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What does psychology study


Psychology is a discipline that is part of the health sciences . It is essentially dedicated to the study, analysis and investigation of mental processes and human behavior. Although it is often confused with other disciplines such as psychiatry, psychology has its own fields of study and action, as we will see below.

We have all heard of psychology, since it is present in our day to day, when we talk about emotions, feelings, what we think, our way of working, and even how we perceive what surrounds us and the relationships we maintain with the rest. Psychology is talked about lightly , without really understanding what it studies and what its purpose is.

Until recently, people who went to the psychologist were called crazy, and this professional was seen with a kind of suspicion. Believing that he was going to read our minds or reveal what all our childhood traumas are with just a few questions. Many of these questions and the image that has been had of psychology has come from psychoanalysis .

Over time psychology as a scientific discipline has evolved and grown by itself, and with the help of other disciplines such as medicine . Thanks to research, it has developed and matured. It has spread to a multitude of fields of study and is currently present in all areas in which the human being develops. This makes this discipline very complex.

Although very little is still known about the human being and how his mind works, more and more research brings us closer to this knowledge, in part, thanks to psychology. Let’s see below what specifically psychology studies, what its approaches are and what meaning it has in our lives.

History of Psychology

Psychology arose with the Greek philosopher Plato , who, proving to be very advanced in his time, suggested that the brain is the mechanism of all mental processes. Then I postulate in his theory related to the dualism of soul and body, that the rational soul was in the head and other parts such as the emotional and desires were at the level of the heart and the diaphragm. About 50 years later, Aristotle , who had studied at the Platonic school, tries to refute Plato’s idea and claims that the brain is not responsible for mental processes, but the heart. This opposition generates a certain rivalry between these philosophers, but thanks to the evolution of science in subsequent centuries, we can say that, in this case, Aristotle was wrong.

Later, in 1774 the German doctor Franz Mesmer  after long investigations, proposed a cure for some diseases that were found in the human mind. The treatment offered by Mesmer consisted of modifying the concentration of the human being, originally this technique was called mesmerism, but later with the contributions of James Braid it was known as hypnosis.

A decade after Mesmer’s discovery, the anatomist and physiologist Franz Gall came up with an idea about personality . This proposed that depending on the shape of a person’s skull and the placement of bumps on his head, personality traits of an individual could be known.

In 1834, Weber’s law was released – a law postulated by the German psychologist Ernst Heinrich Weber – who proposed the theory of human perception.

Paul Broca was in charge of discovering an area in the left frontal lobe that plays a crucial role in language development, and details what happens when that brain area is damaged ( Broca’s aphasia ); later Carl Wernicke carried out an investigation of the frontal lobe, and published his theory, which affirms that the damage that is generated in a specific area of ​​the frontal lobe damages the ability to understand or produce a language ( Wernicke’s aphasia ).

Some years later Sigmund Freud -the father of psychoanalysis-, begins to show his theories about the unconscious, the defense mechanisms that work in it, and his theory of personality. At this stage psychoanalysis takes place and a new era of psychology begins.

Areas of study of psychology

This health science deals with the study of matters as essential and important for the human being as: memory, attention, perception, thought, language, intelligence, development, personality, sexuality, learning, behavior and motivation. All of them complex psychic phenomena , characteristic of the human being.

The study of psychological functions allows psychology as a scientific discipline, to investigate and make its contributions in any field in which the human being develops. That is why it is not surprising that it is present in any aspect of our lives .

We are going to see below some of the most important areas of the study of psychology. These are different specific fields of study , in which a series of psychological factors predominate. For the psychologist, each of these fields of study is established as a specialty, according to its own context and needs in which the behavior of each individual develops.

This breaks with the idea that psychology is specifically dedicated to psychopathology and mental disorders. It is also used so that we have a better understanding of ourselves , our potentialities, abilities, behavior, sensations, emotions, etc.

The work of the psychologist, in any case, consists of applying his knowledge to the problems of both people and human groups . With the aim of promoting satisfactory solutions. To do this, it is based on research on the principles of human behavior .

Psychology is also interested in how we relate, how we make decisions and how we face the challenges of daily life. For this, it also uses the knowledge we have about the functioning of the brain and the entire central nervous system . Let’s see some of the most characteristic specialties of the study of psychology

Clinical psychology

This sub-discipline of psychology is the best known throughout the world. It is the one that we relate with the psychologist and the patient, with the clinical consultation, mental disorders and therapy. Ultimately, mental health is what interests the clinical field of psychology especially.

The basic functions of clinical psychology are the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and psychological intervention , in people who suffer some significant discomfort, psychological affectation, or present a maladaptive behavior.

The purpose of clinical psychology is to restore the psychological balance of the individual, paying specific attention to their personal characteristics. Helping you reduce your discomfort and facilitating a healthy adaptation to your environment.

Following the scientific method, the interventions and treatments of clinical psychology are related to the findings of empirical research . For each problem, techniques are used in order to solve a specific problem. So for a phobia, different techniques are used than for a depression or a personality disorder.

