The meaning of ecologically oriented inquiry in contemporary psychology

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Abstract

Attempts to highlight the nature and value of ecologically oriented inquiry in psychology by claiming that it (a) transcends scientistic and personalistic strategies of inquiry, and (b) corresponds to a transcending of objectivist and subjectivist fallacies in epistemological theory. The central goal of ecologically oriented inquiry is to resolve the tension between certainty and authenticity by achieving an interplay between features associated with deduction (i.e, theory, manipulation, control) and those associated with induction (i.e., holistic data, ecological validity, discovery) in both laboratory and field research. Ecologically oriented inquiry has, in essence, an epistemological meaning that can be related to fundamental philosophical issues. The transactive or behavioral cycle is discussed as a general model of both scientific and ordinary knowing and doing. The author argues that both the problems and the promise of research in psychology relate to guiding epistemology and suggests that it is easy to oversell such an argument, to foist an epistemological significance on every instruction, test item, and t test. Several explanations are given as to why the majority of psychologists do not do scientistic work. (104 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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