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layman77

Is Psychology a real science?

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I've heard some call it a "soft science" or a "social science" and some even fans of the hard science say it is not a science at all. Why is this? And if it isn't what would be a more scientific alternative approach?

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It really depends on which specific aspect of psychology you're discussing. Therapy is more art than science, for example, but there are other very scientific aspects about it and many experiments that follow quite strictly to the scientific method. Where it can be challenging sometimes is in measuring complex situations or concepts and forming conclusions that map on to others or help you to form a valid model of the world. Humans, after all, aren't simple billiard balls where interactions can be calculated to the 14th decimal.

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I think that psychology is definitely a science, but a very soft one indeed. A good analog ad extremum would be taking in the fact that the observation and study of chess pieces — moves, interactions, and all — independent of the actual players is technically a science as well. But it's obvious that one might consider this a very high level or 'soft' science because of how so far down the chain of causality it is. Yes, now that I'm thinking about it that's definitely how I'd define the spectrum of soft-hard sciences; the closer to the fundamental end of some chain of causality some subject is, the 'harder' or lower-level/deeper the study (science) of it is and the farther up it is, the higher-level or 'softer' it is. The chess game is a result of the psychological processes in some intelligent being (waving the motor movements which cause the physical pieces to move, which are in essence caused by the psychological processes themselves), which are a result of some neurological/psychophysiological processes in your brain which are are caused by biological processes of a similar order throughout your body, those which are a result of chemical processes aggregating to form your cells and other biological systems, which are too a result of the (most fundamental/hardest/lowest-level) physical particle/space/time interactions which of course could be a result of some even more fundamental physical interaction, maybe string theory or whatever else it might be. Maybe mathematics, e.g. mathematical monism? Who knows.

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Yes, I definitely regard Psychology as a Science. Investigation in the field is complicated by the fact that, as iNow has pointed out, the subjects of Psychology - humans and human behaviour - are not easily amenable to experimental intervention, or even if such intervention is technically possible, it would not always be deemed ethical to do so. For example, humans are phenotypically diverse and this is a reflection of the uniqueness of the interactions between their genome and environmental/life experiences. All of the possible confounding variables must therefore be controlled for when recruiting volunteers for psychological analysis. The same is true for any human medical Science however Psychology is different, I think, because it requires the inter-relation of biological and whole-organism behavioural phenomena - whereas Biomedical Science tends to concern itself with the behaviour of molecules, cells, tissues and organs. Therefore, there is less room for confounding variables to creep in with Biomedical Science when compared with Psychology because the organs and organ systems are relatively well understood and the resulting behaviour is very much a straightforward result of genetic and environmental factors. For example, whereas it is possible to model the effect of an environmental stimulus on some crude phenotype of importance to Biomedical Science (e.g. the secretion of a factor by cells in a cell culture dish), it is not possible to reduce phenotypes of importance to Psychology in the same way. At some point, the reductionist approach breaks down in the field of Psychology and is no longer informative with regards whole organism behaviour. Mouse and other in vivo models are useful in this respect in both Biomedical Science and in Psychology/Neuropsychology - see some of the recent work on autism in mice:

 

 

As diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder rise, the need for effective therapies has increased in urgency. Today, a paper in Nature describes two ways of reversing autism-like symptoms in a new mouse model of the condition1.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects up to 1 in 110 people. Although a few drugs have shown promise in mouse models, none is able to treat the core social deficits common to ASD in humans.

A team of researchers led by Nahum Sonenberg of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, created a new model of mouse autism, and then reversed its symptoms. They began by genetically engineering mice so that they lacked the gene Eif4ebp2.

 

 

http://www.nature.com/news/autism-symptoms-reversed-in-mice-1.11869

 

The brain itself is one of the most complex systems under scientific investigation and the field of Neuroscience is in its infancy so the field of Neuropsychology is still very much progressing in tandem. Thus, it seems to me that Psychology is a Science but that, until the field of Neurobiology progresses substantially further, then Psychology as a field will be limited in its approaches.

Edited by Tridimity

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My dear, just because a certain study is not very well defined it does not mean it is nota a science. The same was the case with the function theory and elemental calculus. Leibnitz and Newton suffered to give a solid explaination regarding the usage and properties of integrals and limits. Psychology and Psychiatyr are just in avery primitive and forming phase and needs rigorous work and if dine would prove as useful as any other science.

 

And good one on the research joke.LOL!

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My dear, just because a certain study is not very well defined it does not mean it is nota a science. The same was the case with the function theory and elemental calculus. Leibnitz and Newton suffered to give a solid explaination regarding the usage and properties of integrals and limits. Psychology and Psychiatyr are just in avery primitive and forming phase and needs rigorous work and if dine would prove as useful as any other science.

 

And good one on the research joke.LOL!

 

Psychology is a research-intensive field of Science.

 

Look how much I'm laughing

 

anya_headshot_serious-face.jpg

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Psychology is an art, it falls under the faculty of art. Scientific methods are employed in the art of psychology. To go a step further, I shall state that even psychiatry is a non science. Despite the fact that psychiatrists learn a lot about the function of the brain, I'd be very surprised if anyone could give me an example of a psychiatrist curing any of their patients using current psychiatric methods. Then we can look at the famous "Thud Experiment", one of two famous experiments that have debunked psychiatry. I have not heard of any new innovations in psychology or psychiatry. Yes, there have been many new drugs come onto the market, yet all the antipsychotic drugs still aim at and work in much the same way as the 1st antipsychotic. Psycho therapy has not really evolved very much either. It basically involves input from the patient and advice from the therapist[when speaking about therapy].

