Thorngate's postulate of commensurate complexity,also referred to as Thorngate's impostulate of theoretical simplicity is the description of a phenomenon in social science theorizing. Karl E. Weick maintains that research in the field of social psychology can – at any one time – achieve only two of the three meta-theoretical virtues of "Generality", "Accuracy" and "Simplicity." One of these aspects therefore must always be subordinated to the others. The postulate is named for the Canadian social psychologist Warren Thorngate of the University of Alberta, whose work is quoted by Weick.
Social science is a category of academic disciplines concerned with society and the relationships among individuals within a society. The disciplines include, but are not limited to: anthropology, archaeology, communication studies, economics, folkloristics, history, musicology, human geography, jurisprudence, linguistics, political science, psychology, public health, and sociology. The term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to the field of sociology, the original "science of society", established in the 19th century. For a more detailed list of sub-disciplines within the social sciences see: Outline of social science.
Karl Edward Weick is an American organizational theorist who introduced the concepts of "loose coupling", "mindfulness", and "sensemaking" into organizational studies. He is the Rensis Likert Distinguished University Professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
A metatheory or meta-theory is a theory whose subject matter is some theory. All fields of research share some meta-theory, regardless whether this is explicit or correct. In a more restricted and specific sense, in mathematics and mathematical logic, metatheory means a mathematical theory about another mathematical theory.
Thorngate described the problem this way:
'“In order to increase both generality and accuracy, the complexity of our theories must necessarily be increased.”
The postulate was a response to the debate among sociologists – mainly between Kenneth J. Gergenand Barry R. Schlenker – revolving around the meaning of sociological research. Whilst Schlenker appeared to maintain the position, that context only superficially influenced social behavior, Gergen appeared to maintain that context penetrated everything in social behavior, rendering observations as specific to the very situation observed. Thus, simplifying the discussion, the observation of social behavior would be no more than collecting historical data, since context would never be the same and the results would remain unique. In fact, sociology would be some specialized kind of historical research. Considering this, Thorngate writes
Kenneth J. Gergen is an American social psychologist and emeritus professor at Swarthmore College. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts from Yale University (1957) and his PhD from Duke University (1962).
It is impossible for a theory of social behaviour to be simultaneously general, simple or parsimonious, and accurate.
The statement was confirmed by Gergen:
The more general a simple theory, the less accurate it will be in predicting specifics.
Weick represents this model “as a clockface with general at 12:00, accurate at 4:00, and simple at 8:00 to drive home the point that an explanation that satisfies any two characteristics is least able to satisfy the third characteristic.”
According to Weick, research operates in this continuum:
Basically, Weick maintains, that there is a "trade-off" between these three virtues in such a way that only two can be achieved at any given time. Research therefore must operate in different modes to capture reality in sufficient precision and granularity.The postulate therefore becomes descriptive of research and prescriptive of research methodology.
Though confirming the postulate in general, Fred Dickinson, Carol Blair and Brian L. Ott criticized Weicks use of the word "accurate". g. in researching memory. They suggest replacing the term "accurate" with "interpretive utility".Accuracy is hard to achieve, especially if the topic is difficult to qualify, e.
Brian L. Ott is professor of Communication Studies and Director of the Texas Tech University Press (TTUP) at Texas Tech University. He is an author and communications expert in the field of study of rhetoric and media.
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others. In this definition, scientific refers to the empirical investigation using the scientific method. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors refer to psychological variables that can be measured in humans. The statement that others' presence may be imagined or implied suggests that humans are malleable to social influences even when alone, such as when watching videos, sitting on the toilet, or quietly appreciating art. In such situations, people can be influenced to follow internalized cultural norms. Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the interaction of mental states and social situations.
In anthropology, folkloristics, and the social and behavioral sciences, emic and etic refer to two kinds of field research done and viewpoints obtained: emic, from within the social group and etic, from outside.
Prejudice is an affective feeling towards a person based on that person's perceived group membership. The word is often used to refer to a preconceived, usually unfavourable, evaluation of another person based on that person's political affiliation, sex, gender, beliefs, values, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality, beauty, occupation, education, criminality, sport team affiliation or other personal characteristics.
The out-group homogeneity effect is one's perception of out-group members as more similar to one another than are in-group members, e.g. "they are alike; we are diverse". The term "outgroup homogeneity effect", "outgroup homogeneity bias" or "relative outgroup homogeneity" has been explicitly contrasted with "outgroup homogeneity" in general, the latter referring to perceived outgroup variability unrelated to perceptions of the ingroup.
