Psychology is not the only area that studies human beings.
While you might already know the psychology has a large variety of branches, sub-disciplines, and special topics, not everything related with human thought and behavior is necessarily labeled ‘psychology’. When browsing for interesting topics to study and work on, psychology majors need not necessarily confine themselves to psychology textbooks and journals. It is important to explore and recognize other disciplines that psychology influences or is influenced by, so that one can access richer variety of information to be studied and synthesized. Here, I briefly discuss 16 areas that work closely with human psychology.
The biological counterpart to psychology, which has deep influences in helping us understand the biological specifications and mechanisms that enables human thought, behavior, and experiences. The expansion of this area has really contributed to psychology establishing a firm hold as a valid academic discipline by providing tangible explanations grounded on the science of biology for phenomenon such as perception, learning, emotions, and growth. Neuroscience also uses tools that are more invasive to collect more accurate and reliable biological data, as compared to mainstream psychological survey methods. I have dedicated an entire piece to discuss this in depth.
It is moderately difficult to differentiate sociology and psychology, as both study relationships a lot and both are a mouthful to effectively explain. While social psychology places its main emphasis on individuals’ interactions, sociology focuses more on the contextual forces exerted by social structures beyond the individual. Effective applications of social psychology has to be coupled with sociological insights, as psychology on its own cannot understand the social, historical, and economical contexts which influences human interaction.
Another field that shares a lot of questions with psychology is anthropology, the science of humankind. Anthropology also studies human behavior, trying to hit a balance between the scientific lens and holistic understanding of the human condition. Due to this, anthropology experts tend to have stronger understanding of human culture, history, language, and evolution. These aspects are crucial when it comes to supplementing psychological findings as it clarifies psychology theories in a greater human context beyond the individual’s minds.
Economics and Marketing
Not quite just about business and money, authors of Freakonomics Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt wrote that economics is, to put it simply, the study of incentives. Areas of psychology such as decision making and motivation can really benefit from being involved with economics through understanding the minds that are involved in the processes of trade, wealth distribution, and consumption. Also, theories from social and cognitive psychology such as persuasion and perception can also help us understand how to best market products. One can find and apply psychological insights to enhance the art of selling better.
While psychology acknowledges that development of human lives are often contingent on place and environment, it doesn’t offer systematic study of that aspect on its own. Studying human geography enables that, through helping us understand how human beings interact with their geographical location and environmental features. Psychology research can integrate with geographical concepts such as landscape, space, climate, and mobility, for us to further understand how our minds interact with environmental features from the place we are at. Examples of this integration include studies on differences in personality traits and attitudes across regions, or studies on region specific mental disorders.
If you are interested in the psychology of crime and forensics, it is inevitable that you study criminology. Once again, in order to understand crime better it is necessary to not be confined at the individual level of criminals, but study the societal structures that enable and incentivise crime along with its consequences. Beyond psychology, reading criminology helps one cover a lot of ground on a variety of areas such as legal statutes, philosophy of crime, sociocultural factors and consequences of criminal activity, along with methods to study and determine crime.
Law and Jurisprudence
Psychology and law does not just interact in the process of forensic-criminal investigation, but also in the process of policymaking and governance itself. The very purpose of law is to govern the behaviors of human subjects, thus it is useful to know law, jurisprudence, and legal implementation interact with the mind of the individuals. In another light, it is also important for any practitioner of psychology to be well acquainted with the legal statutes and case law in their respective industries, such as management and clinical practice.
Politics and Political Theory
Politics is an extremely interesting ground for us to understand psychology better. The lens of psychology allows us to view politics, political ideologies, and other contemporary issues in the context of psychological theories such as social identity or cognitive dissonance. Being in tune with contemporary politics and history really help sharpens psychological insight, and going further to understand political theory can open up more opportunities in areas such as political strategy, family, and corporate management.
Part 2 will discuss the other eight relevant areas.