Basics 5 Facts About Psychology By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry Facebook Twitter Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on July 10, 2021 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Emily Swaim Fact checked by Emily Swaim LinkedIn Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell. Learn about our editorial process Print Hero Images / Getty Images There are a number of misconceptions about the field of psychology. This is likely because people often have very little direct knowledge and experience with the science of psychology. For many people, their first (and usually only) experience with psychology happens when they take an introductory course on the topic to fulfill a high school or university general education requirement. No wonder there are so many different misunderstandings about exactly what psychology is and is not. Here are the facts behind a few of the most common misconceptions. Psychology Classes Can Be Tough Many students may realize this as they struggle through their general psychology courses. Why do some people mistakenly believe that psychology is simple and easy? One reason might be because many tend to assume that since they have so much personal experience with human behavior, they will naturally be experts on the subject. Obviously, no one would suggest that an English class should be an easy A simply because you speak English. Just like English can be a challenging subject for any native speaker, psychology classes can be equally tough, particularly for students who have little experience with the subject or who have a limited background in subjects such as science and math. Fortunately, just because psychology is challenging doesn't mean that it isn't accessible to anyone who might take an interest in it. While there might be a learning curve, you can definitely succeed in your psychology classes with effort and determination. An Overview of Psychology Careers Psychology Isn't Just Common Sense After hearing about the latest psychological research, people may tend to have an "Of course!" type of response. But what seems like common sense isn't necessarily the case. Pick up any book outlining some of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology and what you will quickly realize is that much of this research refutes what was believed to be common sense at the time. Would you deliver potentially fatal electrical shocks to a stranger just because an authority figure told you to? Common sense might have you emphatically saying no, but psychologist Stanley Milgram famously demonstrated in an obedience experiment that the majority of people would do exactly such a thing. That's the thing about common sense—just because something seems like it should be true doesn't necessarily mean that it is. Researchers are able to take some of these questions and presumptions about human behavior and test them scientifically, assessing the truth or falsehood in some of our commonly held beliefs about ourselves. By using scientific methods, experimenters can investigate human issues objectively and fairly. Classic Psychology Experiments You May Need More Than a Bachelor's Degree In order to become a practicing therapist, you will need at least a master's degree in a field such as psychology, counseling, social work, or advanced psychiatric nursing. There are many opportunities to work in the field of mental health at the bachelor's level, but these positions tend to be considered entry-level. You cannot open your own private therapy practice with just a bachelor's degree. It is also important to be aware that the professional title "psychologist" is a regulated term. In order to call yourself a psychologist, you need to earn a doctorate degree in psychology, complete a supervised internship, and pass state licensing exams. 80+ Jobs in Psychology to Consider Psychologists Don't Just Get Paid to Listen Certainly, some psychologists are very well compensated for their work. But the notion that they are just passively sitting back, doodling on a yellow notepad while their clients ramble on could not be further from the truth. Traditional talk therapy is only one technique that a therapist might use, and it's certainly not a passive process. Throughout these sessions, therapists are actively engaged in listening to the client, asking questions, providing advice, and helping clients develop solutions to put into daily practice. Psychologists actually work in a wide number of professions and perform an enormous range of different duties. Salaries can vary just as dramatically. Some work in the field of mental health and focus on helping people who experience psychological distress, but other professionals work in areas such as business, education, government, and research. Some of the lowest paying psychology jobs start out in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, while the highest paying jobs can reach up in the $100,000 to $250,000 range. Factors such as specialty area, educational background, and years of experience are what determine salary. 80+ Jobs in Psychology to Consider Psychology Is a Real Science Some may think that psychology is not a real science. First, let's examine exactly what science is and is not. Some key characteristics of a science: Allows for hypothesis testingFindings allow researchers to predict future occurrencesObjectiveResearchers control and manipulate variablesResults can be replicatedUses empirical methods Psychology relies on all of these methods in order to investigate human and animal behavior. Researchers utilize the scientific method to conduct research, which means that variables are controlled and operationally defined. Experimenters are able to test different hypotheses and use statistical analysis to determine the likelihood that such results are due merely to chance. Psychologists also present their findings in a way that makes it possible for other researchers to replicate their experiments and methods in the future. Psychology might be a relatively young science in the grand scheme of sciences, but it is indeed a real science. However, it's important to note that scientific psychology does have some limitations. Human behavior can vary and change over time, so what is true in one particular time and place might not necessarily apply in different situations, settings, cultures, or societies. The History of Modern Psychology 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Bensley A, Rainey C, Lilienfield S, Kuehne S. What do psychology students know about what they know in psychology?. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. 2015;1(4):283-297. doi:10.1037/stl0000035 Russell NJ. Milgram's obedience to authority experiments: Origins and early evolution. Br J Soc Psychol. 2011;50(Pt 1):140-162. doi:10.1348/014466610X492205 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Psychologists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. American Psychological Association. Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Lin L, Christidis P, Stamm K. Salaries in psychology: Findings from the National Science Foundation's 2015 National Survey of College Graduates. Center for Workforce Studies. Pérez-Álvarez M. Psychology as a science of subject and comportment, beyond the mind and behavior. Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2018;52(1):25-51. doi:10.1007/s12124-017-9408-4 By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.