Differences between psychology and anthropology

Psychology and anthropology are two bits of knowledge and research that can often be confused. Both place great importance on the study of the human being, but they do so in different ways.

But … Where exactly are these differences between psychology and anthropology? Are they relevant enough to keep these two disciplines in separate categories? Certainly, if the two have different names and are represented by different university degrees, it is for something. Let’s see at what points each of them is characterized.

  • Related article: “Differences between psychology and philosophy”

Main differences between anthropology and psychology

These are the basic points from which psychology and anthropology distance themselves. Some of them hint at this these two disciplines overlap in some casesAnd the truth is that in practice it is impossible to isolate what each is studying from the whole. However, the two retain their identity precisely because this overlap is not total, let alone.

1. Psychology is less social based

Psychology is a very broad science, and not everything it covers has to do with the social dimension of the human being. For example, basic psychology or biopsychology focuses only on the study of the individual, and if they take into account anything other than that, there are a few very limited variables.

Anthropology, on the other hand, always studies the human being as a product of the society in which he lives. That is to say, he studies the way in which different cultures (and their relation to biology, in the case of biological anthropology) are expressed through the variety of behaviors inherent in human beings.

    2. The temporal orientation of the research

    Anthropology always starts from a historical perspective. He tries to understand how certain patterns of behavior and certain forms of expression have emerged, taking into account how generations take over from previous ones.

    Thus, anthropologists almost always formulate their themes to be studied and the hypotheses that answer these questions. analyze large periods of time. This allows us to better understand those cultural or ethnic characteristics that resist the passage of time.

    Psychology, on the other hand, part of the scan for long periods of time much less frequently. This means that some of his findings are meant to be timeless. In fact, much of the research on which their advances are based is based on the here and now of when to measure.

    3. The demand for universality

    As we saw in the previous point, much of psychology seeks timeless discoveries. This gives us clues to another of the differences between psychology and anthropology: the first does not always take into account the effect of culture and focuses on the biological and genetics, while the second, if it can take into account the physical differences between collectives, emphasizes the transmission of collectively constructed habits, symbols and customs, born out of constant interaction with the environment.

    In other words, anthropology studies the human being in relation to the historical and cultural contingencies in which he lives, while psychology does not have to do this and can also choose to analyze what all human beings have in common in their most basic actions, Beyond interpretations.

    4. They use different methods

    Psychology makes extensive use of the experimental method, which consists of generating a phenomenon (in this case, psychological) under the careful observation of researchers, taking a detailed and objective record of the facts and comparing these data with those obtained with other people in whom this phenomenon has not been generated.

    It also uses correlation studies, in which they collect various data provided by a large number of individuals to analyze these results and see how the variables interact, what patterns of behavior appear, etc. For example, this method would allow us to see whether depressed people tend to think about suicide more than others or not.

    These two methodologies are based on the creation of a highly defined and “rigid” system of variables which is “filled” by the information captured. These are forms of quantitative studies.

    Anthropology can also use this type of quantitative techniques, however rather it is defined by qualitative methods, Those which do not generate rigid patterns before starting to investigate but adapt in real time to what is observed on the object of study.

    For example, when an anthropologist goes to live with a tribe in the Amazon rainforest to take notes on what he sees already interviewing clan members without following a clear and very structured script, use qualitative methods.

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