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I would like to study something Human behaviour related

Hello! I am Karla, 29y/o and I have always being a people person, I love to listen to what people have to say, how they feel and how they are walking through life, and for the ones that want an opinion I am more than happy to share my experience on how I overcame something in my life. I always buy books about how the brain works, depression and anxiety, what is the background of a feeling, emotionally and physically.
And I think I would like to pursue something more professional and make something serious out of it. Any advice? #psychology #career

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Benjamin’s Answer

A few possibilities that may not be obvious but may be of interest: Human factors & ergonomics, user experience (UX) research, and behavioral economics. All of these fields require understanding human behavior, empathizing with people, studying interactions, and applying that knowledge. I particularly like that they are all multi-disciplinary, drawing on knowledge from different fields and adaptable to many different situations, thus there are always interesting and unique opportunities available.

Human factors and ergonomics is concerned with interactions among people and systems. It's a very broad field addressing physical, cognitive, and organizational interactions and people tend to specialize in certain areas (i.e. you can focus on the cognitive and behavioral aspects of interest to you). There is some basic human factors research, but mostly it is an applied field; that is, using the knowledge to improve the design of a product, help an organization run more effectively, etc. There are opportunities in many industries such as consumer products, aerospace, healthcare, automotive, and more.

User experience is generally considered to be a sub-field of human factors. It is most often used in the design of consumer products, especially software and apps, but can be applied to any product, system, or service. In addition to traditional human factors concerns, UX researchers seek to understand broader user emotions and attitudes that affect perception and satisfaction. Improving the user's experience is important for companies that want to achieve long-term brand loyalty and growth.

Behavioral economics studies how culture, emotional, and psychological factors affect the way people make decisions. Many governments and non-governmental organizations use behavioral economics to try to address issues in the world. A concept that has been popular recently is the "nudge unit", a group which uses psychological principles to influence choices without coercion, such as getting people to eat healthier, pay their taxes, save more money, etc. More traditionally, it involves conducting experiments to study economic and psychological factors and applying research insights to the design of social and economic systems.

These fields aren't typically the first things that come to mind when we think about psychology, but they all have a significant psychological aspect with opportunities for people to apply an understanding of human psychology.

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Reyaadh’s Answer

Hi Karla,

I love that you know that. I too figured out that I love to study human behavior. My undergrad degree is in Psychology and Sociology. It is important that you study something you love.

My career for the past 30 years in corporate has been in management. I have used this knowledge extensively over the years and it has made me a better manager. While it seems that this liberal arts degree may not be applicable to business, it is exactly the type of diversity that is needed.

So you see, diversity in knowledge can work in your favor. Having a positive outlook on learning will make you versatile. Study what you like, and use it to your benefit. I have found that this versatility is what most employers are looking for.

Bottom line: Studying human behavior is applicable to almost all career types, including AI (artificial intelligence). And even if you do not pursue a career as a therapist, you will find this helpful throughout life.

Best of luck. Hope you find this helpful.

Completely agree! I studied Anthropology and have worked in finance, fashion, and now telecommunications. These are very translatable skills. Davina Ogilvie

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David’s Answer

Hey Karla,

I enjoyed reading your question and I am impressed by your personal introspection. In this ever changing world , we drastically need humans who are willing to ask the tough questions of themselves and are willing to grow and change. Your personal insight into wanting to connect to people , being empathetic to their situation and wanting to uplift them and make the situation better, will suit you in whatever path you choose. Ultimately, no matter who your customer or client is , no matter the occupation, being able to connect on more than a superficial level will be essential to success. I would argue that the soft skills that you are describing of yourself are just as important as any hard(technical) skill that you learn as part of an occupation.

It is not clear to me what your timeline is for making a transition. That will be important for you to resolve as you go down your personal path- whether you look at going to college and getting a degree or look at a certification program of some type. The world is open to you!

As an example, your skills for example are severely needed in the medical field. Area's that come to mind are Nursing, Social Work, Therapy, and Industrial or Organizational Psychology, to name a few. If you choose a certification programs, areas such as Massage Therapy or becoming a Wellness/Transitional Coach come to mind.

