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Kyle G. Ratner
Contemporary models of how the mind operates and methods for testing them emerged from the cognitive revolution in the middle of the 20th century. Social psychology researchers of the 1970s and 1980s were inspired by these developments and launched the field of social cognition to understand how cognitive approaches could advance understanding of social processes. Decades later, core social psychology topics, such as impression formation, the self, attitudes, stereotyping and prejudice, and interpersonal relationships, are interpreted through the lens of cognitive psychology conceptualizations of attention, perception, categorization, memory, and reasoning. Social cognitive methods and theory have touched every area of modern social psychology. Twenty-first-century efforts are shoring up methodological practices and revisiting old theories, investigating a wider range of human experience, and tackling new avenues of social functioning.
Ann Johnson and Elizabeth Johnston
During the mid-20th century, the study of human development in the United States underwent significant expansion as support for scientific approaches solidified and methods and research topics grew. Inside the field, tensions between contrasting theoretical approaches and differing views on what determines growth and change (e.g., the perennial nature vs. nurture debate), fueled a proliferation of studies on physical growth and motor development, IQ, and personality. Lois Barclay Murphy, for example, challenged the emphasis placed on aggression and conflict in personality studies to include evidence of the early appearance of empathy and altruism in the young child, contradicting the outlook popularized by behaviorist John Watson in the 1920s. While hereditarian views of intelligence were dominant in the early part of the century, research by Marie Skodak Crissey and others soon challenged that perspective and pushed the field to develop more interactive models of heredity and environment. Skodak Crissey, for example, documented the powerful impact of adoption versus institutional care on measures of intelligence, demonstrating the mutability of intelligence as a result of environmental changes.
In addition, the field expanded during the mid-century period (which is here defined as approximately 1925 to 1960) from studies of the infant and child to adolescents and development over the lifespan, including longitudinal studies like the Berkeley Growth Study, initiated in 1928 and headed by Nancy Bayley, and Lewis Terman’s long term study of gifted children. While historical accounts emphasize the contributions of a small number of male psychologists (such as Watson, Arnold Gesell, and Terman), women entered the field in large numbers and made landmark contributions during this period, often challenging and undermining orthodoxies and motivating the more complex picture of development dominant today. Among the women making contributions were Marie Skodak Crissey (1910–2000), Nancy Bayley (1899–1994), and Lois Barclay Murphy (1902–2003).
The history of concepts about the adult and that of research into adult constructs show progression from a simple characterization of growth to a variety of complex constructs that define the terrain. Originally, the term adult encompassed all species and events that had attained full physical maturation, a product connotation. Later, time and events (e.g., marriage, the birth of children) became proxies for adult development. The absence of considerations of adult development was augmented by the fact that, for much of the past, adults could not be seen in long-term individual evolution since lifetimes were not extensive.
In the 73 years of Psychological Abstracts, adults under various headings (e.g., adulthood, middle age) was referenced in a mere .01% of citations. The first mention of “adult” in a journal title was in 1994. Into the 21st century, although the exploration of various adult constructs abounds, the use of single terms (e.g., intelligence, wisdom) to describe multidimensional attributes leads to misunderstanding and reductionism. There is scant cross-construct analysis and, along with its parent discipline of psychology, analysis of adult development remains at the nascent descriptive level.
Looking at the two major constructs of adult personality and intelligence, personality has had the lion’s share of publications. An examination of trends in its analysis reveals that the constructs are defined in various ways, little in the way of socio-contextual appraisal has occurred, and, with respect to the appraisal of intelligence, motivation to perform is ill-examined.
