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MPTUO1a: Unit 1 Videos / Applications
Week 1 / Unit 1

Video: Applications

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Video Transcript – Applications

Psychology encompasses many subfields and includes different approaches to the study of mental processes and behavior:

Mental Testing

Psychological testing has ancient origins, such as examinations for the Chinese civil service dating back to 2200 BC. Written exams began during the Han dynasty (202 BC – AD 200). By 1370, the Chinese system required a stratified series of tests, involving essay writing and knowledge of diverse topics. The system was ended in 1906.[145] In Europe, mental assessment took a more physiological approach, with theories of physiognomy—judgment of character based on the face—described by Aristotle in 4th century BC Greece. Physiognomy remained current through the Enlightenment, and added the doctrine of phrenology: a study of mind and intelligence based on simple assessment of neuroanatomy.[146]

When experimental psychology came to Britain, Francis Galton was a leading practitioner, and, with his procedures for measuring reaction time and sensation, is considered an inventor of modern mental testing (also known as psychometrics).[147] James McKeen Cattell, a student of Wundt and Galton, brought the concept to the United States, and in fact coined the term “mental test”.[148] In 1901, Cattell’s student Clark Wissler published discouraging results, suggesting that mental testing of Columbia and Barnard students failed to predict their academic performance.[148] In response to 1904 orders from the Minister of Public Instruction, French psychologists Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon elaborated a new test of intelligence in 1905–1911, using a range of questions diverse in their nature and difficulty. Binet and Simon introduced the concept of mental age and referred to the lowest scorers on their test as idiots. Henry H. Goddard put the Binet-Simon scale to work and introduced classifications of mental level such as imbecile and feebleminded. In 1916 (after Binet’s death), Stanford professor Lewis M. Terman modified the Binet-Simon scale (renamed the Stanford–Binet scale) and introduced the intelligence quotient as a score report.[149] From this test, Terman concluded that mental retardation “represents the level of intelligence which is very, very common among Spanish-Indians and Mexican families of the Southwest and also among negroes. Their dullness seems to be racial.”[150]

Following the Army Alpha and Army Beta tests for soldiers in World War I, mental testing became popular in the US, where it was soon applied to school children. The federally created National Intelligence Test was administered to 7 million children in the 1920s, and in 1926 the College Entrance Examination Board created the Scholastic Aptitude Test to standardize college admissions.[151] The results of intelligence tests were used to argue for segregated schools and economic functions—i.e. the preferential training of Black Americans for manual labor. These practices were criticized by black intellectuals such a Horace Mann Bond and Allison Davis.[150] Eugenicists used mental testing to justify and organize compulsory sterilization of individuals classified as mentally retarded.[42] In the United States, tens of thousands of men and women were sterilized. Setting a precedent which has never been overturned, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of this practice in the 1907 case Buck v. Bell.[152]

Today mental testing is a routine phenomenon for people of all ages in Western societies.[153] Modern testing aspires to criteria including standardization of procedure, consistency of results, output of an interpretable score, statistical norms describing population outcomes, and, ideally, effective prediction of behavior and life outcomes outside of testing situations.[154]

Mental Health Care

The provision of psychological health services is generally called clinical psychology in the U.S. The definitions of this term are various and may include school psychology and counseling psychology. Practitioners typically includes people who have graduated from doctoral programs in clinical psychology but may also include others. In Canada, the above groups usually fall within the larger category of professional psychology. In Canada and the US, practitioners get bachelor’s degrees and doctorates, then spend one year in an internship and one year in postdoctoral education. In Mexico and most other Latin American and European countries, psychologists do not get bachelor’s and doctorate degrees; instead, they take a three-year professional course following high school.[62] Clinical psychology is at present the largest specialization within psychology.[155] It includes the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically based distress, dysfunction or mental illness and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy although clinical psychologists may also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration.[156]

Credit for the first psychology clinic in the United States typically goes to Lightner Witmer, who established his practice in Philadelphia in 1896. Another modern psychotherapist was Morton Prince.[155] For the most part, in the first part of the twentieth century, most mental health care in the United States was performed by specialized medical doctors called psychiatrists. Psychology entered the field with its refinements of mental testing, which promised to improve diagnosis of mental problems. For their part, some psychiatrists became interested in using psychoanalysis and other forms of psychodynamic psychotherapy to understand and treat the mentally ill.[37] In this type of treatment, a specially trained therapist develops a close relationship with the patient, who discusses wishes, dreams, social relationships, and other aspects of mental life. The therapist seeks to uncover repressed material and to understand why the patient creates defenses against certain thoughts and feelings. An important aspect of the therapeutic relationship is transference, in which deep unconscious feelings in a patient reorient themselves and become manifest in relation to the therapist.[157]

Psychiatric psychotherapy blurred the distinction between psychiatry and psychology, and this trend continued with the rise of community mental health facilities and behavioral therapy, a thoroughly non-psychodynamic model which used behaviorist learning theory to change the actions of patients. A key aspect of behavior therapy is empirical evaluation of the treatment’s effectiveness. In the 1970s, cognitive-behavior therapy arose, using similar methods and now including the cognitive constructs which had gained popularity in theoretical psychology. A key practice in behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapy is exposing patients to things they fear, based on the premise that their responses (fear, panic, anxiety) can be deconditioned.[158]

