Scholarly views on what constitutes a psychological theory
From the discursive prospective, providing a universally accepted definition of psychological theory and its constituents represents a certain challenge, because, as of today, an ongoing progress in the field of psychology creates objective preconditions for the tool of psychological inquiry to serve methodologically different purposes (Harlow, 2009). Nevertheless, the concept of psychological theory, in general, and the extent of such a theory’s validity, in particular, are being commonly discussed within the context of how such a theory provides concerned parties with the qualitative insight into the very nature of the researched phenomenon. As it is was noted by Gelso (2006), “(Theory) must go beyond the simple propositional level… A theory ought to tell us why the variables or constructs are expected to relate to or influence one another” (p. 104). Therefore, just as it is being the case with scientific theories affiliated with natural sciences, a psychological theory may be well conceptualized as a number of spatially and discursively related presuppositions that, when combined together, provide scientists (in our case, psychologists) with the metaphysical insight as to how the researched phenomenon’s observable subtleties are being theoretically consistent/inconsistent with what is assumed to be this phenomenon’s dialectically predetermined causation (Rychlak, 1968; Bacharach, 1989).
In its turn, this explains why many theoreticians of psychology never cease emphasizing that the foremost prerequisite of a particular psychological theory’s discursive validity is this theory’s capacity to have its theoretical presuppositions positively tested on a variety of qualitatively different levels (Creswell, 2006; Sutherland, 1976). It is also being commonly suggested that it is specifically the extent of a particular theory’s ability to stimulate a continuous research in the given field (heuristics), which constitutes its foremost value of a ‘thing in itself’ (Churchman, 1961). Pragmatically-minded researchers, on the other hand, tend to assess the extent of a particular theory’s legitimacy in regards how this theory’s practical application is being capable of predicting long-term effects of the studied phenomenon’s spatial transformation (Hunt, 1991). Nevertheless, there is certain unanimity to what the majority of theory-theoreticians consider the observable emanations of the particular theory’s legitimacy. Partially, this can be explained by these emanations’ self-evidential nature. According to Wacker (1998), a psychological theory, capable of representing a scientifically legitimate value, must be affiliated with the following main ‘virtues’: uniqueness, generalizability, fecundity, conceptual clarity (they must adhere to the principle of Occam’s razor), internal consistency, empirical riskiness and abstraction.
What appears to be common about how all of the earlier mentioned theoreticians substantiate their view on what accounts for the measure of a particular psychological theory’s validity, is that they refer to it from an essentially positivist perspective. This implies the possibility of psychological theories’ objectualization in a three-dimensional space-time continuum. Nevertheless, there are good reasons to think that it is specifically the extent of a particular theory’s contextual adequateness, which in turn is being reflected by the measure of its instantaneously practical usability, which should be regarded as the indication of this theory’s applicational appropriateness. This is because, as it was proven by Kurt Godel – within the conceptual framework of just about any scientific theory, there are always exist subjective axioms, which are being used to ensure the logical consistency of theory-related empirical observations (Hauser, 2006).
As Stam (2007) had put it: “Observation generates empirical facts that are explained at a higher level by empirical generalizations that are in turn explained by theories which contain unobservables… Any given theory is embedded in a web of collateral assumptions” (p. 552). Even though that there exists a theoretical possibility for the theory’s unobserved axioms to be logically substantiated, this can be only achieved by the mean of rationalizing these axioms at the qualitatively higher level – outside of this theory’s conceptual framework. However, given the fact that it is specifically human language, which represents a discursive ‘super-system’ within the framework of which the validity of unobservable axioms can be proven, in the first place, this implies that regardless of what appears to be their actual subject matters, scientific theories necessarily reflect the essentially subjective worldviews of their creators (Zimmerman, 1997).
Therefore, scientific theories (including psychological ones) should be regarded as informational models, which describe and explain the essence of the surrounding reality’s particular emanation. Because just about any scientific theory can also be conceptualized in terms of a mathematical function, with its own domain of coordinates (definitive domain), it implies that the measure of the scientific theory’s objectiveness can only be explored in regards to how effectively/ineffectively it helps to address a specific research-related task. It also implies that the extent of the scientific theory’s accuracy has ambivalent subtleties – that is, this theory can be simultaneously accurate (while addressing the research-task within its own domain) and inaccurate (while addressing the research-task within the other theory’s domain). (Goldstein, 2005). Once, a particular hypothesis has been proven capable of predicting what would be the qualitative subtleties of a particular phenomena’s spatial transformation, it attains the status of a legitimate scientific theory. Therefore, it is in the very nature of just about any theory-based research to be somewhat phenomenological.
Because, as it was mentioned in the Concept Paper, different studies indicate different effects of parental divorce on adult siblings and because the post-positivist/phenomenological essence of the proposed approach to conducting this particular study, it will only be logical, on our part, to choose in favor of tackling the researched subject matter within the theoretical framework of Jungian analysis. After all, there are objective reasons to believe that it is specifically the combined effects of parental divorce on the workings of adult siblings’ unconscious psyche, on the one hand, and on their strive towards achieving individuation, on the other, which result in affecting the overall manner in which these siblings go about managing interpersonal conflict (Poortman & Voorpostel, 2008). In other words, the proposed subject of our research does not only fit into the Jungian theory’s definitive domain in discursive but also in methodological sense of this word. In the Part 3, the validity of this suggestion will be explored at length.
Scholarly literature on the relationship between theory and research and the ways research can contribute to theory
There can be few doubts that theory and research interrelate in a rather inseparable manner, because the nature of a research-problem defines the qualitative essence of the most appropriate methodological approach to conducting an empirical study, which in turn is supposed to be theoretically consistent. As it was noted by Ellis & Levy (2008), “The nature of the research problem being addressed delimits the possible goals for a study… The type of methodology being used must be appropriate for the nature of the problem driving that research” (p. 20). As of today, there are two major methodological approaches to conducting a scientific research – Quantitative and Qualitative.
The quantitative research-method is being mostly used in experiment-driven studies, associated with the deployment of the deductive inquiry method (Franses & Paap, 2001). The main objective of a quantitative research is to enumerate data, collected during the course of study’s empirical phase, within the framework of a certain mathematical or algorithmic framework, in order for researchers to be able to define a number of such data’s statistically calculable implications. The way this particular research-method contributes to theory is that it makes it possible for researchers, who possess the quantified data (in regards to the spatially transforming phenomena), to predict what will account for the direction of such transformation’s vector in the future. In addition, the application of quantitative research-methodology allows researchers to test the extent of theory’s discursive appropriateness.
The application of qualitative research-methodology, on the other hand, is being mostly justified in studies concerned with defining motivational factors behind people’s behavior and with analyzing these factors’ discursive implications. Even though that the relevant data, obtained during the course of a qualitative research, cannot be easily quantified, the possession of this data, on the part of researchers, nevertheless proves crucial within the context of them making analytical inquiries into to the qualitative nature of a particular phenomena in question. As it was pointed out by Rubin and Rubin (1995), “Qualitative research methods emphasize the depth of understanding associated with idiographic concerns.
