How to Apply Psychology Principles to Your Everyday Life

How to Apply Psychology Principles to Your Everyday Life

How to Apply Psychology Principles to Your Everyday Life banner

As the study of our mental states and behavior, psychology underscores everything we think, feel, and do. This highly impactful field influences everything from physical health to corporate life. However, many people have a limited understanding of the mental processes that guide their everyday pursuits.

The better we understand the tenets of psychology, the more prepared we’ll be to shape our thought processes and behaviors and drive better outcomes. This begins with studying core psychological principles and determining how they play out in our daily lives, in the workforce, and beyond. This knowledge can drive many powerful opportunities, including the chance to thrive in psychology-related career paths, along with personal growth and fulfillment.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading to discover the fundamental role of psychology in everyday life — and to learn how you can benefit as you apply key principles to everyday practices and thought processes.

What Are Examples of Psychology Principles?

Psychology principles relate to a wide range of theories and findings, which aim to explain why we think or behave in certain ways, especially in response to certain conditions. These principles provide a powerful framework for understanding how the human brain functions.


Communication determines how we interact with one another while making our thoughts, feelings, and intentions known. Many psychological theories strive to explain what it means to communicate effectively and why communication breaks down. Meanwhile, top interventions help to restore effective communication. For example, active listening fosters mutual understanding by encouraging multiple parties to fully concentrate on the deeper meaning of what others have to say.


As the driving force that determines how humans behave, motivation encourages us to act in pursuit of a particular goal. This plays heavily into many important psychological theories and concepts. For instance, the renowned hierarchy of needs describes how necessities such as food, safety, security, and intimacy are satisfied in a highly structured manner. Moreover, Incentive theory highlights the influence of external rewards, while self-determination theory reveals the impact of intrinsic factors such as the desire for autonomy.

Sense of Purpose

Not to be confused with motivation, a sense of purpose influences how we perceive life’s deeper meaning and significance. This can bring greater clarity to our everyday lives and can also serve as a powerful source of motivation. The previously mentioned self-determination theory (SDT) describes the many qualities that facilitate a stronger sense of purpose, while existential psychology reveals our broader search for meaning.


As a central goal of organizational psychology, productivity determines what individuals or teams can accomplish, and how much progress they make toward overarching goals.

Many productivity-related theories emphasize the power of environmental factors to shape behavior. One example is the job characteristics model, which reveals that employees will demonstrate both higher satisfaction and productivity if they have the opportunity to perform a variety of tasks, each of which features a clear beginning, middle, and end. Task impact, personal autonomy, and quality feedback also play into productivity.


In the workforce and in everyday life, strong decision-making skills empower people to make choices that will produce the best long-term outcomes. These processes are described in detail by psychology’s dual process theory, in which responses are believed to be driven by a blend of intuitive and rational decision-making. Alongside this, previously described techniques that play into motivation and sense of purpose can also drive decision-making strategies.

Understanding Psychological Principles in Daily Living

Psychological processes and principles underscore every emotion we experience, every interaction we pursue, and every behavior we exhibit. This has an obvious impact on daily life, extending to health-related decisions (such as nutrition or sleep hygiene) and influencing our relationships and even our financial or academic outcomes.

Applying Psychological Concepts to Personal Development

Personal development emphasizes the long-term effort to acquire new competencies and strive to meet our full potential in terms of health, academic performance, employability, and more. Psychological concepts can reveal why personal development is important and how it can be achieved, especially in the context of our specific needs or preferences.

Improving Interpersonal Relationships Through Psychology

Psychological principles describe how we interact with others and why breakdowns in communication occur. By understanding these principles and implementing stronger communication techniques, we can better understand how others behave and how to communicate more effectively with different types of people.

8 Practical Tips for Integrating Psychology Into Daily Life

Given the broad scope of psychological paradigms, it can be difficult to know how to select the right models for the right situation, and how to implement these effectively.

No one approach will prove equally practical or desirable in every situation, so it’s important to assess your needs, preferences, and abilities as you select the right strategy. Experimenting with tried-and-tested solutions can be helpful, however. Look to these suggestions for inspiration:


Mindfulness encourages us to be fully present and in tune not only with our emotions, but also, our physical sensations and the world around us. A growing body of research indicates that mindfulness can help a variety of people manage stress while avoiding potentially harmful coping mechanisms.

Often used in cognitive behavioral intervention (CBT) and other therapeutic interventions, mindfulness is appealing because this practice is accessible to anybody and at any time. There are many ways to achieve mindfulness, but for everyday purposes, this is best pursued with deep breathing or by getting involved in yoga or meditation classes.

Creating a Balanced Lifestyle

Balance is crucial to well-being, but it’s easy to take on too many commitments at work or in our personal lives. Creating balance begins with defining exactly what balance means to you. The transactional model of stress and coping can also be helpful in managing feelings. The transactional model of stress and coping states that how we react to situations emotionally can have a large impact on our actual stress levels. For instance, someone who spills their coffee on the way to work can allow that to affect the rest of their day or see it as a minor inconvenience. This further demonstrates how stress levels are closely linked to how we appraise or feel about any particular concern or challenge.

Behavioral Economics in Everyday Decisions

Behavioral economics blends critical concepts from psychology and microeconomics to provide a nuanced explanation of how humans make key decisions. This can be helpful for understanding why people behave the way they do. Better yet, these theories can also inform personal decision-making initiatives.

Particularly, choice overload should be considered. This suggests that it will be more difficult to make the right decision if presented with too many options.

Framing can also be useful; this reveals that how decisions are presented can have a huge influence. Armed with this knowledge, it may be easier to frame difficult decisions so that the more optimal choice seems appealing.

