When you think of psychologists, what do you think of? If you’re like most people, you immediately picture a person sitting in a chair with a notebook in hand, writing things down as someone lying on a couch pours his heart out. While this may be an accurate vision as it pertains to some psychologists, there is much more to the field than people think. Here are five careers in psychology that you’ve never heard of:
Traffic psychologists study the driving behavior of people. These professionals study everything from road rage to drinking and driving. Traffic psychologists also study the effect of stress on driving habits. These people conduct research, publish papers, and even help law makers draft bills. One of the most prolific traffic psychologists is Dwight Hennessy who holds a PhD in personality and social psychology.
Did you know that circus performers need psychologists? Some do. Professionals in the field of psychology can help performers overcome their fear of heights, performance anxiety and the stress of fatigue. Cirque du Soleil is one of the most well-known circuses to have a full-time psychologist on staff. If you have an interest in working under the big top but don’t want to walk the tight rope or tame a lion, a PhD in sport psychology can help you achieve your dreams.
We aren’t talking about ghost hunters; we’re talking about professionals that study such phenomenon as ESP and psychokinesis. Ghost hunting is popular on television and paranormal movies are hits at the theater, but true parapsychologists study the ability to manipulate objects with the mind and the power of thought. It’s an interesting field, whether or not you believe in the supernatural; just don’t confuse these doctors with the ghost hunters you see on TV.
Many people find it amazing that Google has its very own psychologist on staff. What does she do? Since 2007, Dawn Shaikh has been full-time at Google conducting studies for the Web fonts team. Colors and fonts have a strong impact on the human psyche. Choosing the wrong color for your website can turn people away; choosing the wrong font can have people clicking off of your page in a matter of seconds. Shaikh studies these factors and helps people choose the right look for their websites.
Much like Google hires a psychologist, other companies hire professionals to help design and improve products. Product-design psychologists assist engineers and inventors develop products. They also help manufacturers make improvements to existing products based on human thought, emotion and behavior. Psychologists and their opinions have the ability to shape the buying habits of the nation.
While there will always be psychologists in private practice, it is not the only way that these professionals benefit society. You can find psychologists in almost every industry in the nation. The next time you grab a product off of your store shelves, ask yourself is a psychologist had a hand in your impulse buy.
Brett Harris is a blogger for online colleges that offer online Masters in Psychology degrees.