They attempt to tap the deeper meanings of particular human experiences and are intended to generate theoretically richer observations that are not easily reduced to numbers” (p. 25). Therefore, the main contributions of the application of qualitative research-methodology to theory can be conceptualized as follows: a) Researchers are being provided with methodological instruments to identify the manner in which currently predominant societal circumstances affect this theory’s definitive domain. b) Researchers are being provided with an opportunity to gain an in-depth insight into what prompts the representatives of studied populations to indulge in one or another behavioral mode. c) Researchers are being put in a position to define the measure of the concerned theory’s heuristic worthiness (May, 2002).
The appropriateness of our choice in favor of the specifically qualitative method of scientific inquiry, concerned with the utilization of open ended questioning format and narrative approach of storytelling, can be well illustrated in regards to what we consider will account for the additional contributions of the proposed research-method to the theory (Analytical Psychology) in question. The contributions can be formulated as follows:
- Contextualization – As it was noted in the Concept Paper, there are a number of objective reasons to think that parental divorce does affect the adult siblings’ ability to manage interpersonal conflict and that the rate of parental divorce in U.S. will continue to increase. Because of this, the application of qualitative research-methodology, on our part, is expected to provide us with the clue as to whether this trend has formed a new ‘collective archetype’, which in turn may have an effect on the concerned siblings’ cognitive stance towards the very concept of divorce. If this research-question ends up being answered positively, it will account for yet another proof of the Jungian theory’s validity (Mueller, 1978).
- Generalization – While conducting the proposed study, we will make a point in comparing and contrasting the qualitative essence of the collected empirical data with the findings of previously conducted studies, which were concerned with exploring the same/similar subject matter. In its turn, this will provide us with an opportunity to test the extent of Jungian theory’s universality (Klein & Myers, 1999).
- Interpretation – One of the foremost principles of a qualitative research specifies that researchers should always strive to interpret the discursive significance of the obtained data from a variety of analytical perspectives. In our study, we will aim to do just that. Nevertheless, if provided interpretations of the empirically obtained data will prove to be fitting into the conceptual framework of Jungian theory, it will again suggest that this theory continues to represent an undermined discursive value even today.
- Heuristic Expansion. Given the fact that, as of today, American society continues to become ever more multicultural and that the proposed study’s
empirical phases will be concerned with interviewing sampled participants in Southern California (one of the America’s most ethnically diverse regions), we expect to be able to test the validity of the hypothesis that the particulars of adult siblings’ ethno-cultural affiliation do affect the qualitative nature of their attitude towards divorce, in general, and their parents’ divorce, in particular. If this hypothesis ends up being proven valid, it will have a number of discursive implications to the race-neutral provisions of Jungian theory. In its turn, this may well trigger the process of Jungian theory becoming conceptually updated, or even the process of an entirely new psychological theory (based upon Jungian theory) beginning to emerge.
The conceptual cornerstone of Jungian theory is the assumption that there are essentially two different realities – the internal (psychological) reality of one’s psyche and the external (material/social) reality of an outside world. A particular individual’s continual and simultaneous exposure to these two realities invariably results in him or her striving to attain the state of an emotional/cognitive equilibrium between them – individuation. In its turn, this presents such an individual with a number of different challenges, because in accordance with the Jungian theory’s another important provision, even though that one psyche’s ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ spheres do derive out of each other, they nevertheless function in an essentially unconnected manner (Walker, 2012). Whereas, formally speaking, one’s consciousness can be best described as being rationale-driven; the actual rationale behind an individual’s tendency to react to life’s challenges in one or another manner reflects the workings of his or her unconscious.
For example, the well-known tendency of young men to strive towards achieving a complete independence from their parents, often extrapolated by their behavioral aggressiveness, Jung refers to as the sublimation of these men rational ego’s desires. However, the strength of one’s desires, in this respect, is being defined by the extent of his association with the so-called ‘collective archetypes’ (historically predetermined matrixes for societal behavior), which exist in the realm of ‘collective unconscious’ – a rudimentary behavioral pattern, shared by all humans (Hunt, 2012). Therefore, one’s emotional/cognitive contentment, reflected by his or her ability to act in a socially appropriate manner, can be best conceptualized as the byproduct of the sheer strength of such an individual’s commitment to remain of the path of self-actualization (individuation). Self-actualization, however, can only be achieved if the concerned individual proves itself intellectually honest enough to admit what accounts for the qualitative essence of his or her psychological complexes (the suppressed values of one’s conscious self).
Hence, another important aspect of Jungian theory, relevant to the proposed study’s subject matter – every person can be referred to as the simultaneous bearer of masculine (animus) and feminine (anima) psychological traits, which usually sublimate themselves in such a person’s tendency to interact with the surrounding reality in either introverted (rationale-driven/masculine) or extroverted (emotion-driven/feminine) mode. In its turn, the extent of one’s affiliation with the values of introversion/extraversion can be well measured in regards to the qualitative essence of the concerned individual’s cognitive predispositions (Overbaugh & Lin, 2006/2007). Because Jungian theory does not only establish dialectically predetermined links between the subtleties of people’s psycho-constitution and the manner in which they go about socializing with others, but also provide researchers with the scientifically legitimate methodology for conducting a qualitative inquiry into what accounts for the innermost triggers of people’s societal behavior, the adoption of Jungian psychological paradigm as this study’s theoretical framework, appears fully appropriate.
Nevertheless, it needs to be admitted that, even though Jungian theory appears being methodologically consistent with the proposed study’s topic, there are few methodology-related controversies to it. These controversies can be defined as follows:
- According to Jung, the people’s behaviorally observed introversion/extraversion is being integrally embedded into the functional matrix of their psyche, which in turn implies that they can only act as introverts, on the one hand, or extraverts, on the other. Yet, as practice indicates, this is not always being the case, as there are many reported instances of introverted-minded individuals exhibiting the clearly defined behavioral traits of extraverts and vice versa (Keddy, 2001). Nevertheless, the earlier mentioned inconsistency should not undermine the legitimacy of psychological studies that feature cross-representational populations of the selected participants.
- The methodological framework of Jungian analysis requires psychotherapists to make introspective inquiries in to the very workings of patients’ unconscious psyche. In its turn, this puts unethical therapists in a position of being able to take a personal advantage of people who reveal to them the very essence of their innermost mental anxieties. The validity of this statement can be illustrated in regards to Jones’s (2010) article, in which author tells the story of being sexually exploited by her Jungian psychotherapist. This, however, does not imply the overall ethical inappropriateness of Jungian analysis.
- Religious people’s exposure to Jungian analysis has been proven capable of undermining the strength of their religious beliefs and consequently – causing these people to experience the sensation of an acute emotional distress (Murray, 2011). Therefore, Jungian psychotherapists should think twice before agreeing to deal with overly religious individuals.
