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There is no explicitly defined field as feminist psychology(ies) in India. It is therefore necessary to look beyond the discipline of psychology and examine the scholarship available in other disciplines as well as in activist efforts to illumine questions that are of concern to feminist psychology(ies)—questions of how inequitable access to resources, disproportionate burden of care giving and gender stereotypical identities impact on gender relations and on women’s well-being and identity. From the interface of psychology with feminisms, three thematic areas emerge against the backdrop of past and contemporary socio-political developments in the country that have directly or indirectly influenced and informed the content and direction of research in these thematic areas. The three key themes are (a) mental health and well-being and the influence of the interlinked perspectives of gender, public health, human rights and social justice on this field, (b) gender-based violence and the evolution of psychosocial interventions for reduction and prevention of violence, and (c) the socio-historical construction of identities and the construction of masculinities in particular and that of the “modern Indian woman” in the conundrum of tradition and modernity.
First, the literature on gender and mental health emphasizes the need to connect mental health with social determinants, demonstrates the existence of gender bias in access to mental health services, shows that women are represented more in common mental disorders whose aetiology is associated with the social position of women, and highlights the relationship of gender-specific risk factors such as domestic violence to the occurrence of depression in women.
Second, the body of work on interventions for reducing and preventing gender-based violence shows services such as one-stop centers hinged on a psychosocial intervention model; and women’s collectives for alternate dispute resolution based loosely on feminist principles, serving as a platform for voicing and recognition of violence and connecting survivors to institutional services.
Third, the socio-historical context of identity construction reveals masculinity as a product of interplay of the colonizing and colonized cultures in the nationalist period of pre-independence India, the subsequent turn to “aggressive Hindu communalism” as a model for masculinity and the construction of femininity in the conundrum of tradition and modernity.
Thus, despite e some influence and infusion of perspectives on each other, feminisms and psychology in India continue to run parallel to each other, and feminist psychology(ies) in India remains an indistinct field as yet.
Kimberly Rios and Cameron D. Mackey
With its origin in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville and Karl Marx, relative deprivation has been investigated by researchers in psychology, sociology, anthropology, criminology, and political science. Relative deprivation is a judgment of oneself or one’s ingroup as being disadvantaged compared to another person or group, which leads to feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, and/or entitlement. Individuals can feel relatively deprived when comparing themselves to other ingroup members or relevant outgroup members, or when comparing their ingroup as a whole to a relevant outgroup. Individuals can also make temporal comparisons—comparing their current status with their own past or future status or comparing their ingroup’s current status with the past or future status of the ingroup. If these comparisons lead to an appraisal of disadvantage and to affective reactions such as angry resentment, a variety of interpersonal or intergroup outcomes can ensue, including individual psychological states (e.g., lower self-esteem), individual behavior (e.g., increased engagement in risky behaviors such as gambling), intergroup attitudes (e.g., more prejudice toward the outgroup), and collective action (e.g., higher likelihood of protesting).
Relative deprivation can be influenced by several factors. People from individualistic cultures have been shown to exhibit more relative deprivation from collectivistic cultures. Temporality also has affected feelings of relative deprivation; these feelings are dependent upon type of temporal comparison (past vs. future) and number of temporal comparisons. Moreover, temporal comparisons have been treated as both an influencer of relative deprivation as well as a source of relative deprivation; future research should address these competing notions. Additional influencing factors include system-justifying beliefs (potentially limiting comparisons and subsequent feelings of relative deprivation) and feelings of empowerment (leading to more deprivation). Future directions pertaining to relative deprivation should focus on comparing feelings of relative deprivation over a period of time (i.e., longitudinally) and experimentally manipulating the construct to flesh out how relative deprivation works. Another recommendation for future research involves creating and validating measures of relative deprivation at both the individual and group level. Finally, a newer line of research examines relative gratification (where cognitive comparisons of being better-off than others leads to prejudice against outgroups). Future research should determine when and how relative gratification occurs and what the differences between the feelings and outcomes of relative gratification and relative deprivation may be.
Generative emergence is one of many theories for how new entities are created; how a new order comes into being. Emergence itself is one perspective on change and transformation. However, whereas change is an alteration of existing structures, emergence refers to the creation of a new (social) entity. Explaining the phenomenon of creation, at all levels, is the goal of an emergence science.
