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Are you interested in the behaviour of people and animals? If you are, then you might
enjoy the study of psychology. Psychology is the study of behaviour, but this is a very
large area of study. There are several different branches of psychology, each of which
studies a different aspect of behaviour.
Social psychologists study interactions among people. For example, a social
psychologist might try to learn about the situations that cause people to behave
aggressively. Another question studied by social psychologists is why certain people
become attracted to each other. One of the interesting problems in social psychology is
conformity: what causes people to behave in the same way, and to follow what others do
and say?
Cognitive psychologists study thinking, memory, and language. One problem studied by
cognitive psychologists is how people remember numbers. For example, what is the best
way to memorize some numbers? Is it better to repeat the numbers to oneself, or to try to
attach some meaning to these numbers? A cognitive psychologist might also study
language. For example, why can young children learn a second language so quickly and
easily? Cognitive psychologists are also interested in the ways that people learn to solve
problems, such as finding a new place.
Clinical psychologists study mental illnesses. For example, a clinical psychologist might
try to find out the causes of depression and to figure out ways of helping people who are
depressed. Other clinical psychologists might study the behaviour of people who suffer
from addiction to drugs, so that this problem can be prevented and treated. Another topic
of interest to clinical psychologists is violent behaviour. It is very important to find ways
of preventing violence and to change the behaviour of persons who act violently.
Some psychologists are interested in the measurement of psychological characteristics.
For example, psychologists might develop tests to assess a person’s intelligence,
personality traits, or interests. These tests can be used to help people make decisions
about education, occupation, and clinical treatment.
Psychologists who study the behaviour of animals are called ethologists. Ethologists
often go into wilderness areas to watch the activity of birds, fish, or other animals. These
psychologists try to figure out why it is that some animals have “instincts” for various
behaviours such as parenting, mating, or fighting. Some ethologists have learned very
much about the unusual behaviours observed in many animals.
These are only a few of the many areas of psychology. Truly, psychology is one of the
most interesting areas of knowledge!