Main Difference – Concept vs Theory
Concept and theory are two similar words we usually encounter in academics. Although some people tend to use these two words interchangeably, there is a difference between concept and theory. A theory is a scientifically credible general principle that explains a phenomenon. A concept is a general idea or understanding about something. This is the key difference between concept and theory.
This article explores,
1. What is a Theory?
– Definition, Features, Facts
2. What is a Concept?
– Definition, Features, Facts
3. Difference Between Concept and Theory
What is a Theory
Definition of Theory
A theory is a scientifically credible general principle that explains a phenomenon. It can be defined as “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” (Oxford dictionary).
Features and Facts
The function of explaining a phenomenon is a basic feature of a theory and this feature differentiates a theory from hypotheses, concepts, and paradigms. A theory is derived from a hypothesis; once a hypothesis is proven with valid evidence, it becomes a theory. Theory of evolution, theory of general relativity, theory of special relativity, cell theory, and quantum theory are some examples of scientific theories.
A theory may not be a generally or universally accepted set of principles. Some theories have to be revised or replaced with the passage of time since new evidence may come to light. For example, modern evolutionary synthesis is a theory where Darwin’s theory of evolution has been combined with genetics to explain the process of evolution.
Let’s now see how this term is used in a sentence.
Some people refused to believe the theory of natural selection when it was first introduced.
The young scientist used several theories to prove his point.
She developed a new theory on relativity.
During the two years that followed, he found out that it was hard to put the theory into practice.
What is a Concept
Definition and Features
A concept is an abstract notion; it is also a general idea or understanding of something. In informal usage, the term concept refers to any idea, but it also has specific meanings in different fields such as linguistics, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, and physics.
In philosophy, a concept is a mental image which corresponds to some distinct entity or class of entities, or to its essential features or determines the application of a term, playing a part in the use of reason or language. In other words, it is an abstract idea that represents the basic characteristics of what it represents. The following image indicates some of the mental images that are associated with the concept of a tree.
There are several notable theories about the structure of concepts, and some of them include classical theory, prototype theory, and theory-theory.
Let’s now see how this term concept is used in a sentence.
He used a lot of abstract concepts, so his explanation didn’t really make any sense.
He introduced several new concepts to the field of hospitality.
You have no concept of the problems of the common people.
He challenged the concept of traditional art with his new style.
Difference Between Concept and Theory
Concept: A concept is an abstract idea; general idea or understanding of something
Theory: A theory is a scientifically credible general principle that explains a phenomenon.
Concept: Concept is often a mental image.
Theory: A theory can be presented with a model.
Concept: The term concept is used in different fields such as linguistics, sciences, philosophy, etc.
Theory: The term theory is mainly used in the field of science.
“Generalization process using trees PNG version” By Tomwsulcer – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
“Set Theory Operations” By 5 pictures: Wikipedia, rest: me – Various Wikipedia Pages (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia