Theory & Psychology

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 0959-3543
Publications
Article
This study examined research reports published in the interpersonal areas of psychology from 1939 to 1989, focusing on authors' descriptions of the relationship between investigators and research participants. Analysis of 3001 articles published at 10-year intervals in seven US journals and one Canadian showed that researchers employed participants as data sources only and typically did not report consent, debriefing or feedback; authors generally described participants but not data collectors and settings, heavily used the term `subjects' and seldom acknowledged participants. Overall, hierarchical research and depersonalized reporting prevailed. The findings also illuminate the historical role of women researchers and participants' gender and underscore recommendations for including social and ethical processes in journal reports.
 
Article
Responds to comments by R. Falk (see record 1998-10211-002) and S. L. Chow (see record 1998-10211-003) on the author's original article (see record 1998-10211-001). Commentators agree that statistical significance does not betoken replicability, but not for the reasons Sohn gives. Chow defends the use of significance tests by arguing that they are useful for assessing the role of chance in findings. Sohn disputes this by pointing out that the Type II error rate may be as high as 1–α. Falk defends Bayesian inference, which was impugned by Sohn. Falk also makes a case for the use of replications for the purpose of testing hypotheses. Sohn complains that the supporters of Bayesian inference have not explained adequately what its purpose or role in science is, and for this reason it is an impediment to understanding in this area. Sohn also disputes Falk's view of the role of replications in that Sohn would require a successful replication to be one that produces an effect that is clearly discernible, meaning the effect is consistently noticeable with the aid of nothing more than descriptive statistics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Shifting styles of doing psychology reflect assumptions from the culture at large. In the first section, three cultural metaphors for the science and profession of psychology are put forth--the church, the factory and the market. The picture they provide of psychology is then contrasted with the common histories of psychology as a succession of ideas. The metaphors are thereafter invoked in a discussion of psychology as a postmodern religious, industrial and commercial collage. What counts in a postmodern age is less the truth claims of the different psychological approaches than their marketability. Potentialities of a pragmatic and a culturally situated psychology are discussed in relation to challenges to Western psychology today raised by the psychological profession and the globalization of culture. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
The originators of the grounded theory approach to qualitative research now disagree on certain procedural aspects of the methodology, while agreeing on others, and dispute its epistemological implications. In this article it is argued that the rift can be traced to a conflict over the logic of justification of the approach. Strauss and Corbin endorse Dewey's instrumentalism, including its prizing of the experimental method, and introduce a form of hypothetico-deductivism into the grounded theory method. Alternatively, although subscribing tacitly to the experimental method, Glaser does not tie it in with instrumentalism, and insists that grounded theory properly involves only the inductive phase of inquiry. It is argued that both instrumentalism and induction are inadequate as rationales for the grounded theory method. A new logic of justification, termed methodological hermeneutics and derived from Margolis's reconciliation of realism and relativism, has been developed by the author. When applied to the two positions, it leads to the conclusion that Glaser's procedures are the most consistent with the objectives of the method. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
This paper introduces the compost heap as a metaphor for autobiographical memory. As an alternative to the computer, such a metaphor, it is argued, comes closer to capturing the dynamics of memory across the lifespan and how it feels to us as we age, particularly memory's narrative dimensions. After citing concerns expressed by psychologists and others regarding computationalism, the paper considers four entailments of the compost heap analogy that may serve, very roughly, as counterparts to such concepts as encoding, storage, and retrieval. They are: laying it on, breaking it down, stirring it up, and mixing it in. The paper concludes with reflections on the advantages of a more organic model of memory and some suggestions for further inquiry concerning issues of interest to the psychology of aging. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Discusses the metascience of psychology, not by proposing a positive program of scientific norms and values, but by addressing and countering a number of errors (residual myths) concerning the nature of science. 10 myths (e.g., scientific explanation must be causal explanation) are outlined and refuted. It is suggested that (1) logical positivism, neopositivism, and classical positivism are in error and (2) exciting alternatives offer deeper and more powerful conceptions of the process of science. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
Explores the relationship between psychology and rats in connection with the pre-scientific lifeworld, where important motivational roots, historically changing cultural practices, and far-reaching societal consequences of rat psychology are found. The pre-theoretical meanings of the rat entail its inimical Otherness opposing humanity, its unrelenting parasitic cohabitation with people, and its reflection of the inhumanity of the person. A historical analysis shows how, in coming to terms with the rat-induced Black Plague, humanity developed the practices of surveillance, analysis, and control that culminated in the modern scientific transformation of the rat from a threat into a docile servant. The triumph over the rat-like in the human and in the rat itself aimed at by psychoanalysis and experimental psychology reveals humanity's attempt to overthrow its own evil by means of modern disciplinary structures. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
The quantitative imperative is the view that in science, when you cannot measure, you do not really know what you are talking about, but when you can, you do, and, therefore, qualitative methods have no place in psychology. On the basis of this imperative, qualitative research methods are still excluded from mainstream psychology. Where does this view come from? Many qualitative researchers think it is an expression of positivism. Is this attribution correct? Then again qualitative researchers often confuse positivism with näive realism. What is the relationship between the quantitative imperative and näive realism? In this paper, it is shown that in finding opposition, qualitative researchers did not, as they sometimes allege, come up against the hard, positivistic edge of science. They encountered something at once much more deep-seated than positivism but also something much less hardheaded than they suppose positivism to have been. Indeed, perhaps surprisingly, positivism is no barrier to qualitative methods. As for näive realism, it provides a firm foundation for qualitative methods in psychology. It is argued that in psychology, the quantitative imperative is an egregious, potentially self-perpetuating form of methodological error. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant (1787/1998) suggested that scientific and humanistic interpretations of human existence can and should be woven into 'a single philosophical system' (p. 695). Yet, Kant was well aware of the profound tension between theoretical analyses of the natural order and practical accounts of our experience as moral agents. In this essay, I argue that the Tree of Knowledge System proposed by Henriques (2003, 2004, 2008) has the scope and conceptual power necessary to account for the emergence of the Kantian tension between theoretical and practical reason. Following Kant, however, I maintain that this tension cannot be adequately resolved on a theoretical plane. Rather, a holistic account of the cultural-person-as-a-whole requires the subordination of theoretical to practical reason. Concretely, this implies that the quest for theoretical unification cannot proceed without concomitant evaluations of the various justification systems that guide the work of scholars in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
There is a form of representation that is naturally emergent in the organization of interactive systems. Interactive representation has claims to be the fundamental form of representation, from which all others are derivative. In particular, it naturally satisfies a meta-epistemological criterion that is not addressed by standard approaches in contemporary literature, and is arguably impossible to satisfy within any version those standard approaches. Furthermore, the interactive approach naturally avoids other multiple aporias that bedevil standard approaches. Much effort has been devoted in recent literature to attempts to satisfy a critical meta-epistemological criterion: representation must be capable of being in error. The criterion that I will apply is a strengthening of this one: representation must be capable of being in error in such a way that that condition of being in error is detectable by the agent or system that is doing the representing --- the meta-epistemological crite...
 