Overcoming Biases in Decision-Making

Every person, no matter how well-informed, will exhibit some level of bias when assessing information and attempting to make decisions. This bias should be thoroughly examined to limit the harmful consequences of short-sighted decision-making.

Many people rely on mindfulness to help them gain a more nuanced understanding of the world around them. Others actively strive to combat the anchoring effect, which suggests that humans often rely excessively on the initial information they receive about a given topic. Awareness and delayed decision-making are among the most effective strategies for overcoming this tendency.

Applying Decision-Making Frameworks

Decision-making is rarely easy, and, even when influenced by ‘gut feelings,’ it may be preferable to take a closer look at practical concerns. This is where decision-making frameworks can prove helpful. Elimination by aspects proposes a sequential process, in which specific criteria drive the evaluation of various options. Anything that fails to meet key criteria can be eliminated.

Cognitive Psychology Techniques for Improved Focus and Concentration

The prefrontal cortex plays a critical role in facilitating focus, which determines how well we direct our attention. When focus is lacking, several strategies can help us kick-start the prefrontal cortex.

Mindfulness offers general practice for directing our attention and learning to deal with rumination. Cognitive restructuring may reveal harmful thought processes (especially misconceptions about our powers of concentration) and help overcome these.

Chunking is especially effective. This involves breaking tasks or pieces of information into smaller, more manageable parts that can later be combined to form a meaningful whole. This makes tasks feel less overwhelming while also encouraging a more targeted approach to examining specific concepts.

Time Management Strategies Informed by Cognitive Principles

As with focus, time management comes down to executive functioning, as determined by the prefrontal cortex. Cognitive biases can also play into time management, particularly planning fallacies, in which people underestimate how much time will be required to complete specific tasks.

Tools or strategies such as the Eisenhower Matrix can provide valuable insights into the urgency and importance of various tasks. Simultaneously, implementation intentions help to trigger positive habits and scheduling strategies via if-then frameworks.

Enhancing Productivity Through Cognitive Restructuring

As we’ve mentioned, cognitive restructuring offers in-depth insights into maladaptive thoughts. It also provides a reliable blueprint for replacing these with nuanced viewpoints that embrace both positive and negative perspectives. This can be useful in many contexts, but working students find this valuable as a productivity-enhancing framework.

How to Leverage Psychology for Professional Success in 6 Different Ways

Once you’ve leveraged psychology to boost mindfulness, balance, and academic performance, it’s time to shift your focus to the workplace. Many of the previously described psychological principles can influence critical workplace processes, including everything from time management to leadership.

Applying Psychological Principles for Effective Leadership

A myriad of today’s top leaders possess an in-depth understanding of psychological principles. An oft-cited example is Irene Rosenfeld, the CEO of Mondelēz International (formerly known as Kraft Foods). Rosenfeld studied psychology at the undergraduate level. Similarly, Blackstone Group’s Stephen Schwarzman studied for an interdisciplinary degree that included a heavy emphasis on psychology.

Numerous principles and techniques can inform modern leadership. Contingency theory suggests that effectiveness in leadership largely depends on how well-matched specific leadership styles are to the circumstances or the situation at hand. In parallel, attribution theory centers around inferences regarding how others behave. This suggests that, when leaders’ behavior reflects team members’ implicit assumptions, those team members will react positively.

Motivation and Goal-Setting Strategies

Several motivational concepts that prove useful in everyday life can also make a world of difference in the professional landscape. To illustrate, chunking can play a powerful role in project management and even for planning individual workplace tasks. Edwin Locke’s goal-setting theory can also prove impactful for driving long-term motivation and sense of purpose. This suggests that setting challenging goals can boost performance.

Setting SMART Goals Aligned With Psychological Principles

SMART goals are increasingly prominent in both academia and the professional landscape. These provide a goal-setting framework, ensuring that all objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Setting SMART goals can be helpful, but the A of SMART (achievable) may be realistic if goals are developed with psychological principles in mind. Cognitive restructuring, to note, can provide valuable insights into what is achievable.

Using Psychological Insights for Effective Decision-Making in Business

Behavioral economics has a powerful role to play in modern decision-making initiatives. This can provide valuable insight into how consumers think and behave, thereby impacting everything from product design to marketing strategies. Prospect theory is especially influential, as it reveals how losses and gains are perceived so that leaders can better frame choices and develop compelling incentives.

Risk Assessment Strategies Based on Psychological Principles

Risk assessment brings a systematic approach to identifying potential threats or hazards and dealing with these proactively. In psychology, this concept is typically discussed in the context of clinical concerns.

In other professional environments, risk assessment drives decision-making processes and may be heavily emphasized in everything from project management to marketing plans. This is another area in which the aforementioned prospect theory can have a discernible impact. The concept of ambiguity aversion may also come into play. This reveals why known risks tend to feel preferable as compared to unknown risks.

Integrating Ethical Considerations Into Business Decisions

Many psychological processes encourage us to consider or even embrace different points of view. These include ethical considerations, encompassing everything from diversity and inclusion to sustainability or data privacy. These concerns can be difficult to understand or appreciate until leaders also recognize the crucial role of cognitive bias in shaping their current thoughts and perceptions.

Enhance Your Potential by Studying Psychology With JWU

Are you fascinated by the power and potential of integrating psychology in everyday life? From better well-being to enhanced workplace productivity, you will find countless ways to reach new heights as you study psychology.

Depending on your personal and professional goals, you may be drawn to various JWU programs. The online bachelor’s in Psychology provides a strong foundation in psychological science, while an online MS in Organizational Psychology can deliver powerful preparation for future leaders.

For more information about completing your degree online, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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