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Sociology and Psychology - What's the Difference Between Them?

Sociology and Psychology - What's the Difference?
Sociology and psychology are two social sciences that are complementary to each other. However, sociology involves the study of group behavior of humans on a macro-level, while psychology is more concerned with what goes inside the brain of an individual in different situations and scenarios.
Neha B Deshpande
Last Updated: Mar 9, 2018
Did You Know?
Social psychology is a discipline in psychology that studies the impact of others on the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of an individual. Both sociology and psychology impact each other in some way or the other. While studies in both are different, many refer to knowledge in the other field for research. For example, 'Pluralistic Ignorance' is one of the studies in social psychology.
In simple words, psychology studies the human brain and an individual's mental characteristics. On the other hand, sociology studies the behavior patterns of people in a group or society; their relationships and social life.

Both fields are interrelated in some way or the other, there are stark differences between them, though both study human behavior, through different perspectives. They complement each other, and are interrelated in many ways. Let's take a look at the differences between them.
Difference in Approach
► Both sciences adopt a different approach while working. Sociology looks at the 'macro' level, behavior patterns of groups of people. It observes how different societies observe and follow different faiths and culture, the difference in them, how inter-relations between different countries affect the social behavior of different cultures, etc. Sociology also involves the study of human behavior in a society, how it impacts the society, and how humans behave in social groups.
► On the other hand, psychology deals with the study of the human mind and individual behavior patterns. It involves studying individual responses to different scenarios. This is the major difference in the approach of both sciences.
Types of Sub-fields
► Sociology sub-fields can consists of many types that include research in a particular area such as marriage, culture, rights of women in different societies, impact of climate, dressing patterns, political decisions, education, social evils, etc.
► Psychology has various sub-fields such as criminal psychology, clinical psychology, abnormal psychology, industrial psychology, cognitive psychology, etc.
Research Methodology
► Sociologists engage in surveys, questionnaires, and field work for their research. They need to understand the culture and the impact of society's thinking as a whole to form a consensus. Of course, any society is complex, and the psychology of all individuals together form a society.
Experiments on animals
► Psychology, on the other hand, uses more techniques of experiments and researches in the laboratory. Hypothesis formulation, case studies, experiments on animals, etc., are some of the research techniques in psychology. Other than that, interviews, observations, and other scientific methods are used in psychology.
Research Examples
Thomas theorem, Ascribed status, Symbolic interactionism, etc., are some of the established researches and theories formulated in sociology.

Cognitive dissonance, Abilene paradox, Bandwagon effect, etc., are some of the researches and theorems developed in psychology.
Careers Opportunities
Counselor discussion
● For sociology majors, they can find jobs that render health services such as counseling, health supervisors, etc.

● There are plethora of opportunities available in the business field that includes jobs such as public relations officer, production manager, market analyst, etc.
● Other than that, you can be involved in social service activities, or work in government offices such as rural development, planning, urban planning, foreign service, etc.

● Those interested in the education field, can work as a teacher, counselor, recruiter, etc.
Kids counselor
● Psychology majors can specialize in the various sub-fields, and accordingly, work as a counselor or a clinical psychologist in clinics, hospitals, schools, social welfare organizations, etc. As a counselor, again, there are various sub-fields, such as a marriage and family counselor, or counselor for school kids, etc.

● Want something different? You can work as a forensic psychologist, and help law enforcement agencies. You can also make a career as sports psychologist.
● Again, in the field of education, you can work as a teacher, researcher, or a counselor.

● The above list certainly does not cover the list of career prospects that professional of these sciences can avail of. Both degrees offer enticing and challenging career opportunities.
While there is a vast difference between psychology and sociology, it can be reiterated that both go hand in hand and complement each other. Some famous psychologists are William Janes, Jean Piaget, Mary Whiton Calkins, etc., While Karl Marx, Auguste Comte, Max Weber, etc., famous sociologists known for their contributions to sociology. Both social sciences deal with everything that is human. And everything that is human is too difficult to comprehend!
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