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Internship Course Speaks With Leading Goal-Setting Scholar

Guest Speaker, Professor Edwin A. Locke, discusses “The Case for Induction”, in Professor John L. Dennis’s INIT 350 Academic Internship & Seminar, Psychology.

Professor Edwin A. Locke, the world’s foremost scholar in the area of goal-setting research, recently gave a virtual guest speaker talk on “The Case for Induction,” where he described how induction is the only method for developing well-validated theories.

The virtual guest talk was hosted at The Umbra Institute using video conferencing software with Professor Locke calling in from his office in Westlake Village, California and students actively participated in a lengthy Q&A period.

In his talk, Professor Locke discussed how everyone who publishes in professional journals in the social sciences knows that you are supposed to start your article with a theory, then make deductions from it, then test it, and then revise the theory. He described how this policy demands premature theorizing and often leads to making up hypotheses after the fact.

Professor Locke examined how this policy is based on the hypothetico-deductive method of Karl Popper’s falsifiability theory which retards scientific progress because it demands scientists to show that something is not true rather than discovering what is true.

In discussing three major theories from psychology, (Beck’s cognitive theory of depression, Bandura’s social-cognitive theory, and Locke & Latham’s goal-setting theory) Professor Locke identified how these theories rely on observation, introspection and the identification of causal mechanisms – i.e., the inductive approach.

Professor Edwin A. Locke is the retired Dean’s Professor of Motivation and Leadership at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the co-author of goal-setting theory, which is one of the most widely respected theories in psychology and he is the most published organizational psychologist in the history of the field. He has published over 260 chapters, books and articles.

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