Chapter 14: Frontiers


Part One: Psychology and Medicine

Part Two: Psychology and Law

Part Three: Sport Psychology


Overview of Chapter 14: Frontiers of Psychology

This chapter discusses three areas where psychology overlaps other disciplines. These areas are frontiers in two senses of the term: (1) they are relatively recent developments in the 150 year history of psychology, and (2) they are at the intersection of psychology and some other field. The three areas—Psychology and Medicine, Psychology and Law, and Sport Psychology—are also examples of applied psychology. They show how psychology can be used in real world settings.

Evidence for the creative brain emerges again in this chapter in the discussion of numerous forms of mind/body interaction. We review evidence that mental processes can influence bodily events such as the formation or destruction of warts, skin rashes, and the healing of wounds. This is a key issue under investigation by researchers in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).

A less happy consequence of the creative brain is the problem of false memory and inaccurate eyewitness testimony. This is discussed in the second part of the chapter, on Psychology and Law. Whether remembering details of a crime or picking a criminal out of a lineup, humans are remarkably capable of self-deception and confabulation, even when they try to make accurate judgments.

The third major section of the chapter, on Sport Psychology, shows how the powers of visualization and mental control (both relaxation and intense concentration) can aid athletes in competition. Problems such as choking under pressure are discussed, as well as techniques for enhancing peak performance and encouraging the flow state in which performance is at its best.

How this chapter is organized

We start with Psychology and Medicine, reviewing the areas of psychosomatic medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, behavioral medicine, and health psychology. Sections are devoted to stress and addiction.

The next part of the chapter deals with Psychology and Law, from forensic psychology and profiling to the use of the insanity defense and psychology in the prison system. The last section is about Sport psychology, including the types of advice sports psychologists give to athletes to try to improve their performance.

Related topics in other chapters

Neuropsychology, which includes the study of brain injury, is covered in Chapter 2 (The Human Nervous System). Biological properties of addictive drugs are mentioned in Chapter 3 (States of Consciousness). So is meditation, which can act as a form of stress reduction. Psychological factors in pain were discussed in Chapter 4. The role of classical conditioning in drug tolerance and immune system functioning was included in Chapter 5 (Conditioning). The AIDS epidemic is mentioned in Chapter 16 (Sex, Friendship, and Love).

Relating to Psychology and Law, the use of correlations to enable predictions by profilers in forensic psychology is discussed in Chapter 1 (Psychology and Science). Confabulation as the result of leading questions is mentioned in Chapter 3 (States of Consciousness). The fallibility of human memory is mentioned in Chapter 6 (Memory). The repressed memory controversy is discussed in Chapter 13 (Therapies) in the context of cathartic therapy. The reluctance of eyewitnesses to get involved in reactions to a crime is related to bystander apathy in Chapter 15 (Social Psychology).

Relating to Sport Psychology, the role of automaticity in highly skilled athletic performance (playing unconscious) is in Chapter 7 (Cognition), and the role of external pressure in "turning play into work" is discussed in Chapter 9 (Motivation).


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