Is psychology a science?
One reason why psychology may not be considered a science is its lack of a distinct paradigm. Science must involve a definable subject matter. During the 17th century Descartes believed strongly in the consciousness, sparking psychological research, but even then there was no paradigm as there is supposedly none today. Thomas Kuhn claims that psychology cannot be considered a science because it is split into different approaches, for example, cognitive, biological, behaviourist and psychodynamic; therefore working under different assumptions and beliefs. The psychodynamic approach, for example, operates under the belief that behaviour is caused by hypothetical mental constructs and childhood experiences, whereas the behaviourist approach believes that behaviour is a response to stimuli from the environment. So, psychology could be considered a pre-science in that it has not yet identified it’s paradigm, but this should not detract from the fact the scientific method is widely used in some areas of psychology, such as behaviourism, that uses empirical methods such as Bandura’s Bobo doll lab experiment, which had a specific IV of aggressive or non- aggressive models, so the controlled measures specified in the definition of science are evident. It is also said that psychology is not objective or controlled in that the experimental conditions and theories can be subject to bias. An example of this is Asch (1956) who tested his conformity theory by setting up controlled laboratory conditions to see if confederates giving an intentionally wrong answer to an ambiguous question affected the answer given by the naïve participant. The theory itself may be objective, but the mode of study is not as with human participants, objectivity can be an issue as alter their behaviour according to the perceived aim, therefore displaying demand characteristics and affecting the validity of results. Some of Asch’s 123 participants explained during...
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