Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is Psychology a Science?

To follow-up my previous post about the public's perception of science, this week the American Psychological Association (I am a member) posted some brief results about a survey done regarding the public's perceptions of psychology. In regards to whether psychology is a science and what type of science they wrote,
"To learn how the public perceives psychology, the consultants first tried to establish people's understanding of scientific disciplines. "What we found was most people think of biology, chemistry and physics as 'hard science,'" says Steven Breckler, PhD, APA's executive director for science. "They also view medicine as a hard science. Interestingly, they see the term 'behavioral science' as harder than the term 'psychology,' and they don't precisely equate the two."
This serves as a reminder that when we ask the public about their perceptions of scientists and science (see notes on perceptions of professions) , they may not all be thinking about the same groups of people and there may be important differences about people's trust of physicists and psychologists.

Here is an example of how people responded to a question about the relationship between science and psychology--

Q. How much do you associate the practice of psychology with scientific techniques and practices?

A great deal—22 percent
Somewhat—49 percent
Not very much—23 percent
Not at all—7 percent

It is worth noting that 71% of public in this survey thought that psychological practice was based on science. This suggests that in general people assume that psychology is more than just good common sense.

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