Data analysis seems like it should be all about the hard numbers. That’s what businesses are typically after: accurate, immutable facts that assist in guiding decision-making. Unfortunately, as is the case with anything involving the human race, business data is easily influenced in one way or another by those people producing the data as well as those people analyzing it. That’s why it’s important for data analysts in any field to understand psychology.
Unbeknownst to many, psychology is a field that is buried neck-deep in data. While it’s easy to assume that psych majors sit around talking about feelings day-in and day-out, in truth, most are performing rigorous studies and crunching numbers to better understand the human brain. Thus, psychology and data analysis have more in common than most people realize — so much in common, in fact, that data analysts stand to benefit a lot by pursuing a psychology degree.
Recognizing, Understanding and Manipulating Patterns in Human Behaviour
The goals of psychology are to describe, explain, predict and control human behaviour — goals that data analysts are not strangers to, for the sake of improving product quality, enhancing marketing effectiveness and increasing sales. By enrolling in psychology programs, data analysts can gain insight into the human mind; gain a firm grasp of how people process information, how people react to certain types of stimuli and more.
For this reason, psychology isn’t just a beneficial field of study for analysts. Nearly every business professional stands to gain from taking a few psychology courses or indeed pursuing an advanced degree. However, because analysts are often the bridge between vital components of an organization — business leaders and the IT project team, for example — enrolling in courses such as accredited mental health counseling programs can provide the background needed to manage professional relationships.
Parsing Important Data From the Rest
While psychology does have a fair share of qualitative learning (i.e. based on primarily subjective or language-based data), as mentioned before, quantitative (i.e. number-based) data is a crucial element of the science. By studying how to interpret psychological data, analysts can become more effective at gleaning information from business data and thus advance the effectiveness of their insights.
While introductory psychology courses might focus on various prominent theories in the field, like those put forth by Jung and Freud, as one ventures further into psychology study, one comes into contact with greater amounts of data. Eventually, psychology students must perform their own research and grapple with their own data. The more experience with data analysts have, the better, especially when that data concerns humans (i.e. customers) and their behaviour.
Learning Better Methodologies for Data Collection and Analysis
Most businesses have dozens of ways to collect information on customers, from their web browsing data, their purchasing data to their interactions with customer service and more. Still, even with high-tech data collection strategies, there is hardly a replacement for the good, old-fashioned feedback form, which asks customers direct questions about what they like, dislike and want from the organization.
Studying psychology can help analysts perfect how they build, distribute, collect and analyze data, especially feedback forms. Because psychological data often requires surveys of a similar style, analysts with psychology experience will have better skills in crafting feedback forms that customers will engage with and which will provide valuable insights.
Coordinating Teams With Greater Experience
Finally, perhaps the best skill a business professional can have is knowing when they are out of their depth. Even with advanced study in psychology, analysts should be able to recognize when they are grappling with data or issues that require the services of a fully fledged psychologist or a professional in another field.
In fact, exposure to the field of psychology will trigger this awareness because psychologists so often coordinate with professionals who have differing expertise. In truth, no scientific field is an island, but psychology is especially enmeshed with other fields — like business as well as sociology, neurology, sports, education and forensics. Being competent when dealing with a diverse group of professionals is as important for analysts as recognizing when it is necessary to call in another expert.
It’s never a bad idea to diversify one’s education, and in pursuing a higher degree in psychology or a similar field, analysts can increase their effectiveness in their current role and open doors to other careers in one move.