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Content Analysis of Undergraduate Psychology Textbooks

Resource Type
Dataset : text, observational data
  • O'Donohue, William
Other Title
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Publication Place
Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
Free Keywords
Schema: ICPSR
academic disciplines; academic standards; colleges; course content; courses; evaluation; learning; philosophy; science; science education; students
  • Abstract

    Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors in American universities, despite the fact that the discipline still has many unsettled questions regarding fundamental philosophical and methodological issues. These issues may be associated with a lack of clarity regarding an accurate conception of science and the nature of the relationship between psychology and science with respect to these controversies. Kuhn (1967) has suggested that scientific paradigms are transmitted in textbooks. To understand how the scientific status of psychology is depicted, 30 undergraduate textbooks were examined. Textbooks were examined on the following categories: What constitutes science is controversial; Bad (Pseudo) science; Second demarcation problem; Deductive stance; Inductive stance; Verisimilitude/tentativeness of science; Theory ladenness of facts; The role of theory in hypothesis formation; The role of competing theories (i.e. Laudan); Social constructionism (vs. natural kinds); Rhetorical views of science; Science and biases (e.g., political influences); The role of ad hoc hypotheses; Evolutionary epistemology; Recognition of conceptual problems (i.e. is it important for science to address conceptual problems or only empirical ones?); Kuhnian paradigms; Mature vs pre-paradigm sciences; Strict method vs "anything goes" (i.e. Feyerabend).; Introductory, cognitive, social, and abnormal textbooks were examined.
  • Abstract

    The purpose of the study was to understand how the scientific status of psychology is depicted in American universities by examining 30 introductory, cognitive, social, and abnormal psychology textbooks for undergraduate students.
  • Methods

    The research team examined 30 textbooks by coding for 18 different categories of analysis, in accordance with a coding scheme for each category. A codebook included with the study provides definitions for the 18 categories and the coding criteria for each category.
  • Abstract


    • DS1: Dataset
Sampled Universe
Textbooks used in undergraduate psychology courses Smallest Geographic Unit: None
A convenience sample of thirty textbooks were selected from undergraduate psychology courses taught at the University of Nevada, Reno in addition to textbooks located in the University Library, textbook samples obtained from publishers, and electronic copies found on
Collection Mode
  • coded on-site observation
One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the study documentation to learn more on how to obtain the data.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 36966 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)

Update Metadata: 2017-12-20 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2017-12-20

O'Donohue, William (2017): Content Analysis of Undergraduate Psychology Textbooks. Version 1. Version: v1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.