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Lecture 2

PSYC39H3 Lecture 2: LEC1

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David Nassum

Psychology and Law Lecture Notes Lecture 1 Introduction to Psychology as a Science Why Psychology is Not a Natural Science: Implications for Forensic Psychology There are four requirements of a science: 1. Natural Law Requirement candidate science studies phenomena reflecting natural order in the universe 2. Reductionistic Language Requirement candidate science has reductionistic language for defining and ultimately explaining phenomena 3. InterScience Consistency Requirement candidate science meshes linguistically with those levels of science immediately above and below 4. Empirical Test Requirement candidate science uses sound empirical methodology to validateinvalidate its theories thereby refining knowledge Going into more detail and to illustrate these four requirements: Natural Law Requirement Say you have a study where you wanted to look at the demographics in the typical distribution of automobile types and years in a particular area The method used is to look at the distribution of the cars that pass through a intersection between 23pm and compile a list The question is whether this is considered a scientific study? The answer is no because there is no law of nature dictating the owner of the relative car that drives through that intersection at that time Reductionistic Language Requirement Reductionism is an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts and these complex things can be described in a language with a limited number of core concepts, and combinations of those concepts For example: the concept of motion brought out by Newton can be described with this reductionistic language Given the equation F = M x A to describe law of motion, we can explain it by saying Acceleration is defined as ^Speed^Time, Speed is defined as ^Distance^Time, Distance and Time are fundamental and measurable in Newtonian world So you can see that high order constructs in motion (complex thing) are defined in terms of precise relationships between lower order constructs (interactions of their parts) This is an example of reductionistic language describing phenomena by defining the interactions between the parts InterScience Consistency Requirement You should see an overlap with other areas of science (such as biology, chemistry, and physics) and show no contradictions or violations in the ideas suggested by these other areas Empirical Test Requirement Uses research literatures from all sciences in order to validate or invalidate theories Does Psychology Satisfy These Criteria for a Science? Although many areas of psychology empirically study behaviors, they dont really examine the underlying processing of such behaviors. These studies are descriptive but the descriptions are not amenable to evaluating at more fundamental levels and consequently do not meet criteria for science. Fundamental Problem with Psychologys Current Status as a Science There are a number of unfortunate consequences of Watsons definition of behavior as being externally observed actions of the organism:
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