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TheSpiderWeb's avatar

Is it possible for someone to have a grasp on Psychology and Sociology without doing coursework?

Asked by TheSpiderWeb (12points) 1 week ago

Because I heard from someone who read about internet trolls having a grasp on such subjects without doing any coursework and that you learn it through observation and interaction.

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19 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

Of course this is possible. How else would the courses have been developed in the first place, otherwise – Divine Revelation?

zenvelo's avatar

Sure, it is possible, but not likely.

And that “grasp” wouldn’t be of much use except to become more of a troll.

Jeruba's avatar

I have edited a quantity of psychology and sociology textbooks in the course of my career. Even though reading to edit is very different from reading to learn, I absorbed a lot. I’ve also read a number of general-audience books in those fields. So even though my coursework ended at psych 101 and soc 101 decades ago, I have a better-than-average grasp of those subjects.

I find it useful, and I’m no troll.

But I don’t consider myself qualified to do anything in the field except (a) listen well when people talk, and reflect intelligently on their behavor, (b) comprehend a good portion of what experts say, and (c) edit more books. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of interest, the same way I’m interested in music and art, and not a professional qualification.

I would imagine that an intelligent and perceptive person who pays close attention to people’s online behavior could learn how to goad people and how to play them, if that’s what they want to do, just as people playing a sport learn how to analyze their opponents’ habits and weaknesses and exploit them to their own advantage. It is a game to them, isn’t it?

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m going to disagree pretty strongly with @zenvelo on his assertion that it’s “not likely”.

This is how con artists and some gamblers (as well as highly successful business people) have made fortunes, and most of the con artists and gamblers never took the first course or read the first book on the subjects.

Zaku's avatar

Having a grasp is a different and lower bar than having a degree. It’s possible to become misinformed and/or to develop one’s own weird ideas about those fields by doing spotty study or one’s own observations and conclusions. It’s also possible to develop quite useful understandings of people without reading any academic documents. It’s also possible to take college courses and even be a professor and end up with some dubious notions. Even the mainstream notions of scholars in those fields (in particular, though also in others) have included many doubtful and later discredited ideas, etc.

But yes, even before there was such a thing as psycology and sociology, there were smart perceptive people who understood some perceptive things about those fields and it can still be done. Trolls and sociopaths in particular develop specialized expertise in how to torment others with mind games and taking advantage of behavior trends. Also, benevolent and perceptive and empathic people, etc.

stanleybmanly's avatar

You mean like preachers, auto salesmen and carnival sideshow barkers?

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Common sense? We spend our lives interacting with other people, so I guess we get some wisdom about their reactions and behaviors. Just watch any psychic, fortune-teller, or medium do a cold reading.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well sure, but you couldn’t do a thing with it without a degree, except go around pretending to know stuff that you may or may not know. The purpose of school is to introduce other arguments, not just your own.

Coloma's avatar

Sure, one can pretty much self teach just about anything but just because you read up on how to do brain surgery doesn’t mean you can hang out a shingle as a neurosurgeon. LOL

dabbler's avatar

You have a grasp on them just knowing how to get along in society.
Those fields are both studies of the behaviors of human beings, the stuff we all do all day, so I think it’s fair to say we all have some grasp, from our personal angle, of those fields.
People who thoughtfully consider their relationships and their friends’ experiences will have a deeper perspective than average.

LornaLove's avatar

Both of those subjects are very complex and both are very integrated, that is the tough part of understanding it holistically. The actual integration in order to come up with measurable data in order to use it as a diagnostic tool.
<——Psychology Sociology graduate.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Yeah, not a whole lot to understand about either. Psychology has some academic merit, qualifies someone to work sales. Graduate level then you can work in the field. Can’t say that about sociology. Both very soft sciences, default college degrees for folks who can’t decide what to major in. I would not call them complex.

dabbler's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Sociologists who want to monetize the degree go into marketing. They have the requisite expertise with the statistical tools and with the data.

TheSpiderWeb's avatar

But don’t people need to know the meaning behind each body language? Such as the American four indicating arrogance and defensive attitude (depending on the context such facial cues)

Dutchess_III's avatar

We figure it out as we go along @TheSpiderWeb.

LostInParadise's avatar

I have been reading Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. Here is a NY Times book review I can’t say that there was much that completely surprised me, but it is interesting to see the degree to which we predictably act in a way that appears to be non-rational.

TheSpiderWeb's avatar

The guy who made this claim mentioned that he himself has a grasp on these subjects with doing any coursework yet in another post he was talking about a psychology paper that he was working on.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The difference with these subjects is that they can be easily understood without prerequisites. Any average person can read a paper and grasp the research or concepts. It is not like physics or any hard science that require specific training before one can even begin to understand the subject at hand. There are not always clear answers to things with these dubjects, you often have to use statistics and large data sets to find trends that reveal correlaton. There is a lot open to interpretation with soft science, especially in Sociology. This is not to say it is not usefull but you really don’t need alphabet soup next to your name to grasp it, just the ability to read and reason.

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