What are the 4 major areas of psychology?

The branches of psychology are the different areas or fields of study of psychology. As a science, psychology deals with the study of behavior in its different facets. In fact, in any activity or human group, psychologists play a relevant role in understanding and promoting people’s mental health. 

The diversity of fields in psychology encompasses a broad spectrum, dynamic, and growing as the needs of the modern human population.

In this brief guide, we’re going to answer the question “What are the 4 major areas of psychology?’’ we will discover the applications of each field of psychology and its importance in society.

What are the 4 major areas of psychology?

The 4 main areas of psychology are clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology, and biopsychology.

It’s quite common to think that psychologists and psychologists are dedicated to solving certain types of personal problems of “patients”. Behavioral problems, such as alcohol addiction; emotional, such as the pain caused by the death of a loved one, or related to pathologies also treated from psychiatry.

The application of psychology is very broad, as is the variety of behaviors in humans. Broadly speaking, psychologists seek to do four things: explain, predict, describe, and control behavior.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology deals with the study of mental disorders. It’s one of the branches of psychology that performs the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of people with some type of mental impairment.

In this sense, clinical psychologists are in charge of diagnosing certain psychological disorders, to later offer a personalized intervention through psychotherapy.

Although this is the main aspect in which they intervene, clinical psychologists also participate in the field of research (for example, contributing their knowledge in different scientific studies), in teaching (practicing as professors in public or private institutions).

Clinical psychology’s applications

Clinical psychology has been studied and refined throughout the 20th century and in recent years and has been the object of study by many professionals and academics of human behavior.

Since the early years with Wilhelm Wundt in his Leipzig laboratory, when he tried to find all the observable and measurable variables of behavior, clinical psychology has spread to become the “par excellence” branch of psychology graduates or graduates. 

In fact, and although psychology develops in clearly differentiated branches (business, educational, forensic, social …), clinical psychology has always been the most popularly recognized branch.

However, there are multiple approaches and tools used by clinical psychology professionals, who work focusing on different fields of study according to different criteria, such as the following:

  • Intervention in families.
  • Adult therapy.
  • Child clinical psychology.
  • Clinical neuropsychology.
  • Neuropsychological rehabilitation.
  • Care and intervention in certain disorders.
  • Evaluation.
  • Psycho-Oncology.

Each professional of clinical psychology can specialize in that (or those) fields where they want to focus their professional practice.

The people who may require therapeutic care are varied: from children to the elderly, from people with underlying diseases to healthy people, from people who have a strictly psychological problem, to others whose affectation is related to bad family or social dynamics.

To gain a better understanding of each psychological condition, clinical psychologists may specialize in different fields.

While some prefer to work as generalists, others dedicate their attention only to certain groups, for example, children, adolescents, adults, or the elderly. Others specialize in treating certain types of problems, such as phobias, eating disorders, depression.

And it’s through this acquired knowledge and tools that clinical psychologists will be able to offer more accurate diagnoses and treatments to their patients.

Cognitive Psychology

This branch studies the internal processes of our mind, that is, how we think, how we perceive our environment and other people, how we communicate, and how we remember or learn.

Certain experts understand that cognitive psychology is the study of intelligence since the practical application of cognitive psychology involves the use of tools to improve our memory, security in decision-making, or the way we learn.

Applications and objectives of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology is in charge of studying internal mental processes, everything that happens inside our brain, including perception, thought, memory, attention, language, problem-solving, and learning.

There are many practical applications of this cognitive discipline, such as providing tools to improve memory, helping people recover from brain injury, and offering effective treatments to improve learning disorders.

Therefore, the main objective of cognitive psychology is to get rid of these distorted thoughts and change them to functional ones. That is, it seeks to promote the person’s better management of difficult situations through a cognitive change.

If the cause of the behavior is the thought, the thought has to be changed to change the behavior. For this, the cognitive psychologist will implement a personalized treatment plan, but in which it is essential to perform the following steps:

Learn the difference between rational and irrational thoughts and what are the characteristic ways that thought has to distort itself. Begin to identify these distortions the moment they appear in the mind in response to a situation. Begin to redirect these thoughts towards more rational and adaptive ones.

According to cognitive psychology, with time and therapeutic effort, the person finally ends up naturally generating functional thoughts.

Learning how people think and process information not only helps researchers gain a deeper understanding of how the human brain works, it enables them to develop new ways to help people deal with psychological difficulties. Findings from cognitive psychology have also improved our understanding of how people form, store, and retrieve their memories.

Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral psychology, also known as behavioral psychology, is a theory of learning based on the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning.

Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. Behaviorists believe that our responses to environmental stimuli shape our actions.

According to this school of thought, behavior can be studied in a systematic and observable way independent of internal mental states.

Only observable behavior should be considered – cognitions, emotions, and moods are too subjective.

Strict behaviorists believed that anyone can potentially be trained to perform any task, regardless of their genetic background, personality traits, and inner thoughts, within the limits of their physical capabilities, only correct conditioning is required.

This psychological approach emphasizes the scientific method and research objectives, for which it’s only related to observable stimulus-response behaviors and establishes that all behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment.

