August 11, 2013

Unified Psychology Based on Three Laws of Information Integration (1/19)

Article 1 of 19 in Eric Charles' Special Issue of Review of General Psychology
Author, Norman Henry Anderson; in Review of General Psychology, 2013, 17(2), p. 125-132.

The first concern I have of the three laws of information integration, is that it seems to me to make the same assumptions Titchener (1895) made and that Dewey (1896) criticised. Benefit 2 (p. 126) uses almost identical language to Titchener; "The observable R is a true (linear) measure of unobservable p". This in turn reminded me of the criticism lobbied against representations, in that unobservables can be found by observables. This topic is returned to on page 131 and I can't help but feel that we have to leave this line of thinking to get anywhere. Like representations, we have to resort to Entity Realism and this works well in disciplines where measurement is extremely specific (like the use of "gravity" in physics). In psychology however, I just do not believe we are specific enough to know what it is we are actually positing to exist that we cannot observe. I am not saying we should ignore the brain or stuff we cannot observe, but language used in the article portrays it's tenets to be quite exact, but do not seem to be very exact when looking at the presented graphs. An example of this is found on p. 130 "The parallelism of these four curves supports an adding-type model, one of many ingenious experiments on IIT in India by Ramadhar Singh (see Singh, 2011)." This quote accompanies Figure 4, which by the way appears to be a very clean piece of research, I enjoy it. Acquiring unobservables by use of observables is a very neat idea, but I do not think we understand human enterprise enough to make any concrete claims.

My second concern about this area is that it does indeed seem as if it could study it's subject matter under a unified paradigm, however, can it actually unify it?

Ending on a positive note; "Judgement and decision operate in every field of psychology. They are universal cognitive activities. Judgement–decision theory can thus provide a unifying influence for our field." (p. 131) Just because a specific process can be found in all areas doesn't mean it can unite those areas, it can however account for results in all those different areas, which obviously is awesome! The surface knowledge I have of the theory leads me to assume that it is compatible with Ecological Psychology and Embodied Cognition, and if it indeed can do what the author claims it can, then it will be a very valuable addition to the new psychological paradigm.

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