The "Is psychology a science" debate

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mrsuperguy
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#1
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I was thinking about this question and I realised that psychology is comprised of so many different fields and theories that to ask if it, as a whole is a science is sort of a question with no actual answer because in my view it as a whole doesn't actually have the property of being or not being a science. This is further exemplified by the fact that some of the fields including the psychodynamic and humanistic approaches aren't scientific yet are considered fields of psychology which is contrasted with the behaviourist, cognitive and biological approaches which are also fields of psychology and are scientific.
I'd be interested to know your opinions.
Also, as a side not: Is there are term for a question with no answer that I could use in future debates?
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anacatriona
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(Original post by mrsuperguy)
I was thinking about this question and I realised that psychology is comprised of so many different fields and theories that to ask if it, as a whole is a science is sort of a question with no actual answer because in my view it as a whole doesn't actually have the property of being or not being a science. This is further exemplified by the fact that some of the fields including the psychodynamic and humanistic approaches aren't scientific yet are considered fields of psychology which is contrasted with the behaviourist, cognitive and biological approaches which are also fields of psychology and are scientific.
I'd be interested to know your opinions.
Also, as a side not: Is there are term for a question with no answer that I could use in future debates?
the real question is: what is science? I think its testing a theory through experimentation to determine if it is true or at least happens most times.

and since psychology is about testing theories with experiments, it is a science
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username1738683
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I'd say yes, it is the science that studies what makes people do and say what they do.
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_gcx
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In most cases psychology is defined as the science of the mind.
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mrsuperguy
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(Original post by anacatriona)
the real question is: what is science? I think its testing a theory through experimentation to determine if it is true or at least happens most times.

and since psychology is about testing theories with experiments, it is a science
that's all well and good, except for that fact that your reply completely and utterly ignores everything i said. for example, the psychodynamic and humanistic approaches aren't scientific (i'm assuming you agree here with me but if not then lets discuss why that is) and are also considered part of psychology. If this is the case, then how can psychology overall be considered scientific?
And vice versa? How can it overall be considered un-scientific if parts of it include the behaviourist, biological & cognitive approaches?
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LauraBMS
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I think there are definitely scientific elements of psychology, but where I have an issue with it being labelled as a "real" or hard science like biology, chemistry or physics is that for the most part there seems to be no clear accepted body of knowledge that is proven to be true. There's a lot of theories that fall in and out of favour, but very little in the way of proven facts. I also think that this approach is quite dangerous for patients as people are treated based on current theories which are unproven and vary wildly, which can actually cause more harm than good.

These few chapters explain my feelings on the issue a lot better than anything I could write


The reason many are rightfully skeptical about its status is found in the body of scientific knowledge—psychology has failed to produce a cumulative body of knowledge that has a clear conceptual core that is consensually agreed upon by mainstream psychological experts. The great scholar of the field, Paul Meehl, captured this perfectly when he proclaimed that the sad fact that in psychology:

theories rise and decline, come and go, more as a function of baffled boredom than anything else; and the enterprise shows a disturbing absence of that cumulative character that is so impressive in disciplines like astronomy, molecular biology and genetics.

Another great scholar of the field, Kenneth Gergen, likened acquiring psychological knowledge to building castles in the sand; the information gained from our methods might be impressive, but it is temporary, contextual, and socially dependent, and will be washed away when new cultural tides come in. Even mainstream icons, like Daniel Gilbert, readily acknowledge the cumulative knowledge problem. In this clip, he comments that one of psychology's big problems is that new paradigms simply “throw the babies out with the bathwater” and he wonders whether psychology as we know it will even be around in 10 or 15 years.

In technical terms, I am claiming that the core problem with the field is that it is “pre-paradigmatic”, which means that psychology completely lacks agreement from the experts about what it is and what it is about, what its foundational theories or even frameworks are, what its key findings are, and how it fits with the rest of the body of scientific knowledge. The fact that psychology has been around now for almost a 150 years and remains pre-paradigmatic is undeniably a very serious threat to the field's status as a real science.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog...science-debate
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