Psychology refers to a branch of science concerned with the study of animal and human behavior, sometimes dealing with the techniques by which behavior undergoes modifications (Simonton, 2009). This consists of a number of branches, namely educational psychology, developmental psychology, psychotherapy, animal psychology, social psychology, industrial psychology, just to mention a few. Psychology has been useful in the society because it promotes an understanding of people’s behaviors through researching various cases. Psychologists explore a number of concepts, including cognition, perception, attention, phenomenology, emotion, motivation, interpersonal relationships, behavior, brain functioning, and personality (Simonton, 2009). This discussion will consider the reason to why psychologists consider psychology as a branch of science, differences that exist between psychology and other branches of science, and the principal issues for evaluating a psychological theory.
Psychologists consider psychology as a branch of science because it shares a number of characteristics with other branches of science, such as the use of scientific methods, verifiability, descriptiveness, and objectivity (Simonton, 2009). Moreover, psychology attempts to resolve concrete problems through the use of laboratory experiments. Laboratory experiments help psychologists to investigate memory, learning, perception, and sensation in animals and human beings. For instance, Ian Pavlov conducted an experiment to investigate learning in animals through association of conditioned stimuli with unconditioned stimuli (Applebaum, 2012). Skinner is another psychologist, who conducted an experiment to determine the impact of reinforcement on learning. Scientific psychology allows for the creation of experiments to measure social changes against control experiments, and mimic the laboratory experiments conducted in other scientific disciplines (Simonton, 2009). Therefore, like other branches of science, psychology employs experiments to investigate animal and human behaviors. Psychologists employ facts when dealing with generalizations, perceptions, and critics. Psychology shares characteristics with established scientific disciplines, such as biology and anatomy.
Neuropsychology considers the effects of factors, such as heredity, drugs, and diet on the functioning of the nervous system (Simonton, 2009). This is evident that psychology combines the interest of biology in the function of human nervous system with the behavior of a person in the society. Therefore, psychology shares the characteristic of descriptiveness with other branches of science. Case studies, psychological tests, interviews, surveys, and observation of animals and people in nature, enable psychologists to describe various occurrences and draw conclusions. Psychology shares the characteristic of objectivity with other science disciplines (Simonton, 2009). Careful experimentation and observation that take place during the research ensure objectivity in psychology.
Some approaches, such as theological approaches may also explain human behavior and experiences. However, theological approaches differ from psychological approaches in explaining the behavior and experiences of human beings. Thus, theological approaches consider that people’s perception and feelings, regarding others and themselves, rely on how they interpret life experiences and whether they fear God. Scientific methods cannot be applicable in proving theological facts. On the other hand, various psychological facts require methodology for evidence (Applebaum, 2012).
Difference of Psychology from other Branches of Science
Psychology differs from natural sciences, such as biology, physics, and chemistry that deal with the observation of measurable phenomena (Lilienfeld, 2012). Most of the phenomena that psychologists study are immeasurable. For instance, the hypothetical constructs, including happiness, pessimism and optimism, awareness, attraction, human extroversion, and sense of affection and belonging cannot undergo measurement. In physics, a person can measure speed accurately by measuring distance and length of time. External factors, such as bias and change in social constructs, influence psychology experiments significantly. Research has shown that many psychological experiments fail to undergo replication, which is not the case with various experiments in natural sciences (Lilienfeld, 2012). Also, the content that the science of psychology involves includes people’s decisions, feelings, and emotions, but not processes that natural sciences study. Volition, feeling, and emotion are the subjective activities that human beings cannot perceive through body organs. The sorts of methodology that the science of psychology should employ include psycho historical, observational, psychobiological, correlational, experimental, and descriptive techniques (Simonton, 2009).
Evaluating Psychological Theories
The issues necessary in the evaluation of psychological theories include parsimony, easy to generate hypotheses, operationally defined, empirical support, and internal consistency (Simonton, 2009). Parsimony refers to a significant criterion for evaluating psychological theories by virtue of the assumption that a theory should explain reality through simplification. When a psychological theory fails to be parsimonious, extensive rationality and data would be significant to justify its use. A sound psychological theory generates hypotheses easily. What is more, it should stimulate controversy, resistance, and disbelief, as well as suggest ideas to extend an inquiry. A psychological theory will generate hypotheses easily when it can stimulate thinking, as well as provide tentative explanations to explain a phenomenon. The key concepts and terms of a sound psychological theory should be operationally defined. Operational definitions help different researchers to obtain similar conclusions when conducting similar studies. Sound psychological theories should allow empirical testing (Applebaum, 2012). This will provide evidence on whether to accept or reject a hypothesis’ propositions. Internal consistency is another quality for sound psychological theory. The propositions and concepts of a psychological theory should be consistent with each other in a logical manner. Therefore, the field of psychology should determine the sound psychological theories and inappropriate theories by considering various properties, including parsimony, internal consistency, among others (Simonton, 2009).
In conclusion, it has been evident that psychology is a science because it possesses a variety of properties, such as allowing for the use of experiments to investigate memory, perception, and sensation in animals and human beings. However, psychology differs from other branches of science because most of the phenomena that psychologists study are immeasurable. Moreover, a variety of qualities, such as parsimony and internal consistency are useful during the evaluation of psychological theories. The field of psychology can determine sound psychological theories upon evaluation (Simonton, 2009).