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psychology as a science, a primer

October 5, 2010

John T. Cacioppo, the President of the Association for Psychological Science, has a nice piece in the APS Observer about how psychology “fits” within the he domain of science writ large. He describes some research that attempts to organize the various scientific disciplines as to how they relate to and influence one another based on various metrics (primarily patterns of the topics that each discipline has been publishing). Given these analyses, psychology is well positioned as a “hub discipline”, one that connects to and informs other more specialized areas of inquiry. This may come as a surprise to some, but those of us dedicated to psychological science it only makes sense. Dr. Cacioppo makes clear the implications of recognizing this:

“During a period in which our national leaders appear more likely to identify psychology with the work of Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura than with the thousands of scientists worldwide who make up the membership of the Association for Psychological Science, it is imperative that institutions of higher education make clear the centrality and influence of psychological science as well as the importance of maintaining and promoting its growth.”

Go (psychological) science!

Below is an illustration from Boyack, Klavans, and Börner (2005)* that provides a visual rendering of the positions various disciplines occupy within the domain of science. Note that the seven bolded disciplines represent the seven identifiable “hub sciences”:

*Boyack, K.W., Klavans, R., & Börner, K. (2005). Mapping the backbone of science. Scientometrics, 64, 351-374.

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