Comparative Psychology is the branch of Psychology which deals with the scientific study of animal behavior and it places emphasis on cross-species comparisons, including human-to-animal comparisons. This method evaluates the similarities and differences across species to better understand the developmental and evolutionary relationships between them. It can also be used to compare contemporary and ancient species. It has been suggested that the term “Comparative Psychology” be discarded as it is not descriptive of the field. However, as a suitable replacement has not been put forward, the term remains in popular use today. Continue reading
Abnormal Psychology is the scientific study of aberrant patterns of thought, emotion and behavior. As might be expected, much significance is placed on the definition of abnormal as our viewpoint on what constitutes acceptable behavior is continuously changing within and across cultures. It is also important to realize that being classified as abnormal is not necessarily bad. For example, a genius rises well above the expected or “normal” range in terms of intelligence. Continue reading
Social Psychology is the study of individuals in the social context. It uses scientific methods to understand how people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of other human beings.
It is interesting that the definition of Social Psychology specifically refers to the influences of the imagined or implied presence of other human beings. This highlights the fact that we are vulnerable to social influences even in the absence of other people. We might experience this phenomenon when we are listening to the radio, watching television, surfing the internet or even internalizing social norms. Continue reading
Evolutionary Psychology is one of various biologically based approaches to the understanding of human thought and behavior. Proponents of this field posit that much of human behavior can be explained by internal psychological mechanisms, which are themselves adaptations – the results of natural selection which helped our ancestors to survive and reproduce in ancient times.
Just as Evolutionary Biologists believe that specialized organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, etc. all developed to expertly perform a specific function (but is virtually useless in others); Evolutionary Psychologists see the brain as having a modular structure and being composed primarily of modular adaptations which serve different functions. Continue reading