Conference Paper
The discussion of design experiments has largely ignored the Vygotskian tradition of formative interventions based on the principle of double stimulation. This tradition offers a radical approach to learning reasearch which focuses on the agency of the learners. The principle of double stimulation is used and developed further in the intervention methodology called Change Laboratory, created in the Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research at University of Helsinki. The paper analyzes the Change Laboratory methodology and its potential for generating expansive learning, using data from an intervention conducted in 2006 in the surgical unit of a university hospital in Finland. The analysis demonstrates how the agency of the learning collective developed hand-in-hand with the construction and implementation of a new organization of work by the collective. Such expansive learning goes beyond knowledge construction, resulting in materially anchored new practices.
 
Article
This article discusses the psychological writings of the neglected 18th-century English philosopher Abraham Tucker and argues for his importance. The article explores the similarities between Tucker’s work and that of William James. It is suggested that both share a humorous and humane style, which concentrates on exploring concrete examples, especially from everyday life, rather than constructing abstract theories. Moreover, there are substantive similarities. Tucker, like James, saw consciousness occurring over time as a river or stream. Both stressed the importance of habit for individual and social life, and both depicted the infant as being overwhelmed by sensation. Tucker may have been neglected because he was “dethroning” the ideal of the conscious, rational ego before the importance of unconscious thinking had gained currency. This celebration of Tucker through the parallel with James has a critical purpose. Psychology is more than theory and methodology; it has to be written. Its rhetoric is important. The examples of James and Tucker show the value of warm-hearted writing.
 
Article
This work examines the historical conceptualization of schizophrenia through definition from 1908–1987. Rather than reveal an essentialist definition of schizophrenia in North America, it reveals a history of varying and competing professional definitions. It demonstrates and historically contextualizes how widespread conceptual instability and disagreement over the nature of the concept gave rise to a new, but still contested, theoretical emphasis on operational definitions. As made manifest through definition, schizophrenia has not been a stable transhistorical object. Rather, the characteristic feature in schizophrenia definition appears to be instability and variance rather than stability or long historical periods of agreement. This analysis nevertheless cautions against overstating the importance of fluctuating definition in assessing the ontological status of contemporary interpretations of schizophrenia.
 
