New Ideas in Psychology

  • Editorial Board/Publication Information
    Publication date: January 2017
    Source:New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 44









  • Introduction to the special issue
    Publication date: January 2017
    Source:New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 44









  • How to operationalize a person
    Publication date: January 2017
    Source:New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 44

    Author(s): Mark H. Bickhard

    The notion of operationally defining a person is absurd, but no more so than other uses of “operationalization”. ‘Persons’ make that absurdity particularly clear because there is no sense in which persons can be directly observed, nor defined in terms of what might be observable, and thereby exposes the emptiness of the idea of operationalization more broadly. On the other hand, persons can be modeled, and their ontology investigated, within frameworks that can address the processes and organizations that actually constitute persons.





  • Going where the action is to conceptualize the person
    Publication date: January 2017
    Source:New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 44

    Author(s): Catherine Raeff

    Contemporary psychology is highly structured in terms of conventional and traditional methodological practices, including fragmenting, objectifying, and aggregating. Such practices sometimes impede understanding and investigating the person in terms of what he/she does as an integrated active individual who develops. The goal of this paper is to outline a systems conceptualization of the person as a developing individual who acts in relation to others in cultural practices. Such action is conceptualized as emerging through multiple and interrelated individual, social, and cultural processes, as well as in terms of multiple and interrelated domains of functioning that develop. This conceptualization is applicable to a wide range of issues in psychology as a whole. Moreover, starting with an overall conceptualization of action provides ways to overcome some limitations of conventional practices, and also provides a basis for conducting systematic and integrative research on the person.





  • The explanatory significance of wholes: How exclusive reliance on antecedent-consequent models of explanation undermines the study of persons
    Publication date: January 2017
    Source:New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 44

    Author(s): David C. Witherington

    Psychology has long labored under a mechanistic view of persons as reducible to parts (i.e., traits) that dictate human functioning. Efforts to study persons holistically—as embodied wholes embedded in the world—have resuscitated the study of personhood and its development, overhauling linear cause-effect models of psychological functioning in favor of emergence-focused, dynamic process alternatives rooted in the concept of persons as necessarily constituted within interactive context. Focused on agency and self-determination, the study of personhood also calls for an appreciation of the explanatory significance of persons as persons, as unified wholes who preserve their own organization in the face of ceaseless exchange with the world. Fully adopting this important vantage point for understanding persons, however, is only possible by expanding notions of scientific explanation beyond the temporal framework of antecedent-consequent, parts-to-whole relations in order to embrace a person’s wholeness itself as a legitimate mode of explanation for understanding functioning.





  • Psychologism as a style of reasoning and the study of persons
    Publication date: January 2017
    Source:New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 44

    Author(s): Jeff Sugarman

    “Psychologism” is proposed as a “style of reasoning” dominant in psychology that has set the agenda for determining what counts as psychological phenomena, their nature, and how they are to be investigated and understood. The assumptions of psychologism and particularities of its procedure are detailed and, subsequently, illustrated by example using the psychological study of attitudes. The failure of psychologism is raised and an alternative to the conception of persons implicit in psychologism is discussed as an initial step in forging a style of reasoning adequate to psychological inquiry.





  • Studying persons in context: Taking social psychological reality seriously
    Publication date: January 2017
    Source:New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 44

    Author(s): Jack Martin

    Herein, I describe and illustrate the materiality and objectivity of sociocultural and psychological reality. I contend that many well-known problems in ensuring that psychological inquiry is obviously and properly connected to its primary subject matter, “persons in context,” may be understood as related to the apparent inability of many psychologists and schools of psychology to take historically-established sociocultural and psychological reality seriously. The example I use is a brief, joint biographical study of the sociocultural and psychological contexts within which Carl Rogers and B. F. Skinner were positioned and came to position themselves with respect to issues of freedom and control. This study provides a particular and concrete example of the sociocultural and psychological constitution of personhood, selfhood, and human agency as emergent and lived in particular lives. Throughout the article, the material, objective bases for social-cultural and psychological personhood are emphasized.





  • Persons as dialogical-hermeneutical-relational beings – New circumstances ‘call out’ new responses from us
    Publication date: January 2017
    Source:New Ideas in Psychology, Volume 44

    Author(s): John Shotter

    Shifting from a world of already-made-things to a world of things-continually-in-the-making changes everything. Psychology, like all other sciences, tries to proceed by analysis, by breaking down a living, unique, always developing organic whole into a set of general, already-existing, nameable elements. But as Bakhtin makes clear, in discussing how Dostoevsky portrays the inner dynamics of people worrying over how to act for the best in living their lives, such an itemization of merely observed behavioural characteristics leads to a degrading reification of a person’s unfinalizability, of their still-developing nature. Below, I first examine the Cartesianism that still seems present in much of our thinking in social inquiry today. I then turn attention to the primacy of our living movements out in the world and their responsiveness to events occurring around us. While finally turning to the fact that, as living beings, what ‘goes on inside us’, is not so important as ‘what we go on inside of’. Although Dostoevsky portrays this indivisible, flowing reality, in terms of a set of discontinuous fragments —because that is the nature of our experience in everyday life — as hermeneutical-dialogical-relational beings, we have a basic capability of organizing them into unitary wholes which sit in the background to everything we think and do.





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