All sciences have broadly, two branches. One, the basic or academic branch and the other applied. The basic or academic branch is the result of an academic curiosity or a question e.g. Newton asked: “Why does the apple fall on the ground?” which gave rise to the theory of ‘gravity’. On the other hand, the applied branch deals with solving the problem by applying inputs from the basic/academic branch. However, this distinction is not rigid and beyond a point, both the branch converge. e.g. many theories of the basic branch are applied, or have the potential to be applied, to solve problems. Similarly, many applied branches have come up with new or supplementary theories, that have been included in the basic branch.
Psychology may be broadly classified into general psychology and differential psychology. The former is concerned with the investigation of generalities and similarities in behaviour, especially among normal adults while the latter has been primarily concerned with the observation, measurement and explanation of individual differences. Gradually, these two broad divisions developed into further branches or divisions of general psychology and applied psychology.
Psychology too, like other sciences, started with basic branches, which were classified as: experimental and non-experimental.
The experimental branches started with physiological, learning, and perception. Many psychologists attempt to understand the fundamental causes of behaviour and their work may not be directly applied to solve practical problems. They are primarily engaged in basic research, and study such fundamental processes as learning, memory, thinking, sensation and perception, motivation, and emotion, by using the experimental method.
Thus, the experimental psychologist investigates how behaviour is modified and how people retain these modifications, the processing of information thinking, how human sensory systems work to allow people to experience what is going on around them, and the factors that urge them on and give direction to behaviour.
The non-experimental branch included personality, social, and developmental. However, many of these academic branches are having further sub-branches, i.e.; developmental psychology has sub-branches like child psychology, adolescence psychology, and gerontology. Similarly, social psychology has an ‘applied social psychology’ branch and it has given rise to an applied field called ‘organisational psychology’. Applied fields have also led to many theories, e.g.; the application of theories of motivation to organisations has resulted in many work motivation theories. Thus, today, there are many branches of psychology, which are categorized under both basic and applied branches.
Many authors use the terms ‘branch’ and ‘field’ interchangeably. Area or branch seems to be broader terms that include both basic and applied aspects, whereas, field implies a specific area, where expertise or specialised knowledge is required to solve problems. However, some authors use the term ‘field’ in a broad manner, e.g. ‘the field of psychology’ has many sub-fields. Others use the term ‘division’ and ‘sub-divisions’ of psychology. The clear cut distinction is not obvious. Therefore, these terms are used interchangeably.
Now, let us look at some of the psychology’s major branches/fields, as described by various authors.
The basic fields in psychology are primarily concerned with identifying the causes of behaviour. Psychologists who work in these fields try to understand and describe the determinants of behaviour. The following are the basic fields:
Biopsychology studies the biological bases of behaviour. The intimate relationship between psychology and the biological sciences is quite obvious. All behaviour occurs through bodily processes. The brain plays a very important role in coordinating and organising the functions of the different organs of the body. In fact, it is the seat of all forms of complex behaviour. It is impossible to understand and explain behaviour without an understanding of the structure and functioning of the brain.
Along with the brain, the entire nervous system plays a crucial role in behaviour. Hence, there is an intimate relationship between psychology and neurology, neurophysiology, neurochemistry and other branches of knowledge which are directly involved with the study of the nervous system, particularly the brain. Genetics, the branch of the biology which deals with the
nature of inheritance of different qualities is also an important discipline from the point of view of psychology.
Over the years, geneticists have carried out important researches, bringing out the role of heredity in determining behaviour.
This has been particularly so in the case of abnormal behaviour like neurosis, mental retardation, psychosis etc. Studies on the role of heredity have also indicated the importance of the genes in determining the intelligence level.
In recent years, the role of chemical factors especially the hormones, secreted by endocrine glands has been shown to play an important role in behaviour. Emotional behaviour, temperament etc. are to a considerable extent, influenced by the hormones of the endocrine glands.
Cognitive psychology studies human information processing abilities. Psychologists in this field study all aspects of cognition such as memory, thinking, problem-solving, decision making, language, reasoning and so on.
It studies and compares the behaviour of different species, especially animals. That is why some authors used to call this field of animal psychology. By studying animal behaviour, these psychologists gather important information which can be compared with and applied to human behaviour. For example, investigating how does the queen bee direct, control, and gets things done by the worker bees, may provide meaningful information about leadership.
Cultural psychology studies the ways in which culture, subculture, and ethnic group membership affect behaviour. These psychologists do cross-cultural research and compare the behaviour of people in different nations.
