Thomas Teo

Last updated
Thomas Teo
Born1963 (age 5556)
London, England
Nationality Canada, UK, Austria (previous)
Alma mater University of Vienna
Main interests
Notable ideas
Psychological humanities, Epistemological violence
Website / Thomas Teo's Home Page

Thomas Teo (born 1963) is a Canadian professor of Historical, Theoretical, and Critical Studies of Psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada. He is a leader in the fields of critical psychology and theoretical psychology.


Academic career

Teo was born in London, England. He earned his Magister and PhD in psychology from the University of Vienna in Austria. From 1992 to 1995 he worked as a post-doctoral fellow and then as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. He started his professorial track at York University in Canada in 1996.

Teo was president of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (2013–2015), president (2016–2017) of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (Division 24), and twice chair of the History and Philosophy of Psychology Section of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). He is a fellow of APA and CPA. He was editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (2009–2014). He has served as a co-editor of the Review of General Psychology (2009–2014).[ citation needed ]

Selected works and thought

Teo is a critical-theoretical psychologist who employs metatheory and history to provide a more reflexive understanding of the foundations and trajectories of current psychology while projecting alternatives to the status quo. His research has argued for psychology becoming a self-reflexive discipline that provides disciplinary and social interventions.

Critique of psychology

Teo has contributed to critical-theoretical work since his early publications on the history of German Critical Psychology, [1] broadening the concept of critical psychology, integrating various streams of critical thought, including feminism, postcolonialism, social constructionism, political theory, indigenous psychology, and hermeneutics, that were applied to ontological, epistemological, ethical, and more recently aesthetic [2] contexts of psychology. Significant critiques of psychology were investigated in The Critique of Psychology: From Kant to Postcolonial Theory, [3] which was the first book to provide a systematic history of the critique of psychology. As an international leader of critical psychology he edited the Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. [4] In 2015 he summarized the status of critical psychology in the flagship journal of the APA the American Psychologist. [5]

Critique of scientific racism and epistemological violence

An important critical project that Teo pursued was the study of racism and scientific racism, some of which was published in German. [6] He worked on racism and mixed race and in a series of articles advanced the meaning of the concept of epistemological violence in empirical research. [7] [8] [9] [10] Epistemological violence is committed when interpretations of empirical data implicitly or explicitly constitute the Other as inferior or problematic, despite the fact that alternative interpretations, equally viable, based on the same results, are available.

Critical history

Teo’s historical work has drawn on history, with history as a means and not as an end. [11] Connecting the philosophy of psychology with the history of psychology he co-authored A Critical History and Philosophy of Psychology: Diversity of Context, Thought, and Practice. [12] Several historical studies focused on twin research, the history of critical psychology, and the history of German psychology. [13] [14]

Theoretical psychology and psychological humanities

Teo supports the idea of critical psychology as a generative and international movement that provides reflexivity and interference in psychosocial affairs. His latest book Outline of Theoretical Psychology: Critical Investigations [15] discusses basic philosophical problems in the discipline and profession of psychology. By engaging with basic theoretical problems, Teo demonstrates how psychology can avoid its pitfalls and participate as a force for resistance and the good. To do so, Teo has made the argument that psychology needs to draw on the psychological humanities (including history, philosophy, political theory, science and technology studies, etc...) to understand human mental life. [16] He has argued that the development of psychology as a science and the struggle for scientific recognition has disrupted the need to interrogate the discipline and the profession from the critical perspective of the humanities, the arts, and the concept-driven social sciences.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

J. Philippe Rushton Canadian psychology professor

John Philippe Rushton was a Canadian psychologist and author. He taught at the University of Western Ontario and became known to the general public during the 1980s and 1990s for research on race and intelligence, race and crime, and other apparent racial variations. His book Race, Evolution, and Behavior (1995) is about the application of r/K selection theory to humans.

Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts. Hermeneutics is more than interpretive principles or methods we resort to when immediate comprehension fails. Rather, hermeneutics is the art of understanding and of making oneself understood.

Philosophy of psychology refers to the many issues at the theoretical foundations of modern psychology.

