Presentation on theme: "Extending the scientific discipline of Psychology in order to deal with the complexity of applied practice David Clarke School of Psychology University."— Presentation transcript:
Extending the scientific discipline of Psychology in order to deal with the complexity of applied practice David Clarke School of Psychology University of Nottingham WARNING: This talk contains some examples drawn from studies of violent behaviour, including rape.
Science Human affairs Experimental psychology ‘Natural psychology’
We have to start from where we are now... The real world is messy (but not entirely incomprehensible). We have to accept that, and refine our approach gradually towards more precise descriptions. NOT begin with methods that require complete precision and bemoan them for not working properly.
Typically research tries to start from descriptions of single cases, and end up with general explanations. There are two steps: combining over instances; and finding the meaningful (causal) patterns. Traditional research aggregates first and then looks for patterns (which are often lost during aggregation). The alternative is to find patterns and explanations case-by-case, and then identify the commonalities.
“In truth, a good case could be made that if your knowledge is meagre and unsatisfactory, the last thing in the world you should do is make measurements. The chance is negligible that you will measure the right things accidentally.” (George Miller, 1962)
1) That all experiments are quantitative, and all non- experimental studies are qualitative. 2) That ‘qualitative methods’ can only be certain kinds of approaches to the study of language, such as Conversation Analysis, and Discourse Analysis.
Therefore, Jane’s ability at XYZ, (relative to men), is ??? (Typical inference needed in practical situations. Conclusion.) Research has shown that women are significantly better at XYZ, than men. (Typical format for research finding. Major premise.) Jane is a woman. (Typical occasion for application of findings to individuals. Minor premise.)
The structure of knowledge? Waterstones Bookshop (Nottingham) Floor Plan - alphabetical index History (indexed under ‘H’) Law (indexed under ‘L’) etc, etc Academic Psychology (under ‘A’) - 3rd floor Popular Psychology (under ‘P’) - 2nd floor
What you know as a person, and what you know as a scientist are very different. They seem impossible to reconcile. Our official view, as a discipline and a profession, is that it would be wrong to try, because the former is worthless, and the latter is ideal. But...
If I lived on a hill and wanted to see further, I would build a tower on the hill. I wouldn’t build my tower in the valley, and hope that one day it would be even taller than the hill. (What we know as scientists should be designed to complement what we know as people; not substitute for it.) How can we do that?
Treat what you know (as a professional, and as an everyday person) as part of ‘the literature’. Not because it is perfect (the literature isn’t either) but because we have to use it, challenge it, engage it, in order to make it better, and to integrate it with scientific / professional knowledge.
But (and this is a very big ‘but’) It is ‘tacit’. You can’t state, review, and critique it as your starting point, like ordinary literature. You have to elicit it, and work on it, through the medium of case study.
That is where tacit (professional and ‘everyday’) knowledge, and explicit (scientific) knowledge, can be made to meet and complement each other.
Pool of ideas and beliefs @ time t t - 1t + 1 Sources Experiments rival possibilities evaluation/ selection General applications and future versions ‘SCIENCE’
Pool of ideas and beliefs @ time t t - 1t + 1 Sources Experiments rival possibilities evaluation/ selection General applications and future versions ‘SCIENCE’ PRE-THEORETICAL PROBLEM SOLVING ProblemSolution Direct face-value link
Pool of ideas and beliefs @ time t t - 1t + 1 Sources Experiments rival possibilities evaluation/ selection General applications and future versions ‘SCIENCE’ PRE-THEORETICAL PROBLEM SOLVING ProblemSolution Direct face-value link ‘PRACTICE’ Research-based knowledge Case particularsPlan/remedy (?)
Pool of ideas & beliefs & lay at Time t Pool of beliefs at t +1 Pool of beliefs at t - 1
Pool of ideas & beliefs & lay at Time t Pool of beliefs at t +1 Pool of beliefs at t - 1 Experiments Revised weightings Conflicts SLOW CYCLE ‘SCIENTIFIC’ METHOD
Pool of ideas & beliefs & lay at Time t Pool of beliefs at t +1 Pool of beliefs at t - 1 Experiments Revised weightings Conflicts SLOW CYCLE USES FRESH SOURCES ‘SCIENTIFIC’ METHOD
Pool of ideas & beliefs & lay at Time t Specific ‘cases’ Specific hypotheses, forecasts & recommendations Pool of beliefs at t +1 Pool of beliefs at t - 1 Experiments Revised weightings Conflicts SLOW CYCLE Applications Ideas EvaluationsProblems FAST CYCLE CASE METHOD USES FRESH SOURCES ‘SCIENTIFIC’ METHOD
Point Eight Don’t assume that ‘one size fits all’
Psychology sets out to describe what kinds of people behave in what kinds of ways in what kinds of situations. And of course not all people, behaviour and situations are the same. So - What kinds of people are there? What kinds of behaviour are there? What kinds of situations are there? We don’t know. In the main we have not stopped to ask. We have ploughed ahead with the illusion that ‘one size fits all’, and that’s why our generalisations do not apply reliably to individuals.
Imagine a world....where chemists did not distinguish different compounds, but just dealt in the common properties that apply to them all..where doctors did not distinguish different diseases, but applied the same generally helpful remedies to all ‘poorly people’..where biologists had not discovered species but dealt with the average data from all life-forms !!!
We need to get a life (but first we must get an ontology )
All other things being equal, false positives can only be reduced at the expense of increasing false negatives. We are trained to be ultra-sceptical, so we avoid believing most conclusions which are false (and also a great many that are true). Instead of being a profession that can ‘see further through a brick wall than the next person’, we can often fail to notice or accept what everyone else finds blindingly obvious.
Of all truths relating to phenomena, the most valuable to us are those which relate to the order of their succession. On a knowledge of these is founded every reasonable anticipation of future facts, and whatever power we possess of influencing those facts to our advantage. John Stuart Mill, 1851
Motor Skill Model Perception Translation Motor responses Changes in outside world Motivation, goal SOCIAL SKILL
INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY I O Non- ?? SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY ''
ZERO ORDER Days to is for they have proposed I the it material of are its go studies the our of the following not over situation if the greater. FIRST ORDER Goes down here is not large feet are the happy days and so what is dead weight that many were constructed the channel was. THIRD ORDER We are going to see him is not correct to chuckle loudly and depart for home. George Miller, 1951