Is Psychology a Science?

Essay by gtspencerUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, June 2006

download word file, 7 pages 3.4

Is Psychology a science? In order to answer this question it is important to understand the definitions of both psychology and science. The word 'psychology' comes from the Greek 'psyche' (or soul) and 'logos' (or study), which came to be known as the 'study of the soul'. The American Heritage Dictionary defines psychology as:

1. the science dealing with the mind and with mental and emotional


2. the science of human and animal behavior.

In its pure definition the dictionary has provided us with a clue to the answer, it describes science as:

1. systematized knowledge derived from observation, study, etc.

2. a branch of knowledge, esp. one that systematizes facts, principles, and methods

3. skill or technique

In order to prove this claim we have to look at whether or not psychology can fill this definition above.

Scientific study is a valid way of coming to an understanding of life, and can be very useful in every area of life.

Science develops theories based on what is observed. It examines each theory with rigorous and scrupulous tests to see if it describes reality. The scientific method works well in observing and recording physical data and in reaching conclusions which either confirm or nullify a theory.

During the mid-19th century, scholars (although at that time probably termed philosophers) wanted to study human nature with the aim of applying the scientific method to observe, record, and treat human behavior that was deemed as unnatural. They believed that if people could be studied in a scientific manner, there would be a greater accuracy in understanding present behavior, in predicting future behavior, and, most controversially, in altering behavior through scientific intervention.

There are many areas of psychology, each attempting to explain behavior from slightly different perspectives;

1. Social psychology is concerned with...