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Views on the relationship between theory and application or practice
As it was mentioned earlier, just about any scientific theory can be conceptualized in terms of an informational model, which is being concerned with revealing the unobservable essence of a particular physical or psychological phenomena’s observable emanations. Therefore, the importance of ensuring that the empirical research is being based upon a well-developed scientific theory of a discursive relevance can be hardly underestimated. This is because, while affiliating themselves with the provisions of a particular theory, scientists engaged in the empirical research, are being able to define this research’s qualitative vector. Nevertheless, because the principle of a hermeneutic circle (which still constitutes a methodological foundation upon which the majority of psychological pursuits continue to be based) implies that theory and practice are being heuristically interrelated, it would be inappropriate to refer to a particular theory as the set of conceptually petrified abstractions.
Apparently, as time goes on, it is only natural for the extent of a particular theory’s discursive and methodological soundness to continue being affected by the affiliated practice-based researches, which in turn never cease being affected by an ongoing social and technological progress. As Westerman (2004) noted, “Psychological inquiry can lead to discovering new possibilities for what our practices can be by providing new theories and new technical terms about human behavior, which can change how we understand ourselves, and even stretch natural language so that it changes in some respects” (p. 139). This is the reason why, ever since the emergence of the very concept of psychology in late 19th century, psychological theories with their affiliated methodological apparatuses, continued to provide ever-newer qualitative insights into what should be considered the psychology’s actual subject and into what may account for the newly emerged science’s practical value.
For example, the early 20th century’s functionalists and structuralists relied upon the method of ‘introspection’, as the mean of classifying people’s mental states, while believing that this would eventually allow them to design practically valuable approaches to addressing patients’ mental anxieties (Petersen, 2007). However, as time went on, it was becoming increasingly clear to psychology’s theoreticians that the method of ‘introspection’ could not be considered fully legitimate – functionalists and structuralists were experiencing a particularly hard time while striving to work out a universal interpretational paradigm, which in turn would allow them to classify mental states and consequentially – to identify these states’ triggers. This, of course, could not result in anything else but in undermining the practical value of structuralist and functionalist methodologies.
The emergence of psychological behaviorism, which is now being closely associated with the name of B.F. Skinner, was essentially the dialectically predetermined consequence of early psychological paradigms having been proven rather impractical. Unlike early psychologists, Skinner denied any validity to the idea that one’s mental states can be considered the legitimate subject of a psychological inquiry, because according to him, the conceptualization of these states is nothing but a metaphysical construct, and as such it remains well beyond the operational framework of a practically valuable science (Moore, 2010). Instead, behaviorists proposed that, rather than addressing people’s mental states as ‘things in themselves’, extrapolated in the particulars of their behavior, psychologists should address these mental states as the direct consequence of people’s exposure to external/environmental circumstances. Even though that, formally speaking, the behaviorist stance, in this respect, was inconsistent with the very proposition that the workings of one’s psyche could be made the subject of a psychological inquiry, behaviorism did prove a rather practically valuable psychological theory, because it provided psychologists with the useful tool of increasing the extent of patients’ social adaptation (Moore, 2011).
What has been said earlier suggests that theory and practice organically derive out of each other – without observing the provisions of a particular well-established theory, psychologists will not able to conceptualize a methodologically valid approach to addressing the phenomena in question. As a result, the practical value of the proposed theory-based therapies will be necessarily undermined. Alternatively, without applying a great effort into testing the legitimacy of theoretical provisions in practice, psychologists will not be able to ensure these provisions’ discursive appropriateness. This especially appears to be the case nowadays, when the realities of a post-industrial living create objective prerequisites for many rationale-driven (euro-centric) psychological theories to become progressively outdated (Takahashi & Hirai, 2008). The earlier provided examples of how theory and practice affect each other, also confirm the soundness of a utilitarian outlook on what accounts for the measure of a particular theory’s practical value, which presupposes that this measure should be assessed in regards to how the theory’s application in every individual case is being capable of helping psychologists to maintain their professional adequacy.
It is important to understand that, when it comes to dealing with patients’ mental anxieties, psychologists are being at liberty to resort to the utilization of a number of mutually exclusive theory-based therapies. However, in the end, it will matter very little which therapy has been chosen to address these anxieties – the most important would be ensuring that the practical application of a particular theory in every individual case is being potentially capable of ensuring positive dynamics in the process of patients’ recovery (Sanville, 2004). This statement is being fully consistent with the line of argumentation, deployed throughout this assignment’s initial parts (Question 1, Part 2).
Another theory, which relates to the research-topic, proposed in the Concept Paper, is the so-called Attachment Theory, which have been conceptualized by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. According to this theory, the qualitative nature of how a particular individual assesses the surrounding societal reality and its place in it, is being reflective of what were the particulars of such an individual’s early upbringing. In their turn, these particulars are being mainly concerned with whether, during the course of his or her early years; a child was able to develop healthy emotional attachments with its primary care-providers – most commonly, farther and mother. The Bowlby’s theorization of attachment suggests that it serves the function of increasing the chances of the concerned individual’s physical survival, on the one hand, and ensures his or her emotional (psychological) well-being, on the other (Mercer, 2011).
After having conducted an extensive number of experiments, in regards to what constitute the internal mechanics of how emotional attachments between parents and children are being formed, and in regards to what can be considered the external factors that affect the process of these attachments being formed, Bowlby conceptualized the so-called ‘working model’ (a semi-conscious perceptual matrix, which influences the essence of people’s cognitive activities). According to him, every working model’s qualitative characteristics reflect the essence of child’s mental positioning towards an ‘attachment figure’ (a caregiver with which this child feels being emotionally linked) and his or her understanding of what accounts for the extent of the attachment figure’s willingness to continue acting as an efficient caregiver.
Because every child is being equally driven by the anxiety to attain an existential autonomy, on the one hand, and by the desire to remain the subject of care-giving, on the other, an optimal ‘working model’ in being usually found in children whose parents do both: provide their young ones with much needed emotional/material support an also encourage them to face life’s challenges independently. Hence, Bowlby’s theoretical synthesis of what constitutes the major attachment-related behavioral patterns: Secure – child experiences an acute anxiety to maintain close personal contact with the caregiver only in situations when he or she feels psychically threatened, Ambivalent-resistant – caregiver’s physical proximity or remoteness appear equally capable of triggering a wide array of essentially irrational anxieties in the child, Avoidant – child shows little sensitivity to the primary caregiver’s prolonged absences, and Disorganized – the child’s behavioral patterns, as a reaction to caregiver’s presence/absence, appear unpredictable (Bruskas, 2010). Bolwby’s theory rests upon the following set of assumptions, as to the nature of attachment’s mechanics/dynamics:
1) Attachment extrapolates itself as an emotional bond between the child and the primary caregiver. 2) Child’s attachment patterns are being fully formed before he or she reaches the age of 3-4 years. 3) Attachment forms because of an ongoing interaction between the child and the caregiver, not because of both parties being related biologically. 4) Attachment’s mechanics have inborn subtleties, therefore attachment can be well discussed within the framework of Darwinian Theory of natural selection. 5) Even though children are being capable of developing attachment-bonds with more than one person, these attachment-bonds relate to each other in a strongly hierarchical manner. 6) Individual’s attachment-experiences affect his or her ability to integrate into society. 7) Although the forming of attachment-bonds is being triggered biologically, environmental circumstances do affect this process’s mechanics (Mercer, 2011).
