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Aging Societies and the Ethical Challenges of Long Life  

Allison R. Heid and Steven H. Zarit

Individuals are living longer than they ever have before with average life expectancy at birth estimated at 79 years of age in the United States. A greater proportion of individuals are living to advanced ages of 85 or more and the ratio of individuals 65 and over to individuals of younger age groups is shrinking. Disparities in life expectancy across genders and races are pronounced. Financial challenges of sustaining the older population are substantial in most developed and many developing countries. In the United States in particular, employer-based pension programs are diminishing. Furthermore, Social Security will begin taking in less money than it pays out as early as 2023, and the debate over its future in part entails discussions of equitable distribution of resources for the young in need and the old. Living longer is associated with a greater number of chronic health conditions—over two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries in the United States have two or more chronic health conditions that require complex self-management regimes partnered with informal and formal care services from family caregivers and institutional long-term services and supports. Caregiver burden and stress is high as are quality care deficiencies in residential long-term care settings. The balance of honoring individuals’ autonomous wishes and providing person-centered care that also addresses the practicalities of safety is an ever-present quandary. Furthermore, complex decisions regarding end-of-life care and treatments plague the medical and social realms, as more money is spent at the end of life than at any other point and individuals’ wishes for less invasive treatment are often not accommodated. Yet, despite these challenges of later life, a large percentage of older individuals are giving financial support, time, and energy to younger generations, who are increasingly strained by economic hardship, the pressures on dual earner parents, and the problems faced by single parenthood. Older individuals’ engagement in society and the help they provide others runs counter to stereotypes that render them helpless and lonely. Overall, the ethical challenges faced by society due to the aging of the population are considerable. Difficult decisions that must be addressed include the sustainability of programs, resources, and social justice in care, as well as how to marshal the resources, talents, and wisdom that older people provide.


A History of Pavlovian Science  

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.


A History of the Concepts of Harmony in Chinese Culture  

Louise Sundararajan

This historical overview of the concepts of harmony in Chinese culture situates the topic in the ecological context of a strong-ties society that fosters a type of rationality that privileges symmetry over asymmetry. Analysis of the discourse of harmony focuses on the texts of two native schools of thought—Confucianism and Taoism—and briefly mentions Buddhism (a religion imported from India). The modern history of harmony has just begun but is already portentous. The turbulent course of China’s rapid modernization suggests the possibility that as China transitions from a strong-ties society to the weak-ties global market, harmony may be encountering, for the first time, contradictions that defy harmonization. Whatever the future holds for the Chinese legacy of harmony, its contribution to the happiness and well-being of the individuals in their intimate relationship with self and others is likely to remain unchallenged.


Anxiety Disorders in Children and Young People  

Cathy Creswell, Sasha Walters, Brynjar Halldorsson, and Peter J. Lawrence

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders among children and young people, affecting an estimated 6.5% of children and young people worldwide. Childhood anxiety disorders often persist into adulthood if left untreated and are associated with a significant emotional and financial cost to individuals, their families, and wider society. Models of the development and maintenance of childhood anxiety disorders have underpinned prevention and treatment approaches, and cognitive behavioral treatments have good evidence for their efficacy. Ongoing challenges for the field include the need to improve outcomes for those that do not benefit from current prevention and treatment, and to increase access to those who could benefit.


Animal Cognition  

Sarah Krichbaum, Adam Davila, Lucia Lazarowski, and Jeffrey S. Katz

The contemporary field of animal cognition began over 150 years ago when Charles Darwin posed questions regarding the abilities of the animal mind. Animal cognition is a science dedicated to understanding the processes and mechanisms that allow nonhumans to think and behave. The techniques that are used and the species that are studied are diverse. The historical questions originally proposed by ethologist Nikolas Tinbergen as a framework for studying animal behavior remain at the core of the field. These questions are reviewed along with the domains and methods of animal cognition with a focus on concept learning, memory, and canine cognition. Finally, ideas on how a field rich in tradition and methodological strength should proceed in the future are presented.


Animal Communication  

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.


Causal Attribution  

Ahogni N'gbala and Denis Hilton

Attribution theory is an area of research in social psychology, which deals with how people perceive and interpret the causes of their own and others’ behavior. Attributional theory deals with how the observer’s causal perceptions and interpretations guide his/her own subsequent behavior. In recent years, work in the area has been broadened to include new theoretical models concerned with the explanation of intentional behaviors and responsibility, and blame assignment, along with counterfactual thinking, where mental simulations of changes in the causal structure of events have been shown to affect emotional reactions. As such attribution(al) theory overlaps with research in cognitive, developmental, and moral psychology, and its concepts have been applied to a wide variety of domains such as clinical psychology, marketing, and organizational behavior.


