Psychology’s Subject

The Abstracted Individual
  • Edward E. Sampson
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


Few could reasonably take exception to the idea that the discipline of psychology emerged to study the individual person: this is presumably the proper object of disciplinary inquiry or what I call “psychology’s subject.” The task of the field has been to develop the laws of individual functioning. Although a general consensus has emerged in regard to this matter, disagreements remain concerning just what it is about the individual person that should be studied: behavior, cognitive processes, neurophysiological processes, and so forth. And there continue to be disagreements about the methodologies that are required both to ground psychology’s work in the scientific tradition and to capture the essence of the human subject. Finally, even though specific subspecialities within psychology—for example, social psychology—are presumably designed to examine something “more than” the individual person, they generally round down to the study of the effects of other individuals on the individual who comes under their scrutiny (e.g., Allport, 1968).


Critical Theorist Individual Person Bounded Universe Reciprocal Model Unseen Hand 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward E. Sampson
    • 1
  1. 1.Wright InstituteBerkeleyUSA

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