What Does Experimental Psychology Focus On?
Experimental psychology is the subfield of psychology that uses scientific methods to collect data regarding psychological and social issues. The data is used to help social scientists learn more about human and animal behavior. Research is conducted using controlled experiments and the results are often presented to outside organizations, published in articles, or used to find solutions to real world problems.
Experimental psychologists are also referred to as research psychologists. These professionals specialize in the study of human behavior and cognition and their research explores thinking, learning, attention, motivation, and other cognitive functions. Experimental psychologists work with humans but also study animals such as rats, monkeys, and pigeons.
Research in this field is generally conducted at private research laboratories, in universities, or within nonprofit or governmental organizations. Careers in experimental psychology can vary but funding for research projects often focus on sensation, neurology, perception, memory, sensory processing, genetics, and the impact of drugs on behavior.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not indicate the outlook for Experimental Psychology specifically however, it does indicate that the growth for psychologists overall is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations. It is noted that job prospects will likely be best for those who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty, which includes Experimental Psychology.
Career Path and Options
Conducting research in an applied setting is a popular career option for professionals in the experimental psychology field. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies often hire experimental psychologists to find solutions to real world problems. These professionals observe people in real settings or they conduct research in laboratories to learn more about what factors influence human behavior.
Problems that researchers may focus on include memory loss, the impact of drugs and medication on cognitive functioning, and employee motivation. The research results are then used to develop practical solutions to improve functioning in these areas.
Although a specific wage for Experimental Researchers was not noted, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the related field of Social Scientist earns an average mean wage of $80,040 annually, as of May 2014.
Human Factors Engineer
Human factors engineers look at data to help companies and organizations design better machines, systems, and work environments. By exploring how systems and machines impact productivity, these professionals often help organizations improve individual and small group performance in a variety of settings.
Related: Becoming an Industrial Psychologist
Human factors engineers collect data regarding human characteristics, capabilities, and limitations which are then applied to the workplace. They identify the methods that work best in the workplace and make recommendations for improvement. The result is often improvement in employee comfort and safety which increases overall productivity.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the related field of Industrial Engineer earns an average mean wage of $85,110 annually, as of May 2014.
University or College Faculty
Many experimental psychologists are found in the university setting. In this field of study, university and college Faculty spend the majority of their time teaching classes, organizing studies, and publishing articles. They spend much of their time collecting data and often involve their students in the research process.
In addition, many Faculty are also responsible for obtaining funding for each research study as well as for the recruitment of study participants. University faculty often collaborate with their peers to perform these research studies and they present the results to outside groups, sometimes receiving a lot of recognition for their findings. Experimental psychologists also write up the results of their studies for professional and academic journals.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the related career of Postsecondary Education Teacher earns an average mean wage of $65,180 annually, as of May 2014.
Aerospace Experimental Psychologist
Aerospace experimental psychologists help the military with the training of armed forces in the most extreme of conditions. These professionals are tasked with gaining an understanding of the impact that intense training has on military personnel and then to make appropriate recommendations for improved performance. Their recommendations are expected to lessen the emotional impact that such intense training has on military personnel.
These professionals focus on developing strategies that will help militaty personnel demonstrate safe and effective aviation performance. This is often accomplished by evaluating the psychological effects that new aviation systems has on the flight crews so that appropriate adjustments can be made for optimal performance.
Aerospace experimental psychologists are fundamental to effectively training military personnel for missions.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the related career of Aerospace Engineers earns an average mean wage of $107,700 annually, as of May 2014.
- How to Become a Research Psychologist
- Becoming an Experimental Psychologist
- How to Become an Occupational Psychologist
- Difference Between Applied Psychology and Experimental Psychology