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TRANSPERSONAL RESEARCH COLLOQUIUM

Book of Abstracts

Prague, October 2-3, 2017

TRC ORGANIZERS
Rosemarie Anderson

Reflexivity, Projection, and the Sacred

Reflexivity refers to the circularity or bidirectionality between cause and effect in research, both quantitative and qualitative. First introduced in anthropology and sociology, reflexivity is often called the self-fulfilling prophesy in that prophesy, scientific prediction, and the mere presence of a researcher may change the outcome of what might otherwise have happened. In quantitative research, reflexivity - often called observer-expectancy effect and experimenter bias - effects research findings in ways that may be both conscious and unconscious to the researcher. Reflexivity in qualitative research has come to mean an explicit and transparent account of how the researcher’s actions and beliefs impact findings, including the questions asked and ignored, the research design elements included and left out, and finally the manner and context in which findings are presented and to whom. In basic psychological terms, reflexivity refers to the various ways - both conscious and unconscious - by which the researcher’s projections on the topic and participants impact findings. In 1923, Sociologist William Thomas put the matter simply: “the situations that [men] define as true, become true for them.”

For transpersonal research, an individual researcher’s personal beliefs and cultural meta-narratives become even more problematic. For example, most people who have had spiritual experiences know that these experiences and their impact on spiritual development are not lawful in the sense of what lawfulness means in human terms. The impact is certainly not lawful in the mechanistic Cartesian terms common in the West. Yet, the challenge is deeper for transpersonal research than human science research generally because the Sacred may be inherently spontaneous and indeterminate, resulting in spiritual experiences and their impact as completely outside our understanding - at least in words and concepts.

Okay, what do we do? As transpersonal researchers, these challenges require at least the following:

• An utter transparency about our own beliefs, values, and motives as related to the research topic

• Utilizing our own reflexivity or engagement with our research topics to advantage our research endeavours rather than treating reflexivity as a problem to get rid of

• Inviting the Sacred to speak; our learning to listen better

• Acknowledging that our research topics and participants represent the Sacred - each in their own ways - and might be trying to get through to us.

References: Thomas, W. I. (1923). The unadjusted girl: With cases and standpoint for behaviour analysis. Boston: Little, Brown & Company.
Bio: Rosemarie Anderson, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University, USA. Currently, she is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Transpersonal Research Network and the Sacred Science Circle; serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Transpersonal Research, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Qualitative Psychology, and The Humanistic Psychologist, and teaches transformative approaches to research worldwide. Together with the late William Braud, she has co-authored Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences, the book that established the field of transpersonal research methods in 1998, and Transforming Self and Others Through Research in 2011. With several others, she co-authored Five Ways of Doing Qualitative Research in 2011. She has recently completed a translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching based on her knowledge of Chinese acquired in the late 1970s. In August 2017, Rosemarie will be formally awarded the Abraham Maslow Heritage Award for her “outstanding and lasting contribution to the exploration of the farther reaches of the human spirit” by Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology, of the American Psychological Association.




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