Experimental psychology investigates all aspects of psychological processes like perception, learning, and motivation. The major research method used by these psychologists includes controlled experiments. But, as Morgan et al. (1986) put it, the experimental method is also used by psychologists other than experimental psychologists. For instance, social psychologists may do experiments to determine the effects of various group pressures and influences on a person’s behaviour.
So, in spite of its name, it is not the method that distinguishes experimental psychology from other sub-fields. Instead, experimental psychology is distinguished by what it studies—the fundamental processes of learning, and memory, thinking, sensation and perception, motivation, emotion, and the physiological or biological bases of behaviour.
Gender psychology does research on differences between males and females, the acquisition of gender identity, and the role of gender throughout life.
Learning psychology studies how and why learning occurs. These psychologists develop theories of learning and apply the laws and principles of learning to solve a variety of human problems.
Personality psychology studies personality traits and dynamics. These psychologists develop theories of personality and tests for assessing personality traits. They also identify the causes of problems related to personality development.
Physiological psychologists investigate the role of biochemical changes within our nervous systems and bodies in everything we do, sense, feel, or think. Mostly, they use the experimental method and do basic research on the brain, nervous system, and other physical origins of behaviour. Physiological Psychology is not only a part of psychology but also is considered to be part of the broader field called neurobiology which studies the nervous system and its functions.
As we know, Physiological Psychology is categorised under ‘experimental’ psychology. That is why some authors called this branch as ‘experimental and Physiological Psychology’. On the other hand, some authors have categorized ‘experimental Psychology’ as a separate branch of psychology.
Sensation and Perception Psychology
It studies the sense organs and the process of perception. Psychologists working in this field, investigate the mechanisms of sensation and develop theories about how perception or misperception (illusion)
occurs. They also study how do we perceive depth, movement, and individual differences in perception. Researches in this field have given rise to many laws and principles that help us understand the ways we adjust to the visual world in a meaningful way.
Social psychology investigates human social behaviour, including attitudes, conformity, persuasion, prejudice, friendship, aggression, helping and so forth. Emphasises all aspects of social behaviour such as how we think about and interact with others, how we influence and are influenced by others. For example, social psychologists study how we perceive others and how those perceptions affect our attitude and behaviour towards them.
This field has developed by the joint contribution of sociologies and social psychologists and their research interest overlap. However, their focus differs in the sense that while the former is concerned primarily with social institutions, the later focus typically upon the individual.
The social psychologists who are working on the applied side of this field, have developed and standardised techniques to measure attitudes and opinions. Their survey research on political opinion, consumer attitudes and attitudes related to important social issues provide important information to politicians, business executives, and community leaders who benefit from these while making decisions.
Clinical psychology does psychotherapy; investigates clinical problems; develops methods of treatment. This field emphasises the diagnosis, causes, and treatment of severe psychological disorders and emotional troubles.
Confusion between the fields of clinical psychology and psychiatry occurs because both clinical psychologists and psychiatrists provide psychotherapy. And both usually work together in many hospitals/clinics. That is why many people get confused regarding the difference between the two. Well, they belong to two different groups of professionals and differ in their educational background as well as ways of diagnosis and treatment.
Psychiatrists are physicians. After completing medical studies, they do Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in psychiatry and specialise in the treatment of mental disorders, whereas, clinical psychologists hold a master’s degree M.A/M.Sc and/ or a doctorate degree (Doctor of Philosophy [PhD] or Doctor of Psychology [Psy.D]) in clinical psychology.
Because of this difference in training, clinical psychologists who do not have medical training, cannot prescribe drugs to treat behaviour disorders. Also, whenever there is a possibility of a medical disorder, a patient should be examined by a psychiatrist or other physician. Moreover, mostly, only a psychiatrist can refer a patient to a hospital for treatment and care. Clinical psychologists carry out research to find out better ways of diagnosing, treating, and preventing psychological disorders. They also rely heavily on standardised tests for identifying the causes of these disorders. They use psychotherapy, for which they are trained, for the treatment of mental disorders. But clinical psychologists are not authorised to prescribe drugs to treat behaviour disorders, as they do not have medical training. Also, they cannot refer a patient to a hospital, for care and treatment. Whenever there is a possibility of a medical disorder, a patient should be examined by a psychiatrist or other physician.
Community psychology promotes community-wide mental health through research, prevention, education, and consultation. Community psychologists apply psychological principles, ideas, and points of view to help solve social problems and to help individuals in adapting to their work and living groups.
Some community psychologists are essentially clinical psychologists and they specially organise programmes to reach those people in the community, who have behavioural problems or who are likely to have such problems. These psychologists not only deal with the mental health problems of community members but also attempt to promote their mental health.
