Monday, January 19, 2009

Questions from Readers II

In my delurking week post a number of readers asked me questions that I am answering in a series. This is post 2 with a question from JLK who says...

"One question that I love to ask other psychology buffs is what study/theory captured their attention and imagination to such an extent that they decided it was the career for them, regardless of whether they pursued that line of research in later study"

For me it wasn't a particular theory or study or even a specific class... although I was about half way through my first Intro to Psychology course (there were 2 for my undergrad degree) when I declared my major.

There are a couple of things I should point out first to help you understand my wonderment with Psychology. First, I am a first generation college student (none of my family members, including extended have gone to college including those who came before or after me ... although I do have one cousin who is 10 years younger than me in school right now).

Second, I had no idea what I wanted to study when I went to college. I was a liberal arts major my first year and just took intro courses in every area I could.

Third, I went to a major research institute for undergrad. I don't know what would have become of me if that were not the case. I like to think I would have branched out to other universities to get research experience but I was really naive about that stuff during undergrad so who knows.

There are two things about Psychology that convinced me that becoming a Psychologist was the right career for me. First, was the fact that Psychology was relevant to my life in a very tangible way that I just did not feel with my other courses. I felt like I could see, hear and touch psychology in every aspect of my life. Many of the things I learned were ah ha moments for me where I went "oh, so that's why so and so reacts that way or that's why we see things like this happen".

Second, I felt that Psychology was very cutting edge, always evolving, and that there was still so much left to be discovered. It was exciting to realize that many of the articles that I was reading for my Psychology courses had been published just months and maybe years ago. Although I now know this is true for most areas of study, Psychology felt really fresh to me and I was easily convinced that I could contribute to this field.

I had never even thought about "contributing to a field" before that Intro class, originally my mind was wrapped around getting a job when I finished school. I didn't even know graduate school existed, I knew that some people went to medical or law school but before meeting college professors I had no idea that people who were not MDs or lawyers did "even more schooling" than college.

Psychology opened all kinds of doors for me. Made me realize that there was this side of me that I hadn't tapped into at all previously. I did not see myself as creative or curious before I found Psychology, and now I look back and laugh at how clueless I was.

So, that's what spurred my love for Psychology and my decision to become a researcher.


caroline said...

I also love that psychology is cutting edge. I try to point this out in the classes I teach. I love the idea of psychology as a science - I think it's a cooler science than others like chemistry.

JLK said...

Interesting, and I agree with a lot of what you said.

I'm thinking of answering my own question over on my blog.....

Psych Post Doc said...

Thanks Carloine. I think some Chemists would be really sad that you think they're science isn't all that cool. :)

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about psychology is that it's not a Science. I try really hard to dispell that whenever I see/hear it.

I have a degree in Experimental Psychology, um.. they do not give out experimental degress for non-science stuff. :)

Shell said...

I remember when some friends in my program would poke fun of Psychology thesis defenses, especially the Sport Psych ones, because they felt that it wasn't up par with their experimental research. It would get into my nerves, but unfortunately I had to play the game.