While some psychologists are clinicians, working in a therapeutic relationship with patients or clients, others study human behavior and mental processes to understand, explain, and change people’s behavior. They may study the way a person thinks, feels, or behaves. Research psychologists investigate the physical, cognitive, emotional, or social aspects of human behavior.
Like other social scientists, psychologists formulate hypotheses and collect data to test their validity—their research methods depend on the topic under study. Psychologists may gather information through controlled laboratory experiments; personality, performance, aptitude, and intelligence tests; observation, interviews, and questionnaires; clinical studies; or surveys. Computers are widely used to record and analyze this information.
Psychologists in applied fields counsel patients and conduct training programs; conduct market research; apply psychological treatments to a variety of medical and surgical conditions; or provide mental health services in hospitals, clinics, and private settings.