A deep understanding of the human psyche is a skill that opens up different career pathways and helps you navigate the workplace, whether or not you are a psychologist. Associate Professor Dr Jonathan Ramsay from the Singapore campus of James Cook University explains why
By Tan Shuwei
Aug 11, 2021
Every problem or issue in the world, be it on a small or much larger scale, has a psychological setting that can be examined by the science of the mind and behaviour.
“Psychology speaks to the fundamental questions of how and why people think, feel and act the way they do. We all need to find meaning (in situations), but we pursue it in such different ways,” says Dr Jonathan Ramsay, associate professor of Psychology and academic head of Social and Health Sciences at the Singapore campus of James Cook University (JCU).
He shares why psychology is a good area of specialisation as part of a degree programme, even for those who are not planning on becoming clinical psychologists.
Being trained in psychology has value in many different professions outside of becoming a clinical psychologist – such as human resource, recruitment, marketing and branding, user research and market research – as it involves applying psychological theories to solving or comprehending different sets of problems or issues.
“An example is management, where understanding people and getting the best out of them is the most important part of work,” explains Dr Ramsay.
He also adds that there are many other areas of practice, such as business or criminal justice, where psychology has an increasingly important role to play.
“Organisational psychologists use their understanding of human thought and behaviour to help organisations and individuals work more productively. Educational psychologists work with both students and educational institutions to help improve learning, and achieve better student outcomes.”
Those pursuing psychology as a new pathway or skill could work towards getting clinical practice in mental health settings. Others might leverage their existing skills to build careers in areas such as policy-making, coaching or education.
At JCU, mid-career students can choose part-time programmes such as Diploma of Higher Education (Majoring in Psychological Science), Bachelor of Psychological Science, Graduate Certificate of Psychological Science, and Master of Psychological Science (Majoring in Business Psychology).
It is important, says Dr Ramsay, to choose the right postgraduate programmes designed for learners with individual objectives, and who are at different stages of their careers.
He adds that psychology students at JCU benefit from the support of an 18-member faculty who are research-active, with strong publication records that demonstrate their ongoing contribution to the field.
“This benefits students, as they are taught by lecturers who are actively researching and contributing to their fields, enhancing the knowledge and exposure they get. Students also gain research and clinical training under the supervision of these experienced researchers and practitioners.”
Understanding how the human mind works is a key life skill that can help solve problems and manage different situations. Psychology researchers have made significant contributions in specific areas such as suicide prevention, caring for the terminally ill, boosting creativity and connecting with nature.
Faculty member Dr Adam Wang, an early career researcher and senior lecturer, recently conducted research that found consistent evidence that background noise helps counter feelings of loneliness. Dr Wang has also published findings that suggest people intuitively judge slow responses as lacking in sincerity. Both pieces were published in top journals, and are undoubtedly moving the field forward.
Certainly, the psychological effects of the human psyche have a far-reaching impact on the world around us. One example is the development of the Covid-19 situation, which Dr Ramsay says is deep-rooted in human behaviour as well.
“While treatments and vaccines are a critical part of the global solution, changing attitudes and behaviours towards issues like vaccination and social distancing are equally important. Attitudes and behaviours fall in the realm of psychology. A good understanding of psychology is necessary to generate solutions and improvements in these areas and beyond.”
Visit www.jcu.edu.sg/courses-and-study/courses/psychology to learn more about JCU’s part-time psychology programmes.