Cognition and Mobility With Aging  

Karen Z. H. Li, Halina Bruce, and Rachel Downey

Research on the interplay of cognition and mobility in old age is inherently multidisciplinary, informed by findings from life span developmental psychology, kinesiology, cognitive neuroscience, and rehabilitation sciences. Early observational work revealed strong connections between sensory and sensorimotor performance with measures of intellectual functioning. Subsequent work has revealed more specific links between measures of cognitive control and gait quality. Convergent evidence for the interdependence of cognition and mobility is seen in patient studies, wherein cognitive impairment is associated with increased frequency and risk of falling. Even in cross-sectional studies involving healthy young and older adults, the effects of aging on postural control and gait are commonly exacerbated when participants perform a motor task with a concurrent cognitive load. This motor-cognitive dual-task method assumes that cognitive and motor domains compete for common capacity, and that older adults recruit more cognitive capacity than young adults to support gait and posture. Neuroimaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have revealed associations between measures of mobility (e.g., gait velocity and postural control) and measures of brain health (e.g., gray matter volumes, cortical thickness, white matter integrity, and functional connectivity). The brain regions most often associated with aging and mobility also appear to subserve high-level cognitive functions such as executive control, attention, and working memory (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate). Portable functional neuroimaging has allowed for the examination of neural functioning during real-time walking, often in conjunction with detailed spatiotemporal measures of gait. A more recent strategy that addresses the interdependence of cognitive and motor processes in old age is cognitive remediation. Cognitive training has yielded promising improvements in balance, walking, and overall mobility status in healthy older adults, and those with age-related neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression  

Stirling Moorey and Steven D. Hollon

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has the strongest evidence base of all the psychological treatments for depression. It has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and preventing relapse. All models of CBT share in common an assumption that emotional states are created and maintained through learned patterns of thoughts and behaviors and that new and more helpful patterns can be learned through psychological interventions. They also share a commitment to empirical testing of the theory and clinical practice. Beck’s Cognitive Therapy sees negative distorted thinking as central to depression and is the most established form of CBT for depression. Behavioral approaches, such as Behavioral Activation, which emphasize behavioral rather than cognitive change, also has a growing evidence base. Promising results are emerging from therapies such as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and rumination-focused therapy that focus on the process of managing thoughts rather than their content. Its efficacy-established CBT now faces the challenge of cost-effective dissemination to depressed people in the community.


Cognitive Psychology During the Cold War Era, 1955–1975  

Hunter Heyck

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.


Conservation and the Environment  

Adam R. Pearson and Matthew T. Ballew

Environmental sustainability, the long-term management and protection of earth’s resources and ecosystems, is increasingly recognized as a societal challenge shaped by human behavior at every level of social interaction, from neighborhoods to nations. Psychological perspectives on conservation, which have traditionally emphasized individual determinants of proenvironmental behavior (e.g., personal environmental concern), have begun to incorporate a more nuanced picture of the ways in which both individual and group-level processes can influence conservation efforts. In particular, research on social norms and identity-based influences suggests that social perceptions, such as beliefs about what actions are common and socially valued, can be more powerful drivers of conservation behavior than monetary incentives, proenvironmental appeals, or the ease of proenvironmental actions. Additional research has begun to incorporate cross-cultural perspectives and insights from diversity science and intervention science to better understand how different cultural orientations and social identity processes, such as those related to race, ethnicity, and social class, impact environmental decision-making. A new class of “wise” interventions that target psychological mechanisms that shape conservation behavior, such as interventions that incorporate normative feedback, target public behavior, or seek to alter daily routines during major life transitions, have proven especially effective at promoting sustained behavior change. Generally, behavioral interventions are more effective at promoting conservation behavior when they are tailored to the social context in which behavior occurs.


