6 Myths about Studying Psychology

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I have blogged about my road to from Polytechnic to University and I have been answering many questions with regards to that post. When I was a secondary school student, I thought Psychology was really cool. Before I went for my interview for DPA, I read up books on Psychology and got to understand it more. I felt that made me have a more informed choice about my future and I hope all of you can make better choices too.

It’s nice to see so many people being interested in Psychology because it’s a really interesting field. However, there are many misconceptions that are tied to Psychology and I think it’s always important to know what Psychology is exactly about before jumping into the course just because it seems cool.

1. We can mind read.
No we can’t. Psychology is the study of human behaviour, we don’t mind read. We can infer what you’re thinking from your actions but we don’t have the power to read your mind. We study the intention behind the actions and the different parts of the brain and the functions which may make it easier for us to interpret and infer human behaviour.

2. We can analyse your personality.
Yes, we do study personality. However, we don’t really go around analysing your personality type. There are different theories on personality, and tests to define one’s personality type and trait. We don’t go around telling you you’re an INFP or you’re a high N because blah blah.

3. We study body language.
A common misconception is that we study body language, but the truth is no. We don’t particularly study body language but there may be a brief touch on it during one of the lectures, and that’s it.

4. We work with crazy people.
No, not all of us do. Psychology is a broad field of study and there are many areas of interest. Yes, one area of Psychology involves clinical psychology, which deals with mental disorders. But that’s about it. Not all of us do clinical psychology.

5. We solve crimes.
Again, Psychology is a broad field of study, which includes Forensic Psychology. However, forensic psychology is not criminology. Criminology is the scientific study of crime while forensic psychologists mostly deal with issues such handling criminals with mental disorders or assessing the risk and evaluation of witnesses. They do criminal profiling at times but the media tends to romanticise this part. Sure, understanding human behaviour will be important to solve crimes, but if you’re only studying psychology to be part of the law enforcement, it’s not a good enough motivation to keep you in psychology.

6. We can’t do math or science, thus we chose Psychology.
That may be true to some people who ended up in Psychology, but they’ll suffer. Psychology is a science, which means we do testing to prove our hypotheses. That means lots of statistics and numbers. Yes, statistics is a huge part of psychology. I’ll say it’s the most important part of being a psychology student. You also can’t escape from science. One of our core modules involves biological psychology which we study the brain (neurons and neurotransmitters), and how our body react to certain things biologically.

In conclusion, there’s a lot more to psychology than talking to “crazy” people or solving crimes. Some Psychology modules we take in NTU include Statistics, Research Methods, Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Development Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Health Psychology, Personality, Social Psychology, Organisational Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology and Engineering Psychology. As you can see, it’s really wide.

Honestly, I can’t say too much about the course syllabus difference between the universities because I haven’t been exposed to them. However, there are differences in what I am doing in university and what I was in polytechnic. In polytechnic, I had more guidance from lecturers and it was more practical. In university, it’s really theory-centric and there are few real life applications taught in classes. A lot of focus was on writing papers and doing research, and statistics. The only applied psychology module I took was Forensic Psychology, which I really enjoyed.

Before you go into Psychology, think about what job it offers you in the future. To practice in a clinical setting, you’ll need a postgrad. Many of us go into mindef or other government organisations after graduation.

I personally really like how NUS FASS allows students to take a year of general studies before jumping into the major. I've known people who initially wanted Psychology but switched their major because they realised Psychology wasn’t what they imagined it to be.

So my advice is to take some time and read up on Psychology before jumping into it. Note: Others' experiences with psychology may differ from mine.

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7 comments

  1. Hi Michelle! Thanks your blog has been very insightful.

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  2. Hi will psychology help me get into law in the future? Is there any relation and how is studying psychology in temasek like?

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    1. Hi Peiling,

      I am not in a good position to state if psychology will help you to get into law in the future. The best option you have is to research on the law schools you intend to attend, see if they are recognised in Singapore, and understand their admission criteria. Hope that helps.

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  3. Hi, I rejected by Ntu and appealing for psychology, I'm praying hard now. Googleling hope to get any information about psychology and finally found your blog. Thank you very much for sharing all these on your blog. :) -from Ai Qian

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    1. Hello Ai Qian, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my blog and I wish you all the best for your appeal and future endeavours! :)

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  4. Hi Michelle, thanks for letting me get to know more about psychology in polytechnics and how it’s like to be in there. You have made me become more clear about the path that I am interested in and it is definitely heartwarming that I wouldn’t be unclear about what path I would take after o levels and now I have a goal to work for :) (p.s. which polytechnic do you think offers the best psychology course?)

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