Article
Because the widespread use of statistical significance testing has deleterious consequences for the development of a cumulative knowledge base, the American Psychological Association's Board of Scientific Affairs is in the process of appointing a Task Force whose charge includes the possibility of phasing out such testing in textbooks and journal articles. Just how popular is significance testing in psychology? This issue is examined in the present historical study, which uses data from randomly selected issues of the Journal of Applied Psychology for the period 1917-94. Results indicate that the practice of significance testing, at one time of restricted usage, has expanded to the point that it is virtually synonymous with empirical analysis. The data also lend support to Gigerenzer and Murray's (1987) allegation that an inference revolution occurred in psychology during the period 1940-55. Unfortunately, it is concluded that the ubiquity of significance testing constitutes a classic example of the overadoption of a methodology.
 
Article
This paper describes theoretical and treatment assumptions about trauma treatment that are in marked contrast with those attributed to trauma therapists by Miltenburg and Singer (1997). Contrary to their assertion that trauma therapists believe reliving of child abuse is necessary, mainstream trauma treatment focuses on ego building and integrative capacities. It has long been recognized that reliving traumatic experiences may lead to exacerbation of symptoms. However, it has been equally long observed that those trauma survivors who are able to synthesize, realize and integrate their traumatic memories will experience dramatic improvement in quality of life. Miltenburg and Singer present excellent therapeutic approaches to stabilization. But their sweeping generalizations misrepresent the nature of current trauma therapy and therefore create the risk of withholding the opportunity for many survivors to heal rather than having to rely on `abnormal' defense or coping strategies.
 
Article
This paper considers two models of idiocy: one based around quantitative deviation from the norm and the other on qualitative variation. In doing so, the paper shows three things. First, it shows that apparently contradictory strategies coexist within the same discourses. Second, both cases produce the idiot as Other. Third, that the production and reproduction of Otherness creates difficulties in policing the conceptual boundary between the normal and the abnormal. The maintenance of boundaries does not adhere to either the essential nature of intellectual disability or logical coherence. Instead it is something that has to be perpetually accomplished. This has important consequences for the linkage between psychological models of intellectual disability and social inclusion. The paper concludes that no discourse on intellectual disability can eliminate Otherness.
 
Article
This article takes the three figures child, mother-child couple and father and charts their discursive movements over the course of the 20th century in Britain, concentrating particularly on the changes happening around the time of the 1939-45 war. Over time, there is a significant shift from the individual child to the mother-child relation and the importance of fathers for children’s self-development appears and disappears as a theme. A rigid construction of stages unevenly gives way to an idea of phase less amenable to a normative discourse. At any given time, there is considerable diversity within ‘psy’ discourses, and I focus particularly on the differences between and among psychological and psychoanalytic discourses. Certain expressions of psychoanalysis have, in my view, been more successful in theorizing subjectivity as it develops over time within the relations of the family in a way which exceeds or transcends the ‘psy’ complex’s subjectifications and yet does not reduce personhood to an asocial essence. By locating its ontology within the practices and epistemology of psychoanalysis, I consider the conditions for this relative freedom.
 
Article
The issue of qualitative versus quantitative methods is rooted first and foremost in the character of the phenomena investigated and not in an investigator’s methodological preferences. If the phenomenon under investigation is non-quantitative, then it cannot be studied successfully by attempting to use quantitative methods because trying to impose quantitative concepts upon qualitative phenomena misrepresents them. If the target articles provide any guide, these truths are ignored as much by psychologists wanting to mix quantitative with qualitative methods as by mainstream quantitative researchers. These articles display both the power of the modernist fantasy that measurement is always a discretionary choice of any investigator and the power of the persistent delusion that psychological attributes must be measurable. In psychology, as ever, the ghost of Pythagoras rules.
 
Article
I argue that there is a much more immediate and unreflective, bodily way of being related to our surroundings than the ways that become conspicuous to us in our more cognitive reflections. Further, I suggest that this way of relating or orienting ourselves toward our surroundings becomes known to us from within the unfolding dynamics of our engaged bodily movements within them, and that we can come to embody the recurrent patterns that we experience within such engaged movements in image schema or corporeal concepts. Below, I explore some of the implications of these claims. Taken all together, they suggest the opening up of a new realm of inquiry in psychological research of a practical kind to do with 1st-person explorations, from the inside, of the felt discriminative awarenesses we make use of, not in solving intellectual problems, but in resolving difficulties of orientation or relationship we face in both our everyday lives and in our professional practices—practical difficulties of a kind that still lack extensive examination.
 
