The Dilemma of Psychology: Objective without an Object?
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Anyone who seeks the service of psychology (which translates to “science of the mind”) faces a persisting dilemma. One has to choose between two psychologies: “Subjective”, also called “qualitative”, psychologists believe that the focus on studying the internal structure of the human mind will provide important insights needed in therapy and education. Yet the human mind, they argue, can be studied only with subjective methods like clinical interview, not with standardized tests. In contrast, “objective” or “quantitative”, psychologists argue that if psychology wants to be recognized as a science, it must enlist only objective methods of measurement. Yet this excludes, they argue, the study of internal psychological factors of the human mind. While the subjective approach is based on psychological assumptions regarding the nature of the target measurement object, the objective approach is based on purely statis-tical theories. Must we really have to abandon psychological objects like intellectual and moral capaci-ties if we want our measurement to be objective? In this paper I show that both approaches are based on questionable theories about the relationship between visible behavior on the one side and psychological objects on the other. I also show that we can measure psychological traits objectively and validly if we use an experimental approach. Experimental Question-naires can be used in all fields of psychology in which testable theories about the nature of its object have been developed. We have successfully used this new approach, for example, for the construction and validation of the Moral Competence Test (MCT).
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