Cultural Competence  

Soon Ang, Kok Yee Ng, and Thomas Rockstuhl

Cultural competence refers to an individual’s potential to function effectively in intercultural situations. The myriad conceptualizations of cultural competence can be broadly classified as intercultural traits (enduring personal characteristics that describe what a person typically does in intercultural situations); attitudes (perceptions and evaluations of other cultures); and capabilities (what a person can do to function effectively in intercultural contexts). In terms of empirical evidence, a review of existing report-based instruments (i.e., measures that involve self- or observer-perceptions of cultural competence) shows that only three instruments (Cultural Intelligence Survey, CQS; Multicultural Personality Questionnaire, MPQ; and Intercultural Adjustment Potential Scale, ICAPS) demonstrate strong psychometric properties and incremental predictive validity across cultures. Notably, the CQS has the most extensive evidence on its predictive validity. The field is also seeing an emergence of performance-based measures of cultural competence in the form of situation judgment tests. Finally, there is considerable research on interventions to grow cultural competence and intelligence in individuals. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews generally concluded that training enhances the development of cultural competence and intercultural effectiveness. Effect sizes, however, vary depending on training and trainee characteristics. The field of cultural competence is at an exciting nexus of globalization, increasing diversification within nations, and technological advancements. We suggest that future research should (1) extend our conceptualization of cultural competence to include managing vertical differences rooted in power and status disparity; (2) expand our measurement from psychometric approaches to the use of multimodal analytics; and (3) expand our criterion space of cultural learning.


Culture and Intelligence  

Robert J. Sternberg

Intelligence needs to be understood in the cultural contexts in which it is displayed. For one thing, people in different cultures have different conceptions (implicit theories) of what intelligence is. Asian and African cultures tend to have broader and more encompassing views of intelligence than do Western cultures. Asians and Africans place less emphasis on mental speed and more emphasis on social and emotional aspects of behavior, as well as on wisdom. These implicit theories are important because in everyday life, people’s behavior is guided not so much by scores on standardized or other tests but rather by people’s implicit theories. For example, hiring and promotion decisions are usually based on such implicit theories, not on test scores. Studies of performances by people, especially children, in different cultures suggest that the strengths of individuals across cultures are not necessarily well represented by conventional intelligence tests. For example, in some cultures, knowledge of herbal medications used to combat parasitic illnesses, or knowledge of hunting and gathering, or knowledge of how to effectively ice fish, can be more important to assessing intelligence than scores on a standardized test. Eskimo children may know how to navigate across the frozen tundra in the winter without obvious landmarks, yet they may not be able to attain high scores on conventional intelligence tests. Some of those who would score highly on such tests would be unable to do such navigation, to their peril. There is no such thing as a culture-free test of intelligence, and there probably is no test that is genuinely culture-fair either. At best, tests should be culture-relevant, measuring the cognitive and other skills relevant to effectively adapt to particular cultures. These skills are likely to be partially but not fully overlapping across cultures. Thus, intelligence needs to be understood in its cultural contexts, not divorced from such contexts.


Cultures of Honor  

Patricia M. Rodriguez Mosquera

Honor is complex, deeply relational, and important in many cultures and social groups. A definition of honor as multifaceted and consisting of a set of interrelated honor codes, i.e., the honor-as-multifaceted approach to honor, is presented and discussed by Rodriguez Mosquera. This definition provides researchers the conceptual boundaries of honor as a construct as well as methodological guidelines on how to operationalize honor in empirical research. Furthermore, the honor-as-multifaceted approach provides researchers with a definition of cultures of honor as those in which honor codes become culturally shared psychological concerns that individuals evaluate as important to their self-esteem and self-concept, thereby influencing their cognitions, motivations, emotions, and behaviors. The Honor Scale measures honor codes in line with this definition. A review of existing empirical research on honor in a wide variety of cultures and social groups is also presented and discussed. Some of the work reviewed is cross-cultural in nature, whereas other work focuses on how honor operates in particular cultures or social groups (e.g., British Muslims; Moroccan Dutch and Turkish Dutch youth; Southern Italian criminal organizations; the Canadian Army). The reviewed research provides empirical support for the honor-as-multifaceted approach and demonstrates the centrality of honor codes in a variety of psychological and social processes, including personality, the negotiation of gendered roles within the family, attitudes toward in-group members, emotions in response to threats to collective honor, intergroup conflict, the negotiation of power in intergroup relations, in-group identification processes, and prosocial motivations. Thus, the reviewed research shows that honor codes play an important role in processes at the different levels of analysis typically studied in the social sciences—individual, interpersonal, group, cultural—thereby making honor an important topic of inquiry for psychologists and other social scientists. Avenues for future research are also discussed.


Deep Learning Networks and Visual Perception  

Grace W. Lindsay and Thomas Serre

Deep learning is an approach to artificial intelligence (AI) centered on the training of deep artificial neural networks to perform complex tasks. Since the early 21st century, this approach has led to record-breaking advances in AI, allowing computers to solve complex board games, video games, natural language-processing tasks, and vision problems. Neuroscientists and psychologists have also utilized these networks as models of biological information processing to understand language, motor control, cognition, audition, and—most commonly—vision. Specifically, early feedforward network architectures were inspired by visual neuroscience and are used to model neural activity and human behavior. They also provide useful representations of the perceptual space of images. The extent to which these models match data, however, depends on the methods used to characterize and compare them. The limitations of these feedforward neural networks to account for, for example, simple visual reasoning tasks, suggests that feedback mechanisms may be necessary to solve visual recognition tasks beyond image categorization.


