The 5 differences between a psychologist and an educational psychologist

Education is more than what we do in schools as we go through the vital stage of our childhood and adolescence. Learning is a lifelong process which, due to its complexity, has been approached from the different disciplines which research and intervene on the human mind.

Psychology and educational psychology are two such disciplines and both provide an overview both of the learning process itself and of the effectiveness of educational strategies.

But … What are the differences between a psychologist and an educational psychologist? In what characteristics do they differ?

    The differences between psychology and educational psychology

    It is easy to confuse the tasks performed by the psychologist with those of the educational psychologist. After all, psychology and educational psychology use observation and empirical contrast to study aspects of human behavior and its mental processes and to develop strategies to foster forms of learning that benefit human beings.

    However, beyond these superficial similarities, many characteristics distinguish these two disciplines. Let’s see what are the main differences between them and how they relate to each other.

    1. The specific character of educational psychology

    Psychology is the science that studies behavior and mental processes in general. For years this is an incredibly broad discipline that has belonged separately to the social sciences and the world of biologically-based science, and in recent times has forged links with neuroscience to better understand who we are and who we are. why we are acting. do.

    Educational psychology, on the other hand, is much more specific and focuses 1 on a very specific plot of the human experience: learning and education, both in childhood and adolescence and in adulthood. This means that it considers secondary issues, for example, the study of consciousness, decision making or clinical intervention on psychopathologies; they are only approached from the implications they have for the educational process.

    2. The importance of intervention in childhood

    From educational psychology, it is understood that learning is something that goes far beyond school and occurs at all ages, but in practice greater emphasis is placed on education focused on children. children. and girls and adolescents, because it is understood that youth is a stage in which one is particularly sensitive to the environment and that what happens during it will greatly influence the level of education that will be obtained.

    Psychology also attaches great importance to the first two decades of life, but not in all cases, because there are certain psychological phenomena that become more relevant in adulthood. For example, the purchasing decision process, the work climate or the effect of election propaganda have much more to do with adulthood than with childhood or adolescence.

    3. The importance of adaptation and context

    This is one of the most obvious differences between psychology and educational psychology. The second discipline places a lot of emphasis on this facet of behavior which is due to learning, that is, to the way in which the interaction with the environment affects and transforms us.

    Psychology also attaches great importance to what is learned, but that is not the only thing it takes into account. For example, some branches of this science, such as basic psychology or neuropsychology, attach great importance to genetics, which cannot be changed by interaction with the environment. This facet of psychology more centered on biological processes does not deny the transformative power of our experiences, but he decides to concentrate his efforts on the study of what is still latent in the individual.

    4. One can focus on the individual, the other cannot

    Educational psychology does not study the individual in isolation, but considers the subject of study to be bio-psycho-social, that is to say that each person is inseparable from the physical and social environment in which he is lives.

    Something similar happens with psychology and it tends to think of people as bio-psycho-social subjects as well, but not in all cases. One facet of this science only studies the individual, Considering the content of learning and social interaction as a secondary matter. These branches of psychology are generally the same as those that take genetic inheritance into account, although this is not the case in all cases.

    For example, in the behaviorist stream of the mid-twentieth century, research focused on individuals and, at the same time, placed much more emphasis on learning than on biological heredity.

    5. The type of training

    In Spain, psychology is a 4-year university degree, while educational psychology only exists as a postgraduate training and is considered a form of specialization. This allows educational psychologists to be people trained in different fields., Such as psychology, pedagogy or any career that has been supplemented by training to become a teacher.

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