After a quarter century of publication, there is a new editor at the helm of the journal Theory & Psychology. Founding editor Henderikus Stam (of the University of Calgary’s theory and clinical psychology programs) has passed his position to Kieran O’Doherty (of the University of Guelph’s applied social psychology program).
In his incoming editorial, O’Doherty celebrates the contributions of his predecessor:
…the journal has showcased the work of leaders in theoretical scholarship in psychology and has been a central vehicle for the development of theoretical psychology as we now know the field. Without Hank’s dedication, it is not at all clear how theoretical psychology would look today, or whether it would have the strength and international scope it does now.
Also in this inaugural issue, O’Doherty hosts a lively discussion, the “next round” of the perennial debate about the historiography of psychology as a discipline, this time focusing the value and limitations of the social turn and the ‘New History’ movement, and how the effects of those have led to contemporary concerns regarding the role and relationship between contextual and intellectual historical orientations and methods. The relevant abstracts read as follows, after the jump.
Revisiting the history of postwar LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) research illuminates how the work of a chemist at the Rockefeller Institute contributed to the development of a biochemical paradigm for mental functioning. Dilworth Wayne Woolley proposed one of the first theories of the biochemistry of mental illness based on empirical evidence. His research with LSD and serotonin had wide-ranging repercussions for pharmacology and fit neatly into the emerging medicalization of mental illness. Reevaluating Woolley’s ideas and the fruits of psychopharmacology leads to possible new approaches toward mental health and illness when considered alongside lessons learned from past research with psychedelic substances, and exemplifies a broader paradigm shift in cultural studies toward a biopsychosocial model that acknowledges the intersections between biology and culture.
The February 2016 issue of Theory & Psychology includes an article that may be of especial interest to AHP readers. Saulo de Freitas Araujo and Rayssa Maluf de Souza explore William James’ views on introspection as a method in their article ““… to rely on first and foremost and always”: Revisiting the role of introspection in William James’s early psychological work.” The abstract reads,
In order to legitimate itself as a science, psychology has faced the ongoing problem of establishing its proper method of investigation. In this context, debates on introspection have emerged that have remained intense since the 18th century. However, contemporary debates and historical investigations on this topic have not done justice to the richness and diversity of positions, leading to oversimplifications and hasty generalizations, as if the terms “introspection” and “introspectionism” referred to one and same thing. The central goal of this article is to offer an analysis of William James’s position on the introspective method within the intellectual context of his time, covering the period from his early writings until the publication, in 1890, of The Principles of Psychology. Our results indicate that James used two different types of introspection. We conclude by discussing divergences in the secondary literature and the implications of our study for historical and theoretical debates in psychology.
The October 2015 issue of Theory & Psychology is a special issue on “Unplugging the Milgram Machine.” Guest edited by Augustine Brannigan, Ian Nicholson, and Frances Cherry the issue includes a number of articles of interest to AHP readers. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Introduction to the special issue: Unplugging the Milgram machine,” by Augustine Brannigan, Ian Nicholson, and Frances Cherry. The abstract reads,
The current issue of Theory & Psychology is devoted to Stanley Milgram and his contribution to the study of obedience. It presents a decidedly critical evaluation of these well-known experiments that challenges their relevance to our understanding of events such as the Holocaust. It builds on recent investigations of the Milgram archive at Yale. The discipline’s adulation of the obedience research overlooks several critical factors: the palpable trauma experienced by many participants, and the stark skepticism of the deceptive cover-story experienced by many others, Milgram’s misrepresentation of the way in which the prods were undertaken to ensure standardization, and his failure to de-brief the vast majority of participants. There is also the cherry-picking of findings. The project was whitewashed in the film, Obedience, prepared by Milgram to popularize his conclusions. The articles contributed for this issue offer a more realistic assessment of Milgram’s contribution to knowledge.
The latest issue of Theory & Psychology has been posted online and contains many compelling pieces, including works on Situated and Embodied Social Psychology, a critical Wittgensteinian investigation of methodological plurality, and a cultural-historical standpoint on subjectivity and Social Representation theory. We’ve compiled the abstracts here for your convenience:
Rethinking situated and embodied social psychology
Wim T. J. L. Pouw, & Huib Looren de Jong
This article aims to explore the scope of a Situated and Embodied Social Psychology (ESP). At first sight, social cognition seems embodied cognition par excellence. Social cognition is first and foremost a supra-individual, interactive, and dynamic process (Semin & Smith, 2013). Radical approaches in Situated/Embodied Cognitive Science (Enactivism) claim that social cognition consists in an emergent pattern of interaction between a continuously coupled organism and the (social) environment; it rejects representationalist accounts of cognition (Hutto & Myin, 2013). However, mainstream ESP (Barsalou, 1999, 2008) still takes a rather representation-friendly approach that construes embodiment in terms of specific bodily formatted representations used (activated) in social cognition. We argue that mainstream ESP suffers from vestiges of theoretical solipsism, which may be resolved by going beyond internalistic spirit that haunts mainstream ESP today.
