No two psychologists are the same. As you probably know, the field of psychology has branched out in many directions and become interconnected with numerous other fields, both within the areas of psychology and beyond. For a quick idea of the many fields in psychology, take a lot at Psi Chi’s Career Finder.
The idea that all psychologists are counselors is simply no longer true—nor was it ever. Today, let’s take a look at some of the most unique and creative applications of psychology that we have come across at the Psi Chi Central Office. (You’re going to love these! They might even make up for that ridiculous April Fools post that we used to introduce this article…)
1. Studying Female Serial Killers
Forensic psychology in itself is fascinating. But a few years ago, we stumbled upon Dr. Marissa A. Harrison, who specifically studies female serial killers! Like, who even knew that this was a thing?! As it turns out, women serial killers do exist and they do tend to have different motives and methods for killing people than the male serial killers that are often portrayed and discussed on television. Learn more in what quickly become one of our most popular magazine articles.
2. Superhero Therapy
Dr. Janina Scarlet survived Chernobyl radiation when she was a child, which caused her to have lifelong health issues such as migraines and seizures. As she recently explained to the University of California San Diego Psi Chi Chapter, when she immigrated to the United States, other children often made fun of her for and asked her things like if she glowed in the dark. Janina felt like a total outcast and often wanted to die, until she saw the first X-Men film in a theater, which immediately attracted her attention because the X-Men characters were also frequently bullied for their exposure to radiation. Largely due to the X-Men, she gradually began to see herself as a survivor with special talents, instead of a victim, and so she later dedicated her life to helping others use their favorite fictional hero characters in order to better understand themselves and manage painful experiences.
3. Influencing Pixar's Inside Out
There are many ways that media psychology can (and should) be used to influence the choices that writers, producers, and directors portray characters and situations. For example, a few years ago, we reached out to Dr. Dacher Kelter to tell us about how he worked with the director of Pixar’s Inside Out. As it turns out, Dr. Keltner convinced the director to significantly alter the ending of that film in order to portray a meaningful and unique theme regarding the importance of sadness. Find out how the Inside Out was originally supposed to end and more in this magazine interview.
4. Space Psychology, the Final Frontier!
Have you ever stopped to consider whether the same psychological principles that you study here on Earth would also apply to people when they aren’t located on our planet?! For 15 years, Dr. Nick Kanas served as a NASA-funded principal investigator as he conducted psychological research on astronauts and cosmonauts. We wrote an in-depth interview with him about the various stressors of long-duration space travel, which include everything from the potential for equipment to break down to the effects of separation from family and friends. Far out!
5. Pick Up Lines
Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research has published articles about everything from the effects of music on mood to the effects of using different types of password combinations. But this year, a really unique article investigated the perceived attractiveness of people who use pick-up lines to get a date! In other words, would you expect a person to be more attractive if they used a direct pick-up line (e.g., “I just have to tell you, you have amazing eyes”), an innocuous line (e.g., “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”), or a flippant line (e.g., “If you were a triangle, you’d be acute one”)? The next time someone walks up to you and says, “Is your name Ariel? Because I think we mermaid for each other,” remember that that this is only one of the many unique situations that social psychology has explored in order to better understand interactions between people.
6. Outdoor Healing Excursions
Soldiers historically were faced with a long march or journey home after wartime. But now, technology often allows them to be shipped directly home within a few days of fighting. Because this does not give them as much opportunity to process their experiences before returning to civilian life, is it possible that this causes them to be more likely to exhibit PTSD ? This year, Psi Chi’s Austin Peay State University Chapter raised $1,100 for Warrior Expeditions, a nonprofit that helps veterans heal from wartime experiences by facilitating long-distance outdoor excursions. This organization also researches the effects of hikes, bikes, and paddles on veterans' mental health.
More Interesting Applications of Psychology
Be sure to check out Psi Chi’s free online Careers in Psychology Resource. This resource will help you choose possible career routes and sharpen your skills to acquire rewarding jobs that you can be proud of. Also, if you are interested in learning about a particular field, review the “Career Preparation” and “Fields of Psychology” sections of our Publication Search for Eye on Psi Chi magazine. You never know what you might find!