Psychological research refers to research conducted by psychologists in any branch, subfield, or specialty area of psychology, including, but not limited to, clinical, developmental, forensic, social, and industrial-organizational psychology. Research psychologists conduct experiments and research to explore human and animal behavior processes, including learning and memory, decision-making, and the effects of substance abuse, as they relate to a particular area of psychological study. Experimental psychology, a term often used synonymously with research psychology, refers to a method of research involving both human and animal participants, rather than a field of psychology.
Research psychologists enjoy a vast number of career options. They are employed in academic settings as full-time researchers or teachers who also conduct research for a college or university. Research psychologists are also employed by federal and state government agencies, the U.S. military, corporations, and businesses.
Several schools offer research psychology degrees at the bachelor’s level, but students who plan to pursue a career in research psychology may begin instead with a bachelor’s in general psychology or another related or unrelated area. Research psychologists typically hold a doctorate in psychology with an emphasis on a particular subfield or topic. Teaching and research positions at a universities require a Ph.D. in psychology. Psychologists with a Psy.D. degree usually work in clinical, direct-care settings, but may also teach and conduct research.