Generative emergence takes a step in that direction, which explains how emergence can be enacted in practice. Generative emergence derives from dissipative structures in thermodynamics, a theory of new order creation. In the experiment that produced the theory, heat energy is dissipated through a closed container (from a source to a sink), and the heat is continuously increased. At a threshold point, an entirely new level of order emerges across the molecular substrate, in the form of large whirlpools (visible to the naked eye). These macrostructures confer “orders of magnitude” more capacity to dissipate the incoming energy flux.
This unique order-creation process has led to a strong multidisciplinary literature, carefully analogizing this order creation process to social systems. Specifically, in empirical research across multiple levels of analysis (from leadership to teams to ventures to strategies to new markets), the same four phases of activity have been identified. These four phases have been integrated into the theory of generative emergence, which reveals the sequential conditions through which a new system emerges. The phases are (a) disequilibrium organizing and stress, (b) experiments and amplifications to a critical threshold, (c) emergence of a new entity, and (d) stabilizing the new system into a dynamic state.
Generative emergence also shows how each phase can be supported and enacted through the actions of leaders. Specifically, a close reading of empirical research on dissipative structures in social systems reveals a set of leadership interventions that have improved the likelihood that these phases would build in sequence, leading to the creation of an emergent—a new entity.
As one example, consider phase 1: disequilibrium organizing and stress. Entrepreneurial leaders initiate this through opportunity recognition for the creation of new value. As they pursue this aspiration, the dramatic increase in organizing—with its concomitant upsurge in work hours and uncertainty—leads to growing stress and conflict. Here, generative leadership shows how to “manage” this stress, for example by providing space for internal innovations and “experiments” by employees, which might spark the new level of the organization.
In like manner, each of the phases has leadership correlates, which together coalesce into the emergence of a new system—a new initiative, venture, organization, or macrolevel market. The power of the generative emergence theory is that the new order that results can dramatically increase the capacity of the system, and for all of its members. As such, the leadership actions which generate this outcome are worthy of careful exploration and enactment.
Raymond E. Fancher
Gordon W. Allport was a prominent Harvard University psychologist during the mid-20th century, notable both for his early and effective promotion of “personality” as an important psychological subdiscipline, and in his later career as a social psychologist for works on several issues of major social importance. In 1921 he and his older brother Floyd Allport jointly proposed the study and measurement of traits as the foundation of a new subdiscipline of personality psychology, with Gordon’s Harvard doctoral research a pilot study demonstrating the feasibility of the approach. On a subsequent postdoctoral fellowship in Germany Allport became impressed by William Stern’s “personalistic” psychology, which held that a person’s “individuality” could be defined in two ways: relational individuality, comprised of the particular combination of numerous measurable traits manifested by a subject in studies such as Allport’s thesis; and real individuality, a Gestalt-like conception of a personality that is more than just the sum of its parts, and discoverable only through a qualitative analysis of the traits’ role in an overall life history. These ideas inspired in Allport a conception of personality as a broad and independent psychological field that would incorporate both the “nomothetic,” experimental methods of the natural sciences in measuring and studying personality traits, and the non-experimental “idiographic” methods utilized in the historical and humanistic fields for providing conceptions of wholly integrated, unique personalities. Noting that Anglo-American psychology was heavily dominated by the former approach, he became an outspoken advocate of the latter as a necessary complement to it.
Allport taught undergraduate seminars promoting this conception at Harvard and Dartmouth between 1924 and 1930, before returning permanently to Harvard in 1930. There, both independently and in collaborations with others, he conducted and promoted seminal personality research employing both nomothetic and idiographic methods. His comprehensive and authoritative 1937 textbook, Personality: A Psychological Interpretation, was a landmark in establishing personality as a major psychological discipline. With enhanced reputation, Allport became a leading institutional figure in American psychology. For the rest of his career he continued to advocate an inclusive, “eclectic” approach to personality psychology, while also turning attention to important social issues such as wartime morale and propaganda, the influence of radio as a mass medium, the role of religion in personality and society, and with particular impact the nature of prejudice.
