Investigating psychology
Investigating psychology

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Investigating psychology

1 Perspectives: Phenomenology

In this section you will use the CHIP resource to explore the subject of Phenomenology.

Activity 1

Open the CHIP resource [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] in a new tab in your web browser and click the ‘Start Investigating Psychology’ link.

As you will remember from Session 2, each node in the star field represents a single person, context, perspective or method according to the timeline at the bottom.

Go to the ‘Perspectives’ tab at the top of the star field and read the entry for Phenomenological. Then come back to this activity and answer the following questions:

  1. Phenomenology is not strictly psychological because it was originally the philosophical approach of Edmund Husserl.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is b.

Answer

The philosophy called ‘phenomenology’ was proposed by Edmund Husserl, who was a student of one of the earliest modern psychologists, Franz Brentano. Before becoming the name of a philosophy, phenomenology was part of Brentano’s descriptive psychology.

  1. The ‘natural attitude’ means taking for granted that the world we perceive is a reality that exists outside of ourselves.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is a.

Answer

The natural attitude is the everyday, common-sense view of the world. What phenomenologists do is to question and suspend the natural attitude, and hence concentrate on the experience itself, as it is lived. To focus on experience, it is helpful to ‘bracket out’ questions of the external or internal world and to concentrate instead on the detail and qualities of the experience. (This ‘bracketing’ is also known as ‘epoché’.)

  1. From a phenomenological perspective, emotions such as jealousy are understood in terms of the evolutionary advantages that they have for those experiencing that emotion.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is b.

Answer

This is the kind of explanation that might be offered by an evolutionary psychologist. A phenomenological psychologist would bracket out genetic explanations and attend to the nature of the jealous experience.

  1. The phenomenological concept of ‘intentionality’ concerns actions that are freely chosen.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is b.

Answer

Brentano’s concept of intentionality is the observation that mental states always have objects that they are ‘about’. Thoughts, for example, are thoughts about something (the object of thought may be ‘what shall I do tomorrow?’ or ‘why was my sister mean to me last night?’). This is also the case for feelings (we are not just jealous, but jealous about something), memories (we do not just have memory, but a memory about someone or something), perceptions (we do not just ‘see’, but see, for example, this sunset or that approaching person), and so on.

  1. The ‘lifeworld’ is the world insofar as it is experientially relevant to a given person. It is a concept that enables phenomenologists to situate experiences in meaningful social and historical contexts.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is a.

Answer

This concept was developed by Husserl, but was also taken forward in the work of Martin Heidegger, who emphasised the importance of relationships, time and the broader environment to every human experience (he used the phrase ‘being-in-the-world’ to get at this). This concept makes phenomenology relevant to social psychology, since it stresses that there is no such thing as an individual with no context. It also forms a bridge to social constructionism.

CHIP_1

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