Psychology is the scientific study of human and animal behaviour, cognition and experiences. Owing to its scientific nature, psychology strives to be an objective and empirical discipline. What makes a science, specifically psychology different from other disciplines is the use of criticism. Science openly encourages criticism.

Just like true faith cannot exist without doubt, true science cannot exist without criticism.

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Naturally, psychology itself has been criticized on it’s validity as a scientific disicpline. Hence I present to you a few arguments given against psychology for stating itself as a scientific discipline:

Thomas Samuel Kuhn(122-1996) was a philosopher of science, and arguably one of the most influential one of the twentieth century as well. He criticized that psychology was in a pre paradigm state. A pre paradigm state is one in which multiple schools of thought with their own set of theories and principles exist. Scientists propose and support their own ideas and compete against other scientists. This is the current state in which psychology is in; we have multiple schools of thought like psychodynamics, behaviourism, cogntivism, humanistic-existential, socio-cultural, evolutionary and biological. Each competing to become the most popular and accepted school of psychology. According to Kuhn, eventually the pre paradigm state become a ‘normal science’ , when one of the schools of thought in psychology win and become the dominant one. In simple terms, Kuhn tries to say that psychology is still in a very early stage as a science and will evolve into a true natural science over time.

Another argument against psychology is that the self report method used for data collection in matters of personality, memory, learning, thinking, emotion, etc is unreliable. They conclude that as the subject is the one who judges his internal mental state and reports, the method becomes inherently subjective. As such all psychology becomes subjective and inherently unscientific.

Critics also argue that results from experiments performed in laboratory/controlled conditions cannot be easily translated in real life settings and suffer from low external validity.

These are some popular arguments for psychology being unscientific. There is no denying that there is some truth to all these criticisms and psychology is still not truly scientific. But as long as psychologists work hard and remain dedicated, that day is not far when psychology will be heralded as a true natural science.

 

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