The 5 differences between Psychology and Pedagogy

No doubt about it, psychology and pedagogy have been two sciences that have contributed to the progress of society.

Both disciplines share the fact that they are interested in people, in order to guarantee their maximum well-being and make them develop in the most optimal way in society as a whole.

It may be that, because of this, there are no well-marked boundaries between these two disciplines and, if we take into account that psychology has a branch that touches on aspects of pedagogy, this becomes even more confusing.

Even today, there are those who believe that the relationship between these two disciplines is that one is within the other.
To clarify a little why these two sciences are two different disciplines and what characterizes them In this article we will deal with the differences between psychology and pedagogy..

Psychology and pedagogy: definitions

Before discussing in greater depth the differences between psychology and pedagogy, it is necessary to explain what these two disciplines are about and what they have in common.


Psychology (from the Greek “psyché”, “soul, mental activity” and “logos”, “knowledge”) is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those that are behind how we behave and is constituted as a science of health and also social. So, this science tries to understand the human being taking into account three dimensions: behavioural, affective and cognitive..

Throughout its history, different psychological currents have emerged, trying to explain from their own point of view the relationship between the human mind and behavior in particular contexts.


On the other hand, pedagogy (from the Greek “paidíon” “child” and “agogós” “guide”) is the science that deals with education, especially that focused on children and adolescents..

This discipline focuses its action on organizing the educational process, with the intention of enabling students to learn knowledge and patterns of behavior to be people adapted to society and become adults for profit. Pedagogy is within the social sciences and education.

How do they look alike?

The main aspect shared by both disciplines is the intention to offer knowledge to society.The aim is to make it a better place in which the citizens who live there can achieve the greatest possible well-being.

In addition, both the psychologist and the pedagogue must have assertive and empathic abilities, since they work with people. Both types of professionals must know how to interact with the people to whom their intervention is directed, whether in an educational setting or in a more psychotherapeutic setting.

It should be noted that one of the branches of psychology is mixed with the object of study of pedagogy: psychopedagogy. This branch of knowledge is defined as the part of psychology that focuses on studying psychological phenomena in order to arrive at a more appropriate formulation of the didactic methods used in class.

Main differences between Psychology and Pedagogy

Next let’s see what are the main differences between psychology and pedagogy.

1. Fields of study

Psychology is a science that focuses its attention on mental processes and how they explain people’s behaviour, whether pathological or normative. To this end, it addresses aspects such as intelligence, emotions and people’s lives.

Usually, the intervention of psychologists is done in a reactive way, that is, when the person is already suffering a problem that must be solved.

This problem does not necessarily have to be a mental disorder, but it is true that many psychologists are required in order to solve a problem instead of avoiding it.

Pedagogy focuses on education and training, especially of young people. To this end, the aim is to provide members of society with knowledge that will enable them to develop as well-adapted citizens in the future.

In order to make the educational process as efficient as possible, it is necessary to analyze students, both when they are learning in the classroom and when they are learning elsewhere, whether at home or in the library.

On the basis of the information obtained from the students, the pedagogues develop methods to be able to enhance the desired abilities in the students.

The action of the pedagogy is preventive and formative, since it tries to avoid that the difficulties seen during the first years of schooling become something more serious in later stages.

2. Aims and Objectives

As mentioned above, the main objective of psychology is to try to describe human behavior as objectively as possible, as well as to explain it. This is intended to be able to predict and influence behaviour.

In the case of pedagogy, the aim is to improve the educational process.. To this end, the pedagogues focus their forces on offering an integral formation to the students, taking into account their abilities and talents without ignoring the possible difficulties they may manifest.

3. Areas of work

Since there are different types of psychologists and the specializations within this field are numerous, psychology professionals can be found in many places.

Reviewing the branches of this discipline that would be within the health sciences, we find psychologists who perform psychotherapy and diagnose, as is the case of clinical psychologists and those who have specialized in neurology.

On the social sciences side, we have the social psychologist, the organizational psychologist, and those who specialize in human resources. There are also educational psychologists.

Thus, psychology is present in: hospitals, companies, government bodies, research centres, schools and universities.

Pedagogues can be found in several places, mainly in schools, institutes and universities.. However, there are also pedagogues in museums, NGOs, early stimulation centres…

4. Deepening in biology

Psychology is a social science, but it is also within the field of health.. This means that psychologists need some knowledge related to physiology, anatomy and, above all, biology.

It is true that within psychology there are multiple branches, some of which, such as the field of social psychology or the psychology of organizations, do not focus their interest on the biological causes of behavior.

Nor should one fall into the error of thinking that all human behaviour can be reduced to simple biological explanations.

However, for the psychologist, especially the clinician, it is of fundamental importance to know how the brain is involved in human behavior.

The brain is a very complex organ, and is behind many capacities. To say a few, this organ is responsible for attention and perception, language, memory or intelligence in general terms.

Pedagogues may need to know some facts about biology, but this science is not as important as it is for psychologists.

The physiological functioning of the child’s and adolescent’s brain is something that, although it may be interesting, does not become an indispensable knowledge for the pedagogue to carry out his professional task.

5. Relationship to teaching

While psychology deals very closely with aspects of biology, pedagogy does the same thing but with the processes of teaching.

Although one of the branches of psychology, the psychology of education, takes as its focus of interest the psychological processes that intervene during learning, the truth is that there is not as much interest in general psychology.

The pedagogy focuses on seeing what behaviors related to learning take place in the context of the classroom, as well as developing tools and methods that facilitate the training of students.

Didactics, which is a branch of pedagogy itself, tries to perfect teaching techniques and methods, always taking into account all the people involved.

The teacher must take into account both the student’s and the teacher’s perspective. when knowledge is being shared.

Pedagogues take into account how the education should be planned according to the age range of the students, their difficulties both within the normal or problems that may indicate some kind of disability.

Pedagogues must be able to detect those pupils who are experiencing difficulties, to see how serious the problem is and to approach a method in order to ensure that the knowledge is fully acquired and to prevent the child or young person from being left behind.

But it does not only focus on how students learn, it also gives importance to how to instruct teachers and other agents active in the education system to ensure that their teaching task is satisfactorily fulfilled.

Bibliographic references

  • Ramírez, R. (2008). Critical pedagogy. An ethical way of generating educational processes. Folios (28): 108-119.
  • Cuesta, R., Mainer, J., Mateos, J. et al. (2005) Critical Didactics. Where need and desire meet. Social Awareness. 17-54.