I received my PhD in Personality and Social Psychology at New York University in 1982 and spent the subsequent 20 years working at Bell Labs / AT&T / Lucent Technologies. Since 2002, I have taught General Psychology, Cognition, Motivation & Emotion, and Advanced Topics in Personality as a full-time non-tenure-track instructor at Rutgers.
For the past several years my interest has been in theoretical and philosophical psychology. I have been pondering a set of related questions that have persisted in the discipline of psychology since its earliest days and which remain topics of vigorous discussion among theoretical psychologists today: To what extent can the study of persons be scientific? If the scientific approach is entirely inappropriate to address the most important psychological phenomena (which some would argue) or if science is appropriate but insufficient to provide adequate explanations of the person (which others would assert), what else then can psychology be?
Several alternatives to the scientific approach, typically called “critical psychologies,” have been offered by theoretical and philosophical psychologists, including hermeneutics, social constructionism, relational theory, pragmatic psychology, critical personalism, and others.
My work seeks to harmonize, to the extent possible, scientific and critical approaches to psychology. When would it be better to view persons as agentic (that is, exercising some form of “free will”) and when would it be better to promote scientific, causal explanations of psychological phenomena? Can these different approaches be connected in some way, and if so, how?