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The Science Of Psychology Essay

1702 words - 7 pages

The Science of Psychology

“Psychology is the scientific study of mind, brain and behaviour. Some
of what you do learn may seem like ‘common sense’, or at least
familiar to you because you are learning about topics in which you can
relate to. However some things you may believe is true, but is
incorrect. The way we know this is through the application of
scientific methods.”

Mark Leary suggests that the subject matter of psychology is much more
familiar to most people than is the subject matter of physics or
biology; we see behaviour all around us. Psychology would be an odd
science of thought and behaviour if it only considered thoughts and
behaviours completely foreign to people’s experiences, or if its
finding always can counter to most people’s beliefs. Many people
believed whole-heartedly in flat Earths and cheese moons only to find
their common sense views dismantled in the face of scientific
evidence. This is the same with psychology. Although most people would
like to believe that large rewards produce greater liking for a boring
task, that the behaviour of men and women is determined by their
biology or that absence makes the heart grow fonder. In short, the
popularity of a common sense belief may not always support the weight
of scientific evidence.

Psychologists are primarily engaged in the task of explaining
behaviour, rather than merely cataloguing it. The difference between
theory and description – “why” versus “what” – echoes the difference
between science and common sense. Common sense certainly helps
describe what takes place in behaviour, but doesn’t compel us to
understand why it takes place. The development of theory in
understanding behaviour sets science apart from everyday, common sense
accounts.

An example of this is; one of the simplest rules of behaviour is that
if you reward someone for doing something, they are more likely to do
it again (the principle of reinforcement. How many people out there
actually verbalise this rule and use it consistently? Certainly not
the mother who rewards her child’s tired tantrum in the street by
buying them a toy or a magazine, nor the person who showers their
partner with attention and affection when they are having a jealous
sulk at a party.

If you take Milgram’s study of obedience, you can see that, the
teacher obeyed the person with authority. If you met a policeman in
the street and he asks you where you were the following night, because
an incident happened and you may have been around the area or the time
it happened, you would do as the policeman asks as he has more
authority, so it may seem like common sense, as it is something you
would see happening in everyday life. But Milgram’s study was a
scientific experiment to see whether people would go as far as killing
a person by authority.

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