• Epistemology, theory and Jung: Towards an analytical sport psychology

      Sheffield, David; Cowen, Andrew; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2019-07-22)
      Sport psychology has historically adopted a positivist and post-positivist conceptualization of science at the expense of systematic engagement with epistemology itself (Whaley & Krane, 2011). In this thesis it will be argued that positivist orthodoxy does not hold a monopoly over the idea of science, and that future theoretical developments within sport psychology will require more systematic engagement with epistemology. In order to explore this proposition, the thesis examines the epistemology developed in C. G. Jung’s analytical psychology, an approach which has been generally overlooked within the sport psychology literature. In addition, more recent epistemological developments within psychology are considered with respect to current and future theorising within sport psychology. The thesis is a “desktop study” comprising of 8 chapters. The introduction (chapter 1) outlines how the current crisis within psychological science is epistemological, not methodological, in nature. Chapter 2 identifies key foundational challenges to sport psychology based on positivism; and introduces C. G. Jung’s analytical psychology which developed out of the rejection of a positivist conceptualization of science. Chapter 3 introduces aspects of a new epistemological framework (i.e., unconsciousness~consciousness; the psyche as a process) based on the work of Jung and identifies points of convergence between these contributions and more recent theorising. Chapter 4 considers the implications of analytical psychology with respect to momentum in sports. An original theoretical account of psychological momentum is outlined, based on libido theory (Jung, 1960), and the implications are considered with respect to current literature within sport psychology. Chapter 5 considers more recent developments in psychology (i.e., cybernetic systems paradigm, idiographic science) which have important parallels with analytical psychology, and which have important implications for the future of sport psychology as a science. Chapter 6 outlines an original theoretical perspective with respect to our understanding of performance variation in sport (Cowen, Nesti, & Cheetham, 2014), based on epistemological and theoretical developments outlined in the preceding chapters. Chapter 7 considers the implications of the epistemology outlined in the thesis with respect to current and future theorising in sport psychology. The central theme of this chapter is temporality, which, it is argued is necessarily an axiomatic component of future theoretical work, in order to overcome the foundational problems associated with a positivist conceptualisation of science. In the final concluding chapter (Chapter 8) it is proposed that the provisional epistemological criteria outlined in the thesis (i.e., subject~object, conceptual integration, being~becoming, teleology, temporality) offers a basis on which an analytical sport psychology could be developed. With respect to sport psychology, these criteria suggest that future developments should focus more on understanding performance variation itself rather than prioritising the study of psychological constructs, or objectivist representations, associated with performance. It is concluded that the “personal equation” – the creativity, judgement, intuition and/or insight of the researcher - represents an important component of the process of knowledge construction; which in turn necessitates collaboration as a necessary counterpoint to individual subjectivity. Taken together, this thesis suggests that analytical psychology, despite historically sitting outside of psychological science, can make an important contribution to the future of sport psychology as a scientific discipline.