What do we mean when we say psychology is a science?

Psychology uses the scientific approach: it tests its ideas agains objective evidence to test ideas. This approach avoids some flaws in human reasoning by

The fancy name for this approach of anchoring beliefs to observable evidence is empiricism. Often, testing beliefs leads scientists to be "myth busters" (e.g., busting myth like that people are good at knowing whether someone is lying or that cramming is effective).

Review the empirical approach by studying this concept map.

Quiz: What do we mean when we say psychology is a science?

You can explore more myths about science here.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Scientific Approach

Advantages Disadvantages
Facts may replace opinions  1. The scientific approach can only find answers to questions that can be objectively tested. This means it can't answer some very important questions (e.g., questions about what morality and questions about the supernatural).
2. Finding simple rules to explain behavior may be depressingly demystifying 
3. Finding simple rules to explain behavior may be impossible. 

Conclusions about the Value of the Scientific Approach

  1. Science is better than quackery (Explore this Science vs. Quackery link)

  3. Using the scientific approach can tell us things about human behavior that we didn't already know, such as helping us reject myths about studying so you can study better

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