What Are The Four Goals Of Psychology

Psychology is a discipline that seeks to understand human behavior and mental processes. It is a vast field that can be broken down into different approaches and areas of focus. However, regardless of the approach or field of study, all psychologists share the same four goals. These goals are:

1. Describing Behavior

The first goal of psychology is to describe behavior. This means observing and recording behavior as it occurs. The goal is to provide a detailed account of what is happening and what can be observed. This approach is prevalent in naturalistic observation research, where the aim is to study behavior in its natural setting without any external intervention.

Describing behavior is an essential goal because it helps psychologists to establish a baseline of what is considered normal and abnormal behavior. By studying normal behavior, psychologists can identify abnormal behavior that deviates from the norm. This goal can be achieved through different research methods, including case studies, surveys, and observational studies.

2. Understanding and Explaining Behavior

The second goal of psychology is to understand and explain behavior. Understanding behavior entails looking at the underlying causes, motivations, and processes that drive specific behaviors. Psychologists seek to explain why people behave the way they do by identifying the factors that influence behavior. To achieve this goal, psychologists utilize various theoretical frameworks such as cognitive, behavioral, and humanistic theories.

The understanding of behavior is an essential aspect of the field of psychology because it can help people to modify their behavior when they are faced with challenging situations. For example, understanding the behavior of people experiencing anxiety can help therapists to develop counseling interventions that help these individuals manage their anxiety effectively.

3. Prediction of Behavior

The third goal of psychology is to predict behavior. Predicting behavior is the ability to anticipate how individuals will behave in different situations. It involves using the information obtained from observing and understanding behavior to forecast how individuals will respond to future stimuli. The prediction of behavior can be achieved by assessing factors such as personality traits, environmental factors, and cognitive processes.

Predicting behavior is essential because it facilitates decision-making processes, and it helps individuals prepare for specific situations. This goal is widely used in different fields such as education, marketing, and politics, where predicting how individuals will react to certain policies or messages is essential.

4. Control and Modification of Behavior

The fourth goal of psychology is to control and modify behavior. This can be viewed as an extension of the previous goal, where the knowledge gained from describing, understanding and predicting behavior is used to influence a particular behavior. This goal is generally achieved through the use of different intervention strategies such as therapy, behavior modification, and medication.

The control and modification of behavior is an essential goal because it enables individuals to change behaviors that may be detrimental to their well-being. For instance, controlling and modifying behavior can help people overcome addiction, manage anxiety, and control aggressive behaviors.


Psychology is an essential field that seeks to understand human behavior and mental processes. The field has four goals, which are describing behavior, understanding and explaining behavior, predicting behavior, and controlling and modifying behavior. Each of these goals is essential in its right, and they form the basis of the various theoretical frameworks, research designs, and interventions used in psychology.

In conclusion, the field of psychology is continually evolving and expanding. The four goals of psychology provide a framework for understanding the different aspects of the field from the standpoint of describing, understanding, predicting and influencing behavior. These goals are critical for both research and practice in psychology, and they help in shaping our understanding of human behavior and mental processes.


FAQ #1: What are the four goals of psychology?

The four goals of psychology are to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior. Describing behavior involves observing and documenting behavioral patterns, while explaining behavior involves identifying the underlying causes of these patterns. Predicting behavior involves making informed guesses about how people will behave in future situations, and controlling behavior involves influencing others’ behavior towards more desirable outcomes.

FAQ #2: Why are the four goals of psychology important?

Understanding the four goals of psychology can help individuals to gain a better understanding of their own behavior and the behavior of others. It can also be helpful in the fields of education, business, and healthcare, as it provides a framework for behavior modification, problem-solving, and communication strategies.

FAQ #3: How do psychologists apply the four goals in their work?

Psychologists apply the four goals of psychology in a variety of ways, including conducting research, developing theories, and implementing interventions. For example, psychologists may use descriptive research methods to observe or survey behavior, while explanatory research methods may be used to test theories about behavior. Predictive research methods may involve using statistical models to forecast future behavior or outcomes, while control research methods may be used to test the effectiveness of interventions designed to modify behavior.


1. American Psychological Association. (2014). What is psychology? Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psn/2013/09/what-is-psychology

2. McLeod, S. (2015). Goals of psychology. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/goals-of-psychology.html

3. Myers, D. G., & Dewall, C. N. (2017). Exploring psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers. ISBN-13: 978-1319104191