Psychology is about understanding people – ordinary people as well as people who are extraordinary or special in some way. Psychologists study how the mind works, and why we do the things that we do. That doesn’t mean, though, that studying psychology gives you an instant knowledge of how people think. People work on so many levels and everyone is so different from everyone else that nobody could possibly know everything about even one other person. But we can know a few general things which are helpful in understanding people. More importantly, we can find out about how aspects of our psychology develop, what they are influenced by, how we make sense of our worlds and how we go about gathering knowledge. Knowing the processes which influence the workings of our minds can give us a great deal of insight when we are trying to understand how one person has developed.
We have social and personal needs to satisfy. Our cognition is affected by memory, perception and thinking. Social learning, through children’s play and adults’ work, influences our development. Professional psychologists work in many ways to enhance educational achievement and physical health, as well as helping people with problems in living. Crowding, invasion of personal space, pollution and noise can cause stress; human error and poor planning can cause disasters, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder and economic loss. Psychology’s breadth and depth provides us with a systematic, research-based understanding of many different areas of life.