On a certain blindness in modern psychology

Michael J. Apter's Personal Space
Those of us who are researchers in psychology are privileged to be working on the most interesting phenomena imaginable. But I fancy that there are times when we do not really look at them. Or rather, we are taught to look at them in certain ways, using certain concepts and certain techniques, so that sometimes we miss things that are obvious to everyone except psychologists. In trying to understand some psychological process or another we have a tendency to look first at what previous researchers have done and thought, so that afterwards we cannot help but look at these processes through their eyes. To put this in psychological terms, we acquire sets and then cannot easily discard them and look at the world afresh to see how things really are. This produces, to borrow a phrase from a classic paper by William James (1899), ‘a certain kind of blindness’. I want to support this argument with a couple of examples taken from my own field: personality and motivation.

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber