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Why people do the things they do is an age-old question. However, psychology—the science concerned with the behavior of both humans and animals—is only about 125 years old. Despite its youth, it is a broad discipline, essentially spanning subject matter from biology to sociology. Biology studies the structures and functions of living organisms. Sociology examines how groups function in society. Psychologists study two critical relationships: one between brain function and behavior, and one between the environment and behavior. As scientists, psychologists follow scientific methods, using careful observation, experimentation, and analysis. But psychologists also need to be creative in the way they apply scientific findings.
Psychologists are frequently innovators, evolving new approaches from established knowledge to meet changing needs of people and societies. They develop theories and test them through their research. As this research yields new information, these findings become part of the body of knowledge that practitioners call on in their work with clients and patients. Psychology is a tremendously varied field.
Psychologists conduct both basic and applied research, serve as consultants to communities and organizations, diagnose and treat people, and teach future psychologists and other types of students. They test intelligence and personality. They assess behavioral and mental function and well-being, stepping in to help where appropriate. They study how human beings relate to each other and also to machines, and they work to improve these relationships. And with America undergoing large changes in its population makeup, psychologists bring important knowledge and skills to understanding diverse cultures.
-Dr. John Edwards, Transitional Director, 212 Moreland Hall, Oregon State University School of Psychological Science