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To understand why psychology is a science we must first look at what science is. Science is observing natural events, then using those observations to develop laws and principles based on the results that’s occur.
People have debated whether or not psychology should be classed as a science ever since it began in the 1800’s. In 1879 a man by the name of Wilhelm Wundt created the world’s first experimental psychology lab at the University of Leipzig in Germany. Wilhelm Wundt, who noted psychology as a science, was important because he separated psychology from philosophy by studying the workings of the mind in a more structured way, with more focus being on objective measurement and control. This is known as the empirical method, which uses “verifiable” evidence by observing a subject in a controlled, replicable situation.
Psychology today is classed as a science as it follows a scientific method just like biology or chemistry. After studying patterns in human behaviour, psychologist will develop a specific testable prediction/theory on why that behaviour happens, or even conduct scenarios to see if it leads to a change in behaviour. The Psychologist will then use the statistics from the study to gather data which is then analysed. Experiments are often then repeated to ensure that the findings are reliable.
People who often argue that psychology is not a science have done so because they believe that data can often be inconclusive, or may be able to be interpreted in various ways depending on a situation. People may even debate that psychology is too abstract to be tested specifically. Such as how can a person define “happiness” as it can be interpreted differently depending on various factors of a person’s life. E.g. Culture, Circumstances, or even what the weather is like outside can affect a person’s mood or definition of happiness. This can also vary from day to day and is often debated as not being reliable as this means a specific test cannot be reproduced.
But even though you can’t directly measure abstract concepts like “sadness”, “happiness” or “anger” a psychologist still accounts for this and understands there is no universal theory/conclusion to everyone’s behaviour and it may vary from person to person. What they will do is create a test to validate a theory to serve as a good definition for something so abstracts as a person’s mind.
Studies for this can vary, such as how often a person smiles or laughs, asking a person to rate their own happiness on a scale from 1 to 10 or even tracking the endorphins in their system. A psychologist will then question why data varies from person to person and will try to match it to an event and or circumstance.
In short, psychology uses an evidence based approach to understanding human behaviour. Testing theories and predictions by observing behavioural events in controlled and structured way to match them to certain theories. This is why it is classed as a science in my opinion.
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