Interpretative phenomenological analysis and embodied, active, situated cognition

Michael Larkin, Virginia Eatough, Mike Osborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe here some of the developing conversations between “third phase” cognitive science and phenomenological philosophy. Contributors to these conversations treat cognition as an embodied, active, and situated phenomenon. We argue that, despite much promise, proper engagement with the foundational phenomenological concept of a situated, meaning-making person has yet to be fully reflected in these conversations. We note that the outcomes of this dialogue have important implications for the field of phenomenological psychology. In particular, we demonstrate that one qualitative method, interpretative phenomenological analysis, can make a useful contribution to the ongoing developments in this field. We suggest that it can provide a valuable hermeneutic counterpoint to the primacy of empiricist methods. Through reference to sustained examples from research participants— accounts of chronic pain, we show how qualitative phenomenological approaches, such as interpretative phenomenological analysis, can illuminate the importance of situating embodied personal experience in the context of meaning, relationships, and the lived world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-337
Number of pages20
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


  • consciousness
  • hermeneutic constructivism
  • philosophy
  • scientific progress
  • social cognition


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