19+ subfields of psychology (in detail)

19+ subfields of psychology (in detail)

In this blog post, we will briefly describe 20 subfields of psychology. We also talk about what psychology as a science is, and what it is not. If you are interested in developing your skills or looking into psychology specialisations, this article is for you.

Major subfields of psychology

The study and practice of psychology cover a wide range of subjects and a large number of subfields and speciality areas that have developed as a result. Because human behaviour is so varied, the number of subfields of psychology is constantly growing and evolving.

Psychology can be divided into two main sections: research, which aims to increase our knowledge base and practice, through which knowledge is applied to solving real-world problems.

Because psychology is related to other subjects such as biology, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, new areas of research and practice are continually in development. Some of these subfields of psychology have been established as areas of interest, and in many colleges and universities, they offer courses and degree programs in these subjects.

There are 17+ types of psychology and 19 subfields.

Only the 19 sub fields are mentioned in this blog.

19+ subfields of psychology (in detail)

Biopsychology

This area of psychology is known for several titles, including behavioural neuroscience, psychobiology, and neuropsychology. Biopsychologists study the relationship between the brain and behaviour, such as how the brain and the nervous system impact our thoughts, feelings, and moods. This field can be thought of as a combination of psychology and basic neuroscience.

Clinical psychology

Clinical psychology is the major speciality area in psychology. These psychologists apply research and psychological principles to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients with mental and emotional illnesses.

Doctors often work in private practices, but many also work in public centres or universities and colleges.

Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychologists study the physical and cognitive development that occurs throughout life. These psychologists generally specialize in infant, toddler, adolescent, or geriatric development, while others may study the effects of developmental delays.

In this psychological field, specialists focus on trying to explain the growth and development of life, along with the thoughts, behaviours and feelings that people can obtain throughout their existence.

Forensic psychology

Forensic psychologists apply psychological principles to legal questions. This may include studying criminal conduct and treatment or working directly in the court system.

Forensic psychologists often conduct evaluations or testify in court proceedings.

19+ subfields of psychology (in detail)

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Psychologists in this field apply psychological principles to research on problems such as productivity and behaviour.

Some psychologists in this fieldwork in areas such as human factors, ergonomics, and human-computer interaction.

Research in this field is known as applied research as it tries to solve real-world problems.

Personality psychology

Personality psychologists study the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that make each person unique. These psychologists often work in academic settings as professors or researchers.

Social psychology

Social psychologists study social behaviours, including how the individual’s image and behaviour are affected by interactions with others. Psychologists often research academic settings, but others work in areas such as advertising and government.

School psychology

School psychologists work within the educational system to help children with emotional, social, and academic problems. These psychologists collaborate with teachers, parents, and students to find solutions to academic, social, and emotional problems.

 Most school psychologists work in primary and secondary schools, but others work in private clinics, hospitals, state agencies, and universities. Some go to private practice and serve as consultants, especially those with a doctoral degree in school psychology.

19+ subfields of psychology (in detail)

Other subfields of psychology

  • Behavioural genetics studies the inheritance of traits related to behaviour.
  • Behavioural neuroscience examines the biological foundations of behaviour.
  • Cognitive psychology focuses on the study of higher mental processes.
  • Intercultural psychology investigates the similarities and differences in psychological functioning in and between various cultures and ethnic groups.
  • Educational psychology has to do with teaching and learning processes, such as the relationship between motivation and school performance.
  • Environmental psychology considers the relationship between people and their physical environment.
  • Evolutionary psychology considers the influence exerted by the genetic inheritance of the ancestors on our behaviour.
  • Experimental psychology studies the processes of feeling, perception, learning and thinking about the world.
  • Health psychology explores the relationship between psychological factors and physical ailments or illnesses.
  • Program evaluation focuses on evaluating large-scale programs, such as the Head Start preschool program, to determine if they are effective in achieving your goals.
  • The psychology of women focuses on aspects such as discrimination and the causes of violence against women.
19+ subfields of psychology (in detail)

Psychologists have four main objectives or goals

A.- Description.

It is the basic goal of all sciences. Psychologists collect data about mental behaviour and functioning to structure a coherent and accurate image of these phenomena. This data collection involves the problem of measurement. Whenever possible, it is observed or measured directly. 

When direct strategies are impossible, or extremely difficult, indirect tactics considered less exact such as interviews, questionnaires, etc. are used. Once a phenomenon has been accurately described, psychologists generally try to explain it.

B.- Explanation.

