Chaotic psychology : nonlinear dynamics as a metatheory for psychology (2000)
Psychology is described as a poor science. Both the methodology, and the philosophy that underlie psychology do not seem appropriate for psychology's subject matter. This is primarily due to a poor philosophy of science which fails to recognise the dynamic, and holistic, nature of psychological phenomena. Psychology is also highly fractured and in need of a unifying metatheory. Nonlinear dynamics is proposed as a possible metatheory for psychology. Nonlinear dynamics is explained in some detail, both as a means of generating apparent disorder within a deterministic system, and as a means of generating order from multiple inputs. Empirical support for nonlinear dynamics in psychology is high, as examples drawn from a broad cross section of psychology indicate. Theoretical considerations on the nature of psychological phenomena suggest that they are suitable for study with the tools of nonlinear dynamics. A number of other benefits are also derived from a nonlinear dynamics metatheory. A consideration of the criticisms which have been leveled at nonlinear dynamics reveals no obstacles that could not be dealt with by improvements in method and technology. An outline is provided of a nonlinear dynamic psychology, and the benefits of such a metatheory are discussed. Various avenues of future empirical research are considered.
KeywordsPsychology--Philosophy; Nonlinear theories; Chaotic behavior in systems; Science and psychology; Metatheory
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