Interdisciplinary dialog through documentary film
Webbink, Katherine Elizabeth.
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Documentary filmmaking and experimental psychology face similar uncertainties in attempting to accurately characterize their subjects, but their methods for addressing these uncertainties often differ dramatically. Where experimental psychologists generally ascribe to scientific realism, searching for the "clearest" explication of a subject by employing scientific methods, documentary filmmakers follow any number of personal interpretations of what might best characterize an individual or social story. This philosophical contrast between filmmakers and psychologists parallels the clash between postmodernists and scientific realists. The "Science Wars" of the 1990s were a series of miscommunications between these two schools of philosophy, and there remains to be reconciliation, or at least clear dialog, between proponents of the two views. This thesis compares experimental methods in documentary film and in psychology, and proposes the exploration of why the two fields parallel as well as differ from each other in their methods of accommodating uncertainty. I propose that such an exploration of contrasts among experimental methodologies in film and psychology can offer an alternate route to dialog where verbal dialog has previously failed, as between postmodernists and scientific realists.