Should Psychology Be a Science? Pros and Cons

Should Psychology Be a Science? Pros and Cons

Should Psychology Be a Science? Pros and Cons

Should Psychology Be a Science? Pros and Cons

Synopsis

The past century has seen many changes in the study of psychology. One of those major changes was the adoption of scientific principles to define and build the discipline of psychology. These principles were manifested in the discipline's method of investigation and subject matter. For many, this constituted a "revolution" in the study of psychology. This work examines the results of this revolution and asks whether it has been beneficial.

Excerpt

To deserve study, a topic must have at least one and ideally both of two qualities: It must be important and/or it must be interesting. On both counts, psychology qualifies in spades. If we define it loosely as the study of human beings, its importance is obvious. As Skinner (1971) pointed out, in the last analysis, most of the problems we face involve human behavior. Waging wars, polluting environments, and the like -- these are things that people do. Fortunately, we are also capable of better. No mystery is more perplexing than this, that the same species that fostered the Inquisition and Auschwitz, also created the Jupiter Symphony, and a treatment for diabetes. Every advance, every stumbling step away from jungle law and survival of the fittest has come about because of what people at their best accomplish, so knowledge of how they do it and why may help inhibit events of the first kind and encourage those of the second. Studying psychology, then, is nothing less than a means to progress if not survival itself.

As for interest, can any other topic rival ourselves? If the human zoo was not a constant source of fascination, why would people-watching be such a favorite activity? Why would we so avidly eavesdrop on conversations or consume TV programs that showcase our foibles such as America's Funniest Videos? Psychology has a personal relevance matched by no other discipline; it hits us where we live. Indeed, when all is said and done many psychologists are little more than snoops or voyeurs, so bewitched by it all that they can't take their eyes and ears away from it, which puts them in the happy position of being paid for doing what they love. Certainly, in my objective, unbiased opinion, psychology is the most fun you can have with your clothes on! Moreover, many others seem to share my enthusiasm. In universities, introductory psychology course enrollments are among the highest of any offerings. There are several reasons, but one is certainly inherent interest. We educators are first of all in the entertainment business. This means, I hasten to add, that we must try at all costs . . .

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