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Careers in Psychology : Health, Medical, Gender, & Personality

Careers in Psychology : Health, Medical, Gender, & Personality

Author: Erick Taggart

Identify roles and specializations in health, medical, gender, and personality psychology.

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Hello, class. So last area of research that we'll be discussing in our overview of the different career specialties in psychology is Health, Medical, Gender, and Personality Psychology. Now when we think of psychology, generally what we think of is what we would call clinical psychology. And that's when we refer to psychotherapy and when we study different mental disorders, develop treatments, and help people out that might be afflicted by those disorders. So when you think about that image of the person lying on the couch, that's what we would call clinical psychology.

But there's a lot more to this area of study than simply treating patients with those kinds of disorders. Now the focus of all of these different categories in psychology is to understand the issues and the disorders in psychology that might be underlying behavior that's affecting people's lives negatively. And the idea is to improve on the lives of those people through these different areas of research. So let's take a look at some of the other ones.

Now the next two areas we're going to take a look at sound very similar to clinical psychology. However, they deal with psychology in more of a hospital or a physical sense. And they are health and medical psychology. Now health psychology studies how a person's behaviors can either promote health or deter it.

So this is very much the biological approach to psychology. So we're using psychological principles to try to promote better health and the prevention of different illnesses. For example, health psychologists might take a look at the effect that stress has on both our physical bodies, which is to say that it prevents growth of people and it also increases adrenalin so that we become more tired at the very end of the day, as well as the psychological effects that stress has, which is to say that it makes us more irritable and it prevents us from sleeping. OK. So taking both of those together to create a whole picture of how behavior and mental states can affect our physical health.

Medical psychology tries to apply psychological concepts to the management of different medical problems. So they might take a look at the emotional impact that an illness might have on somebody-- for example, something like cancer-- and how somebody can better cope with it. So they might help-- medical psychologists might help to counsel people with cancer so that they can feel more at ease with their disease as they're going through their treatments. Medical psychologists might also study the compliance of people in taking different kinds of medications and trying to improve it so that people will be able to take their drugs on a more effective schedule, to remember it better, and to hopefully become better over time as a result of this.

And there are two other areas that we want to take a look at under this medical, psychological view of different career specialties. The first one is gender psychology. Gender psychology looks at the differences between males and females and how that can change and develop over the course of somebody's life. Now this is very much a related field to developmental psychology, as we talked about earlier, which is to say that somebody's individual sense of being male or female, or what we refer to as a gender identity, can change over time and develop throughout their lives. And it can have an effect on other aspects of their lives, for example, their sexuality.

Another important distinction that gender psychologists make is that their gender identity can differ from the actual physical characteristics that they have. So that's an important area of focus or an area of note for people in psychology.

And the last area we'll take a look at is personality psychology. And this is an area we'll study in more detail later on in the course. But personality psychologists study how a person changes, both psychologically as well as physically, over the course of his or her life. They develop theories about people's personalities, and they often make tests to assess those different kinds of traits. So you've probably been online before and taken some kind of personality test, either for work or for pleasure. So you're probably actually familiar with some of these different trait theories.

A trait is what we refer to as a stable or enduring equality that a person shows in most situations over time. This is a bit different from relative theories of behavior, for example, cultural relativity, which we talked about earlier, because it doesn't depend on a specific situation. It stays the same over an extended period of time. These could be things like how outgoing and sociable you might be, how trusting you are of other people, and how open you are to being creative and to trying new experiences.

So again, these are things we'll cover more in depth later. But it might be something that you'll be interested in and want to do further research in before we get to that.

Terms to Know
Gender Psychology

Researches the difference between males and females throughout life and its effects on other aspects of their lives.

Health Psychology

Studies the relationship between a person's behaviors and his or her mental and physical health.

Medical Psychology

The use of psychological concepts to help in the treatment of medical problems.

Personality Psychology

The study of personality traits and dynamics.