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Psychology & Wellness

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Photo Credits: Liza Summer

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour. It involves studying the brain, individual differences, human development, communication, intelligence, memory, actions and emotion. Psychologists examine the impact of environmental and social factors on how people think, feel and act. It is a relatively new social science with a scientific history that dates back only 150 years. Psychologists use scientific research methods for collecting and analysing data that forms an integral part of the validity and reliability of psychology research. It is a multifaceted subject with many disciplines and sub-fields with psychologist around the world continuing to explore and broaden the subject.

Psychology is very diverse subject with many specialty areas. But there a several main branches of psychology that are researched across the globe. These are:

> Abnormal Psychology
The study of abnormal behaviour and psychopathology. It involves the study of personal and cognitive disorders including anxiety and depression.

> Biopsychology
Also known as Behavioural Neuroscience, which area examines the biological and mental processes involving the brain circuitry, neurotransmitters and nerves that trigger normal and abnormal behaviour.

> Clinical Psychology
This area focuses on improving an individual’s psychological distress or dysfunction to improve well-being.

> Cognitive Psychology
This is the scientific study of people’s perceptions, memory, thoughts, speech, problem solving and mental processes in the brain.

> Comparative Psychology
This area studies the behaviour of animals in hopes to have a better understanding of humans.

> Developmental Psychology
This area focuses on the changes of the human mind from infancy, children, young adults, elderly and throughout the entire human life span.

> Educational Psychology
This area studies the cognitive, emotional and social learning processes in educational settings to understand and treat behavioural and learning difficulties in school.

> Evolutionary Psychology
This area investigates the psychological high functioning traits that adapt to natural order and selection.

> Forensic Psychology
This area deals with the intersection of psychology and the law. It involves investigations, risk assessments, reporting and psychoanalysis in lawsuits and custody cases.

> Health Psychology
This area focuses on how health is affected by biology, behaviour and social factors such as lifestyle and disease.

> Organisational Psychology
Also known as Industrial Psychology, it applies psychological concepts to create efficient behaviour in the workplace.

> Personality Psychology
This area explores personality and individual differences in thought and behaviour.

> Quantitative Psychology
This is the study of methods and techniques used to measure human traits, the design of research studies and analysis of psychological data.

> Social Psychology
This area explores the behaviour and cognition of people in social situations and the relationship between individuals and groups.

> Sports Psychology
This area studies the psychological factors that influence performance in sports.

The field of psychology is only about 150 years old. It has grown rapidly in modern times and studied in universities across the world. Researchers have broad and varied interests continuously expanding the field, including new research in black psychology. Here are some of the famous psychologists that have done great things in psychology research.

  • Albert Bandura – a leader in social learning theory and observational learning
  • F. Skinner – a leader in behaviourism and therapy techniques
  • Carl Rogers – a leader in education psychology and psychotherapy
  • Erik Erikson – a leader in human development and psychosocial development
  • Francis Cecil Sumner – a leader in social psychology and black psychology
  • Inez Beverly Prosser – a leader in education psychology and children’s mental health
  • Ivan Pavlov – a leader on classical conditioning and behaviourism
  • Jean Piaget – a leader in cognitive development and children’s intellectual growth
  • Leon Festinger – a leader in cognitive dissonance and social psychology
  • Lev Vygotsky – a modern leader in development psychology and education psychology.
  • Mamie and Kenneth Clark – husband and wife researcher in child psychology and discrimination
  • Robert Lee Williams II – a leader in social psychology and black psychology
  • Sigmund Freud – a leader in many fields of psychology including human development, clinical psychology, abnormal psychology, mental illness and behaviour.
  • William James – known to have found ‘the principles of psychology’ which became adopted by most in the field.

There are jobs that require a psychology degree and jobs where a psychology would be useful, these are:

  • Border Force officer
  • Careers adviser
  • Chaplain
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Counselling psychologist
  • Counsellor
  • Dance movement psychotherapist
  • Education consultant
  • Education mental health practitioner
  • Educational psychologist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Further education teacher
  • Health psychologist
  • High intensity therapist
  • Human resources officer
  • Life coach
  • Market researcher
  • Mediator
  • Neuroscientist
  • Occupational psychologist
  • Play therapist
  • Policy officer
  • Psychological wellbeing practitioner
  • Psychotherapist
  • Social researcher
  • Sport and exercise psychologist

Akbar, N. (2004) The Akbar Papers. Tallahassee: Mind Productions. A reader that cover thirty of years of thinking and doing around the question of African Psychology by one of the founders of the African Psychology movement.

Akbar, N. (1985) Nile Valley Origins of the Science of the Mind. In Ivan Van Sertima (Ed.), Nile Valley Civilizations, New York: Journal of African Civilizations. A historical and philosophical discussion of the ancient African foundations of Western psychology.

