Psychology vs Common Sense

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  • Topic: Psychology, Mind, Eyewitness identification
  • Pages : 5 (1510 words )
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  • Published : April 7, 2008
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To do justice to this paper one must first look at what the two schools of thought are. The word psychology is the combination of two terms – study (ology) and soul (psyche), or mind. The derivation of the word from Latin gives it this clear and obvious meaning. “Psyche” is defined as:

(A)The spirit or soul.
(B)The human mind
(C)In psychoanalysis, the mind functioning as the centre of thought, emotion, and behavior. Defining “Soul”, we have:
1.The spiritual or immortal elements in a person.
2.A person’s mental, moral or emotional nature.
We can all agree that most of us if not all have a “psyche” when we look at the above definitions, in the sense of mind, thought, and emotions. Most would also agree that they have a soul, this relates to man’s moral, mental or emotional nature. Regardless of the different notions about what these ultimately are, few could hardly disagree they exist. Psychology then is the scientific study of the human mind. (The Oxford American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus Second Edition, p. 671). What is Common Sense?

Good Judgment, sound practical judgment derived from experience rather than study. (MSN Encarta).

According to James (1890), “ Psychology is the Science of Mental Life, both of its phenomena and of their conditions… The Phenomena are such things as we call feelings, desires, cognition, reasoning, decisions and the like” (p. 2). Data is collected through careful, systematic observation; then attempt to explain what was observed by developing theories; make new predictions based on those theories and then systematically test those predictions through additional observations and experiments to determine whether it is correct. Where as common sense describes beliefs or propositions that seem, to most people, to be prudent and of sound judgment, without dependence upon esoteric knowledge (cited from Basically the above statement shows that it must be kept in mind that common sense is based upon casual observations, which may or may not be accurate and it teaches through experience and reflections upon the way others act in certain situations. Ruch ‘s 1941 study found the following:

60 percent of 103 students in a course in elementary psychology at Northwestern University marked the following statement to be true: Especially intelligent children are likely to be weak and retarded (p. 14). The studies of behaviorism in psychology often refer to any observable response or activity by an organism that included verbal behavior about ones own perceptions and feelings (Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, Bem and Hoeksema, 1953, p. 12). As Watson (1919) points out “ For behaviorist, psychology is that division of Natural Science which takes human behavior- the doings and sayings, both learned and unlearned- as its subject matter (p. 2). Also within this theory it shows that behavior is governed primarily by the environment an example of this would be sarcastic remarks on a daily basis from a friend can cause the individual to react in an aggressive manner towards the friend. This is the reason why the behavioral approach is referred to as stimulus-response (S-R) psychology (Weiten, 1998, p. 6). Another area researched in psychology is learning this encompasses permanent change in behavior that results from practice and maturation (Morris and Maisto, 1999, p. 184). Learning shapes personal habits, such as naibiting, personal traits such as shyness, emotional responses such as fear of snakes, personal preferences, growth; drive states, instincts and inheritance. According to Kimble (1961), “ relatively permanent change in behavioral potential which accompanies experience but which is not the result of simple growth factors or of reversible influences such as fatigue or hunger” (p. 46). Humans learn cumulatively (Gross, 1987, p. 46) that is, what is learnt at anytime is influenced by previous learning hence developmental and learning processes are closely...
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