It never fails. I'm at a party talking to someone I've just met and they ask: "What's your field?" When I answer "I'm a psychologist," they usually react in one of three ways. Some people I think of them as "fans" express great enthusiasm about psychology. Usually, I get into a spirited discussion with such persons about one or more aspects of human behavior anything from weight loss to eyewitness testimony or workplace violence. A second group, which I describe as "volunteer patients," views meeting me as an opportunity for free counseling. They often tell me intimate details about their personal problems that I'd rather not know. The third group I describe as "skeptics"; they let me know right away that they are not impressed. Some tell me that in their opinion, psychology is just "common sense," and is definitely not in the same league as chemistry, physics, or other fields of science. Others grudgingly admit that psychology might be scientific in nature, but express the strong belief that it is not really useful. These experiences tell me that most people are deeply interested in psychology. They view it as a source of fascinating information about themselves and other persons, and a source of valuable help with their personal problems. These experiences also remind me that not everyone shares these views and may have serious doubts about the value, scientific nature, and usefulness of psychology.
--Robert A. Baron