Another Look at Meehl, Lakatos, and the Scientific Practices of Psychologists

Reuven Dar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines current research methodology in psychology in the context of Serlin and Lapsley's response to Meehl's critiques of the scientific practices of psychologists. The argument is made that Serlin and Lapsley's appeal to Lakatos's philosophy of science to defend the rationality of null hypothesis tests and related practices misrepresents that philosophy. It is demonstrated that Lakatos in fact considered psychology an extremely poor science lacking true research programs, an opinion very much in line with Meehl's critique. The present essay speculates on the reasons for Lakatos's negative opinion and reexamines the role of null hypothesis tests in relation to the quality of theories in psychology. It is concluded that null hypothesis tests are destructive to theory building and directly related to Meehl's observation of slow progress in soft psychology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-151
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1987
Externally publishedYes


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