Psychology and Sociology – What is the Difference?

Psychology and Sociology

Psychology and sociology go hand in hand – they are both the scientific study of people. Both help people understand the dynamics of emotions, relationships and behaviors better. There are several significant differences, though, and each role with their complexities and nuances is important and notable.


The primary, distinguishing mark of psychology is that it is the study of the mind of the individual or small group over a larger society or culture. Psychology tends to study one person at a time to get a general understand of society, trends in mental illness, stress, and human behavior and problems.

Some of the specific things that psychologists research are:

  • Stress
  • Memory
  • Grief
  • Creativity
  • Aging
  • Intelligence
  • Anger

These, and other emotional and social reactions, are the crux of a psychologist’s work. Not only are these the sort of things that are often sorted out in a counselor’s office with individuals, but asking and answering questions like, “What triggers this reaction?” or “Is there a psychological reasoning behind this emotional response?” have been found key to puzzling together larger psychological issues.

Psychologists work in private practices as counselors, in hospitals, labs, government centers, research centers, or in school as teachers or career or guidance counselors. As society grows, and grows more complex, they continue to find important work in a number of places. The average salary for someone working in the field of psychology is about $68,000 dollars a year.


Sociology looks beyond individuals and examines societies through the specific lenses or associations. Sociologists have discovered through years of research that much of societal behavior is dependent or dictated by some social relationships – gender, race, religion, and social class. Each of these filters offers a unique and important perspective on culture and society.

Important issues about the environment, social and economic inequality, and vulnerable populations including people with disabilities and the unborn are often brought to the public eye by people working under the umbrella of sociology; they help the general population understand why these issues are important, as well as understand any lasting impact they may have (or have had) on society as a whole. Their primary responsibility is observing cultures and people groups, researching current issues, and asking questions like, “How will these issues affect the continued development or wellness of society?”

Someone working in sociology, by doing sociological research or teaching for instance, can make an average of $72,000 depending on their job, experience, and education. However, sociologists hold positions in a large number of industries, and will in fact find less competition for jobs in a field not specifically marked “sociology”. People with a background in sociology can work in these specific positions and more:

  • Urban planner
  • Affirmative action worker
  • Census researcher
  • Human resources manager
  • Corrections officer
  • Public health supervisor

Research in both areas– psychology and sociology – is important to the future of social sciences. Success in things like developing relationships, growing creative output, and discovering the best jobs for certain personality types are all dependent on both psychology and sociology. While it is interesting to note all the places that they overlap – eventual deductions about the behaviors of people, humanity, societal structures – they are also very different and attract different kinds of people to each of their disciplines. These differences are needed and celebrated across the social sciences. Someone working in sociology, by doing sociological research or teaching for instance, can make an average of $72,000 depending on their job, experience, and education.

Online Sociology Degrees and Programs

Ashford University BA in Sociology Ashford University › Ashford U is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Ave, Ste 100, Alameda, California 94501, (510) 748-9001, Ashford University is a popular choice among students seeking to obtain their degree through distance learning. Ashford has several programs in sociology available, including the Social Science and Applied Behavioral bachelor of arts programs.
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Grand Canyon University MS in Sociology - Education Grand Canyon University › Grand Canyon University is a private, Christian school that is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It has a main campus in Phoenix, Arizona and an online division as well as with programs like the BS in Sociology and MS in General Psychology offered. These programs can help you quickly launch your career.
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Saint Leo University BA in Sociology Saint Leo University › Saint Leo University has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Saint Leo has had over 100 years of operation to craft excellent academic programs and apply this to their eCampus with programs like a BA in Sociology.
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Loyola University Chicago MA in Sociology PhD in Sociology Loyola University Chicago › "The general M.A. program in Sociology is designed to equip students with a broad foundation in general sociology and a particular focus in a more specialized field of relevance to the student’s career interests in teaching, research, governmental work, or public service. The Ph.D. program in Sociology is designed to produce independent scholars able to research, teach or serve in a variety of settings."
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