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Anthropology vs. Psychology: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 5, 2023
Anthropology is the study of human societies and cultures, while psychology is the science of mind and behavior.

Key Differences

Anthropology delves into the diverse ways humans have developed societies and cultures across different times and places, examining aspects like social structures, languages, and rituals. Psychology, in contrast, focuses on the mental processes and behaviors of individuals, exploring how they think, feel, and act within these societies and cultures.
While anthropology often employs qualitative methods like ethnography to understand human behavior in a cultural context, psychology leans more towards quantitative approaches, such as experiments and surveys, to study individual mental processes and behavior.
Anthropology's scope includes the study of ancient civilizations, exploring how human societies have evolved over millennia. Psychology, however, primarily concerns itself with contemporary human behavior and mental processes, often seeking to treat or understand mental health issues.
The field of anthropology might analyze a community's religious beliefs or social norms, providing a broad understanding of human behavior in a societal context. Psychology, conversely, might study how individual beliefs or norms affect a person's mental health or personal behavior.
Anthropology often takes a holistic approach to understanding humans in their environmental, social, and historical contexts. Psychology, alternatively, tends to focus on the individual, studying specific aspects of their cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns.

Comparison Chart


Cultural and societal aspects of humans
Individual mental processes and behavior


Qualitative, like ethnography
Quantitative, like experiments

Temporal Scope

Ancient to modern societies
Primarily contemporary behavior

Subject Matter

Social structures, languages, rituals
Cognition, emotion, mental health


Holistic view of humans in context
Focused on individual patterns

Anthropology and Psychology Definitions


It explores human diversity in cultural contexts.
The course in anthropology covered the various belief systems across cultures.


It explores cognitive processes like thinking and memory.
The psychology lecture today focused on memory retention techniques.


It investigates the evolution of human languages and communication.
In our anthropology class, we studied the evolution of sign languages.


Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior.
In psychology, we learn about the reasons behind human emotions.


Anthropology is the study of human behavior and cultures.
In anthropology, we learned about the marriage rituals of the Maasai tribe.


Psychology includes the study of behavioral patterns and motivations.
In our psychology class, we discussed the motivations behind altruism.


It examines the development of societies over time.
Anthropology helps us understand how ancient civilizations like the Egyptians structured their societies.


It investigates how individuals perceive and interact with the world.
Social psychology studies how people influence one another's behavior.


Anthropology analyzes human relationships in a societal framework.
My anthropology thesis focuses on the social dynamics of urban communities.


Psychology examines emotional and mental health.
Clinical psychology deals with the treatment of mental disorders.


The scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans.


The science that deals with mental processes and behavior.


That part of Christian theology concerning the genesis, nature, and future of humans, especially as contrasted with the nature of God
"changing the church's anthropology to include more positive images of women" (Priscilla Hart).


The emotional and behavioral characteristics of an individual, a group, or those engaged in a given activity
The psychology of war.


What does psychology focus on?

It focuses on the mind and behavior of individuals.

Is psychology a science?

Yes, it employs scientific methods to study the mind and behavior.

Can anthropology help in understanding current social issues?

Yes, it provides insights into cultural and societal aspects of current issues.

How does anthropology differ from history?

Anthropology includes the study of current cultures, not just past societies.

What is anthropology?

It's the study of human societies and cultures.

How does psychology contribute to education?

Educational psychology improves teaching methods and learning processes.

Does psychology study animal behavior?

Some branches, like comparative psychology, do study animal behavior.

Can psychology help in treating mental illnesses?

Yes, clinical psychology specifically deals with the treatment of mental disorders.

What can you learn from anthropology?

It teaches about human diversity, cultures, and social structures.

Do anthropologists work in the field?

Many do, conducting fieldwork in various cultural settings.

Are there different branches of anthropology?

Yes, including cultural, biological, and linguistic anthropology.

How do anthropologists conduct research?

Through methods like participant observation and ethnographic studies.

How does psychology impact marketing?

Consumer psychology studies how people make buying decisions.

What skills does studying anthropology develop?

Critical thinking, cultural awareness, and research skills.

Is psychology useful for personal development?

Yes, it helps in understanding and improving oneself.

Can psychology explain human relationships?

Yes, particularly through branches like social psychology.

Does anthropology only study primitive societies?

No, it studies all types of societies, both ancient and modern.

Can anthropology lead to career opportunities?

Yes, in areas like cultural resource management, education, and research.

What's the role of a psychologist in healthcare?

They diagnose and treat mental health issues.

How does psychology assist in sports?

Sports psychology focuses on improving athletic performance and motivation.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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