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Is psychology just observable common sense rather than a scientific explanation of human behaviour?

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Department of Psychology AS Level Year 14 Miss A George Lisa Terry 'Is psychology common sense or scientific? 2004-2005 Is psychology just observable common sense rather than a scientific explanation of human behaviour? "Psychology is the scientific study of mind, brain and behaviour. Some of what you do learn may seem like 'common sense', or at least familiar to you because you are learning about topics in which you can relate to. However some things you may believe is true, but is incorrect. The way we know this is through the application of scientific methods." Mark Leary suggests that the subject matter of psychology is much more familiar to most people than is the subject matter of physics or biology; we see behaviour all around us. Psychology would be an odd science of thought and behaviour if it only considered thoughts and behaviours completely foreign to people's experiences, or if its finding always can counter to most people's beliefs. Many people believed whole-heartedly in flat Earths and cheese moons only to find their common sense views dismantled in the face of scientific evidence. This is the same with psychology. Although most people would like to believe that large rewards produce greater liking for a boring task, that the behaviour of men and women is determined by their biology or that absence makes the heart grow fonder. ...read more.


The prisoners were automatically arrested from their homes from being accused of burglary, and being humiliated in front of their families, this is common sense, as many convictions would happen in this way if they were wanted by the police. They were then placed in a basement of Stanford University. The guards however grew out of control, because they were given too much freedom to punish the prisoners as much as they wanted. They gradually grew into the role they were provided with. Even though the prisoners may have done wrong, you would not have thought that guards will have that much anger in them and rage that would brutally beat and humiliate these prisoners as much as those guards did in the experiment. In a real life situation the prisoners would have probably ended their lives, whereas if Zimbardo saw that the prisoners were getting really distressed they could take them out of the experiment, which they had to do. This study was not a scientific method of finding behaviour, it was just to find out if the guards would take on the role fully, in which they did, but not as expected. Tajfel's study of intergroup discrimination, could be both a scientific method of psychology but also common sense, as it is all to do with prejudice, which is an attitude in a person, everybody has an attitude towards something, whatever it is. ...read more.


and 3 p.m. on weekdays in 1968. This was to see how many people would help this person in this state; they also placed someone of a different race on the train. This study is common sense because, if you saw, say an old lady fall over in the streets, she had bags of shopping in her hands and they scattered over the floor, you wouldn't just leave her to pick them up herself, you would go over and help her out as, it is the more reasonable thing to do than, just say, 'clumsy women!' and leave her on her own. It can also be scientific as it is measuring the speed of the help, that the people would take, or if anyone at all, would help out either a drunken person or someone of a different race. Overall, I personally think that psychology is both scientific and common sense, as most of the behaviour towards different situations is used in everyday life, but the fact that the measurements and the results that were found in each study I have explained, helps in finalising the decisions between different matters and opinions, whether people really do this or that. In 1974, Joyson, wrote an article, saying that every person is there own psychologist, after all who knows best an outsider or yourself? He also said that if psychologists did not exist would we need to invent one? We all have to use a bit of psychology to negotiate our lives, regardless of whether or not we have studied it. ...read more.

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