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What field of psychology should I read?

  1. Jul 15, 2013 #1
    Hi! I was curious about what the various fields of psychology are and which field would be most appropriate for learning about how emotions, anxieties, complexes, thought patterns, etc. are developed and processed. I'm an engineering student, but have a strong hobby in learning about the social sciences, particularly psychology. I don't know much psychology, but just the very basics from a standard AP Psychology course which I did a couple years ago. Perhaps someone with a better understanding of the subject could recommend me particular books (textbook style preferably) where I could learn a lot about the aforementioned topics?

    Just to clarify, I am not so much interested in neuroscience, perception, or anything too biology-related, but rather with the social side of things. Perhaps what I am after really is anthropology and not psychology? I wouldn't know... :confused:


  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2013 #2
    Cognitive psychology deals with how the mind works including learning, memory, intelligence, emotions, etc. However, if by complexes you mean mental disorders, like schizophrenia, OCD, ADD, PTSD, then it's abnormal psychology. I can't recommend any textbooks as I studied it through reading articles because it provides far more specific information than textbooks usually provides. And also, be aware that findings in psychology can sometimes be overturned by new research rendering certain sections of textbooks out of date.

    If it's cognitive psychology you are interested in, you will pretty much be forced to learn neuroscience. The past ten years of research in this field has shed a lot of light into how the brain works, if not the mind. Neuroscience has refuted certain dogmas in psychology, such as the belief that you can never forget once you've memorized something. Surprisingly, the majority of psychologists still believe this and even a recent popular psychology blog mentioned the same thing. But to refute it: Yes, you can indeed forget.

    However, you mention that you are interested in the "social side" of things. Do you mean social psychology, the study of group behavior and interactions? I think social psychology is the easiest to apply to daily life since its, well, social. It's functionally useless most of the time because you can't really change the situation as it occurs, but it allows you to understand the phenomenon as it occurs, such as the "bystander effect". Understanding the big picture will take a lot of mental effort.

    My background is primarily in cognitive psychology: learning and memory. I also have expertise in emotional behavior, which differs from applied behavioral analysis which ignores emotions in achieving certain outcomes. (This is because the research was conducted decades ago on lab rats where the only emotions that were considered were "pleasure" and "fear". Humans are a lot more emotionally complicated.)
  4. Jul 25, 2013 #3
    Patterns of thought are significantly linked with the psychology of perception.

    I would say with what if you have hinted with the interest in Anthropology, the field of Social Psychology is more to your liking. It would be more 'looking outward from within' as opposed to Cognitive psychology where its more internal-based theories. A few guiding books to read in Social Psychology:

    Fiske, S.T. (2010). Social beings (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons.

    Eagly, A.H. & Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace

    Fiske, S.T. & Taylor, S.E. (1991). Social cognition (2nd ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Brown, R.J. (2000). Group processes (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.

    Have good one :)
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