The 4 differences between Psychology and Sociology
Psychology is often understood as a science that is dedicated to studying the individual, the person. However, it's not always like that.
Much of the psychological phenomena that are investigated from this discipline have to do with interaction, the way in which we relate to others and, ultimately, the social.
This makes a question easily appear: What are the differences between psychology and sociology? What is it that distinguishes them?
- Related article: "The main types of sociology"
Differentiate between Sociology and Psychology
Both psychology and sociology are very broad disciplines, so there are several points of overlapping between them. However, getting to recognize their differences is not complicated. Let's see what they are.
1. Psychology is not only a social science
Sociology is the science that studies and analyzes social phenomena and relationships between people , that is, those that can not be understood starting from the study of the individual.
Psychology, although it has a facet that enters fully into the field of social sciences, can not be fully included in this category. This is so because its object of study is bio-psycho-social. That is to say, takes into account biology and even genetic . These last elements are by definition something that affects the individual in the first place, and can not be considered as the result of interaction with the environment. (The genotype only changes by small random mutations).
Biopsychology and basic psychology, for example, study the most basic and universal mental processes, as well as the problems that arise when the nervous system is drastically altered. These are processes that do not depend so much on culture and the social as the material changes that are carried out directly within the human organism.
Through research in this type of areas linked to what human beings have in common, we try to understand the "raw material" with which we come into the world and that, in combination with the relationship with the environment, will make us the human beings with their own personality that we all know.
2. Sociology studies only collective phenomena
The sociology does not focus its objective on a specific individual , but it analyzes the behavior patterns of the collectives and the crowds. For example, the way in which people blame the rise of unemployment to the government or the market economy.
Psychology, through the branch of social psychology, also takes into account social phenomena, but does not focus on them. Instead of that, analyze how these social phenomena have an effect on the individual .
For example, the experiments on conformism conducted by the psychologist Solomon Asch served to observe the effects that social pressure had on individual behavior, leading people to give an answer that they believed was erroneous only because it was not the discordant note of the group.
- Maybe you're interested: "What is Social Psychology?"
3. The methodology they use is different
Psychology uses the experimental method a lot , which consists in generating a psychological phenomenon controlling all the variables to see what causes it and what consequences it has. That is, it is intended to see the causal link that exists between one event and another that comes after.
For example, experiments in which the effectiveness of different types of psychotherapy are measured are an example of this. In them, we observe how a series of patients are involved in a psychological intervention program and, once the necessary time has passed, we observe what changes have occurred in them, and compare these results with the status of other people they have not gone through the treatment (to better isolate the variables).
Sociology, on the other hand, is not characterized by using the experimental method, but rather is based rather on the correlational method (although the latter is also used by psychology).
The correlational method does not allow us to know what causes produce what effect, but it describes the reality showing tendencies that are produced at the same time and that perhaps have a causal link between them or maybe not.
For example, if richer people tend to vote more for a party, a correlation will be recorded between the amount of money that is earned and the likelihood of voting for that election option.However, in this way it is not known if those people decide to use their vote because that is the party that best fits their ideology, or if they do so to avoid winning another party despite the fact that there is another very minority that represents better your vision of the world.
In short, sociology renounces to know very well the causes of what it studies, because what it analyzes is a historical process that is constantly changing with the passage of time and, therefore, you can not extract universal and timeless laws about it.
4. The size of the groups
Both disciplines can base their research on the observation of groups of people, although we have already seen that psychology and sociology differ in a fundamental qualitative aspect: the first studies rather the effect of the social on the individual and the second studies the collective phenomena in themselves.
However, there is also this other difference related to the use of groups in research. In this case, it is a quantitative difference; psychology is fixed in small groups , while sociology tends to investigate much broader collective phenomena, involving thousands of people.