Article
The emergence and development of psychoanalysis as a discipline and clinical practice in Europe and the birth of Turkey as a modern nation-state are synchronic events in the world's sociocultural and political history. In this article, I shall reflect on the establishment of psychoanalysis in Turkey by providing a brief historical account. I shall treat the belated entry of psychoanalysis as a sign of Turkey's somewhat unique modernization experience. While viewing Turkey's non-Western modernization struggle as the past/present/future conditions of (im)possibility for psychoanalysis, I also expect to hint at an alternative and psychoanalytically informed insight for the sociopolitical transformations of Turkish society. This article will briefly document some events through which psychoanalysis has evolved in Turkish society within a macro-historical context. I will make the case in favor of a few psychoanalytical concepts in understanding various local political discourses and their split communities in inter-dependence and dynamic co-construction.
 
Article
The questions of resilience and discontinuity in the affective development of survivors of child abuse are explored from the viewpoint of Vygotsky's cultural-historical theory and current social constructivist theories. Moral tools, commitments and higher-order skills play a crucial part in the development of agency, personal empowerment and discontinuity. The recurrence of affective problems in survivors may be connected to moral confusion and insoluble moral dilemmas. This is seldom acknowledged in theoretical discourse, for example in cognitive therapeutic theories. Consequences for the treatment of survivors of abuse are discussed.
 
Article
A weakness of contemporary ‘forensic’ models of memory is their reliance on the belief that ‘a chain of successive memories’ creates a sense of continuity and stability in the self. This literal presentation of memory forecloses an attending to its practical use (in specific contexts and moments in time) and the subsequent ambivalences individuals experience when trying to make sense of past episodes of child sexual abuse. Drawing variously on Haaken, Campbell and Bergson, we use these approaches to call for a reworking of memory by inviting an engagement with its relational, practical and collective qualities. This paper examines these reworkings of the concept of memory and explores issues of social space, the localized contexts of remembering and the manner through which memories transform understandings of agency and action, with specific attention to how the past and present intertwine in regard to managing adult survivor identities.
 
Article
Technology has become a key vehicle and index of the societal impact of science. Technology’s dominant image, both in science and technology studies (STS) and in science policies, is one of a material device or a complex procedure using machines with origins in natural science disciplines. This article inquires into the vehicles and forms of societal impact in the case of the social sciences. It empirically looks into the generation and circulation of knowledge and expertise on Roma and, drawing upon Strathern, follows three types of vehicles: projects, products, and persons. In the conclusion it argues against the asymmetrical treatment of the social and natural sciences or social and material technologies, and suggests that the troubles the social sciences have with accounting for their societal impact are comparable to effects of critical evaluation of the natural sciences and should be seriously considered as exposing more general challenges for science in a knowledge society.
 
Article
In the theory of dissociation inspired by Janet, psychic processes are reified. The client is conceptualized as a victim-to-whom-things-happen. The development of the higher mental functions and control systems that enable people-including survivors of childhood abuse-to monitor their psychic functioning is ignored. Indeed, the Janetian trauma treatment is intended to break down the client's higher mental functions: by re-experiencing horror, automatic processes of dissociation are reinforced; the client's spontaneous compensatory system is destroyed. This can lead to the legitimizing of inhumane practices and cause iatrogenic damage. A Vygotskian therapeutic approach, together with current constructivist theories, provide an alternative. The development of the higher mental functions and `abnormal' psychological tools are crucial for by-passing the original traumatic reactions and the development of human agency.
 
Article
Both psychology and psychiatry are dominated by individualistic accounts of paranoia (and indeed, other forms of distress). As a corrective to these, this paper provides a social account of paranoia grounded in a minimal notion of embodied subjectivity constituted from the interpenetration of feelings, perception and discourse. Paranoia is conceptualised as a mode or tendency within embodied subjectivity, co-constituted in the dialectical associations between subjectivity and relational, social and material influences. Relevant psychiatric and psychological literature is briefly reviewed; relational, social structural and material influences upon paranoia are described; and some implications of this account for research and intervention are highlighted. Published (author's copy) Peer Reviewed
 
Article
This paper continues the exposition begun in the previous paper (Fisher, 2003b) concerning philosophy’s metaphysical insistence on rigorous figure–meaning independence, and its own distrust of that insistence, turning now to the potential for a new metrological culture that values both the full integration of mathematics and measurement, and frequent, vigorous challenges to that integration. Recent criticisms of psychological measurement as subject to a quantitative or methodological imperative are evaluated in terms of the history of academic metaphysics developed in the previous paper. The thesis is proposed and defended that quantitative instruments effectively embody hermeneutic-mathematical metaphysics’ coordination of signifier and signified only when both within-and between-laboratory metrology studies are completed. Experimental tests of instrument functioning and social networks of laboratories collaborating in the creation and maintenance of metric standards are seen as vital to the emergence of a new metrological culture in the human sciences.
 
