While psychology today is mainly known for its applications, the truth is that this science has not always been so interested in the practice.
The emergence of what we call “applied psychology” has been the key to the development of current psychology.. In this article, we will analyze what applied psychology is and what are its most important goals and aspects.
Applied psychology: definition and objectives
Applied psychology is about using the knowledge acquired and the methods developed by basic psychology with the aim of solving everyday problems, improving the quality of life or making groups of people work more correctly.
While applied psychology is a very broad discipline, we can say that this concept refers to the practical side of psychology. Unlike applied psychology, psychological science in general does not necessarily deal with intervention but studies behavior and mental processes.
So while basic psychology includes disciplines such as social, experimental, evolutionary or developmental psychology, applied psychology puts into practice the knowledge acquired by the mentioned branches, as in the case of clinical psychology, education or human resources.
However, the distinction between applied psychology and other aspects of psychology is not always clear as theory and practice are in vivid and constant return.
- Article to develop the concepts: “The 12 branches (or fields) of psychology”
Münsterberg and the basis of this discipline
The main pioneer of applied psychology is considered to be the German psychophysiologist Hugo Münsterberg. After studying with Wilhelm Wundt and founding a psychology lab in Freiburg, Münsterberg met William James, who invited him to work at Harvard University. It was in the United States that he acquired more recognition and fame.
Münsterberg’s work contributed to the development of many future fields of applied psychology, Which include clinical, forensic and organizational psychology.
Münsterberg’s work will be a key benchmark for the application of psychological knowledge over the following decades, particularly after the establishment of the International Association of Applied and WWII Psychology, when the U.S. government began hiring public psychologists to increase their chances of emergence. victorious over the conflict.
Tracks of applied psychology
The concept of “applied psychology” is very broad and therefore fits into a large number of sub-disciplines. We will focus on the succinct description of the objectives of the best known and most defining branches of applied psychology..
1. Community psychology
Community psychologists primarily use knowledge gained through social psychology to improve the quality of life of large groups, such as slum dwellers. The greatest peculiarity of community psychology is that it focuses on macrosocial aspects from a territorial perspective.
2. Organizational and human resources
Organizational psychology focuses on the prevention and resolution of problems that arise in the business context. For its part, the notion of “human resources” refers more specifically to the selection, training and management of personnel according to the objectives of the organization.
Educational psychology is the application of scientific psychology to learning, Basically what children and adolescents accomplish during basic education. Educational psychology draws on theoretical branches such as developmental or cognitive psychology.
Clinical psychology, probably the best-known branch of psychological science, is concerned with studying, preventing and treating dysfunctional behaviors and improving mental well-being. In clinical psychology, behavior modification therapy is the theoretical orientation closest to the goal of applying the knowledge gained through scientific research.
This discipline applies the knowledge of psychology in the relationship of people with their environment, Understand the term broadly; thus, environmental psychology would include both the provision of furniture to improve professional performance and the applications of psychology to nature conservation, among many other examples.
Health psychology analyzes the relationship between behavior and physical disorders, especially chronic ones, such as cardiovascular problems or asthma. This branch of psychology partially overlaps with the clinic and focuses on both prevention and treatment and management of disease.
Sports psychology works on the factors that affect athletic performance in order to improve it. Among other things, sports psychology deals with the management of group conflict in team sports and the reduction of anxiety in high performance competitions.
8. Forensic medicine
Forensic psychology focuses on the application of scientific psychology to legal processes. In addition to assisting in the criminal investigation, forensic psychology can be used to resolve custody disputes or analyze the validity of testimony, among other uses.
The application of psychological knowledge to advertising is one of the oldest forms of applied psychology. given its economic potential for private companies. Well-known subliminal images, for example, have arisen in the context of psychology applied to advertising.