Psychology is an art and psychology uses scientific methods and standards in performing the art yet psychology is not a science in an of itself.

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Psychology is an art, it falls under the faculty of art. Scientific methods are employed in the art of psychology. To go a step further, I shall state that even psychiatry is a non science. Despite the fact that psychiatrists learn a lot about the function of the brain, I'd be very surprised if anyone could give me an example of a psychiatrist curing any of their patients using current psychiatric methods. Then we can look at the famous "Thud Experiment", one of two famous experiments that have debunked psychiatry. I have not heard of any new innovations in psychology or psychiatry. Yes, there have been many new drugs come onto the market, yet all the antipsychotic drugs still aim at and work in much the same way as the 1st antipsychotic. Psycho therapy has not really evolved very much either. It basically involves input from the patient and advice from the therapist[when speaking about therapy].

You're argument is equivalent to me saying biology isn't a science because MDs aren't scientists. Therapy is only a very, very small fraction of psychology.

 

Psychology is an art and psychology uses scientific methods and standards in performing the art yet psychology is not a science in an of itself.

I don't even know what this means.

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Psychology is indeed a real science and it can be proven in certain situations. Psychology is used by lawyers to win a case and its used to interrogate criminals. If you say its not real you are stating manipulation is not real either. Manipulation is a real thing and if someone is good enough they can do this without you realizing it. Manipulation has been used by politicians and dictators all over the world. One example would be Hitler. He united his people by giving them one common enemy. When you are all facing the same enemy you all become friends. So he fueled the hate, the war and lead his whole country on the idea "THE JEWS DID IT!" that is psychology.

 

However many patients will complain about doctors who simply abuse their position or just don't seem to be doing enough to help. Some psychiatrist speak with a patient for five minutes and write up a prescription for some drug. One might argue that this does not seem like a long enough time to give a full and proper diagnoses for a mental issue. As well as this people argue that some of these illnesses are fabricated such as ADD/ADHD.

 

Some of the things which are considered disorders seem to mimic typical behavior. ADD/ADHD says that children who are unfocused and hyper have it but some grow out of it. This is debatable for the fact most children are hyper and unfocused and that is why we teach them discipline. So is a child being hyper a sign of a mental disorder or simply the fact they are kids? The argument comes up is it the parents fault or is it natures fault? All that aside if we agree these mental illnesses as real or not psychology is a thing even if they have truly abused it to fabricate disorders. You can see patterns in human behavior if you pay attention. Most People act a way for a reason. Even the most illogical person in the world might have some motive for their actions. Even if what they are doing is horribly misguided.

 

Even if we said no mental disorder existed we still have behavior. Psychology is the study of human behavior and so with or without mental illnesses we can still study how a person behaves. We can also do this to bend a situation to our will. We can study how a group acts when influenced by something. We can see how a country acts when influenced by something.

 

However I don't think most people need to do intense research to know psychology. Since its the study of behavior and we learn how to behave from the time we are very young. We are forced to learn this from the day we are born. We are forced to try and fit in. We are forced to do what we believe is acceptable. We all care about what someone is going to say. Most re-frame from what they believe may gain negative attention. This too is why we make stereotypes. Stereotype is noticing the similarities within certain groups and projecting it over an entire people. Which is not 100 percent accurate. However people often assume it must be for the reason a hand full of people in that group has done it.

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for anyone who does not believe psycology is a science, i recommend that they take a shopping trip.

good money is paid to organize products, decide how they look, and how they make their purchases.

 

even the latest in functional design of products can benefit from psychology.

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From

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wanamaker

A popular saying illustrating how difficult it was to reach potential customers using traditional advertising is attributed to John Wanamaker: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

 

Good money is, indeed paid for studies of product layout.

And the results of those studies are reasonably consistent- for example items placed on the ends of aisles are more likely to be noticed.

However I don't think there is no scientific theory behind the results.

No psychologist, as far as I know, could a priori predict what would be a good place for some product any better than a layman who thought about it for a bit.

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I guess then that one is to ask ones self, "What is science?" , then if it fits the bill, it is a science.

I stand by my statement that Psychology is an art. The examples used above are merely examples of the art of psychology in practice.

Manipulation may well be a process used, hardly a science though.

To say that psychology is not a science yet it does use scientific methods is a very simple statement, I fail to see what is not to be understood.

When I set about researching this topic, I came across the term pure science and applied science. As with the MD not being a scientist, they have a broad understanding of biology but more specifically the anatomy and physiology of the human body.

It is largely up to the individual as to wether or not one wants to call any specific area of study a science or not.

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I stand by my statement that Psychology is an art.

Such a conclusion, however, must be based on an unfortunately narrow definition and limited understanding of what psychology truly involves and represents. Hint: It's more than just therapy and counseling.

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Psychology is far more than just therapy. As with the field of biology, biology being a word used to describe a broad range of specialist fields of biology such as marine biology, something a MD is hardly likely to have studied.

Psychology is a word used to describe the study of human behaviour in a broad range of application, including cognitive thought process; making up psycho metric puzzles for application in a particular area; forensic psychology and the list goes on.

In Australian Universities, psychology falls under the faculty of art. I'd have to research to ensure my accuracy, however, I am not sure of the complete list of academia under the faculty of art.

I still stand by my original statement.

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