Students who are interested in becoming active participants in their college major should take a look at these five areas of psychology research, all of which are growing in demand. From forensic psychology to industrial-organizational psychology, there is a specialty for every student who wants to work as a researcher once they’ve graduated from college. Here are the top five areas, some of which are better known than others, to get started.
This is a specialty field within the realm of psychology and can be considered the first branch of the field to focus almost exclusively on research. Experimental psychology is a field that studies new theories and concepts, measuring the results of hypotheses through the use of various short-term and long-term studies. Empirical methods are used for research in this area, ensuring that the results of any study can be quantified by science. Many researchers in this area have subspecialties, including cognitive processes, personality, and animal behavior. It is not unusual for a researcher to supplement their work with a teaching job at the university level.
Biological Psychology is an area within the field that focuses on the possible biological causes that can have an impact on human behavior; it also emphasizes on how evolution has a hand in molding human behavior. Unlike neuropsychology, biological psychology researchers focus on both the brain and the nervous system to pinpoint human behaviors that might be determined by biology. This is a burgeoning area of psychology research because it links genetics to human behavior, something that has not yet been researched fully by the psychology community. Researchers often work in clinical settings and with teams in order to do large-scale studies.
As one of the most popular specialties in the field, forensic psychology is the study of law and psychology. It is a field where psychologists use their training in the field to demonstrate how the law can affect behavior in children, adults, families, and on a national scale. It’s similar to correctional psychology but focuses more on criminal profiling and researching the psychology of a criminal before getting to court rather than the psychology of incarceration. While most psychologists in the field work actively in their capacity as a professional, many have chosen to do research to uncover what, if anything, can be learned about how the law can be used to transform behavior rather than punish it.
The little-talked field of correctional psychology focuses on the role of psychology within the corrections system and also the independent facilities that make up the system. Researchers often work with correctional psychologists to create studies about life in correctional facilities as well as how concepts that are put into practice are received by both the staff and the inmates at different facilities. The field is rarely discussed outside of the researchers and the psychologists who work inn the field, but it is becoming increasingly clear that more studies need to be done to understand how incarceration affects human behavior, both while behind bars and after people have been released.
Industrial-Organizational Psychology, known as I/O psychology, is one of the top five growing areas of psychology research. It focuses on the scientific study of people and their behavior within corporations and in everyday work life. It’s an incredible research opportunity for psychologists, as it focuses on work performance, how stress and other factors can affect performance, decision theory, career development, and more. This is an area of psychology that requires a great deal of ethical consideration, as researchers often measure how law and executive orders positively or negatively impact workers. It is an in-demand area of research and more students are claiming it as a concentration even before they leave university.
Very few psychology students understand the breadth of study and research that is available in psychology. The good news is that these five areas of psychology research are just an introduction to the variety of specialties within the field that are currently looking for psychology professionals.