Does psychology require chemistry?

Do you want to study psychology but you don’t know what subjects you will take? Are you worried about not managing a good level of chemistry?

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ”Does psychology require chemistry?” We will see how chemistry and psychology are related, what level you need and how important it is.

Does psychology require chemistry?

Psychology requires a good level of chemistry. Not necessarily an A, but you must have a foundation in order to understand the chemical processes that underlie human behavior.

Some people dream of being doctors, others want to design video games, and there are those who want to dedicate their professional lives to delving into the complexity of the human mind and behavior.

The last ones usually decide to study psychology, one of the most rewarding careers to choose from.

But what does a psychologist really study? Although the curriculum in psychology may vary from one university to another, in essence a psychologist is a professional dedicated to studying and modifying human behavior.

The psychology career is designed for the student to develop skills and competencies that allow them to intervene on individual behavior, but also on a social level.

Psychology study plan

The psychology curriculum can be thought of as a pyramid, at the base are the more general subjects, those at the beginning of the career, and as we move up the subjects become more specific.

Psychology B.A. degree program include:

  • Biology
  • Developmental psychology
  •  Abnormal psychology
  •  Psychology of learning
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Ethical issues in psychology
  • Statistics
  • History of psychology

The first semesters of the psychology degree are usually introductory and you must see subjects such as psychology, methodology, statistics, history of psychology and general psychology.

Each of these subjects address different areas of knowledge that initially require you to have mastery in very diverse areas of the natural sciences.

At first, you will study these topics in general, but as you progress in the career you will be taught how these processes are related to each other.

The main characteristic of these subjects is that they explain how the mind works without taking into account the biological aspect, the subjects in charge of this task are some such as neurosciences or psychobiology where they make the link between mental processes and the biological, chemical and anatomical changes that occur both in the brain and in our body throughout our development.

What do I need to be a psychologist?

The requirements to study psychology are usually not many, nor are they extremely difficult to achieve. In fact, you only need to have successfully completed your bachelor degree (Arts or Sciences).

Of course, it would be convenient that, as I have mentioned before, you master somewhat advanced concepts of mathematics and biology if you do not want the degree to be complicated for you. Believe me, training in biology and chemistry is quite necessary.

To become a psychologist, you must opt for a graduate degree. Opportunities to be accepted (after completing 4 years of the bachelor degree) in graduate studies are increased if the student has volunteered or taken credit in Psychology.

Since Psychology is a career in high demand in universities, the competitiveness to enter is quite high, so another requirement is the “Grade Point Average” (GPA), which ranges from 1 to 4 points. Therefore, universities seek to recruit students with higher scores on both the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and the GPA.

Postgraduate studies can be masters and doctorates; however, to aspire to an academic career and a degree in Psychology one must have a doctorate degree, since the master’s degree would allow only a limited license as a counselor and under the strict supervision of a doctor of psychology.

Is psychology hard?

We’re not going to lie to you, obtaining a degree in psychology is a challenge and the reason is simple: a psychologist must have a wide range of knowledge in a large number of disciplines: anatomy, philosophy, statistics, methodology, sociology, anthropology, among many others. In addition, it is a discipline that has the responsibility of treating people’s mental health.

Because of this, those who aspire to study this career should know from now on that they will have to read a lot. Still, we do not want to convey the message that only a select group can graduate from this degree.

Very opposite, anyone can study psychology as long as they have the dedication and continuous motivation to face and overcome the multiple challenges that will arise during the career.

Are chemistry and psychology related?

The human being is a living organism within which organic chemical processes occur. Many of our reactions are due to substances that the body generates, such as adrenaline, pheromones, the hormones themselves, etc.

Many times when we don’t like someone we say “Sorry, we don’t have chemistry”, maybe referring to the fact that we can’t be together.  

If people’s behavior is due to the production of certain substances, enzymes, etc., in view of the fact that they are the product of chemical processes and seeing that psychology studies human behavior, then it can be said that psychology studies the behavior that existence or lack of chemical processes produces.

Or put another way, to explain these phenomena it’s necessary to know about neurotransmitters, hormones, etc. And all of this is explained through chemistry.

Chemical phenomena play a decisive role in theories about the endocrine glands and their relationships with the personality. Metabolic processes, blood chemistry, and of the nervous system have become essential for psychology.

Chemistry in psychology

To study behavior you have to study the biological bases. That is why during the career of psychology, certain concepts with a lot of chemical load will cross you more than once on the way.

Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are chemical substances emitted by a neuron that interact with receptors in another neuron to generate change in the last one. The most neurons specialize in producing one or two neurotransmitters.

The first chemical intermediate was identified by Otto Loewi and Henry Dale and was called acetylcholine.

The presence of another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, was soon discovered and within a few decades, neurochemicals already have different substances that fulfill this function in increasing numbers (more than 30). Some that convey exciting messages and others that convey inhibitory messages.

