"Concept Creep: Our Expanding Ideas of Harm and Pathology"
This talk introduces a program of work on conceptual change in psychology. I argue that some of our key concepts have undergone gradual semantic shifts in recent decades and that these changes have several important implications. In particular, harm-related concepts have progressively expanded their meanings so that they now refer to a much wider range of phenomena than they did in previous decades. I illustrate this pattern of 'concept creep' with examples drawn from developmental, clinical, and social psychology, offer a theory of the forms it takes, and discuss why the social and cultural implications of concept creep may be ambivalent. A series of studies examines the predictors and consequences of holding broad concepts of harm, and clarifies historical changes in harm-related concepts both within psychology and in the culture at large.