Because psychology is one of my majors, I often find myself discussing whether or not psychology should be considered a science. This topic will come up between friends, between classmates and especially in lectures themselves.
Students studying sociology and political science will often be caught in the same discussions and they always lead to the same question; how are we supposed to decide whether or not these subjects should be acknowledged as sciences?
What I don’t understand, more than anything else, is why the category of “science” for a discipline of study matters so much.
Because there are many ways to define the word “science,” classifications get lost in a blur. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines science as, “knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.” In 2009 the Science Council came up with a conclusive definition: “Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence."
I don’t know about you, but the whole “pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence” part was enough for me to make my decision. Psychology is considered social, has systematic methodology and is also based on evidence. That settles that. Psychology is a science after all.
We are now living in the year 2015, where psychology has been defined as a science for at least six years.
Psychology is the number one most common major in the United States. When students say it should not be a science, they are not questioning the importance of psychology. When students argue it is a science they are not trying to demean other scientific disciplines. Everyone knows psychology is significant. This world needs people who help and study other people. So does it matter in the end?
As a student population we should not be so caught up in these labels. We need to stop wasting so much energy on these discussions and disputes and turn back to more important discussions, like how we can use sciences to make the world a better place.