Even though that Bowlby’s attachment theory has been enjoying a fully legitimate scientific status for a number of decades, many current views of this theory provide a critical outlook on the theory’s foremost tenets. For example, according to Emery and von Bayern (2009), Bowlby’s extensive use of ethological observations of animal behavior, as the mean of substantiating his view on attachment as the one among many mechanics of natural selection, cannot be referred to as being completely appropriate. This is because even high mammals do not proceed with a socially integrated mode of existence to the same extent that humans do. The same can be said about Rutter’s (1995) suggestion as to what accounts for the attachment theory’s main inconsistency.
Another current view of Bowlby’s theory, which evaluates theory’s insights from a psychoanalytical prospective, suggests that Bowlby has failed to recognize a clearly latent-sexual nature of the process of emotional attachment being developed between care-providers and care-recipients, “Many features that Bowlby might list as characteristic of childhood attachment relationships might equally well be found in a list of behaviors characteristic of sexual bonding, such as desire for proximity to the object” (Wakefield, 2007, p. 65). In its turn, this implies that even though the mechanics of emotional bonding between individuals do serve evolutionary purposes, there are no good reasons to believe that this bonding becomes especially intensive in times when care-recipients face an immediate physical danger.
In recent years, it also came to light that, along with the factor of the attachment’s actual quality, there is another factor that appears to affect the likelihood of a particular child to end up being classified as such that exhibits one of the earlier mentioned behavioral patterns. Namely, the spatial stability of the process of a child being provided with the attachment-forming care (Prior & Glaser, 2006). It may partially contribute to the fact that, even though Blowby’s theory is indeed being capable of accurately predicting the qualitative effects of child’s upbringing on his or her ability to attain social prominence in the future, the predictions generated by this theory’s practical application are far from being considered 100% accurate (Horst & Veer, 2010). Because Bowlby’s theory continues to be tested on a number of different practical levels, it is very likely that in the future there will be even more operative strengths and weaknesses revealed about it.
Adressing the theory
As it was noted earlier, it is specifically the measure of a scientific theory’s practical functionality, which should be considered reflective of the extent of its overall theoretical sustainability. The validity of this statement can be well explored in regards to what appear to be the potential benefits of Bowlby theory’s practical application. Because this theory deploys an interdisciplinary approach towards delimiting its definitive domain, it will only be logical to expect Bowlby theoretical insights’ practical realization in a variety of psychology-related pursuits. The review of recently published academic articles, relevant to the discussed subject matter, confirms the appropriateness of such a suggestion.
For example, according to Obegi (2008), Bowlby’s view on what accounts for the consequential stages of attachment-bonds being established between children and caregivers, is revealed thoroughly consistent with how psychotherapists conceptualize the spatial phases of them establishing trust with their clients, “Among attachment-informed clinicians and researchers there is a long history of viewing the relationship clients have with their therapist as an attachment” (p. 432). After all, just as it is being the case with children, during the course of their attachment-formative years, people who seek psychotherapeutic help also strive to establish close and personal relation with psychotherapists and to preserve this relation for as long as possible. These people also appear to experience an acute emotional unrest in situations when their psychotherapists remain out of reach for extended periods. According to the author, this provides psychotherapists with the practical-value insight as to how they may approach the task of assessing the qualitative essence of clients’ mental anxieties. Moreover, psychotherapists’ awareness of Bowlby theory’s basic tenets also appears rather indispensible in times when they decide upon what would be the appropriate rate of clients’ attendance.
Another example of Bowlby theory’s successful deployment is practice can be discussed in relation to the recent progress in psychologists’ understanding of what can be considered the societal triggers of autism in children, and what may account for the proper approach towards designing methodologically adequate autism-treatment therapies. Even though that, as of today, there is still much disagreement among scientists as to what accounts for the autism’s actual pathogenesis, due to the provisions of Bowldy’s theory, many psychologists grow increasingly comfortable with the idea that autism should be thought of as the reflection of affected individuals’ evolutionary inadequateness (Bradley, Ames & Bolton, 2011). This is because the autistic child’s inability to develop healthy attachment-bonds with their parents and peers reflects the lack of emotional empathy, on his or her part. In its turn, the lack of emotional empathy, as the autistic children’s foremost psychological trait, can be conceptualized as an extrapolation of these individuals’ undermined biological vitality, in the evolutionary sense of this word, because people who do not experience emotional empathy towards others are not able to indulge in self-sacrificial behavior.
Yet, such inability, on autistic people’s part, cannot be discussed outside of their inability to function as the thoroughly integrated members of Homo Sapiens species (Smith, 2009). Thus, Bowlby’s theory substantiates the view on autistic children’s lack of emotional empathy, as not the consequence of them having been deprived of a high-quality parental care (as behaviorist psychologists tended to), but simply as the byproduct of these children’s undermined biological survivability. Therefore, currently deployed autism-therapies, based upon this particular provision of Bowlby’s theory, emphasize the importance of integrating autistic children into society, as the foremost prerequisite on them being able to develop emotional attachments with parents and peers, and not vice versa. The fact that, as of today, the autism-therapies concerned with exposing autistic children to the so-called ‘social stories’ (verbal narratives that contain an implicit guidance for autistic children as to how they can go about successfully addressing life’s challenges) become increasingly popular, serves as yet another indication of Bowlby theory’s practical functionality (Hanley-Hochdorfer et al., 2010).
One of the Bowlby theory’s main premises is the fact that the passing of time does affect the qualitative essence of how children go about constructing attachment-figures, and the spatial characteristics of their attitude towards establishing emotional links with significant others. In its turn, this premise has led to the expansion of theory’s definitive domain, which now includes adults (Del Giudice, 2009). Moreover, during the course of recent decades, it has also been revealed that the lonely adults’ tendency to indulge in a prolonged interaction with domestic animals fits into the conceptual framework of attachment theory (Kurdek, 2009). Given the fact that, as it was pointed earlier, the attachment-related behavioral patterns in people are being greatly affected by a variety of associative environmental circumstances, this creates a possibility for behavioral therapies to incorporate interaction with pets, as the method of lessening the acuteness of patients’ proximity-seeking and avoidance-seeking anxieties.
This especially appears to be the case with patients who exhibit a consistent inability to establish attachment-links with the therapist, “Often, in a conventional therapy (without animals), anxious clients can frustrate a therapist’s attempts to encourage a degree of emotional distance and self-reliance. In contrast… a relationship with a therapy pet may enable clients to experience counter-complementary attachment behavior in a relatively safe and relaxing context” (Zilcha-Mano, Mikulincer & Shaver, 2011, p. 549). Hence, the phenomenon of a newly emerged Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT), which despite its recentness has proven itself a great asset to many psychotherapists, specialized in treating socially alienated patients. While being encouraged to spend time with domestic animals (especially cats and dogs), such patients grow comfortable with the idea that, in order for them to be able effectively confront their attachment-related anxieties, they must assess the significance of these anxieties rationally.
