Debates: Psychology as a science


Debates: Psychology as a science


  • Produce theories about though and behaviour which allow testable hypothesis. Theories stand or fall on the extent to which data and evidence support these theories. By adopting a scientific approach, psychology has produced stronger and better theories, so advanced psychology into a science.
  • By adopting a scientific approach in psychology, it has led to a wide range of practical application, which has helped a large number of people. Especially in atypical disorders, because both cog and bio have both explained and offered possible treatments for depression, OCD and phobias etc. By being scientific it allows causes of behaviour to be understood and this can hopefully control/predict atypical behaviour.
  • Scientific methods are reliable so can be checked for reliability for other psychologists. Replication is important when studying human behaviour
  • The results/findings from scientific inquiry are reliable and can be often generalized to large groups of people or populations


  • The scientific approach adopts a reductionist perspective, it assumes that complex human behaviour can be reduced down to basic, simple component parts. This scientific model of human beings seems to take away some essential aspect of what we can consider people to be about. The humanistic approach believe we should consider the whole person.
  • It is deterministic as it views humans as being like machines. The scientific approach looks for cause and effect in every aspect of human life. As a result it views humans as predictable and controllable.
  • The scientific approach strives for objectivity and control. However, this means that the environment can be artificial and un-natural. This means L.E.V which results in psychologists struggling to apply their findings to real life situations E.G Milgram
  • When adopting a scientific approach, we will suffer from both demand characteristics and researcher bias. This is not a problem in the natural sciences like physics.
  • By adopting a scientific approach we will have problems with ethical issues. In psychology, we have many areas which we cannot actually study due to ethical constraints - consent, deception, stress and protection from harm.


What can we be concluded that if psychology accepts the scientific approach it will have to be aware of the limitations as well as the potential strengths? It should be noted that the scientific approach is currently dominant in modern psychology, whether it will continue to be continue to be dominant is an interesting question.


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