2007_Toomela_IPBS_target (p)

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

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TARGET ARTICLE Culture of Science: Strange History of the Methodological Thinking in Psychology Aaro Toomela Published online: 7 July 2007 # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007 Abstract In pre-World-War-II psychology, two directions in methodological thought the German Austrian and North American ways could be differentiated. After the war, the German Austrian methodological orientation has been largely abandoned. Compared to the pre-WWII German Austrian psychology, modern mainstream psychology is more concerned with accumulation of facts than with general theory. Furthermore, the focus on qualitative data in addition to quantitative data is rarely visible. Only external physical or statistical-rather than psychological controls are taken into account in empirical studies. Fragments rather than wholes and relationships are studied, and single cases that contradict group data are not analyzed. Instead of complex psychological types simple trait differences are studied, and prediction is not followed by thorough analysis of the whole situation. Last (but not least), data are not systematically related to complex theory. These limits have hindered the growth of knowledge in the behavioral sciences. A new return to an updated version of the German Austrian methodolog- ical trajectory is suggested. Keywords Methodology . Holism . Part/whole relations In recent years an increasing dissatisfaction with methods and their corresponding theoretical thinking in psychology as a science can be observed (e.g., Essex and Smythe 1999 ; Grace 2001 ; Michell 2000 , 2003b ; Molenaar 2004 ; Molenaar and Valsiner 2005 ; Sohn 1999 ). Again the behavioral sciences are in a methodological crisis due to the limitations that currently used methods set for the given disciplines. There are two ways for overcoming limitations of methods used in psychology. One is to invent new methods of research. That may entail the creation of more and Integr Psych Behav (2007) 41:6 20 DOI 10.1007/s12124-007-9004-0 A. Toomela ( * ) Department of Special Education, University of Tartu, Salme 1a, Tartu 50103, Estonia e-mail: [email protected]
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increasingly sophisticated statistical methods of data analysis, different brain- imaging methods. The other way is to look back into the history of methodological thought and ask whether methodological principles applied in research long time ago and abandoned in the course of history were abandoned due to inherent limitations of them or did they disappear due to purely non-scientific cultural reasons. In this paper the historical approach is taken. Before World War II two general schools of psychology, North American and German Austrian, could be distinguished. I suggest that German Austrian psychological thinking was rich in its potential for building a unified science, and this exceeded in several ways the North American way of thinking in psychology. Recent mainstream psychology follows mostly pre-
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2007_Toomela_IPBS_target (p) - Integr Psych Behav(2007...

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