Chapter 2Historical, Philosophical, and Epistemological Perspectives


The purpose of research, the renowned experimental social psychologist McGuire (2004) argued in one of his influential articles on epistemology, is to discover “which are the crucial perspectives,” not whether one hypothesis or theory is true or false, as “all hypotheses and theories are true, as all are false, depending on the perspective from which they are viewed” (p. 173; italics added). For a long time, mainstream psychology has neglected and down-prioritized discussions of paradigms—paradigms that stake out perspectives and development of theories within the different fields of research and practice. Neither has mainstream psychology been spending much effort on the important issue of how and to what extent the a priori assumptions and values in psychological research and theory are interwoven with prevailing and predominant values and ideologies in the culture and society at large. Condor (1997) critically maintained that contemporary psychology in fact too often considered its positions as “indisputable universally true facts” (p. 136). Not to discuss horizons and perspectives is a detrimental state, in particular in our time when scientific psychological knowledge for many people in various cultures constitutes a considerable part of their meaning structure of what it implies to be a human being (Miller, 1999; Nafstad, 2002, 2005; Slife, Reber, & Richardson, 2005). Critical reflection ...

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