“The purpose of Psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best.” – Paul Valery
A common definition of Psychology often found in textbooks goes something like this… “Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior.” However, as Paul Valery points out, Psychology is essentially the study of events, situations, and phenomena (relating to the mind and behavior) that may seem quite familiar since people experience many of them on a regular basis. However, the difference between everyday experiences and Psychology is this: Psychology uses scientific principles and the scientific method to learn about these events, situations, and phenomena.
Psychologists apply this scientific perspective to study a diverse array topics related to the mind and behavior. Some psychologists use the scientific method to study mental disorders (what happens when the mind and behavior become problematic). Others use it to study human relationships (romantic relationships, friendships, parent-child relationships). Others use it to study how the mind and behavior change over our lifetimes. Still others use it to study issues of sex and sexuality. Moreover, others use it to study the relationship between aspects of our biology (such as the brain) and the mind/behavior.
At Westchester Community College, we offer a course in General Psychology that briefly touches on many of these topics (and more). We also offer more focused classes in Abnormal Psychology (the study of mental disorders), Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology (with classes in Child Development, Adolescent Development, and Lifespan Development), Human Sexuality, Personality, and Behavioral Statistics – each designed to probe deeper into a major topic within psychology.
Students can take individual psychology courses to satisfy general education requirements in Social Sciences. Or, by completing the Psychology pathway for the LAS-Social Science degree, students will be prepared to transfer to a four-year school as a junior psychology major. Coursework or a degree in psychology can be useful not only for a career as a psychologist, but also for careers in nursing, education, criminal justice, law, marketing, and several other areas.