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psychologist's fallacy

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P hilosophy of social science William James 's term for the confusion of a psychologist's own characterizations of a mental state with the actual features of the original mental state that he is studying. It has different formulations, and can refer either to a psychologist's relation to the experience of others or to a person's comments on his own experience. The fallacy also arises from the psychologist's failure to recognize the hierarchy of relations of an original mental state. A person who possesses such a mental state may report at a higher level, and the psychologist will comment in turn on the report. He will believe that the original mental state may only have the characteristics he defines within his theory and will take his own knowledge as the whole sphere of knowledge about the object. With the formulation of this fallacy, James claimed that there is a gap between theoretical constructs and the experience on which they are based. “Another variety of the psychologist's fallacy is the assumption that the mental state studied must be conscious of itself as the psychologist is conscious of it.” W. James, The Principles of Psychology ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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