Article
Recent decades have been marked by a steadily increasing emphasis on neural determinants of behavior. Concerns with socio-cultural processes have simultaneously been diminished. Given the significance of this shift toward a cortical explanation of human behavior—in terms of both the direction of research in psychology and the implications of this research for social practices and policy—critical reflection is essential. In particular, when significant conceptual flaws are brought into focus, we find good reason to reconsider the significance of socio-cultural process. And, when we take into account major vistas of neuropsychological research, the conclusion becomes evident that not only is human action unintelligible in terms of neural activity, but the brain primarily functions in the service of cultural process. To be sure, cortical functioning may both enable and limit human activity. However, given the enormous variation in human conduct, and the dependency of such conduct on the generation of cultural meaning, the most promising conclusion, both for research and for societal practice, is to view the brain chiefly as an instrument for achieving socially originated ends. This is not to argue against inquiry into brain functioning, but to be more judicious about the domains of its utility, and critical in terms of what it offers for understanding human action.
 
Article
In “The acculturated brain,” his critical analysis of the current brain hype, Kenneth Gergen concludes that we should consider the brain primarily as an instrument for achieving culturally constructed ends, and challenge the determining power of the brain with the question “Could I do otherwise?” In my reply, I point out that the pressing issue is usually “How could I do otherwise?,” not sorting out determined behavior from culturally constructed action. The challenge is to understand the increasing traffic between brain and culture, rather than to keep mechanism and meaning separate. Secondly, the notion of the brain as an instrument needs to be developed in the light of technology studies, in order to avoid both neuro-reductionism and the instrumentalism implied in Gergen’s proposal.
 
Article
The general aim of this paper is twofold. First, we evaluate Mead’s later efforts at developing a non-conscious theory of meaning that refutes the primacy of Descartes’s cogito as a foundational explanation of adult human understanding and social interaction. However, paired with this first goal, we also intend to use Mead’s theoretical framework as a paradigmatic example of a theory of intersubjectivity. We will show how Mead problematically reintroduces the presence of conscious awareness in order to provide an intersubjective account of mutual human understanding and interaction. We argue that this position reveals a lacuna in both Mead’s theory of meaning specifically, as well as in theories of intersubjectivity more broadly. Such approaches require a foundational account of practical meaning and knowledge. We conclude by exploring the links between these arguments and the emerging theory of interobjectivity.
 
An image from Charles Darwin's first notebook on " Transmutation of Species " (1837) on view at the American Museum of Natural History.  
Mediation in generalization.  
Article
It is argued that generalization in psychology is a creative, interpretative, and reflective act of thought, by accessing a higher level of abstraction from meaningful events. In the context of clarification of this claim, a fresh look at Lewin’s argumentation about the “Aristotelian” and “Galileian” epistemologies will be useful. Lewin’s ideas illuminate the contemporary debate about individual cases, lawfulness, and theory in psychology. Finally, it is demonstrated how Lewin’s reasoning can still provide the ground for theoretical reflection in psychology. This science is indeed still facing some relevant epistemological problems, unwilling to abandon the essentialist and reductionist concept of the “average,” and confronting an equal challenge of achieving a scientific status without sacrificing its humanistic dimensions. Consequently, Lewin’s theoretical discussion on epistemology in psychology can provide a relevant starting point to foster contemporary reflexivity in psychology. Scientific method provides conceptual artifacts, constraints, and norms of sharing that enable this particular type of sense-making process.
 
Article
Although the value placed on theoretical work in psychology has diminished over recent years, new and significant challenges to the status of theory have emerged within the intellectual community more generally. The demise of the mapping metaphor, the reduction of reason to rhetoric, and the recognition of the impossibility of value-neutral theorizing all raise questions concerning the status and function of theory. Critical theory in psychology has provided one response to these issues by employing theory as an emancipatory device. However, given the limits to pure critique, many search for means of employing theory in the service of pro-active practices of social change. Given the various problems of theory in the traditional mold, what is the function and status of theory in these emerging practices? In the present issue, we bring together five explorations of the utility of theory in processes of social action. Pivotal in these offerings is the reconceptualization of theory as a form of discursive action. When viewed in this light, new and important issues emerge in our understanding of theoretical work and its place in both intellectual and social life.
 
