Laurence D. Smith

Laurence D. SmithLaurence D. Smith
Phone: (207) 581-2047

My research addresses epistemological issues in the history of psychology. Historians of science have recently turned away from the study of theories toward examination of the day-to-day practices by which scientists construct knowledge. My focus is on how psychologists, both today and in the past, have used “inscription devices” – graphs, tables, and diagrams – in reasoning about data, discovering novel phenomena, and communicating their findings. Historical comparisons of psychologists’ practices with those of other scientists have revealed striking differences in how scientists from different disciplines go about their work, and these differences suggest possibilities for improving psychological methods. In regard to the history of psychology, I have also published articles and books on the history of behaviorism and its philosophy of science.

Representative Publications

  • Arsenault, D. J., Smith, L. D., & Beauchamp, E. A. (2006). Visual inscriptions in the scientific hierarchy: Mapping the “treasures of science.” Science Communication, 27, 376-428.
  • Boynton, D. M., & Smith, L. D. (2006). Bringing history to life: Simulating landmark experiments in psychology. History of Psychology, 9, 113-143.
  • Smith, L. D., Best, L. A., Stubbs, D. A., Archibald, A. B., & Roberson-Nay, R. (2002). Constructing knowledge: The role of graphs and tables in hard and soft psychology. American Psychologist, 57, 749-761.
  • Best, L. A., Smith, L. D., & Stubbs, D. A. (2001). Graph use in psychology and other sciences. Behavioural Processes, 54, 155-165.
  • Smith, L. D., Best, L. A., Cylke, V. A., & Stubbs, D. A. (2000). Psychology without p values: Data analysis at the turn of the 19th century. American Psychologist, 55, 260-263.
  • Smith, L. D., Best, L. A., Stubbs, D. A., Johnston, J., & Archibald, A. B. (2000). Scientific graphs and the hierarchy of the sciences: A Latourian survey of inscription practices. Social Studies of Science, 30, 73-94.
  • Freedman, E. G., & Smith, L. D. (1996). The role of data and theory in covariation assessment: Implications for the theory-ladenness of observation. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 17, 321-343.
  • Smith, L. D., & Woodward, W. R. (Eds.). (1996). B. F. Skinner and behaviorism in American culture. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press.
  • Smith, L. D. (1992). On prediction and control: B. F. Skinner and the technological ideal of science. American Psychologist, 47, 216-223.
  • Smith, L. D. (1986). Behaviorism and logical positivism: A Reassessment of the alliance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.