Soft and hard science

Posted by Melda Research on March 27th, 2019


People consider science as natural or physical science. The natural science concerns with the study of nature including the physical and natural behaviors and phenomena. The hard and soft sciences are colloquial terms used in comparing scientific fields based on the perceived objectivity, exactitude, and rigor. The natural sciences are the hard science while the social sciences are the soft science.  The hardness of science means precision, stringency, and unexceptional validity of the natural laws through the mathematical formulation (Seising, 2011). On the other hand, soft science does not have such properties. According to experts, hard science uses experimental, empirical, and quantifiable data. Hard scientists normally operate with the precise scientific method and they target exactness and objectivity. Contrary, soft sciences based on conjectures and rely on qualitative data and analysis. An example of hard science is chemistry and physics, and soft science include psychology, social sciences, and anthropology.

Difference and similarities

In hard science, the central point is normally experiments. Researchers tend to set up experiments that are easy to control and reproduce and use the experiments in testing a hypothesis, collect data, and gather information regarding the outcome of the experiment. Hard science normally relies on direct observations, and it is balanced with no possibility of bias (Seising, 2011). The goal of experiments is to get facts.

When considering soft science, it may or may not include experiments depending on the field. Experiments in soft science can be hard to control or reproduce. For instance, the psychological studies tend to have several uncontrolled variables; thus, it is difficult to analyze data through experiments. Soft science normally uses conjecture and open-ended discussion instead of sticking to defined boundaries, topics, and facts (Diamond 1987). The conjectures in soft science can be unprovable with experiments. The major difference between soft and hard science is that hard science normally confine itself to studying the real natural world. Soft science studies non-physical entities such as language, conventions, signs, opinions, ideas, and customs.

In natural science (hard science), there is underestimation of interpretation because interpretation is well-known in a difference function and sense. Traditionally, people believed that in hard science, interpretation sets only after the acquisition of knowledge. Most believe that knowledge is the outcrop of the puzzle solution, but in real, this solution of the puzzle is not more than the construction of work (McIntrye & Martin 1994). While considering soft science, the interpretation is the core of the intellectual activities. Most intellectuals underestimate the importance of interpretation because in the contract to the constructed product of natural science; it is possible to revise the interpretation based on the strength of the definition.  

The hard science normally works in a closed system where it is possible to control variables and work executed within a particular paradigm. Contrary, soft science tends to revolve around the human behavior as a people, their operations, productions, and human societies (Seising, 2011). Soft science also concerns with the cultural and human context while trying to explain the way the world works. The hard science relies on experimental data while, soft science rely on experiential data. The experiential data normally try to establish the social phenomena and it is not easy to produce the data in a laboratory unlike for hard science.

Researchers claim that soft science is less legitimate scientific fields or not scientific at all. The science is soft because they study more complex phenomena than the natural sciences. The findings of social science tend to intersect with everyday experience; thus, dismissed as insignificant or obvious. In hard science, it concerns the objective reality. During the experiment, the subject normally investigating  build a mirror for the object investigated (McIntyre & Martin 1994). However, in soft science, it concerns with objective appearance of the subjective reality. The social scientists usually build a mirror; however, the subjective experience of the investor tends to become objectified through the mediation of the inter subjectivistic discussion in the specific institution subscribing to the particular paradigm. In the case of soft science, objectivity tends to be a relative concept because it only reached in relation to a particular paradigm.

A similarity between hard science and soft science is that both sciences normally employ the same scientific model in gaining information. Some of the science branches tend to employ even the natural and social, science components. Both sciences also have general laws that they apply in its numerous applications. Both hard and soft science normally uses empirical and measured data evidence that is possible to see and discern by the senses. A major similarity is that the theories in soft and hard sciences are easily testable so as to produce theoretical statements and general positions.


Hard and soft sciences are two types of sciences dealing with the same scientific model, and they constitute their general laws. The hard science involves studying nature while the soft science involves human behavior and the society. The hard science relies on experimental data while soft science relies on experiential data.


Diamond, J (1987). Soft sciences are often harder than the hard sciences Readings in the philosophy of the social science The MIT Press

Sanz, V Gonzalez, V & Seising, R (2011). Soft computing in humanities and the social sciences Springer Publishers

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in best nursing essay writers. If you need a similar paper you can place your order from custom nursing papers.

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