The Most Popular Types of Psychology Careers to Consider

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Psychology is the study of the mind, how it works, and how it can affect behaviour. Psychologists work to help patients with mental health conditions using psychotherapy to help relieve symptoms through behavioural change. Understanding the different areas of psychology can help you decide which field matches your long-term career goals. In this article, we explain why learning about different areas of psychology is important, explain what these professionals do, and list various types of psychology to consider.

Why learn about different types of psychology?

Learning about different types of psychology can help you plan your career. When pursing an undergraduate degree in this field, you can start to define your specialization by choosing a relevant major. You can then develop your knowledge and skills further by selecting a focus and pursuing a master's degree.

What do psychologists do?

Psychologists provide guidance through counselling and therapy to their clients. They may also work in academia and focus their efforts on conducting studies and research to learn more about how the mind can affect a person's psychological, emotional, and behavioural well-being. Psychologists work closely with their patients and other doctors to find suitable treatment plans. They may refer their clients to psychiatrists and other specialists who can prescribe medication where appropriate.

What are the different types of psychology?

The following are some of the most common types of psychology to consider when planning your career:

Behavioural psychology

Behavioural psychology is a learning theory based on the idea that people gain all behaviours through conditioning. People can typically use behavioural strategies, such as operant and classical conditioning, to change or teach behaviours. For example, a teacher may use a reward system to encourage their students to behave during their lessons. When students behave, they get gold stars that they can use for special privileges.

Clinical psychology

Clinical psychology focuses on assessing and treating abnormal behaviour, mental illnesses, and psychiatric disorders. Clinical psychology can help clients understand, prevent, and ease psychological dysfunction or distress and promote the client's personal development and well-being. Psychotherapy and psychological assessment are the primary functions when practising clinical psychology, but clinical psychologists are typically a part of other various areas, such as training, research, and forensic testimony.

Related: The Differences between Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry

Cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology focuses on internal mental processes, such as memory, problem solving, language, and learning. It examines how people think, communicate, perceive, and learn. This field closely relates to philosophy, neuroscience, and linguistics. Cognitive psychologists study how their clients gain, process, and keep information. The practical applications of cognitive psychology can include increasing the accuracy of decision making, improving memory, or establishing educational programs to boost learning.

Related: What Does a Cognitive Psychologist Do? And How to Become One

Community psychology

Community psychology focuses on how communities can use resources to help solve challenges they may face. This subset of psychology believes that many challenges people face are a part of their social conditions and that psychology depends too much on professionals to solve everyday issues. Community psychology recognizes that communities know more about their own challenges, giving them a better chance of finding a solution.

Counselling psychology

A counselling psychologist can help patients suffering from stressful moments in their lives. They treat patients experiencing emotional strain from physical or social factors. Grief and marriage counsellors are a part of counselling psychology. These counsellors assess patients and provide them with a personal plan to help deal with stress and improve their well-being.

Cyberpsychology

Cyberpsychology is a new and dynamic area of focus that involves studying psychological phenomena that come from using the internet and other technology. The field of cyberpsychology places significant emphasis on social media, but it also considers other activities, such as online gaming and shopping, and their effect on behaviour. Cyberpsychology also researches the ongoing positive effects of technology, such as using the internet to develop a greater sense of community.

Developmental psychology

Developmental psychologists help clients better understand how people mature over their lives, both physically and emotionally. They study human development from birth to old age, specifically emotional maturity, biological growth of the body, and cognitive expansion. A developmental psychologist assesses and diagnoses to treat various issues when working with patients. They typically specialize in infant, young child, teenager, or geriatric development, whereas others might study the effects of developmental delays.

Educational psychology

Educational psychology focuses on the factors that can affect learning, including learning methods and how people absorb and process information. These psychologists research how processes, such as memory, concepts, and individual differences, can influence how people learn. They also apply human development theories to understand better how people can improve the instructional process. Educational psychologists can work in various settings, including primary and secondary schools and universities. They can provide counselling to students who struggle with learning disorders, such as dyslexia and ADHD.

Related: How to Become an Educational Psychologist in 8 Steps

Evolutionary psychology

Evolutionary psychology looks at how psychological adjustments modify human behaviour, such as language, during evolution. These psychologists believe that many psychological traits are adaptive, as they have helped humans evolve over thousands of years. Evolutionary psychologists study these dilemmas with their respective solutions to comprehend how some responses became stereotypically innate within modern cultures worldwide.

Forensic psychology

Forensic psychologists apply psychology to criminal investigations and the law. Psychologists in this field study criminal behaviour and treatments or work directly within the court system. These psychologists perform various duties, including assessing children in potential child abuse cases, providing testimony in court cases, evaluating the mental competence of suspects, and preparing children to give testimony. Many professionals work in this field within the legal system. Others work in threat assessment, a scientific evaluation of whether a person might be a threat in the future.

Health psychology

Health psychology, also known as medical psychology or behavioural medicine, examines how biology, behaviour, and social context influence health and illness. Health psychologists focus on what influences health. These influences may include education, socioeconomic status, and background. They can also focus on the behaviours that can affect disease, such as medication and compliance with instructions. Some health psychologists help design public awareness and prevention programs, and others may work within the government to help improve healthcare policies.

Industrial and organizational psychology

In industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology, professionals study and analyze the behavioural aspects of employees within an organization by using training programs and collecting feedback. I/O psychologists do this to help improve the performance and well-being of employees, which may benefit the organization. Some I/O psychologists work in human-computer interaction, ergonomics, and human factors. Human factors psychology is an interdisciplinary specialization that focuses on product design, human error, human capability, ergonomics, and human-computer interaction.

Military psychology

Military psychologists work within the army to provide personnel with services, such as therapy for mental illness. They can also help soldiers acclimate to life as a civilian and help others in the military handle stress. Military psychologists help develop recruitment strategies and support leaders within the military to understand how to motivate soldiers and work with others experiencing emotional stress.

Neuropsychology

The field of neuropsychology combines the study of psychology and neuroscience to learn how people's brains and behavioural, cognitive, and emotional functioning relate to one another. The field also involves studying the roles that neurotransmitters and brain structure play when understanding how neurological issues affect people's daily lives and how they can address them. A neuropsychologist might work in a research or medical setting, where they can consult on and study neurological challenges, such as strokes, brain injuries, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Personality psychology

Personality psychologists study why people may show a specific type of behaviour, such as aggression. They explore individual differences in personality characteristics and how these characteristics can interact when creating a personality. They also study how expressed genes can influence personality. Typically, they work in research roles, but they can also treat patients with personality disorders.

Psychometry

Psychometry focuses on administering and developing psychological tests and measuring psychological phenomena. The test results can help psychologists make important decisions in various situations. For example, what career best suits a person or whether someone may be at risk of depression. Popular areas of human measurement include attitudes, skills and knowledge, abilities, educational achievement, and personality traits.

Research psychology

Research psychologists dedicate their careers to increasing the population's psychological knowledge. They have training in various scientific methods to answer questions that involve human beings. These psychologists can be influential because a considerable number of organizations use their transferrable skill set where they develop and evaluate programs, conduct experiments and trials, and consult with other researchers.

Social psychology

The field of social psychology uses scientific methods to help understand how social influences can affect human behaviour. Professionals attempt to find an explanation for how the imagined, actual, or implied presence of other people may influence behaviour, feelings, and thoughts. Social psychologists look at social perception, group behaviour, conformity, non-verbal behaviour, prejudice, aggression, and leadership. These psychologists see social perception and social interaction as pivotal in understanding social behaviour.

Related: Ten Jobs in Social Psychology to Explore (With Salaries)

Sports psychology

Sports psychology focuses on how psychology can influence sports, exercise, athletic performance, and physical activity. Some of these psychologists work with professional coaches and athletes to help improve performance and raise their motivation. Other sports psychologists use sports and exercise to enhance people's well-being throughout their lives.

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