Dictionary of Theories, Laws, and Concepts in Psychology

Dictionary of Theories, Laws, and Concepts in Psychology

Dictionary of Theories, Laws, and Concepts in Psychology

Dictionary of Theories, Laws, and Concepts in Psychology


Fully cross-referenced and source-referenced, this dictionary contains over 1200 entries consisting of terms concerning laws, theories, hypotheses, doctrines, principles, and effects in early and contemporary psychological literature. Each entry consists of the definition/description of the term with commentary, followed by a number of cross-referenced, related terms, and by chronologically-ordered source references to indicate the evolution of the term. An appendix provides supplementary material on many laws and theories not included in the dictionary itself and will be helpful to students and scholars concerned with specialty areas in psychology.


In discussing his imprinting experiments, Eckhard Hess once said that good psychologists try to make psychology a science.

The present work is my attempt to be a ‘‘good’’ psychologist. One of the purposes of writing this dictionary of psychological concepts is to provide a useful referent or baseline set of key concepts for examining the difficult topics of laws, theories, principles, effects, doctrines, and hypotheses in psychology. More specifically, it is hoped that this book of psychological concepts may serve as a valuable reference resource for answering questions in research concerning the semantic issues and problems surrounding the important terms of ‘‘law’’ and ‘‘theory’’ as they have appeared in the history of psychology. For example, How far has psychology come in the last 130 years concerning its development of lawful cause–effect relationship statements? Where does psychology go from here in its usage of the key descriptor concepts? How scientific is the science of psychology as judged by the quality and quantity of its laws, theories, and other descriptor terms and concepts? How does psychology measure up to the other sciences, especially the ‘‘natural’’ sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology, regarding the establishment of laws and theories? Since some concepts are more firmly established in psychology than others, which of the terms in psychology provide the most agreement among psychologists? Can we make psychology more scientific through examination of the terms and concepts that is uses? If so, what new measures and methods can we use specifically to accomplish this? Which are the ‘‘stronger’’ laws in psychology, and which are the ‘‘weaker’’ laws? What are the measurable mechanisms through which laws change in significance and status from weak to strong, or vice versa? How long does it take a theory to become a law? How valid, useful, or ‘‘good’’ are particular laws and theories in psychology?

This dictionary may provide a substantive basis and starting point for researching and answering these and many other such critical questions concerning the terminological issues in psychology.

I sincerely hope so.

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