Akbar, N. (1986) “Africentric Social Sciences for Human Liberation.” Journal of Black Studies, 14 (4), 395-414. An important discussion of the ways in which worldviews inform psychology and the role that an Africentric worldview can play in helping to humanize psychology.

Bynum, E.B. (1999) The African Unconscious: Roots of Ancient Mysticism and Modern Psychology. New York: Teachers College Press. An interesting thesis, which attempts to unify the strands of human development with the origins of the human species on the African continent. A well-written and thought-provoking treatise.

Clark, C.X., Nobles, W., McGee, D.P., and Weems, X.L. (1975) “Voodoo or I.Q.: An Introduction to African Psychology.” The Journal of Black Psychology, 1 (2), 1975. Voodoo or I.Q. is the article that launched a movement. This is the seminal article that literally changed the face of Black psychology. In many ways this article was ahead of its time in its dealing with the importance of African culture as a means of psychological order. 

Guthrie, R.V. (1998) Even The Rat Was White (2nd Ed). Needham Heights, Ma.: Allyn and Bacon A much updated sequel to the first edition, with stories and perspectives from a more contemporary generation of Black Psychologists.

Guthrie, R. (1976) Even the Rat Was White. New York: Harper & Row. A historical analysis of the racist use of Western psychology and the African-American pioneers in Western psychology. 

Jenkins, A. (1982) The Psychology of the Afro-American: A Humanistic Approach. New York: Pergamon Press. A very well done text on the psychological experiences of Black folks in America, written from the perspective of a humanistic personality theoretical base, by one of that generation’s leading scholars.

Jones, R. (Ed.) (2004) Black Psychology (4th ed.). Hampton, VA: Cobb and Henry. This hook is the culmination of nearly thirty years of theory, research, and practice in the area of Black psychology. This is a must have book for anyone seriously interested in the writings of some of the seminal thinkers in the field.

Jones, R.L. (1991) Black Psychology (3rd ED) Hampton, Va.: Cobb and Henry. A very good synthesis of articles published in the first and second editions of the Black Psychology series, with some new articles by emerging authors.

Kambon, K.K. (1998) African-Black Psychology in the American Context: An AfricanCentered Approach. Explores the historical and philosophical foundations of African Psychology, while laying out its theoretical and paradigmatic parameters for and African Centered psychology. Tallahassee: Nubian Nation Publications 

Myers, L .J. (1988) Understanding the Africentric Worldview: Introduction to an Optimal Psychology. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/ Hunt. A theoretical discussion of the humanizing potential that an Afrocentric psychology can have on the continued development of psychology. 

Nobles, W. W. (2006). Seeking the Sakhu: Foundational Writings for an African Psychology. Chicago: Third World Press. This critical collection of essays follows the earliest articulations of black philosophy as the foundation of Black psychology to the development of African Psychology to the beginning of Sakhu Sheti-the ancient Kemetic notion of illuminating the spirit. 

Nobles, W.W. (1972) African Philosophy: Foundation for a Black Psychology. In R. Jones (Ed.), Black Psychology. New York: Harper Row. Nobles posits that there exists a core African philosophy that should he the basis for a Black psychology. In many ways this article helped to launch the African centered psychology movement. 

Nobles, W.W. (1986) African Psychology: Toward Its Recla¬mation, Reascension and Revitalization. Oakland: Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture. The first text to explore in detail the basis for an African psychology. 

Pugh, R. (1972) The Psychology of the Black Experience. Monterey, Ca.: Brooks/Cole. This text provides some indept analysis on the psychological challenges African descent people confront while living in and growing up in America. 

Thomas, A. & Sillen, S. (1972) Racism in Psychiatry. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press. A classic text by two Black psychiatrist who detail how the discipline of psychiatry was not only biased, but subjectively brutal in its treatment and classification of Black people within the mental health system. 

White, J.L. (1972) Toward a Black Psychology. In R.L. Jones (Ed) Black Psychology. New York: Harper and Row. The seminal article that served as a call to the profession of Black Psychology by an individual considered by many to be one of the contemporary godfathers of the Black Psychology movement. 

Williams, R.L. (2008) (Ed) History of The Association of Black Psychologists. Bloomington, In.: Author House. The text presents a full volume of profiles of African American Psychologists, many of whom were presidents of the national Association of Black Psychologists.


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This page was last updated on 17, March, 2022

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Black Psychology

Read about black psychology, a new concept of social psychology that focuses on understanding the black race worldwide via studying their experiences and behavioral patterns.

Areas of Psychology

  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Biopsychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Comparative Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Organisational Psychology
  • Personality Psychology
  • Quantitative Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Sports Psychology

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