An appeal for a methodological fusion of conversation analysis and experimental psychology
journal contributionposted on 09.04.2019 by J.P. de Ruiter, Saul Albert
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©, Published with license by Taylor & Francis. © 2017 J. P. de Ruiter and Saul Albert. Human social interaction is studied by researchers in conversation analysis (CA) and psychology, but the dominant methodologies within these two disciplines are very different. Analyzing methodological differences in relation to major developments in the philosophy of science, we suggest that a central difference is that psychologists tend to follow Popper’s falsificationism in dissociating the context of discovery and the context of justification. In CA, following Garfinkel’s ethnomethodology, these two contexts are much closer to one another, if not inextricable. While this dissociation allows the psychologist a much larger theoretical freedom, because psychologists “only” need to validate their theories by generating confirmed predictions from experiments, it also carries the risk of generating theories that are less robust and pertinent to everyday interaction than the body of knowledge accumulated by CA. However, as long as key philosophical differences are well understood, it is not an inherently bad idea to generate predictions from theories and use quantitative and experimental methods to test them. It is both desirable and achievable to find a synthesis between methodologies that combines their strengths and avoids their weaknesses. We discuss a number of challenges that would need to be met and some opportunities that may arise from creating such a synthesis.
Saul Albert’s work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the Media and Arts Technology Programme, a Research Councils UK Centre for Doctoral Training (EP/G03723X/1).
- Social Sciences
- Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies