There is a theory out there that those who study psychology tend to do so because they have ‘issues’ that they want to deal with successfully and this offers them a way of doing that. While that is no doubt true for many people, there are plenty who are not attracted to the field for those specific reasons. A lot of people have asked me over the years however, whether or not they should go to university and study psychology.
In giving them the advice, I always explain the truth behind the myths they might believe in. Lots of psychology involves experimentation, procedural specifics, data collection and statistics. I discuss the various types of psychology and how some areas are more interesting than others. But in this week’s blog, I want to discuss the best reason to study psychology in any form, not necessarily just university.
I spent eight years studying psychology in university. My degree incorporated it along with philosophy, sociology and history and the next five years I continued and focused on just psychology. Since I was 13 years old however, I have been reading psychology books. Some of them were pop psychology and some more academic, but all of them explored the mind.
Psychology is often seen as the study of the mind or the way we think. I believe that, like every other aspect of the arts or sciences there are some people naturally good at the field. Those natural at psychology tend to be good with people. After all the application of psychology is on the way people behave.
The primary question of psychology can be seen as ‘WHY DO WE DO WHAT WE DO?’ We try and understand what kind of psychological forces are at play when we develop and grow up or grow old, when we influence others, when we change behaviour, when we act strange, when we struggle emotionally and so on.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of studying psychology is that we get to understand the various theories that past researchers have presented that help us to understand the way people think. This allows us to have tools to understand someone else’s behaviour and make predictions based upon it.
When you go through life, you build hypotheses in your mind about why people do what they do. It’s natural and automatic. You are interested in what you can do to manage life better and the more your hypotheses are correct, the better off you will be.
Putting a name to a pattern that you have noticed helps you discern the difference between your sharp and accurate observations to all your other ones. It helps you to understand what the collective group of psychologists in the world have concluded. This enables you to often validate your ideas which helps you make better predictions and therefore do better at life.
If you are a personality psychologist, you will learn that certain behaviours indicate tendencies and you will be able to predict the future behaviours more easily. If you are a social psychologist, you will learn what social factors affect our decisions and our behaviours. Again this helps you make better predictions. The same goes for insights gained into effective therapy, lifespan development and how organisations work.
Research based psychological principles and findings can make a huge positive difference to how you navigate the world. You do not have to get a degree or masters to avail of this advantage but you have to start putting psychology books on your personal curriculum and make sure that you study people as well as these books about people so you can become better at making predictions that work.