Why Psychology is a Science?


People have been debating this since psychology started back in the 1800s. Psychology research can be tricky because brains are complicated. So, people might think psychology doesn’t count as science because the study of the human mind is missing the tightly controlled experimental conditions and conclusive results that you will find in other fields like chemistry or physics. But it is still a science. It does not have a standard definition that everyone agrees on.

Psychology is the study of the human mind and behavior.


There are a lot of different ways to study the mind and behavior. Any good psychologist can demonstrate that their research follows the scientific method just like physics or chemistry.

After observing patterns in human behaviors, psychologists usually develop a specific testable hypothesis about why that behavior happens. They might create a scenario and see if it leads to specific behavior or pattern or not.


If they want to find the relationship between variables that a certain event and behavior are linked to; they will conduct a field experiment, where they carefully observe subjects in normal and uncontrolled circumstances.


If they want to know whether or not a certain event triggers behavior; they will create highly controlled laboratory experiments. Next, they will statistics to analyze the relationship within those data. To make sure the findings are reliable, the experiments are often repeated under the same conditions. Does not it sound like science??

What type of science is psychology?

Modern sciences are categorized into three major branches:

  1. Natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics)
  2. Social sciences (psychology, sociology, history, economics)
  3. Formal sciences (mathematics, logic, computer science)

Psychology is a collection of various studies that qualifies it as a science.

Other behavioral or social sciences (sociology, economics, anthropology, political science) and psychology are not as accurate in their quantities as biology, chemistry, or physics, but to the degree that psychologists use empirical evidence, their findings may be stated as scientific.

Arguments on psychology are not science:

  1. People who don’t believe psychology is a science usually say that psychology is not rigorous enough and that data is often inconclusive or can be interpreted in many ways.
  2. They also say that definitions in psychology are too abstract to be accurately tested. For example, everyone defines happiness differently depending on their circumstances, culture, and experience. So how can researchers objectively define it? How can you quantify something abstract as happiness?
  3. Another argument results in psychology can’t be reliably produced because people change every day.

Psychologists count on those things. Even though you can’t directly measure abstract concepts like happiness or anger; they operationalize them. They create, validate and test a functional definition that serves as a good substitute for something abstract.

So, in the example of happiness, psychologists might study it by tracking how often a person smiles or laughs. They could have people rate their happiness on a scale from 0-10 or track the number of endorphins (Pleasure Harmons) in their system.

All of these are useful for different reasons and provide valuable and valid data.

A lot of arguments miss the whole point of view of the psychology field; psychology is not looking to capture a universal human experience, because that does not exist. Humans are messy. You are influenced by so many things, from culture to circumstances and even the books you read as a kid.


At the end of the day psychology is a science just like biology or chemistry. But there is plenty of pseudosciences’s out there that make claims about psychology that are false. And it can be hard to separate fact from fiction.

Pseudo-psychology is a deceptive, non-scientific theory about human behavior. Astrology (predicting a person’s behavior or personality based on the planetary body’s position) is usually viewed as a pseudo-science because of its origin in ancient Babylonian religion. But not in modern astronomy science, which wisely measures and calculates the position of the planets. If somebody were to gather enough data as a shred of evidence that astrology could steadily and systematically predict behavior or character, then astrology would become a genuine science.

Role of Common Sense:

Common sense, by itself, is not suitable for science. Common sense denotes generally accepted ideas about human behavior, but many of these have not been exposed to the kind of systematic investigation that formal science demands. It tends to limit its catalog to self-reflection and over-emotionalized, isolated examples (case studies), some of which might even be contradictory. Common sense may be an initial point for some of our hypotheses about human nature, but we cannot stop there: we must go headlong and systematically gather data to test those hypotheses. So, common sense should not be used in this course.

Challenges of psychology:

Understanding and struggling to improve the costs of psychological disorders such as depression is not easy, because psychological understandings are extremely complex. The questions psychologists pose are as difficult as those posed by doctors, chemists, biologists, physicists, and other scientists.

A key goal of psychology is to predict behavior by understanding its causes. Making estimates is hard in part because people vary and respond differently in different situations.  For example, although many people experience at least some symptoms of depression at some time in their lives, the experience differs vividly among people. Some people experience major negative events, such as the loss of significant others or severe physical injuries, without experiencing much depression, whereas other people experience severe depression for no apparent cause. Other important individual differences include differences in extraversion, intelligence, self-esteem, anxiety, aggression, and conformity.


Psychology is a combination of various studies and considers a social science. There are many misconceptions or arguments about psychology is not science so it is difficult to separate fact from friction. There are many challenges in studying psychology but the key goal of psychology is to explain, predict and change human behavior. Humans are fascinating, strange, and surprising and we want to explore the science behind how we think and behave. But we will be debunking some misconceptions along the way.

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