Why are Statistics Useful in Psychology?

September 23, 2018

Statistics usually draw the attention of those who start a psychology career. They believe that numbers are a thing of the past, but this worrying subject suddenly pops up. What do scientists use statistics for? Why are they useful for psychologists and people interested in psychology?

When studying psychology, we’ll find classes such as: “Fundamentals of Research”, “Data Analysis”, ”Research Design”, “Psychometrics”, etc. They’re directly based on statistics. But these classes don’t really motivate psychology students. Therefore, they’re not the most appreciated classes in the career.

In this article, we’ll try to answer the questions that many students and curious people ask themselves when they come across those classes. To develop these answers, we’ll talk about psychology as a science and the usefulness of statistics in psychology.

Research in psychology and its methodology

You have to remember that psychology is a science. All the conclusions derived from this discipline proceed (or should proceed) from the application of a comprehensive and reliable system called the scientific method. This method is based on the progressive accumulation of evidence using different mathematical resources.

Woman checking statistics in her laptop.

Psychology is a broad discipline with applications in different fields: clinical, educational, sports, social, business, etc. However, research fields are below applied fields. To draw accurate conclusions about an observable reality, we need mathematics to assess the significance of the results obtained from experiments and research.

If there were no statistics in psychology, we wouldn’t be able to know if the results we’re observing are valid and reliable. A correct methodology and mathematical study reassure the data we’ve obtained in our research. This will be useful if we want to apply it to real situations.

Psychology is a science. Because of this, you have to use an abstract system that allows you to work as far away from opinion and subjectivity as possible. This system is the scientific method, and one of its key aspects is the use of statistics as a tool. Training psychologists to deeply understand at least the basic elements of statistics is very important.

The utility of statistics in psychology

When starting to study this discipline, it may seem that statistics don’t have an immediate utility in psychology. But all psychology students soon realize that they need those mathematical resources to understand the subject in depth. We’ll often find data and statistics from various studies. We’ll come across the validity and reliability coefficients of tests used in therapies and mathematical models of cognitive processes…

For obvious reasons, methodology and statistics are essential to assess the conclusions obtained during research if we want to dedicate ourselves to psychology research. This is because you can assess the extent to which the procedure that researchers have used is the most appropriate. Likewise, you can know how reliable the obtained results are.

Web inside someone's mind.

Clinical psychology, and other applied fields, demand a permanent formation. This means we have to be aware of new changes in the discipline. If we want to know and interpret the conclusions of academic psychology, it’s necessary to have a minimum knowledge of statistics and methodology. Therefore, the knowledge of statistics and data analysis is a requirement for any psychologist.

Statistics in psychology is a subject that causes a lot of fear and some headaches. But it’s highly rewarding and useful to know how to use the resources it offers. For this reason, it’s important for students and those interested in psychology to immerse themselves enthusiastically in the study of methodology and data analysis.