The lens model originated in Egon Brunswik’s concept of probabilistic functionalism, which is primarily a theory of perception. Brunswik was convinced that the methods of psychological research during the first half of the 20th century were wrongheaded, especially with regard to the “rule of one variable,” which many held was the only way to do psychological science. He believed that an essential characteristic of behavior is vicarious functioning—that is, the achievement of organismic goals, either perceptual or instrumental, through a variety of means. The rule of one variable prevents the organism from exercising this fundamental characteristic, thus precluding valid knowledge of behavior.

The introduction of orthogonal, multivariate research designs such as ANOVA (analysis of variance) did not alleviate the problem. Brunswik argued that in order for ...

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