Is psychology an art, or a science? Thanks in advance.
I just read the good doctor’s response to this question. I agreed with the thrust of it. I think it has to be both an art and a science also, especially from the individual psychologist’s/psychotherapist’s point of view. I suppose if by psychology we were talking about large groups and populations, then a scientific approach (as in, a rigorous and methodical approach with a view towards making accurate predictions and finding reproducible results, etc) might be more warranted. If, on the other hand, we are talking about the individual, a subtle and perhaps more intuitive approach might be in order. It’s also helpful to consider that the reasons for studying the psychology of large populations often differ from the therapeutic goals that motivate a mental health professional in the field. Missing these distinctions is one way people so easily confuse themselves when it comes to understanding psychological issues. It is one thing to talk about generalities that may or may not be backed by statistics, sound theory, an up to date neurological understanding and so on. It is often another thing to bridge the gap from what we learn studying general populations to the individual sitting right in front of you. Perhaps the latter is part of where the art comes into play…
I think that's right, Daniel. Statistics can apply to large populations, but cannot help in understanding an individual person. Everyone is different on the individual level. That's why it makes no real sense to generalize about psychopaths and what "they" are like. There really is no "they," only various individuals.
Thanks to Dr. R. for making this Forum available. I like it here.