Problematic images of science in undergraduate psychology textbooks: How well is science understood and depicted?

Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors in American universities, despite the fact that the discipline still has many unsettled questions regarding fundamental philosophical and methodological issues (Lilienfeld, 2012; O’Donohue, 2013). These issues may be associated with a lack of clarity regarding an accurate conception of science and the nature of the relationship between psychology and science with respect to these controversies. Kuhn (1972) has suggested that scientific paradigms are transmitted in textbooks. To understand how the scientific status of psychology is depicted, 30 undergraduate textbooks were examined. It was hypothesized that across textbooks authors would be inconsistent regarding how science was characterized. This hypothesis was tentatively supported. It also was hypothesized that key controversies in metascience simply would be ignored and support was also found regarding this hypothesis suggesting that the proffered definitions of science were often simplistic. This analysis underscores the importance of a more consistent, accurate, and detailed presentation of the science for undergraduate psychology students, as well as the need for further scholarship in this area. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)