Kimberly Rios and Cameron D. Mackey
The definition of group cohesion has been debated since the formal introduction of the concept in social psychology. Group cohesion has undergone a variety of conceptualizations over the years stemming from several theoretical perspectives. Many models of group cohesion have been introduced; however, research with these models is largely confined to the field (e.g., psychology) or subfield (e.g., sports psychology) in which it originated. Initially, unidimensional models of group cohesion were popular, with proponents of these models arguing that cohesion would have the same consequences regardless of its operationalization. However, later research found that group cohesion may be multidimensional in nature. Several two-dimensional models have been proposed, the most popular of which distinguishes between group members working together to attain common goals (task cohesion) and group members interacting with one another on a more personal level (social cohesion). Another multidimensional model of group cohesion builds on the social-task cohesion distinction but further divides social and task cohesion into Group Integration and Individual Attractiveness to Group sub-components, thus creating a four-factor model.
Group cohesion has been applied to a variety of group contexts, including sports teams, military squads, and work groups. The amount of cohesion in each group is dependent upon the properties of the group being investigated. Groups that have naturally formed (i.e., “real” groups) have higher rates of group cohesion than groups created for the purpose of a study (i.e., “artificial” groups). Other factors that affect group cohesion include type of group (e.g., interdependent vs. co-acting) and level of analysis (i.e., individual or group). Research on group cohesion has focused on the consequences of group cohesion in lieu of what causes group cohesion in the first place. Furthermore, although much research has detailed the relationship between cohesion and performance, many other positive consequences of group cohesion have not been assessed in depth. Finally, group cohesion is also associated with potential negative consequences, such as groupthink.
G. Campbell Teskey
The kindling phenomenon is a form of sensitization where, with repetition, epileptiform discharges become progressively longer and behavioral seizures eventually appear and then become more severe. The classic or exogenous kindling technique involves the repeated application of a convulsant stimulus. This technique also lowers seizure thresholds, the minimum intensity of a stimulus required to evoke an electrographic seizure, a process known as epileptogenesis. Endogenous kindling typically occurs following a brain-damaging event which lowers seizure thresholds to the point where self-generated epileptiform discharges recur, lengthen, propagate, and drive progressively more severe behavioral seizures. While exogenous kindling results in alterations in neuronal molecular, cellular/synaptic, and network function that give rise to altered behavior, there is a paucity of evidence for loss of neurons. In contrast, brain-damaging events, with neuronal loss, typically give rise to endogenous kindling. Kindling is a pan-species phenomenon and all mammals that have been examined, including humans, manifest exogenous kindling when seizure-genic (forebrain) structures have been targeted. Since humans display both exogenous and endogenous kindling phenomena this serves as a sober warning to clinicians to prevent seizures. Kindling serves as a robust and reliable model for epileptogenesis, focal as well as secondarily generalized seizures, and certain epileptic disorders.
Robert J. McDonald and Ellen G. Fraser
One view of the organization of learning and memory functions in the mammalian brain is that there are multiple learning and memory networks that acquire and store different kinds of information. Each neural network is thought to have a central structure. The hippocampus, amygdala, perirhinal cortex, and dorsal striatum are thought to be central structures for different learning and memory networks important for spatial/relational, emotional, visual objects, and instrumental memory respectively. These central structures are part of a complex network including cortical and subcortical brain regions containing areas important for sensory, motivational, modulatory, and output functions.
These networks are thought to encode and store information obtained during experiences via a general plasticity mechanism in which the relationship between synapses in these regions are changed. This view suggests that that memory has a physical manifestation in the brain, which allows for synapses to communicate more effectively as a result of activation. One form of synaptic plasticity called long-term potentiation (LTP) is considered a fundamental form of changes in synaptic efficacy mediating learning and long-term memory functions.
One of the biochemical mechanisms for initiating LTP is triggered when a type of glutamate receptor, N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR), found in all of these memory networks is activated and various biochemical pathways that can produce long-term enhancements to the efficacy of that synapse are recruited.
NMDAR-mediated LTP processes appear to be important for learning and memory processes in these different networks, but there are clear differences. None of the networks require NMDAR functions during expression of new learning. All the networks required NMDAR function during encoding of new information, except the network centered on perirhinal cortex. Finally, all of the networks required NMDAR-mediated plasticity processes for long-term consolidation of new information, except the one centered on the amygdala.
