The Four Goals of Psychology

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First, via the description of human and animal behavior, psychology aids in understanding and acquiring a better perspective on what is deemed aberrant and normal (Wigginton, 2017). Case studies, surveys, correlation studies, and self-report inventories are examples of methods utilized in the description. Second, psychologists delve deeper to discover why people do what they do and the elements that may contribute to social behavior, personality, development, and mental health issues. Attachment theories and classical conditioning are two examples presented in the explanation. Thirdly, after the understanding of what happens and the reasons for the happenings, the information helps in predicting why, how, and when some behavior may occur in the future. An example of the ways of predictions includes the use of the particular aptitude test. Significantly, psychology tries to make lasting and constructive changes in the lives of people (Toolmela, 2010). Examples of change of behavior include mental illness treatments and enhancement of the human well-being.


Research, by description, is the thoughtful examination or inquiry that involves exhaustive and critical investigation or experiment that aim at discovering new facts, the correct interpretation of the facts, theories, and conclusions that are already accepted (Keim & Offermanns, 2007). Furthermore, there are basic and applied research. Markedly, the primary research seeks to get a fuller understanding of phenomena. In fact, it aims at obtaining knowledge about a natural phenomenon that whose applications may not or may have a bearing on the application either in the immediate future or after a long time. Examples include research about how the slime molds reproduce or the specific genetic code of the fruit fly (“Striking the right balance between basic and applied research”, 2011). On the flip side, applied research is the acquisition of knowledge which is expected to solve a critical problem in the theoretical base that is already built up in a practical application. Usually, this research is conducted for governments or industries by research institutions or universities (Anon, 2012). Examples include research on how to improve crop production or the treatment of a disease.

The differences between basic and applied research are as follows; first, in basic research, the problem investigated about is selected by an individual researcher while in applied research, the problem is chosen by an employer or sponsor. Besides, in basic, the research area is the laboratory while in applied, the area is the real world. In basic research, the nature of the same is analytic while applied research is synthetic (“Editorial: Applied research as a “basis” for basic research, 2002). Moreover, in basic research, the researcher is motivated by satisfaction in advancing knowledge and intellectual curiosity as opposed to applied research where the motivation is the commitment to promote the welfare of the public. Finally, the goal of basic research is generalized theoretical understanding, techniques, and tools while in the applied is the cost-effective reduction of problems in the society.


Anon. (2012). Research-on-Research: Research-on-Research Reports. Research-Technology Management, 55(6).

Editorial: Applied research as a “basis” for basic research. (2002). Japanese Psychological Research, 44(3), 121-123.

Keim, W., & Offermanns, H. (2007). Friedrich Asinger (1907—1999): A Mediator Between Basic and Applied Research. Cheminform, 38(43).

Striking the right balance between basic and applied research. (2011). Physics Today.

Toomela. (2010). Quantitative methods in psychology: inevitable and useless. Frontiers In Psychology.

Wigginton, B. (2017). Reimagining gender in psychology: What can critical psychology offer?. Social And Personality Psychology Compass, 11(6), e12318.

April 19, 2023

Psychology Science

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