Response to "Empathy, Diversity, and Telepathy in Mother-Daughter Dyads: An Empirical Investigation Utilizing Rogers' Conceptual Framework"

By Rawnsley, Marilyn M. DNSc | Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice, January 1, 1989 | Go to article overview

Response to "Empathy, Diversity, and Telepathy in Mother-Daughter Dyads: An Empirical Investigation Utilizing Rogers' Conceptual Framework"


Rawnsley, Marilyn M. DNSc, Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice


. . . each science accepts its own limitations and out of it makes its positive method.

(Ortega y Gasset, 1960, p. 56)

As a participant in the progress of science, one finds oneself on some occasions as the proponent or investigator of a certain theoretical position, and on other occasions, as the spokesperson for the "loyal opposition," whose task it is to challenge theoretical claims and empirical conclusions and to question the conditions under which they were reached. As a respondent to Sanchez' study on empathy, diversity, and telepathy in mother-daughter dyads, I have interpreted my task as one of responsible skepticism.

Since some of my work has been derived from the conceptual world view postulated by the Rogerian Science of Unitary Human Beings, it seems essential that my biases be acknowledged and set aside in order to provide a commentary that goes beyond discussion of the content of the study to include questions about its significance for future studies intended to advance the Science itself. Therefore, guided by the wisdom of philosophers Quine and Ullian (1970), I have approached this study in light of their cautionary words: " . . . one obvious test that must be passed by evidence is this: Would it still be taken to support the belief in question if we stripped away all motives for wanting that belief to be true?" (p. 7). Given that self-imposed caveat, I have examined Sanchez' study primarily for its heuristic contribution to the Science of Unitary Human Beings.

This creative study of the relationship of empathy, diversity, and telepathy in mother-daughter dyads appears to have two goals: (1) the examination of the relationship between empathy, diversity, and telepathy considered to be manifestations of innovative human field patterns as described by Rogers, and (2) the justification of the use of the quantitative methods of analytic science - specifically, laboratory design and multivariate statistical treatment of the data -in testing hypotheses formulated within the Rogerian conceptual system. The use of controlled settings, measurement scales, and inferential statistics is apparent in several investigations completed within the Science of Unitary Human Beings (Malinski, 1986). But what is refreshing about the study in question is its implied acknowledgment that the use of quantitative procedures in the investigation of a phenomenon assumed to be an irreducible whole (i.e., the unbounded, four-dimensional human energy field) is inherently mined with logical pitfalls. The dilemma is this: Is it possible to interpret field manifestations - such as empathy, diversity, and telepathy - postulated to be four-dimensional and thus irreducible, by isolating them for study according to three-dimensional conditions imposed by empirical science?

Rather than come to premature closure about the merit of the study based on what appears as a contradiction between the assumptions of an abstract conceptual system and the assumptions underlying rules of correspondence in empirical inquiry, the observation can be recast as a problem that is inherent in the study of an evolving paradigm that postulates a new worldview.

To paraphrase Cassirer (in Schlipp, 1949), if research is to advance knowledge beyond its present limits and provide the basis for the next major progress, then the researcher often risks violation of methodological taboos. Appropriate to the present study is the question concerning to what extent the investigator was able to resolve the discrepancy between the theoretical interpretations of the relationships among empathy, diversity, and telepathy as four-dimensional field manifestations and the research design, which is firmly grounded in an empirical, quantitative, three-dimensional perspective on reality.

Data collection is conducted under laboratory conditions designed to minimize distractions from the telepathic task. Yet the research design cannot be classified as either experimental or quasi-experimental since: (1) the predictor variables were not manipulated by the researcher (they are properties of the subjects); (2) the subjects were not selected by random sampling procedures (sampling method was explained as purposive); and (3) there was no attempt to provide a "control group" of subjects for purposes of comparison (the study sample was limited to dyads of mothers and their natural daughters). …

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