Is Psychology a Social Science or Human Science?


Martha Robinson

Is Psychology a Social Science or Human Science?

Psychology is a fascinating field that explores the complexities of human behavior and the mind. It seeks to understand why people think, feel, and act the way they do. But when it comes to categorizing psychology as either a social science or a human science, there is often confusion.

The Social Science Perspective

In the realm of social sciences, psychology is typically considered as one of its branches. Social sciences focus on studying society, human relationships, and individual behavior within a societal context. They analyze how people interact with each other and how their behaviors are influenced by cultural norms, social structures, and institutions.

Psychology as a social science emphasizes the study of individuals in relation to their environment. It investigates various aspects such as personality development, cognitive processes, and social interactions. This perspective views human behavior as influenced by external factors like family, peers, and societal norms.

For example, social psychologists explore how conformity to group norms impacts decision-making processes. They investigate how people’s behavior changes when they are in the presence of others or under social pressure.

The Human Science Perspective

On the other hand, some argue that psychology should be considered a human science. The human science approach focuses on understanding individuals from an internal perspective rather than examining them solely within a societal context. It recognizes that humans have unique experiences, thoughts, perceptions, and emotions that shape their behaviors.

In this view, psychology delves into subjective experiences through methods such as introspection and phenomenology. These approaches aim to uncover the underlying meanings behind human actions and experiences without solely relying on external influences.

Human science psychologists focus on understanding individual experiences, motivations, and inner thoughts. They explore the complexities of human consciousness and the subjective aspects of mental processes.

Interdisciplinary Nature

While there is debate over whether psychology is a social science or a human science, it’s important to note that it can be considered both. Psychology draws from various disciplines, incorporating elements from social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.

Psychology as an interdisciplinary field integrates knowledge from sociology, anthropology, biology, philosophy, and neuroscience. This multidimensional approach allows psychologists to explore human behavior from multiple perspectives.


In conclusion, psychology can be viewed as both a social science and a human science. From the social science perspective, it focuses on understanding individuals in relation to their environment and emphasizes external influences on behavior. From the human science perspective, psychology explores individuals’ unique experiences and internal processes that shape their behaviors.

Ultimately, categorizing psychology as either a social science or a human science may depend on one’s theoretical framework and research interests. However, recognizing its interdisciplinary nature is crucial in understanding the complexities of the human mind and behavior.