Psychology is the study of the mind and human behavior. Research in the field of psychology is used to explain thoughts, emotions, and behaviors (Van Wagner, 2009). Everything a person thinks, does, say, and feels stems from how well the mind works and if it works properly (BBC, 2009). And as a result, psychologists study human behavior in order to test theories on the mind.
“Psychology lies at the intersection of many other disciplines, including biology, medicine, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and artificial intelligence (AI)” (BBC, 2009, para. 6). An example of this is Neuropsychology which is connected with biology in order to map out the brain’s functions such as memory, movement, emotions, and language. Another example is that of Health Psychology, which is connected to the medical field to manage disease and pain (BBC, 2009).
The Diverse Nature of Psychology
In psychology, there is great diversity in regards to content and perspectives (Stanovich, 2007). This diversity ranges from research and study of Military Psychology, Psychology of Women, Exercise and Sport Psychology, and many more. There are 53 different divisions of practice in the American Psychological Association (APA) (Stanovich, 2007). Each of the 53 divisions also contains several sub disciplines for that specific topic.
The APA division 35 is the Society for the Psychology of Women. This division is for those men as well as women who are interested in teaching, research, and practice in Psychology for women (APA Online, 2009). This division promotes feminist theories and one of the main goals is to improve the lives of girls and women. Another goal is to empower women in community, national, and global leaderships (APA Online, 2009).
The APA division 44 is the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues. This particular division focuses on the diversity of sexual orientations. Division 44 supports research and education which is relevant to the subject or can be beneficial. This division has task forces on accreditation, bisexuality, ethnic issues, and many more (APA Online, 2009).
The APA division 47 is Exercise and Sport Psychology. This division brings together both practitioners and scientists who have a common goal. These might include promoting the best methods for mental training and performance enhancements as well as motivation and the rehabilitation of sports injuries. Division 47 also focuses on mood disorders and eating disorders in athletes (APA Online, 2009).
The APA division 38 is that of Health Psychology. This division creates an understanding of health and illness through research, education, and exercises (APA Online, 2009). The hope is to understand how psychological health and physical health are linked together. There is also a focus in this division which helps patients manage chronic disease and avoid diseases which are preventable as well as providing rehabilitation for those who have acute injuries (APA Online, 2009).
Practical Applications of Psychology
Health Psychology is one of the areas of practical application for psychology because the focus is to promote physical health while preventing illness (MSN Encarta, 2008). Many of the psychologists who work in this particular discipline of psychology study psychophysiological disorders. Psychophysiological disorders are also known as psychosomatic disorders, which are physical conditions that are brought on by psychological states such as stress (MSN Encarta, 2008). These practitioners study ways people cope with stress, as well as determine what works and what does not work in regards to alleviating stress. Other researchers in the field of Health Psychology determine the psychological factors or issues in a person’s life which lead to substance abuse, smoking, and risky sexual practices (MSN Encarta, 2008).
The practical application of psychology is also applied to the law, whereas practitioners are known as Forensic Psychologists. These psychologists will often consult with lawyers, testify in court as expert witnesses, and counsel prisoners (MSN Encarta, 2008). Forensic Psychologists have been a help to the legal system by illuminating weakness. These practitioners often assist with jury selection, study eye witness testimony, confessions, lie detector tests, and the death penalty (MSN Encarta, 2008).
“Whereas basic researchers test theories about mind and behavior, applied psychologists are motivated by a desire to solve practical human problems” (MSN Encarta, 2008, para. 25). All of these disciplines and sub disciplines are helpful to the field of psychology as well as other fields such as the medical field or the legal system. Human nature is a mystery, and psychologists strive to find the answers (MSN Encarta, 2008).
APA Online. (2009). APA Divisions. Retrieved electronically January 26, 2009
BBC. (2009). What is Psychology? Science & Nature: The Human Body and Mind.
Retrieved electronically January 26, 2009 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/articles/psychology/what_is_psychology.shtml
MSN Encarta. (2008). Psychology. Retrieved electronically January 26, 2009 from
Stanovich, K. (2007). How to Think Straight About Psychology (8th Ed.). Boston.
Van Wagner, K. (2009). What is Psychology? Retrieved electronically January 26,
2009 from http://psychology.about.com/od/psychology101/f/psychfaq.htm