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I'm studying A Level Psychology with the WJEC exam board and I abosolutely love it!
I've found studying the four main approaches in Psychology the best part so far and it's a real eye-opener to be honest.
The fours appoaches I studied are:
I found Biological the msot tedious as I've never been good at actual Biology. However I thoroughly enjoyed and fully understnad and appreciate the Behavioural and Cognitive approaches, while I think the Psychodynamic approach is too far fetched and the fact it cannot be falsified really drives me up the wall.
I'm doing the Core Studies at the moment, which entails looking at specific experiments by well known Psychologists such as the Reconstuction of Automobile Destruction by Loftus and Palmer and Being Sane in Insane Places by David Rosenhan. It fascinates me how clever and scheming some psychologists are, and I love the idea of exploring and discovering new parts of the mind. It'd be great to put these new parts to use too.
I love going home and testing things I've learnt on my family, and telling my mum new things I've found out, for example it's actually possible to plant a false memory in someone and make them believe it so much that they actually start to remember it and develop the memory themselves, even though it never happened. It makes you scared though, because it proves just how vulnerable our brains are, we think we're in control, but you can't be sure can you.
I find it really interesting and I just love it, I hope to study it, or english, at uni in a few years time. For now though I'll stick to writing reviews!
I'll summarise my blabbering and just basically say that if you're interested in people, behaviour or the mind then Psychology is the course for you! Not only will you be studying something you enjoy and find interesting, but you can potentially get qualifications for studying it! With WJEC the questions are always the same the stimulus just changes each exam so it's easy to revise and get good, consistent, high-end marks.
Study Psyhology! (it makes you seem smarter too)
Study Psychology and you will soon become familiar with many names such as Bandura, Skinner, Maslow, Jung, Pavlov and Beck, all prominent Psychologists who have contributed greatly to the study of the mind - however inadvertently. Many people perceive psychology to be something that it is not; and it's very well known among psychology students that you will be jokingly asked to 'read my mind!' or 'go on, analyse me!' (I've found the best response to that is to spew some Freudian psychobabble and go on in long words about their lack of empathy with the human race).
Psychology is nothing to do with mind reading; only a small portion of it is concerned with dream analysis and it doesn't believe that everyone is crazy and needs 'happy pills'. Psychology is an ever developing, changing and evolving science - yes, it is a science! It uses specific, scientific methods to measure and understand the human and sometimes animal conditions of thought and processing. If you're familiar with sociology, the study of society, it sometimes helps to think of it this way. Psychology is concerned pretty much solely with the actions, thoughts, reactions, feelings and functions of one person or living being. Sociology is concerned with the actions, thoughts, reactions, feelings and functions of many people, or a society. The two often link together and over lap.
If you compare psychology to the 'harder' sciences of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, you'll see that it's still a relative baby - it was only really produced to the mass audience in the 1800s and even then it was in a very biological based style (giving us the biological perspective of psychology; not my favourite as it is far too precise and scientific for my liking, but very useful none the less) which meant it didn't really present anything new. This is where Freud jumps in and really kick starts the popularity of psychology, with his wacky theories on sexual drive in children and the presence of the Id, Ego and Superego in our mind controlling our every action.
The basic thought of Freud and to some extent Jung was that our mental health is out of our control; an utterly revolutionary idea in a world that locked people up for attempting suicide due to severe depression or other disorders. All blame for mental illness is removed from the individual which helps the patient to deal with their problems without having to reconcile the thought that their irrational thoughts are their fault. This is where I really start to enjoy Freud's theory; maybe not so much the stages of psycho-sexual development but definitely the consideration for the fact that sometimes, people just get mental illnesses! No doctor would ever consider telling a patient that it is their fault they contracted a life threatening disease, and the same should go for mental illnesses. Freud also sparked therapy for these 'neurosis'' which is still going strong today, even though it's very expensive to undertake.
Even though we tend to think of things such as Freud and Skinner with his ping pong playing pigeons when we think of psychology, there is so much more to it than that. This is what fascinates me; there is probably a branch of psychology for everything! From child development to eye witness testimony, colour schemes of rooms to branding on television, psychology has a hand or at least something to say about them all. Many pieces of psychology soon become popular and people gain an interest in them; for instance, the case of Genie, the young girl who was socially isolated for the first thirteen years of her life or Pavlov's dogs, who were classically conditioned to salivate at the ringing of a bell (and as with all good scientific discoveries, one that happened completely due to chance). The other appeal is that they also cross over with other sciences and humanity subjects such as biology and sociology.
