21 topics that you must study to be an excellent psychologist
If you are interested in psychology and you are thinking about studying the career , not long ago we wrote a post that intended to explain the 10 elementary points to opt for the Bachelor or Degree in Psychology (you can read it by clicking here).
If you already made the decision or would like to know what is studied in the psychology degree, you just have to read the following lines. In today's article, we explain the most important topics that are studied in the Degree in Psychology .
Psychology is a very broad discipline
Evidently, psychology is a broad field in which there are different specialties (clinical psychology, sports psychology, organizational psychology, etc.), so the educational needs are not always the same, depending, of course, on the field of specialization.
In short, psychology is a discipline that covers many areas; For example, we can talk about the history of psychology, the discoveries that have been made from this field, the relationship it has with the neurosciences, what it teaches us about mental processes and our way of relating and making decisions, etc.
In this article we have collected the most important topics that are studied in the psychology career in Spain (in Latin American countries there may be differences). In other words, the core and compulsory subjects that it is necessary to study to obtain the title of psychologist. These subjects can not be absent in any manual of introduction to psychology.
Subjects that you must study to be a good psychologist
Below you can find the most important topics that are studied in the psychology degree.
1. Biological basis of behavior
The biological basis of behavior is an essential area of study in the career of psychology , because it allows to know how the mental processes are produced, which is the main unit that propagates the nervous impulse or the cerebral communication or what is the connection between the parts of the brain and our body.
Throughout the career of psychology it is possible to find subjects such as psychobiology or psychophysiology, because, to be a good psychologist, it is necessary to know how mental processes occur, be it memory, learning or sensations, and knowing, among other things , how neurons act.
2. Statistics and psychometrics
Even though many psychology students do not like numbers, the use of statistics is an important part of science . And psychology, and as a science that is, makes use of it to achieve its objectives of predicting and intervening in human behavior. In addition, any psychologist must master psychometrics, a discipline that is responsible for the set of methods, techniques and theories involved in measuring and quantifying psychological variables. The tests are a necessary tool for any psychologist.
- Related article: "Psychology and statistics: the importance of probabilities in the science of behavior"
3. History of psychology
To be a good psychologist, the first thing to have is a good theoretical foundation. For this, it is necessary to know the history of this discipline and to be clear about what psychology is, what is its field of study, what are the main problems it addresses and which are the main schools that over the years have allowed Psychology is consolidated as a science.
Plato, Descartes, Freud, Skinner, Watson or Bandura are some of the figures that every good psychologist must know to know the historical contexts in which this discipline has evolved.
4. Social psychology
Social psychology is a branch of psychology that analyzes the psychological processes that influence the way a society works , the way in which social interactions are carried out and how social processes modulate the personality and characteristics of each person.
In the subject of social psychology, topics such as leadership or prejudice are studied, and important research in this field is reviewed, such as the Stanford prison experiment by Philip Zimbardo or the Milgram experiment: the danger of obedience to the authority.
- You can learn more about this branch by visiting our article: "What is Social Psychology?"
5. Clinical psychology
Since the beginning of psychology, clinical psychology has been one of the most important areas of this discipline. In clinical psychology All the elements involved in mental disorders and, in general, in mental health are studied . Therefore, clinical psychology carries out all tasks of evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and therapeutic intervention in people with some type of mental impairment or maladaptive behavior, in order to restore psychological balance and improve their well-being.
- Related text: Clinical psychology: definition and functions of the clinical psychologist
6. Psychology of development
This branch of psychology is responsible for studying the behavioral and psychological changes of people through their life cycle , that is, from his birth to his death.
When these changes are analyzed, different fields of study are considered: physical, from which stability, biological change and the determinants of physical growth are analyzed; cognitive, from which the intellectual capacities and their relationship with the development of the person are analyzed; and social and personality, which focuses on individual differences and social relationships in different stages of life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age).
- Related article: "Psychology of Development: main theories and authors"
7. Personality psychology
One of the great areas of psychology and that arouses more interest is the study of personality . From the different currents of psychology an attempt has been made to explain the personality taking into account both genetic and environmental aspects. In his study, he deepens in the different contributions that many authors have carried out in this field.
For example, Eysenck's Theory of Personality: the PEN model, Albert Bandura's Theory of Personality or the Theory of the Big 5 or Big Five.
