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*PSYCHOLOGY - The science of mind and behavior - The mental or behavioral characteristics of an individual or group - The study of mind

and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity *GOALS OF PSYCHOLOGY To Describe One of the first goals of psychology is simply to describe behavior. Through describing the behavior of humans and other animals, we are better able to understand it and gain a better perspective on what is considered normal and abnormal. Psychology researchers utilize a range of research methods to help describe behavior including naturalistic observation, case studies, correlational studies, surveys, and self-report inventories. To Explain As you might imagine, psychologists are also interested in explaining behavior in addition to merely describing it. Why do people do the things they do? What factors contribute to development, personality, social behavior, and mental health problems? Throughout psychology's history, many different theories have emerged to help explain various aspects of human behavior. A few examples of such theories including classical conditioning and attachment theories. Some theories focus on just a small aspect of human behavior (known as mini-theories), while others serve as all-encompassing theories designed to explain all of human psychology (known as grand theories). To Predict - Not surprisingly, another major goal of psychology is to make predictions about how we think and act. Once we understand more about what happens and why it happens, we can use that information to make predictions about when, why, and how it might happen again in the future. Successfully predicting behavior is also one of the best ways to know if we truly understand the underlying causes of our actions. Prediction can also allow psychologists to make guesses about human behavior without necessarily understanding the mechanisms underlying the phenomena. For example, if researchers notice that scores on a specific aptitude test can be used to predict high school dropout rates, that information can then be used to estimate how many students in a particular group might drop out of school each year. To Change Finally, and perhaps most importantly, psychology strives to change, influence, or control behavior in order to make positive and lasting changes in people's lives. In our previous example, researchers might take what they know about the link between scores on an aptitude test and dropout rates and use the information to develop programs designed to help students stay in school. From treating mental illness to enhancing human well-being, changing human behavior is a huge focus of psychology. *Branches of PSYCHOLOGY Abnormal Psychology - This explores psychopathology and abnormal behavior. Examples of disorders covered in this field include depression, OCD, sexual deviation and dissociative disorder. Biopsychology - This looks at the role the brain and neurotransmitters play in influencing our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It combines neuroscience and the study of basic psychology. Clinical Psychology - The focus here is the assessment and appropriate treatment of mental illness and abnormal behaviors. Cognitive Psychology - This branch of psychology focuses attention on perception and mental processes. For example, it looks at how people think about and process experiences and events their automatic thoughts and core beliefs. Also, how they learn, remember and retrieve information.

Comparative Psychology - This field of psychology studies animal behavior. Comparative psychologists work closely with biologists, ecologists, anthropologists, and geneticists. Counseling Psychology - Here, the focus is on providing therapeutic interventions for clients who are struggling with some mental, social, emotional or behavioral issue. It also looks at living well, so people reach their maximum potential in life. Developmental Psychology - This looks at lifespan human development, from the cradle to the grave. It looks at what changes, and what stays the same, or even deteriorates over time. Also, whether growth and change is continuous, or is associated with certain ages and stages. Another area of interest is the interaction of genes and the environment. Educational Psychology - This focuses attention on learning, remembering, performing and achieving. It includes the effects of individual differences, gifted learners and learning disabilities. Experimental Psychology - Although all of psychology emphasizes the central importance of the scientific method, designing and applying experimental techniques, then analyzing and interpreting the results is the main job of experimental psychologists. They work in a wide range of settings, including schools, colleges, universities, research centers, government organization and private businesses and enterprises. Forensic Psychology - Psychology and the law intersect in this field. It is where psychologists (clinical psychologists, neurologists, counseling psychologists etc.) share their professional expertise in legal or criminal cases. Health Psychology - This branch of psychology promotes physical, mental and emotional health including preventative and restorative strategies. It looks at how people deal with stress, and cope with and recover from, illnesses. Human Factors Psychology - This is an umbrella category that looks at such areas as ergonomics, workplace safety, human error, product design, and the interaction of humans and machines. Industrial-Organizational Psychology - This applies findings from theoretical psychology to the workplace. Its goal is increasing employee satisfaction, performance, productivity and matching positions to employees strengths. Other areas of interest are group dynamics, and the development of leadership skills. Social Psychology - This is what many people think of when they hear the word psychology. It includes the study of group behavior, social norms, conformity, prejudice, nonverbal behavior/ body language, and aggression. Sports Psychology - This area investigates how to increase and maintain motivation, the factors that contribute to peak performance, and how being active can enhance our lives. The Scientific Method Psychologists use the scientific method to conduct studies and research in psychology. The basic process for conducting psychology research involves asking a question, designing a study, collecting data, analyzing results, reaching conclusions and sharing the findings. Choosing a topic, selecting research methods, and figuring out how to analyze the data you collect can be intimidating, especially if you have little or no background in experimental methods. If you need help preparing for a research project, study, or experiment, start by reading this article outlining the basic steps in psychology research. Correlational Research Methods Correlational Research Methods Correlational studies are one of the two major types of psychology research. Correlational studies are frequently used in psychology research to look for relationships between variables. While correlational studies can suggest that there is a relationship between two variables, finding a correlation does not prove that one variable causes a change in another variable. In other words, correlation does not equal causation. Learn more about the subtypes of correlational studies as well as methods of observation and scientific surveys. Experimental Research Methods The simple experiment is one of the most basic methods of determining if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between two variables. A simple experiment utilizes a control group of participants who receive no treatment and an experimental group of participants who receive the treatment. Experimenters then compare the results of the two groups to determine if the treatment had an effect. Find more information on the parts of a simple experiment and how results are measured.

Reliability Reliability is a vital component of a valid psychological test. What is reliability? How do we measure it? Simply put, reliability refers to the consistency of a measure. A test is considered reliable if we get the same result repeatedly. Learn more about reliability in psychology tests. Validity When determining the merits of a psychological test, validity is one of the most important factors to consider. What is validity? One of the greatest concerns when creating a psychological test is whether or not it actually measures what we think it is measuring. For example, a test might be designed to measure a stable personality trait, but instead measure transitory emotions generated by situational or environmental conditions. A valid test ensures that the results are an accurate reflection of the dimension undergoing assessment.

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