Discuss the state of psychology as a science


What is Science?

  • Branch of knowledge

  • Objective

  • Systematic observation and experimentation with phenomena

  • ‘psychology is the science of behaviour and the mind’

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Psychology is a Science

  • Scientific research is desirable

    • Does ECT cure depression? We can test this

    • Demanding proof makes psychology more respected

  • Shares the goals of all sciences

    • Can be falsified – Popper

    • However Miller (1983) pseudoscience status is held by psychology, claiming absolute fact, therefore the essence of science is eluded

  • Some levels of psychology are scientific

    • Reductionist approaches

      • This is generally frowned upon by psychology as reductionism doesn’t truly make useful conclusions about behaviour

    • Genetic basis

      • Meaning of behaviours is overlooked and understanding is lost

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Psychology isnt a Science

  • Psychology has no paradigm

    • Kuhn (1962) normal science and paradigmatic shifts

    • Psychology is pre science

    • Psychology would need a paradigm to claim absolute truth

    • It is possible psychology will find a paradigm

  • lacks objectivity/ control

    • can behaviour really be measured?

    • Biases exist in every realm of psychology, overall with poor validity

    • All sciences are subject to biases e.g. the uncertainty principle in physics 

  • The goals of science aren’t appropriate for psychology

    • Laing (1965) schizophrenia is largely misunderstood due to reductionism

    • Idiographic studies may be more useful

    • Science isn’t always useful in treating mental illness

    • Qualitative research may be better

    • We should use triangulation

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History of Psychology

  • 400bc – Hippocrates – black bile can lead to depression

  • 1879 – Wundt – opens the first psychology laboratory

  • 1913 – Watson – develops behaviourism

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