Adam Finneman

Faculty Faculty of Social and Behavorial Science
Psychology – Psychological Methods
University of Amsterdam

Theory Construction in Complex Psychological Systems

Borsboom et al. (2020) propose a procedure for developing theoretical models of psychological phenomena – a theory construction methodology (TCM). This PhD project asks how theory development in psychology can be done in line with slow science (Frith, 2020). The view that fast science is bad for science and scientists because too much and too poor research is being done.

The first project of the PhD will analyse early catastrophe modelling as a case of fast-paced science undermining itself. Learning from history the project will develop principles for slow and robust catastrophe theory construction.
The second project applies slow catastrophe modelling and the TCM to the topic of belief traps and develops a blueprint for this process. This topic is chosen because belief traps arguably constitute a generic mechanism that can be coupled wither other models in the process
of capturing more complex phenomena involving false beliefs such as political polarization or psychosis.
The last year of the PhD will be dedicated to such collaborative modelling with other researchers. Taken together these three steps aim at understanding what slow science means for individual researchers’ modelling process and how the TCM can be amended with principles of slow theorizing.

Prof. Denny Borsboom
Prof. Han van der Maas
Dr. Sacha Epskamp

1 October 2020 – 1 July 2024