Article
The article provides an account of the theoretical and methodological principles of the interventionist approach called the Clinic of Activity. A case is presented of educators working within a youth judicial protection service in centers for emergency placement of minors. As an intervention, the case did not proceed as expected and could be regarded as a failure. Ultimately what was commissioned to be an intervention for developing the professional profile of the educators in the organization became an analysis of the organization’s institutional crisis. The diagnosis proposed by the interventionists was that the impersonal dimension of work—that is, its institutional features—was underdeveloped while at the same time personal defenses among educators were increasingly manifesting themselves as ways to indicate the unbearable crisis in the organization.
 
Article
Wegner’s theory of conscious will applies Michotte’s causal perception model to people’s consciousness of will. The model proposes that people’s perception of conscious will reflects causal inferences about the temporal priority of the intention, the consistency of the intention with the action, and the exclusivity of their intention as the cause. This model has generated much discussion, but few commentators have examined the attribution model underpinning the theory. This analysis examines this theory of conscious will and relevant research, and finds that the research fails to provide strong support for the theory. Several conceptual propositions assumed by the theory also lack support. Research supports alternative models of intentionality that construe conscious cognitions as causes as well as effects.
 
Article
This article presents arguments used in current discussions on potential shortcomings of contemporary works within activity theory concerning subjectivity and the use of conceptual models such as the triangular representation of the activity system. It documents the history of activity theory as an activist and interventionist theory. It suggests that advances in activity theory depend on the ability of those within this framework to establish fruitful connections between the classic heritage and challenging possibilities of societal change. The main arguments of the critiques are examined in this historical perspective. Combined with design and implementation of material transformations, both the models and the voices of the subjects act as mediators and are embedded in collective change efforts. The article indicates a possible direction to reorient the current discussions toward interventionist methods developed within the framework of activity theory, namely the Change Laboratory, the Clinic of Activity, and the Fifth Dimension.
 
Article
By analyzing eminent artists’ depictions of their experiences as taken from too-long-neglected interviews with Sigmund Koch and juxtaposing these with Ricoeur’s regressive and progressive hermeneutics and contemporary concerns in narrative psychology, the authors open new avenues of inquiry into self, identity, and art. Using interviews with Toni Morrison and Arthur Miller, they demonstrate how the creative process involves a concurrent interrogation and dislocation of the self, as well as a moral responsibility to a collective other. While the artists engage in regressive and progressive processes in their art, they also engage in the same processes in telling about their lives and their art. These enable transformative experiences for an artist’s sense of self and identity as well as the genesis of creative work. The regressive and progressive processes hold true not only for Toni Morrison and Arthur Miller, but also for other artists and individuals negotiating the long-term tasks of development.
 
Article
In a recently published major article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Daryl Bem (2011) made a strong claim for the existence of a parapsychological phenomenon called retroactive causation. Across nine experiments, aspects of stimuli were shown to correlate with participants’ responses provided before the stimuli were generated by the computer’s random generator. Early critical debates of these provocative findings have been focused on issues of statistical significance testing. Going beyond these issues, we argue that Bem’s research has three crucial shortcomings: (a) a lack of a theoretical explanation, (b) the possibility of selective filtering of empirical results, and (c) the confusion of the explanans and the explanandum. We propose that all three methodological principles should be rigorously applied during the journal review process and the communication of empirical findings in general.
 
Article
Contemporary researchers have tended to present dysfunction in schizophrenia as the result of biological and social forces. While this has greatly advanced our knowledge, we are still without a full account of the illness’s first-person dimensions. A richer first-person account explains that schizophrenia is a disorder that interrupts the lives of people who must continue to struggle to find and create security and meaning. A range of literature has explored in many directions how schizophrenia is linked to profound changes in self-experience; however, there have not been systematic explorations of the ways in which these views converge and diverge. In response we will explore two different models of the processes which underlie a particular self-experience linked with schizophrenia: experiences of diminished agency. We will present a dialogical model of disturbances in agency and then compare and contrast it with another prominent philosophically based model, one from phenomenology.
 
Article
This article seeks to address the theoretical foundations of subjectivity as co-constituted by discursive and material/technological forces. Our ambition is to develop a conceptual framework that draws from Science and Technology Studies and related “new materialist” frameworks and poststructuralist analyses in order to develop analytics that embrace the complexities we face in our empirical work. We discuss the potentialities and weaknesses of the two theoretical frameworks at a conceptual level as well as through an empirical case on peer bullying in schools. The discussion leads us to a redefinition of the concept of subjectivity that emphasizes the multiplicity of enacting forces including human as well as non-human, material/technological actors; and that underlines the importance of a conceptualization of all actors as simultaneously enacting and enacted forces.
 
