Psychology is a fascinating subject! Much has been written on the topic, both in academic literature and by bloggers on the internet. Indeed, for recent research and peer-reviewed journal articles, one is directed to online databases such GoogleScholar, PsycInfo and MedLine. Alternatively, informational Websites such as www.grandquebec.com (in French) and www.provincequebec.com contain many references and discussions of the matter.
But what is psychology? To avoid repeating what has countlessly been regurgitated by keen students on their first psychology exam, psychology is mostly a method of analyzing human behavior, emotions and thought processes in a scientific (or pseudo-scientific according to skeptics) manner.
The social science is further subdivided in countless disciplines. For example, neuroscience studies the brain, social developmental psychology focuses on the interactive and interpersonal development of individuals throughout the lifespan, whereas a course in cognition (or cognitive psychology) concetrates on learning, memory, mental schemas and other metaconcepts.
Many parents, or nowadays, often grown children themselves, often ponder which major to choose for an undergraduate degree for a perspective graduate. Interestingly, employers, as evidenced by a famous critique in the prominent Harvard Business Review publication, often look for skills outside the scholarly realm when making hiring decisions. In fact, human resource managers tend to cite experience and previous employment references as key factors when deciding whether a candidate is a good fit for a position. Still, it goes without saying that a professional degree in law, medicine or an MBA (graduate) combined with an industry license or certification, usually open more career paths, than concentrations in the liberal arts. Nonethless, some recruiters argue that a bachelor degree in the liberal arts remains a good way to enter today's competitive job market.
In the West, the discipline can be studied at most universities, colleges and other public or private institutions of higher learning. As a general rule, to become a psychologist one must complete graduate level studies, write a successful thesis, participate in laboratory research (as a study designer or experimenter) and pass a state mandated exam, or meet other prerequisites as established by the official order regulating the profession in the community where the person wishes to practice. However, psychological studies may also lead to entry-level jobs in counseling and related fields, as well as business (i.e. industrial psychology).
“If you discovered something that made you tighten inside, you had better try to learn more about it.” (Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle) Illustration: Megan Jorgensen