APA shines light on important trends in psychology

Psychology is hot, and it's only getting hotter.

It's critical to the development of such technological innovations as self-driving cars and smart devices.

Psychologists are playing critical roles in addressing how poverty and other environmental factors influence people's health.

Psychology is the fourth most popular major in U.S. colleges and universities.

And a growing number of workplaces are turning to psychology to improve employees' productivity, health and safety and, not coincidentally, improve their bottom lines.

These are some of the trends explored a special section, "10 Trends to Watch in Psychology," published in the November issue of the Monitor on Psychology, the flagship magazine of the American Psychological Association.

"Psychology touches almost every aspect of people's lives, yet many people are not aware of the breadth and depth of its application and influence," said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr. "We hope the articles in this special report will open people's eyes to how the science and practice of psychology are revolutionizing the world around us."

One article on the burgeoning field of applied psychology details how human factors psychology is bridging the gap between humans and machines, including human-robot interactions, brain-machine interfaces and virtual reality systems.

"Already, there are vehicles that incorporate partial-automation systems, such as cars that parallel park themselves or slow down if you get too close to the car in front of you," the article says. Other psychology-informed systems might soon measure how a worker's brain becomes fatigued during different types of work and adapt the amount of automation involved depending on the worker's attention level and cognitive state.

Another article looks at how psychologists are delving into the roles played by genes and gene expression in mental illness, substance use and neurodevelopmental disorders. For example, in the area of addiction research, aspects of a people's genetic expression that allow them to become addicted in the first place could be modified to lessen their tendency toward addictive behavior.

"The thing that intrigues me, and many other people with a psychology background, is that these [factors] can be modified," not necessarily by changing the genetic code, but by changing how genes are turned off and on in neurons, says Jeremy Day, PsyD, who studies cocaine addiction in his lab at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

In workplaces, psychologists are documenting the financial losses companies suffer when they fail to provide work environments that offer psychosocial safety, according to another article. "We've been trying to use this economic argument to show organizations that if they really are interested in productivity, they are going about it the wrong way, because if you don't care for your workers, they will burn out," says Maureen Dollard, PhD, a professor of work and organizational psychology at the University of South Australia's Asia Pacific Centre for Work Health and Safety.

Among the other trends identified:

• Psychologists are playing a pivotal role in overall health care;

• Psychologists are intensifying their political advocacy for science;

• Technology is revolutionizing psychological practice;

• Psychology research is opening up, with more sharing of data and research methods;

• A lack of equity continues for women in psychology, even as women in other scientific fields have seen gains.


  1. peter best peter best Canada says:

    I think that psychologists have fallen down on the job as we all know that psychology is the study of the mind but there has not being much done when it comes to psychological mind disorders. Autism was once considered due to a psychological factor back in the 1940s but there was never any research done on it and the only research paper was by a doctor who said it was genetic when his son got Autism because he knew that they did not do anything psychologically to cause it; but we did not know much about mind development at that time and even the theories on unconscious, subconscious and conscious development were just starting based on S. Freud work and other. Ver know more today but still there has not being any research on psychological development until I did some and now even have a new theory on mind and brain development. Basically psychology has ignore mind and brain development and looking for a psychological cause for the last 75 years or so. They have ignore these Disorders in children and h the obvious cause of SIDS is as plain as the simple Fight or flight reaction but it is being ignored. How can anyone say that psychology is advancing when they ignore a simple thing in infants that obviously is the only sudden trigger for SIDS. I think that there is great need for psychology and psychologists to consider that as the trigger of SIDS and thus figure out and or evaluate inappropriate sensory stimulations as the cause of all of these Disorders.

  2. peter best peter best Canada says:

    The thing that upsets me about this article is that psychology is suppose to be a study of the mind; and when psychologist are delving into the roles played by genes and gene expression in mental illness; that is not what a psychologist is suppose to be doing as that is the role of the geneticists.  A psychologist is suppose to be figuring out mind and brain developments and or combining psychology with neurosciences Reference: www.sciencedirect.com/.../S1878929314000048 That is where they believe that they can make advancements in psychological work; and i would agree and in fact my new theory on Mind Development and Brain Development combines psychology and neuroscience but I do have to reedit it because of obvious error but it was done asap because it is so important as it involves infants and young children. nevertheless, I will redo as I also now can advance that theory explicitly Reference: itunes.apple.com/.../id1294016227?ls=1&mt=11
    I was glad to see that you allowed my comment as it do allow for discussion and I believe that that is essential to getting the right answers. I did feel a bit upset however because it do irritate me that we have being doing so much research on genes and changes in genes without doing any psychological research on the matter ever. Genes of course are changed but that seems to be after the disordes as that is when that is discovered; and yet a lot of people are convinced that they are the cause when even the experts say that there must also be a precipitating factor yet to be discovered when in fact, it is still the psychological factor and or psychological cause. Psychologist study the mind and in that respect; there are no genes in The mind. Neuroscientist study the brain and in that aspect; there are genes in the brain for expression normal activity. What happens them when they express abnormal activity I would say is that they express its it is and are thus modified for the abnormal activity as that has to continue abnormal if it is abnormal and so it can not be expressed as normal when it is abnormal. etc. Thanks again for not deleting my comment as I think discussion is okay even if people disagree. I never thought that you would leave it.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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