Trait ascription bias is the tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior and mood while viewing others as much more predictable in their personal traits across different situations. More specifically, it is a tendency to describe one's own behaviour in terms of situational factors while preferring to describe another's behaviour by ascribing fixed dispositions to their personality. This may occur because peoples' own internal states are more readily observable and available to them than those of others.
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.
The Big Five personality traits, also known as the five-factor model (FFM) and the OCEAN model, is a taxonomy for personality traits. When factor analysis is applied to personality survey data, some words used to describe aspects of personality are often applied to the same person. For example, someone described as conscientious is more likely to be described as "always prepared" rather than "messy". This theory is based therefore on the association between words but not on neuropsychological experiments. This theory uses descriptors of common language and therefore suggests five broad dimensions commonly used to describe the human personality and psyche.
Self-knowledge is a term used in psychology to describe the information that an individual draws upon when finding an answer to the question "What am I like?".
Sensemaking or sense-making is the process by which people give meaning to their collective experiences. It has been defined as "the ongoing retrospective development of plausible images that rationalize what people are doing". The concept was introduced to organizational studies by Karl E. Weick in the 1970s and has affected both theory and practice. Weick intended to encourage a shift away from the traditional focus of organization theorists on decision-making and towards the processes that constitute the meaning of the decisions that are enacted in behavior.
Identity negotiation refers to the processes through which people reach agreements regarding "who is who" in their relationships. Once these agreements are reached, people are expected to remain faithful to the identities they have agreed to assume. The process of identity negotiation thus establishes what people can expect of one another. Identity negotiation thus provides the interpersonal "glue" that holds relationships together.
Douglas T. Kenrick is Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. His research and writing integrate three scientific syntheses of the last few decades: evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, and dynamical systems theory. He is author of over 170 scientific articles, books, and book chapters, the majority applying evolutionary ideas to human cognition and behavior.
Ethogenics is an interdisciplinary social scientific approach that attempts to understand the systems of belief or means through which individuals attach significance to their actions and form their identities by linking these to the larger structure of rules (norms) and cultural resources in society. For Rom Harré, the founder of ethogenics, it represents a radical innovation in traditional psychology, even a completely "new psychology" that should take its place..
Organizational Information Theory (OIT) is a communication theory, developed by Karl Weick, offering systemic insight into the processing and exchange of information within organizations and among its members. Unlike the past structure-centered theory, OIT focuses on the process of organizing in dynamic, information-rich environments. Given that, it contents that the main activity of organizations is the process of making sense of equivocal information. Organizational members are instrumental to reduce equivocality and achieve sensemaking through some strategies — enactment, selection, and retention of information. With a framework that is interdisciplinary in nature, organizational information theory's desire to eliminate both ambiguity and complexity from workplace messaging builds upon earlier findings from general systems theory and phenomenology.
The person–situation debate in personality psychology refers to the controversy concerning whether the person or the situation is more influential in determining a person's behavior. Personality trait psychologists believe that people have consistent personalities that guide their behaviors across situations. Situationists, opponents of the trait approach, argue that people are not consistent enough from situation to situation to be characterized by broad personality traits.
The lexical hypothesis is a thesis, current primarily in early personality psychology, and subsequently subsumed by many later efforts in that subfield. Despite some variation in its definition and application, the hypothesis is generally defined by two postulates. The first states that those personality characteristics that are important to a group of people will eventually become a part of that group's language. The second follows from the first, stating that more important personality characteristics are more likely to be encoded into language as a single word. With origins in the late 19th century, use of the lexical hypothesis began to flourish in English and German psychology in the early 20th century. The lexical hypothesis is a major foundation of the Big Five personality traits, the HEXACO model of personality structure and the 16PF Questionnaire and has been used to study the structure of personality traits in a number of cultural and linguistic settings.
Fear of negative evaluation (FNE) is a psychological construct reflecting "apprehension about others' evaluations, distress over negative evaluations by others, and the expectation that others would evaluate one negatively". The construct and a psychological test to measure it were defined by David Watson and Ronald Friend in 1969. FNE is related to specific personality dimensions, such as anxiousness, submissiveness, and social avoidance. People who score high on the FNE scale are highly concerned with seeking social approval or avoiding disapproval by others, and may tend to avoid situations where they have to undergo evaluations. High FNE subjects are also more responsive to situational factors. This has been associated with conformity, pro-social behavior, and social anxiety.