Discuss the Status of Psychology as a Science

  • Created by: Flo
  • Created on: 17-06-12 13:19


A branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles to gain knowledge by objective and systematic methods. For example, Milgram tested obedience objectively using volts.

Is Psychology a Science?

To answer is psychology is a science we must first determine what a science is.

  • A science is considered something that is able to determine fact.
    • However, can facts ever be really established? Karl Popper argues that science can only be probabilistic, not deterministic. For example, the sun is not guaranteed to rise in the morning; it only has a very high probability that it will do so. This means that even a science, such as biology, can find multiple pieces of evidence in support of a theory, it can only increasing in probability that it is corrects. For example, Milgram's study of obedience has been replicated many times and although the replicated results are very similar, it is cannot be considered fact that people are obedient to authoritarian figures. It can only be assumed that there is a very high probability that it will be the case.
  • Secondly a subject is considered scientific if it uses the scientific method.
    • The scientific method involves the formation of an idea, creation of a aim, development of a testable statement (hypothesis), creating an experiment and using the results to improve the hypothesis.
  • Next does Psychology do this?
    • Gibson & Walk's study of depth perception involved the scientific method (by using controlled conditions) to establish a re-testable and reliable outcome. This suggests that psychology can be scientific and can have testable outcomes. However, studies like Gibson & Walk are performed under very artificial settings and so cannot be genralised to real life situations. This means that it is not objective, but it has provided a model


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