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1. IS PSYCHOLOGY A SCIENCE? 2. <ul><li>Ross and phoebe on you tube arguing about Evolution </li></ul> 3. What is a ‘Science?’…
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  • 1. IS PSYCHOLOGY A SCIENCE?
  • 2. <ul><li>Ross and phoebe on you tube arguing about Evolution </li></ul>
  • 3. What is a ‘Science?’ <ul><ul><li>Suggestions; </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Eysenck and Keane(1990) </li></ul><ul><li>1.Objective </li></ul><ul><li>2.Objectivity ensured by observation & experimentation. </li></ul><ul><li>3.Scientific knowledge is then turned into law-like generalisations. E.g </li></ul><ul><li>Newton’s theory of gravity. </li></ul>
  • 4. Logical Positivism <ul><li>E.g. Ayer - scientific theories are only meaningful if they can be observed. </li></ul><ul><li>Following from this ; </li></ul><ul><li>Skinner (1990)- ‘There is no place in a scientific analysis of behaviour for a mind or self ’. Meaning………? </li></ul><ul><li>But e.g. Kuhn (1970) - science has important social and subjective aspects to it- i.e. its not just about experiments; </li></ul>
  • 5. What about ‘law-like generalisations? <ul><li>Just because a hypothesis has consistently been supported by findings in the past does not mean it will be supported in the future. (Popper 1969). </li></ul><ul><li>Bertrand Russell and the farm turkey.- ‘Each day I am fed. Therefore tomorrow I will be fed’. </li></ul><ul><li>But tomorrow is Christmas Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!......... </li></ul>
  • 6. Is science as scientific as it thinks it is? <ul><li>And if it isn’t … </li></ul><ul><li>Does that help make Psychology a science? </li></ul>
  • 7. New definition of Science. <ul><li>1. Controlled Observation. </li></ul><ul><li>Observing the effect of a specific manipulation (exceptions e.g. astronomy). </li></ul><ul><li>2.Objectivity. Total is impossible (?) but as objective as possible. (see slide 8). </li></ul><ul><li>3.Testing theoretical predictions. </li></ul><ul><li>4.Falsifiability.Theories can be disproved by evidence. ( e.g.Freud) </li></ul>
  • 8. <ul><li>5.Replicability. </li></ul><ul><li>Findings can be replicated / repeatable. </li></ul><ul><li>Science cannot be based on inconsistent findings. </li></ul><ul><li>6 Paradigm. </li></ul><ul><li>In the behavioural sciences, e.g. Psychology, Biology, Neurosciences, </li></ul><ul><li>an experimental paradigm is an experimental setup (i.e. a way to conduct a certain type of experiment).- the basis of most central beliefs. </li></ul>
  • 9. Controlled observations <ul><li>Mainly in psychology it is the experimental method. </li></ul><ul><li>The independent variable is controlled to assess the impact on participants’ behaviour (the dependent variable). </li></ul><ul><li>Some confidence that the IV has controlled the DV. </li></ul>
  • 10. Objectivity <ul><li>Traditionally ,scientific observations are objective. </li></ul><ul><li>But; Are scientific observations theory driven, meaning…………..? </li></ul><ul><li>‘Observe!’ </li></ul><ul><li>Observe what? </li></ul><ul><li>Observation is driven by hypotheses and theories-what you observe depends on what you want to see. </li></ul>
  • 11. <ul><li>Gergen (1985),Harre and Semin (1972)-’pure’observation does not exist. </li></ul><ul><li>All observations require a prior viewpoint whether theoretical or experienced. So all data is socially manufactured. </li></ul><ul><li>We all see the world from our own viewpoint/bias (Popper). </li></ul>
  • 12. <ul><li>Wallach and Wallach (1994)-interpretation of behaviour is more likely to be correct if we have supporting evidence. e.g. an electric shock given after the experiment is over is more likely to support an idea of malicious intent. </li></ul>
  • 14. Testing theoretical predictions. <ul><li>Experiments are designed to test theoretical predictions. </li></ul><ul><li>Science advances when inadequate theories are replaced with ones more consistent with the data. </li></ul>
  • 15. Falsifiability <ul><li>-Scientific theories can be disproved by evidence-’the hallmark of science’-Popper. </li></ul><ul><li>Not generalisations. </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists should develop theories that can potentially be shown to be untrue by experimental tests. </li></ul><ul><li>It distinguishes science from pseudo- science e.g. psycho- analysis and Marxism. </li></ul><ul><li>Some psychology theories are falsifiable. Others aren’t. e.g. </li></ul>
