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What Is Psychology?

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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

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

Why You Should Take a Psychology Class

Tuesday April 15, 2014
Why take psychology classes

Every semester I get several emails asking one basic question: "I'm not a psychology major but my university is requiring me to take a psych class for a general education requirement. Why?"

Many universities require students to take a psychology class, usually to fulfill a social science requirement. In many cases, students can select from a number of different classes that can fulfill the requirement. Such classes might include psychology, government, sociology, or anthropology. In other cases, a psychology class might be the only option available for that element of the general education requirement.

Even if you are not a psychology major, there are plenty of great reasons to take a psychology class. Having a better understand of how people think and why they behave the way they do can be helpful no matter what profession you pursue. For example, if you are going into marketing or advertising, psychology can help you better understand things like consumer behavior and persuasion. A nursing major might benefit by gaining a better understanding of how people respond to stress and illness, while an education major might benefit from learning more about topics such as cognition, learning, development, and behavior.

Learn more about some of the many reasons why you should take a psychology class (even if you are not a psychology major).

Image: Tiffany Szerpicki

Confirmation Bias - Psychology Definition of the Week

Friday April 11, 2014
confirmation bias

Definition: When we are making a decision about an issue, we often like to believe that we carefully balance the existing evidence and formulate an opinion that is balanced, logical, and impartial. The reality is that we often fall victim to a problem known as the confirmation bias. This involves only paying attention to information that supports our current point of view, or even interpreting information in such as way that it upholds our existing beliefs. In other words, we look for evidence that supports our opinions and ignore information that conflicts with what we already believe to be true.

Learn more about about how this works in this overview of the confirmation bias.

Image: Piotr Bizior

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