Difference between Psychology and Sociology (With Table)

Right from the ancient times, there have been several attempts to understand the human mind and behavior and comprehend the curiosity in the intellectual quotient which brings about any response. The two main fields of subjects with different career prospects in the humanitarian domain are psychology and sociology.

Psychology vs Sociology

The main difference between psychology and sociology is that psychology is the study of the mind and behavior while sociology is the study of society and social behavior. Psychology focuses on individuals while sociology focuses on the interaction between humans and society.

Psychology focuses on subjects of mental processes and behavioral neuroscience. It has four main branches and paradigms. The word psychology is derived from the Greek word. Professionals of psychology can have several career options and are not only limited to psychologists. There are numerous applications of the study in healthcare, public policies, and social programs.

While sociology focuses on subjects of social relationships, behavior, and interaction. It explains the relation of humans with systems and society. It has three main paradigms. Sociology has several career options in organizations, businesses, and healthcare. The word sociology is derived from Greek and Latin words.

Comparison Table Between Psychology and Sociology

Parameters of comparisonPsychologySociology
Word derivationDerived from two Greek words ‘psyche’ and ‘logia’ Derived from Latin word ‘socius’ and Greek word ‘logia’
BranchesFour branches: Clinical, cognitive, behavioral and biopsychology Seven Branches: Theoretical, Historical, Rural, and Urban Sociology, Sociology of Knowledge, Criminology, Sociology of Religion and Sociology of Economy
ConceptsStudy behavior and mental processes like perception, emotion, behavioral genetics, motivation, intelligence, resilience, relationships, personality, symbolic interpretation, and other brain functioning. Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism, Social Action Theory, and Postmodernism
ProfessionalsProfessional of psychology is called Psychologist Professional of sociology is called Sociologist
ApplicationsErgonomics, informing public policy, psychological research, mental health treatment, understanding child development, personal health, and social program design Welfare, work and employment, social cohesion, migration, education and awareness, political participation, and social movements

What is Psychology?

Psychology refers to the science and study of the mind and behavior of individuals and groups. It consists of concepts on the conscious, unconscious patterns, various feelings, emotions and thoughts, and social, physiological, and biological behavior. It deals with the various components of neuroscience. A professional in psychology is called a psychologist.

The word psychology has been derived from two Greek words ‘psyche’ and ‘logia’ which means soul and study respectively. Ancient philosophers like Papyrus, Thales, Hippocrates, Plato, and Aristotle have addressed depression and various workings of the mind. The subject involves introspection and observation and also techniques for focused thoughts and acts. It bridges the interaction physical and mental reality.

The first experiment in the field of psychology was first conducted by Gustav Fechner in the 1830s and later formulated the principle ‘Weber-Fechner Law’. Before that major schools of thought involve behavioral neuroscience, comparative psychology, structuralism, functionalism, and the biopsychosocial model. Wilhelm Wundt is considered the father of psychology.

Psychology is a diverse field and has several subfields and branches like clinical psychology, abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology, comparative psychology, forensic psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, personality psychology, and biopsychology. And it covers five main domains: biological, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and humanistic.

What is Sociology?

Sociology refers to the general social science and study of society, human social behavior, social interaction, patterns of social relationships, and aspects of culture in everyday life. It dives deep into the investigation and critical analysis of social order and social change.

The word sociology is derived from Latin words ‘socius’ which means companion and fellowship while the word ‘logy’ is derived from the Greek word ‘logia’ which means the study of. Professional in the study of sociology is called sociologists. The study matter can range from micro-level to macro-level analysis of the various levels, structures, and systems of society. Sociologists use various qualitative and quantitative techniques as social analytical tools.

Ancient philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle have portrayed social and political criticism in their philosophy. There are four fathers of sociology: Max Weber, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Auguste Comte. Harriet Martineau is considered the mother of sociology. Herbert Spencer wrote the first book on sociology.

Sociology includes subjects like social stratification, social mobility, secularization, social class, religion, gender, sexuality and deviance, and other spheres of human activity. It also has an implementation in subjects like health, medicine, economy, military, punishments, a system of control, education, and scientific knowledge.

Main Differences Between Psychology and Sociology

  1. Psychology involves the study of individuals or groups based on their behavior while sociology involves the study and understanding of the patterns and systems of the society.
  2. Psychology deals with factors that affect an individual’s cognitive and emotional response while sociology involves social theories and policies that portray interaction.
  3. Psychology has career options like psychologists, childcare workers, art therapists, correlational officers, and counselors while sociology provides career options as a teacher, librarian, researcher, analyst, social caseworker, and in sales and marketing.
  4. The father of psychology is Wilhelm Wundt while sociology has four fathers Max Weber, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Auguste Comte.
  5. Psychology has four paradigms – behaviorism, individual constructivism, social constructivism, and cognitive psychology while sociology has three main paradigms – the functionalist paradigm, the conflict paradigm, and the symbolic interactionist paradigm.


Professionals of both fields can be found working in humanitarian-based businesses and organizations. Several ancient philosophers have addressed both fields before official clinical experimentations had occurred.

Though both the fields sound similar, they have different career aspects in human service and require different skills to gain expertise in the subject. Both offer diverse and variety of career options. Both the fields aim at human welfare, association and response.

Psychology focuses on intellectual curiosity while sociology focuses on social structures and human society at various levels. Students deciding to choose among the subjects for their career path should make a decision depending upon their personal interests.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2006.00746.x
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2006-21619-004
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