Section 1: Gaining Knowledge through Research


Influence of Research on Psychology

Psychology is not an absolute science and is often referred to as a ‘Social Science’ or a ‘Soft Science.’  This is because it deals with human thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and as we are all aware, humans are not always predictable and reliable.  Instead, we interact with our environment in ways that alter how we behave, how we think, and how we feel.  Change one thing and the domino effect can change everything else.2

Nevertheless, research plays an extremely important role in psychology.  Research helps us understand what makes people think, feel, and act in certain ways; allows us to categorize psychological disorders in order to understand the symptoms and impact on the individual and society; helps us to understand how intimate relationships, development, schools, family, peers, and religion affect us as individuals and as a society; and helps us to develop effective treatments to improve the quality of life of individuals and groups.

In this sense, psychological research is typically used for the following:

Study development and external factors and the role they play on individuals’ mental health

Study people with specific psychological disorders, symptoms, or characteristics

Develop tests to measure specific psychological phenomenon

Develop treatment approaches to improve individuals’ mental health

In the following sections, you will learn about how research is conducted and the different types of research methods used to gather information.