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Why choose psychology?

Hastie, B. (2006) Why choose psychology? In: 35th Annual Meeting of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists (SASP), 20-23 April 2006, Canberra, Australia.

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Despite the extensive research which has been conducted with psychology students, very little of it has addressed why they choose to study psychology. It is important to understand people’s motivations and expectations of studying psychology, in order to ensure that the students best suited to the discipline are attracted and retained. This question is addressed using data from three studies involving 308 psychology students. Data was gathered via questionnaire, free responses and focus groups. The results suggest that students cite interest” most often as their reason for studying psychology, followed by wanting ‘to help others”. Most want to become practicing psychologists. There was also evidence that people were motivated to study psychology after experiencing psychological distress, or witnessing others close to them suffer distress. This research was conducted at a single university and used retrospective measures. Future research should focus on students at entry, and also those who leave, in order to ensure that people best suited to psychology are attracted and retained.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: The Australian Psychological Association
Copyright: The Authors
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