23 Why Psychology is a Science

Based on Research by Whelhelm Wundt. Psychology Science Minute written by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D.

Psychology Science Minute brought to you by the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology, I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.

 [Cell phone ringing once].  How long does it take you to answer your cell phone?  Not until 1879 did Wilhelm Wundt teach the first psychology course and establish the first psychology experimental laboratory in University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. He wanted to learn about human perception. How do we measure what we can’t see? How did he think to first measure perception of a bell?  By the amount of time: from hearing a bell ring to pressing a button, what we now call “reaction time.”  He decided to isolate one part of perception and measured it by its effect on behavior. Humans differ in their reaction times.

In essence psychology is the study of human and all animal behavior or responses.  But behavior includes not only our verbal and physical actions and gestures that we can observe, but also our emotions, attitudes and cognitions that we can’t observe directly in others.

Categorizing and defining a unit of behavior and measuring it, is the first step in making a field scientific. Why is psychology a science?  Because it observes and measures behavior so that hypotheses generated from theories can be tested and shown to be valid or not through experiments, thus demonstrating causality.  It has taken our brightest minds to figure out how to measure behaviors.

So when you wonder about some behavior, human problem, or achievement, ask, “What does psychological science say about this?”

That’s your Florida Tech Psychology Science Minute. I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.


Wilhelm Wundt. (2011). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 03/06/11 from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/650018/Wilhelm-Wundt Wundt, Wilhelm. (1858–62). Contributions Towards A Theory Of Sense Perception (Beiträge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung).

Viney, W. and King, D. Brett. (2003). A History of Psychology, Ideas and Context, Third Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, p. 21

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