This essay is titled "Is Psychology a Science?" and analyses the subject from the root to what it has become today.

Essay by cenzo_vwUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, April 2002

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Psychology has existed for a long time, yet its history of being a science is relatively short. It originates in the study of philosophy, and people have had to deal with psychological questions for a long time. Yet it was only recognised as a science in 1979 when Wilhelm Wundt established the first laboratory for the scientific study of psychology, in Leipzig, Germany.

Wundt described psychology as a science by giving the following comparison: "Once you have found the basic building blocks of which the world is made, you have the science of chemistry and physics. Once you have found the building blocks of the conscious experience and the laws that bind them together, you have the science of conscious experience." His theory was called Structuralism.

J.B.Watson disproved Wundt's theory however. He claimed that the science of psychology must be based on public observable events and the conscious experience was private, hence useless.

Watson's method was the following: individuals or a group should be exposed to physical events (stimuli) and the reaction can be observed. This was a complete science of behaviour that could be constructed without reference to the conscious experience. Watson's specific behaviourist theory could be seen as one of the building blocks for psychology.

Later came another psychologist called Tolman, who viewed things more broadly. He believed that it was necessary to postulate mental processes to explain learnt behaviour. There was much disagreement between Watson and Tolman although Tolman's theory could recognised as a harbinger of modern psychology.

There were of course other important psychologists, but the subject of this essay is not the complete history of psychology but whether it is a science or not!


It is perhaps wiser to give a definition of...