What is descriptive psychology? An introduction

Bergner, R.M. / Published 2010 / Article

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Citation: Bergner, R.M. (2010). What is Descriptive Psychology? An introduction. In K. E. Davis, F. Lubuguin, & W. Schwartz (Eds.), Advances in Descriptive Psychology: Vol.9. (pp. 325-358). Ann Arbor, MI: Descriptive Psychology Press.

Abstract: The purpose of this chapter is to provide an accessible introduction to Descriptive Psychology (“DP”). The chapter includes, in order of presentation, (1) an orientation to the somewhat unorthodox nature of DP; (2) an explication of DP’s four central concepts, those of “Behavior”, “Person”, “Reality”, and “Verbal Behavior”; and (3) a brief listing of some applications of DP to a variety of important topics.

At the risk of offending, I should like in this letter to offer my principle hypothesis regarding why your field has not to date arrived at any manner of broadly accepted, unifying theoretical framework, and has not for this reason realized the scientific potential, importance, and respect it would rightly possess. In brief, I believe this reason to lie in the fact that you have attended insufficiently to the pre-empirical matters essential to good science. You have understood aright the basic truth that science is ultimately concerned with how things are in the empirical world. However, you have neglected the further truth that often, as in my own case, much nonempirical work must be undertaken if we are to achieve our glittering empirical triumphs.

—“An open letter from Isaac Newton to the
field of psychology” (Bergner, 2006, p. 70)

Descriptive Psychology is “a set of systematically related distinctions designed to provide formal access to all the facts and possible facts about persons and behavior—and therefore about everything else as well.

—Peter G. Ossorio (1982, p. 2)