Psychology vs

Psychology vs. Applied psychology

Psychology or applied psychology – what’s the difference? You want to study psychology, but you don’t know whether you should choose to study psychology or applied psychology? We explain the two terms to you and show you the similarities and differences in your studies!

Table of Contents

The network is full of information on studying psychology. You can learn everything important about the individual psychology courses, find the right university, learn scientific definitions about the psyche of people or get prospects for a career as a psychologist.

In your research on studying psychology, however, you come across the terms again and again "psychology" and then suddenly it says "Applied psychology". But what’s the difference??

We would like to explain in detail what may sound confusing to you and hope to bring some light into the dark. In the following we explain the individual terms and the differences as well as similarities in the course.

Definition of psychology

in the Gabler Business Encyclopedia the term is defined as follows:

"Experience science, the subject of which is human experience and behavior. Historically, the roots of psychology go back to ancient times (Aristotle: "From the soul") back and can be found above all in philosophy and in theology. As modern empirical science, psychology was primarily formed as a natural science in the middle of the 19th century. The professionalization of psychology took place in the middle of the 20th century, to which the introduction of a professionally qualifying study program (diploma psychologist) and the establishment of a relevant professional association (professional association of German psychologists (BDP)) contributed."

In a nutshell: Psychology is an empirical science that deals with the behavior and experience of people. You can sort psychology into several areas. A scientific orientation of the subject is based on physics, a humanities orientation emphasizes the uniqueness of the personality, and the biological orientation considers the experience and behavior of humans in the course of evolution.

In addition, psychology as a social science is always related to sociology. In doing so, she interprets individual experiences and behaviors as the result of a socialization process and sees the person shaped by her learning history.

As you can see, psychology is a very complex and far-reaching subject that provides you with many exciting aspects relating to human behavior.

Definition of applied psychology

The term applied psychology cannot be defined so easily and clearly because it is a specialization of the term psychology. The focus is on the application of psychological knowledge for practical implementation.

We have collected three different definitions for you to explain:

Definition 1:

Applied psychology can best be taken as a generic term for practical psychology and psychotechnology. Applied psychology can also be used for the responsibility (.) For psychology for each professional group such as pedagogy, medicine, business.

Definition 2:

Before the Second World War, applied psychology was limited to teaching and basic research at universities. However, this has shifted to areas of business life, industry, schools, hospitals, etc. Applied psychologists can perform a wide variety of functions in these areas.

Definition 3:

Collective term with a wide range of meanings for the sub-areas of psychology previously called psychotechnology, which make the knowledge of general or theoretical psychology (including basic research) usable for the different areas of economic, social and cultural life.

Source: Stangl, W. (2017). Keyword: ‘Applied Psychology’. Online lexicon for psychology and pedagogy. (2017-11-30)

The German Society for Psychology has in the field of applied psychology following fields of application Are defined:

Many of these fields of application have become so popular that you can study them as a separate course. In general it’s about, Get psychological knowledge for a particular industry. In business psychology, you learn how to deal with people in a business environment, for example when selecting personnel. Media psychology is about combining marketing strategies with psychological facts. In short: in the field of applied psychology you can Apply psychological expertise in practical work environments.

Similarities and differences in studies

This is the well-known and classic course from this spectrum around human behavior Studied psychology. The variety of psychology courses is getting bigger and wider, so that you now have the opportunity to do that Applied psychology studies to study as a full-time course and as an applied psychology distance learning course. But where are the differences? What are the similarities in your studies? We’ll explain it to you!


… include the basic subjects of psychology

  • Basics of psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Biological psychology
  • educational Psychology
  • developmental Psychology
  • social Psychology

. address methodology

  • … can be studied as a Bachelor and Master.
  • … serve as the first step on the way to becoming a psychotherapist.
  • … open up a career outside the therapeutic professions.
  • differences

    Studying psychology .

    • . focuses more on purely psychological approaches.
    • . is offered by many universities.
    • . is the most common basis for qualification as a psychotherapist.
    • . nevertheless offers some application subjects to choose from in the course of the course, depending on the university.

    Applied psychology studies .

    • . focuses early on special areas of application.
    • . prepares you for a career outside of therapy.
    • . is currently only offered by a selection of universities.
    • . has usually already defined the specific field of application in advance.

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    Christina Cherry
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