Various fields of specialization in psychology have emerged over the years. Some of the branches have been discussed in this section.

Cognitive Psychology

  • 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.

Biological Psychology

  • 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.

Developmental Psychology

  • 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.

Social Psychology

  • 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.

Environmental Psychology

  • 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.

Health Psychology

  • 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.

Sports Psychology

  • This branch of psychology utilizes psychological principles in order to enhance sports performance by building-up the motivation and inspiring the sportspersons.

Educational Psychology

  • 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.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

  • 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.