8. Ethics in psychology
In addition to acquiring theoretical and practical knowledge for the proper development of their profession, the psychologist, throughout the career, must know the ethical principles that govern the exercise of their profession , as well as being aware of its resources and limitations.
It must respect the dignity of its patients and preserve and ensure the preservation of fundamental human rights. Therefore, some of their obligations are to use their knowledge to promote human welfare or maintain professional secrecy.
9. Psychological evaluation
Regardless of whether someone wants to practice as a clinical, organizational or sports psychologist, psychological evaluation is a necessary requirement for the professional practice of any psychologist. So, a good psychologist must be able to master this aspect , either to know the organizational performance of an organization, the personality type of the patient or to assess the intelligence of a student.
- Maybe you're interested: "Types of intelligence tests" or "Types of tests and personnel selection questionnaires"
Neuropsychology is within the neurosciences and is the discipline responsible for studying the relationships between the brain and behavior, not only in individuals with some dysfunction, but also in people with normal behavior. This field of study uses experimental techniques and tests that offer images of the brain area (for example, CT, MRI, PET, fMRI). What functions do neurotransmitters have? or what produces the aphasias? These are some questions to which neuropsychology responds.
- Maybe you're interested: Neurosciences: the new way of understanding the human mind
11. Differential psychology
While general psychology studies behavior common to all human subjects, differential psychology studies this behavior in an individualized way .
Therefore, this branch of psychology is responsible for the description, prediction and explanation of intraindividual, interindividual or intergroup variability of behavior and psychological processes (for example, intelligence). It includes the Psychology of personality, but also accounts for many other elements, such as IQ or biological characteristics related to the immune system, genes related to all kinds of physical characteristics, etc.
12. Psychology of the groups
Although the psychology of the groups was part of the social psychology course in its beginnings, many universities, aware of their importance, teach compulsory subjects of group psychology. Not only that, but nowadays, many postgraduate studies focus on this subject, because this field of study is becoming increasingly important. Many of the human behaviors can not be understood without the group component.
The study of the groups focuses on the understanding and explanation of group processes , the relations between its members and between the different groups, the group formation, the roles, the norms, the group cohesion, the communication, etc.
13. Linguistic psychology
The most important kind of human communication is linguistics.With human language it is possible to produce an unlimited number of messages and establish a true dialogue. Psycholinguistics is a discipline in which The object of study is the relationship established between linguistic knowledge and the mental processes involved in it .
14. Psychology of learning
Human behavior can not be understood without learning . Through this, habits, skills, values or knowledge are acquired and is intimately related to the development of individuals. Some of the most important theory of learning are: Jean Piaget's Theory of Learning or Sociocultural Theory of Lev Vygotsky,
15. Experimental methodology
The study of the experimental methodology is also part of the academic curriculum of a psychologist, since he / she must know the different research designs and the procedures for formulating and contrasting hypotheses, but, in addition, he / she must know how to use the documentary sources of information in this discipline. , with capacity for critical analysis and synthesis. This will help you analyze and interpret quantitative and qualitative data from research, reports and work in psychology.
16. Specialty: Sports Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Legal Psychology ....
The previous points have referred to the different subjects or areas of knowledge required and core in the career of psychology, but in psychology there are different specialties and each of them requires specific knowledge to be able to practice the profession in the best possible way. So, or Once the race is over, there are different masters to continue growing at an academic and professional level and obtain mastery in a particular field of behavioral science.
- If you want to know more about these specializations, you can read our article: "The 20 best Masters in Psychology"
17. Philosophy of science
Is essential to focus any university career based on research . Knowing the epistemological bases of the theories helps to know if certain hypotheses are well justified or on the contrary are not useful to understand reality.
Ethology is essential to understand the behavior of animals. Study basic learning processes in non-human organisms, as well as the instincts and the way in which hormones affect these living beings.
19. Forensic psychology
Very useful to understand the way in which expert evaluations based on psychology work in the legal world.
20. Introduction to anthropology
Anthropology is a field of study similar to social psychology , although it focuses more on cultural phenomena. That is why knowing it is useful to apply certain psychological principles to concrete societies.
21. Use of specific software
It is essential to learn to use highly-used programs, such as R or SPSS, to use them in various subjects. It is also good to use others focused on qualitative research, such as ATLAS.ti.