AOK: Human Sciences Maria Zapata Pérez

How reliable is observation in the human sciences?

Journal Entries

Today we completed a quiz for the human sciences; I got an 8/10. I chose the human sciences as my 2nd AOK because the two areas I intend on studying in college are Psychology and Business, both human sciences, therefore this knowledge about them will hopefully help me in the future. My new group is Mallika, Beka and Rhea. After completing the quizzes, we watched a video of a weird dude talking for 3 minutes about the scientific method. He brought up the idea that science is philosophical and it is hard to fully prove scientific facts that are stated in textbooks. I agree with this idea although I believe that if an experiment has been done multiple times and the same conclusion has been achieved, it is safe to say that it has been proved and can become a theory. However, in my opinion, this can only be concluded in the natural sciences; on the other hand, the human sciences are much more complex because each individual acts differently in response to different stimuli.

We chose the question: How reliable is observation in the human sciences?

To address the question we must first consider observation in the human sciences and its reliability. We discussed it as a group and considered it from a psychological perspective since we were all familiar with the subject. We related observation with human behavior and how it is not reliable due to the complexity of human beings. We chose to read the elective reading on SATs and ACTs as a "standard" to measure individual knowledge. We chose this because we can all relate to it since it plays an important role of our college application process for next year.

From the article we learned about how the SAT and ACT are not true "standards" of knowledge. We discussed about the authenticity of these scores and observations, while contemplating on whether or not they were genuinely a representation of one’s behavior and character. Colleges who are looking for these scores make up their own standards, making score ranges that are allotted to students by number or percentage.

Reflection Journal

We submitted our paragraphs after reviewing them in class with Mr. Morrison. We all had the same ideas in our paragraphs because we discussed the question together. Beka and I failed to address the reliability of observation itself and instead discussed the reliability of human behavior. I sort of understand why this would be wrong, but observation truly depends on the human behavior that is being observed, which is probably why we reached this conclusion.


There are limits to the reliability of observation in the human sciences due to the number of factors that impact a person’s behavior. An article written by NPR examined how every year there are more colleges that remove the need for standardized test scores due to their inability to reflect a true “standard” of intelligence. The author of the study claimed that “Human intelligence is so multifaceted, so complex, so varied, that no standardized testing system can be expected to capture it.” Through his study, he aimed to discuss how accurately standardized tests portrayed a student’s academic success. He came to the conclusion that there are numerous factors that can impact a student’s ability that can affect their performance on a 4-hour test; therefore, the results of these standardized test scores cannot be generalized to each individual. These standardized test scores are a form of observation; taking into account the complexity of each individual leads to the conclusion that standardized tests are not the most reliable way to measure a student’s ability, as a true “standard” cannot be reached. Observation in the human sciences is challenging due to the complexity of human behavior and the inability to generalize findings to the entire population, therefore there is a limit to its reliability.

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