What Makes Psychology a Science? Essay

What makes psychology a science? Some people may not accept that psychology is a science – what arguments might they give? What makes psychology a science? The origins of psychology are drawn from three main areas of study, Philosophy, Physics and Biology. From Philosophy, it is argued that data should be measured through observation and be objectively recorded using the methods and principles of science when applied to human behaviour, as is done in physics.

Biology provides the theory of evolution, which indicates that man has evolved from other animals, and later discoveries in genetics and their importance when learning about and discerning human behaviour. As psychology is studied through observations, measurement, and experiment to formulate, test and record results, it follows the scientific principles and can produce verifiable evidence therefore, I would argue it is a science. Some people may not accept that psychology is a science – what arguments might they give?

Numerous different areas are incorporated under the one title of ‘psychology’ and the differences within these fields, and the way in which information is gathered and used, may bring the science of psychology into dispute. When viewing something scientifically, you need to first apply inductive reasoning to be able to start investigating the science involved around a chosen subject. Following this, a summary will be drawn regarding the subject matter, which will allow a hypothesis to be formed. Finally deductive reasoning is applied; the subject matter will then be tested which will allow for verification or falsification to take place.

When applying inductive reasoning, this needs to be objective with no bias. Within certain fields of psychology, case studies are used, these case studies will inevitably incorporate the feelings and beliefs of the researcher, these will be drawn from various areas, ethnicity, up-bringing, sex, age, experiences, social background and the views of the current climate, and therefore cannot be completely unbiased. The use of such case studies may also cause a lack of validity, making summarising the case difficult.

The subject of the case study can largely alter the outcome of any experiment; for example, the participant may act in a way that they feel would be desirable and advantageous towards the study, or they may act to try to compromise the study, therefore giving a false result. The variables of the human mind, the fact that people do act differently in different circumstances due to things such as religious beliefs/teachings, level of education, personality, would show significant differences in any results, for example, an extrovert would react quite differently to an introvert.

Providing verification or falsification is not possible due to the fact that as a species, humans are constantly evolving to deal with new situations, the very fact that experience changes the way a person may feel or react to a situation or item would mean that when a person is tested, should the test be repeated, the results may be different. Psychologists can not make broad generalisations about humans, as is possible with other sciences. References Butler, G. , McManus, F. (1998) Psychology: A very short introduction. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

Hill, G. (2009). AS and A Level psychology through diagrams. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rathus, SA. (2007). Psychology: Concepts and Connections. (8th edition). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing. Foxall, B. , Wove, B. (2010, January 5). Discuss arguments for and against the claim that psychology is a science. (Online(. http://www. thestudentroom. co. uk/wiki/Revision:Psychology_model_answers_-_Is_Psychology_a_Science. Butle, J. (2010, January 5) Can psychology be a science like physics, chemistry and biology? Online( http://csusap. csu. edu. au/~jbutle11/docs/essay01. doc Explain three reasons why visual illusions occur. Give examples. Firstly we need to establish what a Visual illusion is; a Visual illusion also known as an Optical illusion is characterised as the perceived visual image interpreted by the brain which may not in fact be an objective reality. As the brain processes the optical information gathered by the eyes, it is then able to form a percept although this does not truly match a physical measurement of the stimulus source.

Visual illusions fall into three main categories: Literal optical illusions that create images that are different from the objects that they consist of. Physiological illusions, these are the result of excessive stimulation of a specific type on the eyes and brain, and cognitive illusions where the eye and brain make unconscious inferences. The three reasons why visual illusions occur that I have selected to focus on are: physiological imbalance, depth and motion perception and multistable perception.

Physiological illusions occur as a result of excessive exposure to alternating patterns, brightness, tilt or a particular colour affecting the perception of the optical receptors. Continuous stimulation of specific areas of the brain can result in a physiological imbalance, affecting subsequent visual perceptions. Prolonged exposure of a frequency of light at a certain intensity fatigues our eyes resulting in perception being altered.

Therefore excessive exposure of a visual stimulus can cause an optical illusion. An example of this would be afterimages whereby a continuation of the image occurs after you have ceased looking at it, with the colour of the image being transposed from that of the original. Depth and motion perception can also cause a visual illusion. Artists use visual illusion to make a two-dimensional drawing or painting appear three-dimensional through the use of monocular cues, these allow depth to be perceived.

An example of a monocular cue would be relative size, where a large figure would be perceived as being close, or at the front, as oppose to the smaller figure which would be seen as being in the distance. An example of depth perception is Ponzos ‘A Monstrous Illusion’. The converging of parallel lines in this picture tell the brain that the image higher in the visual field is further away, therefore the brain perceives the image to be larger even though the two images hitting the retina are of the same size.

An example of motion perception is the Phi phenomenon, which is created by the blinking of lights in close succession. This gives the illusion of motion produced by a succession of still images. A multistable perception phenomenon is where there are unpredictable sequences of spontaneous subjective changes. These are evoked by visual patterns, which are ambiguous for the human brain to comprehend only one unique interpretation and results in an alternation between more than one mutually exclusive perceptual state. An example of this is the Necker cube, which when shown as a wire diagram is seen as a cube, but when made into a three dimensional drawing can be viewed as an incomplete cube, dependent upon perception.

References Rathus, SA. (2007). Psychology: Concepts and Connections. (8th edition). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing. Eysenck,MW, (200). Simply Psychology. (2nd edition). East Sussex, England: Psychology Press Ltd. Fox, K. (2010, January 9). Psychology: Optical Illusions. (Online(. http://www. keele. ac. uk/depts/aa/widening/uniworld/webclub/rs/optical. htm