In defence of a multi-paradigmatic approach to theory development in community psychology

Williams, G.A. ORCID: 0000-0001-8656-9289, 2016. In defence of a multi-paradigmatic approach to theory development in community psychology. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 7 (2), pp. 1-7. ISSN 2163-8667

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It was once said, "There is nothing more practical than a good theory" (Lewin, 1952, p. 169) and yet Community Psychology (CP) as a practical discipline is beset with a theory-practice gulf that does not appear to be narrowing. The article by Jason, Stevens, Ram, Miller, Beasley, and Gleason (2016) plays a commendable role in outlining the challenges faced by community-based researchers and practitioners in developing, testing and utilizing theoretical approaches that could reliably benefit the health and well-being of target groups in a community. Quite rightly, Jason et al. (2016) have acknowledged that theories used in the field of CP should more accurately be termed as frameworks, rather than constituting actual theories, since theories would be expected to offer a comprehensive methodology for explaining and predicting behaviors in a range of settings. And herein lies the problem… Should the CP discipline be aimed at transposing findings, and theories, developed from research conducted in one type of social environment to a host of other potentially similar social settings? Researchers and practitioners alike may experience tensions in attempting to replicate an intervention, based on a theory, with other samples and settings. There are recent worrying trends from one study to show that with "the current (selective) publication system [in academic journals], replications may increase bias in effect size estimates" (Nuijten, et al., 2015, p.172). Likewise, we find there is a tendency in academia to avoid publishing non-significant findings (Franco, Malhotra, & Simonvits, 2014), even though a more honest and transparent approach to theory development and testing in CP would be through registration of hypotheses before a study has commenced, just as Jason et al. (2016) have endorsed. This would certainly be a way forward, but until funding agencies and academic journals are unified in their insistence for all a priori hypotheses to be communicated prior to conducting a study, this may be only one way to build theories that are trustworthy in the field of CP.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice
Creators: Williams, G.A.
Publisher: Vincent T. Francisco
Date: February 2016
Volume: 7
Number: 2
ISSN: 2163-8667
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 21 May 2018 10:51
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2018 11:17

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