Is the psychology a science? This question opens up a debate that informs us about what we don’t really know about psychology. There are many myths about psychology and the profession of psychology, and a recurring theme in these clichés is whether or not this discipline can be considered a science.
Many people claim that psychology is not a science based on misconceptions about what a science really is. It is common in our society to believe in the arguments of a doctor or a chemist, because we regard their knowledge as specific and we do not have it; however, knowledge of psychology is sometimes boring for many people. Because?
Because maybe they don’t want their own mental and emotional processes to be partially explained, but they prefer to keep the mystery of the human nature. Psychology is not about uncovering this mystery. simply it is a science that seeks to increase our knowledge of ourselves. To find out whether psychology is really a science or not and to explain why, we have to start with a simple question. What is a science?
What is a science?
For a field of knowledge to be a science, it must respond to two fundamental factors:
To be considered a science, it is essential that there is one clear epistemology. In other words, we clearly know in which area we want to increase our knowledge.
2. Scientific method
Another necessary condition for a discipline of knowledge to be considered a science is that it adheres to the scientific method. This is where people who don’t understand psychology get it wrong. These people do not really know the complexity of the scientific method, its advances, its nature and its variety. We must remember that a science is not an attempt to know the truth or to solve all the mysteries of nature and life, but simply a means (a method) to increase our knowledge. Science asks questions, and for each question it answers, new questions are launched, until for the original question we find another more appropriate answer, and so on and on and on.
This is the case with physics (concepts are constantly changing. For example: although today we continue to study the laws of Isaac newton, We have known for a long time that they are not entirely true, since Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity was able to question them correctly), with chemistry, with any natural or social science (it is more correct to speak of “natural sciences” rather than “pure sciences”, since there are no sciences truly purer than others). Physics reflects on the famous Chaos theory: Supposedly, physics can predict that if you throw a billiard ball with a certain force and a certain orientation, it will hit a certain target. But not all predictions always come true. Because? Because there are multiple variables not studied, like the millimeter thickness of the carpet, which causes the ball to gradually deviate from its intended trajectory until it enters a succession of unexpected events.
Finally, the ball ends up somewhere else. Does this mean that physics is not a science? No, it just means that there is no exact science because the sciences do not seek accuracy but increase our knowledge. The only exact tool is math. A tool which, moreover, is used successfully in psychology.
What is psychology? Is it a science?
Psychology is the science that studies human behavior and its cognitive processes and therefore has a clear epistemology. However: Does psychology follow the scientific method?
Experimental psychology follows the scientific method as much as physics or chemistry. Other disciplines, like medicine, are not really sciences but disciplines, although they rely on scientific research to support their decisions. Psychology works the same way: it is a science which sometimes acts like a science according to a scientific method of research, And at other times, apply this knowledge in the best possible way to support people and companies in the processes of change. In these applications, results are observed and changes and reflection are valued.
This is what any science would do. Remember that science first of all has a humble attitude, of reflection, of questions, of questioning, of openness … at no time does a science believe or aspire to have absolute truth.
What is the scientific methodology used by psychology?
Since human beings are very complex and constantly evolving and evolving, their study becomes very complex. This is why psychology has a great methodological diversity for studying human beings. Psychology it essentially uses the hypothetico-deductive method, like any science. Sometimes, due to the nature of his research, he uses quantitative methodologies (where he uses statistical tools), and at other times, he uses qualitative methodologies (interview, focus groups, etc.). The second case, in fact, can be much more complex than the first.
It is not the function of the researcher or the psychologist to draw conclusions about reality, but know how to extract facts that can be compared and refuted through human experiences. Professionals of qualitative methodologies are still in demand in many universities around the world, as their great depth, nature and complexity are largely unknown to the scientific world. Perhaps because of this ignorance many people are confused and consider psychology not to be a science.
Work and research on cognitive processes, memory, perception, thought and its heuristics, emotions and their management, biophysiological bases, social structures and their impact on our behaviors, inter and intrapersonal relationships, as well as the group, beliefs and attitudes, are complex and psychologists do so with great scientific rigor.
When the results are poor, first of all, it is because of the partial interests of the companies or organizations which fund certain research. There are mistakes in psychology, of course, And many psychologists who work with little scientific rigor and quite irresponsibility … but as in all sciences. It does not turn psychology into what it is not. Psychology is first and foremost a science, the science that has perhaps the most complex goal of all: understand us.