Another area of development in psychology that is likely to see great amounts of growth over the next couple of decades is Evolutionary Psychology. Evolutionary theory has made great inroads into the science of Psychology over the past decade. The theory has been both controversial and informative, leading to new areas of inquiry and helping psychologists to gain a greater understanding of human behavior, thought, development and history (Rozin, 2010). When psychologists are able to determine that one aspect of humanity has evolutionary roots, they can rule out other causes, such as culture or environment, which can then in turn lead to a better understanding of how the human mind functions. The more we understand about how the brain functions, the better equipped we are to battle against the dysfunctions of the brain (Rozin, 2010).
As the majority of the population begins to age, there will be a growing interest in the field of psychology from members of the general public. Despite the widespread interest in Psychological research, the actual sources of psychological research are not very accessible to the general public. Psychologists publish their research findings in scientific journals, including great amounts of detail concerning their methodologies and complicated statistical analyses. Furthermore, each journal article often deals with a small advancement in the field, which may not be exactly what a layperson would wish to delve into. The general public is likely more often interested in the bigger picture, wanting to understand what has been done in an entire area of psychology, where the findings from each 30-page journal article are summed up in single sentences, helping to tell an interesting story. This is where the role of popular psychology publications, such as Psychology Today, becomes relevant.
These publications help disseminate psychological research findings to the general public in a format that is accessible and interesting. More recently there has also been a great number of popular psychology books published on various areas of psychology. Books like “Blink” by Malcom Gladwell (2005) have summarized entire areas of research in easy to read, page-turner books. These books help to generate greater interest in the field of psychology and in the work that psychologists do, but there can also be a downside.
The reason that psychological research is published in detailed and meticulous journals is to allow for the proper understanding and critique of each individual study. If you do not understand the entire context of a finding it is easy to misunderstand it or over-generalize the finding, and often this can happen when studies are summarized in popular psychology publications. In some cases this can lead to the problem of “a little bit of knowledge being dangerous,” providing misinformation to the general public, which could influence decision-making processes of individuals.
Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink. New York: Black Bay Books.
Goodwin, C.J. (1999). A History of Modern Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Hayflic, L. (2000). The Future of Ageing. Nature, 408, 267-269.
Neisser, U. (2009). Cognitive Psychology. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from Grolier Online http://gme.grolier.com.ccny- proxy1.libr.ccny.cuny.edu/cgi-bin/article?assetid=0066790-0
Rozin, P. (2010) Towards a Cultural/Evolutionary Psychology: Cooperation and Complementarity. in, Schaller M., Norenzayan, a., Heine, S.J., Yamagishi, T., & Kameda, T. (eds). Evolution, Culture, and the Human Mind. New York: Psychology Press.
Wallace, B ., Ross, a., Davies, J.B., and Anderson T., (eds) (2007) the Mind, the Body and the World: Psychology after Cognitivism. London: Imprint Academic..