What is Psychology?

Photo by Umar Mita

Lets begin by addressing two misconceptions that I often hear:

  1. Psychology is not just about crazy people. It is about people.
  2. Psychologists are not psychics. We can’t read your minds.

People often asked me about the field that I’m currently studying in university – Psychology. Recently I found a comprehensive explanation about what Psychology is. I thought I’d share the explanation here for anyone who is interested.

The information below was taken from the book “Culture & Psychology“, 5th edition, by Matsumoto and Juang.

Psychology can be understood from its goals:

Goal #1: To build a body of knowledge about people.

Psychologists seek to understand behaviour when it happens, explain why it happens, and even predict it before it happens. Psychologists achieve this by conducting research and creating theories of behaviour.

Goal #2: To apply the knowledge to intervene in people’s lives, to make those lives better.

Psychologists achieve this in many ways: as therapists, counselors, trainers, and consultants. Psychologists work on the front lines, dealing directly with people to affect their lives in a positive fashion.

These two goals are closely related. 

Psychologists who are on the front lines take what psychology as a field has collectively learned about human behavior and use that knowledge as a basis for their applications and interventions.

This learning initially comes in the form of academic training in universities. But it continues well after formal education has ended, through continuing education programs and individual scholarship – reviewing the literature, attending conferences, and joining and participating in professional organizations.

Applied psychologists engage in a life-long learning process that helps them intervene in people’s lives more effectively.


Related post: Why did I choose Psychology?

13 thoughts on “What is Psychology?”

  1. This post is very helpful indeed. I just finished my spm and really looking foward on pursuing my study in psychology field. The goals that you stated are actually the reason why I want to study psychology 🙂

  2. I took an elective paper on Animal Behaviour. The goal is almost the same, but we applied it to animal 🙂

    Learning about behaviour is always fun for me. How behaviour evolve, why the animal exhibit the behaviour, understand and predict the behaviour. The best part is study benda yang orang tak nampak. The hidden feeling.

  3. salam. saya ingin bertanya pendapat saudara bidang psikologi boleh bawa kemana i mean pekerjaan apa yang boleh di ceburi. i take psychology course at local U. but still ambiguous tentang pekerjaan yang boleh di ambil after grade.

  4. Hey Aiman, This is a good informative post you've within your blog. The art of knowing the truth behind the mentality of normal person is really what Psychology is. If you know a person from the inside you know exactly what he/she is capable of. for example when you go for an interview, the manager will know from your replies what kind of person you are.

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