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How the 4 Goals of Psychology Can Help You Change Your Behavior

Psychology is the study of human behavior. Through it, we learn how and why people do the things they do, and how we can change and grow. Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do? We all have. Every single human being has engaged in a behavior they’re not proud of. When those actions become repetitive, it can be problematic and severely impact an individual’s life. According to Dennis Coon and John O. Mitterer, authors of “Gateways to Psychology: An Introduction to Mind & Behavior,” there are four main goals of psychology. The goals are to describe, explain, predict, and to change/control.


When attacking a problem, one thing that we need to do is describe the problem. Psychologists describe “abnormal actions” or behaviors to understand what is going on with an individual. With psychologists and psychology, research methods are used in addition to this tactic, but it can be a useful guide for anyone who wishes to modify their behavior. You can use this to help you in your daily life by being descriptive when identifying a particular harmful behavior that you are engaging in. It can help you better understand your behavior, why you engage in it, and how to solve it.


After you “name” and describe a behavior, you need to explain it. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Even if it is dangerous or maladaptive behavior, there is a reason you are engaging in it. For example, if you are compulsively spending money, there is a reason you are doing it. It could be to escape from a problem, to make you feel better about yourself, or to self-soothe. That is the reason you are engaging in risky behavior. Once you explain your harmful behaviors, you can replace them with healthy behavior, such as positive self-talk, that will give you the same benefit when you are seeking that relief.


Predicting what will happen when you engage in this problematic behavior can give you insight into why you want to stop doing it. If you know you are excessively spending money or gambling, what is going to happen? You might lose a lot of money that you can’t afford to lose and get into financial trouble as a result. The next thing you are going to look at is how to change and control your behavior.


Change is the final goal in psychology. It’s not easy to modify patterns in your life that you’e been engaging in for long periods of time, but it is possible. It’s worth it to change your behavior if the results are going to benefit you. And the truth is, changing your behavior can improve your life. If you use these four principles of psychology to explain, describe, predict, and grow through change/control, your life can change. One place you can utilize this method is in therapy.

Online Counseling

Online counseling is an excellent place to practice the four goals of psychology, whether you’re working with a counselor or as a part of a couple. You will be able to use these principles to change your behavior positively. You can stop the actions you’re struggling with, and you may start to notice that you feel better. Whether you’re working with a therapist in your local area or online, the four principles of psychology can help you change your life.

Getty photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz

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