Depending on the approach and the current followed by the clinical psychologist, the way of seeing the person and the problem they are treating will be different:

  • A psychologist with a cognitive behavioral approach will specifically focus on solving problems related to behavior to modify it and make it more adaptive. The main objective is to change the behavior that generates discomfort or is maladaptive.
  • A psychologist oriented towards humanistic therapy has a more holistic view of the individual, so he tries to understand what is happening to him, instead of trying to eliminate or avoid the problem. To do this, it takes into account any psychological aspect, such as the manifestation of emotions, motivations, thoughts, vulnerabilities and difficulties.
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The patient, or client (as the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers proposed that the individual who comes to therapy be called). It is seen as a whole , where everything is interrelated, including its context, education, culture and environment. The objective of the humanistic psychologist is to serve as a tool for personal discovery of the resources available to the individual to face each problem.

Social psychology

This branch of study within psychology is also very important to know the human being, since we are social beings. His study is focused on the analysis of the psychological processes that are immersed in social interactions . Also observing how they influence society. These social processes are observed, in turn, how they interfere in the personality and behavior of each individual.

Common sense, normality, context, group and identity are concepts derived from social psychology. It is intended to understand the laws and principles that govern coexistence between human beings. That is why this discipline is specifically in charge of investigating the behavior patterns of people who make up a group , social organizations, roles and the set of situations that determine specific behaviors and behaviors.

Many known experiments in psychology are related to the field of social psychology. Experiments like Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison was a classic study of the power of the social situation. Another experiment also known to all was that of Stanley Mioilgram on obedience to authority.

Developmental psychology

Through developmental psychology , psychology studies the development of the human being from birth to death . Special attention is paid to childhood, the growth of children, and how they develop, attending to the main areas: cognitive, social and emotional, throughout different stages.

In the first two years of life, there are stages of development known as sensitive periods , which are especially important, since they will be decisive for development in adulthood. Influencing the personality, character, intelligence, motivations and social behavior.

The investigations carried out by psychologists such as Jean Piaget, Sigmund Freud, Lev Vigotsky and Erik Erikson, have had a great relevance for psychology. Since thanks to his studies it has been possible to understand how children grow, how they think and behave. And the relationship and influence this has with development in adulthood.

Neuroscience and neuropsychology

Neuroscience is made up of a set of disciplines for study, including psychology. The study aspects are basically biological , although they are of great importance to understand, from psychology, human behavior.

The nervous system is studied, based on scientific study. Thanks to cognitive neuroscience, it is possible for psychology to understand the functioning of the brain and human consciousness. Although, it is recognized, that we still know very little about our brain, however, surprising findings have already been made. Like the influence of our environment and behavior on the brain structure. It is known that our nervous system has a great adaptive capacity, being able to modify and adapt to new changes. This is called brain plasticity .

Neuropsychology is a specialty within neuroscience . It is basically dedicated to the study of the relationship between mental and behavioral processes with the brain.

The neuropsychologist aims to make a diagnosis and treatment of those behavioral, cognitive and emotional problems that have altered the processes of normal brain function. In patients with injuries, alterations and diseases produced in the brain, cognitive rehabilitation is provided , to maintain and enhance the capacities and abilities that have been affected. Such as memory, language, and attention.

Psychology of the education

This subdiscipline of psychology focuses its study on learning processes, deepening and analyzing the most effective methods so that students can develop their full potential in each area , as well as their cognitive abilities. School psychologists also focus their attention on children with special needs. From schoolchildren who have learning problems to children who do not adapt well to the educational context.

Its objective is to know the way in which human learning develops , in an educational context. For this, various techniques that have to do with the effectiveness of learning and teaching are analyzed.

Lev Vygotsky made a great contribution in this regard. Using a constructivist vision, he proposed the scaffolding or zone of proximal development, which consists of finding the level of potential development of each student . In this case, the teacher would be an impeller for the student to solve the challenges that are presented to him by himself. Bruner and David Wood also supported this theory.

Today, educational psychology has become so important that it is even considered an independent discipline . Since it has its own research and theories.

Psychology of work and organizations

Another important area in which human beings develop is, without a doubt, work. We spend a large part of our lives in this environment, so for psychology it represents a fundamental context of study .

This branch of psychology is specifically in charge of the behavior of the human being in the workplace and in organizations, both at the group, individual and organizational level.

A context that we all know within the psychology of work, are human resources, job interviews and selection processes. This would only be a small part of your study. The objective of work psychology is to explain, predict and intervene in the various problems that arise in this environment. Improving performance and productivity , in addition to enhancing the skills that each job requires.

Not only does it try to improve the quality of working life of employees, but it also focuses its efforts on analyzing the various aspects of the organization, to increase its effectiveness.

Through these sub-disciplines we can understand in greater depth what psychology studies. Human behavior is involved in its object of study, in each of the areas in which people develop. As we have been able to verify in each context, psychology has a fundamental role , providing tools for solving the problems and challenges of this field.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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