Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Isaac Prilleltensky

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Critical psychology is a movement that is gaining momentum in psychology. Although people define it in various ways, for the purpose of my current research I define critical psychology as a movement that challenges psychology to work towards emancipation and social justice and that opposes the use of psychology to perpetuate oppression and injustice. This thesis project engaged critical psychologists from several different countries in a formative evaluation of the field of critical psychology. The research I have undertaken has conceptual/theoretical and practical components, consistent with a commitment to what Paulo Freire called critical praxis. Critical psychology as a scholarly or intellectual movement has been found to be well underway. However, its translation into action needs to be further developed. The methodology used in this study therefore combines reflection and action by inviting participants to share their thoughts as well as their experiences in critical psychology. Participants were given the choice of responding to a series of questions in essay form or through an Email discussion group. The enthusiastic participation in the Email discussion group and the thoughtful essays received demonstrate the willingness among critical psychologists to share a rich combination of theoretical and practical insights. The results of this thesis, which summarize the thoughts and experiences of the participants worldwide, are condensed into a series of recommendations for action that can be useful in its application to the areas of teaching, research and community work. Suggested examples for teaching psychologycritically involve going beyond the narrow limits of the dominant positivist paradigm to include more diverse ways of knowing. Critical teaching consists of submitting all statements, including the professor's, to critical scrutiny while attempting to build a critical psychology that works for the emancipation of oppressed groups. Critical research in psychology can be attained by using new approaches to research in psychology such as participatory action research, qualitative research or discourse analysis. Doing community-based critical research in psychology requires that researchers engage in a respectful dialogue with research participants to negotiate the parameters of the research project. Community work which is consistent with the values and vision of critical psychology include actively seeking to bridge the gap between the University and the community by involving community members in academic work for social change and being involved as an academic researcher in community work for social change. The example of the Community Psychology program at Wilfrid Laurier University is used to further illustrate how the principles of critical psychology may be applied to the practical domains of teaching, research and community work.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons