Psychology is an integral part of our modern society, and its influence is quite widespread. Many important decisions, which are made in our society, can be based on psychology - decisions which affect the lives of many people. This is why it is important to determine whether or not psychology is a science. The answer to the question if psychology is a science is not a simple 'yes' or 'no' – it depends on the area of psychological study, on the theory used within an area, and often on the way the researcher chooses to study a phenomenon ( Makunda, 1997). It also depends on what is meant by 'scientific' – for the philosopher of science Karl Popper, for instance, the most important criterion was what he called 'falsifiability'. There are
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There are several aims of science – description, prediction, understanding, and control . Science provides objective descriptions of phenomena which allow the development of predictions. Predictions add support and credibility to the knowledge obtained in the description phase, which in turn allows for understanding of the cause and effect of the phenomena. Once understanding of the cause of a phenomenon is accurate, control is possible(Malim, Birch & Wadeley, 1992). Many would argue that for psychology to be called science it needs to display all these characteristics of science. Does psychology display all these? Therefore, can it be called a science?
The word psychology comes from the Greek words – psyche, meaning soul and word logos, meaning study. Thus, a basic definition of psychology could be: the study of soul. However it is broadly agreed that psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. According to Clark and Miller (1970) psychology is: “the scientific study of behaviour. Its subject matter includes behavioural processes that are observable, such as gestures, speech and physiological changes, and processes