Controversially, the field of psychology is often criticised as not being a proper scientific field. Indeed, opposers will often argue that psychology does not meet the criteria required to be labelled as a science. To clarify, many voices of authority on the matter have asserted that to be recognised as a science, a scientific practice must accurately measure a solid hypothesis by evaluating, analysing and uncovering concrete evidence which supports an educated conclusion. Therefore, as it does not strictly follow this measured procedure, psychology has been seen by many scientists to be too vague, too ‘airy-fairy’, or too ambiguous to be considered a real science. Even when it is recognised as a science, psychology is most often referred to as a ‘soft’ or ‘social’ science. However, some would argue that the science of psychology and its analysis of human behaviour is the most important science there is!
To be fair, the only way to truly unpack this issue is to undertake studies in the area of psychology. Importantly, undertaking studies in psychology will allow the student to develop a greater and deeper understanding of how psychology works, as well as the theories behind the practice, and also, the field’s contributions to society. Of course, once they have graduated with a psychology degree, it is then up to the individual to decide whether they consider psychology to be a scientific field, or whether they do not.
Psychological Studies: Unpacking the Mystery
If you are interested in pursuing studies in psychology, this is a surefire way to educate yourself on the different perceptions of the field. Importantly, studying psychology will not only teach you how to analyse, understand and evaluate human thought and behaviour, it will also allow you to gain and develop your own understanding and perspective of whether psychology is a science.
For those who do want to pursue psychology studies, a graduate diploma in psychology online is a good choice of pathway into the field. As part of this degree, students will learn and study core units involving psychological theory, history, methods, and practice. Students will also uncover coursework material that focuses on mental health care, psychological ethics, and social diversity, for example. Upon completion, this diploma is also an excellent pathway into the well-respected medical field of mental health care. Careers in psychology can include, for example, roles in clinical neuropsychology, forensic psychology, and other professions based in the medical industry. With roles such as these at a psychology graduate’s fingertips, one could certainly argue that a profession in psychology is both medically and scientifically based.
Arguments For and Against: The Different Perspectives on Psychology as a Science
Arguments Rejecting Psychology as a Real Science
According to certain scientific experts, psychology is not a real science. This is because, as people in this camp would affirm, it does not follow the traditional formula of scientific research. That is to say, psychology does not utilise and call upon rigid, quantifiable data that cannot be questioned to support its claims. For example, the concept that ‘happiness’ is data that can be objectively measured is – according to traditional scientists – questionable. This is because a measure of happiness is not considered to be objective evidence – that is, data that is factual, unbiased, and measurable using traditional scientific methods.
Further to this, there is the argument that psychology is ‘airy-fairy’, vague, and ambiguous. That is, the results of psychological observation are open to interpretation, and as such, cannot be trusted as reliable. Despite this, psychological analysis of human thought and behaviour has come to be seen as a social science that is worthy of respect in the medical arena. But why is this the case? Read on as we attempt to uncover this perspective.
Arguments Affirming that the Science of Psychology Is Real
The science of psychology has long been in contention. Indeed, the debate has become heated on whether psychology could ever be considered an empirical science. However, the truth of the matter, many would argue, is that psychology is indeed a real science. Even though it is referred to by many as a ‘soft’ science or a ‘social’ science, the argument goes that psychology does follow scientific methods of analysis and examination. This includes stating a hypothesis, developing a theory, and experimenting with data to reach a solid conclusion.
In addition, the findings of psychological research are well-respected in the medical industry. Scientific journals have often published findings of psychological research around mental health, human interaction, and social behaviour. Further to this, and perhaps most importantly, psychological research has led to many advancements in our society – including in the ways we interact and behave, and also, in the methods we use to treat patients presenting with mental health issues. In addition, it must be said that with the rise of qualified psychologists today being considered doctors and medical professionals, one simply cannot argue that their field of expertise is not a science.
The existence of the soft, social science of psychology and its study of human behaviour has created a heated debate on whether the practice deserves to be called a real science. Indeed, traditional scientists have argued that psychology does not follow rigid scientific methods of collating empirical, objective and impartial data and evidence to reach data-driven conclusions. These experts will also argue that the results of an analysis of human thought and behaviour cannot ever be trusted as reliable. This is because human emotion is open to contention. How do you measure happiness?
On the other hand, psychologists argue that their field of study is well-respected in the medical arena and that their research has both scientific basis and scientific merit. To be fair, the answer to this age-old question is somewhat inconclusive – there are arguments for and against, supporting and denigrating each camp! However, perhaps the most important element is that the research conducted by experts in the field of psychology has helped our society immensely. It simply cannot be denied that the field of psychology has caused our society to advance – especially in the areas of social interaction, behaviour, and mental health care.