Is Psychology A Science The Way Physics Is
What Are Some Of The Differences And Similarities Between The Two Psychology is quickly evolving and can be seen in multiple areas of our society. People are finally learning to accept its usefulness and leave some harmful stigmas at the door.
Misconceptions, however, can still be seen and can sometimes change the perspective of people who could otherwise benefit from what psychology has to offer. They include that therapists can read minds, that it only deals with crazy people and others but most often that psychology isn’t a science in the first place.
The way this misinformation spreads is pretty simple.
Because psychology is just now gaining the respect and focus it deserves, many people used to be told by older generations that there was nothing tangible in it, that it was all just theories shared by people with no real proof. This is, however, far from true, and in this article, we explain why.
Firstly let’s look into our trusty dictionaries and make sure we understand what the terms we’re talking about actually mean. We have used the definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary because it is deemed the most reputable source for this sort of information.
- Psychology (as defined by Oxford English Dictionary) is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.
- Science (as defined by Oxford English Dictionary) is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
Even just by that, it’s pretty clear that psychology is indeed a science, not only because the word is a part of its definition, but because it covers all the conditions that must be met when defining a science. To make things even clearer, we have compiled a list of differences and similarities between psychology and common science.
Not As Much Physical Proof
Because the subject psychology focuses on (the human mind and behavior) is not a physical item, it’s hard to expect that everything explaining it would be. The same way you can understand what a bone is made of by using a microscope (a physical tool testing a physical item), psychology uses questions to understand how we think. This does not mean that it has no empirical proof, just that there is more to it than that because of the focus of its study.
Universities often offer two Bachelor’s degrees when it comes to psychology – one in Arts and one in Science. This is because although their core studies are the same, they focus on different options for future development. Students that obtain a Bachelor in Arts have more considerable freedom in connecting psychology to different disciplines – business, education, law, and media are just to name a few.
They often choose the Arts option because they are interested in multiple fields and would like to explore them with the help of psychology. However, people who want a Masters’s degree in psychology tend to choose the other option. A Bachelor in Science gives you a more focused look at experiments, research, and applied psychology courses.
It is often deemed harder than the Arts degree, but if you are interested in dealing with healthcare, industrial-organizational psychology, research, or furthering your studies, especially in medical school, this is the better option.
There’s a lot you can do with a psychology degree. You can be a therapist, a counselor, a researcher, a psychiatrist (after you receive a medical degree), and more – these are what psychology is known for and what people associate it with. However, you can also become a teacher, have a role in media, deal with human resources, organize various events or help the law system and still be a psychologist.
The vast options you are presented with when you finish your studies is part of the reason why some people believe psychology isn’t a regular hard science. Variety, however, shouldn’t be considered as a bad thing, seeing as it helps you specialize in exactly what you want to do without lowering its seriousness.
Alright, well, with the differences out of the way, let’s have a look at the actual similarities between the two.
The Scientific Method
This is the bread and butter as to why psychology is a science. The methods this field uses always include and are often governed by the scientific method – the process of systematic observation, measurement, and experiment leading to formulating a hypothesis which is then tested and modified if needed.
This is how all of the knowledge we now have about the human brain and behavior was gathered. All of the empirical evidence psychology relies on (theories and subjective beliefs are not part of this) has been obtained through the same sort of critical and analytical thinking, experimenting, and deciphering all sciences use.
Also, psychology students are taught in pretty much the same way as all other future scientists – the quality of their work is assessed by its reliability and their thorough understanding of it. Designing and collecting research, formulating and conducting experiments, analyzing and cataloging data, and presenting it all in the form of finished scientific labor is essentially what they teach you to do in every university’s psychology department.
This is precisely why psychology should be considered science the same as any other.
Most of what we use as proven theories and tested methods in psychology came into being exactly because of research. Scientists spend years, sometimes decades, formulating, deciphering, and cataloging data from multiple sources to develop self-standing statements and facts.
Research is a vital part of psychology because it gives it the reliability it needs to be used correctly. Research is also the only way you can get in touch with as many people as possible to make sure every minority in a specific topic is accounted for.
Connection With Other Sciences
Psychology works hand in hand with many other sciences. Its relationship with biology for one, is how we understand our brains and their connection to our emotions. Neuropsychology for example deals with the structure and function of the brain and nervous system and their correlation to our behavior.
Psychology and physiology also work together – they explain why and how some of the functions of our body are impacted by our state of mind. Together, they can answer questions such as why do we have trouble sleeping when we’re under stress, how do our bodies respond when put under mental pressure, and more.
Psychology is also beneficial to studies in philosophy, sociology, education, law, and more. All that being said, it’s hard to disagree with the statement that psychology is indeed a science. It uses the same tools in gathering information, forming theories, and educating people as hard sciences and thus should be treated as such.
Learning more about psychology and its many sides will allow you to form an objective and structurally sound opinion about it as well as share it with the ones around you, which is how most information is learned.