Alan Rosen and Neal Lipsitz
Bearing witness to the Holocaust has taken many different forms and sought to achieve a variety of goals. Forms of testimony include structured and unstructured interviews; audio, video, and written narratives; individual and group formats; and recollections of survivors young and old—from those who testified just after the war to those who only came forth decades later. Different combinations of these distinct forms of testimony contribute to their variety. Most of the time such testimony has aimed to fill out the historical record or deepen moral reflection. Early on, they offered insight into what occurred during the Holocaust, sometimes providing vivid details that revealed the horrific experiences the survivors had endured. This early approach gave those who had not been on the scene an inside look into what actually happened during the Holocaust. Much of the testimony was by those who had experienced the Holocaust themselves. Later, the focus turned to residual trauma and how it manifested itself in the daily life of survivors. Others viewed testimony as potentially therapeutic and elicited it through engaging with survivors in sustained conversations or by encouraging them to give voice to wartime childhood memories. Ultimately, as a more positive and intergenerational perspective began to take hold in the field of psychology, trauma has been seen as something that can be transcended. Hence, some scholars have highlighted the psychological insight to be found within oral and written testimony. Important to note in this context is that a number of Holocaust survivor interview projects have been spearheaded by psychologists. Moving from the early postwar period to the present moment, this article intends to survey both the psychological insights gleaned and the projects conducted. The article will also consider the influence of postwar psychological movements on the style, emphasis, and concepts of psychologically motivated interview projects.
Charles T. Snowden
Darwin’s theory of evolution opened the way for the study of nonhuman primates as a valuable method for understanding human behavior. Psychologists and anthropologists both value the study of nonhuman primates, but they have different methods and goals. Broadly speaking, anthropologists have studied the behavior and social lives of animals in their natural habitat with interests in how primates adapt to their environment and in tracing primate evolutionary history. Psychologists typically study captive primates where controlled experiments are possible to understand the ontogeny and underlying mechanism controlling behavior. The two approaches are complementary and, when integrated, can lead to important insights.
Since the middle of the 20th century, primate research has expanded exponentially, with an increasing number of long-term field sites providing important data across generations with expanded studies of a great variety of species. Captive research also has thrived with the establishment of national primate research centers. Primate research has illuminated our understanding of cognition, language evolution, tool use, culture, and social structure, including mating systems and sexual behavior, parenting, aggression, and cooperation. However, the majority of nonhuman primate species are threatened or endangered in their natural habitats and require human intervention to preserve our primate heritage.
Rhiannon N. Turner
Scholars have developed a plethora of approaches to reducing prejudice and discrimination, many of which have been successfully applied in schools, workplaces, and community settings. Research on intergroup contact suggests that contact between members of different groups, particularly when that contact is warm and positive (for example through friendships) reduces negative emotional reactions (e.g., anxiety) and promotes positive emotions (e.g., empathy), results in more positive attitudes toward members of that group. One might expect that, in an increasingly connected world characterized by global mobility and diversity, higher levels of contact would be associated with a significant lessening of prejudice and discrimination. However, critics have pointed out that changes in attitudes at the individual level do not necessarily translate into reduced prejudice and discrimination at a societal level. Moreover, not everyone has the opportunity to engage in meaningful contact with members of other groups, and even when they do, these opportunities are not always capitalized on. One solution to lack of opportunities for contact is to capitalize on “indirect contact.” These are interventions based on the principles of contact, but which do not involve a face-to-face encounter. Extended contact, which refers to knowing in-group members who have out-group friends, and vicarious contact, which involves learning about the positive contact experiences of our fellow group members, for example via the media, online intergroup contact, and imagining intergroup contact, have each been shown to promote more positive intergroup attitudes. Another way to reduce prejudice and discrimination is to change the way people categorize social groups. When people perceive members of their own group and another group to belong to the same overarching group—that is, they hold a common in-group identity—there is evidence of reduced intergroup bias. However, when our group membership is important to us, this may constitute a threat to our identity, and lead to a reactive increase in bias in order to reassert the distinctiveness of our group. One solution to this is to encourage a dual identity, whereby an individual holds both the original group membership and a common in-group identity that encompasses both groups simultaneously. Alternatively, given the many and varied group memberships that individuals hold, social categories become less useful as a way of categorizing people. There is also evidence that taking a multicultural approach, where differences are acknowledged, rather than a color-blind approach, where differences are ignored, is less likely to result in prejudice and discrimination. Finally, there is evidence that teaching people about other groups, and about the biases they hold but perhaps are not aware of, can help to reduce prejudice and discrimination.