Studying psychology, even in its primitive stage at AS/A2 level is fascinating and it starts to open you up to the world of the mind; a world where you can never be sure of what's going on. Psychology is a science that always has something else to discover, something that is new and exciting. We see psychology and its theories every day; we just don't notice it if we don't know about it. Do you have a battle inside your head about buying another pair of shoes? If you do, then you're likely to be showing and proving Freud's theory of the mind, as you'll be using your Id and Superego to try and convince yourself one way or the other. Have you read Paul McKenna's famous series of books on quitting smoking, dieting and changing your lifestyle? All of them have a basis in cognitive psychology. Dream analysis, reading body language and speech tones, understanding consumer shopping habits, they're all psychology.
This subject turned out to be a massive disappointment for me, where i managed to achieve the lovely grade U for 2 of my exams!
I am an academic kind of person, i do well in exams and i'll be going to University soon.. So i couldn't understand why this subject had thwarted me. Until i actually read some of the theories and realised i'd not memorised them all.
When i first went to college, i was convinced that i wanted to be a criminal psychologist (i have no idea why!) so i chose psychology as an AS level. Boy, i regretted that when i did my January exams! I was under the impression that it'd be allllll about why people did things and what made them.. But it was in fact all about random topics such as Obedience, Memory and Autism; all topics that entailed having many outlines of studies and many names and statistics to memorise for the exams. Which i thought was rather silly, it is then an exam about how much you can remember about names, not how you can help people!
I have no idea how people that did an A level in psychology can go on to work in hospitals or as counsellors.. The studies involved have nothing at all to do with the practical side of counselling these days, so i just can't understand it at all..
Needless to say, i haven't carried it on to A2 level!
Ok as i'm studying psychology at uni i'm a little biased. In my mind this is an amazing subject and everything about it is truly fascinating. People usually have the wrong idea about psychology. Whenever i tell someone that i'm studying psychology the usual responses are: 'can you read my mind?', 'can you analyse my behaviour?' and 'ooo i better be careful what i say around you'. Let me clarify one thing studying psychology doesn't allow you to read people's mind and we don't analyse and judge your behaviour. The stereotype of psychology is probably someone laying on a couch while some guy in a beard with a pipe is listening and writing things down on a clipboard. This is only one form of psychology called psychiatry and you have to read medicine to become a psychiatrist.
Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mind of human and non human animals. You don't lean how to read body language and it's not as glamorous as the media makes it. You learn about theories and studies about human behaviour.
memory - how we remember things, different types of memories, how long memories last, problems with memory etc
Developmental psychology - why children are so dependent on their caregivers, what happens when they don't receive adequate care, development of self concept of gender etc
Individual differences - intelligence and what it is and how to measure it, different types of personalities, different factors which contribute to a persons overall personality, why there are difference between people
Social psychology - this looks at aggression, altruistic behavior, why we formulate stereotypes and groups and the consequences of this, our attitudes towards things and our impression of ourselves and other people.
There many more topics but these are a few of the main ones. When you learn about one topic you learn several theories and that's exactly what they are they are theories. There's nothing definite in psychology, and theories constantly change as new research is carried out and new findings are discovered. Psychology is based on research. Psychologists formulate a hypothesis, create an experiment which are run on real participants and then results will add to the knowledge of the behaviour in question. What i love most about psychology is this point. The fact that nothing is certain and that each topic has many theories. This allows you to make your own decision it allows you to think about what each theory is saying and formulate your own opinions. You can then use research to try and support your point. There is never a right or wrong answer as long as you can find empirical support for your argument then it's valid.
It covers such a broad range of topics and you are studying one of the most fascinating things on this planet- us. We are so complex and interesting how can the study of human behavior be anything but extraordinary. You begin to understand why we do the things we do and develop an appreciation for how amazing our brain is. The more you learn about it the more you realise how everything can be linked together and the more you want learn. A running theme throughout psychology is the nature/nurture debate. People are always want to know if it is our genes or our environment which determine our behaviour and traits and 9 times out of 10 it's both. Through the study of psychology you see how our genes and our environment shape our development and our behaviour.
