Psychology as a Science

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Psychology is the scientific study of the behavior of individuals and their mental processes. (Fuchs & Milar, 2002). But what makes it a scientific study? First of all, why not? Nowadays the idea of psychology as a science seems so natural to us, but it was not always like this. The late-eighteenth-century declaration that a true scientific study of the mind was not possible posed a challenge that was answered in the nineteenth century when the possibility of a scientific study of mind emerged within philosophy by the adoption of the experimental methods employed to study the physiology of the senses. (Fuchs & Milar, 2002). Christian Wolff first popularized the term psychology to designate the study of mind. Wolff divided the discipline between empirical and rational psychology. The data of mind that resulted from observing ourselves and others constituted empirical psychology; rational psychology referred to the interpretation of the data of empirical psychology through the use of reason and logic. Immanuel Kant argued that rational mental processes must be activated by mental content derived from experience; therefore, the study of mind must be confined to questions appropriate to an empirical psychology. According to Kant an empirical psychology of mental content could not become a proper natural science because mental events cannot be quantified (i.e., measured or weighed), and thus its data are neither capable of being described mathematically nor subject to experimental manipulation. Finally, Kant asserted, the method of observing the mind—introspection—distorts the events observed by observing them. However, Kant suggested, psychology might improve its status as an empirical science by adopting the methods of anthropology to observe the activities of human beings in realistic settings. (Fuchs & Milar, 2002). The field of psychology as a science was truly founded when Wilhelm Wundt established...
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