The Conceptual Representation of Science and Implications for Psychology's Status as a Scientific DisciplinePublic Deposited
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Research has shown that people are skeptical of psychology’s status as a science (Lilienfeld, 2011). The current research aimed to determine whether skepticism towards psychology is rooted in the way people process categorical information. This was achieved by investigating the category science using the family resemblance approach. The results of two experiments showed that chemistry, physics, engineering, and neurology were conceptually the most typical sciences. Unexpectedly, psychology’s typicality scores were found to be close to those of these disciplines. Nonetheless, people’s representation of science showed a clear distinction between the natural and the social sciences. Psychology did not elicit the characteristic features of the more typical sciences (i.e., natural sciences). These results may indicate that categorization behavior is the cognitive mechanism responsible for the perception that psychology is unscientific. The possibility that people use stereotypes rather than deliberate consideration of the scientific method to make judgments about science is discussed.
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