Hi Alex,

thanks for posting about our paper! About writing a handbook of informal practices (thus making them formal, I suppose): that would of course require a lot more empirical work, particularly if we would want to say something about which practices actually make a difference, and under what circumstances. Several of our interviewees didn't think it's possible, much of it is simply too conditional. We do hope our paper will be the start of a conversation about informal practices, so that researchers become more aware of them and how their own differ (or not) from those of other researchers.

I'm quite a fan of McGuire's perspectivism. I think the kind of work that he proposed researchers should do -- finding out the conditions under which statements are true -- is very important. As it is, the context dependence and fragility of social psychological phenomena is a bit of a truism, but how exactly they depend on context is seldom spelled out. But I think to McGuire this context involved more than only background variables, and it doesn't preclude developing theories that explain this contextuality. In an earlier paper ('The yin and yang of progress in social psychology: Seven koan') he urged psychologists to learn to think in terms of complex models. I believe he would agree more with you than you think.