What Makes Psychology Science?


4 Answers

saima jabeen Profile
saima jabeen answered
We can see that by the mid 19 century philosophy had embroiled two concepts that would lead to the objective investigation of the human mind, the principles of materialism and empiricism. Materialism maintained that the mind was made of matter, thus, all natural phenomena, including human behavior could be explained in the term of physical entities, the interaction of matter and energy.

Imperils emphasized that all knowledge was acquired by means of sensory experience; no knowledge was innate. By directing attention tow the tangible, sensory components of human activity, these concepts laid the foundation of scientific approach in psychology. At this time the division between science and psychology blurred. But subsequent development in the natural science, especially in biology in physiology, provided the necessary ingredients that united with the critical, analytic components of philosophy, formed the scientific discipline of psychology.

Theses ingredients were experimentation and verification. Humans have moved from a theological stage (the world and human destiny explained in terms of Gods and Spirits) through a transitional stage (explanations given in terms of a senses, final causes, and other abstractions) to the modern positive stage (explanation given in terms of natural laws and empirical evidences).
Michael Sholar Profile
Michael Sholar answered
The methods used to sort fact from fiction make it a science. The scientific method is used and hypothesis are tested and supported or rejected. It is a social science, sometimes called a soft science. Some tests are subjective and some historical ideas like those of Freud are not scientific.

Modern psychological research is more objective and 'scientific' than it was in Freud's time. But the short answer is that psychology research is done using the scientific method. Science is a process and psychologist engage in that process therefore it is science.

thanked the writer.
Craig Boone
Craig Boone commented
I'm not quite on the same page with you as far as this is defined (of course, I just finished writing a big ol' answer to the same question for someone else). More often than not, it's not really possible to apply the scientific method to psychological experiments. It's also difficult to acquire empirical data that has a solid foundation. If you get to feeling frosty, I'd like to hear more of your side.
Razel Grace San Ramon Profile
Yes, Psychology is definitely a science, no more and no less than the traditional courses of chemistry and physics. The reason is because Psychology uses the scientific method in its research. Psychology only differs with chemistry and physics because it is a social science, and studies behavior and mental processes. You would be surprise to know that Psychology has its roots in the natural sciences, and mostly uses statistical computations to arrive to a definitive conclusion. Guest's answer is very wrong. For someone who has been studying Psychology for 3 years already, I testify that Psychologists oftentimes conduct experiments similar to the traditional courses in the physical sciences. The misconception is that most people just don't know what Psychology is all about and attributes pseudo- or paranormal phenomenon with the subject. You can read my article "What is Psychology and how did it develop?" to give you a brief background of what Psychology is all about and how the natural sciences and philosophy contributed to it being a scientific discipline as it is practiced today.
Craig Boone Profile
Craig Boone answered
Psychology is less of a science and more of a high-level guessing game. Most people think of science as a systematic methodology that is applied to a specific area of expertise to produce tangible and eventually predictable results. The process of experimentation is employed, of course, and the results typically vary throughout the test phases, but ultimately the process in question will come to a specific conclusion. Once a definite solution is determined, and the process can be consistently performed to produce the exact same results, the theory or postulate that was in question becomes an equation that now has a pat answer. It's a mathematical system of thought, it relies on precision, and the idea is that an answer can be found for every question, in the same way that repeating the same equation will always result in a specific sum.
Even in disciplined sciences, external variables may exist that can affect the outcome of any experiment. In most cases, the experiment will then be modified to either eliminate, or compensate for, all of the variables until a pat answer can be produced.
Overall, psychology doesn't really fit the mold of a disciplined science. The problem with psychology is that the entire structure is based on a component that is already an existing variable because the subjects under scrutiny are humans. Consequently, because it is darn near impossible to always predict the behavior of humans in any given situation, the best that psychology can do is work to create statistics. For example, if you put ten people, one at a time, into a room containing an angry possum, are all ten of them going to react the same way? Of course not. Nine out of ten people may immediately try to exit the room, but there will always be one goofball who screws up the status quo and decides to go head-to-head with the irritated marsupial, instead. As a result, all the psychologist will be able to do is provide data that says that 90% of the people facing a wild animal with an attitude will try to run away.
That's just a small example of a subject that has a much broader scope, because the flaws that limit the collection of empirical data are also what gives psychology so much breadth. The subject itself is still downright fascinating. Psychology is a useful tool for understanding certain behavior, and gaining some insight into the human condition. Unfortunately, it will never be able to overcome the bare fact that nobody can really ever know what another human being is capable of doing in any situation. Statistics don't constitute science, either, like some people seem to think. In a lot of cases, they're just numbers, and they're often used and misused as needed, usually in an effort to substantiate arguments that have very little substance to begin with.
One last thing, because I think I've gone off the deep end. Early psychological studies, mostly failed ones, did produce certain tenets that have remained steady throughout the course of psychology's evolution. One of them was the discovery that it is really just not possible for a human being to analyze their own behavior, as their own bias and justifications will taint the results. In addition, subjects that KNEW that they were being studied for any given reason were all impacted by something known as the Hawthorne effect, or what is commonly termed "subject bias." This typically means that a person will either consciously or unconsciously alter their behavior based on the fact that they know that they are under observation. Think about that, and think about all the media that is broadcast and classified as "reality" TV. There's absolutely no such thing. It's a form of reality, sure, but it's tainted by the fact that all the people that are on these TV shows know that they are always being recorded. To that effect, you will never really know for sure if the way they portray themselves is a true representation of who they are, or if they are playing to an audience. The only way to truly capture someone's "reality" is to do it without their knowledge. However, one of the primary, and most important, discoveries that was made regarding any kind of science or school of thought was that it is impossible to perform any type of observation without having some impact, no matter how small, on the environment that is being observed.
Oh, so to answer you question, I'll say, "No. It's not a science. It's really neat, though."

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