Unity: Avoiding Critical Reflection?

The harshest criticism I’ve yet read of Henriques’ bid to unify psychology (starting here) comes from Stephen Yanchar. He sees Henriques’ work as an attempt to repackage extant theoretical perspectives and sidestep critical reflection.

Yanchar (2004) draws attention to the literature that cautions against unification. Indeed, the idea of unity would ‘force psychology into a theoretical straightjacket’. Henriques’ model is described as: ‘rigid’, ‘exclusive’ and ‘disciplinary agenda setting’. More important than unification, for Yanchar (2004:1280) is: “…a continual dialogue among psychologists from diverse research communities,” and, “…the pursuit of truth…”

I’m bursting with questions. How can psychologists from diverse research communities communicate with each other if they don’t speak the same language? What is this pursuit of truth? Isn’t unification a kind of truth? Anyway, how does one small step towards a macro-level theory suddenly curtail the search for truth or put psychology in a straightjacket?

Sounds like someone is comfortable in his ghetto and doesn’t want to move.

Yanchar (2004) Some discontents with theoretical unification (Abstract)



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Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 27 August 2006

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