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Durham University

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Mr James Good

History of Human Sciences Journal in the Department of Psychology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 40102
Room number: RH017

(email at


A fundamental problem in social psychology is that of relating the characteristics of persons to the social situations, small or large, in which they find themselves. Much of my research has been concerned with exploring aspects of the mutuality of person-person and person-environment relations. In developing this mutualist approach I have been drawing upon ideas from social psychology, ecological psychology, cultural psychology and pragmatist philosophy. As a result of this work, I am ever more convinced that the discipline of psychology needs to reach out to other human science disciplines in developing its concepts, theories and methods.

Together with my colleague Arthur Still I have for many years been involved in exploring the relevance of this mutualist approach to the human sciences more generally (Still & Good, 1986, 1992, 1998). I have used it in a study of the disciplinary status of social psychology exploring not only the discipline's historical development but also its mutual relations with other human sciences, especially its boundary relations with its parent disciplines, sociology and psychology (Good, 2000). This approach also has been used in attempts to extend James Gibson’s affordance notion to the perception of human social behaviour (Valenti & Good, 1991; Good, 2007) and in the exploration of social and musical co-ordination between chamber music players (Davidson and Good, 2002). This mutualist view has also underpinned my research on the history and theory of Q methodology (Good, 2003, 2010). I am currently working on a monograph on the life and work of William Stephenson, the founder of Q methodology.

Research Groups

Department of Psychology

Research Interests

  • History of the human sciences
  • Theory and practice of Q methodology
  • Ecological approaches to cognition and distributed cognition
  • Psychology of music, especially social aspects of performance
  • Ecological social psychology, especially social affordances

Indicators of Esteem

  • :

    Editor, Operant Subjectivity: The International Journal of Q Methodology

    Editor, History of the Human Sciences (2000-2015)

    Invited Keynote Speaker, 30th Annual Conference, European Society for the History of the Human Sciences, University of Belgrade, 2011

    Invited Speaker, Symposium on Biography and its Place in the History of Psychology and Psychiatry, UCL Centre for the History of Medicine, London, June 2011.

    Convenor and Chair, Panel on ‘The Role of Theory in William Stephenson’s Science of Subjectivity’. Also presented the opening paper. 27th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity, University of Birmingham, September 2011.

    Invited Paper for Symposium on ‘The Foundation of “Scientific” Psychology within the Cultural, Social, and Institutional Contexts of European and Extra-European Countries between the 19th and 20th Centuries’, 22nd International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Beijing, July, 2005.

    Invited Opening Plenary Paper, ‘The Singular Case of William Stephenson: Q Methodology, Single Case Research, and the Scientific Study of Personality’, 21st Annual Conference of the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, October 2005.

    Chair, British Psychological Society History and Philosophy of Psychology Section (2002-2006)

    Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2001-2002)

    President, European Society for the History of the Human Sciences (1997-2002)


Chapter in book

  • Brown, S.R. & Good, J.M.M. (2010). Q Methodology. In Encyclopedia of Research Design. Salkind, N.J. Sage.
  • Good, J.M.M. (1993). Quests for Interdisciplinarity: The Rhetorical Constitution of Social Psychology. In The Recovery of Rhetoric: Persuasive Discourse and Disciplinarity in the Human Sciences. Roberts, R.H. & Good, J.M.M. The Bristol Press/University of Virginia Press.

Edited book

  • Good, J.M.M. & Velody, I. (1998). The Politics of Postmodernity. Cambridge University Press.
  • Roberts, R.H. & Good, J.M.M. (1993). The Recovery of Rhetoric: Persuasive Discourse and Disciplinarity in the Human Sciences. The Bristol Press/University of Virginia Press.

Journal Article