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A New Unified Theory of Psychology


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Table of Contents

I.-Introduction and Background.-From Racing Horses to Seeing the Elephant.-The Problem of Psychology.-The Tree of Knowledge System.-Behavioral Investment Theory.-The Influence Matrix.-The Justification Hypothesis.-II.Applying the Unified Theory to Psychotherapy and Psychological Phenomena.-Unifying Psychotherapy.-Depression as a State of Behavioral Shutdown.-A Conceptual Map of Well-Being.-Integrating Perspectives on Intimate Partner Violence.-III.Conclusion.-Toward the 5th Joint Point.

About the Author

Dr. Gregg Henriques is Associate Professor and Director of the Combined-Integrated Doctoral Program in Clinical and School Psychology at James Madison University. He received his Masters degree in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 1996 and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Vermont in 1999. Prior to coming to JMU in 2003, he spent four years at the University of Pennsylvania where he worked with Dr. Aaron T. Beck, exploring the effectiveness of psychotherapy for individuals who recently attempted suicide. Dr. Henriques has been working on the Tree of Knowledge System for just over a decade. During his Masters degree, he had become interested in the field of psychotherapy integration and began surveying diverse bodies of literature. It was late in 1996, while he was reading up on research in social cognitive theory, evolutionary psychology and psychodynamic theory that he had the key insight that led to the Justification Hypothesis. Six months after that pivotal idea, he had developed the basic structure of the Tree of Knowledge System.


From the reviews:"...the author takes on the extremely ambitious challenge of defining psychology, articulating conceptually its relations with other sciences, identifying its key theoretical principles, and resolving its various schisms (research/practice, neuroscience/social science, animal/human, bewildering array of seemingly nonoverlapping theories and therapies)...He has a terrific ability to describe, analyze, and summarize in a few pages massive and complicated areas of research (attributions, cognitive dissonance, behavioral models of depression.......) without getting bogged down in study details...I especially enjoyed the more personal details and anecdotes the book format gave him the space to include -- e.g., development of the "Justification Hypothesis" as the "joint point" between Mind and Culture takes off from his reflections on why he was late getting home for dinner one night in grad school. And some of his comments on psychotherapy integration take as point of departure detailed analysis of what he observed as project director for a clinical trial of cognitive therapy in prevention of recurrent suicide attempts that never made the final published report of the study...All told, it's not light reading, but if you enjoy thinking about big picture topics you will find a lot of food for thought here." (Dave Haaga, American University, September 2011)"Like sociology and anthropology, psychology is defined by incompatible competing schools of thought.and cannot be considered a mature science, because there is no sense in which each generation of researchers builds upon the core analytical insights of previous generations of researchers... This book is written for clinical and research psychologists, and hence avoids the sort of mathematical model building and axiomatization that is characteristic of mature sciences... Henriques notes that it is almost impossible to define contemporary psychology because many psychologists consider psychology to be a theory of the workings of the mind, while others deny the notion of "mind" altogether, and limit themselves to modeling observed behavior. For this reason, Henriques takes his first goal to be that of "locating" the field ontologically. He argues that there is a Tree of Knowledge with four segments. The first is "Matter," which is studied by physics, chemistry, geology, and astronomy. The second is "Life," studied by biology. The third is "Mind," which is the subject matter of psychology, and the fourth, and highest, is "Culture," studied by the social sciences. Henriques pays special attention to the three points of junction between segments of the Tree of Knowledge. He says the Matter-Life junction is modeled by biological evolutionary theory, the Life-Mind junction is modeled by what he calls Behavioral Investment Theory, and the Mind-Culture junction is modeled by what he calls Justification Theory. By Behavioral Investment Theory, Henriques means essentially the rational choice model of decision, biological and economic theory, although he adds a dimension of complexity to human behavior by saying that Justification Theory requires a "rational emotional actor" that is not properly modeled in standard rational choice theory (p., 46). I might add that Henriques also includes game theory as part of Behavioral Investment Theory, simply because decision-making when there are multiple agents involved requires game-theoretic reasoning. This point of view is basic to economic theory. In biology, the extension of decision theory (e.g., foraging theory) to game theory was pioneered by John Maynard Smith, Evolution and the Theory of Games (Cambridge University Press, 1982), and now is standard in all of animal behavior theory. In Henriques' innovative terminology, social interactions are governed by an "Influence Matrix," which is part of the psychology of the individual that regulates how the individual relates to others. Henriques stresses the emotional side of such interaction and avoids all game theoretic reasoning as well as any analysis of the role of incentives and payoffs in the choice of behaviors governed by the Influence Matrix... I believe Henriques' espousal of Behavioral Investment Theory is the most important integrating concept in this book. If this principle alone were incorporated uniformly throughout research psychology, it would provide much of the sought-for analytical core...A New Unified Theory of Psychology is terrifically challenging, to the point of perhaps being a new beginning for psychology as a research discipline." (Herb Gintis, Santa Fe Institute and Central European University, September 2011)"Offers a set of nested frameworks that puts different parts of psychological research and practice into a coherent relationship with each other. ... It is also helpful that the book has excellent transitions, with summaries frequently reminding the readers where they have been and anticipating where they are going. ... If I could teach a graduate-level Introduction to Psychology, this would be the book. If I could recommend one book to colleagues distraught at the fragmented nature of the field, this would be the book." (Eric P. Charles, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 57 (26), July, 2012)

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