Edward C. Tolman American psychologist

Edward Chace Tolman was an American psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Through Tolman's theories and works, he founded what is now a branch of psychology known as purposive behaviorism. Tolman also promoted the concept known as latent learning first coined by Blodgett (1929). A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Tolman as the 45th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Martin Seligman American psychologist and writer

Martin Elias Pete Seligman is an American psychologist, educator, and author of self-help books. Seligman is a strong promoter within the scientific community of his theories of positive psychology and of well-being. His theory of learned helplessness is popular among scientific and clinical psychologists. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Seligman as the 31st most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Theoretical psychology is concerned with theoretical and philosophical aspects of psychology. It is an interdisciplinary field with a wide scope of study. It focuses on combining and incorporating existing and developing theories of psychology non-experimentally. Theoretical psychology originated from the philosophy of science, with logic and rationality at the base of each new idea. It existed before empirical or experimental psychology. Theoretical psychology is an interdisciplinary field involving psychologists specializing in a wide variety of psychological branches. There have been a few prominent pioneers of theoretical psychology such as Wilhelm Wundt, William James, Sigmund Freud, and John B. Watson. There has also been a number of notable contributors which include Jerome Kagan, Alan E. Kazdin, Robert Sternberg, Kenneth J. Gergen, and Ulric Neisser. These contributors often publish in a variety of journals including the most prominent for theoretical psychology, the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. Many other organizations are beginning to recognize theoretical psychology as a formal subdivision of psychology.

<i>Psychological Review</i> journal

Psychological Review is a scientific journal that publishes articles on psychological theory. It was founded by Princeton University psychologist James Mark Baldwin and Columbia University psychologist James McKeen Cattell in 1894 as a publication vehicle for psychologists not connected with the Clark laboratory of G. Stanley Hall. Psychological Review soon became the most prominent and influential psychology journal in North America, publishing important articles by William James, John Dewey, James Rowland Angell, and many others.

Today, psychology is defined as "the scientific study of behavior and mental processes." Philosophical interest in the human mind and behavior dates back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Persia, Greece, China, and India.

Daniel N. Robinson American philosopher

Daniel N. Robinson was an American psychologist who was a professor of psychology at Georgetown University and later in his life became a fellow of the faculty of philosophy at Oxford University.

Positivism philosophy of science based on the view that information derived from scientific observation is the exclusive source of all authoritative knowledge

Positivism is a philosophical theory stating that certain ("positive") knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations. Thus, information derived from sensory experience, interpreted through reason and logic, forms the exclusive source of all certain knowledge. Positivism holds that valid knowledge is found only in this a posteriori knowledge.

Donald T. Campbell American psychologist & scholar

Donald Thomas Campbell was an American social scientist. He is noted for his work in methodology. He coined the term "evolutionary epistemology" and developed a selectionist theory of human creativity. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Campbell as the 33rd most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

<i>American Psychologist</i> journal

American Psychologist is the official peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Psychological Association. The journal publishes timely high-impact articles of broad interest. Papers include empirical reports and scholarly reviews covering science, practice, education, and policy. Current editor-in-chief is Anne E. Kazak, PhD, ABPP.

The scientist–practitioner model, also called the Boulder Model, is a training model for graduate programs that provide applied psychologists with a foundation in research and scientific practice. It was initially developed to guide clinical psychology graduate programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Joseph Frank Rychlak was a psychologist well known for his work with theoretical and philosophical psychology. He developed a theoretical stance known as "Rigorous Humanism." This term refers to Rychlak's argument that psychology with ecological validity should be directed toward issues that are relevant to our lives.

Feminist psychology is a form of psychology centered on social structures and gender. Feminist psychology critiques historical psychological research as done from a male perspective with the view that males are the norm. Feminist psychology is oriented on the values and principles of feminism.

Black psychology, also known as African American psychology and African/Black psychology, is a scientific field that focuses on how people of African descent know and experience the world. The field, particularly in the United States, largely emerged as a result of the lack of understanding of the psychology of Black people under traditional, Westernized notions of psychology. Overall, the field combines perspectives from both Black studies and traditional psychology encapsulating a range of definitions and approaches while simultaneously proposing its own framework of understanding.

Engaged theory is a methodological framework for understanding social complexity. It takes social life or social relations as its base category, with 'the social' always understood as grounded in 'the natural', including humans as embodied beings. Engaged theory provides a framework that moves from detailed empirical analysis about things, people and processes in the world to abstract theory about the constitution and social framing of those things, people and processes.