In this respect, pets come particularly handy, because if treated with love, they will necessarily pay their owners with the same token of respect. In its turn, this will convince avoidant and disorganized patients that their experiences of self-loathing, irrational anger and isolation, which are the common attributes of these people’s existential mode, have nothing to do with what this type of patients perceive as their de facto unworthiness – hence, paving the way towards patients’ rehabilitation. As Wash (2009) had put it, “Animals may not be our whole lives, but they can make our lives whole” (p. 476). What is being particularly peculiar in this respect is that, even though Animal-Assisted Therapies, based upon the provisions of Bowlby’s theory, have already proven their ability to help patients to get rid of a number of their life-impending mental anxieties, these therapies have not yet attained a legitimate psychotherapeutic status (Zilcha-Mano, Mikulincer & Shaver, 2011). Nevertheless, as it was argued earlier, it is specifically the extent of a particular psychological theory’s practical usefulness, which should be regarded as the solemn indication of its conceptual appropriateness. Given what has been said earlier, there is indeed a very few reasons to suspect ATT of being utterly ineffective.
It is understood, of course, that the earlier provided examples of Bowldy theory’s practical implementation do suggest that this implementation was concerned with the substantial expansion of theory’s initial definitive domain. This, however, cannot be regarded as the indication of implementation’s inappropriateness. On the contrary – the Bowlby theory’s proven applicability in a variety of psychology’s operative fields, illustrates the sheer measure of its operational versatility.
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Milevsky, A. (2004). Perceived parental marital satisfaction and divorce: Effects on sibling relations in emerging adults. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 41(1-2), 115-128.
The research problem, questions, and/or hypotheses
Milevsky study’s research questions were to define the effects of parental divorce on the quality of sibling relationship, to assess the factor of marital satisfaction in regards to the researched subject matter, and to examine the qualitative subtleties of siblings’ view on what accounts for marital satisfaction. The study’s hypothesis implied that parental divorce would have negative effects on the quality of sibling relationship.
The research purpose
Milevsky study’s research purpose was to test the validity of the earlier mentioned hypothesis.
Type of design and elements of the design
Milevsky’s study can be best identified as a positivist qualitative research, in which participants’ age, gender and ethnicity represented independent variables, with the foremost dependent variable being the measurable quality of participants’ attitude towards parental divorce and its effects on sibling relationship. The sampled population of participants accounted for 305 young adults (116 men and 189 women), which were asked to provide answers to the questions contained in the provided questionnaires. Participants’ responses were evaluated on four 5-point scales: Sibling Closeness, Sibling Communication, Sibling Support and Sibling Relationship.
Threats to validity and if and how they were addressed
The threats to this study’s validity involve: the fact that the bulk of responses were received from only single members of the sibling dyad and the fact that, due to the size of participants’ sample, Milevsky’s study cannot be identified as such that represents an objective cross-sectional value. Although the author did recognize these threats, the study’s methodological limitations did not allow him to address them effectively.
The findings of the study
Milevsky study’s foremost findings can be formulated as follows: a) Parental divorce does have a strong negative effect on the quality of relations between siblings that had reached adulthood. b) The factor of marital satisfaction between spouses appears to have a positive effect on adult siblings’ ability to remain in close contact with each other and to treat each other with love and respect.
The implications the author(s) drew from the findings
The study’s foremost implication is can be synthesized as follows: because the empirical findings, concerned with the researched subject matter, suggest the existence of a dialectical link between parental divorce and the extent of the affected siblings’ emotional well-being, more studies must be conducted on the subject of what accounts for the whole scope of parental divorce’s societal effects.
Even though Milevsky’s study does provide a number of empirically substantiated insights into the dialectical essence of parental divorce’s effects on the quality of sibling relationship, there are nevertheless a few methodological drawbacks to this study, as well. The most important of them is that Milevsky evaluated study’s findings in regards to the provisions of a social learning theory only. Another important drawback is that, even though the author did make a point in specifying the particulars of participants’ ethnic affiliation, he nevertheless failed at considering these particulars, while assessing the qualitative nature of participants’ attitude towards the concept of divorce.
Abbey, C. & Dallos, R. (2004). The experience of the impact of divorce on sibling relationships: A qualitative study. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 9, 241-259.
The research problem, questions, and/or hypotheses
The study’s research problem was to test the hypothesis as to the possibility for parental divorce to provide the affected siblings with an additional incentive to strive towards strengthening attachment-links with each other. The conducting of this study’s consequential phases was guided by the following major questions: a) Are siblings from divorced families being more likely to turn to each other for support, as compared to what it is being the case with their counterparts from intact families? b) May parental divorce have any positive effects on sibling relationship? c) Do the provisions of attachment theory apply to the researched subject matter?
The research purpose
The purpose of Abbey and Dallos’s study was to test the validity of the hypothesis that the experiences of parental divorce endorse the sensation of emotional closeness between siblings.
Type of design and elements of the design
Abbey and Dallos’s study is best defined in terms of a qualitative research with the elements of interpretative/phenomenological analysis. The sample of participants included eight young women who experienced parental divorce within the period when their age ranged from nine to seventeen years. The deployed research-methodology was concerned with subjecting the selected participants to semi-structured interviews on the subject of what accounted for participants’ retrospective memories of parental divorce and this divorce’s effects on the quality of their sibling relationship. The sampled participants were also required to draw one genogram and two sociograms that were supposed to reflect the participants’ mental projections of what they considered accounted for the qualitative essence of their pre-divorce and post-divorce sibling relationships.
Threats to validity and if and how they were addressed
The foremost threat to the validity of this study’s qualitative insights accounts for rather an inadequate number of participants. Nevertheless, Abbey and Dallos were able to effectively diminish the acuteness of this particular threat by the mean of conducting their study in full accordance with the main principle of an interpretive/phenomenological research. As a result, they succeeded in counterweighing the absence of calculable independent and depended variables in the study with exposing the three-dimensional aspects of participants’ experiences, related to their parents’ divorce and to this divorce’s effects on their relationship with siblings.
The findings of the study
The main findings of Abbey and Dallos’s study can be outlined as follows: a) The participants’ experience of parental divorce resulted in improving the quality of emotional bonds between them and their siblings. b) Parental divorce naturally causes the affected siblings to grow comfortable with referring to each other as substitute attachment-figures.
The implications the author(s) drew from the findings
The Abbey and Dallos study’s principal implication is that siblings are being more than capable of providing each other with much needed emotional support in times of distress, which in turn suggests that psychotherapeutic strategies, designed to address psychological antagonisms between siblings, should incorporate the recognition of such siblings’ ability into the very core of their procedural matrixes.
Even though that, as it was mentioned earlier, the number of this study’s sampled participants is far from being considered as such that represents a cross-sectional value, the sheer extent of the study’s analytical insightfulness compensates for this apparent drawback. Abbey and Dallos were not only able to reveal the phenomenological nature of the parental divorce’s effects on siblings, but to also to provide guidelines as how their study’s findings can be used to increase the effectiveness of a number of psychotherapeutic strategies.
