Statistically, if there is one example there are others. For instance, if one child cries when a dog growls, somewhere another one will, too. After this, what comes into play are known as continua, sum amounts, thresholds and such: How loud does the child cry? How long does it cry? How much aversion to dogs does it retain into the future? The concept of continua is closely related to the statistical concept of the "standard", "normal", or "bell-shaped" distribution.
All statistical findings imply that at the ends of the continuum lie the extreme cases, while toward the middle of the continuum lie the average ones. There are almost always more average examples than there are extreme ones, as the bell curve flattens out into homogeneity. Returning to the dog and child example, only very few children will come away from the experience with either no fear of dogs or absolute terror of them. Instead, most children will develop feelings between these two extremes.
In order to come up with a theory of something, you must first have an idea about, or scheme for interpreting, the subject matter. Observation is often the first step. So now. If you want to study human behavior, who's the closest person you have available for an in depth study? You are! Know thyself.
Even though there are different theories of human behavior, they are all related in a fundamental way through their sharing of the same subject matter, people. I believe that the normal distribution can be a bridgeway between the different theories. Is it possible to turn concepts into z scores? To some extent, yes. For example, the two closely related concepts of mind structures and ego states compare quite nicely. Freud's concepts of the Id, Ego and Superego correspond roughly to the Child, Adult and Parental ego states of Eric Berne.
In science, there's always debate over the appropriateness and efficacy of studying the healthy vs. unhealthy examples. In other words: is it more useful to study a system in good working order, or to study one with problems in order to learn about it? In my opinion, both approaches are adaquate, they'll just bring us different information. Personally, during my life I've had much more opportunity to study systems that were anything but normal and "in good working order", as opposed to those that ran well. For that reason, I am typically drawn more to studying the different...the exception...the struggling. Hence, my theoretical interest in psychopathy.
The entire realm of the website "http://www.syntheory.com" is copyright © 2000-2014
by Ken Windish. All rights reserved.
General permission is granted to copy and disseminate the contents of this webpage for fair and reasonable uses within the world of academia, provided that the source is properly cited and credited. Duplications for uses other than academic, must be granted through written permission from the copyright owner.