Barbara S. Held is a psychologist and professor known for her research and publications in the fields of clinical psychology and theoretical/philosophical psychology. Held is the Barry N. Wish Research Professor of Psychology and Social Studies at Bowdoin College. She served as President of the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology from 2008-2009, and was recipient of the 2012 Joseph B. Glitter Award from the American Psychological Association recognizing her "scholarly contribution to the philosophical foundations of psychological knowledge."

Golan Shahar

Golan Shahar, Ph.D., is an Israeli clinical health psychologist and an interdisciplinary stress/psychopathology researcher.

Gregory Adams Kimble was an American general psychologist and a professor at Duke University, a position from which he retired in 1984. He was known for his efforts to unify psychology as a single scientific discipline, and for his lifelong devotion to behaviorism. He also served as an advisor to the magazine Psychology Today in the 1980s, when it was owned by the American Psychological Association (APA), of which he became a fellow in 1951. His positions at the APA itself included presidency of its Divisions of General Psychology and Experimental Psychology. He received the APA's Award for Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training in 1999, as well as the C. Alan Boneau Award from the APA's Division of General Psychology.


  1. Teo, Thomas (1998). "Klaus Holzkamp and the rise and decline of German Critical Psychology". History of Psychology. 1 (3): 235–253. doi:10.1037/1093-4510.1.3.235. PMID   11620316.
  2. Teo, Thomas (2017). "Subjectivity, aesthetics, and the nexus of injustice: From traditional to street art". In Awad, S. H.; Wagoner, B (eds.). Street art of resistance. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 39–62. ISBN   9783319633305.
  3. Teo, Thomas (2005). The critique of psychology: From Kant to postcolonial theory. Springer. ISBN   978-0387253565. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  4. Teo, Thomas (2014). Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. Springer. ISBN   978-1461455820. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  5. Teo, Thomas (2015). "Critical psychology: A geography of intellectual engagement and resistance". American Psychologist. 70 (3): 243–254. doi:10.1037/a0038727. PMID   25621493.
  6. Mecheril, Paul; Teo, Thomas (1997). Psychologie und Rassismus [Psychology and racism]. Reinbek: Rowohlt. ISBN   9783499555695.
  7. Teo, Thomas (2011). "Empirical race psychology and the hermeneutics of epistemological violence". Human Studies. 34 (3): 237–255. doi:10.1007/s10746-011-9179-8.
  8. Teo, Thomas (2010). "What is epistemological violence in the empirical social sciences?". Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 4 (5): 295–303. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00265.x.
  9. Teo, Thomas (2008). "From speculation to epistemological violence in psychology: A critical-hermeneutic reconstruction". Theory & Psychology. 18 (1): 47–67. CiteSeerX . doi:10.1177/0959354307086922.
  10. Teo, Thomas (2004). "The historical problematization of "mixed race" in psychological and human-scientific discourses". In Winston, A (ed.). Defining difference: Race and racism in the history of psychology. American Psychological Association. pp. 79–108. CiteSeerX . doi:10.1037/10625-004. ISBN   978-1-59147-027-4.
  11. Teo, Thomas (2013). "Agnotology in the dialectics of the history and philosophy of psychology". Theory & Psychology. 23 (6): 840–851. doi:10.1177/0959354313504838.
  12. Walsh, Richard; Teo, Thomas; Baydala, Angelina (2014). A critical history and philosophy of psychology: Diversity of context, thought, and practice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-1107782693. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  13. Teo, Thomas; Ball, Laura (2009). "Twin research, revisionism, and metahistory". History of the Human Sciences. 22 (5): 1–23. doi:10.1177/0952695109345418. PMID   20419900.
  14. Teo, Thomas (2013). "Backlash against American psychology: An indigenous reconstruction of the history of German critical psychology". History of Psychology. 16 (1): 1–18. doi:10.1037/a0030286. PMID   23394178.
  15. Teo, Thomas (2018). Outline of theoretical psychology: Critical investigations. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN   978-1137596505. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  16. Teo, Thomas (2017). "From psychological science to the psychological humanities: Building a general theory of subjectivity". Review of General Psychology. 21 (4): 281–291. doi:10.1037/gpr0000132.