Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

pp 2043-2045

Value Neutrality

  • Vivien BurrAffiliated withSchool of Human and Health Sciences, Institute for Research in Citizenship and Applied Human Sciences Email author 


The discipline of psychology has built its reputation on its success in modeling itself upon the natural sciences. This vision of psychology makes the assumption that its theories and methods are objective and value neutral and that our enquiries about the world are free from prior assumptions, vested interests, and subjective interpretations. From the perspective of critical psychology, however, the discipline may be seen as explicitly and, more often, implicitly driven by people or groups with vested interests. Objectivity and value neutrality themselves may be unattainable, and even undesirable, in principle. Value neutrality thus becomes reframed as a potentially dangerous phantasm and psychologists must therefore consider its implications for research and practice.


The idea of value neutrality, or value freedom, implies the existence of a research stance or practice independent from the value system and value judgments of the researcher o ...

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