Domains of Psychology
5 Scientific Foundations of Psychology
STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
Scientific psychology developed in universities with research laboratories where basic research was conducted, and where experimental psychologists continue to add knowledge to the field. After World War II, many opportunities for applied psychologists developed outside of these institutions. The number of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists mainly involved in treatment grew enormously. Specialties in treating children, adolescents, students, older people, and athletes emerged. Industries and organizations hired psychologists to help them prosper. The field became more fragmented and specialized.
Research and applied psychologists deal with a huge number of topics. Topics can be grouped into broad categories known as domains. Psychologists specializing in different domains identify themselves with many labels. Examples include the following:
Clinical psychologists evaluate and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. People experiencing a temporary psychological crisis, such as grief, addiction, or social challenges, and individuals suffering from a chronic psychiatric disorder may seek therapy from a clinical psychologist. Clinical psychologists can be generalists who work with a wide variety of populations or specifically work with unique groups such as children, the elderly, or those with specific disorders. They may work in hospitals, community health centers, or private practice.
Counseling psychologists help people adapt to change or make changes in their lifestyle. Counseling psychologists’ roles are very similar to those of clinical psychologists, except that they work more with modifying a person’s behavior and lifestyle rather than those with psychological disorders. This type of psychologist can be found working in schools and universities, community mental health centers, and private practice.
Developmental psychologists study psychological development throughout the life span. They study how people develop intellectually, socially, emotionally, and morally. Some will specialize in one period of life, such as adolescent or geriatric. Developmental psychologists can be found working in schools and daycare centers, social service agencies, or senior centers and geriatric facilities.
Educational psychologists focus on how effective teaching and learning take place. They are concerned with how humans learn and study the various aspects of learning, with the goal to produce materials and strategies to assist and enhance the learning process. Educational psychologists can be found in universities, research laboratories, and publishing houses.
Forensic psychologists apply psychological principles to legal issues. They are concerned with the numerous facets of the law, such as determining a defendant’s competence to stand trial, or whether a victim has suffered psychological or neurological trauma. They can be found working in law schools, law firms, and correctional institutions.
Health/Positive psychologists concentrate on biological, psychological, and social factors involved in health and illness. They are concerned with psychology’s role in the promotion and maintenance of good health and the prevention and treatment of illness. This might include the design and promotion of programs to help individuals to modify their lifestyle and improve their health, such as quitting smoking, dieting, stress management, and keeping physically fit. They can be found working in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, and private practice.
Industrial/organizational psychologists aim to improve productivity and the quality of work life by applying psychological principles and methods to the workplace. They focus on the management of organizational efficiency through the proper use of human resources. Where industrial psychology includes performance appraisals, efficient job design, and employee selection and training, organizational psychology is focused more on understanding and enhancing the well-being and development of the individual employee. I/O psychologists can be found working in business, factories, and research facilities.
Neuropsychologists explore the relationships between brain/nervous systems and behavior. Neuropsychologists are also called biological psychologists or biopsychologists, behavioral geneticists, physiological psychologists, and behavioral neuroscientists. They study biochemical mechanisms, the relationship between brain structure and function, and chemical and physical changes that occur while experiencing emotions. They can diagnose and treat behavior related to specific brain and nervous system dysfunctions. Most positions are at the doctoral and postdoctoral level and are found in hospitals.
Psychometricians, sometimes called psychometric psychologists or measurement psychologists, focus on methods for acquiring and analyzing psychological data. Psychometrists may revise old intelligence, personality, and aptitude tests and devise new ones. They may assist researchers in psychology or other fields to design experiments or interpret their results. They are often found working in colleges and universities, testing facilities, research firms, and government agencies.
Social psychologists focus on how a person’s mental life and behavior are shaped by interactions with other people. They study how our beliefs, feelings, and behaviors are affected by other people. Many social psychologists can be found on the faculty of colleges and universities, but many are now being hired by hospitals, federal agencies, and businesses to perform applied research.