Handbook of Interpersonal Psychology: Theory, Research, Assessment and Therapeutic Interventions

By Leonard M. Horowitz; Stephen Strack | Go to book overview

34
SUMMARY AND CONCLUDING
REMARKS

Leonard M. Horowitz

Stephen Strack

Nearly three score years ago, our academic fathers brought forth to this discipline a new theory, an interpersonal theory, conceived in academic freedom and dedicated to the proposition that interpersonal concepts and principles will ultimately yield important insights into human behavior. Since then, the interpersonal approach has provided a new perspective for personality, social, and clinical psychology. When our academic forefathers began their project, academic psychology in North America was dominated by a Gettysburg-like struggle between two rival camps—that of behaviorism (with its relentless focus on observable stimuli and responses) and that of psychoanalytic theory (with its equally relentless focus on internal states, conflicting motives, and strategies for reducing anxiety). As we scan the achievements described in the chapters of this book, we can only applaud the strides we have made in combining the best of the two prior rivals.

Why is the interpersonal approach so appealing, and how has it furthered the goals of psychology? We begin this final chapter by noting its two principal virtues. First, the interpersonal approach today is compatible with every modern psychological approach, integrating them into a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Its propositions concern all principal types of psychological constructs—behavioral, cognitive, motivational, and affective—in a way that synthesizes the concepts, paradigms, and empirical findings of narrower approaches. Second, it provides its own distinctive set of theoretical concepts and propositions—plus implications that can be tested empirically.

This final chapter is therefore organized into two parts. First we show that the interpersonal approach is integrative. Then we present eight propositions that summarize the distinctive contributions of the interpersonal approach represented in this handbook.

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