Gabriel Ruiz and Natividad Sánchez
Transnational historiography, which emerged in the 1990s, covers historical phenomena that transcend the boundaries of the nation-state, analyzing the processes of circulation, transformation and hybridization of scientific ideas and practices across national frontiers. When scientific knowledge flows between different countries, the ideas that emerge in one particular national context adapt to the new local contexts of their hosts, with their particular cultural, social, political and scientific traditions. In psychology, the transnational approach provides a productive theoretical framework capable of going beyond the traditional US-centered perspective that has dominated the historiography of psychology since the mid-20th century. This US-based historiography has, for example, interpreted the historical influence of I. P. Pavlov in terms of two main factors: his methodological contribution—the conditioned reflex—and the existence of a behaviorist tradition in the receptor psychology community. However, a more global analysis questions the need for these two elements and, at the same time, offers insights into the conditions that facilitated or hindered the flow of Pavlovian science beyond the United States. Thus, for example, between 1903 and 1970 the dissemination and appropriation of the Pavlovian science of conditioned reflexes took two different routes: in America, scientific aspects and factors dominated; whereas elsewhere, politics prevailed over science. This happened in countries such as China, Cuba, and Spain, with dictatorial regimes at different ends of the political spectrum, where Pavlov’s work arrived under the auspices of government programs to modernize scientific and clinical institutions. Once Pavlov’s ideas had been introduced through reform programs in each country, they were accepted or rejected depending on whether the sign of the regime in question converged with the ideology prevailing in the Soviet Union, which it did in China and Cuba, but not in Spain. In these countries, where psychology did not have strong institutional roots and behaviorism was not a dominant approach, Pavlovian ideas found a receptive audience among health professionals-doctors, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists - keen to embrace new ideas and treatments for mental disorders. Thus, from a transnational perspective, the global repercussion of Pavlov’s ideas went far beyond the strictly methodological sphere.
Maggie Toplak and Jala Rizeq
There is a long tradition of studying children’s reasoning and thinking in cognitive development and education. The initial studies in the cognitive development of reasoning were motivated by Piagetian models, and developmental age was thought to bring the gradual onset of logical thinking. The introduction of heuristics and biases tasks in adults and dual process models have provided new perspectives for understanding the development of reasoning, judgment, and decision-making skills. These heuristics and biases tasks provided a way to operationalize the systematic errors that people make in their judgments. Dual process models have advanced our understanding of the basic processes implicated in both optimal and non-optimal responders on several types of paradigms, including heuristics and biases tasks and classic reasoning paradigms. Importantly, these skills and competencies are generally separable from the types of higher cognition assessed on measures of intelligence and executive function task performance.
Given the history of the study of reasoning in cognitive development, there is a need to integrate our understanding across these somewhat separate literatures. This is especially true given the opposite predictions that seem to be suggested in these different research traditions. Specifically, there is a focus on increasing logical development in the classic cognitive developmental literature and alternatively, there has been a focus on systematic errors in judgment and decision-making in the study of reasoning in adults. This article provides an integration of the two aforementioned perspectives that are rooted in different empirical and historical traditions. These considerations are addressed by drawing upon their research traditions and by summarizing more recent developmental work that has investigated these paradigms.
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.
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.
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.
The relationship between psychoanalysis and Critical Theory (the Frankfurt School), contrary to dominant interpretations, is examined from a sociocultural perspective. Psychoanalysis addressed the sociopolitical issues of its time, including cultural shifts, war, and the cultural conditio humana in general. Beyond that, and more importantly, it is argued that the core psychoanalytic concepts, including drive itself, can be understood as a structure open to social co-construction. Such an interpretation of psychoanalysis can provide a link to Critical Theory of society. First, both sociopolitical and theoretical conditions in the 1920s and 1930s merit analysis under which members of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research referred to Freud’s psychoanalysis. A theory was needed that would examine a missing point in Marxist interpretations, which the Institute adopted as its political and theoretical framework. What was missing was a place for subjective mediating factors, especially important among which were those generated by drives and those that operated unconsciously. The views on psychoanalysis and its role in the first generation of Critical Theory are analyzed, particularly the views of Horkheimer, Adorno, Fromm, and, most extensively, Marcuse, given the fact that Freud’s psychoanalysis had a central role in his thought. Finally, questions regarding the contemporary relevance of psychoanalysis and Critical Theory under new sociocultural conditions in the 21st century are raised.
