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Category: Book Report

Subcategory: Psychology

Level: Academic

Pages: 3

Words: 825

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CRITICALLY COMPARE PSYCHOLOGY AS A SCIENCE AND NON-SCIENCE Any scientific discipline is backed up by adequate data and its analysis leads to a desired end-point. Hence, methodologies deployed in research are very important and accurate in portraying or analysing an issue in science. Such methodologies and its subsequent results provide a roadmap for the scientist to implement or plan strategies. For example, when an individual is suffering from an infection, he or she is asked to take a culture sensitivity test. This test helps in identifying the likely pathogen of the disease. Based on the pathogen he or she is prescribed an antibiotic, which leads to positive health outcomes. Therefore, medical science is a “science” as cause and effect relations are often objectified through appropriate methodology. On the other hand Psychology deploys subjective analysis and the methodology may not always signify such cause and effect relations (Gazzaniga, 2010).
For example, illusory correlation is one such methodology. Correlation is a process of relating two events in time and space. In illusory correlation, a relationship is speculated without any actual or scientific basis of such correlation and in most instances such correlations do not hold to be true. A person who is suffering from a loss of mood is often classified as a depressive state. However, such extrapolations are not always correct because psychology deals with methodology which deals with subjective data (Hamilton & Gifford, 1976).
The field of psychology mainly evaluates qualitative data. Qualitative data incorporates subjective feelings which are the reason for their inaccuracies and variations. Quantitative analysis in psychology is rare, until otherwise stated. Quantitative analysis when used in psychology is based on assigning certain quantitative values for the ease of regression or correlation statistics. However, it can never estimate the extent of an ailment. For example, it is impossible to portray the “concentration” or “volume” of depression in a person. At the most the individual may be classified as suffering from grades of depression and assigned some numerical value. The methodology applied in psychology is a case study approach. In this approach an individual is studied in great depth through interview and history. However, the individual who is assessed may provide misleading or biased information. This may lead to incorrect assessment. If psychology is a science then data cannot be misleading. Self reported behaviours and judgements are all subjective expressions and the reliability of such methodology is very less (Lakatos, 1978).
While performing experimentation in Psychology it is difficult to prevent variations in the subjective assessments. The cultural and socio-political context has great influence on the subjective assessments and therefore psychological data is not always reliable. In a conservative family, an individual cannot express his or her true feelings and may provide a false data (Rowan, 2001). On the other hand, in the socio-political context, an individual may not express himself or herself due to the fear of retaliation. Hence, the researcher is handicapped with exploration and finding the actual data. Therefore, psychological data is influenced by internal and external environment of an individual and thus suffers from wide variations (Crawford & Unger, 2004).
Stereotypes and prejudices are commonly deployed in psychological analysis. A person may be considered an introvert or extrovert, as reflected from his behaviour or from the community he or she belongs. This is not true and hence, framing of such stereotypes is based on prejudices. The perception framed by individuals working in the field of psychology often becomes exaggerated and wider. Such situations arise as the “researcher” is unable to arrive at appropriate conclusions from the reliability of a subjective data. Thus stereotypes influences prejudices and is often misleading for the scientist. This is because the researcher or scientist tries to justify ill-founded prejudices or ignorance and unwillingness of analyzing a stereotyped group beyond their boundaries. All such issues impair true judgement (Hilton & von Wippel, 1996).
Psychology may be considered as a Pre-science and not as a non-science. This philosophy is encouraged by Kuhn’s (1998) cycle. It is true that a specialty may remain in a pre-science stage when we cannot reveal the cause and justification of its events. However, once such events can be extrapolated with reasoning and reliability, such prescience will ultimately lead to science. Once such specialty enters into the category of science it will lead to the scientific cycle of model prediction, model drift, and paradigm change and model crisis. This will lead to a formulation of new scientific theory.
Psychology often draws upon the hypothesis of falsifiability (Popper, 1978). This indicates if a hypothesis is rejected even based on one observation, such hypothesis may not hold true and can be subjected to variability. For example, it is easy to portray the attributes of a psychological condition universally. It is speculated that a person suffering from depression will have a low mood. However, if that individual expresses an elevated mood, then such hypothesis of framing the symptoms of depression like “low mood” is falsified.
However, psychologists will always want the discipline to see as science, because they believe that subjective feelings or emotions are driven by physiological processes involving the brain and its cognitive attributes (Hergenhan, 2005). Since, the origin of psychological traits are objective ( for example, decreased release of serotonin leads to depressed mood), Psychology will always be a prescience and science and not as non-science (Gelder, Mayou & Geddes, 2005).
Crawford, M. & Unger, R. (2004). Women and Gender: A Feminist Psychology. McGraw Hill New York. New York, 45-49
Gazzaniga, Michael (2010). Psychological Science. New York: W.W. Norton & Company,.23
Gelder, Mayou & Geddes (2005). Psychiatry. New York, NY: Oxford University Press Inc.
Hamilton, David L. & Gifford, Robert K. (1976). “Illusory correlation in interpersonal perception: A cognitive basis of stereotypic judgments”. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 12 (4), 392–407
Hilton, James L.; & von Hippel, William (1996). “Stereotypes”. Annual Review of Psychology 47 (1), 237–271
Hergenhahn, B.R. (2005). An introduction to the history of psychology. Belmont, CA, USA: Thomson Wadsworth, 523–32
Kuhn, T. (1998) .”Prescience”. Environmental Encyclopedia (2), 1054.
Lakatos, Imre (1978). The methodology of scientific research programmes: Philosophical Papers Volume I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
 Popper, K (1978). “Natural selection and the emergence of mind”.Dialectica (32),339–355
Rowan, John. (2001). Ordinary Ecstasy: The Dialectics of Humanistic Psychology. London, UK: Brunner-Routledge

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