Frank Heller and Pieter Drenth


Item 8G on the Agenda of IAAP Executive Committee – Stockholm, July 2000


Given the very long agenda and the necessarily short time available to discuss this item, we consider it appropriate to tell you why this is an important issue justifying your attention.


Our main concern is with the impact research methodologies have on the choice of subject matter in the social sciences.  We believe that, in the case of Applied Psychology, our traditional reliance on two or three methodologies is beginning to have a stultifying effect on our chosen field of study and may deprive us of the opportunity to be a major player within the social sciences on policy issues of socio-economic-political importance.


We hope that our concern will be interpreted as a stepping stone into the future rather than as a critique of the past.  Of course, cross-sectional research on the level of the individual and at the micro level of society within a closed system perspective has yielded important results and will continue to have a central role in the social sciences. After all, the micro level is the foundation on which all other levels of human endeavor have to be built.  It is not a question of replacing one approach with another but building on solid foundations in the expectation that they can support the scientific analysis of the rapidly increasing complexity of our lives.  We believe that our subject matter and our training equip us at least as well as scientists from other social disciplines to engage with an ever-widening set of problems for which we have to draw on a range of appropriate methodologies.


This subject was raised briefly at our meeting in San Francisco and we were asked to look at this and report back. This is an interim statement.  We have looked at the content of the last two IAAP Congresses and find that, as far as we can see, this subject has not received any attention.  Consequently, if you agree with us we suggest: (a) that this work group report more extensively to the Executive Committee in Singapore and (b) that the organizers of the Singapore Congress give a workshop or symposium on this topic a degree of priority.


(We believe that in San Francisco a third member of our working party was nominated, but we have, unfortunately, lost track of this nomination).