Psychology is not one discipline but rather a collection of many subdisciplines that all share at least some common approaches and that work together and exchange knowledge to form a coherent discipline (Yang & Chiu, 2009). Because the field of psychology is so broad, students may wonder which areas are most suitable for their interests and which types of careers might be available to them. Table 1.3 "Some Career Paths in Psychology" will help you consider the answers to these questions. You can learn more about these different fields of psychology and the careers associated with them at http://www.apa.org/careers/psyccareers/.
| Psychology field
|| Career opportunities
| Biopsychology and neuroscience
|| This field examines the physiological bases of behavior in animals and humans by studying the functioning of different brain areas and the effects of hormones and neurotransmitters on behavior.
|| Most biopsychologists work in research settings—for instance, at universities, for the federal government, and in private research labs.
| Clinical and counseling psychology
|| These are the largest fields of psychology. The focus is on the assessment, diagnosis, causes, and treatment of mental disorders.
|| Clinical and counseling psychologists provide therapy to patients with the goal of improving their life experiences. They work in hospitals, schools, social agencies, and in private practice. Because the demand for this career is high, entry to academic programs is highly competitive.
| Cognitive psychology
|| This field uses sophisticated research methods, including reaction time and brain imaging to study memory, language, and thinking of humans.
|| Cognitive psychologists work primarily in research settings, although some (such as those who specialize in human-computer interactions) consult for businesses.
| Developmental psychology
|| These psychologists conduct research on the cognitive, emotional, and social changes that occur across the lifespan.
|| Many work in research settings, although others work in schools and community agencies to help improve and evaluate the effectiveness of intervention programs such as Head Start.
| Forensic psychology
|| Forensic psychologists apply psychological principles to understand the behavior of judges, attorneys, courtroom juries, and others in the criminal justice system.
|| Forensic psychologists work in the criminal justice system. They may testify in court and may provide information about the reliability of eyewitness testimony and jury selection.
| Health psychology
|| Health psychologists are concerned with understanding how biology, behavior, and the social situation influence health and illness.
|| Health psychologists work with medical professionals in clinical settings to promote better health, conduct research, and teach at universities.
| Industrial-organizational and environmental psychology
|| Industrial-organizational psychology applies psychology to the workplace with the goal of improving the performance and well-being of employees.
|| There are a wide variety of career opportunities in these fields, generally working in businesses. These psychologists help select employees, evaluate employee performance, and examine the effects of different working conditions on behavior. They may also work to design equipment and environments that improve employee performance and reduce accidents.
| Personality psychology
|| These psychologists study people and the differences among them. The goal is to develop theories that explain the psychological processes of individuals, and to focus on individual differences.
|| Most work in academic settings, but the skills of personality psychologists are also in demand in business—for instance, in advertising and marketing. PhD programs in personality psychology are often connected with programs in social psychology.
| School and educational psychology
|| This field studies how people learn in school, the effectiveness of school programs, and the psychology of teaching.
|| School psychologists work in elementary and secondary schools or school district offices with students, teachers, parents, and administrators. They may assess children’s psychological and learning problems and develop programs to minimize the impact of these problems.
| Social and cross-cultural psychology
|| This field examines people’s interactions with other people. Topics of study include conformity, group behavior, leadership, attitudes, and person perception.
|| Many social psychologists work in marketing, advertising, organizational, systems design, and other applied psychology fields.
| Sports psychology
|| This field studies the psychological aspects of sports behavior. The goal is to understand the psychological factors that influence performance in sports, including the role of exercise and team interactions.
|| Sports psychologists work in gyms, schools, professional sports teams, and other areas where sports are practiced.