There are many theories about why people suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. These theories help explain how individuals in the past were able to cope better with similar problems.

Mental health professionals now use these theories when trying to understand someone’s symptoms and what may be causing them.

By understanding the theory, you will also know what treatments exist that can help. In fact, most therapies today focus on helping patients learn more effective ways of coping than they did years ago.

Research has proved that learning how to manage your emotions is an important part of treating mental illnesses. This means teaching yourself practical skills like relaxation or distraction techniques, thinking strategies, and reward systems.

It is very common for people who struggle with mental health conditions to feel misunderstood. It can hurt even more if you believe that no one cares about you or your suffering.

Fortunately, there are several theories about human psychology that can help us make sense of the experiences of other people. When used appropriately, this knowledge can improve our relationships and help us identify potential risk factors for mental illness.

Confirmation bias

describe how psychological theories guide scientific research

Another term for internalized racism is confirmation bias. This happens when people have an incentive to only look at information that confirms their existing beliefs or theories about society, individuals, and/or things.

Research has shown that having racial biases is totally normal and even helpful in some cases. For example, studies suggest that being racially biased can motivate you to take action to help marginalized groups.

You may be familiar with this phenomenon from times when your favorite team won the game despite not playing very well. After the match, everyone talks about how great they played and what a good sport they are because it took a lot of effort for them to win.

This motivation to praise yourself after doing something difficult comes mostly from socialization. We’re taught to think like our peers and develop positive self-talk, but there is a cost to this.

By relying on these lessons we get exposed to only experience levels and types of people that feel happy for successful members of minority groups. This can create more entrenched negative stereotypes.

On the other hand, experiences outside of social conditioning influence us. A famous experiment conducted in the 1950s asked participants to push a button as quickly as possible while hearing either a short tone or a long one. Some were told the long tone was made up of many shorter tones, and others were given the same explanation except all the individual notes were longer.

Social desirability

describe how psychological theories guide scientific research

A few theories of psychology focus more on what people want to believe is true rather than what actually is. This theory states that individuals will sometimes distort or exaggerate their perception of reality in order to fit in with the surrounding culture.

This tendency, which psychologists call social desirability, can influence how we perceive others and the world around us.

For example, when someone else gets good grades, we may give them higher grades ourselves even though they might not deserve it. Or, if another person seems very successful, we may feel less confident about our own abilities.

Social desirability can also affect how well we like or dislike something. For instance, research has shown that most people like looking at pictures of beautiful things — but only until you ask them to identify those things.

Response bias

describe how psychological theories guide scientific research

One important factor in how we perceive, understand, and respond to information is called response bias. This term refers to our tendency to either give more weight to certain pieces of information or ignore them completely.

For example, someone may have read about a new health product that claims it can prevent cancer so they begin using it daily. Because they believe the product helps protect against cancer, they don’t think much about whether this product works for anyone else.

But if another person uses the same product and reports no effect, you might notice them avoiding the product or talking poorly about it. In fact, studies show that people with similar attitudes as the original user will actively try to disprove the effectiveness of the product.

This influence has big implications when trying to achieve wellness or treat an illness. If there are no signs the product is helping you, chances are you’ll stop using it, which could be a waste of money and time.

Response biasses also occur because of subconscious expectations. For instance, since most people use natural products instead of pharmaceutical ones, people tend to assume such a thing doesn’t work.

When looking at research findings, make sure to weigh both positive and negative results equally. Don’t only consider one side of the argument, because you want your beliefs to shift, not necessarily for better or worse, but simply due to differences in what position your body automatically takes.

Heterogeneous samples

describe how psychological theories guide scientific research

In scientific research, researchers often recruit participants that are not exclusively made up of one group. This is called a heterogenous sample. Participants in a study may come from any number of backgrounds or have any number of experiences.

This is important to note because there are always two types of people in the world- those who belong to groups and those who do not. People who belong to groups are likely influenced by their peers, parents, and/or culture more than individuals are.

For example, let’s say there was an experiment asking whether red pens make written documents look better. There would be no reason to believe that this is true unless you use only black pen. Therefore, someone else in the study might be using red pen and finding it does not help their document look good.

By having a heterogenous sample, we can avoid overestimating effects due to bias. A participant that is not easily swayed by external factors may write down what color pen they used for a certain assignment and then test out the hypothesis with their own assignments.

Homogeneous samples

describe how psychological theories guide scientific research

A homogenous sample is one that looks similar to a reference group. If our topic is why people feel lonely, then we could use loneliness as a topic and compare it with other things like how individuals feel about their life or whether they think money makes them happy or not.

If our topic was why people feel stressed, then we could look at stress tests such as what types of situations make someone feel stressed and see if there are any common factors.

In both cases, the reason these studies work is because researchers assume that everyone in the study has the same motivation, wants the same thing, and feels the same way about the same things. This assumption helps us understand the research more clearly and gives better insight into how those around us function.

It also means that we can draw conclusions about the general population instead of just studying a small subset of people. Because each person in the study had the same motivations, desires, and beliefs as the others, there are good explanations for why some people sometimes feel more stressed than others or why some people seem happier than others.

Small sample sizes

describe how psychological theories guide scientific research

A large part of scientific research depends on having enough participants to gather meaningful data. This is particularly important in studies that assess whether or not there is an effect, or if one participant group has an overall better effect than another.

If you have too few people in your study population, then it can be difficult to get significant results. As with any kind of research, if there’s no proof that something works, then there’s no need to invest more resources in it!

On the other hand, when there are just a few individuals involved in a study, researchers will typically try to recruit more people to ensure they have enough data. It may also mean changing what area of the study you are conducting so that you can find more people who fit your criteria.

Large sample sizes

describe how psychological theories guide scientific research

One of the most important factors in psychology is large sample size. This is because there are always statistical fluctuations when studying human behavior. If you have not convinced people to do something before, then it may be difficult to recruit enough participants to prove that your tactic works!

As mentioned earlier, psychological theories are built upon past studies and experiments. When new theories emerge, they are often influenced by what worked in previous research.

By looking at how different theorists approach problems, we can learn about better strategies for changing behaviors. An example of this comes from social psychologists who study why some groups of people develop strong internalized norms or rules.

Controlled conditions

describe how psychological theories guide scientific research

In scientific research, controlled environments are created to eliminate or reduce external factors that may influence the results. This is typically done by using in-lab settings or pre-existing facilities to conduct experiments.

By limiting extraneous variables, researchers can more effectively evaluate how well an experiment functions under pure conditions. This benefits both theory and practice – for example, studying whether or not eating chocolate before a meal will help you eat less of it!

With this understanding, we now look at two major theories that play important roles in shaping our psychology. These are called cognitive theories and motivational theories.

Cognitive theories focus on what individuals believe about themselves and their place in the world. Motivational theories focus on why people choose to use certain behaviors and strategies.

We’ll discuss each theory separately before moving onto some applications of these concepts. For every topic, there will be several examples that relate to psychological health and wellness.