Back to the phenomena: Theory, methods, and statistics in psychological research


  • David Magnusson

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Sweden
    • Psykologiska Institutionen, Stockholms Universitet, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
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  • An earlier version of this paper was presented at the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Zeitschrift für Psychologie in Berlin, 12–16 July 1990 and published in the Zeitschrift für Psychologie, Suppl. 11, pp. 61–70, 1991.


In this paper the role of four interdependent elements of the research process is discussed: namely the phenomena with which the problem under consideration is concerned (i.e. individual thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions), theories, methods for the collection of the data, and statistical procedures for data analysis. It is stated that the appropriate use of theory, method, and statistics must be based on systematic analyses and descriptions of the phenomena per se.