Unity: A Noble Quest


[Photo by scalleja]

Recently, in the search for
unity in psychology (starting here) we’ve hit quite a lot of naysayers:
psychology is already unified, it doesn’t need unification, it’s impossible,
it’s pointless, it’s missing the point. Today, before I completely give up
hope, the case for the defence (or is it prosecution?). In either case, a few
hardy souls are happy to stand up and say, yes, things could be different, and
perhaps it could even be better. Good for them.
I’ll start with Paul Gilbert
who, healthily in this context, was an economist who retrained as a
psychologist. Where, he asked when studying psychology, is the macro-level
approach that economists have already accepted is required?
“One may take issue with some
of the specifics of Henriques’ approach […but…] this kind of thinking should
not be reserved for some specialized or graduate course but should be center
stage to our thinking, model building, and teaching of psychology. […]
Psychology is gradually coming to grips with a need for a macro science of
mind. Henriques has done a fine job in carrying this torch forward.” (Gilbert,
That sums up my view perfectly.
Lawrence Calhoun also provides
solace for the weary and brow-beaten unifier. Unity in psychology is a noble
quest, Calhoun (2004) says, but one which will require significant work.
Whether unity can occur or will be ‘allowed’ is a different matter. Calhoun
identifies a variety of theoretical, social, cultural, economic and political
factors that will be influential.
One of these points, while not
the strongest of them, has particular resonance with me. That is the increasing
number of psychologists holding what might be termed post-modern, or highly
relativistic viewpoints, which are fundamentally opposed to any kind of
unification. That is going to be a tough audience.

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from
University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about
scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book
“Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.