Classification of neurotransmitters:

Monoamines

  • Catecholamines: noradrenaline (NA), dopamine (DA)
  • Indolamines: serotonin (5HT)
  • Acetylcholine (Ach)

Amino acids

  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)
  • Glutamate
  • Glycine

Peptides

  • Endorphins; Enkephalins
  • Substance P; Neuropeptide Y

Now that we know about neurotransmitters, how do they act in behavior?

Emotions

Happiness

Happiness is produced by a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This neurotransmitter supplies the feelings of reinforcement and compensation, which make us have this state of mind. Low levels of dopamine are related to a decrease in our sociability.

Not only is it a neurotransmitter, it’s also a neurohormone. That is, it is poured directly into the synaptic space. And it’s produced in the hypothalamus. Its name is 4- (2-aminoethyl) benzene-1,2-diol.

Sadness

Sadness is handled by a substance called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine keeps us alert in dangerous situations. A low level of norepinephrine can cause: inattention, poor concentration and depression.

Its name is 4 – [(1R) -2-amino-1-hydroxyethyl] benzene-1,2-diol.

Love

The true infatuation seems to be that it comes when an organic molecule, Phenyl-Ethyl-Amine (PEA), is produced in the brain. That state of happiness and euphoria manifested by the lover is caused by the aforementioned molecule.

The secretion of PEA initiates a chain of reactions in the brain. The primary effect of PEA is to stimulate the secretion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter compound that has the effect of making us feel good, relaxed, and is responsible for the reinforcing mechanisms of the brain.

Cognitive process

Glutamate is the most important excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It is especially important for memory and its recovery, and is considered the main mediator of sensory, motor, cognitive and emotional information. In some way, it stimulates several essential mental processes.

Now, each of these substances, whether they are neurotransmitters or neurohormones, are instruments of various brain functions that continue to be studied by neurophysiologists, and since the 19th century, psychologists have undertaken a fruitful exploration of the phenomenology of human thought.

And on the basis of these findings, very close relationships have been found between certain behavioral disorders (anxiety, depression, fear, etc.) or essential points in the pathology of thought (schizophrenia, etc.) and functional or pathological variations in the brain chemistry.

In such a way that, slowly, we are building a chemical and physiological map of the brain that allows us to safely and confidently explore the pharmacology of psychological activity, which has opened up the entire fruitful field of psychopharmacology.

Psychopharmacology focuses on the manipulation of neurological activity and behavior through drugs. Psychopharmacologists use drugs to analyze the principles of the interaction between brain and behavior, just as psychopharmacological studies aim to discover drugs or reduce drug addiction.

So, does psychology require chemistry?

It’s evident that during the career you will come across certain terms, structures or physicochemical concepts that you will need to understand if you want to become a psychologist.

However, in psychology you don’t need a doctorate in chemistry, you don’t need to know the deepest theories. But yes, basic knowledge of biology and chemistry, things that have been taught since high school, such as metabolic processes, and other issues that you will see in your major. Neurochemistry was undoubtedly a fundamental basis for the development of neurosciences.

Also, the application of chemistry will depend on the specialty or interests you have. Since, if your plans are to go for research and become a great researcher and experimenter, without a doubt the chemical processes will have more weight.

Chemistry is actually present in everything organic, just as the human being is.

The brain substrates described above control psychological processes through electrochemical connections between neural networks. The neurochemistry of these connections or synapses is ultimately responsible for what we do, say, remember, feel, and think. Thus, it is necessary to understand the biochemical mechanisms responsible for the functions of our nervous system and our behavior.

It’s also that Psychopharmacology has allowed us to know a great variety of biochemical and molecular mechanisms related to many of our cognitive and emotional functions.

In conclusion, I recommend you pay attention to the biology and chemistry classes. But don’t be scared. There are many other things that are involved in psychological processes.

FAQS: Does psychology require chemistry?

Is chemistry important for psychology?

Yes, chemistry is important in psychology because there are so many chemical components in the brain that give rise to emotions and behavior.

Does psychology include chemistry?

Yes, psychology includes chemistry. This is evidenced by the need to study neurotransmitters, hormones, their function and how they affect human behavior.

Do you need Anatomy for psychology?

Not necessarily. You will need a great knowledge of biology and neurophysiology, but not pure anatomy.

Why are psychology courses required?

Psychology courses help improve methodological, communication and critical thinking skills.

Do you need a science for psychology?

Psychology is a science that is supported by many other sciences such as biology, neurophysiology, chemistry, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology. You don’t need an A in every science to get into psychology, but you do need a good foundation.

In this brief guide we answered the question ”Does psychology require chemistry?” We have seen how chemistry and psychology are related, what level you need and how important it is.

If you have any comments or questions, please let us know!

References

Helms, J. y Rogers, D. (2011). Majoring in Psychology: achieving your educational and career goals. Malasia: Wiley-Blackwell.

Marsella, A. (2012). Internationalizing the clinical psychology curriculum: foundations, issues, and directions. International and Cultural Psychology, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614 0073-8_9

Kuther, T. y Morgan, R. (2010). Careers in Psychology: opportunities in a changing world (3a ed.) Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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