I purposely did not address other fields. With that said, no matter if you go into the business field, IT, sales, publishing/Marketing or health care, having a holistic approach to people will place you ahead of others in your career and your personal development.

I agree with all the other contributors that an understanding of human behavior will suit you in any endeavor. Every interaction we have in life, whether with our bosses, colleagues, families, neighbors or friends is a relationship. You seem to have a strong understanding of that and it seems to feed you in a positive way. I strongly encourage you to keep asking yourself, "who am I" and "how can I best serve mankind?". If you keep asking yourself those questions and doing the work, the answers will come.

Finally, none of us knows what the right path is for you. For most humans, the work we choose is an intimate and personal choice, an expression of ourselves. Continue to ask questions of yourself and others. Continue to focus on what do I love doing, where do my passions for life lie and what values do I hold to be true. Once you figure that out, I would spend time talking to people in those career fields that match to that set. Most people love to talk about themselves and our willing to share their experiences Gathering that information will be very helpful in narrowing your choices and give you a sense of direction.

I wish you the best of luck. You are on a journey. Trust the process and hold true that this is your path and only yours. No matter where you go, you and your gifts are needed.

David recommends the following next steps:

Taking a personality test such as Briggs Meyers may help- you can get it on line. You may have to spend a little money to get the advanced test.
Set up appointments to talk to people in career fields that interest you to gain insight into the jobs.
Look at volunteering or doing an internship once you dwindle possibilities down.
Ask close friends that you trust, what they see as your gifts/talents that can be transferred into job skills.

Thank you so much for your time and your reply, it was really helpful!! :) Karla V.

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Kayla’s Answer

I am also fascinated by the human condition, sharing my experiences and helping others. I have my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. I chose Psychology as my major going into college because of many of the reasons you listed: I am a people person, I love listening to other people's problems and experiences, I like being a shoulder to lean on, and I feel like I am a good advice giver. With that being said, I did not go any further with Psychology in my professional life. However, I think learning and working on those skills is applicable to any career as well as your every day life.

I have done mostly office work post graduation. I have worked in various medical offices and now support a Vice President at a large company. I have not used my degree in a traditional "listen to others, give them advice" sense, but I have utilized my knowledge to build stronger relationships, ease patient's/client's minds, provide incentives, communicate more effectively, and so on. Studying psychology can be beneficial to any career, but it may not necessarily be the best route to what you are trying to achieve.

I do not want to discourage you from trying something that you love, but I would like you to consider other options before jumping into an expensive commitment. Have you ever written a blog? That would be a wonderful way to share your experiences and encourage others to do the same. Depending on your life experience, maybe you could even write a book! Have you ever been to therapy? This will be a requirement for Psychology students, so I would encourage you to do that at least once beforehand. Some people are very uncomfortable with it, so that would be a clear way to know if that is something you would like to do every day. Have you looked into Psychology-adjacent studies? There are so many majors that would compliment Psychology such as Sociology, Anthropology, Education, Human Resources, Health Care, Criminal Justice - the possibilities are truly endless. This would allow you to pursue the knowledge that you would gain with a Psychology degree but ultimately put you in a different career field.

The last thing I will say is that I have many different interests, as I am sure you do as well. I remember taking a personality quiz in college where there were 8 different outcomes and I scored equally in 6 of the 8 categories. My professor explained to me that simply means I have to be in a career where I can be multifaceted. Or, I have to choose a career that only fits into 1-2 of those categories and fulfill myself in the other areas through hobbies, volunteering, etc. I would strongly encourage you to look at your interests and think about what you would like to do for work every day versus what you enjoy doing occasionally/for fun.

Kayla recommends the following next steps:

Take some career personality tests
Audit a Psychology class at a local university
See a Psychologist for a therapy session (or two)

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Davina’s Answer

Hi Karla,

These are truly amazing skills that you have! Some relevant fields of study that you could look into are Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology, among the others recommended. All the best as you navigate your next steps, it's an exciting time!!


I totally agree. Reyaadh Hakim

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John’s Answer

That sounds great! Have you considered human resources or maybe even being a guidance counsel/advisor at a local high school or university?