DLF fellowship & NIAS project

I’m honoured to have been awarded a Distinguished Lorentz Fellowship (DLF). This means I will be working on my project Tools for theory: Improving the theoretical foundations of psychological science at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS), Amsterdam.

project summary

Psychology has been reforming its own practices over the last decade. Most of that reform has focused on experiments and statistics while neglecting theory building. How can we build better theories? In this project I address this question by integrating ideas from computer science, philosophy, and psychology.

The history of cognitive science and mathematical psychology demonstrates the power of formal theory building. Adoption of a formal approach in areas such as cognitive, social, developmental and evolutionary psychology seem to have been hindered by unfamiliarity. Much of psychology is still primarily in the business of discovering and confirming “effects” rather than building solid theories. This leaves contemporary psychology without strong formal and computational foundations, an absence of theoretical rigor, and a proliferation of just-so stories. This project aims to address this problem. Building on the mathematical theory of computability and philosophy of science, I will develop ‘tools for theory’ and make them widely accessible.

I will also organize a Lorentz workshop titled What makes a good theory? Unifying interdisciplinary perspectives. The workshop will take place in 2021. Stay tuned for more info.

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Written on May 25, 2020