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Hist Psychol. 2013 Feb;16(1):36-56. doi: 10.1037/a0030532. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

The vocabulary of anglophone psychology in the context of other subjects.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Brock University, Canada. john.benjafield@brocku.ca

Abstract

Anglophone psychology shares its vocabulary with several other subjects. Some of the more obvious subjects that have parts of their vocabulary in common with Anglophone psychology include biology (e.g., dominance), chemistry (e.g., isomorphism), philosophy (e.g., phenomenology), and theology (e.g., mediator). Using data from the Oxford English Dictionary as well as other sources, the present study explored the history of these common vocabularies, with a view to broadening our understanding of the relation between the history of psychology and the histories of other subjects. It turns out that there are at least 156 different subjects that share words with psychology. Those that have the most words in common with psychology are mathematics, biology, physics, medicine, chemistry, philosophy, law, music, linguistics, electricity, pathology, and computing. Words that have senses in other subjects and have their origins in ordinary language are used more frequently as PsycINFO keywords than words that were invented specifically for use in psychology. These and other results are interpreted in terms of the ordinary language roots of the vocabulary of Anglophone psychology and other subjects, the degree to which operational definitions have determined the meaning of the psychological senses of words, the role of the psychologist in interdisciplinary research, and the validity of psychological essentialism.

PMID:
23394175
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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