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Psychology as a Human Science


The Duquesne University Psychology Department is renowned throughout the world for its scholarship in the area of human science psychology. What does it mean to conceive and practice psychology as a “human science?” This approach includes a variety of interpretative perspectives sharing common roots and similar understandings about what it is to be human. These perspectives guide the goals and methods of research and practice.


Traditionally, the natural sciences have relied on quantitative, experimental research methods to achieve their goal of prediction and control. Human science psychologists have long held that while this approach may be appropriate when applied to physical objects (such as those studied by physics and chemistry), it is often inappropriate when applied to human phenomena such as history, culture, art, and much of psychology.


The psychological study of human beings often requires distinctive methodologies which seek to understand people and which enable the sharing of this understanding in the service of health and well-being. Following from this perspective, human science psychology emphasizes qualitative research that explores questions regarding meaning, values, experience, and culture. Similarly, in the field of clinical psychology, human science psychologists incorporate this perspective and its research findings into the practice of psychotherapy.


Duquesne's emphasis on psychology as a human science means that coursework fosters critical and creative thinking about the nature of psychological phenomena and about the presumed facts discovered in research and practice. Students are encouraged to consider the assumptions about human beings that underlie various therapeutic and research approaches, theories, and practices, and to discover the relevance of psychology in their own experience and daily life.


The scholarship of our Psychology faculty is highly esteemed throughout the United States and around the world. As in other disciplines at Duquesne, undergraduates have the considerable advantage of being taught by these prestigious scholars and benefiting from their cutting-edge research.

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