The Ambivalence of Experience in Psychological Theory: Recognizing a Fundamental Historical and Theoretical Conundrum

[Speaker] Stam, Henderikus J:1
1:University of Calgary (Canada)

Psychological studies of all stripes rely on responses and measures derived from the experience of a host of research participants. Furthermore, to legitimate their empirical undertaking those studies refer back to the broader categories of experience in people generally. Yet psychology has traditionally mistrusted most forms of experience relying on a multitude of research tools to discover what is "really" going on behind the facade of the surface experience of its participants. In that sense psychology shares its mistrust of the surface with psychoanalysis without having the latter's metaphors of depth or mirroring. Theoretically, psychology manages this by utilizing a functionalist strategy that is indeterminate with respect to the ontological status of psychological objects. As a consequence psychological research and theory must manage a deep split that has to be glossed in order for psychological research to make sense. I discuss the consequences and suggest possible routes toward a resolution.
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