Psychology as a science and scope of psychology

Presented by: SAMEEN FAKHAR QURESHI 09-4680 3/15/2010


Whether or not and to what degree psychology can be ought to be a science is more than a trivial academic disputation. In psychology the connection between authority and scientifically based expertise is especially close. Psychologists are everywhere exerting considerable influence on modern life. Their claim to authority rests upon the claim that psychology is no simply can be or ought to be but is science. John Stuart miller (1806-1873) was one of the most thoughtful and forceful advocates of the scientific psychology in the 19th century, and he carefully considered the possibility that psychology might never achieve the same degree of sophistication and precision as physics. The number of forces that affect the subject matter are at most four (gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces), while the number of human motives is large and unknown. The basic particles that make up all physical objects number somewhat more than a dozen and have the same character throughout the universe, while no two humans are alike and we are affected by historical and cultural context that have no parallel in nature. Physical things do not know that we are studying them while human behavior might change in case they know they are being observed. More over the very existence of a discipline of psychology may alter human behavior. As we learn the causes and mechanism of human reaction and action, we can reflect on them, perhaps weakening the hold they have on us. Electrons and sofas can’t read physics texts and decide on whether to cooperate on the laws of nature. Such considerations suggest at least that psychology is much more complex science than physics, perhaps so complex that no


amount of research, statistics or sophisticated theorizing can take it to the same stage of scientific perfection as physics.

Mill thought that taking psychology as a science, people could be studied scientifically, and that study might bear useful fruit. Psychologists use scientific observation and research methods (a systematic process for answering questions) to answer questions about behavior. They use the same methodology of changing variables; dependant and independent, as for carrying out scientific experiments. Critical thinking is also a tool in finding out answers to the questions that are left unanswered that is the ability to think, evaluate, compare, analyze, critique and synthesize information. Substantiating the same argument, the largest branch of psychology is clinical psychology, concerned with diagnosis and treatment of mental and behavioral disorders, is taught in university; the clinical psychologist is trained as scientists first and healers second, granting them PhD. degree.

Applied psychology refers to the use of psychological principles and research methods to solve practical problems. The largest applied areas are clinical and counseling psychology, but there are many others. In fields as diverse as business, education, sports, law and the environment, psychology is being applied to our lives. • Industrial –organizational psychology: They study the behavior of people at work. Very likely their efforts will affect how you will be selected for a job, tested,


trained or evaluated for promotion. They are employed by the government, industry and businesses for: I. Testing and placement. II. Human relations at work.

This is done by job analysis; a detailed description of the nature of the job. Interviews are conducted to have an idea of the personality of the candidate and to check how capable he is. They often conduct aptitude test to rate a person’s potential to learn tasks or skills used in various occupations. • Management psychology: This involves the strategies that the management takes in order to keep the workforce motivated. Fredrick Taylor’s theory, scientific management uses time and motion studies, task analysis, job specialization ,assembly lines, pay schedules, and , and the like to increase productivity. Psychological efficiency refers to maintaining good morale, labor relations, employee satisfaction, and similar aspects of work behavior. This is done by participative management, involving all levels of employees directly in the decisions taken by the firm. Management by objectives is assigning goals to the employees to analyze their performance. • Environmental psychology: It’s the study of the impact of environment (physical and social) on the human behavior. Psychologists have found that a variety of environmental factors influence the amount of vandalism that occurs in public places. On the basis of research, many architects now “harden” and “deopportunism” public settings to discourage vandalism and graffiti. This also involves reducing the impact of those


elements that cause stress like crowding, work overload, noise pollution. • Educational psychology: It seeks to understand how people lean and how the teachers instruct. This helps to design such activities that could help teachers instruct the students in such a way that they understand easily and store it in their memories. • Psychology and law: Jury trials are often the most exciting studies in human behavior. Does the defendant’s appearance affect the jury’s decision? Do the personality characteristics or attitudes of juror’s influence how they vote? These and many more questions have been investigated by psychologist interested in law. Therefore, the psychology of law is the study of the behavioral dimensions of the legal system. This study helps to choose the jury that’s unbiased and will give verdict on the basis of the evidence and supporting details. Psychologist evaluate people for sanity hearings, do counseling in prisons, advice lawmakers on public policy, help select and train police cadets and more. • Sports psychology: It’s the study of behavioral dimensions of sports performance. As almost all serious athletes soon learn, peak performance requires more than physical training. Mental and emotional” conditioning” are also important. Recognizing this fact, many teams, both professional and amateur, now include psychologists on their staffs. On any given day, a sports psychologist might teach an athlete how to relax, how to cope with emotions. The sports psychologist might also provide personal counseling for performancelowering stresses and conflicts. Other psychologists are interested in studying factors that affect athletic achievement, such as skill learning, the personality profiles


of champion athletes, the effects of spectators and related topics.


• Introduction to psychology, gateways to mind and behavior by Dennis coon, john o. mitterer. • History of psychology, main currents in psychological thought by Thomas hardy leathey.


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