Saturday, July 15, 2017

Symposium in ISTP 2017

Next month, the 17th Biennial Conference of International Society for Theoretical Psychology will be held in Tokyo.

[The 17th Biennial Conference of The ISTP at Rikkyo University, Tokyo, August 21 - August 25, 2017]

Here I share the information on our symposium scheduled on August 24th, from 11:00 to 12:30.

Quest for new methods in phenomenological psychology

- Darren Langdridge (The Open University, United Kingdom)
- Tsuneo Watanabe (Toho University, Japan)
- Shogo Tanaka (Tokai University, Japan)

- Masayoshi Morioka (Ritsumeikan University, Japan)
[Aim and Scope]
Phenomenological psychology is understood as a psychological project for investigating the structure and the meanings of lived experiences of people as they are given in the Lifeworld. As its general methods, the researcher interviews participants who have a particular experience, and then, analyzes participants’ descriptions to explicate the structure of the experience (descriptive method), or interprets the narrated stories to understand the meanings of the experience (interpretative method). Diverse topics have been investigated so far including the experiences of empathy, mourning, parenting, and physical diseases, among others. Though the details of research methods are different in diverse schools, priority is given to interview data narrated by participants, because the research is oriented to understanding lived experiences from the first-person perspective. This symposium addresses theoretical problems related to this primary topic and investigates new research methods in phenomenological psychology. There are certain related questions: How can the researcher understand the experience of a participant that has a different perspective? What can the researcher do when a participant does not seem to communicate the experience as it is given, because of the influence of particular beliefs and preconceptions? Is it allowed to posit that the interview is a collaborative experience of both the participant and the researcher because they create the data together through dialogue? Is it possible to design studies in phenomenological psychology that do not use interviews? The panelists will refer to these fundamental questions, by showing examples from their own research methods.

[Abstract 1] Darren Langdridge (The Open University, UK)
“Making space for suspicion: introducing a critical narrative methodology”
Phenomenological research methods have developed with a strong theoretical and practical opposition to psychoanalytically informed methodologies. One consequence of this opposition is that practitioners of these methods have sought to distance themselves from the hermeneutic of suspicion (Ricoeur, 1970). They have instead concentrated on a hermeneutic of meaning-recollection or empathy (Ricoeur, 1970), which prioritises the expressed experience of participants. This shift in focus has provided a valuable corrective to the worst excesses of the deterministic hermeneutic of suspicion, which subjugates the participant's experience to that of the researcher. However, one of the major problems in analysing a person's experience is that it is not just expressed in language but also shaped by it. Because of this, we cannot always take what people say at face value, as a direct and faithful account of their experience. I intend to explore the possibility of applying ideas from Paul Ricoeur to the research process and in the process demonstrate how it is possible to account for power and politics within a phenomenological research methodology. To this end, I introduce a relatively new method, Critical Narrative Analysis, which accounts for the effects of language and the lived experience of participants. I argue that this theoretical perspective, which employs imaginative rather than depth hermeneutics, grounded in critical social theory, provides a way forward for phenomenological theory and practice which recognises the need for political critique without imposing deterministic frameworks of meaning onto the data and thus stays true to the phenomenological project.

[Abstract 2] Tsuneo Watanabe (Toho University, Japan)
“Phenomenological elucidation of dreams based on Intentionalities: A new horizon for Husserlian analysis of dreams”
This is a study of dream analysis based on Husserlian intentionalities. This type of analysis, or phenomenological elucidation, is an attempt not only to describe experiences but also to answer the question “why….?” For example, “why is it possible to become someone else in dreams?” Phenomenological elucidation is, nevertheless, neither a scientific explanation nor a psychoanalytical interpretation, but a process of identifying phenomenological structures behind individual examples. In this dream analysis, by comparing each “dream text” with its corresponding “real text”, fundamental phenomenological structural differences were extracted as different kinds of intentionality, which result in answers to the question “why….?” For example, the real text, “I imagine “I am Harry Potter”” is transformed into a dream text “I am Harry Potter”, because “re-presentation (Vergegenwärtigung)” in the real world is transformed into “presentation (Gegenwärtigung)” in the dream world. The reason why “re-presentations” are transformed into “presentations” will be further elucidated based on Husserlian theories of imagination and intersubjectivity. I have used examples from my own “dream-diary” website. Using the investigators’ own reports on their personal websites is expected to facilitated anyone with the ability and motivation to describe their own experiences, as well as “professionals”, to participate in phenomenological investigations, not only as participants but also as investigators. The phenomenological difference between exclusively using descriptions of investigators’ own experiences and, as is used in many studies, relying on others’ experiences will be discussed in conclusion.

[Abstract 3] Shogo Tanaka (Tokai University, Japan)
“Psychological experiments as a sort of imaginative variation”
In this symposium, I would like to consider possible connections between phenomenology and psychological experiments. Major approaches in phenomenological psychology emphasize the importance of interviews in research practice because data collected through interviews are the primary descriptions of lived experiences. However, phenomenological research does not constitute only of descriptions but of exploring the invariable structure of lived experiences. Husserl himself emphasized the importance of using the method of imaginative variation in this step. In my opinion, diverse results of psychological experiments can be utilized to expand the possibilities of imaginative variation. For example, Merleau-Ponty described how the lived body extends its sensitivity by incorporating tools into it. According to his view, using tools through dynamic interactions with the environment, in other words, incorporating tools through bodily movements, is the essence of this phenomenon. However, experiments on the rubber hand illusion show that simultaneous input of visual and tactile stimuli is the primary condition for inducing extensions of sensitivity and that movement is unnecessary. Generally speaking, psychological experiments have the advantage of controlling diverse conditions inherent in experiences as independent variables in experimental settings. They do not serve to describe lived experiences themselves but serve to elucidate conditions of certain experiences. In this sense, psychological experiments can inform theoretical investigations in phenomenology, especially in the process of identifying structures of lived experiences through imaginative variation.