I am currently studying Psychology and find it extremely interesting. When people find out that I am studying it they either say 'are you going to analyse me?' or 'what is psychology all about, anyway?'.
So, I better try and explain a little...
My Uni defines Psychology as 'The scientific study of behaviour and mental activity'. Which is basically it. It's hard to define Psychology as it covers so many areas. It is also hard to catagorise it, some people would say it is a Science based subject and others say it is Humanities. It is both really, depending on the content in which you are studying. It is a 'social science', not a true science, but it does use scientific procedures. There is a lot of research involved but it is also people orientated.
There are many different branches of Psychology. If you wanted a career in Psychology there are many areas to choose from, a few popular choices are:
Clinical Psychology - Dealing with a wide variety of psychological difficulties and mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia or even simple phobias. Clinical Psychologists work in mainly hospital and social care settings.
Health Psychology - A relatively new branch of Psychology. We are bombarded with health campaigns to encourage us to: get our 5-a-day, quit smoking, drink less, exercise more, etc. A health psychologist uses their knowledge to reinforce these messages and encourage us to actually take this advice. They may work in the media, hospitals, health authorities or University departments.
Neuropsychology - Mainly working with people who have sustained brain injuries. Research is a big part of Neuropsychology and work tends to be a blend of research and contact with clients or other neurologists.
Forensic Psychology - Becoming a very popular choice, newspapers commenting on the rise of Forensic Psychologists call it the 'Cracker effect' after the show starring Robbie Coltrane.
Forensic Psychologists use a wide range of skills to assess people and situations. They may work in a team with a wide range of professionals such as social workers, police and prison officers, medial practitioners and many other health professionals.
Many people I know have also studied it for pleasure rather than career prospects. It does help you see the world from a different viewpoint and makes you a bit more understanding of people.
If it interests you, go for it! You will enjoy it and get a lot from it.
Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. It looks at the ways in which individuals behave, based on either processes in the brain or their surrounding environment. There are many different fields of psychology that you can study. Whilst at University I studied psychology, and found it to be a extremely interesting subject. Some of the different areas I personally studied where Cognitive Psychology (which looks at behaviour based on brain functions), Abnormal Psychology (which looks at specific abnormalities such as depression and schizophrenia and ways of dealing with them), Counselling Psychology (which quite obviously looks at Counselling and different forms of it), Biological Psychology (which looks at evolution and biological processes for behaviour) and Child Psychology (which looks at child development and different theories regarding the ways in which children learn). I think this is a very rewarding subject to study as it can be used in almost any job even if it is not specifically related to the subject, and also teaches people useful 'people' skills.
Psychology is one of those subjects which shifts between the boundaries of being a humanity and a science. As such, some university courses offer a BSc, and some offer a BA depending on how scientific the nature of the course is.
Psychology essentially is the study of the mind, and how the brain works to influence our behaviours. Within psychology itself however there are many different subdivisions, such as neuropsychology which looks at the activities of neurons and the physical structure of the brain, develpmental psychology, looking at how we become who we are and the development paths of children, language which looks at how we learn to speak and read and write, along with many other wide and varied fields.
As a course to study, what is key is the fascination. in my opinion if you have an interest in how the mind works and how we are who we are then it can be an interesting course. But don't expect to instantly a forensic psychologist or a top researcher. Initial research in places can be rather dull and repetitive, and what you learn at first may not be something that truly excites you, but i still feel psychology is an interesting and useful topic and one that deserves to shake off the bad reputation it has at some colleges and universities.
I was under the impression, having studied psycholgy at gcse,'a' level, degree & post-graduate levels, that I would have at least some explanations for all human ( & other animal ) behaviour.
How wrong could I be?
I even taught psychology for several years, but still I don't understand people's behaviour!
A good defintion of psycholgy is 'the scientific study of the human mind & the science of human ( & other animals' behaviour) - Gross R, 1991.
But here's the first problem - what do we mean by 'the mind'...?
Psychology is really more a science than a social science ( although this is still questioned by admissions tutors at uni) as it involves a good deal of biology & statistics.
However it also involves philosophy - 'what is the mind?' etc & can also involve history, sociology, politics, criminology, anthropology, law etc etc. - there are no boundaries.
Forget the academics & the qualifications gained by studying this area - we are ALL psychologists whether we have letters after our name or not.
In my opinion, my local hairdresser & taxi drivers etc know far more about what makes people tick than I ever will.
