What is Social Science?

UMA Social Science Professor Lorien Lake-Corral
From the 19th Century to the 21st Century, social science has shown a knack for upending ‘common sense.’ Have you ever asked yourself…

  • Why history unfolds the way it does? Whether it could have gone differently?
  • Why some people are successful in life while others struggle?
  • How politicians manage to gain and lose followers?
  • Why your thoughts and feelings collide?
  • How your community will manage climate change?
  • What it takes to stop crime?
  • Why people don’t always do what’s best for their health?
  • Whether you would follow a madman off a cliff?

… and has anyone ever told you the answer is “common sense” or “obvious?”

Well, they’re wrong.

Social science begins with the insight that our “common sense” or “obvious” ideas about how human individuals, groups, communities and societies behave just don’t match up with the way they actually behave. Social science is a systematic way of getting past “common sense” to study the surprising cognitive and social lives of human beings. We find that various contexts shape the way human beings think and the way human societies act.

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