Despite being a critical part of humankind’s development, the human mind largely remains a mystery. Much more complex than the most sophisticated supercomputer, the human brain defies attempts to study it — but that does not stop legions of psychologists from striving to understand how human thoughts, emotions and behaviors manifest.
The desire to better understand this miraculous and mysterious part of ourselves drives many students to pursue multiple degrees in psychology. To work in the field, students need at least an online master’s in psychology, and during their graduate degree programs, most students will begin to specialize in a specific realm of this vast and interesting field. Some of the most exciting and interesting areas of psychology include:
In truth, abnormal psychology is not exactly what it seems. There is not a clear definition of “normal” within psychology; what is “normal” for one group might be “abnormal” for another. For example, one social group might regularly participate in body modifications like piercings, tattoos and subdermal implants and display these modifications as proof of their membership of the group. However, another group might find body modifications abhorrent and shun any member who participates in any kind of modification. Psychologists who study abnormal psychology look for anomalous behavior within certain groups and strive to understand how and why people choose to go against the norm.
The human mind is constantly changing, from its very beginnings to the very last moments before death. Developmental psychologists strive to understand more about how the human mind develops, often with the intention of identifying the origins of developmental patterns like deviant behaviors or high achievement. In simpler terms, developmental psychology is trying to answer the question of nature vs. nurture. Many psychologists in this field work with children and adolescents, whose cognitive processes tend to be in rapid flux and who have been more or less ignored by past generations of psychological research.
Ultimately, every human mind — even the most outstandingly creative, the most powerfully logical and the most ingeniously innovative — is made of meat. The brain is dependent on so many biological processes, so some section of psychology must be devoted to understanding how biological processes affect human cognitive function and behavior. Often, biopsychologists work alongside neuroscientists, geneticists and other biologists to understand the interplay between physiology and psychology. As a result, biopsychologists can provide greater insight into how the brain’s physical structures impact its activity.
Humans are not the only animals with brains, and what’s more, humans are not the only animals with complex social relationships, advanced emotions, socialized behaviors and other components of psychology. By studying the psychology of other animals and comparing it against human psychology, psychologists can better understand what makes humans unique — and how humans might learn to regulate their cognitive processes and behaviors in a more natural way. Comparative psychologists tend to conduct a wealth of animal studies to better understand an individual specie’s psychology. With more research into comparative psychology, humans could learn whether we are alone in our consciousness or not.
Psychology students who maintain a passion for athletics might be eager to engage in this psychology field, which focuses on the psychology of the athlete. Psychology can have a profound impact on the performance of an athlete; in the right headspace, a mediocre athlete can become an all-star, or vice-versa. Sports psychologists study how mental health can enhance or detract from athletic performance, and many psychologists in this field find well-paying work with major athletic associations to help players stay motivated throughout their careers.
Forensics is a vast and varied field focused on the detection of crime, and many sciences are applied to forensics to help law enforcement identify, apprehend and detain criminals. Forensic psychologists tend to work directly with criminal detectives or prosecutors in the pursuit of wrongdoers; they may draft criminal psychological profiles or develop theories regarding motives and modes of operation to assist in finding and stopping perpetrators. Often, forensic psychologists will interview suspects and testify in court, so these psychologists need to be comfortable on both sides of the interrogation table.
Psychology students have the rare opportunity to contribute new insights into the realm of human knowledge. Fortunately, there are many areas within psychology that are in need of attention, so students can experiment with different psychology paths to find their true passion in this field.
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