  • 16. <ul><li>Eyesenck (1967) People high in anxiety + depression (neuroticism) should be more physiologically responsive than those low in it. </li></ul><ul><li>Numerous studies have FAILED to support this. (Fahrenburg 1992). </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly the frustration-aggression hypothesis is seen as oversimplified. </li></ul><ul><li>Unfalsifiable theories include; </li></ul><ul><li>Freud’s theory of the mind of 3 parts -id ,ego, superego. Is it too vague and poorly specified to falsify? </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly, Maslow’s theory of motivation / hierarchical needs. </li></ul>
  • 18. <ul><li>The conditions inside the body must be controlled within narrow limits. This is called homeostasis. </li></ul><ul><li>These conditions include water content, ion content, body temperature and blood glucose concentration. </li></ul>
  • 19. Evolutionary psychology <ul><li>Anyone know the big criticism of both adaptive behaviour and genome lag? </li></ul><ul><li>-they are difficult to falsify because we can’t do controlled experiments comparing ourselves with 100,000 years ago. </li></ul><ul><li>Behaviour can be seen as adaptive or maladaptive – whatever suits the EPs. </li></ul>
  • 20. Replicability in Psychology. <ul><li>It varies enormously depending on the type of study being carried out. </li></ul><ul><li>It is greatest when the experiment is carefully controlled , meaning…. </li></ul><ul><li>The variables can be manipulated/controlled </li></ul><ul><li>And lowest when they can’t be manipulated/controlled. </li></ul>
  • 21. <ul><li>Evidence of replicability available in operant conditioning e.g. using the Skinner box –animals learn to respond when they know food will be available as a reward. </li></ul><ul><li>Replicability is often lower in social psychology but can remain high under good experimental conditions e.g. the Asch experiment -3 lines ,one participant and several confederates. </li></ul><ul><li>But from a psychology viewpoint-experiments like Asch have low EV </li></ul>
  • 22. Lab experiments. <ul><li>High control and good replicability. </li></ul><ul><li>For psych. to be a science ,lab. and other experiments must seem valid. </li></ul><ul><li>But psychologists views on lab experiments vary; </li></ul><ul><li>Boring(1957) ‘the experimental method...is the great outstanding event in the history of the study of the mind...’ </li></ul><ul><li>Heather(1976) Lab experiments are artificial- you learn how strangers interact in unusual situations. </li></ul>
  • 23. <ul><li>Internal validity </li></ul><ul><li>Within the experiment- results are reached repeatedly </li></ul><ul><li>External validity. </li></ul><ul><li>Validity outside of the research situation; how much like real life is it ? </li></ul><ul><li>Most lab experiments tend to be low in this – what’s true in the lab may not be true in real life. </li></ul><ul><li>How we interact in real life-responding to the environment making decisions ,dealing with those decisions , is a dynamic interaction lacking in lab experiments. </li></ul>
  • 24. Kuhn’s Paradigm. <ul><li>Paradigm = An example serving as a model or pattern; Kuhn said </li></ul><ul><li>‘a general theoretical orientation’ (a set of attitudes and beliefs), </li></ul><ul><li>that is accepted by most scientists in a given discipline (e.g. physics). </li></ul><ul><li>As knowledge advances a paradigm becomes less adequate and is replaced by another. Newton to Einstein E=MC2 </li></ul>
  • 25. Kuhn (1970) <ul><li>3 stages in the development of any science; </li></ul><ul><li>1.Pre-science –no generally accepted paradigm and a wide range of opinion about the best theories.(no shared set of common beliefs). </li></ul><ul><li>2.Normal science- a generally accepted paradigm. It influences the type of experiments carried out and how the findings are explained-Newtonian mechanics as used by physicists prior to relativity </li></ul><ul><li>( Ascent of man dvd?) </li></ul>
  • 26. <ul><li>3. Revolutionary science- a paradigm shift where evidence against the old paradigm goes beyond a certain point and is replaced by a new one e.g. </li></ul><ul><li>Copernicus and the relation between the sun the earth and the other planets. </li></ul><ul><li>According to Kuhn in 1962 , Psych. Has no paradigm and is at a pre-science stage. </li></ul>
  • 27. <ul><li>Evidence to support this includes </li></ul><ul><li>A) The fact that there are several approaches to Psych including; </li></ul><ul><li>Behaviourist, cognitive, psychodynamic.- </li></ul><ul><li>So Psychologists don’t support the same paradigm. </li></ul>
  • 28. <ul><li>B) Psych. is fragmented;it has connections with bio-chemistry ,biology, physiology, sociology etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Bio-chemistry and sociology are very different. Therefore it is difficult to agree on a common paradigm. </li></ul><ul><li>Valentine (1982,1992) claimed behaviourism comes close to being a paradigm. </li></ul><ul><li>-Psych is the study of behaviour which should be observed by controlled experiments. </li></ul><ul><li>AND learning is important to psychology; learning can be understood as conditioning principles. </li></ul>
