Is Psychology A Science?

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A-Levels Psychology (PY4 - Controversies) Mind Map on Is Psychology A Science?, created by tomrees6 on 05/16/2013.

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tomrees6
Created by tomrees6 over 6 years ago
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Is Psychology A Science?
1 FOR
1.1 SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IS DESIRABLE
1.1.1 We can continuously make assumptions about how corn may reduce the risk of amnesia, or how being a woman may increase intelligence, but there is no way to properly prove these statements without the use of empirically correct, scientific evidence.
1.1.1.1 For this reason, Wilelm Wundt and a group of psychologists aimed to create a scientific psychology in the 19th century, so that Psychological claims could provide proof when it was demanded.
1.1.1.1.1 Wundt aimed to make the study of mental processes more systematic using introspection (the proccess of examining ones own thoughts and feelings). He trained psychology students to make objective observations about their thought processes, and used the results to develop a theory of concious thought.
1.2 PSYCHOLOGY SHARES THE SAME GOALS AS SCIENCE
1.2.1 Psychology is a science in the respect that it shares all the same goals as regular sciences do and uses the scientific method. Psychologists generate models that can be widely falsified by other psychologists through well conducted experimentation, to provide confounding evidence and secure knowledge.
1.2.1.1 HOWEVER
1.2.1.1.1 Just because psychology uses the scientific method, this does not make it entirely scientific. Miller (1983) challenged psychologists use of the scientific method, by stating that psychologists were only "dressing up" by using the tools of science (quantified measurements, statistical analysis etc.), and not actually studying the true essence of science. Miller stated that psychology would be better suited as a pseudoscience, however this is dangerous, as psychologists can claim some things as fact even though they aren't neccessarily true.
1.3 AT LEAST SOME LEVELS OF PSYCHOLOGY ARE SCIENTIFIC
1.3.1 The concept of levels comes from the reductionist approach to psychology (complex phenomena can best be explained in terms of a simpler level of explanation).
1.3.1.1 This point argues that the lower levels of psychology are more scientific, as they focus on basic behavioural and genetic approaches, whereas the higher levels are seen to be less scientifi, with more of a focus on social and psychological explanations of behaviour.
1.3.1.1.1 For example, the lower levels of psychology may explain signing your name as a series of electrical impulses that force your hand to move, however the higher, less scientific levels, may explain signing your name as an agreement on a social level.
1.3.1.1.2 HOWEVER
1.3.1.1.2.1 If the lower levels of psychology are taken in isolation because they are scientific, then other true meanings of certain behaviours may be missed. For example, R.D. Laing's argument against the biological approach to schiziphrenia shows how the higher levels of psychology can often be forgotten. Laing argued that schizophrenia should not only be treated as a series of biological processes gone wrong, but should also take into account home life, and previous experiences.
1.3.1.1.3 LEVELS
1.3.1.1.3.1 PSYCHOLOGICAL
1.3.1.1.3.1.1 SOCIAL
1.3.1.1.3.1.1.1 PSYCHODYNAMIC
1.3.1.1.3.1.1.1.1 COGNITIVE
1.3.1.1.3.1.1.1.1.1 EVOLUTIONARY
1.3.1.1.3.1.1.1.1.1.1 BEHAVIOURIST
1.3.1.1.3.1.1.1.1.1.1.1 GENETIC
1.3.1.1.3.1.1.1.1.1.1.1.1 MOST SCIENTIFIC
1.3.1.1.3.2 LEAST SCIENTIFIC
2 AGAINST
2.1 PSYCHOLOGY HAS NO PARADIGM
2.1.1 Thomas Kuhn (1962) in his book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" stated that psychology has no paradigm (a shared set of assumptions).
2.1.1.1 Hard sciences all have a single paradigm, and unified by this paradigm. For example, biology assumes that every single behaviour is the result of an internal chemical process.
2.1.1.2 Psychology has a number of paradigms, as opposed to only one, and for this reason Kuhn proposed that Psychology is a "pre-science".
2.1.1.2.1 Psychological
2.1.1.2.1.1 Behaviourist
2.1.1.2.1.1.1 Cognitive
2.1.1.2.2 Biological
2.1.1.2.2.1 Evolutionary
2.1.1.2.2.1.1 Psychodynamic
2.1.1.2.3 For this reason, Psychology may be considered dangerous as a science, as it can make assumptions about behaviour using one paradigm, while ignoring all other paradigms.
2.1.1.2.3.1 HOWEVER
2.1.1.2.3.1.1 It may be that psychology is yet to identify it's paradigm and that it is truly a pre-science, and even though psychology may only be a pre-science, this should not detract from it's use of the scientific method.
2.1.1.2.4 MORE ON THOMAS KUHN
2.1.1.2.4.1 Thomas Kuhn's ideas on the revolutions of scientific paradigms created a whole new insight into how sciences work. Kuhn proposed that all times there is a "pre-science" and a "normal science".
2.1.1.2.4.1.1 "Normal Sciences" hold the opinions that are most widely accepted by the scientific community, and aim to disprove theories put forward by "pre-sciences".
2.1.1.2.4.1.1.1
2.1.1.2.4.1.2 "Pre-Sciences" hold opinions that are unpopular and controversial, and aim to put forward theories that may expand or revolutionise the ideas put forward by "Normal Sciences".
2.1.1.2.4.1.2.1 Once a "Normal Science" fails to disprove a theory put forward by a "Pre-Science" a paradigm shift occurs and the "Pre-Science" becomes the "Normal Science".
2.2 LACKS OBJECTIVITY AND CONTROL
2.2.1 Some psychologists argue that human behaviour can be measured as easily as the measurement of physical objects, but is this entirely true? In most cases we see the manipulation of human behaviour so it can become measurable, which leads to several validity issues such as investigator effects and demand characteristics.
2.2.1.1 HOWEVER
2.2.1.1.1 Heisenberg (1927) argued that even hard sciences have to manipulate aspects of experimentation for them to be truly measurable. He stated that even a sub-atomic particle had to be manipulated in order for it to be measured.
2.3 ARE THE GOALS OF SCIENCE APPROPRIATE FOR PSYCHOLOGY?
2.3.1 Maybe the objectivity and control presented in the scientific method are not entirely appropriate for psychology. For example, the psychologist R.D. Laing in his talks about schizophrenia discusses the effectiveness of the scientific method, as in most cases behavioural and environmental attributions are ignored.
2.3.1.1 As well as this, science often aims to generalise to the general population, so that treatments can become widespread and effectiveness can be improved, but as is shown in psychology, through the study of case studies and the individuality of mental illness, all patients are individually different. This case was again argued by R.D. Laing, to take a more idiographic approach to the treatment of schizophrenia.
2.3.1.1.1 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
2.3.1.1.1.1 Some Psychologists advocate the use of qualitative research methods, as they are more humanly significant than statistically significant quantitative methods. These methods however are still scientific, in that the results from various qualitative experiments can be compared against eachother in rich detail to provide systematic, valid observations. This is called triangulation.
3 WHAT IS SCIENCE?
3.1 Science is defined as "a branch of knowledge on objective principles involving the systemised observation of and experiments with phenomena".
3.1.1 Science aims to gain knowledge by being objective and systematic in it's experimentation, to discover information that can help predict and control the natural world.

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