Sunday, September 23, 2012

SOC Sunday: I Chose Psychology




Today’s (optional) prompt: How did you settle on your major/career choice?


My college major was psychology. I picked that because of all the subjects I took as a sophomore, when I had to declare, it was the one with the most interesting textbooks. Even though I pretty much always knew I was going to be a writer, I chose not to major in English, because in the back of my mind I was thinking that no one makes a living as an English major. I was trying to be practical, but not so practical that I got stuck with something boring like accounting. 

I suck at numbers anyway - although I'm pretty fascinated with social science statistics, which turns real-world behavioral data into the kind of numbers that scientists use as evidence for their theories. Deep down, I've always been a bit of a scientist as well as a writer. 

To this day, one of my major pet peeves is still inaccurate portrayals of scientific data in the popular media. I blow a gasket when someone on the evening news says a study "proves" this or that. There is no "prove" in science. There is testing and evidence, testing and evidence. 

It turns out a psychology major is actually great preparation for writing novels. You have to be able to get inside your characters' heads and make them believable to the reader, so you have to know how human beings think and why they're motivated to do the things they do. Without realistic motivations, characters fall apart, and plots fall completely apart. 

10 comments:

Unie said...

This is funny since right now I'm a psych major and am really trying to get out of it. It's not what I thought it was. I figured I could help people, but now, because of psych classes, I want little to do with studying human behavior. It's very taxing.

Erin O'Riordan said...

Unie, you should check out social work. You can't really do much with just a bachelor's in psychology - the real helpers are all Ph.D.s or Psy.D.s.

jana said...

In hindsight, I would have made a wonderful psychologist. Hell, I play one in real life :) Somebody should pay me to do it! Great background on your choice!

Erin O'Riordan said...

Thanks, Jana! And thanks, as always, for hosting the link-up.

Kenya G. Johnson said...

That's interesting Erin. I haven't thought of that - Psychology being use for writing. Cool.

Erin O'Riordan said...

Yep, it's true.

SouthMainMuse said...

I think any writer could have been comfortable with a psych major. We all are students of human behavior. I agree.

Julie G. Hughes said...

Wandered by from SOCS ...

I've met a few psychologists: Pretty horrendously Dangerous. Glad you decided to 'use your powers for good'. lol

neeroc said...

I like how things clicked for you...and I laughed a bit about the, 'no on makes a living as...' comment, being a History major and all *g*

Erin O'Riordan said...

See, I could never be a historian - I'd be wanting to make stuff up.