Panish, J. & Stricker, G. (2001). Parental marital conflict in childhood and influence on adult sibling relationships. Journal of Psychotherapy in Independent Practice, 2(1), 3-16.
The research problem, questions, and/or hypotheses
The research problem of Panish and Stricker’s study was concerned with identifying the qualitative effects of parental marital disharmony and family intactness on the integrity of sibling relationship. The main questions of interest, in respect to the research problem, were: a) Is there any empirical evidence as to the assumption that the deteriorating quality of parents’ marital relations can be linked to the deteriorating quality of relations between siblings? b) Does the prolonged marital disharmony contribute to undermining the siblings’ sense of self-esteem? The study’s hypothesis implied that these questions would be answered positively.
The research purpose
The purpose of Panish and Stricker’s study was to test the validity of the initially provided hypothesis and to explore the transitional effects of a long-term marital discord between both parents onto the quality of sibling relationship.
Type of design and elements of the design
Panish and Stricker’s study fits into the conceptual framework of a positivist qualitative study – the independent variables were marital discord/divorce, on the one hand, and family intactness, on the other. Alternatively, the dependent variable was the calculable amount of emotional closeness/emotional antagonism between siblings in question. The sampled participants accounted 182 men and women with their age ranging from 22 to 58 years. Ninety participants identified themselves as Caucasians, forty-one participants identified themselves as African-Americans, and thirty-four participants identified themselves as Hispanic (the rest of participants accounted for Asians and miscellaneous). Eighty-one participants claimed themselves being affiliated with divorced families and hundred-one participants claimed themselves being affiliated with intact families. The instrumental phase of this study’s research methodology was concerned with distributing four socio-demographic questionnaires among the participants and asking them to provide answers to the contained questions. The study’s analytical phase involved the quantification of received responses on ASRQ, CPIC, SIDE and RSE scales.
Threats to validity and if and how they were addressed
The main threat to this study’s validity is being concerned with the self-reported essence of participants’ responses, which in turn implies that there is no guarantee that, while reflecting upon questions, contained in the provided questionnaires, the selected participants remained intellectually honest. Authors addressed this threat by suggesting that the cross-examinable structuring of questions, contained in the distributed questionnaires, created objective prerequisites for the potential inaccuracy of participants’ responses to be reduced to the minimum.
The findings of the study
Study’s empirically obtained findings suggest that there is a positive correlation between the intensity of parents’ marital disharmony, often extrapolated by both parents’ willingness to apply for divorce, and the measure of adult siblings’ likelihood to experience a wide array of depressing anxieties. Moreover, study’s findings indicate that the actual quality of interpersonal relationship between parents affects siblings more than the formal subtleties of these parents’ marital/divorced status.
The implications the author(s) drew from the findings
This study’s main implications can be formulated as follows: a) While striving to lessen the intensity of siblings’ socialization-related anxieties, psychologists must pay attention to what accounts for the siblings’ culturally/environmentally predetermined perception of the notion of marital harmony. b) Upon having admitted their psychological incompatibility, parents would be better off not trying to revitalize their continually deteriorating marital relationship, because their unwillingness to face the inevitable divorce appears to have even a stronger detrimental effect onto the siblings’ emotional well-being than the divorce itself.
The study, conducted by Panish and Stricker, does provide a number of practically valuable suggestions as to what may be considered the best strategies towards lessening the negative effects of parents’ marital disharmony onto the siblings’ ability to enjoy a healthy relationship with each other. Nevertheless, this study’s practical value is being somewhat undermined by what appears to be the authors’ failure to clearly define the formative aspects of siblings’ perception of the notion of marital harmony, on the one hand, and the notion of marital conflict, on the other.
The provided earlier review of three academic studies, concerned with exploring the effects of parental divorce/marital discord on siblings’ emotional well-being, and consequently on the quality of sibling relationship, makes it possible to outline the following positively identified aspects of the phenomena in question:
- Siblings’ exposure to parental divorce does affect the manner in which they perceive the surrounding social reality and the quintessence of their emotional attitudes towards each other. The findings of all three earlier analyzed articles suggest that the experience of parental divorce siblings associate with the sensation of an acute emotional distress, which they have felt while the divorce procedures were taking place. In its turn, the siblings’ prolonged exposure to such a sensation often results in them sustaining a psychological trauma, the long-term observable emanations of which are the concerned siblings’ increased likelihood to succumb to depression, to be affected by self-loathing anxieties and to choose in favor of leading socially-alienated lives. At the same time, however, there is a certain rationale in the idea that, while assessing the effects of parental divorce on siblings, such a divorce should not be referred to as ‘thing in itself’. As it was illustrated by Panish and Stricker (2001), divorce is nothing but simply the logical consequence of the process of marital harmony between two parents becoming increasingly deteriorated, and it is specifically the spatial subtleties of this process, which should be taken into consideration while the affected siblings’ psychological trauma is being evaluated.
- The experience of a parental divorce is being capable of increasing the extent of the affected siblings’ emotional closeness. During the time of divorce, parents naturally grow more distanced from their children, which in turn undermine their ability to act as fully adequate attachment-figures. Consequently, siblings from families affected by the process of both parents legally separating from each other, are being left with no choice but to look for those who may act as substitute attachment-figures for the time being (Abbey & Dallos, 2004). As a result, the extent of emotional closeness between them increases in an exponential progression to the severity of distress, to which they are being exposed while their parents indulge in separation procedures.
- Adult siblings from divorced families appear to be less capable of managing interpersonal conflicts; as compared to what it is being the case with their counterparts from intact families. The foremost negative aspect of siblings’ upbringing in divorced families is that, while attaining social skills in the home-environment, they lack the observable model of what accounts for the proper strategies of managing interpersonal conflicts (Milevsky, 2004). Moreover, their experiences of parental divorce often cause them to think that this type of conflicts cannot be successfully addressed. After all, had it been otherwise, their parents would not have applied for divorce, in the first place. As a result, siblings from divorced families grow progressively less comfortable with the idea that interpersonal conflicts between individuals can be resolved in a manner mutually beneficial to all the concerned parties. In its turn, this explains why, as it was illustrated by Milevsky’s study, adult siblings from divorced families often experience a number of communicational difficulties, which often results in them choosing in favor of socially withdrawn lifestyles.
Nevertheless, even though that the authors of all three studies did succeed in explaining the qualitative essence of a number of the explored phenomena’s socially observable emanations, there still remains a few unanswered questions as to the actual mechanics of how parental divorce affects siblings. There are also questions about the nature of logical inconsistencies between some of these studies’ findings. These questions can be formulated as follows:
- What accounts for the qualitative subtleties of siblings’ perception of marital harmony/discord? As it was pointed out by Panish and Stricker, siblings’ likelihood to be negatively affected by parental divorce/marital disharmony, largely depends on how they perceive the notions of marital harmony/discord. After all, whereas, some siblings tend to refer to their parents’ tendency to abuse each other physically as something perfectly normal, other siblings sustain emotional traumas on the account of being exposed to their parents’ casual arguments. In its turn, this is being suggestive that siblings’ perception of marital harmony/discord cannot be discussed outside of what accounts for the qualitative aspects of their cognition. Because these aspects have long ago been proven rather genetically then environmentally predetermined, it makes a perfectly logical sense to explore siblings’ attitudes towards divorce/family intactness in regards to what happened to be the particulars of their racial/ethno-cultural affiliation. Unfortunately, neither of the earlier analyzed studies was concerned with exploring that.
