Monday, 5 October 2009

Jerome Kagan: Methodological flaws

I remain puzzled over what appears to be a compulsion, that I cannot tame, to publish papers and books that summarize the empirical evidence pointing to serious problems with popular procedures and assumptions that permeate many domains in psychology. These include: (1) the use of decontextualized predicates for emotional, personality, and cognitive concepts that fail to specify the agent, the local context, and source of evidence; (2) the reliance on single sources of evidence for broad constructs; and (3) the sole reliance on self report data without supporting behavioural observations. This writing seems to have little effect on the practices of the relevant investigators, yet I persist. It is not because I am arrogant. I celebrate humility and my close friends support that self diagnosis. Any help with this symptom will be appreciated.

Jerome Kagan is Daniel and Amy Starch Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A pioneering developmental psychologist, he was listed as among the 100 most influential psychologists of the twentieth century by the Review of General Psychology in 2002.

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2 comments:

  1. Maybe you're just an avid defender of truth, and your zeal leads you to poke holes in sometimes dangerous and sometimes lazy attempts to categorize theories as truth without the appropriate degree of reality-testing.

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  2. This is puzzling to me.

    Years ago, and on several occasions since, I quite literally said to myself, "If Jerry Kagan can't get people tolisten, I'm not wasting any more of my time trying to get people to think about the poor evidentiary base of so much psychology." So you're the cure, for me, of the compulsion of which you complain.
    Of course, every once in awhile, when I'm shaky about my own judgment, I think of drinking the Kool Aid. Then you publish something else, which I find convincing, and I'm rescured.

    So I'm glad you have this particular compulsion--and I'll bet there are lots of folks like me.

    Bob Fancher

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