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What Is Psychology?


What exactly is psychology? The simplest definition is that it is the study of the mind and behavior, but it is difficult to capture everything that psychology encompasses in just a brief definition.  Learn more...

Basics for Beginners
Psychology Spotlight10

A Demonstration of the Blind Spot

Thursday April 24, 2014

At the back of your eye is a tiny spot where the optic nerve and approximately one million ganglion cells extend out of the eye. In order to allow the cells to leave the eye, there is a very small spot that lacks visual receptors. Because of this gap in the receptors, we have what is known as a blind spot.

Usually, we are completely unaware of this blind spot. Why? Partly because it is located slightly off to the side of our visual field, an area where objects lack sharp focus. Our brains also "fill in" the missing information, allowing us to see without gaps in our vision.

While you don't normally notice the blind spot, there is a quick and easy demonstration can allow you to experience this phenomenon. Click the following link and follow the instructions for completing the blind spot demonstration.

Image by ZStardust/Wikimedia Commons

Personality Traits: Just How Many Are There?

Tuesday April 22, 2014
personality traits

Quick, how many personality traits can you list just off the top of your head? Outgoing, friendly, kind, cranky, lazy, mean. You can probably rattle off a lot of different descriptions that apply to personality, but do each of these really represent a specific personality trait?

Psychologists have also tried to determine just how many personality trait there might be, and the numbers vary dramatically from one expert to the next. For example, Gordon Allport suggested that there were more than 4,000 different personality traits while Hans Eysenck proposed that there were just three.

Today, the most popular theory suggests that there are five broad dimensions of personality. Many of the terms that we might use to describe a person's personality would fall under one of these five core dimensions.

Learn more about how many personality traits psychologists have suggested people possess.

Image: Dimitri Otis / Getty Images

Random Selection - Psychology Definition of the Week

Friday April 18, 2014
random selection

Definition: Random selection refers to a selection process used by researchers to draw participants from a larger population. When random selection is used, each member of the group has an equal chance of being chosen. It is also important to note that random selection is not the same as random assignment. Random selection involves how a sample is drawn while random assignment involves how participants are then assigned to groups.

Learn more about random selection.

Image: Piotr Bizior

Have You Considered Becoming a Criminal Psychologist?

Thursday April 17, 2014
criminal psychologist

Criminal psychology is often described as a "hot" specialty area right now, largely thanks to the depictions of the job on a number of television dramas. Related to the field of forensic psychology, criminal psychologists perform a number of important tasks including assessing suspected criminals, evaluating the likelihood that a convicted criminal may become a repeat offender, and making education guesses about the actions that a suspect may have taken after committing a crime.

But is being a criminal psychologist really as dramatic and exciting as it seems on TV? According to Marc T. Zucker, chair of the undergraduate School of Criminal Justice at Kaplan University, such fictionalized portrayals usually exaggerate the role that criminal psychologists play in solving crimes. "We all love the thrill of the chase and arrest, however, psychologists don't typically accompany officers in the apprehension of suspects," he explained in one article.

While this job might not be exactly like what you see on TV, it's far from boring. Other experts point out that the field continues to evolve, which means that criminal psychologists can always find new challenges to test their skills. For example, some professionals now specialize in computer-related crimes such as online fraud and sex crimes.

If you've ever wondered about whether this field might be right for you, be sure to check out this criminal psychologist career profile to learn more about the duties, work settings, salaries and training needed to enter this profession.

Image: Julie Elliott

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