Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The Status of Psychology as an Empirical Science


AN empirical science is either one which, as the term implies, is supported by the evidence of the senses, or one which is built up out of the elements of experience. Physical science, beginning and ending in sensory phenomena, is an example of the first kind; psychology an example of the second. But the ordinary use of the term ‘empirical’ limits experience to that of a sensory nature. My plea is that this limitation is an arbitrary one and due to a philosophical prejudice. There is more in experience than sensory elements. Apart from the self and its states, affective and volitional, there are thought-things as well as sensed-things, relations as well as elements, correlates as well as original fundaments, in experience. The universe of physical science, for example, consists of thought-things; it is a conceptual universe erected on the foundations of a sensed one.


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

AVELING, F. The Status of Psychology as an Empirical Science. Nature 132, 841–843 (1933).

Download citation


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing