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Major fields of psychology

Abnormal psychology deals with behaviour disorders and disturbed individuals. For example, researchers might investigate the causes of violent or self-destructive behaviour or the effectiveness of procedures used in treating an emotional disturbance.

Clinical psychology uses the understandings derived from developmental and abnormal psychology to diagnose and treat mental disorders and adjustment problems. Some clinical psychologists work to develop programmes for the prevention of emotional illness or conduct basic research on how individuals can better cope with the problems of daily life.

Comparative psychology explores the differences and similarities in the behaviour of animals of different species. Psychologists in this field make systematic studies of the abilities, needs, and activities of various animal species as compared with human beings.

Developmental psychology studies the emotional, intellectual, and social changes that occur across the life span of human beings. Many developmental psychologists specialize in the study of children or adolescents.

Educational psychology attempts to improve teaching methods and materials, to solve learning problems, and to measure learning ability and educational progress. Researchers in this field may devise achievement tests, develop and evaluate teaching methods, or investigate how children learn at different ages.

Industrial psychology is concerned with people at work. Industrial psychologists investigate such matters as how to make jobs more rewarding or how to improve workers' performance. They also study personnel selection, leadership, and management. Organizational psychology is a closely related field.



Social psychology studies the social behaviour of individuals and groups, with special emphasis on how behaviour is affected by the presence or influence of other people. Social psychologists concentrate on such processes as communication, political behaviour, and the formation of attitudes.

Learning, as a field of psychology, examines how lasting changes in behaviour are caused by experience, practice, or training. The psychologists who study learning are interested in the importance of rewards and punishment in the learning process. They also explore how different individuals and species learn, and the factors that influence memory.

Motivation, as a field of psychology, is the study of what conscious and unconscious forces cause human beings and other animals to behave as they do. Motivational psychologists focus on bodily needs, sexual drives, aggression, and emotion.

Perception, in psychology, is the study of how an organism becomes aware of objects, events, and relationships in the outside world through its senses. Psychologists in the field of perception analyse such topics as vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and movement.

Personality refers to the characteristics that make individuals different from one another and account for the way they behave. Personality psychologists investigate how an individual's personality develops, the chief personality types, and the measurement of personality traits.

Physiological psychology examines the relationship between behaviour and body structures or functions, particularly the workings of the nervous system. Physiological psychologists explore the functions of the brain, how hormones affect behaviour, and the physical processes involved in learning and emotions



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