Behavioral science research reminds me of the fabled Rocky Mountain oil shale deposits: Both are reservoirs of tremendous potential value, locked up in a framework that makes tapping that potential next to impossible.
Solving the oil shale problem seems to require better and stronger technology; solving the behavioral science research problem requires better and stronger conceptualization. Fortunately, that conceptualization is available and well-developed, in the powerful conceptual net called Descriptive Psychology. What is called for now is a thorough reconsideration of behavioral science research, to create a fresh understanding of what has been discovered that unlocks the value in the findings.
Let me be clear: since at least the 1970’s an enormous body of sound empirical research has been accomplished in behavioral science, including, among many other domains, behavioral economics, social psychology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience. I take these findings as given. It is not my intention to question the findings; rather I intend to question the explanations researchers have given of their findings, and to offer other, more plausible and considerably more powerful explanations in their place.
As Omar Khayyam said in a different context, I intend to “Take the cash, and let the credit go.”
Here’s a specific example: Continue reading Take the Cash and Let the Credit Go