Pure versus Quasi-Behavioral Research

  • James M. Johnston
  • H. S. Pennypacker
Part of the Applied Clinical Psychology book series (NSSB)


Among the many struggles that, throughout its history, constitute psychology’s attempts to study human activity, the conception of exactly what it is about human beings that should be the object of our investigations has been, and continues to be, a mighty one. This struggle is certainly appropriate; there can be no more central and pervasive an issue in psychological research than the definition of the phenomenon to be addressed by experimental methods. One of the reasons why an unambiguous definition of the subject matter is critical is so that the details of research method can be properly suited to the task of preserving the subject matter in the process ranging from definition, through measurement, design, and analysis to experimental inference in undiluted and uncontaminated form. Failures to maintain such purity depreciate to some degree (perhaps beyond any scientific value) the legitimacy of experimental conclusions, such bastardy taking the form of inferior reliability and generality. Eventually, these limitations on experimental data come to characterize entire literatures, thereby retarding the development of a human science and stunting its technological progeny.


Subject Matter Inferential Statistic Intersubject Variability Experimental Inference Response Class 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • James M. Johnston
    • 1
  • H. S. Pennypacker
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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