- Knowledge is acquired in many ways including intuition, authority, rationalism, empiricism, and the scientific method
- Science is a general way of understanding the natural world. Its three fundamental features are systematic empiricism, empirical questions, and public knowledge.
- Psychology is a science because it takes the scientific approach to understanding human behavior.
- Pseudoscience refers to beliefs and activities that are claimed to be scientific but lack one or more of the three features of science. It is important to distinguish the scientific approach to understanding human behavior from the many pseudoscientific approaches.
- Psychologists conduct research in order to describe basic phenomenon, to make predictions about future behaviors, and to explain the causes of behavior.
- Basic research is conducted to learn about human behavior for its own sake, and applied research is conducted to solve some practical problem. Both are valuable, and the distinction between the two is not always clear-cut.
- People’s intuitions about human behavior, also known as folk psychology, often turn out to be wrong. This is one primary reason that psychology relies on science rather than common sense.
- Researchers in psychology cultivate certain critical-thinking attitudes. One is skepticism. They search for evidence and consider alternatives before accepting a claim about human behavior as true. Another is tolerance for uncertainty. They withhold judgment about whether a claim is true or not when there is insufficient evidence to decide.
- Scientific research in psychology is conducted mainly by people with doctoral degrees in psychology and related fields, most of whom are college and university faculty members. They do so for professional and for personal reasons, as well as to contribute to scientific knowledge about human behavior. Most psychologists are experimental psychologists and they conduct research.
- The clinical practice of psychology—the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems—is one important application of the scientific discipline of psychology.
- Scientific research is relevant to clinical practice because it provides detailed and accurate knowledge about psychological problems and establishes whether treatments are effective.
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