Once again, time is an indicator. When a significant amount of evidence for a theory is readily available, the theory tends to be older and concomitantly more accepted by the scientific community. If there are significant gaps in the evidence, the theory can benefit from further investigation.
The same is true of the complexity level of the theory is not very high. More components can then be added by further investigation.
A theory can also be evaluated according to its ability to serve as an indicator of future phenomena. This makes a theory applicable to further scientific investigation, and furthermore also allow for further development in the theory itself. If the theory is for example a consistently accurate predictor of future events or phenomena, it can be viewed as valid. If it however proves inaccurate in one or some of its predictions, further evidence and modifications will be necessary.
Furthermore, theories can be evaluated in terms of the analytical and the empirical approach. The former refers to the structure of the theory, while the latter refers to its overall strength. When testing the components, complexity, and formation of the theory, the analytical approach is therefore taken, while the theory's ability to function in the scientific world, such as to make predictions, takes the empirical approach.
In the scientific community, theory evaluation is a very important component of investigation and discovery. The information age lends itself perfectly to scientific growth - information and evidence are readily available via the Internet, while contacts can easily be made and maintained via the online platform. In this way, the scientific community forms a much more consistent whole in order to make more rapid and valid future discoveries.
This consistent community can also more easily test hypotheses and evaluate theories in order to ensure that human knowledge develops and grows in a valid and consistent way. Scientific theory connects scientific law as established for centuries, with future hypotheses and theories. They create a platform for further scientific investigation, and in this way allow the world to become a richer and healthier environment for humankind.
Theory evaluation therefore entails the various components within a theory, and also the way in which it functions in the scientific world.
4. Before exploring what a science of psychology should study, it is useful to examine the nature of psychology itself. Psychology focuses on the study of the mind. The mind is a very complex system of nerves and cells that directly affect not only physical processes, but also nonphysical processes such as behavior and emotion. Psychology studies the mind by examining the manifestations of the mind in terms of behavior.
Psychology as a science should then apply the scientific process to the study of the mind by means of observable behavior. A behavioral manifestation is for example observed and a hypothesis formed. More evidence is gathered and published. The psychological community then substantiates and accepts the hypothesis as theory, and use it as a basis for further investigation. Psychology is a particularly rich field in which to apply this, as human behavior is a very complex and diverse field.
Particularly during modern times, globalization has resulted in easy access to a variety of cultures. Psychological scientists can then also apply their investigations to different cultures and the behaviors observed in these contexts. In this, psychological theories relating to various cultures can be created.
The BBC substantiates the idea of psychology as a science by noting that the study of the mind in many ways manifests like other scientific fields. The study of atoms is for example not based upon the direct observation of the study subject. Instead, predictions are made of how atoms should behave under certain conditions, and these are then substantiated or refuted by experimentation. In the same way, the study of human behavior dictates what is now known about the relationship between the brain, the mind, and behavior.
It has been briefly noted above that psychology can also be applied to field of anthropology, where the psychological behavior of different cultures may be studied to understand different cultures better. The BBC also notes that many other fields can be influence by psychology, including medicine, linguistics, philosophy, sociology, and artificial intelligence. The combination of these with psychology furthermore provides a rich field of study for the psychological scientist.
An example is neuropsychology, which combines psychology with biology. Various areas of the brain is mapped in order to discover more about its physiological functioning, and how this influences the various behaviors observed. Brain functions like memory or language can also be studied in this way. Language in turn can be combined with psychology to form the scientific study of psycholinguistics. In medicine, health psychologists help people to handle the physical pain, discomfort, or shock caused by the severity of their disease, while clinical psychologists alleviate disorders of the mind.
There are many ways in which to combine psychology with other scientific disciplines. What should be studied by a science of psychology is therefore a rather complex question, entailing a complex response. What is studied depends upon the specific field of specialization in psychology. Indeed, psychology is as complex as the mind itself, and in general, this is the focus of study in all fields that combine with this science: the mind.
Specifically, clinical psychology is concerned with mental illnesses and disorders; cognitive psychology focuses on memory; cognitive psychology investigates intelligence, and forensic psychology focuses on criminal behavior.
In all psychology, some form of behavior is generally involved in making observations and forming hypotheses. As more is discovered about the mind, the connection between the physical brain and its often strange psychological manifestations will become known to psychological scientists.
BBC. Science and Nature: What is psychology? Oct, 2008. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/articles/psychology/what_is_psychology.shtml
Carter, J. Stein. The Scientific Method. Nov. 4, 2004. http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Courses/bio104/sci_meth.htm
Theory Evaluation. 2008. http://arti.vub.ac.be/memos/AI-Memo-93-07/subsubsectionstar4_2_3.html
Wilson, Jerry. Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories. 2007. http://www.wilstar.com/theories.htm