Keiko Ishii and Charis Eisen
Socioeconomic status (SES) is a multidimensional construct based on access to material resources and one’s own rank relative to others in a social hierarchy. It fundamentally shapes individuals’ psychological and behavioral tendencies. In many ways, socioeconomic variation parallels East–West cultural dynamics. Like East Asian cultures, lower SES fosters interdependence, a reduced striving for personal choice, holistic thinking, and the attribution of events and behavior to external causes. In contrast, similar to Western cultures, higher SES supports independence, a strong desire for control, self-expression through choice, analytic thinking, and internal attribution. SES has also been found to shape additional psychological tendencies. Because limited access to resources and education makes it necessary to rely on other people, lower SES has been shown to be linked to a greater understanding of others’ emotions and a tendency to act altruistically.
Although the evidence is still limited, this article describes what is known about the simultaneous influence of SES and culture. Some studies have explored similar SES effects across cultures. However, reflecting the variation in the dominant ideas and practices shared among people within sociocultural contexts, some studies have suggested that socioeconomic contexts elicit different psychological processes across national cultures. Higher-SES individuals especially seem to adjust themselves to culturally sanctioned ideas and practices. The article suggests directions for future research that will enhance our understanding of the interplay between SES and national cultures.
Michael D. Beecher
Among Darwin’s brilliant ideas was his (1871) conception of animal communication signals as adaptive characteristics of a species. The idea was subsequently taken up by the ethologists of Europe in the 1930s (Lorenz, Tinbergen, and von Frisch in particular) in their studies of animal signaling systems in nature. For many subsequent researchers, human language was the implicit model for an animal communication system. Although not expecting the same level of complexity, these researchers assumed that animal signals transmitted information from sender to receiver that was honest, and that benefitted them both. However, the honest signaling/mutual benefit view was challenged by new researchers steeped in the sociobiology and behavioral ecology movement of the 1960s. The emphasis on competition in this new field inspired these researchers to reconceive the animal signaling process as one in which the sender manipulates the receiver to the sender’s advantage. This view was challenged in turn when researchers recognized that the receiver was not a passive party in the interaction, but fully capable of manipulating the sender to its advantage. The communication interaction can be viewed as an arm’s race. The handicap principle—the idea that honesty in signaling can be maintained if signals are costly—is one way the receiver may gain an edge in this competition. Eventually, game theory considerations led to the development of a revised perspective in which signals evolve only when both the sender and the receiver benefit on average, and where signals are honest on average. Researchers examining a particular signaling system’s signals these days ask not are the signals honest, but how reliable are the signals.
The first 30 years after the end of World War II saw marked changes in the discipline of psychology: in ideas and institutions, problems and practices, funders and philosophies. These changes can be grouped together and described as a new, “high modern” style of psychological science, a new style grounded in a new model of “man.” This new model of “man” cast humans as fundamentally forward-looking prediction machines rather than as past-governed stimulus-response machines or creatures of habit, instinct, or drives. According to this view, the past still matters to our decision-making, but in a new way: it informs our expectations—the futures we imagine—rather than determining our behavior or saddling us with half-remembered traumas. From this perspective, we use mental representations of the world to generate predictions about future states of that world, especially states that are contingent upon our actions. Even more, we are finite prediction machines in an infinite world. Our mental representations of the world, therefore, must simplify it, and since we have neither perfect knowledge nor perfect cognitive abilities nor unlimited time, our fundamental state is one of uncertainty. We are problem-solvers that depend upon information to adapt, survive, and thrive, but we live in a world in which that information, and the time necessary to make sense of it, is expensive.
Helle Harnisch, Edith Montgomery, and Hans Henrik Knoop
The field of resilience research lacks conceptualizations of resilience that better reflect the coercive conditions, contexts and experiences of human beings who face life-threatening adversity. The article provides historic context to definitions of resilience and underlines how resilience, when defined as an absence of psychopathology, is too narrow a perspective given the life-threatening adversity many human beings face; but nevertheless, continue with life despite of. The article introduces “Forced Resilience” as a helpful concept in drawing attention to experiences of life-threatening adversity, and how resilient responses should not be deduced to whether psychopathology appears – or not, since such understandings do not embrace the complexity of life-threatening adversity and what human beings do to cope with it. Based on a qualitative empirical cultural case study comprising 10 months of ethnographic fieldwork over 4 years among former forcibly recruited children, youth, and adults in the Acholi region of Northern Uganda, the article analyzes resilience as it appears among the children and youth in our study who experienced numerous kill-or-get-killed situations, and who today, as adults, live in continuous adverse circumstances. The article analyzes whether and how the emic, first-person perspectives of the former forcibly recruited children, youth, and adults resonate with state-of-the-art resilience and psychotraumatology studies. The results underline how this is rarely the case. We argue that more careful and emic consideration is needed, regarding how we define and evaluate what are pathological and resilient responses to what types of adversity in the fast-growing field of resilience research. It is our hope that “Forced resilience” will serve as a helpful concept, which through an experience-near approach can draw attention to resilience as it occurs amidst life-threatening adversity and that this will contribute to a needed re-conceptualizing and contextualizing of resilience.