If you were to wander through your local bookshop you might find titles on such areas as self-help and personal growth.

However, the psychology we study in school bears very little relation to most of the titles on the shelves of the average bookstore. What we study is more informative, more complex, and possibly more helpful!

Psychologists take as their subject the entire range of courageous and cowardly, intelligent and silly, praiseworthy and brutish things that human beings do. Their aim is to examine and explain how human beings learn, remember, solve problems, perceive, feel, and get along with each other. Some psychology is concerned with the study of mental disorders, abnormal behaviour, and personal problems, but we are just as likely to look at experiences as ordinary as raising children, remembering a shopping list, and earning a living.

Modern psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes, with the emphasis on scientific. The scientific methods and approaches used distinguish psychology from the popular but non-scientific ideas that get media attention on such scholarly shows asOprah or Jerry Springer. What this course hopes to achieve is to show the difference between psychobabble and serious psychology, and between unsupported popular opinion and documented research evidence. Perhaps the main difference between psychobabble and scientific psychology is that the former confirms our existing beliefs and the latter challenges them.

One of the greatest benefits of studying psychology is that you learn not only how the brain works in general, but also how to use yours in particular – by thinking critically. If you like picking holes in people’s arguments and want to keep in shape without having to slip into your gym kit, then this is the subject for you! After all, your brain is the most important part of you, and psychology will make sure that you keep it in tip top condition.

At this point you may be thinking about what will be expected of you. You will be expected to do some of your own investigations, which could include anything from studying people’s behaviour in their natural environment, to conducting small experiments in the classroom in order to see how human memory works. You will also have to analyse these results statistically and scientifically, but do not let this make the less scientific of you think that psychology is not for you. Psychology is a science, but it deals with human beings rather than chemical compounds. Humans are social animals and we are all unique with individual personalities, and it is only the foolish psychologist who forgets this.

"People adjust what they say to for the circumstances. Psychology looks at why we feel the need to do this."

We study numerous topics, including memory, relationships, coping with stress, abnormality, child development and many more. In a nutshell, we look at the good, the bad and the ugly in all of us, and attempt to work out what makes us tick and why.

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