Other community psychologists are more concerned with bringing ideas from the behavioural sciences to bear on community problems. They may be called the ‘social-problem community psychologists’. Hostility among groups in the community, bad relations between the police and community members, or distress due to lack of employment opportunities, for example, might be problems on which a social-problem community psychologist would work. Such psychologists also, often work to encourage certain groups to participate in community decisions, to provide psychological information about effective and health-promoting child-rearing practices, or to advise school systems about how to make their curricula meet the needs of community members.
Consumer psychology researches packaging, advertising, marketing methods, and characteristics of consumers. This field is an offshoot of social psychology.
Counselling psychology does psychotherapy and personal counselling; researches emotional disturbances and counselling methods. This branch deals with helping people/individuals with personal problems including interpersonal relations, career choice, mild emotional troubles or behavioural problems such as overeating, slow learning or lack of concentration. Counselling psychologists assist individuals having a specific problem like how to plan a career, how to develop more effective interpersonal skills(e.g. communication skills). Nowadays, there are many specialised fields within counselling psychology and experts are
working as marriage counsellors, family counsellors, school counsellors etc.
The work of the counselling psychologist is quite similar to that of the clinical psychologist. The difference between them is that counselling psychologists generally work with people who have milder emotional and personal problems. They may use psychotherapy in an attempt to help with these problems. Counselling psychologists are often consulted by people with specific questions, such as a choice of career or educational program.
Educational psychology investigates classroom dynamics, teaching styles, and learning; develops educational tests, evaluates educational programs. Investigates all aspects of the educational process ranging from curriculum design to techniques of instruction to learning disabilities. This branch deals with the broader problem of increasing the efficiency of learning in school by applying psychological knowledge about/of learning and motivation to the curriculum. Another specialised sub-field called School Psychology may be included in educational psychology.
Engineering psychology does applied research on the design of machinery, computers, aeroplanes, automobiles, and so on, for business, industry, and the military. Psychologists working in this field also write instruction manual in such a manner that can be understood by laypersons so that they can operate complex machinery and home appliances.
Forensic psychology investigates problems of crime and crime prevention, rehabilitation programs, prisons, courtroom dynamics; selects candidates for police work. Forensic psychologists mostly work within the judicial system in such areas as assessing the emotional and psychological state of undertrials and victims, evaluation of rehabilitation programmes; eyewitness testimony and evidence; jury selection; and police training etc.
It investigates all aspects of behaviour in a work setting ranging from selection and recruitment of employees, performance appraisal, work motivation to leadership. The first application of psychology to the problems of industries and organisations were the selection and recruitment of employees by using intelligence, aptitude tests.
Nowadays, a number of companies are using modern versions of such tests in their programmes for hiring and selection of employees. Specialists in this field also apply psychology to problems related to management and employee training,
leadership and supervision, communication, motivation, inter-and intra-group conflict within the organisation. They organise on-the-job training programmes for improving work environments and human relations in organisations and work settings. These psychologists are sometimes called personnel psychologists.
Medical psychology applies psychology to manage medical problems, such as the emotional impact of illness, self-screening for cancer, compliance in taking medicines. The job of these psychologists overlaps with part of health psychology.
These psychologists do psychological testing, referrals, emotional and vocational counselling of students; detect and treat learning disabilities, and help improve classroom learning. The job of school psychologists includes diagnosing learning difficulties and trying to remedy them.
Educational psychology may include school psychology, but educational psychologists, as such, are usually involved with more general, less immediate problems. Educational psychologists are especially concerned with increasing the efficiency of learning in school by applying their psychological knowledge about learning and motivation to the curriculum.
Both Basic and Applied Fields
There are some fields which are categorised under both basic and applied fields. These are described below.
It conducts research on infant, child, adolescent, and adult development; does clinical work with disturbed children; acts as a consultant to parents and schools. Emphasises how people change physically, cognitively and socially over the entire life span. Developmental psychologists try to understand complex behaviours by studying their beginnings and the orderly ways in which they change with time. If we can trace the origin and developmental sequence of a certain behaviour, we will have a better understanding of it. Child psychology, the study of children’s behaviour, consists of a large part of developmental psychology because changes in behaviour occur in an accelerated manner. But developmental changes also occur in adolescence, adulthood, and old age; and so the study of these changes is also a part of developmental psychology.
Developmental psychology has both research and applied aspects. For instance, a great deal of research has been done on the development of thinking in children. Progressive and systematic changes take place in their thinking during the first few years of life. On the applied side, developmental psychologists are often concerned with children who have behaviour problems or psychological disorders. The kinds of behaviours found in disturbed children are frequently quite different from the behaviours found in disturbed adults, and different methods are used to treat them.
Environmental psychology studies the effects of urban noise, crowding, attitudes toward the environment, and human use of space. These psychologists act as consultants on environmental issues.
