Home Jobs & Education What’s the Difference Between Psychology and Sociology?

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If it’s been a while since you’ve taken your core college classes, or you’re just starting out in AP classes, you might not be sure what the differences between psychology vs sociology may be.

It’s important to understand the definitions and distinctions of what both studies examine. These definitions and explanations should give you a clear, distinct answer. So, let's take a look of what its like for Psychology vs Sociology.

Definition of Psychology (Psychology vs Sociology)

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In the most direct terms, psychology could be defined as the study of a human individual’s mind. Emotions, thinking patterns, and other things related to the topic are considered a part of psychology.

Psychology takes a look at an individual and tries to understand why he or she thinks a certain way and behaves a certain way.

It examines things like an individual’s family history and trauma as a part of the examination of a person’s individual psychological makeup.

If Psychology works within a number of themes, how about Sociology? Similarly, click here if you would like to know How Long Does It Take To Become A Psychologist and How Much Does a Psychologist Make?


Consistent patterns of behavioral thought and emotions make up a person’s personality within the concepts of psychology.

According to Sigmund Freud, the id, ego, and super-ego are the distinct, interacting agents that make up a person’s psyche and therefore personality.


Motivation refers to the intention of an individual in his or her actions and behavior. Originally, this was seen as coming from a person’s will, but as Freudian and Darwinian thinking arose, instinct became a part of this understanding of motivation within this school of thought.

Unconscious Mind

The unconscious mind is the part of an individual’s mind that exists outside of a person’s awareness but influences the person’s actions and reactions to events around them all the same.

The term “Freudian slip” comes from this aspect of the psyche: someone says something unintentionally revealing of a subconscious thought that he or she might not even beware of feeling or thinking.

Genes and Environment

Both genetic factors passed down from parents and grandparents, and environmental factors are believed to influence a person’s psyche.

If, for example, a parent is depressed, there are likely components of this mental illness that are passed along to a child through genetics. If there is some kind of pre-disposition towards depression therein.

However, a parent who suffers from depression will also influence that child towards depression. This is through interactions while living with the child, whether there are genetic factors or not.


Development within psychology seeks to understand how a person’s personality, interests, mental processes, et cetera change through growth and changes that come about as a result of aging.

Definition of Sociology (Psychology vs Sociology)

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Sociology also studies human behavior and thinking, but the focus is on humans in a group or society, rather than as individuals. Specifically, sociology examines patterns of social interactions, relationships, and culture.

The traditional focuses within sociology include the following.

Social Class

Social class is a hierarchical social category, ranking some people as “above” others. One of the more famous class systems would be the Caste system of India.

American society has a less stringent social class system that includes the upper, middle, and lower classes, and sub-classes, such as upper-middle or lower-middle class.

Social Mobility

The social mobility aspect of sociology examines the movement of individuals, households, families, and other groups within the social classes.

For example, social mobility observes how someone may be born into a lower-class family, but marries into an upper-class family. Or, creates a fortune and therefore moves into the upper-class naturally through the improvement of financial stability.

This aspect is all about “social status,” and the perceptions surrounding that topic.

Religion and Secularization

Of course, religion is a massive part of the study of societies. It is as religion influences significant parts of a society’s behavioral patterns. Those in a society that highly values religion, for example, may experience laws made to protect or enforce certain religious actions or rights.

Religion within society can also influence a number of other things, like social class.

Secularization, on the other hand, is the movement of a group of people away from a dominant religious culture.

Post-modernism is an example of the movement away from the religion of secularization.

Human Sexuality

Another major influencer of sociology is human sexuality. This term refers to how individuals experience and express themselves sexually. This includes spiritual, emotional, biological, erotic, physical, and social aspects of this expression and experience.


Deviance in sociology refers to any behavior or action that deviates from social norms.

Not all deviations are negative, despite the connotation of the word. For example, in a culture wherein racism is normal and expected, someone acting in opposition to that attitude has acted in a deviant way from the culture in a positive way.

The Main Difference: Psychology Vs. Sociology

Basically, it can be said that psychology vs sociology can be seen as psychology is all about the individual, while sociology is focused on the group of society.


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