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Psychology as Science - Essay Example

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Science, as wee know it, is concerned with experiments and measurements. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the definition of science is, "Any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation"(Encyclopedia p.553) The aim of science is to find out how everything is governed, and organize the facts to get a theory, with the help of which we predict things like eclipses, energy generated by a system and so on…
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Download file to see previous pages Newton expressed his finding mathematically. But certain things like behaviour and consciousness are not quantifiable. The area of science which is concerned with the study of mental functions like thought, emotions and behaviour is known as Psychology. Psychology has a long history going back to the ancient Greeks, Indians and Chinese. It is closely connected with epistemology and metaphysics of the Greeks, and also to social sciences and religion. It was only in the 1880's that psychology acquired the status of science, "when Johannes P. Muller and physicist Hermanl.F.von Helmholtz began the first systematic studies of sensation and perception"(W.B.Encyclopedia p. 849) In 1890, the American philosopher, William James wrote the first psychology textbook, "The Principles of Psychology".He also established a psychology laboratory in the U.S.A.
Scientific methods of research generally follow some basic steps- 1) Observing nature or natural phenomena 2) classifying the collected information 3) Performing experiments 4) using logic to make a hypothesis 5) expressing the result in mathematical formulae, and modeling with the help of computers. Whether it is general science or psychology, most of the research done in these fields follow these steps. It is possible to form mathematical formulae to most of the phenomena in physical sciences, but the case of psychology is different.

. In psychology, subjective methods like introspection have great value to describe mental events. The German psychologist Wundt wrote that while "experiments can find application in the purely psychological domain, it must nevertheless be admitted that it is primarily the sensory side of psychic life which accords the widest prospect for experimental investigation.."(Wundt p.7) Structuralists like James and Wundt believed that the main aim of psychology was to explain feelings and sensations which lead to conscious experience. Thus there is a bias in psychological research. On the other hand, behaviourists like Watson believed that the most reliable source of information was observable behaviour, and not mental experience.

The father of psycho- analysis, Sigmund Freud based his theories on interpretation of dreams. He analyzed many of his own dreams and formed certain theories .He says , in his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, "We have found that the dream represents a wish as fulfilled. Our next purpose is to ascertain whether this is a general characteristic of dreams, or whether it is only the accidental content of the particular dream" (Freud) Since dreams are unreliable, interpreting dreams is not a viable scientific method. Science deals with facts interpreted objectively, science does not favour wishful thinking and personal interpretations of facts.
Observing and measuring behaviour is a good scientific tool of psychology. Behaviourism is associated with Pavlov and his famous experiment with the dog and bell .Pavlov gave his dog food , and at the same time rang a bell. The dog salivated when it ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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