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Advantages of the Scientific Approach in Psychology Essay Sample

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Advantages of the Scientific Approach in Psychology Essay Sample

Historically psychology was not considered a science however Karl Popper thought otherwise and believed that it should become more like a science so that theories could be tested and proved right or wrong to make it more valid. One advantage of using the scientific method in psychology is that it can be falsified. This means that it can be proven wrong. The aim of the scientific method is to test a hypothesis by falsifying it i.e. rejecting the null hypothesis. This is an advantage because it is not possible to prove a hypothesis correct but you can prove it wrong. For example the main objection to Freud’s theory is that it is difficult to falsify. A good theory is one that we can prove wrong. Popper (1935) produced the hypothetico-deductive method which argued that falsification is the only way to be certain that a hypothesis is correct. He said that “No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is enough to refute that conclusion”. In other words you cannot prove a theory right – you can only falsify a theory. Another advantage of the scientific approach is that it is objective.

For research to be considered reliable any judgements findings or explanations must be based on observable phenomena, they must not be influenced by emotions or personal prejudices. An experimenter could allow for greater objectivity through using standardised procedures and instructions. This is an advantage because without objectivity we have no way of being certain that data collected is valid. For example Gardener and Gardener (1969) In this study the experimenters might have judged that Washoe was using real words because they wanted her to succeed. This would mean that they were being subjective. Applying and analysing the research in a way that is affected by a researcher’s emotions and prejudices. One final advantage of the scientific approach is that it can be replicated. Replication is considered essential in scientific research.

There is little point in claiming some scientific effect unless it can be repeated. In order for replication to be possible all details of the original study must be published, including procedure data and results. In order for research to be judged as reliable it has to have consistent results when it is replicated. Scientists record their methods and standardise them carefully so that the same procedures can be followed in the future. Asch used standardised procedures when carrying out his study on conformity levels and subsequently his experiment was repeated by Perrin and Spencer found one person conformed on 369 trials whereas Asch found 75% conformed at least once thus decreasing the reliability of Asch’s findings. This is an advantage because repeating a study is the most important way to demonstrate the reliability and validity of a study so we can be more sure that our findings our correct. While some qualities of human nature may be lost using the scientific method, for many areas of psychology it is the best way of collecting and analysing data from large groups of people to study measurable objective variables.

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