Abstract
The aim of psychology is to understand the human mind and behavior. In contemporary psychology, the method of choice to accomplish this incredibly complex endeavor is the experiment. This dominance has shaped the whole discipline from the self-concept as an empirical science and its very epistemological and theoretical foundations, via research practice and the scientific discourse to teaching. Experimental psychology is grounded in the scientific method and positivism, and these principles, which are characteristic for modern thinking, are still upheld. Despite this apparently stalwart adherence to modern principles, experimental psychology exhibits a number of aspects which can best be described as facets of postmodern thinking although they are hardly acknowledged as such. Many psychologists take pride in being “real natural scientists” because they conduct experiments, but it is particularly difficult for psychologists to evade certain elements of postmodern thinking in view of the specific nature of their subject matter. Postmodernism as a philosophy emerged in the 20th century as a response to the perceived inadequacy of the modern approach and as a means to understand the complexities, ambiguities, and contradictions of the times. Therefore, postmodernism offers both valuable insights into the very nature of experimental psychology and fruitful ideas on improving experimental practice to better reflect the complexities and ambiguities of human mind and behavior. Analyzing experimental psychology along postmodern lines begins by discussing the implications of transferring the scientific method from fields with rather narrowly defined phenomena—the natural sciences—to a much broader and more heterogeneous class of complex phenomena, namely the human mind and behavior. This ostensibly modern experimental approach is, however, per se riddled with postmodern elements: creating phenomena in an experimental setting, including the hermeneutic processes of generating hypotheses and interpreting results, is no carbon copy of “reality” but rather an active construction which reflects irrevocably the pre-existing ideas of the investigator. These aspects, analyzed by using postmodern concepts like hyperreality and simulacra, did not seep in gradually but have been present since the very inception of experimental psychology, and they are necessarily inherent in its philosophy of science. We illustrate this theoretical analysis with the help of two examples, namely experiments on free will and visual working memory. The postmodern perspective reveals some pitfalls in the practice of experimental psychology. Furthermore, we suggest that accepting the inherently fuzzy nature of theoretical constructs in psychology and thinking more along postmodern lines would actually clarify many theoretical problems in experimental psychology.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.612805
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,975
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Scientific Challenges to Free Will.Eddy Nahmias - 2010 - In C. Sandis & T. O'Connor (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Action. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 345-356.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How Psychology Can Keep its Promises: A Response to Lana.Henry D. Schlinger - 2004 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 25 (4):277-286.
A Wittgensteinian Study of Experimental Psychology.Christopher A. Hoyt - 1998 - Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
Crises and Problems Seen From Experimental Psychology.George Mandler - 2011 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 31 (4):240-246.
Experimental Psychology, Methods of Research. [REVIEW]Marie Hayes - 1998 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 19 (1):103-104.
Science and Psychology.İlham Dilman - 1996 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 41:145-164.
The Emergence of Psychology.Gary Hatfield - 2014 - In W. J. Mander (ed.), Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford University Press. pp. 324–4.
Maria Montessori’s Philosophy of Experimental Psychology.Patrick R. Frierson - 2015 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (2):240-268.
Multiple Methods in Psychology: Epistemological Grounding and the Possibility of Unity.Frederick J. Wertz - 1999 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 19 (2):131-166.
Why Psychology Hasn't Kept its Promises.Henry D. Schlinger - 2004 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 25 (2):123-144.
Editorial: Psychology and Experimental Philosophy.Joshua Knobe, Tania Lombrozo & Edouard Machery - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (2):157-160.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2021-01-13

Total views
4 ( #1,273,217 of 2,498,160 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #427,476 of 2,498,160 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes