Common Sense Psychology

Topics: Scientific method, Science, Theory Pages: 5 (1702 words) Published: December 20, 2012
What distinguishes Scientific Psychology from Common-Sense or Popular Psychology? In your essay give at least one example of an investigation in psychology of a scientific nature and the reasons why this investigation can be considered to be a scientific contribution. The scientific method is the way that scientific psychologists gain knowledge about behaviour and the mental processes. The scientific method is a general approach to gaining knowledge through observations and the collection of data in order to answer questions. There are several steps in the scientific process which are the initial observation, in which the experimenter gathers information and forms a hypothesis. The experimenter subsequently tests the hypothesis and then research is conducted. The data is analysed and a conclusion can be drawn. The experimenter reports their findings to the scientific community. Further research is carried out to support the original hypothesis and a new hypothesis is derived from the theory. These answers can be further used to give an understanding of the world (Passer, Smith, Holt, Bremner, Sutherland and Vliek, 2009). There are different methods which are considered scientific in psychology. These methods include observations, surveys and experiments. Knowledge which is not based on scientific evidence or on the scientific method is referred to as pseudoscience or common sense. In common sense a psychological theory cannot empirically be falsified either. Apart from the idiosyncratic experimental construction there are no grounds that establish their temporary truth in the first place. The falsification on a purely empirical level cannot be sufficient. Thus theories are intrinsically related to a common sense that typically requires proof and disproof to be established on several levels (Jury, 1994). Common sense psychology is also referred to as natural psychology, everyday and lay beliefs and folk psychology. Common sense psychology questions whether there is such a thing as a total body of scientific knowledge in psychology (Fletcher, 1984). Common sense psychology may be inaccurate and is subject to bias and life experiences. True science relies strongly on the scientific method to observe and collect evidence which tests a hypothesis and therefore a theory is formulated. The main goal of scientific psychology is to create reasonable theories to describe reality. This method relies on evidence being gathered and evaluated so that the theory which is being tested is either falsified or verified. This essay will distinguish psychology from common-sense or popular psychology. This essay will also outline two investigations of a scientific nature and the reasons why they are considered a scientific contribution. The experiment which will be outlined is the one carried out by Bandura in 1961 and 1963. This essay will give a brief background to the experiment and will explain the methods used. In a classic experiment Albert Bandura and his associates demonstrated the power of the social learning theory which is that children frequently learn to solve conflicts aggressively by intimidating adults (Rogers, Stenner & Glesson, 1995). Bandura carried out this experiment in 1961, on children in a nursery school to see if children that were pre-exposed to aggressive and non-aggressive adult models would the children imitate the model’s behavior. This experiment was carried out on seventy two children and there was a male, female model and a female experimenter who conducted the study (Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1961). The children were divided into eight groups which consisted of six children. Half of the children were exposed to an aggressive model and the other children were exposed to a non-aggressive model. The children in each of the conditions observed models of the same sex as themselves, while the remaining children in each group were exposed to models of the opposite sex (Bandura & Walters,...
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