Psychological science is useful for creating interventions that help people live better lives. A growing body of research is concerned with determining which therapies are the most and least effective for the treatment of psychological disorders.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including depression. [Image: SalFalco, https://goo.gl/3knLoJ, CC BY-NC 2.0, https://goo.gl/HEXbAA]
For example, many studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can help many people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders (Butler, Chapman, Forman, & Beck, 2006; Hoffman & Smits, 2008). In contrast, research reveals that some types of therapies actually might be harmful on average (Lilienfeld, 2007).
In organizational psychology, a number of psychological interventions have been found by researchers to produce greater productivity and satisfaction in the workplace (e.g., Guzzo, Jette, & Katzell, 1985). Human factor engineers have greatly increased the safety and utility of the products we use. For example, the human factors psychologist Alphonse Chapanis and other researchers redesigned the cockpit controls of aircraft to make them less confusing and easier to respond to, and this led to a decrease in pilot errors and crashes.
Forensic sciences have made courtroom decisions more valid. We all know of the famous cases of imprisoned persons who have been exonerated because of DNA evidence. Equally dramatic cases hinge on psychological findings. For instance, psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has conducted research demonstrating the limits and unreliability of eyewitness testimony and memory. Thus, psychological findings are having practical importance in the world outside the laboratory. Psychological science has experienced enough success to demonstrate that it works, but there remains a huge amount yet to be learned.