It may be considered a soft skill by many, but being able to get along with others is perhaps the most important trait any person can have, regardless of their profession or other factors. The ability to understand others is key to interacting in positive, constructive ways in any social setting.  

Psychology is a word often used to describe the way people think and the motivations behind their actions. In terms of understanding others, why is psychology important? Let’s begin with a definition of what it is and then continue on with an exploration of the benefits of studying psychology. 

What Is Psychology? 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience—from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged. In every conceivable setting from scientific research centers to mental healthcare services, ‘the understanding of behavior’ is the enterprise of psychologists.” 

How Can Studying Psychology Help You Understand Others and Yourself? 

The benefits of studying psychology are consequential and numerous when it comes to understanding one’s self and other people. You’ll gain insight into why people think and act the way they do and into   your own behavior and motivations. You’ll learn about the internal impulses and desires that drive us all. And you’ll develop a greater sense of empathy for others based on that understanding, enabling you to limit your biases against people who act differently than you do. Knowing what motivates people goes a long way toward creating a harmonious relationship with those around you, whether they are a major part of your life or someone with whom you’re interacting only briefly, such as a cashier. 

Studying psychology can give you a better understanding of your children, helping you become a better parent as you learn to nurture their developing psyches. This, in turn, can make them well-balanced, psychologically healthy children destined to grow into well-balanced, psychologically healthy adults. 

An education in psychology can also help you become a better communicator. Communication involves not only how you speak to others but how you interpret others’ word choices, body language, tone, facial expressions, and eye contact and use that understanding to formulate appropriate responses. Understanding someone doesn’t merely mean comprehending the words they’re speaking, but the intended meaning beneath them, or subtext. All the characteristics above provide added clarity. 

If your ultimate intention in studying psychology is to pursue a career in the field, there are two routes you can take. One is going into practice, which is clinically based and focuses on helping people. As the APA states, psychologists “identify and help people overcome the obstacles that inhibit them from making better choices … Psychologists use psychological science to help people tap into their potential and help them perform at an optimal level.”  

The other path is basic research and the science of psychology. The majority of academic psychologists focus on this path, which emphasizes research methods, critical thinking, data collection and analysis, statistical modeling, and scale development. 

Are There Other Personal Benefits of Studying Psychology? 

Beyond understanding others, an education in psychology can help you live a more fulfilling life by fostering critical thinking and confidence. You’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the science of psychology. 

As Ronald E. Riggio, PhD, explains in an article in Psychology Today, studying psychology can also help you: 

  • Understand basic psychological and scientific principles affecting human behavior. 
  • Become a better critical thinker. 
  • Gain a better understanding of relationships. 
  • Be more effective in your profession. 
  • Become more likely to be hired 

What Type of Program Is Best for Studying Psychology? 

The University of Texas Permian Basin’s online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology offers a broad foundation of psychological science with an emphasis on critical written communication and research skills that are invaluable in helping professions and other careers. This intensive online program will help you cultivate important abilities, including reasoning about empirical research, writing persuasive, cohesive arguments, and thinking critically on applied and theoretical aspects of psychology. Finally, the knowledge and insight our affordable program provides can make you more competitive in your pursuit of a diverse selection of professional roles.  

Why Learn Online? 

We offer our BA in psychology program 100% online through asynchronous class sessions. This advantage enables you to complete your coursework anywhere, at your own pace. If you have work and/or family responsibilities, you’ll find that a flexible program format like ours best suits your busy schedule. You can begin the program at any of six start dates per year. All program courses last eight weeks and are taught by the same acclaimed faculty who teach them on campus. When you successfully complete your BA in psychology program, you’ll receive the same respected degree that campus-based UT Permian Basin graduates receive. 

Discover how studying psychology can help you understand others and yourself in our online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program