• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Psychology as a Science

Extracts from this document...


Describe and Discuss the historical development of psychology as a science. According to Russell & Jarvis(2003: 469) "the word 'science' comes from the Latin word 'scire', meaning 'to know'"; thus it is the knowledge of specific study. Psychology was defined by Atkinson et al. (2000: 3, cited by Mestre. et al. 2002: 811) as the "scientific study of behaviour and mental processes". Psychology has been universally recognised as a science since the late 1800's when James (1890, cited by Gross 1999: 3) stated that 'Psychology is the Science of Mental Life". Though many praise the study of psychology for it's findings and achievements there will always be those who are sceptical of these findings and whether or not they can be seen as 'solid'. Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) is widely seen as the 'founding father' of 'new psychology', in which we mean psychology as a separate scientific discipline, rather than it had been previously; a part of philosophy. Wundt created 'structuralism', this is the study of the mind by breaking all chains of thought down in to such things as images, feelings and sensations, for example, if one were to think of chocolate, one may picture the bar, have a feeling of desire for the bar which may produce the sensation of hunger. By studying the conscious mind using introspection he would record the results of his studies, these would be performed under controlled conditions, by which we mean no outside interferences or influences. ...read more.


this does not give us an image of what someone is thinking it does provide us with information as to which different triggers the varying reactions which until recently we have not been able to understand, obviously, this provides us with clear findings. Until the 1950s, Behaviourism dominated psychological experimentation as psychologists such as John Watson believed that only observable behaviour should be investigated if psychology wished to be considered an objective science. Thus, though psychology may not have directly effected the advances in technology the benefit it has seen from these advances are clear, it is now possible for psychologists to view the workings of the brain through the advances in other areas of science, therefore this can only inflate psychology's status as a separate scientific discipline. Despite the arguments for psychology to be considered a science there are, of course, those that believe it should not. Those who are against the idea of psychology as a science believe there are many issues surrounding areas of psychology and the methods of investigation it carries out, one area of concern is that of sampling; random, stratified, opportunity, self-selecting/volunteer. The first in the above list, random sampling, is very rarely used, or at least it is very rare that it can be considered 'true'; "true random sampling only occurs when every member of a target population has an equal chance of being selected" (Hill, 2009: 35), this is rarely the case as in a large target audience, in order for everyone to have an ...read more.


The study of psychology is intangible, the majority of existing findings can list both the advantages and limitations of studies. Until recently, many of the research findings could not be directly observed, however due to advances in medical technology it is now possible to view the effects of studies; researchers are now able to map the brain and observe how different stimulus effect different parts of the brain and how different behaviours are triggered. Though it is evident that certain aspects of psychology have gained more authority as a separate scientific discipline there will always be some aspects of psychology which are looked down upon as 'softer' studies, such as the humanistic approach, there is no doubt that psychology as a whole has developed to a huge degree since Wundt first introduced Structuralism. There will always be two sides regarding the argument of whether or not psychology should be considered a science, which is a debate that will continue for years to come, however as more advances are made in both technology and methods of study and research psychology will build a stronger case for being considered a science and those in the more obvious scientific Worlds, such as biology, physics and chemistry will have to pay attention to it. "So, is psychology a science? If we adopt a broad, modern view of nature and philosophy of science, then psychology in all it's manifestations is unquestionably a science. However, many psychologists prefer to adhere to a more old-fashioned view of what science means, and according to this more traditionalist school of thought only come approaches to psychology can be called science. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Atkinson et al (2000) defines psychology as the scientific studyof behaviour and mental processes ...

    This essay will now discuss the humanistic and behaviourist perspectives, compare and contrast them and discuss the application of these approaches within a healthcare setting. The humanistic perspective was developed in 1962 as a response to the two perspectives that were prevalent at the time, psychodynamic which viewed a person

  2. Using studies from the list below, answer the questions which follow: Rosenhan (sane in ...

    This can be seen when the observers attributed abnormality to the patients' writing behaviour and also when the patients were lined up and waiting for lunch prior to lunchtime. However, it could be said that the real problem in categorizing and investigating abnormal behaviour lies not in the classification tool or the subsequent models such as the medical model.

  1. What do we mean by resilience? How

    factors, we can begin to see positive outcomes in the lives of children/families that are otherwise difficult to serve. It should be noted that existing mental health programs are clearly helpful for lower risk children. For families who are able to regularly access services and have either motivation for involvement,

  2. I have decided to do my portfolio on Beaufort Park School, for several reasons. ...

    This would only happen if the problem wasn't severe. An example of this is that the reception pupils had an optician come to the school to check their eyesight, and the optician discovered that one of the boys in the class had something serious wrong with their eyes, and an

  1. Approaches to Psychology & ethics.

    The approach proposes that behaviour is radical, and that it is caused and maintained in this way. Drawing on from the work of Pavlov (1927), Watson and other behaviourists such as Thorndike and Skinner proceeded to develop theories of learning such as classical and operant conditioning that they attempted to use to explain virtually all behaviour.

  2. Psychology Cae Studies

    tendencies or if any of their number suffered from serious physical and emotional deficiencies. [ All obeyed up to 300volts] Amazing experiment isn't it. This was all it took for persons to cause immense harm to each other. Feeling guilty about it after and while committing the acts doesn't change the reality that you committed the acts.

  1. chid psychology

    Play varies as the person grows. Babies play by exploring with their hands, and feet, while young children may dress up as part of pretend play. Older children such as the 6 to 9 years old play includes: hobbies( acting, dancing), Sports( football, basketball, rugby) and leisure( swimming, karate).

  2. Who is Santa?

    A little happiness is taken from them each day and they're having so much fun they don't even notice a little disappearing. The happiness is stored in sacks in a big storeroom all year until there is enough to make the whole world happy!

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work