Methods of Theoretical Psychology


Theoretical psychology stands in the same relation to psychology as theoretical physics does to physics. The traditional way to study theoretical psychology is to take up one approach after another—behavioral, psychoanalytic, cognitive, and so on. The aim of this book is not to impart a substantive knowledge of core psychological theories, or even to analyze critically selected theories. Instead, it is to prepare the reader to analyze and advance the theoretical literature in any tradition.

A good theoretician should be able to contribute to the study of psychoanalytic theory as readily as to behavioral theory. The skills required are the same. Instead of covering a sequence of theories, therefore, the book is organized around types of theoretical activities. It is not a work in theoretical psychology; it is a book about theoretical psychology. It also confronts psychologists' underestimation of the variety and the significance of theoretical work. Many theoretical issues do not call for empirical research—they require nothing but thinking.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. 1. The Enterprise of Theoretical Psychology
  3. 2. Basic Tools
  4. 3. Theories and Data
  5. 4. Constructing and Evaluating Theories
  6. 5. Deriving and Testing Empirical Hypotheses
  7. 6. Theoretical Amplification
  8. 7. Theoretical Simplification
  9. 8. Necessary Propositions
  10. 9. Conceptual Issues
  11. 10. The Contingent A Priori
  12. References
  13. Index