A Primer in Theory Construction is for those who have already studied one or more of the social, behavioral, or natural sciences, but have no formal introduction to the way theories are constructed, stated, tested, and connected together to form a scientific body of knowledge. The author discusses scientific theories in general terms, but also addresses the special challenges of developing scientific knowledge about social and human phenomena.
This Allyn and Bacon Classics Edition contains the complete text of the original copyright 1971 version, with new typography and page design.
INTRODUCTION For What Should Scientific Knowledge Be Useful? Typologies, Prediction and Explanation, Sense of Understanding, Control Theory How Does a Concept or Statement Become Part of a Scientific Body of Knowledge? Desirable Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge--Abstractness, Intersubjectivity (Meaning), Intersubjectivity (Logical Rigor), Empirical Relevance Summary and Conclusion 2. THE IDEA Kuhn Paradigms Example: Freud's Theory of Personality Paradigms Examples: Heider's Balance Theory; Two Conceptions Of Status Structures: Elitist and Pluralistic Paradigm Variations Examples: Variations on the Freudian Conception of Personality; Variations on Heider's Balance Theory Identifying Paradigms Conclusion 3. CONCEPTS Definition of Concepts Abstract vs. Concrete Concepts Concept Measurement Quantification of Concepts--The Nominal Level, The Ordinal Level, The Interval Level, General Comments on Quantification 4. STATEMENTS Existence Statements Relational Statements--Associational Statements, Casual Statements, Deterministic and Probabilistic Statements Levels of Abstraction Theoretical Statements Relation of Theoretical Statements to Theory Relationship between Theoretical Statements and Empirical Data Summary 5. FORMS OF THEORIES The Set-of-Laws Form Examples: The Iron Law Of Oligarchy; The Laws of Operant Behavior; The Exercise of Influence in Small Groups The Axiomatic Form Example: The Exercise of Influence in Small Groups The Casual Process Form Examples: The Effect of First Impressions on Cognitions; Creation of Oligarchies; Operant Behavior, Law II; The Exercise Of Influence in Small Groups; Status Incongruence and Mental Health Evaluation of the Three Forms of Theory Simulation or Model Building Summary 6. TESTING THEORIES Abstract Statements and Concrete Research Empirical Research and Confidence in Abstract Statements Statisical Decision Procedures--Classical Statistical Inference; Should the Hypothesis be Presented before the Data are examined? Changing Confidence in Theories Comparing Theories Conclusion 7. STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPING A SCIENTIFIC BODY OF KNOWLEDGE Research-The-Theory Theory-Then-Research Comparison of Strategies How to get a New Idea Composite Approach Research Methods Conclusion 8. CONCLUSION Potential for a Social Science Potential for a Social Science APPENDIX: STUDENT EXERCISES Comments Assignment 1: Empirical Generalization and Empirical Support Assignment II: Explanation of an Empirical Generalization Assignment III: Testing a Theory Assignment IV: Application of Theories to Natural Phenomena REFERENCES AUTHOR INDEX SUBJECT INDEX