Why is psychology called a social science when it does not deal with society?


Psychology deals with the individual, not with society. Why is it considered a social science? My university places it in the College of Social Sciences, Yahoo Answers categorizes it as a social science, and when I tell people that I am majoring in psychology, they almost inevitably say something about it being a social science and not a “real” science, like physics.

People seem to be fine with calling engineering and medicine science, while both fields are really the products of science, and not sciences themselves. How many doctors or engineers are actually conducting experiments? Very few.
cricket: Psychology does not study the society. It studies the individual. Sociology studies society. By your definition, we could call human biology a social science.

Pearl L: “Social” doesn’t mean “people.” Society refers exclusively to groups of people, while psychology specifically studies the individual and not society. The exception would be social psychology, which looks at how society affects the individual. No matter what though, psychology looks at the individual, not the society.
Eleni: Your response confuses me. You say “this distinguishes the field from psychology.” Psychology is the field that I am talking about, your response seems to pertain to sociology.
Shantal: Society is the interaction between people. Psychology doesn’t study the interactions between people, it studies the person. Sociology or communication studies interaction between people.
cricket: Psychology does not equal therapy. Therapy is an application of psychology, not the thing itself.

slayer: I didn’t say that they don’t do experiments in physics. I said engineers and medical doctors don’t experiment, yet people call medicine and engineering science. Psychology takes social influence into account, but only as they apply to the individual. Social psychology deals with how society influences the individual, not with society itself–that is the domain of sociology.

And my question is simply why we call it a social science, when it’s not about society. Note also that I am a psych major, so I’m not trying to ask about psychology itself, I would say that i know that pretty well.

Question :

Why is psychology called a social science when it does not deal with society?

Best Solver (Answer):

Answer by cricket
Social science deals with human behavior.
Psych means mind, ology means the study of
I see what you are getting at, but you are taking this too literally. We are social beings, the act of visiting a psychologist is, in itself, a social act.

4 thoughts on “Why is psychology called a social science when it does not deal with society?”

  1. Foremost is the emphasis on society rather than the individual. The individual is viewed as an actor within larger social processes. This distinguishes the field from psychology.

    Sociology, psychology, anthropology have the same object to study: The Human.

  2. Actually they would do a lot of experiments in Physics.
    Psychology does not just deal with the individual but the individual in the context of their society. Plus, there are so many fields of psych including workplace psychology, advertising psychology, cross-cultural psychology and indigenous psychology which is clearly taking into account the mind in relation to it’s societal influences.
    It’s a social science and not a ‘real’ science because there are always too many variables and not enough evidence to be conclusive most of the time. Not that psych isn’t awesome, it is. It has contributed a lot and will continue to do so, but it isn’t foolproof.

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