychology will usually require only the university's basic general education math requirements, although they may set higher grade standards than the general requirements. That means you can get away with: Algebra. Pre-calculus, or calculus.

Does psychology require chemistry? ›

Most of the course requirements for undergraduate psychology majors are science-based, so expect to take some form of biology, physics, and chemistry.

How many years does it take to become a clinical psychologist? ›

The Doctor of Clinical Psychology is a full-time, three year postgraduate professional course in clinical psychology, designed to train psychologists to be eligible for appointment as Clinical Psychologists in the health services.

What's the difference between psychology BS and BA? ›

The B.S., or Bachelor of Science in Psychology, has a lot in common with the B.A. in Psychology. What sets it apart, however, is that the B.S. program usually includes additional math and science courses rather than electives or topic specializations.

Is it hard to get accepted into psychology? ›

Since psychology is a popular major, admissions for graduate study in psychology can be highly competitive. Having strong academic qualifications—such as a higher GPA and a competitive GRE score—could be one aspect of a stronger application. Many psychology grad programs also require relevant work experience.

How many main branches of psychology are there? ›

There are many different branches, fields or types of psychology, however, most believe there are up to 15 major branches of psychology or more.

What is the hardest branch of psychology? ›

1. Parapsychology. By its very nature, parapsychology is even more vague than “traditional” mental health practices. It's the study of nonquantifiable phenomena, such as telepathy, telekinesis, extrasensory perception, and mind reading.

What is the highest-paying branch of psychology? ›

Psychiatrists prescribe medications for patients with mental illnesses. Psychiatrist positions are by far the highest-paying jobs for psychology majors. The average salary is $217,798, according to PayScale.

Why are psychology branches important? ›

Essentially, psychology helps people in large part because it can explain why people act the way they do. With this kind of professional insight, a psychologist can help people improve their decision making, stress management and behavior based on understanding past behavior to better predict future behavior.

How does psychology work? ›

They use techniques such as observation, assessment, and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence individuals. Psychologists often gather information and evaluate behavior through controlled laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy.


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