Why is social psychology a science

When it comes to the question of what psychology is, everyone probably has their own vague picture in their mind. It probably has something to do with feelings, psyche and lying on the sofa. Is it really like that? What is psychology Here comes the explanation.

What is psychology Everyone somehow has their own answer in mind. But what we can already hold on to is that the human being is at the center of psychology. Since you are probably expecting a definition at this point, we want to provide it to you - and avoid getting too scientific.

That's psychology

What you will read everywhere is the common definition of psychology: "The science of human experience and behavior." Human experience and behavior is a very flexible definition, as it includes everything that a person is, thinks, feels and expresses in action. Psychology uses models of thought from the humanities, social and natural sciences to understand how a person ticks, what goes on inside him, but he does not always show the outside world. How does he behave in social relationships and different environments? And why does he behave the way he does at the moment? In which communities can he be what he is? What effects do external circumstances have on the inner workings of people?

There are so many questions that psychology probes and many of them have already been answered. The answers and findings flow into various areas, for example in the world of work or the advertising industry, to name just two examples.

Sub-areas of psychology

Psychology consists of numerous focal points and this shows that there is actually no field without psychology. Or let's put it this way: wherever people are involved, there are always psychological aspects. Sub-areas of psychology include:

Everyday Psychology vs. Scientific Psychology

Each of us regularly plays the hobby psychologist in everyday life, because every day there are situations with other people in which we try to explain: "Why did my counterpart say or do this or that? Does it have to do with that ...? " Or we make predictions of what person XYZ will say or do. We base our predictions and attempts at explanations on certain circumstantial evidence. Perhaps based on experience, observations, common sense or a gut feeling. However, our everyday psychology is not scientific and it is certainly not universal.

Scientific psychology

It is different with scientific psychology, which is generally about here. Since psychology is an empirical science, all statements made must be based on systematic observations. She also uses experimental research methods, questionnaires, interviews, medical procedures, for example the EEG, and works with test subjects. "The most important tool in empirical knowledge acquisition" - as the Free University of Berlin writes - "is the descriptive and conclusive statistics and stochastics."

Over the years, a pool of collected and observed knowledge is formed that can explain, describe, predict and, in part, influence psychological processes and manifestations. Psychology looks for rules that apply to all or at least to groups of people. Even if it is undisputed that every person is unique, there are still similarities that should not be underestimated. It is clear that there are always individual cases. However, these are less researched by scientific psychology than by the field of psychotherapy.

What does psychology do?

Perhaps psychology is smiled at from above at some point and somehow associated with "sentimentalism". Psychology is so much more and permeates every area of ​​our life. We all benefit from scientific and applied psychology.

This is what psychology does, among other things:

  • Process fears, experiences of loss and traumatic experiences
  • Preventive health work
  • Avoid stress or learn how to deal with it in a healthy way
  • Analyze and influence buying behavior
  • Working out personal skills and making the best possible use of them
  • Help in good, social togetherness
  • good and productive atmosphere in the workplace

Differentiation from other subjects (psychotherapy, psychiatry)

Even if the terms psychotherapy, psychiatry and psychology sound very similar, they should not be lumped together. There is a clear distinction between training and job description.


You become a psychologist after graduation. Basically, a bachelor's degree is sufficient, even if the career prospects are less good than with a master's in psychology (see career entry & career opportunities with a bachelor's degree in psychology). The course does not make you a doctor or a psychotherapist, so you are not allowed to carry out any therapies or prescribe medication. A psychologist is not to be equated with a therapist, even if many think so.

However, there are many fields of work open to you, because psychologists are in great demand in many industries and provide advice. They are used wherever people are involved, be it in the advertising industry, in companies, in schools, in traffic or in hospitals.


Psychotherapy treats mental illnesses such as addictions, compulsions or depression. Psychological methods such as therapy, discussions or special exercises come to the rescue. Anyone who wants to work as a psychotherapist has to go a long way, because only a license to practice medicine entitles them to practice the profession of psychological psychotherapist. So far, a master’s degree with a focus on clinical psychology is required in order to begin training as a psychological psychotherapist after completing the master’s degree. Those who do not do this will not be approved.

Since the training path is very long, it is to be reformed from 2020 and the expensive and exhausting training to become a psychological psychotherapist is to be replaced by a uniform degree.


Psychiatry also deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental and psychosomatic disorders, and abnormal behavior is also part of the teaching. Unlike a psychological psychotherapist a psychiatrist is a specialist in psychiatry and has therefore completed a medical degree and a specialist examination. Psychiatrists also run psychological or neurological tests on their patients if necessary. Depending on the diagnosis, they work out a treatment proposal that can also include drug treatment.

You can read more about the differences in the professions in our article Difference between psychologist, psychotherapist and psychiatrist.

Find Psychology Degree

Psychology is an exciting subject and offers you the opportunity to get to know and research people's behavior and experience in a wide variety of situations. Do you want to study psychology? Then you will find a variety of courses from all psychological areas here:

  • Bachelor (expand)


    Business psychology, communication psychology, ...IU distance learning
    Business psychology, psychology, ...IU combined course
    Social workIU dual study
    Psychology, business psychology, international ...Hochschule Fresenius - full-time
    Business psychology, psychologyHochschule Fresenius - distance learning
    Psychology, business psychology, ...PFH distance learning
    Business administration and business psychology, ...Euro-FH
    Business psychology, psychologyUniversity of Europe for Applied Sciences
    Psychology, business psychology, prevention ...SRH Fernhochschule - The Mobile University