Descartes’ Dualism of Mind and Body in the Development of Psychological Thought  

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.


Development of Judgment, Decision Making, and Rationality  

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.


Early Psychosocial Interventions for Individuals and Groups Affected by Disasters  

Noreen Tehrani

Throughout the world, individuals, groups, and communities are faced with major incidents, crises, and disasters. The impact of disasters can be wide-ranging, involving death, severe injury, the loss of home, shelter, liberty, security, and food, in addition to social dislocation and destroyed infrastructure and networks. Victims can experience distress, anger, grief, and fear together with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. First responders and those delivering longer-term social and psychological support can be adversely affected by direct exposure to the disaster, by learning about the details of the disaster from the testimony of victims, or by viewing distressing images or artifacts connected to the disaster. To reduce the impact of disasters, communities and emergency services need to prepare plans to meet the physical, social, and psychological needs of those involved and undertake thorough testing of these plans to ensure they are fit for purpose. This planning needs to consider natural hazards such as forest fires, floods, drought, and biological hazards, including Covid-19, influenza, foot and mouth disease, and severe acute respiratory syndrome. Human and technological failings can also create hazards seen in transport crashes, the release of toxic substances, and armed conflict. Contingency planning is used to reduce exposure to a hazard by identifying and protecting those at most risk of harm. However, it is impossible to prevent crises and disasters from happening, making it essential to provide appropriate and timely support. Initial support ensures that disaster survivors are taken to a safe place where their immediate needs for food, drinks, and shelter are met. The aim of early psychosocial responses to disasters are fourfold: (a) to increase disaster preparedness to reduce the impact of hazards and vulnerabilities, (b) to respond to the immediate human needs for safety and survival, (c) to communicate care and provide psychological support, and (d) to provide an opportunity for survivors to process and create meaning from experiences. Ideally, all early psychosocial interventions would be evidence-based and delivered by trained and monitored practitioners; however, often, this is not the case. Despite the development of an abundance of disaster-related models, few have been evaluated; this failure is due to a lack of agreement on the aims, scope, measures, and training required to deliver evidence-based interventions. Humanitarian and emergency response organizations look toward psychologists to provide them with the evidence-based interventions, evaluation tools, and guidance they need for dealing with disasters.


Ethics in Work and Organizational Psychology  

Joel Lefkowitz

Adequately appreciating any area of applied ethics necessarily begins with indispensable foundations from moral philosophy and moral psychology, which are the bases for understanding normative ethical principles. (Otherwise, one could be reduced to the rote memorization of a near-infinite list of “dos and don’ts.”) Personal and social values also are critical as they shape people’s conceptions of ethics and morality. (For example, what constitutes a harm or a wrong? What is the right thing to do?) Traditionally in moral philosophy there have been three ways of answering those normative questions: from deontology (determining what is permissible based on absolutist ethical principles of right and wrong); consequentialism (assessing which alternative is best because it produces the greatest good [or least harm] for all those affected); and virtue theory (being virtuous). Yet, they have all been shown to have weaknesses. For example, what happens when principles are contradictory? What counts as a good? Who determines what is a virtue? And situations sometimes lend themselves more readily to one or another approach, so prudence suggests understanding and being prepared to use all. A person experiences an ethical problem when faced with a choice that challenges one or more of their ethical principles, with potential significant impact on the well-being of others. Professionals often experience ethical dilemmas, which entail having to make uncomfortable choices—choices one would rather not have to make at all. It helps to be able to recognize the form or structure of the dilemma (e.g., contemplating a self-serving act that will harm others). What makes the situation painful is that the person is motivated to some appreciable degree to “do the right thing” (otherwise they wouldn’t be experiencing a “dilemma”). Professionals such as work and organizational psychologists (WOPs) encounter a variety of ethical challenges in the different venues in which they work—as educators, researchers, practitioners, and administrators. Recent empirical survey data concerning ethical situations experienced and reported by WOPs have become available, illustrating that variety. The process of ethics education and training ought to entail becoming familiar with one or more of the several decision-making models for facilitating ethical reasoning that are available in the professional literature.


Feminist Psychologies in India  

Vindhya Undurti

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.