Saulo de Freitas Araujo and Lisa M. Osbeck
James’s work is admittedly cross-disciplinary to the extent that it defies traditional scholarly boundaries. One of the best examples is the cross-fertilization between his philosophical and psychological ideas, although the precise relation between them is not easy to frame. Notwithstanding this difficulty, one can say that James’s early psychology, developed between the 1870s and 1880s, illuminates many aspects of his later philosophical positions, including pragmatism, radical empiricism, and pluralism. First, James defends the teleological nature of mind, which is driven by subjective interests and goals that cannot be explained by the immediate interchange with the external environment. They are spontaneous variations that constitute the a priori, properly active nature of the human mind. This idea helps him not only explain important features of scientific and philosophical theories, but also reject certain philosophical doctrines such as materialism, determinism, agnosticism, and so on. It represents, so to speak, the relevance of the subjective method for deciding moral and metaphysical issues. Second, James claims that certain temperaments underlie the choice of philosophical systems. Thus, both pragmatism and pluralism can be seen as philosophical expressions of subjective influences. In the first case, pragmatism expresses a temperament that combines and harmonizes the tender-minded and the tough-minded. In the second, pluralism reflects the sympathetic temperament in contrast with the cynical character drawn to materialism. Finally, James proposes a distinction between the substantive and the transitive parts of consciousness, meaning that consciousness has clearly distinguishable aspects as well as more obscure points, although human beings tend to focus only on the first part, ignoring the other. This idea plays a decisive role in the elaboration of radical empiricism. Such illustrations, far from exhausting the relations between James’s psychology and philosophy, invite new insights and further scholarship.
The sensation of vision arises from the detection of photons of light at the eye, but in order to produce the percept of the world, extensive regions of the brain are required to process the visual information. The majority of information entering the brain via the optic nerve from the eye projects via the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the thalamus to the primary visual cortex, the largest visual area, having been reorganized such that one side of the brain represents one side of the world.
Damage to the primary visual cortex in one hemisphere therefore leads to a loss of conscious vision on the opposite side of the world, known as hemianopia. Despite this cortical blindness, many patients are still able to detect visual stimuli that are presented in the blind region if forced to guess whether a stimulus is present or absent. This is known as “blindsight.” For patients to gain any information (conscious or unconscious) about the visual world, the input from the eye must be processed by the brain. Indeed, there is considerable evidence from functional brain imaging that several visual areas continue to respond to visual stimuli presented within the blind region, even when the patient is unaware of the stimulus. Furthermore, the use of diffusion imaging allows the microstructure of white matter pathways within the visual system to be examined to see whether they are damaged or intact. By comparing patients who have hemianopia with and without blindsight it is possible to determine the pathways that are linked to blindsight function. Through understanding the brain areas and pathways that underlie blindsight in humans and non-human primates, the aim is to use modern neuroscience to guide rehabilitation programs for use after stroke.
The Cold War took place between 1948 and 1991 and centered on the antagonism between the two great superpowers, the US and the USSR, each with its allies and areas of influence. If the US had a significant influence in the West, the USSR dominated the countries of Eastern Europe. The USSR violently imposed communist totalitarian regimes after the end of the Second World War in the countries behind the Iron Curtain: the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania. The psychological traditions consolidated up to that time were in many of these countries eradicated, meaning the restructuring or abolition of higher education, the abolition of scientific societies and journals. Many psychologists with connections to the Western academic world were purged and persecuted. There was the will to build a new socialist psychology, based strictly on Marxist ideology and Pavlovian physiology. Theories or approaches that did not reflect official ideology were forbidden and labeled as bourgeois pseudoscience. Authorities severely punished psychological practice based on such theories. There were similarities between what happened in these countries, especially in the first decade of the imposition of communism. However, after the death of Joseph Stalin, things developed somewhat differently in each country. Although in some places ideological policies in science had a progressive tendency toward liberalization, in other places there was significant negative interferences throughout the communist period. Due to this diversity, it is somewhat challenging to frame the development of psychology in Eastern Europe during the Cold War from a unitary perspective.
Chad R. Mortensen and Robert B. Cialdini
It is through the influence process that people generate and manage change. As such, it is important to understand fully the workings of the influence processes that produce compliance with requests for change. Fortunately, a vast body of scientific evidence exists on how, when, and why people comply with influence attempts. From this formidable body of work, one can extract six universal principles of influence that generate compliance in the widest range of circumstances. Reciprocation states that people are more willing to comply with requests (for favors, services, information, concessions, etc.) from those who have provided such things first. Commitment/Consistency states that people are more willing to be moved in a particular direction if they see it as consistent with an existing commitment. Authority states that people are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a communicator to whom they attribute relevant expertise. Social Proof states that people are more willing to take a recommended action if they see evidence that many others, especially similar others, are taking it. Scarcity states that people find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability. Finally, Liking states that people prefer to say yes to those they like, such as those who are similar to them and who have complimented them.
