psychology, student life, thoughts & opinion

The 5 most common questions I get asked as a psychology student

I am a 3rd-year psychology student. In fact, I am a psychology and sociology student but most people only ask me about psychology. In Ireland Honors degrees are 4 years long so I have one more to go.

I think as a field, psychology is more high profile and the popularity of pop psychology and the current conversations around mental health means that people often think they have an idea of what it is.

To be clear, psychology relates to all behavior and mental processes like memory and learning, not just motivational quotes and illness.

Most people who find out that I study psychology are very interested in knowing more. I get asked a lot of questions but these are the 5 most common.

Now if you have asked these questions and feel a bit silly, remember, no worries, we get it all the time and I hope you won’t take offense at my commentary or the fact that I highlight them.

I am always open to questions so if you would ask me any, feel free to but be nice, even if you have had a bad experience with somebody in the field, cause I get questions that are more like rants sometimes and answering them is impossible.

Let’s get started.

  1. What am I thinking?

Short answer, I have no idea. If I had to guess, I imagine its something like:

“Haha, I bet she doesn’t know what I’m thinking, I’m so funny.”

And you would be right because I’m not a mind reader. This is literally the most common question I get asked.

It’s not a serious question, some people think they are funny, others are being rude and some people, I suspect do it to gauge my reaction.

As a psychology student, I love patterns of behavior, and I find it fascinating that this is the first thing that comes to peoples mind.

Just in case some people who ask are not just messing, any professionals you meet in psychology are more likely to ask what you think rather than try to guess.

2. So you want to be a psychologist?/ You want to help people with mental illnesses?

The honest answer, I don’t know. I certainly have options.

Psychology is important to almost everything to do with people and in some areas of psychology, animals too.

A degree in psychology can be relevant in

  • marketing
  • health
  • community development
  • youthwork
  • education
  • journalism
  • research

That’s not an exhaustive list and some things will require further education. Educational requirements can differ from country to country too.

If you are in Ireland and find yourself with a psych degree (as you do, suddenly, with no knowledge of how it got there 😏) and have no idea what to do with it, Gradireland is a fantastic resource.

3. You study personality, like the Myers Briggs test?

No. I have done modules (classes) on personality, two in the past three years, but we didn’t learn about Myers- Briggs.

I got curious one day and started googling why that might be.

Apparently, as theories go, its got issues and I encourage anyone interested to definitely check out the arguments for and against online, I found Psychology Today to be particularly helpful.

A word of warning, do be careful when choosing articles to read, there’s a lot of crap out there, so make sure you are using appropriate sources.

A good way to know if your source is credible is if they give their sources. A couple of good questions to ask when reading something online to ask is:

  • How do they know that?
  • What’s the evidence for and against?
  • Does this source profit from you believing their argument?

The personality test I see most often in my studies is called the Big 5.

I won’t get into too much detail but it focusses of 5 personality traits, which are, openness, conscientiousness extraversion agreeableness neuroticism. The researchers responsible for the test are Costa and Mcrea if you are interested in reading more about it.

4. Did you know you only use 10% of your brain?

I didn’t know that, because it’s not true. It’s a myth, totally and completely.

This one annoys me a bit because it doesn’t make any sense, and the truth is so much better.

Your brain does so much like making you happy and sad, controls your organs, interprets the world for you and so much more.

And it uses about 20% of the energy you put into your body.

Why would it require so much food, if it didn’t do much? nature is nothing if not efficient.

My favourite explanation for this is by Hank Green on Scishow, Do I Only Use 10% of My Brain? It’s well worth a watch.

5. Yeah but psychology isn’t real science, it’s just common sense, isn’t it?

So first of all, rude!

But this is something people really think.

If you follow me on Instagram I posted this picture a few weeks ago.

Image by a Shannon Sweeney

That hefty tome in the background is but one of three statistics textbooks I use.

SPSS is a piece of software we use for research to analyse the data we collect and it stands for Statistics Package for Social Sciences.

I believe some natural sciences like biochemistry use it too.

Most of the psychology (but not all) comes down to statistics. Psychology students learn to use SPSS and statistics for when they design and carry out their own studies,

Yes, that’s right we can’t just create a poll on Facebook and call it psychology. There’s a lot of design, maths, and analysis.

Yes, common sense comes into it, but one of the functions of psychology is to test commonsense assumptions.

For instance, opposites attract.

Well, actually a lot of research suggests that one of the most common predictors of attraction is similarity.

Without the science of psychology, we wouldn’t know that.

Bonus question: Isn’t that just theory,? they haven’t proven anything.

Answer: Maybe so, but that’s no different from any other kinds of science, all science uses theory.

Science is just the process we use to find stuff out.

That’s them all. If you want to want to ask a question, make a comment, agree or disagree, feel free.

And if you are interested in following me on social media, here are my links:

Instagram: @girldownarabbithole

Facebook

Until next time,

Shannon

7 thoughts on “The 5 most common questions I get asked as a psychology student”

  1. I always used to get asked ‘Can you psychoanalyse me?’ Well no, sorry to disappoint! In regard to people saying Psychology isn’t a real science, we had a whole lecture dedicated to why it is a real science!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read an Scientific American article the other day that said that scientists are trying to create an algorithm that could convert brain activity into images. It’s a long way off but perhaps not impossible. That being said I had an argument with my laptop this morning so I don’t think anyone around me need worry. 😆 Thank you for visiting and for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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