The Creative Cycle and the Growth of Psychological Science

Perspect Psychol Sci. 2018 Jul;13(4):433-438. doi: 10.1177/1745691617745651.


Scientific progress relies on the dialectics of loosening and tightening processes. Although most gripping accomplishments in psychological science testify to the critical role of creative and innovative theorizing (loosening), the ongoing debate on the quality of psychological science is focused almost totally on a restrictive sense of tightening, revolving around statistical hypothesis testing (tightening). A discussion of the imbalance between the conspicuous neglect of theory and the overstated importance of the sacred cow of significance testing raises a skeptical question: Do we seriously believe that stricter compliance rules, exact p values, effect size calculations, new statistics, and monitoring of research practices will foster the growth of excellent science? A more effective strategy would be to start a positive debate that focuses on the best exemplars of strong theorizing and fascinating findings, replacing the focus on insufficient science and unwanted practices.

Keywords: blind variation; loosening and tightening; multicausality; strong theorizing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Creativity*
  • Humans
  • Psychology*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Research Design