Should psychology be written for the layman or should science be exclusively for scientists?
Hello all, welcome to another week and another blog. Hope you’re all keeping well.
Today, I’ll be discussing whether psychology should be written in simple terms so that everyone can understand, or whether it should be kept scientific and just for scientists.
I believe that the first thing to consider here is what kind of research is actually being done. For example, social psychology is something which the majority of people can relate to, and so, can understand. In this case, if research were being done into the area, should it not be written so that everyone can understand it?
For example, Milgram’s study on obedience is something which the majority of people can relate to and understand. So, should this kind of research not be written so that they can read it and understand it? (http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/milgram.htm)
On the other hand, an area such as psychobiology, although applicable to all society, is something which is not as easy to understand and can be a lot more scientific. Is this the kind of research which should be written in scientific terms?
It may be important to note that without scientists/psychologists to first conduct research and to further evaluate it, we would not have anything to discuss in this topic. There would be no research to read and to understand.
Turney stated that people have an appetite for scientific information, but there is a duty for scientists to explain the scientific research in ways that a range of people can use. (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2896%2990283-4/abstract)
This means that while we do need scientists to understand research, it then should be explained to general public in ways that they can understand and use. But does this mean that the research should be written in a way that only scientists understand, and then they should simplify it for the people who need it to be?
I think that it is important to note that, while Psychology is a science, it is also something which studies human behaviour and can be used to aid society’s knowledge of why people may act as they do. Why should this only be something that scientists can learn? Do people who may not be able to understand scientific terms not deserve to learn and to understand, considering Psychology is the study of EVERYONE’S behaviour, and not just the behaviour of people who study it?
If we think about previous research, and what important conclusions were drawn from it, it becomes clear that the general public should be able to learn from research findings. An example can come from Asch’s study on conformity. Asch drew important conclusions about how likely people are to conform to a group idea, even if they knew that the group opinion was the wrong one. If scientists alone knew how to understand the research findings, would there really be any point in conducting the research when people as a whole can not learn from it? Surely, this would mean that scientists would understand why people behaved as they did, but nothing would be learnt from it and nothing would change. Using the example from Asch’s study, if nobody but scientists could understand what the findings showed about conformity, this would result in scientists knowing why people may conform, but general people not knowing and therefore not being able to change their behaviour.
In conclusions, while Psychology is a science, it is also the study of behaviour exhibited by all people, and therefore, I believe that it should be written so that non-scientists can read, understand and perhaps learn from research.
However, this can only take us so far and there may of course may cases (such as in Psychobiology) where things may not be as easily simplified. In which case, it should not be that the ‘laymen’ should not know about and learn about research, but research should be understood by scientists and put in terms that everyone can understand.
Thanks for reading, see you next time 🙂