Question Lindsay Health

The difference between psychology and common sense

What is the difference between psychology and common sense?

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Answer Internal Staff

One problem with comparing psychology with common sense is that 'common sense' is a bit of a moving target. At various times, 'common sense' can refer to socially learned attitudes that are taken for granted, a person's prima facie judgement or to folk psychology, as illustrated in sayings such as 'once bitten, twice afraid'. What ties these things together, however, is that they are each employed in lieu of a full examination of the facts. They may even be pre-cognitive - acting as a sort of knee-jerk reaction for the sake of efficiency.

By contrast, psychology as a discipline at least purports to be an empirical science. It is typically engaged in the systematic formulation and testing of hypotheses through the gathering of evidence. In this way, it is able to go beyond the initial assumptions and snap judgements of common sense - perhaps even proving them wrong.