Call for Papers: General Psychology revisited (Journal für Psychologie)

Issue 1/2018: Journal für Psychologie

The Journal für Psychologie calls for contributions to inaugurate and continue a critical discourse about general psychology.

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General Psychology in academia today often resembles a very specific and canonical understanding of research topics, mostly based on a natural science methodology. Central questions are frequently concerned with low level human (or animal) abilities, the basic psychological functions. Starting with high hopes to learn something about the human mind and get a grasp of the human psyche, students often become disillusioned in face of the material with which they are presented in 101 introductory classes: Topics such as perception, cognition, learning, motivation and emotion appear only loosely connected. And in recent years, neuroscience approaches are increasingly dominating the answers to questions raised in those fields. Higher functions and questions of human existence are neglected and pushed to other disciplines like philosophy, anthropology or cultural studies. Most importantly, the subject matter of the discipline, inscribed in its name, disappears from the focus entirely. The psyche or the question of a psychological existence remains mostly untreated.

Special issue 1/2018 of Journal für Psychologie aims to revisit the central questions of a general psychology. To what extent should general psychology raise questions concerning the human being from a psychological point of view; questions connected to hopes and dreams, fears and relationships to others, self-perception and worldview?

In other words: Can we pluralize research and shift from mostly separated and disconnected areas of lower functions towards a renewed holistic image of the psychological person? What would be the consequences of such a reversal in polarity?

If we understand the human being as an active subject which acts deliberately and voluntarily to construct their Umwelt given specific social circumstances including culture, language, spacial and temporal experience, a whole new array of phenomena comes into sight: relationships, course of life, the self, artistic work, faith and belief systems etc.

In light of these questions, we would like to invite our colleagues from psychology and neighboring disciplines to contribute ideas about a revised general psychology. Concretely, but not exclusively, the following questions could be points of departure:

  • Questions of epistemology: What is the subject matter of psychology? Can this subject matter be exhaustively captured? How can we reflect upon the limits of such a subject matter?
  • Questions of interdisciplinary: To what extent is interdisciplinary research needed to answer psychological questions? What are the differences between biological, philosophical, sociological, historical and psychological questions?
  • Questions of normativity: To what extent are psychological questions necessarily driven by ideas of a good life and a functional society? Alternatively: To what extent should psychology be concerned with the external control of human behavior?
  • Questions of relativity: To what extent is the constitution of a psychic life shaped by culture, history and language? Is psychology universal or culturally specific?
  • Questions concerning the foundation of the discipline: What historical roots from psychology, philosophy, sociology, cultural studies and neighboring disciplines are useful to understand the psyche as a general, complex and holistic phenomenon?
  • Questions of teaching and education: Given the questions raised above, how could the ways in which general psychology is taught at universities today be changed?

The editors of this special issue are Ralph Sichler (Wien) and Martin Dege (Berlin). If you would like to contribute to this special issue, please submit your abstract (1 page) until March 31 to



Feedback will be sent out until mid April and final contributions should be submitted by September 15, 2017.