No, dufus. I don't mean circular
as in the shape. I mean circular as in the reasoning
To be honest, this is NOT a new view; psychologists have known for years that most personality theories are circular. For instance(s), let's go back to Hippocrates:
* Excess black bile causes a person to be cold, distant, and depressed.
* If you are cold, distant, and depressed, you have excess black bile.
* A person who is cold, distant, and depressed has a lot of black bile, which causes a person to be cold, distant, and depressed.
* Therefore: if you are cold, distant and depressed, you will, in the future, be cold distant, and depressed (because you have excess black bile...and excess black bile causes these behaviors to occur).
* Subject "Sponge" is observed to have behaviors M, N, O, and P.
* Freud says Sponge had sexual experience "i" in childhood, because "i" causes behaviors M, N, O, and P to occur.
* Therefore, because Sponge exhibits behaviors M, N, O, and P, in the future he will do M, N, O, and P because he had said sexual experience “i” (which he has no memory, of btw…we have to cover our own bases and make this as hard to disprove as possible).
Really, these theories don’t SAY anything. All they say that is that if you act one way in the past, you will act that way in the future.
If you think about this, these arguments are fallacies in logic, not only because it is circular reasoning. This reasoning violates the properties of an if-then statement. Consider:
I. (Assume these are true statements.)
1. All watermelons are fruits.
2. All A's are B's (whereas A & B are variables).
3. Psychosexual experience "i" causes a person to exhibit behaviors M, N, O, and P.
II. (Logical extensions of I.)
1. If x is a watermelon, then it is a fruit.
2. If x is an A, then it is a B.
3. If x has suffered psychosexual experience "i", then x will exhibit behaviors M, N, O, and P.
III. (The reverse of statements in II).
1. If x is a fruit, then it is a watermelon.
2. If x is a B, then it is an A.
3. If x exhibits behaviors M, N, O, and P, then x experienced psychosexual incident "i".
All of the statements in (III) are untrue, of course. But Freud would argue that statement 3 “must” be true. This is the general logic among psychological theorists, particularly cognitive and personality theorists. Nothing annoys me more than a psychologist who invents his own devices (such as, oh, "inferiority complex" or the "collective unconscious"), uses the above logic, and believes he has created the psychological theory to end all psychological theories.
Using the above reasoning does not deductively prove anything. Yet this crap is taught as gospel to this day in psychology classes.
Behaviorists believe that cognitivists are jumping the gun by assuming what “must” be happening in the brain. Behaviorists argue that physiologists will, through research of neurological system, eventually discover what discrete processes occur in the mind. We need only be patient and wait for that day. I tend to agree. Biological research has uprooted many-a-cognitive theory. And while the cognitive research I’ve studied seems scientific, there’s obviously something wrong with it if its results aren’t valid (even though they seem to be reliable).
Have I pissed off any cognitivists yet? God, I hope so. I’m probably going to get a couple responses on this, saying that none of my arguments are new and I need to get back to studying, undergrad-psych-boy. Fuck you. I’m tired of spending countless hours and exhaustive effort studying shit that I know isn’t right and will be disproved (hopefully within my lifetime).