This is the first dedicated text to explain and explore the utility of critical realism for psychologists, offering it as a helpful middle ground between positivism and postmodernism.

By introducing its basic concepts, Pilgrim explains critical realism to psychologists and shows how the interface between the natural and social worlds, and the internal and external, can be used to examine human life. This both/and aspect of human life is important in another sense: we are both determined and determining beings, making choices but within the material constraints of both our bodies and the social context of our unique existence. The book offers an exploration of academic and applied psychology with that inward and outward curiosity in mind, beginning with the premise that both inner and outer reality are the legitimate interest of psychologists. In doing so, it shows how critical realism endorses the remaining advantages of positivism and postmodernism, while discarding their philosophical errors.

A range of case studies are presented to show how psychologists can use critical realism when working with real life problems, as researchers or practitioners.

chapter 1|14 pages

The utility of critical realism

chapter 2|17 pages

The limits of naïve realism

chapter 3|17 pages

The limits of postmodernism

chapter 4|15 pages

Do we exist as individuals?

chapter 5|12 pages

Does the brain cause behaviour?

chapter 7|12 pages

Is child sexual abuse a moral panic?

chapter 9|18 pages

Why do we protest (sometimes)?

chapter 11|17 pages

Why was psychoanalysis marginalised?