The Discursive Social Psychology of Evidence: Symbolic Construction of Reality

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Having spent more than thirty years in the laboratory studying human behavior under preformatted, controlled conditions, I found myself dissatisfied with my work. It is not that my work produced no new findings on human conduct, or that working almost exclusively with college students gave me little information on other groups of people, but that the study of human beings in the laboratory told me little about the people themselves. Having been born in Europe, socialized in the Middle East, and educated in the United States, I had entered the profession of psychology in order to better understand different people's behavior. What I found instead was that under uniform conditions, imposed by the laboratory, people responded more or less in uniform manners. The resulting behavior told me little about the people and more about my laboratory. After considerable search for a better understanding of my own formal training in psychology on the one hand and my diversified cultural background on the other, I began to see that these two early influences clashed in some basic manner. Upon further reflection it occurred to me that my own radical transformation in a period of six years, from a poorly educated (elementary school only) adult to a doctor of philosophy, made me see a different world. My earlier world of reality revolved around forms of evidence that were not only never questioned by me, but v vi PREFACE were themselves highly unreliable.