Article
This paper examines the tensions between narrative therapy’s self-identification as a Foucauldian poststructural practice, and its attachment to the notion of personal agency. Michael White—narrative therapy’s primary author—used Foucault’s work as a theoretical foundation, moving us to pose a question that White did not address: Can the narrative therapeutic commitment to an agentive subject be sustained alongside White’s loyalty to the Foucauldian notion of power/knowledge and its account of the constituted subject? I argue that while Foucault is often criticized for not making space for freedom or agency, something like an agentive subject is implicit in, even required for, his constitutionalist perspective to work. Working through this problem could be useful for the developing field of narrative therapy. Three proposals are offered as a way of imagining this agentive figure, and their relevance to narrative therapy practice is discussed.
 
Article
Fowers and Richardson (1993) charge that our theory of aggression is `infused with unacknowledged liberal individualistic... assumptions which portray humans as... autonomous, strategic agents seeking to achieve pre-given ends' (Abstract), and that these `unacknowledged sociocultural and moral values... distinctly limit its [our theory's] potential for either fully understanding unwanted forms of human aggression or orienting a practical response to them' (p. 354). In this reply we assert that, when stripped of their jargon, none of these criticisms is valid. The theoretical basis for our model is not disguised but has been specified quite openly and precisely. The theory has not been built on an ideological base of how humans should behave but on an empirical foundation of how humans do behave. Fowers and Richardson have invented an ideology for which they have coined the term liberal individualism. We suggest that, if they see some of its characteristics in our theory, it is because humans behave that way, not because the theory was derived from the ideology. Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/68547/2/10.1177_0959354393033006.pdf
 
Article
This paper introduces the idea that aging inclines us naturally toward an ironic stance on life. The conscious cultivation of that stance through some form of narrative reflection is linked to the development of wisdom, where wisdom is understood in terms of deepened knowledge of the “stories” of our lives. Such reflection heightens our awareness of the inherently ironic nature of our inner world—a complex, quasi-literary world toward which we occupy multiple points of view. In exploring these ideas, the concept of narrative foreclosure is discussed, as is that of “positive aging.”
 
Article
We try to show that the fundamental grounds of psychological thinking about the domains of ‘culture’ and ‘the self’ (and their possible connections) are necessarily representationalist in the Cartesian sense. Rehearsing Heidegger’s critique of representationalism as the basic wrong turning taken by modern thinking generally (and by psychology in particular) with respect to what human being is, we move on to the possibility of a counter-representationalist re-specification of the concept of culture. Here we mobilize ideas from Husserl and Heidegger (again), and also from the basic ethnomethodological theory of Sacks and Garfinkel, to argue for the primacy of culture as an order of practical-actional affairs that makes conceptualizations of a putative ‘self’ always an effect of, and subsequent to, that very (cultural) order. Accordingly, we end by briefly analysing an actual case of an explicitly cultural use of a supposedly intensional term, ‘agree’.
 
Article
Trendler (2009) argued that psychological attributes cannot be measured, as the experimental manipulation and control necessary for the application of measurement theory cannot be achieved. It is argued that Trendler’s conclusion ignored deeper issues. The scientific measurement of psychological attributes depends not only upon adequate stimulus control, but also upon descriptive theories of psychological systems and the demonstration of pure differences in degree (magnitude) within attributes hypothesized to be quantitative. For some classes of stimuli, where descriptive theories of the response process exist and where quantitative features in the stimuli themselves can be empirically manipulated, the demonstration of pure differences in degree is plausible and the scientific measurement of the relevant attributes credible. Where attribute differences between stimuli have identified qualitative causes, stimuli cannot be engineered to produce equivalent magnitudes of the relevant attribute. Here is where Trendler’s Millean Quantity Objection has force.
 
Article
Biosocial theory claims that evolution did not design human psychological sex differences. It argues that these are the result of the allocation of men and women into different sex roles, based on physical differences. This article argues, however, that biosocial theory is not an alternative to evolutionary psychology in the explanation of human psychological sex differences. Specifically, biosocial theory is incompatible with evolutionary reasoning and it ignores findings of hormonal psychology, developmental psychology and comparative psychology. Moreover, by posing the need for special explanations, it violates the principle of Occam's razor. Finally, it does not provide an explanation as to why sex differences in human partner choice are finely tuned to fitness.
 
