What Psychologists Do

Psychologists use scientific methods to study human behavior, and apply their findings to solve human problems. Among fields requiring a college degree, experts expect psychology to be the third fastest-growing field in America through 2005, and to continue to grow steadily thereafter.

If you want to know how to make a school or workplace more productive, how to make a community or computer more user-friendly, how to get along better with family members or co-workers, how to reduce workplace injuries, how to help a disabled person remain independent, how to effectively train or educate people---ask a psychologist. Psychologists study those topics.

Psychologists try to understand why people behave as they do. To do so, they study topics ranging from biology to sociology. Psychologists study the relationship between body (especially the brain) and behavior, and between the environment (including the social environment) and behavior.

"Everyone knows" that psychologists "do therapy," helping people manage and understand their emotions, achieve their personal goals, improve their relationships, and make difficult decisions. Psychologists help people manage stress and learn to avoid unhealthy behaviors such as poor nutrition, drug abuse, poor personal relationships, violence at home and elsewhere, and causing harm to our environment. But psychologists also work with business executives, performers, police, and athletes to combat stress and improve performance. They advise lawyers on jury selection, and work with educators on school reform. They advise businesses on work environments, equipment design, and personnel selection and training. They work with doctors to help patients comply with medical treatments and adjust to physical impairment. Psychologists provide help to victims of trauma (e.g., following earthquakes, accidents, bombings), and team up with law enforcement to understand, treat, and even prevent some of these events.

Psychologists are innovators who seek new ways to meet the ever-evolving needs of individuals and society. Through research, they develop and test theories. They use that knowledge to improve communities and organizations, diagnose and treat people, and help people relate to, and work with, machines. Psychologists focus on understanding the mental processes and emotional health of individuals.

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