Scientific research has been one of the great drivers of progress in human history, and the dramatic changes we have seen during the past century are due primarily to scientific findings—modern medicine, electronics, automobiles and jets, birth control, and a host of other helpful inventions. Psychologists believe that scientific methods can be used in the behavioral domain to understand and improve the world. Although psychology trails the biological and physical sciences in terms of progress, we are optimistic based on discoveries to date that scientific psychology will make many important discoveries that can benefit humanity. This module outlines the characteristics of the science, and the promises it holds for understanding behavior. The ethics that guide psychological research are briefly described. It concludes with the reasons you should learn about scientific psychology.
Ed Diener, Senior Scientist for the Gallup Organization and professor at the University of Virginia and University of Utah, received three of the highest honors in psychology (APA’s Distinguished Scientist Award, the APS William James Award, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences) for his groundbreaking research on happiness.