Mental health care today involves psychologists and social workers in increasing numbers. In 1977, National Institute of Mental Health director Bertram Brown described this shift as a source of “intense competition and role confusion”.[37] Graduate programs issuing doctorates in psychology (PhD or PsyD) emerged in the 1950s and underwent rapid increase through the 1980s. This degree is intended to train practitioners who might conduct scientific research.[62]

Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury—this area is known as clinical neuropsychology. In many countries, clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession. The emerging field of disaster psychology (see crisis intervention) involves professionals who respond to large-scale traumatic events.[159]

The work performed by clinical psychologists tends to be influenced by various therapeutic approaches, all of which involve a formal relationship between professional and client (usually an individual, couple, family, or small group). Typically, these approaches encourage new ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving. Four major theoretical perspectives are psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, existential–humanistic, and systems or family therapy. There has been a growing movement to integrate the various therapeutic approaches, especially with an increased understanding of issues regarding culture, gender, spirituality, and sexual orientation. With the advent of more robust research findings regarding psychotherapy, there is evidence that most of the major therapies have equal effectiveness, with the key common element being a strong therapeutic alliance.[160][161] Because of this, more training programs and psychologists are now adopting an eclectic therapeutic orientation.[162][163][164][165][166]

Diagnosis in clinical psychology usually follows the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a handbook first published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1952. New editions over time have increased in size and focused more on medical language.[167] The study of mental illnesses is called abnormal psychology.


Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. The work of child psychologists such as Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, and Jerome Bruner has been influential in creating teaching methods and educational practices. Educational psychology is often included in teacher education programs in places such as North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

School psychology combines principles from educational psychology and clinical psychology to understand and treat students with learning disabilities; to foster the intellectual growth of gifted students; to facilitate prosocial behaviors in adolescents; and otherwise to promote safe, supportive, and effective learning environments. School psychologists are trained in educational and behavioral assessment, intervention, prevention, and consultation, and many have extensive training in research.[168]


Industrialists soon brought the nascent field of psychology to bear on the study of scientific management techniques for improving workplace efficiency. This field was at first called economic psychology or business psychology; later, industrial psychology, employment psychology, or psychotechnology.[169] An important early study examined workers at Western Electric’s Hawthorne plant in Cicero, Illinois from 1924–1932. With funding from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fund and guidance from Australian psychologist Elton Mayo, Western Electric experimented on thousands of factory workers to assess their responses to illumination, breaks, food, and wages. The researchers came to focus on workers’ responses to observation itself, and the term Hawthorne effect is now used to describe the fact that people work harder when they think they’re being watched.[170]

The name industrial and organizational psychology (I–O) arose in the 1960s and became enshrined as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Division 14 of the American Psychological Association, in 1973.[169] The goal is to optimize human potential in the workplace. Personnel psychology, a subfield of I–O psychology, applies the methods and principles of psychology in selecting and evaluating workers. I–O psychology’s other subfield, organizational psychology, examines the effects of work environments and management styles on worker motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity.[171] The majority of I–O psychologists work outside of academia, for private and public organizations and as consultants.[169] A psychology consultant working in business today might expect to provide executives with information and ideas about their industry, their target markets, and the organization of their company.[172]

Military and Intelligence

One role for psychologists in the military is to evaluate and counsel soldiers and other personnel. In the U.S., this function began during World War I, when Robert Yerkes established the School of Military Psychology at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia, to provide psychological training for military staff military.[37][173] Today, U.S Army psychology includes psychological screening, clinical psychotherapy, suicide prevention, and treatment for post-traumatic stress, as well as other aspects of health and workplace psychology such as smoking cessation.[174]

Psychologists may also work on a diverse set of campaigns known broadly as psychological warfare. Psychological warfare chiefly involves the use of propaganda to influence enemy soldiers and civilians. In the case of so-called black propaganda the propaganda is designed to seem like it originates from a different source.[175] The CIA’s MKULTRA program involved more individualized efforts at mind control, involving techniques such as hypnosis, torture, and covert involuntary administration of LSD.[176] The U.S. military used the name Psychological Operations (PSYOP) until 2010, when these were reclassified as Military Information Support Operations (MISO), part of Information Operations (IO).[177] Psychologists are sometimes involved in assisting the interrogation and torture of suspects, though this has sometimes been denied by those involved and sometimes opposed by others.[178]

Health, Wellbeing, and Social Change

Medical facilities increasingly employ psychologists to perform various roles. A prominent aspect of health psychology is the psychoeducation of patients: instructing them in how to follow a medical regimen. Health psychologists can also educate doctors and conduct research on patient compliance.[179]

Psychologists in the field of public health use a wide variety of interventions to influence human behavior. These range from public relations campaigns and outreach to governmental laws and policies. Psychologists study the composite influence of all these different tools in an effort to influence whole populations of people.[180]

Black American psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark studied the psychological impact of segregation and testified with their findings in the desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education (1954).[181]

Positive psychology is the study of factors which contribute to human happiness and well-being, focusing more on people who are currently healthy. In 2010, Clinical Psychological Review published a special issue devoted to positive psychological interventions, such as gratitude journaling and the physical expression of gratitude. Positive psychological interventions have been limited in scope, but their effects are thought to be superior to that of placebos, especially with regard to helping people with body image problems.

The above video and transcript use material from the Wikipedia articles “Introduction to Psychology” and “Psychology“, which are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.


  1. Introduction to Psychology. (n.d.). In Wikibooks. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Psychology
  2. Psychology. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology

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