Health psychology studies the relationship between behaviour and health; uses psychological principles to promote health and prevent illness.
This is an emerging field of the 21st century. This field is defined as the science of happiness and human strengths. Psychologists working in this field are concerned with the positive aspects of human nature such as hope, optimism, passion, love, gratitude, forgiveness, humility etc. They try to find out what makes a good life. The work of these psychologists overlaps with that of humanistic psychologists who have similar viewpoints.
17 thoughts on “27 BRANCHES AND FIELDS OF PSYCHOLOGY”
Ꭲhe original of tһis woгk, La Psychologie Ԁes Foules,
was first translated anonymously іnto English possіbly
by а ɡroup of French students. Ƭhe publisher has corrected errors ɑnd anomalies іn the original
translation by reference t᧐ the Alcan edition. Ꮤe have shortened a few passages but maintained thе original footnotes and have addеd
some footnotes օf our own.
This book is a foundation of mass psychology.
Gustave Ꮮе Bon throws light оn the unconscious irrational
workings ߋf gгoup thоught аnd mass emotion as he plɑⅽes crowd ideology іn opposition tо free-thinking ɑnd independent minded individuals.
Не also ѕhows һow tһe behaviour of an individual ｃhanges when sһe/he
is part of a crowd.
Le Βօn wаs an eminent psychologist and sociologist.
Ƭhe ideas he explores іn Psychology օf Crowds агe
extremely relevant to tоdaʏ’s society and were of pivotal importance
in the earlү years of group psychology: Sigmund
Freud’ѕ Massenpsychologie und Іch-Analyse (1921); (English translation Group Psychology and the Analysis оf the Ego, 1922) was based ⲟn Le Βon’s woгk
Crowd psychology, аlso known as mob psychology, іs ɑ branch of
social psychology. Social psychologists һave
developed a numbеr of theories for explaining the ways in whіch the psychology
of a crowd differs fｒom and interacts ԝith tһat of the individuals ѡithin it.
Crowd behavior іs heavily influenced by thе loss of responsibility оf the individual and
the impression of universality of behavior, ƅoth ᧐f whiсh increase with crowd size.
Тһiѕ book is divided into three sections:
Book 1 – Тhe Mind of Crowds
Book 2 – The Opinions ɑnd Beliefs of Crowds
Book Three – The Classification and Description ߋf tһe Dіfferent Kinds
Psychology օf Crowds concludes ᴡith а chapter on electoral
crowds which iѕ highly relevant tߋ thｅ 21st century.
Ηere іs my ρage … mass behaviour
Thank you for this precious knowledge.
Remember tһeѕe points when you гead about the next economic and
“Ꭲhere is no such tһing as ‘good’ deflation heralding economic benefits.”
“Markets һave onlｙ giѵеn generous rewards for as lⲟng aѕ central banks
havе succｅssfully expanded thｅ supply of credit.”
“Banks mаy ᴡell become reluctant landlords.”
“Thе tragedy іѕ that tһе authorities ɗo not
admit to thе debt trap. The farce, that tһeir policies worsen іt.”
Gain an understanding ᧐f whʏ so much well-intentioned opinion is mistaken:
e-book 9781907230776 avaiⅼable now , two hard cover and a paperback print editions.
Paperback ɑvailable now in mɑny countries еxcept UЅA аnd UK, hɑrd cover editions USA Mɑy 2021, UK 23/8/21
Psychotherapy, Counseling, and Coaching: Different Alternatives for Promoting Psychological Well-Being Chiara Ruini and Susana C. Marques
Have you ever thought about including a little
bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything.
Nevertheless think of if you added some great graphics or videos
to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content
is excellent but with images and videos, this website could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its niche.
Thank you for your precious feedback. I will work on this idea.
The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty
foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she
has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but
I had to share it with someone!
Terrific post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
I pay a visit everyday a few blogs and sites
to read articles or reviews, except this blog gives quality
Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored to tears at work
so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during
lunch break. I really like the info you present here and can’t wait to take
a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog
loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..
Anyhow, great blog!
Just want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness for
your submit is just nice and that i can suppose you are knowledgeable in this subject.
Fine along with your permission allow me to snatch your RSS
feed to stay updated with imminent post. Thank you one million and please continue
the rewarding work.
This paragraph provides clear idea in support of the new users of blogging, that really how to do blogging.
Hello to every one, the contents present at this web page are genuinely
amazing for people experience, well, keep up the nice work fellows.
It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely
donate to this brilliant blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed
to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and
will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!
Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe
this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the info!
Hi, every time i used to check blog posts here early in the break of day,
since i love to find out more and more.