An Essay Evolves / What Constitutes 'Evidence' in Psychology
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What Constitutes 'Evidence' in Psychology

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 10 months ago


What constitutes 'evidence' within  the science of Psychology..?


For me, a genuinely 'psychological' theory (eg Freud's) has to adduce specifically-Psychological evidence in it's support...

'Psychological' here means 'making sense within the psychology of the person about whom the evidence is being adduced..(eg a protoype of this approach might be  Kelly's Personal Construct Theory..)

Unlike many animal-based approaches (eg S-R Behaviourism  or specifically neuropsysiologically-based approaches), Freud's enduring appeal is that both his clinical brilliance and his fine writing style enabled him to communicate plausibly to a fascinated reading public about how the mind (might) actually work..Synonyms for this kind of psychological theorising might be:

'integrated' 'cohering'  'phenomenological' 'consistent' 'predictive' 'authentic' etc..

In fact, Freud's vision of the person is essentially in-explicable, ie not amenable to the kind of rigorous empirical testing we psychologists like to submit our hypotheses to..'Evidence' here is of a quite different kind, ie intuitively supported by much of our everyday conscious (and unconscious) human experiences..

The value of a psychological theory is often proposed in terms of it's fecundity,

 ie how many other theorists are  periodically inspired to explore/validate it..

By this criterion alone, S. Freud's approach has well-established it's durability within the psychological literature..

What do others think..?******



The points you make remind me of some of the discussions resulting from the widespread adoption of evidence based practice in medicine. In a nutshell, practitioners and researchers alike seem to fear that something may be lost if medicine continues to become a purely science-based discipline. Perhaps what might be lost is the kind of fecundity you mention, for the originator and subsequent investigators. My readings seem to indicate that in moving away from a neurological model Freud recognised something of this.


Somewhere (possibly The Psychologist) it was said that any new work directed at scientifically examining aspects of Freud's theory constitutes little more than an 'unhelpful retrofitting'. I suppose I would agree if it were the case that specific findings were hailed as a global vindication of the theory (which I agree has too many problems and even internal inconsistencies to be accepted wholesale).

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