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Staff Research Seminar: Is empirical psychology a dead science?

Wednesday 22 February 2023, 1.00PM to 2.00pm

Speaker(s): Dr Sebastian Suggate, Psychology in Education Research Centre

In this talk I endeavour to examine whether psychology is, like Latin, widely studied but fundamentally dead – dissolute, devoid of its original character, losing its identity and minimally able to respond to challenges posed in an increasingly complex social order. Empirical science and modern psychology are often claimed to represent “objective” knowledge in comparison to “unreliable” intuition and introspection. This notion is briefly discussed in the context of the evolution of scientific thought and psychological science itself. Subsequently, I turn to some fundamental difficulties facing psychology methodologically. For instance, its studying of phenomena that it cannot directly measure (e.g., thoughts, emotions, intentions), with methods that abstract experiences to a level unrecognisable from their original form, out of context from the complex ecological systems that govern reality. To finish, I consider a more modest position for psychology (and likely all empirical social sciences), not as dead, but as requiring further evolution, that in the context of the struggle for a participative, pluralistic, and dynamic society can become a sharper tool for the public good.

Location: via Zoom