What is the status of theoretical psychology in Australia and New Zealand? An investigation of contemporary teaching and research issues

Gavin Brent Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Theoretical investigation has a contested focus on conceptual, philosophical and non-empirical issues in psychology that is rarely examined empirically. This paper explores the status of theoretical psychology as scholarly research and its location in the curricula of Australian and New Zealand psychology departments. Nine self-identified theoretical psychologists and 2 psychological society representatives were interviewed. Participant responses and an examination of department websites indicated that theoretical psychology and advanced theoretical units are offered mainly in third year and honours levels. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed contrasting views of theoretical psychology as a subdiscipline or distributed throughout the curriculum, challenges to theoretical psychology as teaching and research activities, and a need for debate about the place of theoretical teaching and research in the discipline. The study recommends further empirical investigations to evaluate the presumed utility of reflexive, critical and metatheoretical skills and to assess anecdotal reports of theory in decline .
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61 - 73
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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