Psychology and sociology are both popular social sciences. Although the sciences attract similar mindsets and studies, the subjects do vary. Both psychology and sociology involve the study of people and deal primarily with behavior, but there is still a world of difference between them.
These disciplines can be both considered a social science because psychology and sociology examine the underlying influences on the human mind and behavior. Sociology and psychology both require similar skill sets such as research, observation, communication, interpersonal relations and more. Additionally, both studies aim to improve the lives of individuals to make a better society.
Psychologists concentrate on individuals including both the emotions and thought patterns that impact an individual’s decisions. They also may tend to study a small group, and a psychologist’s goal is to gain an understanding of the mind and behavior. The study of psychology encompasses areas such as how stress, intelligence, memory, mental health, grief, and other emotions affect the brain. Psychologists typically have more one-on-one interactions.
Unlike psychologists, sociologists focus on large groups of people or societies. The study of society aims to understand social behaviors within a group and research has found that social behavior is dictated by critical cultural issues or social relationships. Cultural issues can include social or economic inequality or environmental factors, and social relationships entail gender, religion, race and more. Sociologists observe people and culture, research current issues and predict future actions and have less face-to-face interactions.
Choosing the Right One
Although these fields are similar and may overlap in their studies, each are different. If you are interested in working with individuals and studying specific behaviors and reactions, then a psychology career may be the best fit. However, if you want to specialize in studying society as a whole, then sociology is better. If you are unsure of which path you want to pursue, it’s a good idea to take a course in both fields and see which interests you more.
There are numerous ways that psychology and sociology are interrelated and interdependent. In some ways, both disciplines go hand in hand, but there are several unique aspects of each. Ultimately, both psychology and sociology are needed to understand why individuals behave and interact better, and both are excellent fields to study.
Lisa Landman holds a Doctorate in Psychology and has worked in a variety of professional settings. Learn more about her professional work or check out her Twitter!