Investigating the Psychological World

From Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology

Investigating the Psychological World

Scientific Method in the Behavioral Sciences

By Brian D. Haig

A broad theory of research methodology for psychology and the behavioral sciences that offers a coherent treatment of a range of behavioral research methods.

Bradford Books





A broad theory of research methodology for psychology and the behavioral sciences that offers a coherent treatment of a range of behavioral research methods.

This book considers scientific method in the behavioral sciences, with particular reference to psychology. Psychologists learn about research methods and use them to conduct their research, but their training teaches them little about the nature of scientific method itself. In Investigating the Psychological World, Brian Haig fills this gap. Drawing on behavioral science methodology, the philosophy of science, and statistical theory, Haig constructs a broad theory of scientific method that has particular relevance for the behavioral sciences. He terms this account of method the abductive theory of method (ATOM) in recognition of the importance it assigns to explanatory reasoning. ATOM offers the framework for a coherent treatment of a range of quantitative and qualitative behavioral research methods, giving equal treatment to data-analytic methods and methods of theory construction.

Haig draws on the new experimentalism in the philosophy of science to reconstruct the process of phenomena detection as it applies to psychology; he considers the logic and purpose of exploratory factor analysis; he discusses analogical modeling as a means of theory development; and he recommends the use of inference to the best explanation for evaluating theories in psychology. Finally, he outlines the nature of research problems, discusses the nature of the abductive method, and describes applications of the method to grounded theory method and clinical reasoning. The book will be of interest not only to philosophers of science but also to psychological researchers who want to deepen their conceptual understanding of research methods and methodological concerns.

Bradford Books imprint


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262027366 224 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • In this important, engaging book, Brian Haig combines a deep understanding of philosophy of science, methods of psychological research, and even statistics to produce an original theory of how research can productively proceed from data, to phenomena, to theory, to understanding.

    David Funder

    Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Riverside; and author of The Personality Puzzle and Personality Judgment: A Realistic Approach to Person Perception

  • Brian Haig builds a systematic explanation-centered account of research methodology, critically reflects on methodological instruction, and positions methodology as a distinct field of inquiry. Haig's thoughtful and integrative book challenges received views while remaining accessible, instructive, and illuminating for readers with different assumptions. The resulting contribution is substantial.

    Keith A. Markus

    Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York; and coauthor of Frontiers of Test Validity Theory: Measurement, Causation, and Meaning