Psychology as a Science

Topics: Psychology, Scientific method, Science Pages: 5 (1774 words) Published: November 15, 2012
1. Define Psychology. Is psychology a science? Elucidate your answer with relevant arguments. DEFINITIONS OF PSYCHOLOGY
Psychology has been defined in different ways.Some people have defined psychology as an art.Other people have defined psychology as a science.Many text books define psychology as the science of mind and behavior.Psychology involves the study of human nature and/or behavior.Different opinions come from different perspectives. Eric Pettifor at GIGANTOPITHECUS defines psychology as "an art which presents itself as science". H.D.Hamm Ph.D.,who authored and maintains a site for Northern Michigan University,defines psychology as the "scientific study of the behavior of humans and animals". Tom Bolling at the University of Washington in Seattle,Washington defines psychology as a science of description and application used for the "interpretation,prediction,development and improvement of human behavior" and that psychology was originally a branch of philosophy. Psychology is the science of the mind and behavior. The word "psychology" comes from the Greek word psyche meaning "breath,spirit, soul" and the Greek word logia meaning the study of something.According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary,psychology is "The profession (clinical psychology),scholarly discipline (academic psychology) and science (research psychology) concerned with the behavior of humans and animals and related mental and physiologic processes.” Although psychology may also include the study of the mind and behavior of animals,in this article psychology refers mainly to humans.

The field of human psychology is a powerful force in modern society,and its influence is widespread–in language,law,the social contract and in our perception of ourselves.Because legal decisions are sometimes made based on psychology,decisions that might cause someone to be incarcerated or freed, it is important to establish whether psychology is a science or a simple belief system.We should determine whether psychology can be relied on to objectively support the social and legal policies that are based on it.In modern times,such a serious public burden can only be borne by a field that is based on reason,on science.Which leads to our question:is human psychology steered by science? What Is Science?

Science's goal is to create reasonable explanations to describe reality–theories that rely,not on feelings or passions,but on evidence.Science defines “evidence” in a special way that will seem rather strict to someone only familiar with the legal definition.To science,evidence is gathered and evaluated according to some rigid rules,rules meant to assure that a scientific theory reflects reality to the best of our ability. About scientific evidence,philosopher David Hume said,“No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white,but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refuse that conclusion.”This saying aptly summarizes the difference between scientific evidence and every other kind of evidence,and it dramatizes the difference between science and ordinary human thinking.When properly conducted,scientific investigations never draw conclusions directly from observations.| It's very simple,really.If a theory doesn't make testable predictions,or if the tests are not practical,or if the tests cannot lead to a clear outcome that supports or falsifies the theory,the theory is not scientific.This may come as another surprise,but very little of the theoretical content of human psychology meets this scientific criterion.As to the clinical practice of psychology,even less meets any reasonable definition of “scientific.” What Is Psychology?

Psychology has as its aim the understanding of human behavior and as a secondary goal,the treatment of behaviors deemed abnormal.Almost immediately upon the formation of the field,efforts were made to place psychological studies on a scientific basis.But...
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