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

Walden University PhD: Social Psychology Walden University › Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, formerly associated with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The school offers a dynamic online program for its PhD in Social Psychology that may allow eligible credits to be transferred.
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Ashford University BA: 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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Purdue University MS: Psych - Applied Behavioral Analysis Purdue University › While Purdue University does not offer programs in sociology, it has several psychology programs available and is one of the largest school networks in America – over 70 campuses in the US. You can choose to take online classes in degrees like the MS in Psychology with specializations in Addictions and Applied Behavioral Analysis.
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Southern New Hampshire University BA: Sociology Southern New Hampshire University › The Southern New Hampshire University holds several accreditations, but the most important comes from its regional accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. SNHU allows students to earn a BA in Sociology through distance learning – a method that can cut several costs related to campus-based learning.
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Saint Leo University BA: Sociology BA: Applied/Clinical Sociology BA: Sociology - Diversity/Inequality 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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