The great philosopher Socrates had once stated, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. Perhaps there is nothing truer than this statement in today’s world. It is absolutely needless to mention the impact that COVID 19 imparted on our lives, be it the social, occupational or personal aspect of it. Practically we are living in an uncertain state with a constant fear of getting infected, and all our future plans on hold, our finances recessed and our social lives withdrawn.
But as the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining”. Despite the immense detrimental and fatal blow to our lives, life during COVID 19 has seen lots of favourable changes as well. For instance, we are getting lot more time to spend with our families and pursue our passions. But life during lockdown also taught us a lot about understanding our mental health and to take care of it. As suggested by epidemiologists, psychological breakdown is the next wave of pandemic we’ll be fighting against after COVID-19. This automatically necessitates focusing on the study of human behavior elaborately.
Psychology, as the science of human behavior, has come a long way in the past century. Understanding and measuring human behavior generally involves administering tests and questionnaires in addition to studying behavior qualitatively. These constitute the traditional methods of studying human psychology. However, the last couple of months have witnessed a paradigm shift in the study of psychology. This transition can be noticed not only in classroom learning, but also in experiential learning. The “new normal” of studying psychology has ample implications in the area of studying human behavior.
Traditional methods of studying Psychology:
For decades together, scientists and academicians have relied on studying human behavior through several different techniques. Following are some of the traditional methods of studying psychology:
- Classroom learning of psychological principles
- Lab-based experiments
- Paper-pencil tests
- Computer-assisted testing
- Clinical Internships
- Research Internships
Studying psychology mandates practical applications of psychological principles. For instance, studying clinical psychotherapy is incomplete without the application of it on patients. Again, learning the methods of measuring behavior requires administering tests and questionnaires to a large sample. Being an applied field of science, psychologists chiefly work with primary data that are collected either in lab-based setup or through large scale survey. Even computer-assisted testing requires manual supervision. Specifically in our country, studying human behavior is a lot difficult than that in developed countries. Probably the most imperative rationale in this case is the lack of awareness about mental health and the stigma attached to it.
Not that these traditional methods are insufficient to study human behavior. But at the elementary level of studying psychology, these traditional methods often limit the learning due to lack of exposure to practical knowledge. For instance, undergraduate students are often barred from attending worldwide conventions. Again, finding solution to a research problem can also pose a challenge to students of elementary level, chiefly due to lack of expertise to collect primary data. But learning knows no limit. Specially in an applied field of science, learning is chiefly based on practical knowledge acquisition. Unfortunately, traditional methods of studying psychology hardly provides with this opportunities.
The “New Normal” of studying Psychology:
The last few months under lockdown has presented us with a plethora of new methods and opportunities of studying human behavior. Today our classroom learning has transformed to virtual learning. This has not only facilitated the metamorphosis of our everyday classroom learning to global level, but also brought about a paradigm shift in studying human psychology. For instance, the conventional lecture method has been replaced with demonstrations through videos and clippings. More importantly, virtual learning is being made possible through pre-recorded videos. This rather allows students to learn by watching the video over and over again for doubt clearance as per their convenience. Following are some of the new paradigms that are facilitating the study of human behavior.
- Virtual interactive classes
- Webinars/Online Workshops
- Online Internships
- Online Courses
- Online Testing and Data Collection
Apart from taking virtual classes as per one’s own convenience, digital learning has facilitated exploring a lot many opportunities in the area of psychology. For instance, several online psychological workshops/seminars/conferences/courses are now being offered by national and international institutes/universities. Hence, it is now possible to attend international events and get exposed to different perspectives while sitting in the comfort of our homes. Again, enrolling in internship programmes has now become much easier since everything is in a virtual platform. Most importantly, conducting research has also got smoother as manually collecting data is no more possible. One can collect data using any virtual mode and that saves a lot of time, money and effort. Needless to say, virtual learning has introduced an absolutely new way of studying human behavior.
Across the last few decades, studying human behavior was already undergoing transitions. This involved an integration of several fields of interdisciplinary research. For instance, techniques of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence are now being implicated for pattern recognitions in human behavior, as expressed in social networking sites. Consumer Psychology is another new area that integrates the understanding of human behavior in Marketing and Consumerism. Psychology, in today’s world, is not just a field of social science, but an interdisciplinary science of studying human behavior.
This further transition to virtual learning has simply aggravated the metamorphosis of this subject area. Post COVID era is going to witness a conglomeration of both physical as well as virtual studying of behavior. The “New Normal” paradigm of studying behavior will help overcoming the drawbacks of the traditional methods while at the same time will provide with more enriching exposures and ways to study human behavior.
Change doesn’t come on its’ own, but by building the new based on the old. Post COVID days have presented us with this opportunity to bring about this change. It is therefore, important that we embrace such changes in the paradigm of studying behavior. Only then can we adapt to the “New Normal” of studying Psychology and utilize this knowledge to its’ full potential.
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