By Michael Billig a piece titled The myth of Kurt Lewin and the rhetoric of collective memory in social psychology textbooks. A rhetorical analysis is conducted in order to elucidate how texts have employed reductive tropes in a manner that mythologizes Lewin’s role in psychology rather than providing a historically accurate handling of his work and theory. A compelling assessment, which could be translated to ascertain other “fathers” of psychological subdisciplines have been caricatured.
Another work, by Ian Parker, Politics and “Applied Psychology”? Theoretical concepts that question the disciplinary community elucidates the practices by which psychology is substantiated as producer of concepts that get applied to the “real world” through political psychological movements, and inverts the acceptance thereof by applying political theoretical concepts to psychology as the object of inquiry. Continue reading Theory & Psychology Online Firsts July 2015→
In an article forthcoming in Theory & Psychology Mariagrazia Proietto and Giovanni Pietro Lombardo explore the history of the idea of “crisis” in psychology through the lens of Italian psychology. The article is now available OnlineFirst here. Full title and abstract follow below.
“The “crisis” of psychology between fragmentation and integration: The Italian case,” by Mariagrazia Proietto and Giovanni Pietro Lombardo. The abstract reads,
Crisis, as a construct, recurs in the history of psychology and has attracted the attention of psychological historians and philosophers in recent years, who have given life not only to a debate about psychological historiography, but also to a philosophical-epistemological reflection about the foundations of scientific psychology. These scholars, however, ignore the Italian literature on the theme, which is rich with useful details for both areas. After an analysis of the different meanings historically applied to the term crisis, this article examines the history of Italian psychology with a description of the origins and developments and with special attention paid to the construct of crisis. The analysis covers both the output of early 20th-century Italian psychologists on the theme, and how this has been treated in historians’ reconstruction of the theme. The article provides new historiographical elements within the framework of international research on the crisis.
The most recent issue of Theory & Psychology includes a several brief pieces on historiography in psychology. Contributions from Daniel Robinson (above), Kurt Danziger, and Thomas Teo debate the proper approach to the historiography of psychology, as well as the relationship between the history of psychology and the philosophy of psychology. Article titles, authors, and abstracts follow below. Join in on the discussion in the comments.
“Historiography in psychology: A note on ignorance,” by Daniel N. Robinson. The abstract reads,
A persistent theme in books and essays concerning the history of psychology suggests something amiss in tracing that history to ancient sources. Authoritative writers on the subject reject any intimation of continuity from classical to modern perspectives. Nonetheless, writers of textbooks identify the ancient world of philosophy and science as wellsprings of issues still alive within the discipline. To some, this tendency is attributed to simple ignorance. The controversy here is based on a failure to appreciate the relationship and the differences between continuity and recurrence, as well as an undisciplined application of terms far too protean for the intended purpose.
For those following AHP’s continuing coverage of everything Milgram related, we bring you another look at the now infamous obedience to authority experiments. In a forthcoming issue of Theory & Psychology, historian of psychology Ian Nicholson (right) examines the recent rehabilitation of Milgram’s research. Nicholson draws on the archival record of the obedience to authority experiments to contextualize these attempts to rehabilitate Milgram and his research. The abstract to the article, “Torture at Yale”: Experimental subjects, laboratory torment and the “rehabilitation” of Milgram’s “Obedience to Authority,” reads,
Stanley Milgram’s experiments on “Obedience to Authority” are among the most criticized in all of psychology. However, over the past 20 years, there has been a gradual rehabilitation of Milgram’s work and reputation, a reconsideration that is in turn closely linked to a contemporary “revival” of his Obedience experiments. This paper provides a critical counterpoint to this “Milgram revival” by drawing on archival material from participants in the Obedience study and Milgram himself. This material indicates that Milgram misrepresented (a) the extent of his debriefing procedures, (b) the risk posed by the experiment, and (c) the harm done to his participants. The archival record also indicates that Milgram had doubts about the scientific value of the experiment, thereby compromising his principal ethical justification for employing such extreme methods. The article ends with a consideration of the implications of these historical revelations for contemporary efforts to revive the Milgram paradigm.
The article can currently be accessed through Theory & Psychology’s OnlineFirst publication system.
In the August issue of Theory & Psychology, philosopher and historian of psychology John D. Greenwood argues that early American psychology was based on the notion of “strong psychological continuity.” Greenwood, of the Philosophy Department of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, presents his views in an article entitled, “Materialism, strong psychological continuity, and American scientific psychology.” This article builds on previous work by Greenwood, in which he argues for a re-evaluation of the import of the theory of evolution by natural selection for early American psychology. Continue reading “Strong Psychological Continuity” in T&P→