Psychological Foundations

Introduction to Contemporary Fields in Psychology

What you’ll learn to do: identify the various approaches, fields, and subfields of psychology along with their major concepts and important figures

black and white photo of a woman standing in front of a subway as it zips past her.

This section will provide an overview of the major domains of psychology today, as well as some additional sub-fields and content areas. This is not meant to be an exhaustive listing, but it will provide insight into the major areas of research and practice of modern-day psychologists. You’ll come to see that while psychology is defined as the study of the mind and behavior, there are many different types of psychologists who emphasize and apply psychological principles in various ways.

For example, imagine that a woman is diagnosed with depression. What is the cause of the depression? Is it her biology or chemical imbalances in her brain? Evolutionary predispositions? Perhaps it is caused by experiences in her past, or something else that triggered a downward spiral of emotions? Or maybe it is caused by social factors, or cultural expectations? All of these things could, in fact, play a role in her depression. In this section, you’ll see how psychologists analyze behavior from a variety of perspectives and better understand the breadth of psychology.

Learning Objectives

  • List and define the five major domains, or pillars, of contemporary psychology
  • Describe the basic interests and applications of biopsychology and evolutionary psychology
  • Describe the basic interests and applications of cognitive psychology
  • Describe the basic interests and applications of developmental psychology
  • Describe the basic interests and applications of social psychology and personality psychology
  • Describe the basic interests and applications of abnormal, clinical, and health psychology
  • Define industrial-organizational psychology, sport and exercise psychology, and forensic psychology

License

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General Psychology by OpenStax and Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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