Psychology and statistics: the importance of probabilities in the science of behavior

Psychology and statistics: the importance of probabilities in the science of behavior

Mathematics is an important part of science and psychology, as a science that is, makes use of them to achieve its objectives of predicting and controlling human behavior. For this purpose, the use of psychology statistics help is important, which allows scientists to be more certain when it comes to predicting how people act.

Psychology and statistics

The use of mathematics has been an important part of the sciences since they arose as such at the beginning of the modern era, to the point where the great influence of numbers on what we now call scientific knowledge is undeniable. Francis Bacon proposed a strong role of mathematics as part of his new method, while  Galileo conceived mathematics as the language with which God wrote nature.

In this way it is completely reasonable that psychology, as a science that is, use mathematics in one way or another in its studies, either as an auxiliary or as part of the hypothetical deductive method. This method has been the subject of one of the constant controversies among psychology theorists.

What are the aims of psychology as a science?

Now, in order to understand the importance of probability in psychological science, it is necessary to understand the aims of psychology. Regarding this, Coon and Mitterer (2010) tell us that psychology pursues four purposes namely: the description, understanding, prediction and control of behavior and mental processes .

It is important, however, to understand well what is meant by the concepts prediction and control. By predicting it means the ability to predict with certainty conduct while by controlling simply means the ability to modify the conditions that affect behavior.

The moment when the odds come into play

Having understood the above, it can be said that probability justly helps to achieve the third objective and is, in a certain way, the foundation of the fourth point. In other words, for psychology to be able to predict and / or control behavior, it is necessary that it be able to make all the particular data obtained through research be capable of being generalized and hence inferred, with a rate of enough certainty, a behavior, action or situation.

Probability and statistics are used, on the one hand, as a way to obtain, interpret and generalize the data, and on the other, to be able to predict certain future events from there. This can be clearly seen in the fact of the use of the survey, correlational studies and case studies as research methods. The survey serves to obtain data is used to collect information from a representative sample of a population, while correlational studies look for the relationship that may exist between two variables, which are not necessarily cause of one another. Finally, the case study that allows studying a single subject or situation in a high degree of detail. 

Statistics: a key element to infer results

As expected, all these methods (and even the experimental method) require the probability to infer results. But it goes beyond just numbers, touches issues that once applied can affect people who are treated, for example, in a psychological office or in the workplace or school, for example. 

The issues dealt with in these three areas directly affect the lives of people and for this reason it is important to consider, on the one hand, the chances of success in therapy, or at the job interview or at school, so that can give a more accurate and efficient intervention that can really help people and give them effective tools to achieve their goals in the best possible way.

In the end, what is sought with the psychology stats, from a scientific point of view, will be the predictability of an event. But from a personal point of view, and not infrequently existential of many people, what is sought is a certainty that gives meaning to the reality we live.