Two worlds of psychological phenomena

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Abstract

Argues that the discipline of psychology is composed of subfields studying different sets of phenomena. Characterizations of persons form one major world of psychological phenomena; behaviors make up another. These worlds are differentiated in many ways: according to whether meanings are assigned a priori or a posteriori, whether the unit of observation is extended in time or is brief and momentary, whether the individual observer contributes to the observation or observers are essentially interchangeable. The validity problems that plague research on characteristics of persons are minimized or avoided in studies of behaviors. Although psychologists have developed a technology that contributes to the quality of evaluative judgments made about persons in everyday living, a science for characterizations of persons seems improbable. Much more likely is the development of one or more sciences for the phenomena of behavior, especially of actions in the context of other actions. (28 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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