From Freud to functional MRIs, Psychology is one of the most interesting fields of study in the world.
As a psych grad, I might be a little biased about the subject’s allure – but hear me out!
Psychology is, at its core, the study of human behavior. Why do we do what we do in any situation. And, when applied, psychology is a huge part of healing relationships and treating mental illness.
Psychology is also a very difficult subject to study. Not because the material is hard to grasp, but because the world is full of psychological pseudo-science. Just think about it – when browsing online it’s hard to escape the Buzzfeed personality quizzes, armchair diagnoses of mental illness, and clickbait “studies” promising “One Simple Trick to Help You Make Friends”.
So, where’s a person supposed to go if they want to learn about psychology without getting caught up in exaggerations and half-truths?
Some amazing websites can teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about psychology. These ten are the perfect place to get started!
1. Get the Full Experience with Online University Courses
The best place to start is with an introductory psychology course taught by an expert. The SkilledUp page linked above has a great list of all the different accredited schools offering these programs for free – including Yale, Oxford, and MIT.
You won’t earn course credit, but you will receive a world-class introduction to psychology.
While you’re at it, try taking an introductory statistics class online. Statistics is the key for understanding study results in psychology research!
2. Explore Biomedical Psychology with Khan Academy
Khan Academy is one of the best learning resources online. They don’t have a ton of psychology resources, but the ones they do have are all high quality. For example, their MCAT prep course the “Biological Basis of Behavior” thoroughly explores the relationship between biology and behavior.
The lecture series begins by covering the biology of the nervous system, human development, and the role of genetics in behavior. It then touches on classic psychological areas, including personality theories, motivation, psychological disorders, and social psychology. The course finishes with units on social psychology, learning, normative behavior, and theories of behavior change.
Like many other Khan Academy courses, this series offers supplemental materials and learning opportunities whenever possible. As well, you can study for the MCAT or similar tests with the included multiple-choice review questions.
3. Understand Key Experiments with Simply Psychology
Experiments form the backbone of what we know about human psychology. Many psychological experiments are so famous that lecturers reference them in passing, as they expect you to already know the key points. Online learning is difficult, so take any opportunity to make things easier on yourself!
Take some time to read Simply Psychology’s quick overviews of some of the most famous experiments ever done. The studies are listed by title under the “studies” tab in the top menu. These 25 studies played a huge role in shaping psychology over the course of its history. And some had such harmful effects that they will never be repeated!
4. Catch the Highlights with Crash Course Psychology
If you’re looking for a gentle introduction to psychology, Crash Course (created by Hank and John Green) is the way to go. The Crash Course YouTube channel offers bite-sized lectures on many academic subjects at a high school level.
The psychology video playlist has 40 videos, but each video is under 12 minutes long. The series covers many of psychology’s biggest hits, and is a great option for both introducing new topics and reviewing difficult concepts.
5. Put Yourself to the Test with Psych Central
Assessments and analysis are key components of studying psychology. While Psych Central offers several great resources, one of its biggest strengths is a list of psychological tests and assessment links. Please note that some tests in this list are more legitimate than others!
Now, I need to caution that these tests should not be used for diagnostic purposes. True psychological assessments must be performed by trained professionals (usually at the Master’s or doctorate degree level). However, it’s important for students to understand what assessments look like and how they work.
So, spend some time exploring these tests and quizzes. Take note of how questions are phrased, research the theories linked to each assessment, and have some fun learning about yourself or others!
6. Get to the Source with APA.org
The American Psychological Association (APA) is a major authority when it comes to all things psychology. Their website is a never-ending trove of information for professionals, researchers, and newcomers alike. The site also offers a detailed overview of most psychological conditions and concerns. Going beyond just a definition, each topic includes links to current research or further reading, and advice on how to get psychological help if needed.
The website offers opportunities to learn about the professions involved in psychology and new research across the discipline. As well, you can find ways to get involved in psychology research, politics, and education. Another great resource is the “Psychology Help Centre,” which offers advice and resources to those considering therapy or other psychological treatment.
7. Pursue Big Ideas with TED Talks
Once you have a handle on the basics of psychology, you can appreciate its impact in our world. TED talks are short, powerful speeches (18 minutes or less) by global experts in Technology, Education, and Design. The site is divided by subject, and there are over a hundred psychology TED Talks available!
Right now, subjects range from mental illness, to the reliability of memory, to the power of perseverance. Often a single video can pique your interest and send you off on a whole new path of research and learning. If you like the engaging style of TED talks, but want more in-depth discussion on ideas, consider listening to podcasts instead!
8. Enjoy Insights into Everyday Life with Psychology Today
Can’t get enough of the magazine Psychology Today? The website of the same name has got your back! Several articles are published every day about the psychological experiences we have in everyday life. The site also offers access to reputable sources for those seeking psychological help (under “Get Help”) and a “Find a Therapist” tool.
The writing for Psychology Today is accessible and friendly. You get to read about psychology for fun, rather than for study. Best of all, several articles will likely speak to your personal interests, and many link to practical solutions or strategies for everyday life. Taking psychology out of academia and putting it back into an applicable format can be a nice change after doing lots of research!
9. Critically Examine the World with Mind Hacks
Mind Hacks is a “news and views” blog that publishes daily insights into neuroscience and psychology research. Despite the simplicity of the blog’s design, the coverage is broad and the analysis is complex. This can make it difficult to navigate the blog at times – a fan-made Wiki helps point new readers to topics of interest.
In each article, authors Dr. Tom Stafford and Dr. Vaughn Bell summarize and explore recent studies. They chose to publish everything on their blog under a Creative Commons license. Republish any of the content with a proper credit. If you want to start reading scholarly research, this blog is a great place to start! Statistics and methods are well explained. You can follow up on the research with the list of referenced articles.
10. Follow Academic Research with Google Scholar
The sites above are all amazing resources for learning the basics of psychology and gaining curated insight into recent research. However, if you want to research and follow psychology in its truest form, your best bet is to go straight to the primary scientific sources.
It goes without saying that academic research can be an overwhelming task.
Google Scholar makes the complexities of academic research as simple as possible. A simple search directs you to journal articles, books, and PDFs of interest. Set up alerts to track authors, topics, or journals of interest. Save important papers to your library, and click on authors’ names to see all their publications.
Start your search with a basic keyword. But, if you want to read more scientific literature in general, try something from this list of Google Scholar’s most popular psychology journals.
Where Can You Go from Here?
One of the best things about studying psychology is the number of directions your research can take you! There are so many subcategories of psychology that it’s impossible to run out of things to learn.
Maybe you will find that you want to continue your studies in a more traditional format. Or, perhaps you will find some great trivia to use at your next dinner party. Hopefully, you will also find practical psychology tips and tricks that make a difference in your life!
Many of the resources on this list got me through my degree. If you study psychology (either as an expert or out of casual interest), I would love to know what resources you recommend. If you’re new to psychology, let me know what your favorite fact is that you have learned so far!
Image Credit: RawPixel.com via Shutterstock
Originally written by Mahendra Palsule on Dec 23, 2009.