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The Four Goals of Psychology

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Psychology is based on its findings from scientific research and critical thinking. Information is obtained from direct observations and measurements, making it an ideal way to learn more about behavior. Most people don’t know why psychology is so widely studied. There is a lot more to it than identifying a specific type of behavior strictly by looking at the classic symptoms. There are four main goals: to describe, explain, predict and change behavior and mental processes through the use of scientific methods. These goals were set to help psychologists to better understand what factors cause different types of behavior, and are also a thorough way to identify the problem at hand.

Descriptions are a way to tell someone ‘what’ has happened. By using careful observations, one can name and classify certain behaviors just by their description. Just a description, can identify behavioral conditions such as aggression. It is an accurate way to record the types of behavior problems a person may have. For example; an observer can gather an accurate description of a participant by monitoring them closely. Although descriptions are accurate to what you think, one person’s opinion isn’t always the same as another’s. It is important to continue through the steps, even if your presumption is correct. Stopping your study after the first step and trusting your own judgment leaves you vulnerable to difference of opinion. Descriptions make up most of the puzzle, but you can never be sure that your information won’t lead you astray. That is why three more steps follow, and that is why description is the first step in understanding behavior.

After you ask ‘what’ happened, you then need to ask ‘why’ the behavior happened. Explanation is a very important goal. If we never found out why things happen, all the other information about the subject would be virtually useless. Figuring out why things happen not only informs the researcher, but can tell us what things to avoid in our lifetimes. For example; people say that too much sugar is the main factor for obesity in children. To keep children healthier, they are sometimes not allowed to exceed a certain limit. Basically, explanations look for reasons or causes behind the behavioral problem. There are many different types of study that can determine what causes them. You must be able to explain the conditions that increase the likelihood of a behavior. Still, explanation and description alone cannot resolve the problem.

The third step is prediction. After learning about ‘why’ it happens, it is then easier to expect ‘when’ it might happen. Prediction can let the participant know when they can expect their behavior to get out of hand. For example; studies on children indicate that a child may become irritable if tired or hungry. After identifying the problem, the parent may be able to keep control of their bad temper by sticking to a strict sleep and meal schedule. In other words, individuals can decrease the likelihood of a behavior by learning about the conditions that may send them into a predicament. One may think that the problem is solved, but there is still the matter of trying to treat the condition.

Finally, we get to the point where we can find out ‘how’ to alter behavior. It is important to the individual to obtain a typical lifestyle. Change can affect the individual’s work place by allowing them to become more socially involved with their everyday environment. Change can also stop addictions, decrease depression, improve relationships, and decrease aggression. If the individual doesn’t change, they have a smaller chance of achieving true happiness in their lives. Change allows the individual to decrease undesirable behaviors and increase desirable behaviors. When an individual has made a change, it means that the problem is solved; therefore, it is the last goal of psychology, ending the study.

After accomplishing the four goals of psychology, it is a fair bet to say that the individual will lead a more successful life. These four goals tell us ‘what’ behaviors are being experienced, ‘why’ these behaviors happen, ‘when’ the behavior may return, and ‘how’ to help the behavior decrease. In general, these goals have made psychology a broad subject that will always be open for investigation.

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