Fachbereichskolloquium Psychologie Sommersemester 2021


05. Mai 2021 16:15 – 05. Mai 2021 17:45


Dr. Cameron Brick, Universität Amsterdam, Niederlande

„Illusory essences: A bias holding back theorizing in psychological science”

The reliance in psychology on verbal definitions means that psychological research is unusually moored to how humans think and communicate about categories. Psychological concepts  e.g., intelligence; attention) are easily assumed to represent objective, definable categories with an underlying essence. Like the 'vital forces' previously thought to animate life, these assumed essences can create an illusion of understanding. I will describe a pervasive tendency across psychological science to assume that essences explain phenomena by synthesizing research lines from cognitive, clinical, and biological psychology and neuroscience.
Labeling a complex phenomenon can appear as theoretical progress before sufficient evidence that the described category has a definable essence or known boundary conditions.
Category labels can further undermine progress by masking contingent and contextual relationships and obscuring the need to specify mechanisms. Finally, I will highlight examples of promising methods that circumvent the lure of essences and suggest four concrete strategies to identify and avoid essentialist intuitions in theory development. From the audience, I would particularly enjoy feedback on whether these interventions are worth testing empirically and how that might be operationalized.

WebEx-URL: https://uni-marburg.webex.com/uni-marburg-de/j.php?MTID=me1367bd7fa4da0587672cba6b65c7024

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Dr. Cameron Brick, Universität Amsterdam, Niederlande


Prof. Dr. Daniel Heck