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Do you learn to read people's minds when studying psychology?

Hi, I’m Sarah Higgins, Psychology Lecturer at Staffordshire University and today I’m taking over TSR to bust some myths about Psychology degrees.

Myth #1 Psychology is only about helping people.
While helping people is a fundamental aspect of psychology, the field is much broader. Psychology also involves problem solving, understanding human behaviour, cognitive processes, developmental stages, and more.

If you’re fascinated by human behaviour and want to understand what makes people tick, psychology an excellent degree choice for you. Psychology can be applied to nearly every facet of our daily life, from the decisions we make, to how we respond to our environment and those around us.

At Staffordshire University, our psychology courses emphasise the application of psychological knowledge to everyday life. And through simulation and immersive technologies, our students experience hands-on learning in a controlled environment.

Myth #2 Psychology education is only for aspiring Psychologists.
A psychology education provides versatile skills applicable in various careers. Graduates can pursue roles in marketing, human resources, education, social work, research, and more. Understanding human behaviour is valuable in many fields beyond clinical practice.

At Staffordshire University, our psychology education is designed to foster versatility. Graduates are equipped with analytical, research, and communication skills that are valuable in diverse careers.

Myth #3 Studying psychology is all about common sense and giving advice.
While psychology does relate to understanding human behaviour, it goes beyond common sense. It involves scientific research, data analysis, and evidence-based interventions. A comprehensive education provides a deeper understanding of human cognition and behaviour.

Our degrees equip students with research skills, statistical analysis, and critical thinking abilities. Students learn to assess data objectively and apply evidence-based practices, moving beyond simplistic advice-giving.

Myth #4 Psychologists don't make a difference in the world.
Psychologists contribute significantly to society. They develop interventions to improve mental health, help individuals cope with challenges, drive social change through research, and contribute to policies that enhance well-being. Their work has a tangible impact on individuals and communities.

Myth #5 The main role of a Forensic Psychologist is criminal profiling.
Reality: Criminal profiling is an interesting and complex area but only one of many areas of interest for forensic psychologists. Other areas can include how and why crimes may be committed, designing and reviewing interview techniques, crime prevention and rehabilitation programmes, psychological assessments and evaluations and researching the impact of different things on (for example) eyewitness accuracy and how juries reach decisions. Not all forensic psychologists are experts in criminal behaviour – it’s a wide and varied role.

Myth #6 You learn to read people’s minds when studying psychology.
We do use 100% of our brain over the course of a day (another common myth is that we don’t!), but not to read people’s minds! Let’s take the example of pouring our coffee in the morning: We need to walk to the coffee/mug, reach for it and pour it into our mug. As we are pouring, we have to leave room for milk and other condiments. Throughout this process we are using our occipital and parietal lobes, we use our motor sensory and sensory motor cortices, the basal ganglia, cerebellum and frontal lobes are also all active! We are experiencing a lightning storm of neurone activity across almost every part of our brain in the span of a few seconds, how amazing is that?!

Myth #7 Taking a psychology placement year is not very popular .
We have the opportunity for students to take a placement year between years 2 and 3 on our undergraduate psychology courses. This is becoming an increasingly popular choice, with feedback showing that students are very positive about the experience. You get to choose where you go on your placement, with support from our staff and careers team. In the past some of our students have been on placement with the YMCA, as assistant children’s advocates, as mental health support workers, as case workers in the British Red Cross, working in fostering services, as Psychology support workers at Midlands Psychology, as research assistants, in mental health and wellbeing clinics and working as study support workers in schools.

We also have employability opportunities embedded throughout our degrees. Where you are encouraged and supported to find voluntary work and map your career path throughout the three years on the degree. We have dedicated modules to help you with this. These volunteer opportunities might be supporting people experiencing homelessness, helping with charities or volunteering with organisations that work with vulnerable children. This allows you to make important contributions to not-for-profit organisations and to develop your CV based on your future career aspirations.

Myth #8 Psychology is not a science
A crucial part of becoming a psychologist is learning to understand, conduct and analyse scientific research. This means that psychology education focuses on teaching these skills! With support, you develop practical experience with industry standard statistics software to interrogate complex datasets during your undergraduate degree. You also learn how to critically appraise scientific research and theories to draw your own conclusions. This helps to prepare you for the increasingly data-driven world that we live in and be able to identify ‘fake news’.

Myth #9 There’s no place for immersive technologies in psychology education.
Our courses are based in our purpose-built Science Centre which houses our fantastic facilities, including cognitive research cubicles, psychophysiology equipment, simulation machines and observation suites! Throughout our undergraduate degrees we embed technical equipment and immersive activities to provide you with opportunities and experiences to enhance your skills and knowledge. These can help to bring the theory and concepts to life and develop your ability to communicate complex psychological concepts and theories.

For example, you may have interactive demonstrations using our eye-tracking resources, virtual reality equipment and driving simulator. These demonstrations can help you to design and measure the human interactions that underpin theoretical content taught with psychology education. Furthermore, you may have role plays, case studies and use your observation skills to fully immerse yourself in developing your psychology practice based on your chosen discipline.

Myth #10 You will learn according to your ‘learning style’
Many people believe in the idea of learning styles, however you may be surprised to hear that this theory is not fully supported by the research! Despite this myth we do teach and assess using a variety of approaches to meet the needs of different learners and enable them to succeed. We have a blend of lectures, seminars, workshops and practical’s along with academic mentoring. We also make useful learning materials available online for you to access outside of our contact time to help you with your studies.

We have a range of assessments including coursework and exams, many of these assessments are innovative and allow you to demonstrate what you have learned in exciting and interesting ways. Some of our academics conduct interesting and pioneering research into assessments and feedback so that we can ensure that our approach is research-driven and using best practice approaches.

Staffordshire University prepares psychology students to make a meaningful impact. The curriculum focuses on research methodologies, ethical considerations, and practical applications.

Let’s talk Psychology! If you have any questions, hold any preconceptions, or simply want to chat about studying Psychology at university, drop me a comment below!
(edited 6 months ago)
Hello Sarah!

I have a question: is Staff's Psychology course BPS accredited? :smile:
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Hello! Thanks for your question. I can confirm that yes, all of our undergraduate psychology courses are accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). Having this accreditation means that you are able to undertake postgraduate training to become a professional psychologist in your chosen field e.g. Clinical Psychologist, Forensic Psychologist, Educational Psychologist. To be able to continue to these specialist fields you need to pass the required modules, such as the research project in your final year, which lead to eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).

In addition to the professional psychologist career paths you may also use the knowledge and transferable skills learned as part of your degree to pursue other career opportunities. Taking a BPS accredited course is necessary for pursuing a career in psychology or in the wider psychological workforce, such as being a support worker, research assistant, working in the prison service, rehabilitation services, working in schools or in mental health organisations! Therefore, following a programme with BPS accreditation means that you can be assured of the quality of the course you are taking and that you are gaining the relevant accreditation to pursue a range of careers after you graduate.

If you'd like to know any more, or have any questions please feel free to ask Good luck in your university decision.

Sarah, lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University.
Original post by 04MR17
Hello Sarah!

I have a question: is Staff's Psychology course BPS accredited? :smile:

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