The field of psychology is a vast field of study and practice. We cover the following main subdisciplines:
What is problematic behaviour and how can it be treated? That is the main question in clinical psychology. Problematic behaviour is deviant, abnormal or mentally disturbed behaviour. It can range from mild problems or disorders (fear of heights) to severe depressions, schizophrenia or suicidal behaviour. In clinical psychology you learn about the different types of therapy, care methods and their outcomes.
Can you prevent illness through healthy behaviour? Health psychology is closely related to clinical psychology. Health psychologists focus on behaviour that is connected to health, illness and dysfunctioning. You will learn about the prevention of illness and high absentee rates, stress at work and disability. And you will pay attention to prevention, diagnostics, psychosomatics and short-term interventions.
Biopsychology and Neuropsychology
What is the relationship between body, brain and behaviour? Biopsychologists try to establish what the biological basis is for behaviour. The field is closely connected to neuropsychology. Neuropsychologists study the brain and try to find out what happens in the brain if a person is sad or angry. They look at physiological differences between people, for instance, to learn why some people are night owls and some are early birds.
What is normal and abnormal development on the road from baby to adult? As a developmental psychologist you study the development of people from infant to old age. Here in Leiden we focus on normal and abnormal behaviour in the period from birth to adolescence and early adulthood. We study the social and emotional development as well as the development of norms and values, and of motor skills and thinking capacity. You will learn about disorders and disturbances in the development and ways to diagnose and treat them.
What happens when we try to multi-task? Cognitive psychologists study the senses. They do research on how people perceive the world and how processes of thinking, learning, remembering and language acquisition take place. The results of their studies are translated into practical applications involving people and machines, for instance. Concrete examples of these applications are how the weather forecast is designed, the lay-out of the cockpit of a plane, signs that point the way at airports, and the way traffic lights look and work.
How are people influenced by their environment? Social psychologists study the behaviour of people when they interact with others. They look at how individuals function in groups and how people are influenced by their direct environment. You will study such topics as power in relationships, leadership, status, social justice, criminality, the influence of mass media, group behaviour, discrimination and vandalism.
How do groups and individuals function in organisations? Organisational psychology is closely connected to social psychology. Here too, individuals and groups are studied in connection, but in a different setting: that of organisations and companies. When studying organisational psychology, you will study the structure of organisations, working conditions, and the behaviour of employees. Organisational psychologists in the field often work in organisations where they assess and recruit personnel.
How can we make the best use of mathematics, statistics and computer science in psychological research? As a methodologist you study and improve existing research methods and you develop new ones. This work can take the shape of experimental research in a laboratory to questionnaires, in-depth interview or observations in the wild. Mathematics, statistics and computers are key elements in this area.