From theory construction to deconstruction: the many modalities of theorising in psychology

H. Looren De Jong

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Theoretical psychology seems to have moved from helping theory construction in mainstream psychology to deconstructing and criticizing it. Three projects for theoretical psychology are sketched: theory construction (Kukla), naturalism (the Churchlands) and its variant metascience, and social constructionism (Gergen). It is argued that each is in itself valuable, but also that each is lacking in important respects. Metascience has no resources for a critical distance; social constructionism seems often stuck in de(con)structive mode; and theory construction seems captive to an outdated divide between data and theory. The thesis is that we may conceive of theoretical psychology as a continuum from theory construction to deconstruction, with different degrees of reflection, interpretation, integration, and criticism of research programs in psychology. Furthermore, reflection will often start from existing empirical research (contra Kukla, and, in a different way, contra Gergen), but nevertheless have the resources to criticize it (contra ultra-naturalistic metascience). Some examples of theoretical projects are listed to illustrate this picture. © 2010, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-19
    JournalTheory and Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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