Science vs. Social Sciences

What's the Difference?

Science and social sciences are two distinct branches of knowledge that aim to understand and explain different aspects of the world. Science primarily focuses on the natural world and employs empirical methods to study and analyze phenomena. It seeks to uncover universal laws and principles through systematic observation, experimentation, and data analysis. On the other hand, social sciences concentrate on human behavior, society, and culture. They employ a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods to investigate social phenomena, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics. While science aims to uncover objective truths about the natural world, social sciences explore the complexities of human interactions and seek to understand the social, cultural, and psychological factors that shape our behavior and society.


AttributeScienceSocial Sciences
Subject MatterNatural phenomena, physical worldHuman behavior, society, culture
MethodologyEmpirical observation, experimentationQualitative and quantitative research methods
ObjectiveSeeking to understand natural laws and phenomenaExploring human interactions, social structures, and cultural dynamics
ApproachReductionist, analyticalInterdisciplinary, holistic
Research FocusPhysical and natural worldHuman society, behavior, and culture
Knowledge GenerationBased on empirical evidence and scientific theoriesBased on social theories, observations, and analysis
ApplicationTechnological advancements, medical breakthroughsSocial policies, understanding societal issues
ExamplesPhysics, chemistry, biologySociology, psychology, anthropology

Further Detail


Science and social sciences are two broad fields of study that aim to understand and explain different aspects of the world we live in. While both disciplines employ systematic methods to gather and analyze data, they differ in their subject matter, research approaches, and the types of knowledge they produce. In this article, we will explore the attributes of science and social sciences, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Subject Matter

Science primarily focuses on the natural world and seeks to uncover the underlying laws and principles governing physical phenomena. It encompasses disciplines such as physics, chemistry, biology, and astronomy. Scientists in these fields conduct experiments, make observations, and develop theories to explain natural phenomena. On the other hand, social sciences study human behavior, societies, and institutions. They include disciplines like sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, and political science. Social scientists investigate social interactions, cultural norms, economic systems, and political structures to gain insights into human societies.

Research Approaches

Scientific research often follows the empirical approach, which involves systematic observation, experimentation, and data collection. Scientists formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and analyze the results to draw conclusions. The scientific method emphasizes objectivity and strives to eliminate bias in the research process. In contrast, social sciences employ a range of research methods, including surveys, interviews, case studies, and statistical analysis. Social scientists often work with complex and dynamic social phenomena, making it challenging to establish controlled experiments. Instead, they rely on qualitative and quantitative data to understand social patterns and behaviors.

Types of Knowledge

Science aims to produce empirical knowledge that is based on observable evidence and can be tested and replicated. The knowledge generated by scientific research is often considered objective and universal. Scientific theories and laws provide explanations and predictions about the natural world. In contrast, social sciences produce interpretive knowledge that seeks to understand and explain human behavior and social phenomena. The knowledge generated in social sciences is often influenced by cultural, historical, and contextual factors. It is subjective to some extent, as it involves the interpretation of human actions and motivations.

Interdisciplinary Nature

While science and social sciences are distinct fields, there is also significant overlap and interdisciplinary collaboration between them. For example, fields like environmental science and neuroscience bridge the gap between natural and social sciences. Environmental science combines scientific knowledge with social, economic, and political factors to address environmental issues. Similarly, neuroscience explores the biological basis of human behavior, drawing on knowledge from both natural and social sciences. This interdisciplinary approach allows for a more comprehensive understanding of complex phenomena.

Impact on Society

Both science and social sciences have a profound impact on society. Scientific advancements have led to technological innovations, medical breakthroughs, and improved understanding of the natural world. Science has shaped our lives in numerous ways, from the development of vaccines to the exploration of space. On the other hand, social sciences contribute to our understanding of human behavior, societies, and cultures. They inform public policies, help address social issues, and contribute to the development of more equitable and inclusive societies. Social sciences provide insights into economic systems, political structures, and social inequalities, enabling us to work towards positive social change.


Science and social sciences are two distinct yet interconnected fields of study. While science focuses on the natural world and employs empirical methods, social sciences investigate human behavior and societies using a range of research approaches. Both disciplines contribute to our understanding of the world and have a significant impact on society. By recognizing their similarities and differences, we can appreciate the diverse ways in which knowledge is produced and applied to address the challenges and opportunities we face as a global community.

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