Psychology is a captivating, compelling topic for many students, and is the second most popular major nationwide (behind only Business Administration). Yet, students who plan on majoring in Psychology often have many misconceptions about what may be involved. Below you will find several of the most common misconceptions along with more accurate information.
One major is not necessarily easier than any other. If the course requirements in psychology match up with the types of things you are good at and interested in, psychology will be easy. So if you like learning about how people think, why they act certain ways, how they perceive the world, AND like the idea of designing research studies, analyzing data using statistics, reading academic journal articles, and writing up research reports…psychology will be a breeze!
Most consider Psychology as one of the helping professions, but less than half of all psychologists actually provide direct service, such as therapy or counseling. Many psychologists work in universities, businesses, or for the government where they conduct research, act as consultants, provide social services, and teach. The popular view that psychologists work with clients in an independent practice is simply inaccurate - only about 8% work in individual and group practices and another 10% provide counseling through association with managed-care providers. (Source: APA Research Office)
Many students believe that research methods and statistics are only a very minor part of Psychology. Actually it's the exact opposite. Research and statistics are a very large part of psychology. In fact, almost every class you take in psychology will include a section devoted to research methods. Because psychology is a science, the processes by which we learn about behavior and thought require an understanding of methodology and proper experimentation techniques. At Monmouth University, this is especially true. We really emphasize the research component and require that our students complete a research sequence that involves 5 research-related courses that culminate in each student doing their own independent research thesis.
Most students never plan on doing research, so they think that research and statistics classes aren't really that important. While it's true that lots of psychologists may never do their own research, many of them do. Regardless of your plans for doing research in the future, the skills that you acquire through those classes are invaluable as you go into the job market. Research shows that employers are most interested in the following characteristics from psychology baccalaureates: communication skills; social skills; personal skills; information-gathering and information processing skills; and numerical, computer, and psychometric skills (Appleby, 2000).