  • 29. BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <ul><li>Is behaviourism a paradigm? </li></ul><ul><li>It is mostly concerned with methodology ( how to study) rather than Kuhn’s definition as a general set of ideas and beliefs. </li></ul><ul><li>So is Kuhn right - psych @ a pre-science stage and therefore NOT a science? </li></ul><ul><li>Stay tuned !!!!!! </li></ul>
  • 30. Non – Scientific approaches. <ul><li>Humanistic- Maslow, Rogers – psychology should not / cannot be a science. </li></ul><ul><li>Maslow-(1968)-’The uniqueness of the individual does not fit into what we know of science’. </li></ul><ul><li>Maslow, Rogers = phenomenology. </li></ul><ul><li>This is where individuals report their conscious experiences in as pure and undistorted a way as possible. </li></ul>
  • 31. <ul><li>– ‘it gives the deepest insight into what an experience has meant’. Subjective experience as the basis for understanding the world ,rather than objective external reality </li></ul>
  • 32. Social constructionism . <ul><li>Psych cannot be a science; our knowledge of ourselves and others is a social construction & there is no objective reality for research. </li></ul><ul><li>‘..facts are simply versions of events that are presently (popular)’ –Burr (1997). </li></ul><ul><li>Observations and their interpretations are influenced by cultural /historical forces e.g. corporal punishment in schools. </li></ul>
  • 33. <ul><li>Burr (1997) ‘there is no ultimate knowledge of human beings (no final truth); </li></ul><ul><li>we must try to understand where our current ways of understanding have come from”. </li></ul>
  • 34. <ul><li>E.g. discourse analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>This is- </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative analysis of spoken/written communications; </li></ul><ul><li>produced in naturalistic surroundings; </li></ul><ul><li>usually on tape recordings. </li></ul><ul><li>In other words; Analysing the participants’ language to understand how they perceive the world. </li></ul>
  • 35. <ul><li>Wetherell and Potter (1990) used d/a on white New Zealanders who claimed not to be racist </li></ul><ul><li>but found they had racist attitudes towards Maoris and the teaching of Maori culture in school. </li></ul><ul><li>However, data not obtained under controlled conditions and </li></ul><ul><li>the data was subjectively interpreted by researchers. Are the findings replicable? </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore their research was not scientific . </li></ul>
  • 36. Evaluation <ul><li>Some validity but… </li></ul><ul><li>Beliefs may colour interpretations but not description. </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. An assault – The G 20 demos. </li></ul><ul><li>The girl hit on the leg by the policeman. </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone agrees that he hit her ,but were his actions justified? </li></ul>
  • 37. So… what’s your conclusion? <ul><li>In pairs –you have 10 minutes –Is psychology a science? </li></ul>
  • 38. So? <ul><li>Psychology contains many of the features of a science. </li></ul><ul><li>But it possesses them less clearly and less strongly </li></ul>
  • 39. <ul><li>Arguments in favour </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled observations & the testing of theoretical predictions. </li></ul><ul><li>Some psychological theories are falsifiable (Popper) having been disproved by experimental studies. </li></ul><ul><li>Others have been replicated successfully. </li></ul><ul><li>However some can’t be (e.g. Freud). </li></ul>
  • 40. Against <ul><li>1.Experimenter bias (determined by social background) can affect objectivity. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Laboratory experiments = artificial conditions which means that findings can lack external validity. </li></ul><ul><li>3. How can we study the effects of an immediate situation on behaviour? -behaviour is determined by many things(-genetics, childhood, personality) beyond our control. Therefore can it be a science if we can’t control them? </li></ul>
  • 41. <ul><li>4.There is no generally accepted paradigm therefore it is at a pre-science stage (Kuhn) </li></ul>
  • 42. Why does it matter? <ul><li>Money –research funding is more favourable towards ‘hard’ sciences than social sciences. </li></ul><ul><li>Eysenck argues it is ‘on the way to becoming a science’. </li></ul>
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