Is Psychology a Science

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  • Created on: 13-02-13 22:34
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Researchers should be aiming for very less bias, expectations & prejudice. For a
researcher to be scientific, one should not have expectations of what the
outcome could be.
Popper stated this as he said to a set of students: "observe". After a while, as
nothing happened, the students asked: "observe what". At this moment they
realised Popper had made his point. This shows that we should not exactly wait
for something to happen. This would lack objectivity.
In a theory, the researcher believed that the IQ was genetic, so they took a
group of very high IQ people and a control group of average IQ, in a very
scientific method controlled experiment. So they took blood samples from each
group & it was found that the very high IQ people had a variant of a gene that
the control group didn't. This therefore supports the belief that IQ was inherited
and it was scientific, tightly controlled, objective & reliable. This again suggests
that Psychology can be science. Wallach & Wallach although suggested that it is
impossible to be perfectly objective, said that if you have enough bank of
evidence to support a theory, we can be confident in interpretation of behaviour.
However, Popper argues that observation is always selective and
spre-structured because before an observation can be made, the researcher has
to decide what is to be observed. No-one ever observes without some idea of
what they are looking for, so observations are selective. Psychologists also have
preconceived ideas depending on their theoretical orientation, so what they see
depends to an extent to what they are expected to see, so observations are
interpretative. Furthermore, only some psychologists are willing to restrict their
field of study to objective measurements. Others wish to include feelings and
conscious experience. Moreover, there is the question of whether simply using
the scientific methods turns psychology into a science. Miller suggests that
psychologists who attempt to be scientists are doing no more than `dressing up'
Popper stated that the hallmark of science is that the formulation of ideas can
be proven wrong. A theory objectively tested & proven to be wrong is what
distinguishes science from religion, pseudoscience such as psychoanalysis.
In psychology, many theories have been proven wrong over the years such as
replication of Brady's executive monkey's experiment, which was found a crucial
error. Therefore for Psychology to be considered as science, every idea should
be able to be proven wrong. Psychological research tests the alternative
hypothesis, however we are not seeking to prove it; we are looking to disprove
the null hypothesis.

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In contrast, if a theory is very general and unspecified, then predictions are
vague and multiple and the theory is impossible to falsify. A classic example is
Freud's theory. Take the example of a boy raised by a harsh, rejecting mother
and a weak father. He may, according to the theory, seek dominating women
who will denigrate him because they remind him of his mother, or a warm
comforting wife who can provide the mothering he lacked in infancy.…read more

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As regards to psychology, Kuhn argues that it is still at the pre-science state with
no overall paradigm for two main reasons. First, there are many conflicting
approaches. Second, the subject matter of psychology is so diverse, ranging
from topic areas bordering on sociology, biology and neurology that researchers
in different fields have little in common; therefore it could be classed as a
pre-science.…read more


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