From Ken Hacker :
Marken quotes Marken (930329) --
"Virtually all social and behavioral science research is based on the
assumption that stimulus inputs cause behavioral outputs -- o = f(i).
This assumption can be seen in the prediliction for doing experimental
research in which an independent (stimulus) variable is manipulated and
its effect on a dependent variable (behavior) measured under controlled
conditions. The goal of this research is to learn something about the
characteristics of the system that turn inputs into outputs -- ie. the
function, f(). If, however, the systems being studied are control systems,
then this type of research reveals little or nothing about f()."
Marken then asks me:
Is this a fair statement of what you consider to be a hyperbolic
The answer is no, it is not hyperbole, it may be arrogant, but what it
definitely IS, is a mix of half truths.
How do you define "virtually all" of the
social and behavioral science research? 99%? 95%? 80%? Whatever
My point is that many of the paper, articles, and presentations done by
social and behavioral scientists reject the equation
o = f(i).
As a member of that community, I can say that there are repeated and
growing claims against S-R assumptions and the protests against
those assumptions has been going on for years.
Why is a predilection for doing experimental research a problem?
Are you not doing experiments?
Of course, you do not accept the goals of some experimenters which
include describing causal relationships between variables.
I understand and appreciate the point about rejecting the IV-DV
view for all human behaviors, but are there not some questions about
human behavior where they are useful -- if we take causality out of
the assumptions? For example, if I test 2 groups (which I will be
doing in the fall) of students, one with one type of learning
program and one with another, and see what differences there are in
knowledge retention, recall, etc., what is wrong with what I am
doing? The answer is NOTHING is wrong with it if I am simply
comparing retention and recall differences by program differences.
Can I go deeper into student behaviors, perceptions, control? YES,
of course, but I may not need to in order to answer my questions.
Ah, and finally, I found something we can agree on: Yes, social science
and behavioral science, as I see them, do not go after control systems as
an area of study. I fully support your assertion that they are not
contributing to knowledge about control. I believe that control is
essential to human being and that PCT is creating knowledge about control.
I do not believe that I have to attack any perspective to prove my own.
Thus, I am willing to try understanding PCT while I stand neck-deep in
other views of human behavior. The reason is that I don't see the
contradictions that you posit, although I do see that PCT gets at control
where the others neglect it.
As for lumping all social and behavioral scientists into one large army,
I have to say the references remind me of people complaining about how
biased "the media" are. The Media? Anyone who has ever looked at media
knows that they are disparate, competitive, and hardly consonant on what
they say and do at all times. I think the same is true with behavioral
and social scientists. We are odds much of the time and are continuosly
jousting with perspectives, data, and epistemology.