Psychology and Science

From: S.J.Foster (
Date: Mon Oct 13 1997 - 13:22:36 BST

The mind, psychology and science.

"The brain is the most complicated and amazing device in existence"
(Huxley 71). This is probably the case as the human brain alone is made
up of approximately 31b of tissue, consisting of 100 billion cells
called neurons. individuals rely greatly on their brains as it provides
a large capacity for storing information and controls functions such as
sleep, language and memory etc:

 Psycholgy is the name given to the study of the mind, which derives
from the latin word psychelogos, but rather than just concentrating on
merely the mechanics of the brain, psychology could (arguably) be called
the scientific study of behaviour and conscience experience.

There exists three main ways in which to study the brain and its
functions: Firstly invasive lesions could be carried out where small
blocks of the cortex are either damaged, cut off or isolated to see how
they are influenced by other parts. With this type of technique there
are ethical problems as operations are often done ,only under local
anesthetic, but lesions are not necessarily irreversible and sometimes
they can occur naturally eg: through strokes.

the second technique works by artificial/ electrical stimulation, where
electrical waves are sent into the brain to detect its functions and
even trigger off behaviours eg: hunting reflexes. With this method there
is no evidence of permenant damage, but you can not always be sure what
area of the brain is being studied, or how far the current is flowing
because so many neurons are connected, plus also it is unnatural.

The last technique is to record naturally occuring functions and this
can be done through the use of an EEG machine where electrobes are
placed next to the skin, stimulated and the amount of electrical
activity recorded.

Psychologists are also interested in non- human behaviour and often use
comparative research with animals to suggest why humans behave in
certain ways.

By studying the mind, psychologists aim to uncover facts describe
them,understand them, predict and thus control the interaction between
the psyche, environment and behaviour.

Psychology is scientific in some respect as it relys upon quantitative
methods by which to obtain empirical evidence (eg: through experiments)
and investigators aim to be objective, plus also intend to answer
questions (hypotheses) about their chosen topics.

Psychology differs to maths, as there ideas are able to be 'proven'
(eg: 2+2 always =4) whereas data collected from psychologists can't
necessarily 'prove' anything as living orgasims are highly complex and
don't always produce the same responses. This is the main distintion
between psychology and other sciences (eg:chemistry). Due to this,
problems are faced in finding suitable techniques of measurement because
of pratical, moral and ethical limitations (eg: finding a representative
sample where brain lesions can be done). Psychology, as a result could
be classed as 'nearly scientific' as researchers often use subjective
methods (eg:qualitative questionnaires) which correlate well with
objective measures to give an all round understanding to behaviour.


Coon D. Essentials of Psychology: Exploration and application. St. Paul
(United States of America). West publishing company.

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