Breen, L., & Darlaston-Jones, D. (2008). Moving Beyond the Enduring Dominance of Positivism in Psychological Research: An Australian Perspective. 43rd Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference.
Almost since its inception, the dominant narrative of modern psychology has embraced positivism through its insistence that psychological science is objective, generalisable, and value free (or neutral). Consequently, quantitative research and in particular, experimental designs, are privileged over other forms of enquiry and other epistemologies, methodologies, and methods remain marginalised within the discipline. Alternative epistemologies and methodologies remain predominantly at the margins within psychological research yet have resulted from the growing dissatisfaction with the dominance of positivism. We argue that the enduring hegemony of positivism needs to be opposed to enable psychology to genuinely understand the antecedents of, and provides meaningful sustainable solutions for, complex human issues without being constrained by a narrow focus on method. We discuss how psychology in Australia can move towards embracing methodological and epistemological pluralism and provide a number of suggestions for change across the interrelated areas of accreditation, curriculum, the Australian Psychological Society, and research.
Published in Full, research methodology, epistemology, hegemony