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Maloney, A. (2000). Response to ‘On the empirical proof of archetypes: commentary on Maloney’. J. Anal. Psychol., 45(4):607-612.

(2000). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 45(4):607-612

Response to ‘On the empirical proof of archetypes: commentary on Maloney’ Related Papers

Alan Maloney, M.D.

I would like to thank Dr Raya Jones for her interest and her commentary on my contribution ‘Preference ratings of images representing archetypal themes: an empirical study of the concept of archetypes’. Her remarks raise many important points: some concerning my study in particular and others concerning the broader question of which methods are appropriate for the investigation of archetype theory.

I think it is important to point out that the study under discussion is a preliminary one. Because novel findings lack a well-developed context they are difficult to accurately critique. On one hand it is easy to overstate their implications with the resulting impulse to recast the findings; for example, I never took up the task of either proving or disproving archetype theory. On the other, it is easy to underestimate the significance of the first solid steps in an empiric inquiry. By designing an empiric experiment examining the relevance of archetypal themes in determining adults’ affective response, I was able to test discretely my experimental hypothesis that images representing archetypal themes would produce a particular, non-random structure in the pattern of subjects responses. Furthermore I generated new experimental hypotheses in the process.

While there are risks in operationalizing any concept, it remains a requirement of empirical inquiry. I support Dr Jones's advocacy for the naturalists’ approach, but quantitative inquiry remains a powerful lens.

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