- Why are there conflicting reports about how siblings from divorced families manage interpersonal conflicts? According to Abbey and Dallos, siblings from divorced families are being naturally inclined to provide emotional support to each other because they have learnt how to substitute attachment-figures. This implies that the process of such siblings’ socialization should be even less obstructed by mental anxieties, on their part, as compared to what it is being the case with their counterparts from intact families. The reason for this is apparent – individuals who have learnt how to establish attachment-links with non-primary caregivers should experience fewer difficulties while striving to integrate into society, because such their newly acquired ability should help them to win friends. However, the empirical findings of other two studies do not support such a conclusion. On the contrary – they indicate that siblings from divorced families are very likely to be faced with a number of subjective challenges, while striving to gain a social prominence. The earlier mentioned inconsistency appears being a legitimate subject of future studies.
- Is there a qualitative difference between how parental divorce affects male siblings, on the one hand, and female siblings, on the other? Even though that the authors of all three studies did come up with implicit suggestions that, as compared to what it is being the case with male siblings, female siblings appear being more capable of providing support to each other in times of distress, these suggestions seem to serve the function of endorsing authors’ stereotypical worldviews rather than the function of providing readers with scientifically substantiated insights into the discussed phenomena. Therefore, along with exploring the nature of dialectically predetermined links between siblings’ attitudes towards parental divorce and the specifics of their racial/ethno-cultural affiliation, researchers may also consider exploring how masculine existential values, on the one hand, and feminine existential values, on the other, affect their sibling affiliates’ stance towards the very notion of marital harmony/discord.
In this part of the assignment we will provide a methodological sketch to addressing one of the earlier identified ‘unknowns’ – namely, what accounts for the qualitative subtleties of siblings’ perception of marital harmony/discord?
The research purpose
The purpose of this research is to identify and to provide a discursive understanding of demographic (specifically, ethno-cultural) factors that contribute towards the process of siblings adopting a specific value-based perceptual stance, in regards to the notion of marital harmony/discord. The study’s hypothesis is that the specifics of siblings’ racial/ethno-cultural affiliation do affect their perception of marital harmony/discord.
Type of design and elements of the design
The proposed methodological approach to addressing this particular research-goal is a qualitative-interpretative study. The study’s procedural methodology will be concerned with collecting the sampled participants’ personal stories, in regards to what they believe account for the external (observable) and innate (unobservable) emanations of marital harmony/discord. The instrument of this research will involve conducting 10-15 minute long interviews with the selected participants and asking them to reflect upon what they consider the emanations of marital harmony/discord in the form of a sociogram. The proposed sample of participants will consist of twenty individuals with their age ranging from 17 to 25 years old, with each individual being positively identified as such that has at least one sibling (either male of female) and as such that grew up in the post-divorce single-parent family or the family affected by an ongoing marital discord between parents. The participants will be divided in the four groups of five, along the lines of their visually observable racial/ethno-cultural affiliation (five Caucasians, five African-Americans, five Mexican-Americans, and five Asian-Americans).
The strengths and weaknesses of your envisioned design and methods
The potential weakness of the proposed methodological approach is that, due to the small size of participants’ sample, the study’s eventual findings may become the subject of criticism on the account of them not representing a statistically adequate cross-sectional value. However, this weakness will be easily counterbalanced by a number of methodological strengths, commonly associated with the procedural framework of qualitative-interpretative analysis. First – we will be not only able to test the hypothesis that the particulars of siblings’ ethno-cultural affiliation do affect their perception of marital harmony/discord, but also to define the extent of this hypothesis’s discursive appropriateness. Second – we will be able to gain a three-dimensional insight into what accounts for the very mechanics of how participants’ cultural values affect the qualitative essence of their perception of marital harmony/discord, which in turn defines the nature of their rational/irrational reactions to parental divorce. Third – if proven legitimate, the proposed hypothesis will increase the heuristic value of Jungian theory (which we intend to apply) even further.
Qualitative: your means of ensuring the quality of your findings
In order to ensure the high quality of this study’s findings, while conducting it, we will make a point in observing the foremost principles of a qualitative-interpretative research, as defined by Klein and Myers (1999). These principles can be outlined as follows:
- The principle of the Hermeneutic Circle – while collecting and analyzing relevant data, we will strive to reveal this data’s interdependent subtleties.
- The principle of contextualization – we will discuss the significance of the empirically obtained data in regards to what accounts for the currently dominant socio-political discourse, associated with the paradigm of political correctness.
- The principle of interaction between the researchers and the subjects – while conducting this study, we will apply a great effort into ensuring the thoroughly formal nature of our social interactions with the participants.
- The principle of abstraction and generalization – throughout this study’s entirety, we will be continually testing the validity of Jungian theoretical provisions (relevant to the researched subject matter), in general, and the validity of the proposed hypothesis (in regards to the obtained data), in particular.
- The principle of dialogical reasoning – while conducting this study, we will aim to have the discussed significance of the obtained data unaffected by our own subject-related preconceptions. In its turn, this will ensure the objectiveness of provided interpretations.
- The principle of suspicion – while analyzing the collected data’s significance, we will remain on a constant lookout for the indications of biasness in participants’ responses.
Justification for your chosen design and methods
Our choice in favor of a qualitative-interpretative methodological approach to conducting this study was predetermined by:
- The necessity to identify the discursive connotations of siblings’ tendency to adopt one or another view on the significance of marital harmony/discord.
- The clearly phenomenological nature of the phenomena that is to be researched.
- Our intention to discuss study’s findings within the conceptual framework of Jungian theory (specifically, within the context of what Jung theorized accounts the making of a ‘collective archetypes of unconscious’).
After having analyzed the obtained empirical data, we should not only be able to confirm the validity of this study’s initial hypothesis, as to the fact that sibling’s ethno-cultural affiliation does affect the manner in which they perceive the significance of marital harmony/discord, but also to explain why this is being the case, in the first place. The chosen methodological format does allow this; whereas, had we chosen in favor of conducting a positivist qualitative research, the study’s quantified findings would only provide us with the spatial insight (not discursive/analytical) into the researched phenomena.
Methods of data analysis
The obtained empirical data will be analyzed according to the principles of conducting an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), as defined by Osborn and Smith (1998). This analysis will involve the identification of shared/unique themes in participants’ responses, the discussion of how these themes are being reflective of the subtleties of each individual participant’s collective archetype, and the discussion of how participants’ ethno-cultural affiliation affected the actual quality of their ‘collective unconscious’ anxieties. The shared/unique themes will also be discussed in regards to whether they are being consistent with the concerned participants’ linguistically, semantically and behaviorally observed introversion-related or extraversion-related leanings.
How the data you collect will enable you to answer your research question and contribute to theory.
