Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Proctor RW and Capaldi EJ.: Why Science Matters: Understanding the Methods of Psychological Research

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Proctor RW and Capaldi EJ.: Why Science Matters: Understanding the Methods of Psychological Research

Article excerpt

Proctor RW and Capaldi EJ. Why science matters: Understanding the methods of psychological research. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. 2006. 248 pages; $30 (paperback). ISBN: 1405130490.

This book, written by Proctor and Capaldi, professors at Purdue University, clearly describes the historical movements of research methods and effectively describes the assumptions one makes when one chooses a methodology. Unlike other books exploring the development of science, the 2 experienced scholars showcase the gamut of different methodological procedures in a succinct but vivid manner. In addition, the assumptions underlying each methodology are thoroughly discussed. These assumptions are often neglected in traditional texts in methodology that detail study designs, data collection, and data analyses. Revealing these assumptions motivates readers to ponder how science should be practiced in psychology and the other behavioral sciences. In particular, this book is an important tool for behavioral scientists and students in social and administrative pharmacy where the methodological movements or assumptions are rarely touched.

Why Science Matters consists of 3 parts, with 10 chapters total. The first part is comprised of chapters 1-3, which provide a comprehensive description of the evolution of science from Aristotle to present-day scientists. The 3 chapters highlight 4 major movements in contemporary science: (1) positivism, the view that underscores experience in obtaining knowledge, led to induction dominating science until the 19th century; (2) logical positivism, which added reasoning to positivism, and operationism, which linked concepts with measurements, had significant impact on experimental psychology in the 20th century; (3) falsificationism, which was developed by Karl Popper in 1959, disapproved induction and supported deduction, and (4) postpositivism, which was initiated by Thomas Kuhn in 1962, spawned naturalism and relativism. Chapter 3 introduces naturalism, the approach evaluating methodology in terms of solving scientific problems. Naturalism is the emphasis of this book, as well as the procedure endorsed by the authors to practice science in psychology.

The second portion of this book, chapters 4-6, explicate naturalism in the contexts of hypothesis testing, theory construction, theory evaluation, and naturalistic methods. Chapter 4 points out the limitations of hypothesis testing, such as confirmation bias and disconfirming reasonable but immature hypothesis. This chapter also suggests that abduction rather than induction or deduction is the most important logical procedure. Abduction includes identifying data pattern, comparing multiple hypotheses, and selecting the best theory. Chapter 5 assesses the criteria for theory evaluation, and presents the method of consilience which unifies knowledge from different scientific areas. Chapter 6 outlines naturalistic methods to study science, such as analyzing historical accounts of scientific discoveries, observing ongoing scientific research, or simulating scientific solution by computers. …

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