Various fields of specialization in psychology have emerged over the years. Some of the branches have been discussed in this section.
It examines mental processes in storage, acquisition, manipulation and transformation of information along with its use and communication.
Major cognitive processes are attention, perception, memory, reasoning, problem solving, decision making and language.
In order to study these cognitive processes, some psychologists conduct experiments in laboratory settings while others follow the ecological approach wherein the main focus is to study cognitive processes in a natural setting.
It has the focus on the relationship between behaviour and the physical system which includes the brain and the rest of the nervous system, the immune system and the genetics.
It has emerged as the field of research wherein neuroscientists and psychologists are working together.
In this discipline researchers study the role of neurotransmitters or chemical substances in different areas of the brain and thus in associated mental functions.
It examines the physical, social and psychological changes that take place at various ages and stages over a lifetime, from conception to old age.
The major concern lies on the question, “How do we become what and who we are?”
Developmental psychologists show strong interest in the socio-cultural, biological and environmental factors or causes which have an impact on psychological characteristics like emotion, cognition, intelligence, morality, social relationship and temperament.
It investigates how the social environment affects the people, how do people think, make decisions and how do people influence others.
Topics such as attitude, conformity, interpersonal relationship, obedience, pro-social behaviour, prejudice, aggression and motivation are of special interest to social psychologists.
Cross-Cultural and Cultural Psychology
It mainly focuses on the role of culture in understanding behaviour, thought and emotion.
According to this branch of psychology, human behaviour is not just a reflection of human-biological potential but is also a yield of culture.
Hence, behaviour should also be studied in its socio-cultural context.
It studies the effect of physical factors such as temperature, humidity, pollution and natural disasters on human behaviour.
Influences of aspects like interpersonal relationships, physical arrangement of the workplace and emotional states are also examined.
According to this field, topics like, efficient use of community resources, conservation of resources, waste disposal and population are associated with and do have effects on human behaviour to a large extent.
This field of psychology investigates the role of psychological aspects in the development, prevention and treatment of ailments.
Health psychologists focus on areas like connection between psychological factors and health, patient-doctor relation and ways of promoting health-improving factors.
This branch of psychology utilizes psychological principles in order to enhance sports performance by building-up the motivation and inspiring the sportspersons.
It mainly investigates how people of all age-groups learn. Educational psychologists help in developing instructional methods to train people in educational and work settings.
School Psychology is a field which is related to educational psychology and it focuses on applying psychological knowledge in a school or academic setting.
It also designs various programmes to foster intellectual, emotional and social development of children including the specially-abled children.
It particularly deals with workplace behaviour, dispersing its focus on both the employees and the industries that employ them.
Industrial psychologists, are interested with training workers, improving workplace conditions and developing paradigms for selecting employees.
The background of industrial psychologists generally includes training in cognitive and social psychology.
Clinical and Counselling Psychology
This branch of psychology examines the causes, prevention and treatment of carious types of psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, substance abuse and eating disorders.
Counselling aims at improving everyday functioning by assisting people in solving daily-life problems and enhancing effective coping with challenging situations and issues.
A clinical psychologist has a degree in psychology and undertakes intensive training in treating people with psychological disorders.
However, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are not the same. A psychiatrist has a medical degree with years of specialized training in treating psychological disorders. Psychiatrists can prescribe medicines and give electroshock treatment but a clinical psychologist cannot.