Psychology is the systematic study of behavior and mental processes-what ogists focus net.only-on bravo rt ia IS directly observable. such as talking. laughing. and eating. but also 011 mental processes that cannot be directly observed. such as thinking and dreaming. For psychologists. behavior and mental processes are interwoven; therefore. to understand behavior. they examine the emotions that underlie people's actions. For example. a psychologist interested in studying why some individuals have excessive credit card debt might Identify the specific emotions that a person has when purchasing an expensive item that is well beyond his or her budget.
Psychology is a diverse field Some psychologists work in clinical settings. where they diagnose and treat psychological disorders; others practice in schools, where they are concerned with the intellectual. social. and emotional development of schoolchildren. Still other psychologists work in business. industry. and other work-related settings. Another branch of psychology-social psychology-is similar to sociology in that it.emphasizes how social conditions affect individual behavior. Social psychological perspectives on human development are useful to sociologists who study the process of socialization (see Chapter 4. "Socialization"). However. a distinction between psychology and sociology is the extent to which most psychological studies focus on internal factors relating to the individual in their explanations of human behavior. whereas sociological research examines the effects of groups. organizations, and social institutions on social life.