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2007_Toomela_IPBS_reply (p)

2007_Toomela_IPBS_reply (p) - Integr Psych Behav(2007...

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REPLY History of Methodology in Psychology: Starting Point, Not the Goal Aaro Toomela Published online: 31 July 2007 # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007 Abstract Current mainstream psychology is characterized by mismatch between questions asked and methods used to answer the questions. There are several important and theoretically justified methodological principles that can be found in pre-WWII (mostly continental Europe) psychology, but disappeared from current mainstream psychology. Future psychology can be built with understanding that not everything that is new is better than the old and not everything that disappeared in the history of psychology disappeared for rational reasons. Methodological thinking of several pre-WWII psychologists may have been far ahead of current mainstream psychology. Keywords Methodological principles . Psychology . Systemic approach I am grateful for the time and energy that the commentators (Branco 2007 ; Molenaar 2007 ; Ohlsson 2007 ; Sato et al. 2007 ; Wagoner 2007 ; Yurevich 2007 ) put into reading and responding to the target article. They raised many significant issues and made many excellent suggestions. I have organized the issues raised in commen- taries into three general groups: (1) salient background issues, (2) questions related to the eight methodological principles outlined by Watson ( 1934 ), and (3) proposals for future directions in developing methodology of psychology. Salient Background Issues In the target article it was mentioned that the relationships of methodological thought to particular countries are of secondary importance. Nevertheless, in four commentaries (Branco, Ohlsson, Wagoner, Yurevich) in one or another way it was Integr Psych Behav (2007) 41:75 82 DOI 10.1007/s12124-007-9005-z A. Toomela ( * ) Department of Special Education, University of Tartu, Salme 1a, Tartu 50103, Estonia e-mail: [email protected]
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suggested that connecting methodological thought to countries was misleading or simply wrong. Branco found that German-American dichotomy entails an exclusive separation perspective, which does not fit a more sophisticated scientific thinking. At the same time, Branco suggests to take a systemic approach to phenomena. Systemic approach, however, includes the idea of dichotomy. It is assumed that systems differ qualitatively. Quality either exists or does not exist. If one system has a quality and another does not have the same quality, these two systems belong to mutually exclusive categories. How this idea relates to cultures? Here, I suggest, Branco has implicitly mixed the levels of analysis. Culture can be understood at different levels of analysis. According to systems (or Gestalt, or functional system) view, systems as wholes have qualities its elements do not have. Therefore, attributing some school of thought to an American or German-Austrian culture does not mean at all that all scholars from these countries share the same understanding.
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