As it was mentioned earlier, the provisions of Jungian theory are being essentially race-neutral. This is because, at the time when Jung worked on formulating his theory’s main postulates, Western societies were racially homogeneous. Nevertheless, ever since the policy of multiculturalism had attained an official status in the West, the demographic fabric in Western societies started to undergo a rapid transformation. In its turn, this resulted in many Western psychologists being faced with the dilemma of whether the conceptually euro-centric psychological theories (such as Jungian theory) can be applied when it comes to explaining the motivational factors behind the ethnically diverse individuals’ tendency to address life’s challenges in a qualitatively different manner, as compared to what it is being the case with Caucasians.
Therefore, if tested positively, this study’s hypothesis will contribute to the Jungian theory by the mean of confirming the validity of a suggestion that the existence of collective unconscious archetypes, the association with which causes different individuals to tackle a particular life-challenge differently, cannot only be construed in regards the nature of a currently dominant socio-historical discourse, but also in regards to the biological characteristics of this discourse’s participants. We believe that by analyzing the empirical data that will be obtained during the course this study, we will be able to reveal a biologically predetermined psychological mechanism of how siblings from different ethno-cultural backgrounds form their perception of marital harmony/discord, which in turn defines the qualitative essence of their reactions to parental divorce.
Because the proposed study is being concerned with the involvement of third-party human participants, ensuring this study’s adherence to the principles of conducting a thoroughly ethical research is being crucially important. The foremost indication of a particular scientific research being de facto ethical is this research’s potential ability to serve the cause of humanity’s advancement (Mishna, Antle & Regehr, 2004; APA, 2010). Therefore, there a number of objective reasons to consider the proposed research-study as such that fit this descriptive definition – once factors that impede the siblings’ chances to successfully manage interpersonal conflicts are being thoroughly identified, it will result in psychologists being put in a position of addressing their professional duties much more effectively.
Another important indication of a particular research-study being conducted ethically is its authors’ willingness to adhere to the principle of intellectual honesty (Montgomery & Oliver, 2009). Therefore, even though that while addressing the researched subject matter, we will be inevitably faced with the challenge of providing a tactful sounding to what may account for discursively controversial findings, ensuring such a sounding shall be considered as such that represent a second-order priority. This is because it is specifically ethical rules and regulations that are being continually adjusted to be able to correlate with the exponential pace of a scientific progress and not vice versa. Whereas, the qualitative implications of ethical rules and regulations are being defined by the currently predominant socio-political discourse, the ongoing progress in different fields of science defines the qualitative nature of this discourse (Banton, 2001).
The third major principle of conducting an ethically sound qualitative study is ensuring this study findings’ practical value. In regards to psychological studies, this principle can be reformulated as follows – while addressing the researched subject matter, concerned with the exploration of innate motivational factors that prompt the representatives of sampled populations to indulge in a particular behavior, researchers should remain on a constant lookout for what may contribute to these populations’ social empowerment. Hence, the concept of a participatory research, which is believed to represent a much higher ethical value, as compared to what it is being the case with other types of psychological researches, “The participatory research process involves a combination of three activities: research, education, and action. Its primary goal is to bring about a more just society through transformative social change” (Small, 1995, p. 943). Therefore, while conducting the proposed study, we will not only be concerned with testing the validity of the initial hypothesis, but also with providing the sampled participants with action-oriented guidelines as to how they may proceed with referring to the study’s eventual findings as the mean of improving the quality of their lives.
There are also a number of ethical sub-considerations, which we will observe while conducting the proposed study. These considerations include:
- Ensuring the absence of plagiarism – Plagiarizing other scientists’ work has traditionally been considered a highly unethical practice, because it leads to the overall lowering of the research-standards’ quality. Therefore, it is not only that we will make a point in excluding the instances of plagiarism from the proposed study, but also in checking the originality of ideas, contained in the articles that we will use for references.
- Risk assessment – according the standard scientific practice, the measure of this study’s risk-feasibility (risk to participants, risk of inaccuracy, and risk of misrepresentation) will be evaluated in regards to what may account for the whole range of socially beneficial effects of the study’s initial hypothesis being proven legitimate.
- Informed consent – As it is being the case with just about any study, which involves scientists’ interaction with human participants, as the integral part of an empirical research-process, our study will not enter its empirical phase unless all the potential participants provide their legally bounding consent with the prospect of being subjected to scientific experimentation.
- Privacy and confidentiality – Before we proceed with interviewing the sampled participants, they will be assured that under no circumstances may their identity be revealed to any third party.
- Data handling and reporting – In order to ensure the scientific legitimacy of the empirically obtained data and the appropriateness of the qualitative/interpretative analysis of this data’s significance, we will treat this data in the thoroughly impersonal manner, which will eliminate the possibility for this data to be manipulated with for any malicious purposes.
- Mistakes and negligence – As it is being the case with just about any scientific research, our study is not a mistake-proof, “All scientific research is susceptible to error.
At the frontiers of knowledge, experimental techniques often are pushed to the limit… the signal can be difficult to separate from the noise” (On Being a Scientist, 2009, p. 12). Nevertheless, the mistakes that occur due to the scientists’ procedural negligence are inexcusable. Therefore, while conducting the proposed study, we will apply a great effort into handling and analyzing the obtained data with utmost care. g) Resource-effectiveness – While researching a particular phenomena of interest, scientists are expected to do it in a thoroughly economical manner, so that the valuable financial and human recourses are being utilized efficiently. Therefore, during the course of conducting the proposed study, we will strive to ensure that the amount of used resources is being economically justified in regards to what we expect to account for the study finding’s potential benefits.
Working with a Mentor – As practice indicates, it is commonplace situation when, despite a particular study’s methodological appropriateness, it nevertheless ends up being referred to as such that does not represent much of a scientific value. As a rule, this occurs with the studies conducted by young scientists, who despite being in the possession of much of a relevant ‘knowledge’, nevertheless lack perceptual ‘wiseness’. This is the reason why beginning researchers are being advised to conduct their studies under mentors’ supervision. Our study is not being an exemption, in this respect. While conducting it, we will be periodically resorting to the mentor’s guidance, as the mean of ensuring this study’s methodological and discursive integrity.
- Northcentral University requirements for IRB approval – In order for us to be able to secure NSU IRB’s approval, we will make sure that the proposed study and its methodological apparatus are being consistent with the IRB’s principles of conducting an ethically sound scientific research, such as: 1) The sampled participants take part in the research voluntarily.
- The participants’ personal safety is not being endangered.
- The sampled participants are being given the liberty to stop cooperating with researchers as they choose.
- The sampled participants are being given sound reasons as to why they can expect to be able to personally benefit from taking part in the research.
- Researchers remain thoroughly committed to the research-related obligations.
- Use of editors and consultants – In order to ensure that the proposed study is being not only methodologically appropriate but also stylistically, conceptually and semantically refined, we will resort to the assistance of editors and consultants.
Ethical scientific researchers have a commitment to all who are touched by their research – participants who share their lives and time, mentors and advisors, reviewers, future readers, and supporters and cheerleaders on the journey – to take care and do their work well.
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