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Types of Psychologists and What They Do


When people hear the term psychologist, many immediately imagine a man or woman sitting in an office, scribbling notes while a client sits on a leather fainting couch. Sure there are plenty of psychologists who engage in this type of talk therapy, but people who work in the field of psychology also do a variety of other things. Did you know that there are psychologists who study how people work and interact with the tools in their environment? Or that some psychologists help athletes become more motivated?

Below is a list of some of the many different types of psychologists and some of the major things that they do.

Specialty areas and related tasks include:

  • Aviation: Studies the behavior of pilots and other flight crew members. Performs research on airline safety, develops new training equipment, and helps select suitable employees.

  • Biopsychology: Studies and performs research on the brain and behavior. Investigates how brain disease and injury impact behavior.

  • Clinical: Assesses, diagnoses, and treats individuals suffering from psychological distress and mental illness. Perform psychotherapy and develops treatment plans.

  • Cognitive: Investigates how people think, including topics such as decision-making and problem-solving.

  • Community: Conducts research on community health issues. Seeks to educate the community and develops prevention programs.

  • Comparative: Studies the behavior of different species, particularly how animal and human behavior differs.

  • Consumer: Researches consumer behavior and develop marketing strategies to promote businesses.

  • Counseling: Provides psychotherapy to people suffering from psychological disturbances.

  • Cultural: Looks at how people vary across cultures and how cultural affiliations influence behavior.

  • Developmental: Researches human development across the entire lifespan. Some focus on a specific time period such as early childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or late adulthood.

  • Educational: Studies how people learn and the educational process. Develops instructional strategies and teaching techniques. Studies giftedness as well as learning disabilities.

  • Engineering: Enhances human abilities by improving machines, equipment, technology, and work environments.

  • Environmental: Explores the relationship between people and their surroundings, including natural environments as well as created environments.

  • Forensic: Focuses on the relationship between psychology and the law.

  • Health: Centered on how psychology, biology, social groups, and behavior influence wellness, illness, and overall health.

  • Industrial Organizational: Studies workplace behavior such as how to select the best employees for particular jobs and how to increase worker productivity.

  • Learning: Researches how people learn, factors that influence the learning process, and potential obstacles to learning.

  • Military: Concerns practicing psychology in a military setting and can include such things as treating soldiers suffering from mental illness or emotional distress, researching different aspects of military life, and helping soldiers make the transition back to civilian life.

  • Personality: Studies the many different aspects of personality and how individual traits influence an individual's life and behavior.

  • School: Helps children cope with emotional, academic, social, and behavior problems within the educational system.

  • Social: Studies the behavior of groups including how people behave in groups and how being in the presence of others influences individual behavior.


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