Having studied in depth such areas as ~
- the brain
- mental illness ( or atypical behaviour)
- cognitive, behavioural, psychoanalytic & humanistic approaches (all long words for common sense theories)
- child psycholgy (you learn more when you become a parent)
I realise that I have been left with more questions than answers!
Have I wasted my time? - I don't think so but I've wasted a lot of money on heavyweight psycholgy books, sat in boring lectures, carried out time-consuming & pointless experiments & then manually worked out statistics which could have been done in no time on the computer.
There are many psychologists that I greatly admire & respect, but the type I don't like are the 'know-it-alls' who use long psychological terms just to show off - hey - I could do that too, but why on earth should I?
But I do love psychology for the following reasons ~
- 'there's nowt as queer as folk' as you can tell when 'people-watching'
- we can't always predict people's behaviour & I wouldn't want to!
- I love being a part of society.
*** GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE WHO'S STUDYING IT AT SCHOOL, COLLEGE OR UNI - I WISH YOU WELL ***
Psychology has always fascinated me so I was thrilled when I had the option to take it at college and degree level. It's one of those open-ended areas of study because there is no one answer to any question; topics are so diverse that they're totally open to personal opinion and debate. For that reason, many people don't see it as a strong academic course to study. I would have to disagree with this, because although can't be entirely based on fact, there's a lot of research and evidence to back up theories.
There's a number of reasons you may want to study psychology because it's an area that affects all aspects of our individual personal lives, social lives, our work, parenting, and a vast ray of other areas that may not at first be considered, eg. the law. It's good to get a grasp of how we think and the reasons behind our beliefs and behaviours. When we get to understand ourselves better, we can then get a better understanding of society, our roles in the world and consequently how each action and thought has an affect within the world.
Certain jobs within this field will require a psychology degree which would be an incentive to take the subject at a higher level, such as psychotherapists. But not all careers in this area require a degree, and they're not just jobs that work with councelling others in a psyciatry capacity. It could be working with children and schools to improve their overall development, working with companies and organisations to help maximise their employee satisfaction and work production, working within the police/law sector to improve eye witness testimonies or reduce accidents and crime... the list is endless.
Because psychology affects every one of us it makes all the more interesting and relevant to us. The huge range of topics and subjects it explores gives way to much diversity. This means it's a sea of theories, theorists, opinions, research, evidence...all waiting to be discovered and evaluated.
When studying psychology you have to take an analytical approach by reviewing certain psychologists, theories and evidence, and evaluating them from an outsiders viewpoint. Anyone that thinks psychology is a walk in the park subject will be sadly disappointed to find that it's extremely complex. I find that the interesting topic matter is something to be relished and I drink it all up, I love it. You may think that Freud's theories on penis envy and children falling in love with their fathers are slightly twisted or plain stupid, but that's the best part - when you disagree because you can then challenge the theories and formulate your own thoughts and opinions.
Although most work within the study of psychology is based around reading, researching and evaluating text, there's some biology and statistical information involved. There are also opportunities for you to do your own investigations and test your own theories.
Overall, it's a very intricately complex subject that's filled with theories and opinions waiting to be explored. I find it extremely interesting as there's no right or wrong answers, or indeed one specific answer to any question, but that does require you to have the ability to generate your own views and evaluate theories and research in an analytical way.
If you're thinking of studying Psychology, the first and most important thing you should realise, is that the second you tell people that you read psychology, and scared look will flit across their face and they will jokingly say something along the lines of 'Gosh, dont analyse me!', after the first 5 times, it gets intensely irritating! I have been reading Psychology at The University of leicester for a year now, and have just got my first year overall marks. I chose psychology beacsue i was good at it at A-Level, and it fascinates me. After the first year, i have learnt how we perceieve sensations, and how they are processed physically in the brain, how to write a practical report, and work out all of the associated statistics, the history of psychology and its links to philosophy and biology, abnormal psychology, child psychology, ergonomics and practical psychology skills. Psychology at university is far different from what i expected, it is a lot tougher and requires much self discipline, and much background reading. Me, however, has managed to get a 2:2 after only ever going to half my lectures! Dont be fooled, it isnt essentail to go to your lectures if you can download them from the internet, but beware, just go to the first lecture of each module to see if you understand it! I am thoroughly enjoying reading psychology and am definately looking forward to the next 2 years ahead!