Psychology is Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science

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shpalman
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Psychology is Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science

Post by shpalman » Sat Apr 23, 2022 6:28 pm

Psychology “Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science” according to the article* which the linked article is writing about.

They seem to argue that you just can't make a hypothesis and test it in this field, but rather...
“In order to learn about the world,” they write, “we may explore and document the great variety of phenomena, to organize them, to see whether there are any obvious regularities.”

“This leads to a very different kind of research wherein we do not prove or disprove theories, but rather try to find the conditions under which a particular phenomenon or mechanism will or will not show up, what strengthens and weakens it. Through slow, careful mapping of the territory, we will start to see whether a behavioral or cognitive phenomenon is widespread, robust or ephemeral, whether it strongly affects our actions or life outcomes, or whether it is only a curiosity with limited impact.”


* Debrouwere, S., & Rosseel, Y. (2021). The conceptual, cunning, and conclusive experiment in psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/17456916211026947
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Re: Psychology is Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science

Post by jimbob » Sun Apr 24, 2022 8:15 am

shpalman wrote:
Sat Apr 23, 2022 6:28 pm
Psychology “Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science” according to the article* which the linked article is writing about.

They seem to argue that you just can't make a hypothesis and test it in this field, but rather...
“In order to learn about the world,” they write, “we may explore and document the great variety of phenomena, to organize them, to see whether there are any obvious regularities.”

“This leads to a very different kind of research wherein we do not prove or disprove theories, but rather try to find the conditions under which a particular phenomenon or mechanism will or will not show up, what strengthens and weakens it. Through slow, careful mapping of the territory, we will start to see whether a behavioral or cognitive phenomenon is widespread, robust or ephemeral, whether it strongly affects our actions or life outcomes, or whether it is only a curiosity with limited impact.”


* Debrouwere, S., & Rosseel, Y. (2021). The conceptual, cunning, and conclusive experiment in psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/17456916211026947

May I introduce them to the subject of Ecology?
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Re: Psychology is Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science

Post by shpalman » Sun Apr 24, 2022 8:39 am

They write that the focus on hypothesis-testing science is doomed to failure in psychology. But psychology can focus on the descriptive, taxonomic science that forms the basis of disciplines like zoology, botany, mycology, and even meteorology.
Were you complaining that ecology specifically wasn't in this list of examples?
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Re: Psychology is Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Apr 24, 2022 5:00 pm

To me, "try[ing] to find the conditions under which a particular phenomenon or mechanism will or will not show up, what strengthens and weakens it" sounds a lot like testing hypotheses. As is a lot of the descriptive, taxonomic work in biology of course.

AFAICT the authors' critique isn't so much that the field of psychology is inherently incompatible with hypothesis-testing, but rather that researchers don't do it properly.
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Re: Psychology is Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science

Post by jimbob » Sun Apr 24, 2022 6:56 pm

shpalman wrote:
Sun Apr 24, 2022 8:39 am
They write that the focus on hypothesis-testing science is doomed to failure in psychology. But psychology can focus on the descriptive, taxonomic science that forms the basis of disciplines like zoology, botany, mycology, and even meteorology.
Were you complaining that ecology specifically wasn't in this list of examples?
Nah, I only read your first quote. But that seems to misunderstand what can be used to test hypotheses.
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Re: Psychology is Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science

Post by dyqik » Sun Apr 24, 2022 8:18 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Apr 24, 2022 5:00 pm
To me, "try[ing] to find the conditions under which a particular phenomenon or mechanism will or will not show up, what strengthens and weakens it" sounds a lot like testing hypotheses. As is a lot of the descriptive, taxonomic work in biology of course.

AFAICT the authors' critique isn't so much that the field of psychology is inherently incompatible with hypothesis-testing, but rather that researchers don't do it properly.
Cosmology, astrophysics, and particle physics also work this way.

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Re: Psychology is Incompatible with Hypothesis-Driven Theoretical Science

Post by IvanV » Mon Apr 25, 2022 8:30 am

There are entire university departments devoted to experimental psychology, which has been going on for a long time. Are not the experiments of experimental psychology testing hypotheses precisely in the sense of other hypothesis testing?

In the old days it was all rats running around mazes and making people play games that focused on particular behavioural tendencies. But these days they are also scanning people's brains while they do it.

Indeed EP has been the source for newer discipline of experimental economics, which is all the rage these days. I go back to my old economics dept from time to time, for reunion days, and ask them what interesting stuff they are up to which might be useful for my work. They tell me, that field's largely worked out now, our main advances, at the micro level, are in experimental economics. Which is basically EP but specifically addressing questions of the economic behaviour of humans.

It seems to me that Debrouwere etc might be trying to excuse the less-than-scientific endeavours that go on in some branches of psychology. Such as old Sigmund got up to and which is much discredited.

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