What is Theory?

Theory explains how some aspect of human behavior or performance is organized. It thus enables us to make predictions about that behavior.

The components of theory are concepts (ideally well defined) and principles.

A concept is a symbolic representation of an actual thing - tree, chair, table, computer, distance, etc.

Construct is the word for concepts with no physical referent - democracy, learning, freedom, etc. Language enables conceptualization.

A principle expresses the relationship between two or more concepts or constructs.

In the process of theory development, one derives principles based on one’s examining/questioning how things/concepts are related.

Concepts and principles serve two important functions:
A theory is a related set of concepts and principles

Why theory is important

Development of theories

Theory development process

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Page updated: 96.03.31 - 21:48 (hto)