Is Psychology a Social Science or a Natural Science?

Watch this thread
This discussion is closed.
Anonymous #1
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
Social science is the scientific study​ of human society and social relationships. Whereas natural science deals with the physical world. By these definitions then psychology would fall under the category of a natural science.

The formal beginnings of Psychology as a discipline date back to when Wilhelm Wundt started a dedicated laboratory for the study of psychology in Leipzig, Germany in 1879.

Laboratories are mostly linked to natural sciences like Physics or Biology. Psychology studies mental processes, experiences and human behavior via the scientific method through experimentation, hypothesis testing, and observation. Psychology encompasses fields such as memory, cognitive processes, attention and perception, language acquisition, linguistics, human development, autism, mental illness. These examples all deal with the physical world.

Research psychologists are using scientific methods right from data collection to interpretation and are using objectivity in their researchrather than subjective interpretation of data or formulation of theories; which are key characteristics of natural science.

However, it cannot be denied that a decent amount of psychological research also involves impacts socio-cultural and physical settings where some amount of subjectivity exists.

What do you think? Is it a natural science or a social science? Or perhaps a bit of both. It could be the case that some areas of psychology are more of a natural science whereas others are more of a social science.
Badges: 3
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
Report 2 years ago
The study of psychology is multidimensional, as such some parts of it do, in my opinion, fall into the category of the natural sciences, especially when studying the brain. However, as human cognitive processes are not directly observable we can only indirectly study them. This layer of abstraction induces subjectivity especially when research is heavily based on self-reported information. The experimental method is only one of the ways that psychology is studied. Significant and insightful information is derived from qualitative instead of quantitative methods in psychology, for ex - psychoanalysis. Therefore psychology cannot be completely termed a natural science as it lacks the objective rigour that other natural sciences have, which is not to say that psychology does not merit people's attention.
Lord Asriel
Badges: 11
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
Report 2 years ago
Depends on what part of psychology you are looking at. It's a really broad spectrum.

The more experimental and empirical end such as cognitive neuro would be at the Natural Sciences end. Social Psychology and critical psychology would be more at the social science, possibly even humanities level.
new posts
to top

How confident are you that you'll achieve the grades you need to get into your firm uni?

I think I've exceeded the grades for my university offer (22)
I think I've met the grades for my university offer (31)
I think I've missed the grades for my university offer (68)
Something else (tell us in the thread) (5)

Watched Threads

View All