Is Psychology Still a Science of Behavior? – Dolinski (2018)

Since the 1970s, social psychology has examined real human behaviour to an increasingly smaller degree. This article is an analysis of the reasons why this is so. The author points out that the otherwise valuable phenomenon of cognitive shift, which occurred in social psychology precisely in the 1970s, naturally boosted the interest of psychologists in such phenomena like stereotypes, attitudes, and values; at the same time, it unfortunately decreased interest in others, like aggression, altruism, and social influence. In recent decades, we have also witnessed a growing conviction among psychologists that explaining why people display certain reactions holds greater importance than demonstrating the conditions under which people display these reactions. This assumption has been accompanied by the spread of statistical analysis applied to empirical data, which has led to researchers today generally preferring to employ survey studies (even if they are a component of experiments being conducted) to the analysis of behavioural variables. The author analyses the contents of the most recent volume of “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology”, and argues that it is essentially devoid of presentations of empirical studies in which human behaviours are examined. This gives rise to the question of whether social psychology remains a science of behaviour, and whether such a condition of the discipline is desirable.

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