The functional‐cognitive meta‐theoretical framework: Reflections, possible clarifications and how to move forward

Dermot Barnes‐Holmes, Ian Hussey
Published Online:
16 Apr 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 51 Issue 1

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The functional‐cognitive meta‐theoretical framework has been offered as a conceptual basis for facilitating greater communication and cooperation between the functional/behavioural and cognitive traditions within psychology, thus leading to benefits for both scientific communities. The current article is written from the perspective of two functional researchers, who are also proponents of the functional‐cognitive framework, and attended the “Building Bridges between the Functional and Cognitive Traditions” meeting at Ghent University in the summer of 2014. The article commences with a brief summary of the functional approach to theory, followed by our reflections upon the functional‐cognitive framework in light of that meeting. In doing so, we offer three ways in which the framework could be clarified: (a) effective communication between the two traditions is likely to be found at the level of behavioural observations rather than effects or theory, (b) not all behavioural observations will be deemed to be of mutual interest to both traditions, and (c) observations of mutual interest will be those that serve to elaborate and extend existing theorising in the functional and/or cognitive traditions. The article concludes with a summary of what we perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of the framework, and a suggestion that there is a need to determine if the framework is meta‐theoretical or is in fact a third theoretical approach to doing psychological science.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science