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Is Psychology a science?

Is Psychology a science?

March 15, 2023

Is it the Psychology a science? This question opens a debate that informs us about how much we do not really know Psychology. There are many myths about psychology and the profession of psychologist, and a recurring theme within these topics is the question of whether this discipline can be considered a science, or not.

Many people claim that Psychology is not a science based on misconceptions about what a science really is. It is usual that in our society we usually believe the arguments of a doctor or a chemist, since we consider that their knowledge is specific and we do not possess it; However, the knowledge of Psychology is sometimes annoying for many people. Why?

Because maybe, they do not want their own mental and emotional processes to be partially explained, but they prefer to keep retaining the mystery of the Human nature . Psychology does not try to discover this mystery. Simply, It is a science that tries to increase our knowledge about ourselves . To find out if Psychology is really a science or not and explain why, we should start with a simple question. What is a science?

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What is a science?

For a field of knowledge to be a science, it must comply with two basic factors:

1. Epistemology

In order to be considered a science, it is essential that there is a clear epistemology . That is, to know clearly about which field you want to increase our knowledge.

2. Scientific method

Another necessary condition for a knowledge discipline to be considered a science is that it adheres to the scientific method . This is where people who do not understand Psychology are wrong. These people do not really know the complexity of the scientific method, its advances, its nature and its variety. We must remember that a science is not an attempt to know the truth or to solve all the mysteries of nature and life, but simply a way (a method) to increase our knowledge. Science asks questions, and for each question that responds, new questions are started, until for the original question we find another more adequate answer, and so infinitely.

This is the case with physics (whose concepts are constantly changing, for example: although today the laws of Isaac Newton , we have known for some time that they are not totally true, since Albert Einstein's theory of relativity knew how to correctly question them), with chemistry, with any natural or social science (it is more correct to speak of "natural sciences" than "pure sciences", since there are no sciences really purer than others). Physics reflects on the famous chaos theory : supposedly, physics can predict that if you throw a billiard ball with a certain strength and orientation, it will hit a certain target. But not all predictions are always fulfilled. Why? Because there are multiple variables not studied, such as the millimeter thickness of the tapestry, which causes the ball to deviate little by little from its predicted course until entering a succession of unexpected events.

Finally, the ball ends up in another place. Does this mean that physics is not a science? No, it just means that there is no exact science, since the sciences do not seek accuracy but increase our knowledge. The only exact tool that exists is mathematics. A tool that, by the way, is used quite successfully in Psychology.

What is Psychology? Is it a science?

Psychology is the science that studies human behavior and its cognitive processes and, therefore, has a clear epistemology. However: Does Psychology follow the scientific method?

Experimental Psychology follows the scientific method as much as physics or chemistry. Other disciplines, such as medicine, are not really sciences but disciplines, although they have scientific research to support their decisions. Psychology works in the same way: It is a science that sometimes acts as a science according to a scientific method to conduct research , and on other occasions, apply that knowledge in the best possible way to accompany people and societies in change processes. In these applications, the results are observed and changes and reflection are valued.

This is what any science would do. Remember that science above all has a humble attitude, reflection, questions, questioning, opening ... at no time a science believes or aspires to have a absolute truth.

What is the scientific methodology used by Psychology?

Given that the human being is very complex and changes and evolves constantly, his study becomes very complex. For this reason, Psychology has a great methodological diversity to study human beings. Psychology basically uses the hypothetical-deductive method, like any science . Sometimes, due to the nature of their research, they use quantitative methodologies (where they use statistical tools), and in others, they use qualitative methodologies (interview, discussion groups, etc.). The second case, in fact, can be much more complex than the first.

It is not the function of the researcher or psychologist to draw conclusions about reality, but know how to extract facts that can be contrasted and refuted through human experiences . Experts in qualitative methodologies are still in demand in many universities of the world, since their great depth, nature and complexity is very unknown by the scientific world. Perhaps, due to this ignorance, many people get confused and consider that Psychology is not a science.

Work and research on cognitive processes, memory, perception, thinking and its heuristics, emotions and their management, biophysiological bases, social structures and their impact on our behaviors, inter and intrapersonal relationships, as well as group, beliefs and attitudes, is complex and Psychologists do it according to a great scientific rigor.

When there are bad results, first of all, it is due to the partial interests of the companies or organizations that finance certain investigations. There are errors in Psychology, of course , and many psychologists who work with little scientific rigor and quite irresponsible ... but as in all sciences. This does not transform Psychology into what it is not. Psychology is, first of all, a science, the science that perhaps has the most complex objective of all: understand us .

Is Psychology a Science? (March 2023).

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