Article
Mark Freeman’s and Elli Schachter’s commentaries on my target article “Who am I? Narration and its contribution to self and identity” open up opportunities to clarify. In this response I differentiate more clearly between biographic approaches to narrative and my proposal to approach identity and self as dilemmatic spaces that are navigated by way of narrative practices. While Freeman and Schachter suggest an approach to identity by highlighting narrating as first-person (mental) operations of a solitary (self-)intending and (self-)reflecting individual, and identity research as inquiry into individuals’ reflections and intentions, I clarify my alternative: narrating as an interactive practice— an approach which accentuates narrative practices taking place as situated and contextualized second-person encounters within which identities and a sense of self emerge as navigations of three dilemmatic identity spaces. In addition, in this response to Freeman’s and Schachter’s commentaries I once more attempt to underscore the merits of a practice-based approach to narrating activities for empirical identity research.
 
Article
Psychologists’ spatial representations and conceptual analogies form a semiotic doublet by which patterns of their seminal ideas can be compared across different eras. One powerful reappearing idea is Freud’s concept that two logics alternate as forms of thought. This elemental idea entails the individual’s access to analogical thinking, its forms, and its effect on the person’s selection of logical form. To go a recursive step back, I search out the psychologist’s origin of ideas to explain analogy and the two logics. Probing the doublet illuminates the psychologist’s thought forms, semiotic combinations, and choices of logical patterns. Using it to compare different theorists’ concepts of the two logics and analogy reveals the continuously recursive nature of analogy and shows the durability of major ideas. Comparisons go back and forth in time and contribute to understanding the roots of ideas and to project their place and value in future models.
 
Article
Based on critical readings of the three main contributions of the special issue and on my own research experiences, the article points out three related features of developmental activity research projects as particularly challenging for the analysis and advancement of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). One feature is the nature of the joint developmental project. A second feature is the researchers’ role in the joint developmental activity. The third feature is the focus on the transformations of the central artifacts that make up the joint project. Finally, with departure from the stance that developmental activity research projects are propelled by two kinds of practitioners—the practitioners of research and the practitioners of another activity—which may support each other not only in practical matters but also with regard to concepts and perspectives, I consider advancement of CHAT methodology by outlining a beyond-interventionist methodology.
 
Article
This paper theorizes how ancient literature can be used to inspire contemporary psychological understanding. We articulate a critical presentism that reads ancient literature symbolically without losing sight of important differences of meaning over time. Although ancient literature may inspire understanding of our present-day concerns, historical text cannot be used to explain contemporary understandings without charges of naïve presentism. A hermeneutics of archetypes is used to theorize a way of using ancient literature that remains critical of presentist claims to knowledge. Without losing sight of important socio-historical differences, the story of The Bacchae is used to illustrate how literature from the past can engender psychological understanding.
 
Article
Six positions are described on the question of whether psychological concepts can and should be defined. Anger is defined as follows: `P in C at t is angry at Q' = df 'P in C at t believes that at least one person whom P in C at t cares for has, intentionally or through neglect, been treated without respect by Q, and P has not forgiven Q.' The definition belongs to the system of psychologic (PL), in which the other concepts in the definition are also defined. The definition of anger is evaluated through the plausibility of its implications, and the plausibility of the explanations of apparent contrary cases. Three explanations are presented to account for cases which appear not to fit the definition. These are: stronger other concerns; the personification of non-persons and depersonification of persons; and a variation in the subjective standards of what constitutes respect and disrespect, both between persons and between situations (degree of frustration). The ultimate test of the definition lies in its general utility as part of the system of PL.
 
Article
In recent years there has been a change in attitudes among psychologists and social scientists towards ostensibly paranormal experiences in general, and parapsychological research in particular. Instead of seeking to endorse or debunk claims of paranormal experience, attention has shifted to the analysis of the broader psychological, social and cultural implications of reports of anomalous phenomena. This paper contributes to this trend by arguing for a discursive psychological study of interaction between experimenter and subject in parapsychology laboratory experiments. Parapsychological experiments rely on mundane interactional practices which invoke the relevance of, or make explicit reference to, psychological and parapsychological states. These laboratory interactions can be investigated by conversation-analytic-informed discursive psychology. Some preliminary observations on data from ganzfeld ESP experiments are offered to illustrate the range of empirical issues which may be explored. These concern the socially organized properties of reports of conscious imagery; the use of a psychological thesaurus as part of the experimenter’s work; and the management of affiliation in experimenter-subject interaction. These observations suggest that discursive psychological research can be undertaken despite the controversial status of evidence for extra-sensorimotor communication. The paper argues that the discursive psychological studies of interaction in parapsychological experiments can yield findings relevant to the concerns of both parapsychology and discursive psychology, and can contribute to methodological issues in the broader study of consciousness.
 
Top-cited authors
Rom Harré
  • Georgetown University
Jaan Valsiner
  • Aalborg University
Jonathan Potter
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Alan Costall
  • University of Portsmouth
Steven R. Sabat
  • Georgetown University