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Avatar Author 10 May 2023

A beginner in psychology? Here’s how you can get the basics right

Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise

– Michael Jordan



Apart from being one of the most popular subjects being chosen as a major across the world, psychology is also a great source of understanding how the human mind and behaviour work.

As someone who has just started their journey towards understanding and studying psychology, it is important to get the basics right. Whether it is about comprehending the scope of the subject or putting together major sources of information from the right place, it is crucial that you know what you’re dealing with. Today there are a million ways to learn more about the human mind and behaviour just by the click of a button. The Internet today has become a sourcing hub of tools, resources, and information on the wide world of psychology. 


You can either sign up for a beginner’s online course, put in a few extra hours on your college course, or practice self-studying using online resources. When it comes to learning there are endless ways to do so. However, the study of the human mind mainly works around a few predominant topics that are central to the subject. Let us look get the various fundamentals of psychology and the right way to get the basics right.


Stepping into the world of psychology 


As a beginner in the field, you must always start with the basics. Learning about psychology is not just about knowing how to help people, you must also be well-acquainted with what psychology is and the rich history of the subject. Learning about the early history and findings in psychology is a major topic for every aspirant and shall also be a part of your curriculum. Another major topic covered in psychology is the various branches of psychology that form the very foundation of understanding what the subject is all about and what it is not. While the history part will always keep coming up in this field, knowing the origin, major contributors, and milestones in the history of psychology is a good place to start.


Developmental psychology


Being one of the largest sub-fields in psychology, developmental psychology covers aspects of development and change during each stage of your lifespan. The importance of this field came to light when it was realised that childhood has a significant role to play and is a unique part of life that defines the course of our future behaviours and traits. It may seem like the subject is very easy as it is something you have gone through. However, with time you will realise that there are many complexities to the topic and much more to learn than you imagined. The subject also includes various questions and concerns of psychologists, their opinions, and the knowledge hub accumulated by them. It is worth your time to dig deep into all of these topics to learn about developmental psychology, forming a strong foundation for your psychology career.


Research Methodology


The question that makes your brain ich is, “How do psychologists or researchers study the human brain?”. Well, it is important to have a basic comprehension of research methods used to investigate the human mind and why people behave the way they do. You may not want to get into the field of research in psychology, nevertheless, in any sub-field you choose, you will be dealing with research conducted by psychologists. Learning the various approaches to studying human behaviours is integral to this field and can give you a better view of things while studying.


Behavioural Psychology


One of the most influential branches of psychology is behavioural psychology or behaviourism which emerged during the 20th century and is relevant till today. Behaviour forms the central part of any person and is a crucial indicator of psychological distress. The principles of behavioural psychology are heavily used in all kinds of training, therapy, and education. However, behaviourism is not as popular as it was once, although knowing the basic principles will help you understand the subject better. Concepts like classical conditioning and operant conditioning are pertinent to every psychology student and also form a great part of psychology literature. This branch focuses on identifying and changing behaviour patterns and knowing about reinforcements and punishments will help you master the subject.


Social Psychology


Have you ever noticed that sometimes in a social setting people tend to act differently? Also, when we are around people, our thoughts and behaviour is greatly influenced by their presence. Social psychology is a branch that essentially seeks to understand the social behaviour of a person including their interaction with others and how that influences behaviour. A lot of concepts can be covered in social psychology and it is also considered one of the most fascinating fields of psychology.


Personality and its dysfunctions


As a beginner in psychology, another major topic of interest is personality. You may know that personalities are something unique to everyone and a major part of who we are. There are many theories formulated by psychologists that are centred on understanding how a personality is formed or developed. Major questions in this field include; What factors influence our personalities? Is personality change possible or is it a fixed set of traits? What a personality disorders and how to get over them? This and much more, when you start learning you'll realise personality has a whole lot of literature and theories.


Theories and schools of thought


From Freud, and Erikson to Jung, many prominent thinkers came up with theories and thoughts that have necessarily shaped the subject of psychology. Although you will be learning about some of the most common ones like the Freudian theory of psychosexual development, The Big 5 theory of personality, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, just to name a few. These concepts and theories, although no longer in use will still be an important part of your study. Being thorough with the basic theories will help you gain useful insight on the subject.


Interestingly, these topics are the very basics of the dynamic study of the human mind, essentially the tip of the iceberg, and have a long way to go. Having said that, it is also what will make you a great psychology student and potentially a great psychologist one day.


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