Is Psychology A Pseudoscience?

Is Psychology a Pseudoscience? This is a misconception. It is often thrown at the psychology community. If the air is not cleared on this matter, it will damage the credibility of the subject. It will also deter those who seek help for mental health issues. In this post, I try to show why the question arises in the first place and bust the myth through facts.

Let’s first understand what science is?

What is Science?

Cambridge dictionary describes it as,

‘The careful study of the structure and behavior of the physical world, especially by watching, measuring and doing experiments and the development of theories to describe the results of the activities.’

Some of the scientific disciplines are Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. What these fields do is systematically observe, measure, and create new knowledge.

Well, Psychology does that too. Then why the question?

Of course, academic psychologists have relentlessly collected data using scientific methods.

The problem lies in the body of knowledge in psychology. There is a crisis at the core.

Crisis At The Core

Our earth has a strong core, which is responsible for the magnetic field which keeps everything together. Similarly, a scientific subject requires a conceptual center to hold its theories and information together.

Psychology’s body of knowledge doesn’t have a concrete conceptual core. For instance, Chemistry has a periodic table and molecular laws that blend to guide the subject.

But Psychology is divided between cognitivism and behaviorism. There is a duality inside the field.

They are many compelling and competing schools like humanism, cultural, evolutionary, and psychoanalysis models within psychology too.

The well-known social psychologist Kenneth Gergen says knowledge in psychology is like building sandcastles. Although the methods in creating them are empirical, they are contextual and temporary. And they will be washed away with a new cultural tide.

This DIKW hierarchy is simplifies it,

The data-information-knowledge-wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy as a pyramid to manage knowledge. Reproduced with permission from Tedeschi (2019).
Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-data-information-knowledge-wisdom-DIKW-hierarchy-as-a-pyramid-to-manage-knowledge_fig6_332400827

Psychology has ample scientific data and information. It is at the knowledge and wisdom level the problem lies. 

If so, why is this continuing?

The reason is simple. The current institutions reward data collection and information, tempting psychologists to focus only on these two aspects.

This fixation shifts their attention away from the core knowledge of psychology, making them helpless to describe the field.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, if someone questions the scientific nature of psychology, it is at the core that it fails to be scientific, but its methods of data collection and interpretation are as scientific as any other scientific subject.

I feel this is one of the intriguing aspects of psychology. And this peculiarity is not a negative issue per se.

The research paper titled ‘Backbone of science’ has tried to find interrelation of multiple fields by analyzing millions of articles.

The most influential subjects are – mathematics, physics, chemistry, earth sciences, medicine, social sciences, and psychology.

Psychology figuring in the list shows the importance of it for the world.

Perhaps, human mind and behavior is one of the most complex subjects in the world. It has to be cracked from all the sides possible to understand it!

4 Comments

  1. dolphinwrite says:

    I believe there are “good” psychologists out there, but I believe they’re far and few between, for they live in common sense and what they’ve “discovered” along the way, in real life, not in books. I could trust such a person provided they don’t need the money and two, they would always push the patient back upon themselves, never encouraging neediness. Thankfully, I’ve always gone on my own, but prayed when times were difficult, and I believe my Father above listens and cares for all of us. **I also think the very mindset of constantly thinking about one’s feelings, falling back into the same problems, then seeking out someone to “save” you is it’s own problem. Looking to a psychiatrist to provide pills forever and/or a psychologist to listen, nod, and give text answers, feel good answers, creates a growing problem. Still pondering on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LifeooNaut says:

      That is a cause for concern indeed. If psychologists/psychiatrist can’t themselves figure out life, then people can’t benefit from them. Authenticity from experience becomes important for a practitioner. The pill crises should be handled immediately and pharmaceutical greed should be checked. Ultimately, mental health services should be made affordable, authentic, and universal.

      Like

      1. dolphinwrite says:

        Interesting points. I have one family member and one friend who both majored in psychology in universities. Over time, I eventually asked what made them select that major, when neither became psychologists. I also asked this to a “real” psychologist, a neighbor I’ve gotten to know. All three explained problems they had in their youth, believing the “learning” would answer their questions. Two are on pharmaceuticals and the other I don’t understand. The third one seems to accept all behaviors, which causes me to wonder what she believes in.

        Like

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