Humans need other people to survive and thrive. Therefore, relatedness is a basic human need. However, relatedness can be conceived of very differently in different cultural environments, depending on the affordances and constraints of the particular context. Specifically, the level of formal education and, relatedly, the age of the mother at first birth, the number of children, and the household composition have proven to be contextual dimensions that are informative for norms and values, including the conception of relatedness. Higher formal education, late parenthood, few children, and a nuclear family drive relationships as emotional constructs between independent and self-contained individuals as adaptive in Western middle-class families. The perspective of the individual is primary and is organized by psychological autonomy. Lower formal education, early parenthood, with many children, and large multigenerational households, drive the conception of relationships as role-based networks of obligations that are adapted to non-Western rural farm life. The perspective of the social system is primary and organized by hierarchical relatedness.
Social development as developmental science in general, represented in textbooks and handbooks, is based on the Western middle-class view of the independent individual. Accordingly, developmental milestones are rooted in the separation of the individual from the social environment. The traditional rural farmer child’s development is grounded in cultural emphases of communality which stress other developmental priorities than the Western view. Cross-cultural research is mainly interpreted against the Western standard as the normal case, but serious ethical challenges are involved in this practice. The consequence is that textbooks need to be rewritten to include multiple cultural perspectives with multiple developmental pathways.
Deborah Brown and Brian Key
Few practitioners or researchers in psychology would think of the 17th-century French philosopher, René Descartes, as the founding father of their discipline. Yet, it is difficult to see how psychology could have emerged as a discipline in its own right without the contributions of Descartes. Descartes’ theoretical and experimental contributions to our understanding of rationality, consciousness, sensation, feeling, attention, psychological self-regulation and voluntary action, and indeed the very concept of mind that lies at the heart of his philosophy, have been pivotal to the evolution of psychology since its emergence as a special science in the 19th-century. These contributions tend to get overshadowed by the unpalatable aspects of his dualism of mind and body and his denial of animal consciousness, doctrines for which he was and still is much pilloried. However, both doctrines are relevant to understanding how from its inception the subject matter and scope of psychological investigation was framed, for underlying the Cartesian concept of mind is not one dualism but two: a dualism of mind and body and a dualism of life and mind. The mind, for Descartes, could not be theorized on its own terms without conceiving of it at least to some extent independently of the physiological processes of the human body, on the one hand, and the life functions of biological organisms, on the other. Descartes’ legacy for psychology as a discipline is thus twofold. It created the conceptual space for the concept of mind to emerge as a threshold concept in its own right, distinct from the concept of matter that defined mechanics, and it demarcated those uniquely human capacities that enabled psychology to differentiate itself from the newly emerging evolutionary biology of the 19th-century, even though it would remain more closely aligned with biology than physics thenceforth. Without both dualisms of mind and body and life and mind, it is difficult to envisage how psychology as a special science distinct from anatomy and the life sciences could have emerged, and for this the discipline of psychology owes Monsieur Descartes a considerable debt.
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) psychology is a loosely organized subfield of psychology. The field emerged, principally in the United States, in the late 1960s in concert with the de-pathologization of adult homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Over the decade of the 1970s, psychologists stopped researching adult lesbians and gay men as a psychiatric category and initiated new research on relationships, parenting, and the prejudice experienced by this stigmatized group. The HIV/AIDS epidemic lead this subfield to grow rapidly, to focus on men, to gain far wider engagement from mainstream psychologists, and to make health outcomes central to LGBTQ psychology’s raison d’etre. The 1990s were described as a period of “coming of age” as the field began to address bisexuality more directly, to internationalize, and to become more central to strategies in the United States to use psychological evidence to support the civil rights of minorities in court cases. The development of transgender-affirmative psychologies, a literature on the particular psychological issues of LGBTQ people of color in the United States, and an emphasis on the rights of same-gender couples to legal recognition of their relationships were new and prominent themes in the 21st-century literature. This subfield of psychology has been characterized by its historical emergence in the United States, a relative lack of attention to children, an urge to affirm under-represented groups by researching them, and a frustration that descriptive research does not always bring about the desired social transformations that motivate it.