Areas of Psychology Research and Application

We offer courses in these areas at Wagner (related course numbers follow each description).

  • Biological (physiological) psychology is the study of the biological mechanisms underlying behavior. Biological psychologists generally are interested in the brain and the nervous system, in the endocrine system, and in other organismic processes. Neuropsychology is a related clinical field (see below) (PS 330, 351 & 442; see also Biology 214)
  • Clinical psychology is the study of problems encountered by individuals, groups, and families-especially problems involving psychopathology. Clinical psychologists are interested in the application of psychological knowledge and techniques for the alleviation of these problems. (PS 212, 213, 248, 311, 315, & 382)
  • Cognitive psychology includes the study of memory and thinking, conscious processes, perception, problem solving, and creativity, among others. Most in this field are experimental in their approach and many have incorporated neurophysiological findings with their behavioral and introspective techniques. (PS 246, 303, 304, & 305)
  • Community psychology is the study of social processes and problems of groups, organizations, and neighborhoods, and the development and evaluation of progress for social change and social policy based on psychological understanding.
  • Counseling Psychology as a psychological specialty facilitates personal and interpersonal functioning across the life span with a focus on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns. (PS 111, 112, 113, 212, 213, 248, 314, 315, 311, & 306)
  • Developmental psychology is the study of intellectual development, emerging personality, and the acquisition of language, as well as psychophysiological and social development processes as individuals develop from birth through old age. (PS 111, 112, 113, 311, & 306)
  • Educational psychology focuses on the study of learning outcomes, student attributes, and instructional processes directly related to the classroom and the school, such as amount of instructional time or individual differences in school learning. An educational psychologist helps gather information for teachers and parents when students have academic or behavioral problems. See also school psychology below (courses in counseling, psychological testing, developmental psychology, cognition, and education are valuable)
  • Engineering psychology uses scientific study to develop an understanding of human behavior, and to improve the efficiency of interactions between humans and machines.
  • Experimental psychology is the scientific study of basic behavioral and cognitive processes, including learning, memory, perception, attention, problem-solving, motivation, and psycholinguistics. This is a broad area of psychology that overlaps with most other areas listed on this page. (PS 116, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 308, & 330)
  • Forensic psychology is a specialty area within psychology that deals with the application of scientific research and principles of human behavior to legal issues and court-related cases.  Forensic psychologists engage in psychological testing, consulting, and other criminal justice-related work.(PS 220)
  • Health psychologists are interested in how biological, psychological, and social factors affect health and illness. They team up with medial personnel to provide patients with complete health care by examining why people don't follow medical advice, how patients handle illness, how patients seek and get treatment, etc. (definition adapted from APA) (PS 250 & 251)
  • Measurement and mathematical psychology specialists develop mathematical models of psychological processes and devise methods for quantitative representation and analysis of data about behavior. These are used in the study of differences between individuals in ability, personality, preferences, and other psychological phenomena (for example, by development of psychological tests). (PS 116 & 213)
  • Neuropsychology: Neuropsychologists specialize in the evaluation and treatment of people who have something wrong with the way in which their nervous system is functioning often as the result of brain damage or disease. Many neuropsychologists also engage in basic research. (PS 351 & 442; see also Biology 214)
  • Personality psychology focuses on individual behavior. It is the study of ways to understand and describe an individual's behavior and to predict an individual's future behavior. (PS 213, 311, & 382)
  • Personnel psychology is the application of techniques of assessment, prediction, and intervention to areas of human resources in organizations, including, but not limited to, standard personnel selection and training, attitude assessments and interventions, and program evaluations. Also known as industrial/organizational psychology which overlaps with some areas of social psychology. (PS 314)
  • School psychologists work in schools and other educational settings and collaborate with teachers, parents, and school personnel about learning, social and behavior problems in children. See also educational psychology above. (courses in counseling, psychological testing, developmental psychology, and education are valuable)
  • Social psychology is the study of attitudes, social perception and cognition, interpersonal relations, interpersonal interactions, and social and cultural factors affecting human behavior. (PS 241, 305 & 308)