Anthropology and psychology are social sciences that "offer distinctive perspectives on the behavior of individuals and the groups in which they live," according to the North Carolina State Department of Education. While studies of the two disciplines sometimes intersect, the fields feature different focuses and means of study.
Definition of Anthropology
Anthropology is defined by the American Anthropological Association as the "study of humans, past, present, and future." Anthropologists study their discipline from sociocultural, biological, archaelogical and linguistic perspectives. These areas deal with questions such as societal change, the origin of humans, artifacts and language.
Definition of Psychology
The American Psychological Association defines psychology as the "science concerned with behavior, [of] both human and non-human animals." The discipline of psychology studies the "relationship between brain function and behavior" and "environment and behavior."
Difference in Focus
The fields of anthropology and psychology both intersect in scope with other areas of study. For example, both fields encompass a biological perspective. However, anthropology is wider reaching in its scope because its focus is on various cultures and communities. Psychology focuses on the behavior of individuals.
Differences in Methods of Study
Anthropologists typically study various cultures and communities through field research, often living within a community. Anthropology is a comparative discipline. Psychologists study, analyze and interpret a subject's cognitive function. The field of psychology is an academic and applied science.
Issues Addressed by Anthropology
Anthropology concerns the study of various disciplines as they relate to the study of humans within a society. The issues anthropologists study are wide-ranging, encompassing issues such as the origin of humans, development of language, climate change, health and nutrition.
Issues Addressed by Psychology
Psychology addresses issues from a perspective focusing on cognitive function and behavior. Psychologists study normal and abnormal functioning of individuals. Specialized fields of psychology involve applied practice and research within a specific context, such as educational psychology.