Cleaning up or throwing out the psychological insight with the bath water
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJoranger, L. (2020). Cleaning Up or Throwing out the Psychological Insight with the Bath Water. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-020-09573-w
In their article Psychology: a Giant with Feet of Clay, Zagaria, Andò and Zennaro aim to clean up the confusing and inconsistent conceptual landscape in current psychology. They find that evolutionary psychology with its dialectical focus on nature and nurture could be the unifying meta-theory that contemporary psychology is depending on in order to compete with harder sciences, such as biology and physiology. The aim of developing a unified conceptual consensus in psychology is flattering. However, the view depends on a worldview that one can reach a psychological science with objective properties through universal concepts that are non-effected by cognitive factors. My point of view is that psychological concepts carry a great deal of implicit theoretical baggage because they come with rich connotations, acquired through everyday usage. My view has got a methodological point that leads to considerations concerning the question: how psychologists are to study concepts in order to understand them? To grasp the meaning of a given concept in its context means to understand not only its literal meaning but also how it can be applied to the world and what is done by it. All these dimensions of the meaning of a concept are deeply rooted in the respective diachronic and synchronic contexts, and that is why a psychologist should be radically prepared to change her or his expectations considering the meaning of any concept under study.