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Psychology of everyday life

Posted on: March 7, 2022

Psychology is present in our everyday lives whether we acknowledge it or not. From our relationships with friends and family to how we communicate with our work colleagues, psychology always plays a part. Larger world events also affect us both individually and collectively. Whether it is the effect of the coronavirus on social psychology or the climate crisis creating what is increasingly recognised as eco anxiety, our world is shaped by our thoughts and feelings and conversely, how the world makes us think and feel shapes our mental health.  

Our physical and mental wellbeing is intrinsically linked to our psychology. This includes our behaviour, cognitive attitude, performance, and mental functioning. Behaviours and traits that we value such as productivity, motivation, and resilience are all related to our psychology and can be nurtured and enhanced with a combined understanding of our psyche and biochemistry.    

Psychology is one of the social sciences and is rooted in scientific methods and principles. Psychology In Everyday Life is a well-known psychology textbook written by the bestselling authors David G. Myers and Nathan DeWall, and offers students a thorough and inclusive introduction to the field. It contains dozens of introductory psychology sections including The Biology of Behaviour and Consciousness; Personality; and Psychological Disorders. As the world changes though, so do our psychological needs and the latest imprint includes a new section, Psychological Science in a Post-Truth World, and revisions to the chapter, Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. 

How to use psychology in everyday life

Case studies of psychology in our day-to-day lives include how we deal with a disagreement in our relationship or how we respond to an advertisement. If we work in marketing, we will probably be interested in how to ensure that the response is positive, perhaps by using the scarcity principle or consensus. As we progress in life, we may need to understand how we can cope better when faced with disappointment or how to process grief

In healthcare, we see psychology being used to understand the link between stress and eating to help people manage their diet and exercise. Apps can help us to harness and use psychological science every day, like Noom, a weight-loss app entirely grounded in cognitive behavioural principles to support positive habit-building.

We continue to live through a global pandemic and the need for psychological support remains great. We’ve come up against mental health issues and phenomena that didn’t previously exist on the scale being observed, such as Zoom fatigue and fatigue in decision-making. While some people’s mental health has improved from not having to commute and being able to manage more fitness and wellness activities throughout the day, some people have felt isolated, lost their livelihood, or experienced domestic abuse. Many marriages and long-term relationships felt the strain of weathering a major crisis for the first time. The effect of trauma, particularly on frontline workers, but also upon those who had coronavirus but survived, and the families of those who didn’t, has yet to be assessed

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life

In 1901, Sigmund Freud, the forefather of psychoanalysis, wrote The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. In it, the psychoanalyst explores the following topics with a chapter dedicated to each:

  • Forgetting of proper names
  • Forgetting of foreign words
  • Forgetting of names and order of words
  • Childhood and concealing memories
  • Mistakes in speech
  • Mistakes in reading and writing
  • Forgetting of impressions and resolutions
  • Erroneously carried-out actions
  • Symptomatic and chance actions
  • Errors
  • Combined fault acts
  • Determinism, chance, and superstitious beliefs 

Originally, the contents of what became Freud’s best-known collection of writing was published in the Monograph for Psychiatry and Neurology. Freud’s work has as many detractors as it does proponents – however, this work is relatively light on theory and verging on autobiographical. It’s said that Freud realised he was reaching some level of fame in 1909 when he discovered that the cabin steward on the boat he was travelling on to New York was reading this particular work (sometimes referred to as the Mistake Book).

The phrase Freudian slip emerged from this pivotal tome. It is also sometimes referred to as parapraxis and is an example of psychic determinism. Popularly recognised as when someone is so fixated on not mentioning something that they then mention it through a mispronunciation or a slip of the tongue, psychoanalytic theory also considers misreadings, mishearings, mistypings, temporary forgetfulness, and mislaying or losing objects as parapraxes. By exploring these and other deviations from stereotypes of everyday behaviour, as well as apparently random errors, Freud comes to the conclusion that they indicate the underlying pathology of the psyche (and also that we are all a bit neurotic).

There are many criticisms of Freud’s work, primarily that his theories were not grounded in empirical evidence. To add to this, advances in a field known as neuropsychoanalysis put the brain and the mind on an equal footing. Freud himself was originally a neuroscience researcher for 20 years before formulating his psychological theories. Although he seemingly abandoned neuroscience, towards the end of his life, he admitted that neuroscience was still needed to support his provisional proposals of psychoanalysis.

Trauma theory also poses a real challenge to psychoanalysis because it makes the intrapsychic secondary. Trauma-informed methods of therapy take into consideration that talk therapy can be re-traumatising for some because trauma is related to activity in the amygdala and the limbic system. Simply talking about an event can cause the brain to relive it. Somatic therapies that focus on embodiment should be pursued alongside psychotherapy.  

Reading Freud may not be so fashionable now but the Mistake Book is still considered important in psychopathology. Certainly, it helps with understanding and charting the origin of today’s psychoanalysis. Other key texts by Freud include The Interpretation of Dreams, as well as The Ego and the Id.

Build a Psychology Master’s degree into your everyday

Psychology is key in every aspect of society and it’s becoming clear that more understanding of the social psychology of everyday life is needed to help us navigate crises in the world. Whether it’s a deeper understanding of where we come from or who we are, a Psychology Master’s is not limited to those who want to be therapists or work in psychiatry.

Whether you want to pursue further research in the field, work on organisational culture within businesses, or provide mental health support in a particular sector, a Master’s in Psychology could hold the key. Discover more about the 100% online MSc Psychology course at the University of Wolverhampton.

No. 1 Ranked in the UK For Teaching first generation students
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