It consists of establishing a network of cause-effect relationships. In general, explanations called hypotheses are proposed, which are tested by controlled experimentation.

C.- Prediction.

If a hypothesis is correct, it must be able to discover what will happen in related situations.

D.- Control.

It is also another powerful test of a hypothesis. The conditions that are supposed to cause the behaviour, or the mental process, can be altered or controlled to see if the phenomenon changes accordingly. Control consists of the application of knowledge to solve practical problems.

What is (and what is not) psychology?

Psychological professors and researchers from the top 300 universities believe that: Psychology is an empirical science.

Through the means of empirical science, researchers observe, measure, (counter) verify, test and examine the reality of human and social functioning to describe, explain and anticipate it in the most accurate terms. Applied to psychology, it becomes the study of the human mind, brain and behaviour through objective methods. 

  • Not by introspective methods, the favourites of therapists and psychologists disconnected from scientific research, (but amateurs of projective diagnosis). 
  • Not through interpretations of symbols, inner travels, dream explorations, hallucinations in a trance, imagery has given by the ingestion of psychotropic substances or hyper-ventilation. 
  • Nor through meditation. This is a shamanic or witchcraft psychology.

Introspective methods greatly risk misinterpretations or explanations. The testimonies (those testimonials), regardless of their number, do not prove causal relationships. Only a controlled experiment can demonstrate a causal relationship in probabilistic terms. Testimonies taken as evidence become, in the scientific idiom, anecdotal evidence. 

In everyday speech, many people turn to the immaterial entity called the “psychic.” So we meet everywhere with psychic processes and mechanisms, (neuro) psychic functioning, psychic forces and much more. 

The “psyche” is an abstraction used by both novices and many specialists. They do not know that it is an abstraction and fall into the error of reification and confuse it with a real entity.

Although redundant for some readers, the concept of “psychic” has long become a metaphor, coming out of the modern psychological idiom precisely for differentiation from the perspective of the philosophy of knowledge. 

In modern psychology, we examine and seek to understand the mind and the brain as a unit. It is a monolith separable in two parts, “the mind and the brain”, only in a conceptual sense. I repeat, “brain and mind” is a unitary phenomenon that is happening, right now, in our heads, when I write and you read. Indeed, in modern psychology:

The brain and the mind are inseparable (with an adaptive role for the individual). Therefore, the correct use is made by the “psychological” attribute. Thus, we have psychological processes and causes, psychological functioning, psychopathological symptoms or psychological disorders. 

The brain (mind) and body did not suddenly emerge from Mother Nature with the help of divine breath. They have evolved as any other creature and plant has evolved on this planet. In an evolutionary paradigm, the mind (brain) is a collection of adaptive mechanisms, evolved through natural selection, necessary in solving problems of adaptation to the environment.

Derived from the same outdated definition of the object of psychology, it is believed that the process of “nurture” (parental, educational and cultural influences) has an overwhelming impact compared to “nature”, i.e. hereditary factors.  Genetic and environmental influences are inextricably linked.

Researchers study how thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are simultaneously (and inseparably) influenced by genes and culture. However, discrimination between the two types of influences is possible through the statistical concept (applied in behavioural genetics) of heritability.

The new biology revolution is stimulating for psychology. Brain chemistry, the human genome and observation of the brain in full mental activity are research directions that stimulate the field of psychology. Without basic knowledge in these directions, the psychologist is an incomplete craftsman.

19+ subfields of psychology (in detail)

Conclusions

In this blog post, we briefly described 20 subfields of psychology. We also talked about what psychology as a science is, and what it is not.

The most important thing to remember is that psychology is an empirical science. Through the means of empirical science, researchers observe, measure, (counter) verify, test and examine the reality of human and social functioning to describe, explain and anticipate it in the most accurate terms. 

Applied to psychology, it becomes the study of the human mind, brain and behaviour through objective methods. 

We know psychology as the science that analyzes the mental processes and behaviour of humans. Generally, it helps us find answers, describe and explain the aspects, feelings, thoughts and actions of people and how many types of psychology there are and what they are.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

References

Medicalnewstoday.com – What is psychology and what does it involve?

Sacap.edu.za  – The 10 types of psychology, and what they entail

Betterhelp.com – What Are The Various Types Of Psychology?

Carthage.edu -Sub-Fields in Psychology

Online-psychology-degrees.org -Psychology: Five Unique Yet Important Subfields Today

19+ subfields of psychology (in detail)

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.