Applications of Behavioral Psychology

Behaviorism has its major interventions in educational psychology, in learning processes, and accompanied by two complementary ideas, cognitivism, and constructivism. Although these ideas go hand in hand, they have their peculiarities that allow their individualized study.

Learning and behaviorism are one of the main research factors in educational psychology.

Behaviorism equates learning with changes in observable behavior, either in the form or frequency of those behaviors.

Learning is accomplished when an appropriate response is demonstrated or exhibited following the presentation of a specific environmental stimulus.

For example, when we present a student with the mathematical equation “2 + 4 =?”, The student answers with the answer “6”.

The equation is the stimulus and the appropriate response is what is called the response associated with that stimulus. The key elements are, then, the stimulus, the response, and the association between the two.


Psychology and biology come together to find answers to the questions posed by human behavior, psychobiology appears, a scientific discipline that aims to understand how human behavior works based on biological criteria.

Biopsychology is a scientific discipline that studies psychological phenomena and human behavior from a biological point of view.

The scope of this science includes topics such as the evolution of the brain, the functioning and development of the nervous system, the understanding of sensory and perceptual processes, and the study of basic behaviors such as sex or reproduction, among many other phenomena.

Biological psychology seeks to understand the biological basis of psychological functions. Its main topics are:

  • Sensory processes.
  • Learning and memory.
  • Motivation and excitement, and cognition.

However, what are the biopsychology applications? 

Biopsychology has its applications in investigating the communication between the brain and other organs, studying the interrelation of biology and psychology; brain activity, and mental states. Physiological and pathological pain; the psychobiology of food. It is also applied in the psychological response to stress and its impact on the immune system.

Biopsychology’s study areas

In general, psychobiology professionals study the same problems as academic psychologists, although they’re sometimes limited by the need to use non-human species.

As a result, most of the literature in biopsychology focuses on the mental processes and behaviors that are shared among mammalian species.

Some examples of the most common areas of study in psychobiology are the processes of sensation and perception; behaviors that involve motivation (hunger, thirst, sex); learning and memory; sleep and biological rhythms; or aggressive emotions and behavior.

With increasing technical sophistication and with the development of more precise noninvasive methods that can be applied to human subjects, psychobiology is beginning to contribute to other classic thematic areas of psychology, such as language, decision-making, and reasoning, or the implications of consciousness.

Psychobiology has also contributed with its knowledge to other disciplines to advance, as in the case of medical disorders and psychopathology. Although there are no animal models for all mental illnesses, psychobiology has provided insights into a variety of disorders, including for example:

  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Huntington’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Clinical depression.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Autism.
  • Anxiety.

So, What are the 4 major areas of psychology?

Psychology is a young science, but despite its short life history, it has had time to create several psychological currents that establish how it’s investigated, the concepts and methods that are used to work, and the objective that is pursued.

The variety of theoretical and practical proposals about the direction that psychology can take has been surprisingly large, which doesn’t mean that they can’t be summarized.

Psychology is a science that has taken great strides to provide solutions based on widely studied methodologies.

Although psychology studies mental processes and behavior, it also does so from the different approaches that are handled and that are also recommended for different cases. The scope of this science covers fields such as clinical, social, labor, and educational, proposing in each field solutions based on the development, balance, and well-being of people.

Those four major areas of psychology are clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology, and biopsychology.

Thanks to these four areas of psychology, psychologists can help a wide variety of patients and can treat many types of problems.

Through these areas, psychologists also help patients to cope with stressful situations, to heal from addictions, to control chronic diseases, and to eliminate obstacles that prevent achieving goals.

FAQSs: What are the 4 major areas of psychology?

What fields of psychology are there?

Some of the fields of psychology are
Clinical psychology.
Educational psychology.
Sports psychology.
Forensic psychology.
Behavioral psychology.
Family Psychology.

What are the 7 psychological perspectives?

The current psychological perspectives are; Structuralism, functionalism, psychoanalysis and psychodynamics, behaviorism, gestalt, humanism, cognitivism.

What are the five goals of psychology?

The five goals of psychology are; Describe, explain, predict, control, and improve human behavior. In many ways, these goals are similar to those activities we likely engage in daily as we interact with others.

Is Psychology a good career?

Psychology is a long-term career, requires a large volume of reading, and is aimed at people with great ability to listen, motivation to help solve problems, good oral and written expression, ability to observe and enhance the virtues of the human being. However, a great benefit of a psychology degree is the wide variety of specialties available to the graduate.

Can I learn psychology on my own?

Yes, it’s possible to learn anything on your own. Everything will depend on your dedication to psychology, but if you’re already determined to learn, you can look for reading materials on websites of recognized universities and read them to educate yourself.

In this brief guide, we answered the question “What are the 4 major areas of psychology?’’ We discovered the applications of each field of psychology and its importance in society.

So, are these topics interesting?

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


Brain and Behavior. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from Verywell Mind website: https://www.verywellmind.com/major-branches-of-psychology-4139786

The Major Branches of Psychology | King University Online. (2019). Retrieved October 16, 2020, from King University Online website: https://online.king.edu/news/major-branches-of-psychology-guide/

What are the major branches of psychology? | Edology. (2020). Retrieved October 16, 2020, from Edology website: https://www.edology.com/blog/psychology/major-branches-of-psychology/