What are the three branches of Psychology?

Because it covers every aspect of the study of the mind and behavior, from behaviors acquired through conditioning to the treatment of mental illness, and the understanding of how people undergo changes and growth throughout their lives, Psychology is a wide body of knowledge that expresses the demanding study of human experience. As a result, some branches emerged to deal with the specific field of study. This article answers the question, “what are the three branches of Psychology?”.

What are the three branches of Psychology?

The three branches of psychology are the following;

  • Behavioral Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology

While each branch or field has its emphasis on psychological problems or concerns with questions and issues from an alternate perspective, they all offer a shared objective of studying and making sense of the varied human experience.

These Psychologies have several subfields under them that address a particular area of study that focuses on a specific topic that is continually developing and evolving or has been established solidly in the investigation of the mind, behavior, and overall human conduct.

What is psychology?

In the attempt to understand the human mind and behavior, a body of knowledge had emerged so that from these questions, answers are found and established for various purposes.

Whether to learn about human intellectual growth and development, the diagnosis of different mental illnesses, or to understand what makes humans tick, Psychology has been the field that many people rely upon. 

Psychology came from the Greek words “psychē” meaning mind, soul, or spirit, and “logos” which means study. Psychology is the study of the human mind, its inner workings, and how it affects behavior.

The venture of psychologists is to comprehend the human way of behaving from scientific research centers to mental health care services and classroom setup and in every possible setting. 

Psychology is a discipline that covers a wide selection of topics from the faculties of the brain to the whole activities of nations, from child development to care for the elderly, to the conscious and unconscious brain and behavior phenomena and all aspects of the human experience

Psychology is believed to be around for thousands of years in the early civilizations of  Egypt, China, Persia, India, and ancient Greece as a philosophical concept.

In ancient Greece, a philosopher named Plato has been going around contemplating the human experience with his followers and other philosophers in a conversation famously known as the dialogues.

Some of the most famous Psychologists in the history are the following; 

  • B. F. Skinner and his work on behaviorism specifically his concepts of operant conditioning and schedules of reinforcement that are still used today;
  • Jean Piaget and theory of cognitive development discuss children’s intellectual growth;
  • Sigmund Freud and his contributions to the study of human development;
  • Albert Bandura and his revolutionary work on the importance of observational learning, imitation, and modeling in social learning theory;
  • William James is referred to as the father of American psychology because of his teachings and writings that helped psychology to be established as a science;
  • Ivan Pavlov was famous for the classical conditioning;
  • Erik Erikson helped create awareness and curiosity on human development through his works such as stage theory of psychosocial development and psychoanalytic theory; and 
  • Lev Vygotsky whose works in the fields of education and child development become hugely influential in recent decades.

What is Behavioral Psychology?

Behavioral psychology is a theory of learning. Also known as behaviorism, it is based on the concept that all behaviors — taught or modified,  are obtained through conditioning.

The founder of behaviorism, John B. Watson, argued that behavior is not the consequence of mental processes but the outcome of our response to our environment. This theory maintains that learning new behavior stems from our contact with our outside environment.

Mostly known for behavioral strategies like operant conditioning and classical conditioning that are often utilized to teach or modify behaviors such as the reward system for good behavior or great work for children and adults alike.

Behavioral psychology or behaviorism theory also discusses the importance of the environment in shaping the connection between the human mind and human behavior in the most basic sense.

This school of thought focuses on understanding and analyzing an individual’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors through a systematic study and observable manner.

Behavioral Psychology became a dominant field during the 1950s and remains a mainstay in education, therapy, and many other areas during the first part of the twentieth century and even up to today.

What is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology is a specialty branch of psychology concerned with the study of individuals, by observation or experimentation, intending to assess and treatment of mental illness, abnormal behavior, and psychiatric disorders. 

Clinical Psychology provides comprehensive and continuous behavioral and mental health care for individuals in hospital settings or mental health clinics both in private practice, community centers, or universities and colleges.

In its most basic definition, Clinical Psychology is the practical application of research methodologies, behavioral theories, and conceptual works in psychology for the diagnosis and treatment of several mental health diseases affecting millions of people around the world.

What is Developmental Psychology?

Developmental Psychology is the branch of science that mainly focuses on the changes and growth that people undergo as an infant, children, and adolescents, and explains how and why these changes occur throughout life. 

The study includes cognitive development, physical growth, emotional changes, social growth, and insightful development that transpire throughout an individual’s lifespan.

Developmental psychology is a scientific approach that aims to explain how, why, and to what extent a person grows, changes, and adapts to different factors that affect the mind and behavior.

Some of the most important contributors in the field of developmental psychology are Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development Theory, John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, Lawrence Kohlberg’s Moral Understanding Stage Theory, Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, Evolutionary Developmental Psychology (EDP) Theory, and most importantly Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual Stage Theory.


Psychology, as the science of mind and behavior, encompasses the factors that affect how people think, feel, and act like biological influences, social pressures, and environmental determinants. Its branches are focused on the many aspects of human thoughts and actions. Psychology has helped people gain an understanding of why we do what we do when we do and achieve better insights into other people.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): what are the 3 branches of psychology?

What is the most important branch of psychology? 

One of the most important branches of psychology is Cognitive Psychology because it involves the detailed investigation of the human mind from its thought-processing, thinking abilities, problem-solving skills, and memories. Its goal is to answer the question of how people think, communicate, remember, perceive, learn, etc.

How is Psychology used?

The most evident use of psychology is in the field of mental health where psychologists use standards, research, and clinical discoveries to help clients oversee and overcome symptoms of mental distress and mental ailment.

What are the seven perspectives in Psychology?

The seven perspectives in psychology are the following:

  • The Psychodynamic Perspective
  • The Behavioral Perspective
  • The Cognitive Perspective
  • The Biological Perspective
  • The Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • The Evolutionary Perspective
  • The Humanistic Perspective


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