Is Psychology a Science? Essay

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The British Psychological Society states that ‘Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour’ (BPS). In this essay I will be discussing what is actually meant by this and whether psychology fits into both the traditional views of a science, as well as more contemporary perspectives. It is widely suggested that Psychology is a “coalition of specialities” meaning it is multi-disciplinary (Hewstone, Fincham and Foster 2005, page 4). I will therefore examine whether it could be considered wrong to think that all parts of the discipline should neatly fit into one view of a scientific approach. In order to be considered a science, Psychology must consequently adhere to using a scientific method. If this were, as usual,…show more content…
Studies such as the afore mentioned Milgram study showed that what may appear to be the most expected outcome may, in truth, be very different. I would also go on to argue that in actuality all sciences are some adaptation of common sense (Oppenheimer, 1956), leaving Psychology in this way, no different to any of the others. Ben Goldacre even argues that particular forms of science, such as neuroscience, regularly offer empirically incorrect research in reputable journals, claiming statistically significant results without the appropriate statistical tests (Guardian). Furthermore, there are three main aspects which were customarily associated with a science: metaphysical, theoretical and methodological assumptions. Under metaphysical it is believed that to gain scientific status requires the certainty that the subject matter i.e. human thought/ behaviour, is similar to that of other accepted sciences. This could then be true for Psychology, as particularly since Darwin’s suggestion of a continuity between behaviours of humans and other species, behaviour has become more scrutinised. However, this must be assumed in respect of determinism, suggesting predictions could be made. ‘Heisenbergs uncertainty principle’ suggests that when relating evidence of indeterminism within the universe to human behaviour, it proves ambiguous, and with parts of the discipline believing strongly in free will it seems difficult to establish a common ground (Valentine E.R. page 2).

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