Science and emotion - INRAE INSTIT

Society and territories 2 min
What is the place of emotions in scientific research? It is very important, since curiosity, passion, surprise, rivalry, envy and other uncontrollable emotions mark the path of each researcher. Emotions are frowned upon because they are thought to affect objectivity. Emmanuel Petit will show you that this is not the case.
Published on August 02, 2022
All researchers experience the intellectual pleasure, curiosity and surprise associated with their professional activity. Most researchers are fervently committed to their work and take it to heart to convince the community and/or the general public of its relevance and importance. Few researchers, however, recognize that their emotions can affect the way they approach their research, nor the way they practice it. Yet emotion is a mode of access to knowledge that reason does not completely replace.
Do emotions modify the choice of the object of study or the choice of tools? Do they influence the reading and interpretation of results or scientific facts ? Should or can the researcher control his emotions or try to put them at a distance ? On the contrary, should they have a place in the research process itself ? Is an emotion an appropriate source of scientific knowledge? How to evaluate emotions? It is to all these questions that this book proposes to answer. Two portraits of researchers are drawn up: Barbara McClintock, geneticist, and Gérard Debreu, mathematician.
Emmanuel Petit is a professor of economics and researcher at Bordeaux Sciences Économiques (CNRS). For the past fifteen years, he has been interested in the role of emotions in economic analysis.
Éditions Quæ - coll. Sciences en Questions - 80 pages, June 2022 - 9,50 euros (paper book), available for free in PDF on the website of Quæ editions.
Science and emotion - INRAE INSTIT
[...] there are in fact very few studies that shed light on what constitutes the psychology of the scientist. In the absence of specific works on this question, the psychology of the researcher is idealized. Research would be the place where a rational being, open to the world, endowed with superior intelligence, integrity, and who, moreover, is capable of cooperating with his colleagues by sharing his knowledge, strives. This ideal does not correspond very well to the very competitive and sometimes irrational world in which researchers evolve. Like everyone else, a scientist has career goals, faces obstacles and tries to overcome them. The ideal image of the researcher also focuses on his or her ability to be objective and dispassionate. Science, Skinner (1953, p. 12) tells us, "is a willingness to accept facts even when they are opposed to [the researcher's] beliefs." This implies that scientists perceive the data as such (i.e., without distortions that are detrimental to the investigation) and are able to control or not show emotion that might somehow affect the conduct of their research.
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