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Travel Into a Fairy Land: A Critique of Modern Qualitative and Mixed Methods Psychologies

  • Aaro ToomelaEmail author
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Abstract

In this article modern qualitative and mixed methods approaches are criticized from the standpoint of structural-systemic epistemology. It is suggested that modern qualitative methodologies suffer from several fallacies: some of them are grounded on inherently contradictory epistemology, the others ask scientific questions after the methods have been chosen, conduct studies inductively so that not only answers but even questions are often supposed to be discovered, do not create artificial situations and constraints on study-situations, are adevelopmental by nature, study not the external things and phenomena but symbols and representations—often the object of studies turns out to be the researcher rather than researched, rely on ambiguous data interpretation methods based to a large degree on feelings and opinions, aim to understand unique which is theoretically impossible, or have theoretical problems with sampling. Any one of these fallacies would be sufficient to exclude any possibility to achieve structural-systemic understanding of the studied things and phenomena. It also turns out that modern qualitative methodologies share several fallacies with the quantitative methodology. Therefore mixed methods approaches are not able to overcome the fundamental difficulties that characterize mixed methods taken separately. It is proposed that structural-systemic methodology that dominated psychological thought in the pre-WWII continental Europe is philosophically and theoretically better grounded than the other methodologies that can be distinguished in psychology today. Future psychology should be based on structural-systemic methodology.

Keywords

Epistemology Qualitative research Quantitative research Mixed methods approach Structural-systemic methodology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Estonian Science Foundation Grant No. 7490.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyTallinn UniversityTallinnEstonia

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