Discuss the Extent to Which Psychology Is a Science

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Discuss the extent to which psychology is a science (25 Marks)

Science is a discipline in which we objectively obtain data and organise them into theories. All sciences follow a process when investigating anything scientific. First of all, inductive reasoning takes place whereby the investigator focuses on the science/concept and the general aspects around it. Secondly, a generalisation is made about the concept being investigated and hypotheses are formed. Next, deductive reasoning takes place whereby the subject matter is tested and is either verified or falsified. Taking all this into account, a science is generally characterised by the fact that it is supposed to our objectiveness and the variables we are investigating can be testable among others (peer reviewing etc).

A second argument that could be used as either for or against psychology as a science is the process of manipulating variables. In normal sciences, for example, chemistry and physics, variables are obviously established when carrying out research e.g. voltage, amps and grams etc. However, when psychologists investigate areas, they cannot establish such things. For example, if they are looking at stress, they may find indirect variables, such as sweat, but they cannot firmly say that this is a direct variable linked to stressful situations. This in turn poses complications when regarding psychology as a science as it is more difficult to establish cause and effect.

However, to some extent, psychology can establish causality. In the behavioural, biological and cognitive approaches, lab experiments are often used and so they can establish causality in their highly controlled conditions. Although, psychodynamic theorists raise problems when they are investigating as they mainly use case studies and focus on aspects such as the ‘unconscious mind’. This means causality cannot be properly established even when lab experiments are used. Lab experiments lack ecological validity and can create...
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