Should I major in psychology? 7 Signs you’d succeed
You’ve always considered yourself a people person and your inquisitive nature has you constantly thinking about what makes people tick. This innate curiosity has you thinking “Should I major in psychology?”
Studying this field sounds exciting, but there’s more to choosing a career path than fascination alone. Before you make the decision to pursue a psychology major, spend some time reflecting on and researching the degree.
This article is a great place to start. First, learn what to expect from a degree and the career opportunities it could lead to. Then find out if you have what it takes to succeed in the psychology field.
What does a psychology major include?
Put simply, psychology is the scientific study of behavior, cognition and emotion. According to the American Psychological Association, this field is all about examining the relationships between brain function, behavior and the environment in order to illuminate our understanding and improve the world around us.
The four main goals of psychology are to describe, to explain, to predict and to change the behavior and mental processes of others. There are several specialties within the field of psychology that address specific subjects or areas of research, including:
- Clinical psychology
- School psychology
- Marriage and family psychology
- Clinical child psychology
- Addiction psychology
- Clinical health psychology
- Rehabilitation psychology
- Clinical neuropsychology
- Forensic psychology
- Sport psychology
Students enrolled in a psychology program will begin by learning the basics about physiology and cognition and the many factors that affect mental health. Gradually, they’ll advance through theories about particular behaviors and disorders, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Core psychology courses often include:
- History and Systems of Psychology
- Research Methods for Behavioral Science
- Scientific Writing
- Abnormal Psychology
- Human Development
- Introduction to Statistics
What jobs can you get as a psychology major?
There’s much more to a psychologist’s job than the cinematic portrayal of a professional listening to a patient’s troubles as they lie on the office couch. In reality, a psychology major can find employment in many diverse professions.
A psychology degree can put you on the path to several rewarding careers, such as:
- School psychologist
- Mental health therapist
- Substance abuse counselor
- Child psychologist
- Behavior analyst
- Marriage and family therapist
Considering a career in psychology?
Learn about this helping profession, then explore career options that fit your future.
7 Signs you would succeed as a psychology major
There is no single test or list of qualities that will guarantee a person will excel as a psychology major, but there are some common traits that successful psychologists share. Read through the following characteristics to see if any resonate with you.
1. You are an empathetic people person
Anyone working in this field should enjoy working with people in some capacity. Many choose to major in psychology because they want to help others live healthy and fulfilling lives. While not all jobs in the field deal directly with patients or clients, the overall goal of psychology is to study human behavior and apply those insights to build a healthier society.
You don’t have to be an extrovert or a social butterfly to be successful in a psychology program. But you must have a desire or interest to understand, connect with and learn from other people. Being empathetic and able to relate to experiences outside of your own is crucial for a career as a psychologist.
2. You enjoy solving problems
Problem-solving skills are useful for every facet of life. But much of psychology is applying empirically based theories to real-life problems, which can be very rewarding. If you enjoy tackling complicated problems, trying to view situations from different perspectives and searching for relevant information to inform your approach, you could have a bright future in psychology.
3. You love learning
The beauty of studying the secrets of the mind is knowing your work is never done. The brain and human behavior are some of the most scrutinized subjects in the history of science, but our collective knowledge is still far surpassed by our remaining questions.
In the world of psychology, there is always something new to discover. If your curiosity always has you yearning to learn new things, you’ll enjoy evolving in your psychology career.
4. You’re a trusted source for advice
Do your friends and family always come to you for advice, knowing they can trust you with their deepest secrets? If so, you’re well suited for the professional world of psychology.
It’s vital for psychologists to make patients feel safe, accepted and secure in their commitments to confidentiality. It takes a lot of mutual trust for people to confide in each other or to ask for help when they need it.
5. You are patient and a good listener
Much of psychology is focused on understanding and treating mental and behavioral disorders. In a clinical setting, this means spending time with patients one-on-one, asking questions and holding space for all of the emotions and feelings the patient shares. A successful psychologist must learn that being a good listener means listening to understand instead of listening to respond.
6. You strive to be open-minded and nonjudgmental
As you spend increasingly more time trying to understand human behavior, you’ll realize that it is always complicated. While it is much simpler to ascribe our actions to either nature or nurture, our behavior is in fact influenced by genetic, environmental, social, cultural and institutional factors.
Throughout your classes as a psychology major, you’ll encounter information, ideas and theories that challenge your worldview. The ability to develop your opinion and change your mind based on new information is a strength, not a weakness. Maintaining an open mind takes practice and exposure to competing or opposing perspectives.
7. You’re acutely aware of details around you
With its emphasis on intangible things like thoughts and feelings, it can be easy to forget that psychology is indeed a science. Keen observation skills are essential. For a psychologist to properly study attitudes and behavior, he or she must be capable of noticing and interpreting possible meanings of actions, interactions, expressions, verbal cues, and body language.
Being perceptive and paying close attention to detail will serve you well in this field. So if those are qualities you possess, you’re already well suited to find success as a psychology student.
See yourself as a psychology major?
Should you major in psychology? Only you can answer that question. But hopefully, the information above has helped you get one step closer to making a confident decision.
If you’ve confirmed your interest in pursuing a psychology major, learn more about the educational path. Explore University of Massachusetts Global’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program to see if our dynamic and flexible training is right for you.
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