Looking back to the last 10 years*, 7 in Japan, 3 in Switzerland, it feels exciting, like having entered a second life. Without shame of losing face, studying, and practicing. A learning path to Awareness Intelligence.
*Yes, sometimes I also look back … to learn without regret and without pressure to live up to a story others want to create for us.
A PATH TO AWARENESS INTELLIGENCE
Commonly unspectacular, a Swiss citizen’s life Eastward with the goal to further thrive When I arrive in the land of the rising sun Cultural clashes, there I’m Mathias Sager san
I would not have believed my greeting future Lost identity, emergence of an actualized father Through the eyes of a child, with a child, for a child A new land, far away, yet an inner view that died
Different, knowing, growing, fallen out of favor Refusing the call to fight, love seemed braver The shallowness of business passing by these eyes Remembering my daughter, and the world of lies
I’m doing it again; the challenges are teachers And teaching shall I be against the treacherous Conditional “love”, which I find our time’s disease If I can’t adapt, never will we have more peace
Curtains of tears are my entrance to the light Working all day and night, this path seems right Barriers bridged by worded paintings, painted poetry The magic of the three, third career that’s necessary
My friends, the books alone stand by in times of loss I do not fear death anymore; this pond I cross At the same time, obstacles, and sources of energy Putting into practice what I’ve studied in psychology
I was looking for happiness and found meaning, yes When I accepted meaning, happiness became meaningless Knowledge from the heart because reason is blinding The love for you gives purpose to everything
Civilization, shallow pleasures; they just exist In nature, I resist; in privileges, I don’t insist Inspired, I’m back to follow the calling An artist’s fitness, kindness, and wisdom, I’m all in
POLLUTED DESIRE FOR LIFE (M. Sager, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 60 cm)
One may find a lot of examples supporting the thesis that things got better, safer, and healthier. However, not being aware of globally increasing wealth inequality, existing heightened levels of hunger, and peaking numbers of refugees in some areas of the world, as well as soaring amounts of prescriptions of antidepressants in many societies, signifies that local perceptions might lack accurate information and understanding. Because what is affordable within reach, is unavailable at another place. What is acceptable for some, is intolerable for others. And what means poverty in this place, passes for luxury elsewhere. While escaping environmental pollution here, more pollution happens there. The growing world population and economy continue to exploit the planet’s resources faster than these can be renewed. Nature gets intoxicated with garbage whose decomposition takes centuries and irreparably contaminates with spurious poison the earthly and universal flow of energy for the generations to come. In developed countries we see today the first generations who are facing decreasing life durations. The life expectancy of a fifty-year-old in a low-income country, which represents the majority of the world population, remained the same as it was thirty years ago. In the last forty-five years, suicide rates have increased by sixty percent worldwide, which indicates a desperate mental climate even in countries of relative wealth. The desire to die usually comes from unfulfilled desires for life. Also most individuals who seem tired of life would decide to live if the necessary psychological support factors such as meaningfulness, purposefulness, and spiritual growth through awareness-intelligent living would seem achievable. All these can be achieved if egoistic group thinking is replaced with the ability to include all and everyone in one’s worldview. We need worldview and human identity that goes beyond the here and now, one that is socio-temporally inclusive of the extra-personal future and, as a result, is intelligently aware.
Excerpt from Awareness intelligence (M. Sager, 2018)
How to Synchronize, Increase the Frequency, and Sustain the Rhythm of the Dance of Life
Humans like stability to feel safe, and they seek preservation of their identity, whether it be good or bad. In the short-term, though, people often also do not like repetition as it leads them to boredom. In a time paced rapidly by ever shorter business cycles, everything tends to become judged as boring by the declining attention span of the consumer mind. In contrast, as to the creating mind, education and professional practice training are considered successful if one has learned to tolerate the monotonous tasks of the streamlined information and production processes as input to the modern economic societies. That’s how many forgot the excitement of rhythm and surprising improvisations of a freely lived life.
Like evenly-timed rhythms such as four-quarter times are often interpreted through triple step dances (for example, two quick steps and one slow step), it is the shift from the balance of even patterns to the harmony of three that introduces a higher level of human experience. Having three entities combines both brevity and rhythm with having the smallest amount of information to create a pattern. To overcome the avoidance of change caused by the monotonous evenness of commercial mainstream and its resulting addiction to stability, we are well-advised to hear the rhythm of the dance of life in all three the past, the present, and the future.
Therefore, the three steps of the dance of life can be seen as follows:
• Step 1: SYNCHRONIZING THE RHYTHM – Guidance by the past of universal unity
• Step 2: INCREASING THE FREQUENCY OF THE RHYTHM – Attendance to the present without fear
• Step 3: SUSTAINING THE RHYTHM – Abundance through service to the future of all
Step 1: SYNCHRONIZATION OF THE RHYTHM –Guided by the past of universal unity
Most people are not able to not have to belong, respectively are not able to belong to everybody, so they will belong to certain/specific groups. Group thinking often inhibits critical thinking. However, experiences of togetherness also reveal the motives for unity that involve rhythmic, synchronous movements like marching and dancing. To march or dance together to the same rhythm creates intense feelings of unity and fosters a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for one’s mates. Again, this bears risks and opportunities: Applied to an exclusive group, this is the essence of the birth of radical ideologies and religions; However, when extended to all of humanity, true spirituality opens up.
Step 2: INCREASING THE FREQUENCY OF THE RHYTHM – Attending to the present without fear
The ego always fears to lose, why others are seen as threats. This attention to the fear of loss eventually is missing for the attendance of inspiration and love. Because of the fear of losing one’s identity, change becomes the ultimate threat. However, on the dance floor of life, many people dance, and the music will change all the time. So, we should not get angry and fearful when the rhythm is changing again. However, we also shouldn’t necessarily let the music played by others let us dictate our pace. It’s best to choose the music that reflects our natural rhythm so that we can pace ourselves in our journeys of personal development. It’s exciting to meet new people. Meeting strangers creates high levels of synchronized rhythmic activities in the brain. Therefore, let’s enjoy social arousal from novel encounters; the more exciting and less frightening they are perceived, the higher is the frequency of the neuronal dance in your brain.
Step 3: SUSTAINING THE RHYTHM – Abundance through service to the future of all
The commitment to live life in a sustainable rhythm, without greed, without unnecessary selfishness, helps to avoid depressive thoughts of loss, burnout, despair, and getting stiff in the ability to dance smoothly. If we change the rhythm from an attitude of “getting what’s in for us” to one which services the others, it’s possible to create a different cadence in life, a rhythm of an all-new quality. We think our life with birth and death is different than anything else as we consider it not to follow a recurring rhythm. That’s why we mistakenly don’t dance through life. On the other hand, we run as straight and fast as possible in one direction, completely denying the possibility that there is no other place than the here and now to go. Shouldn’t we joyfully embrace life as an endless and abundant dance of collective consciousness to which we can contribute as an equal part (not as less nor as more)?
In that sense, let’s overcome avoidance and become guided and attentive dancers for abundance. To live from unity, in love, and for service to all is the ability to synchronize the rhythm and dance the dance of life. This was, once again, another analogy for describing the socio-temporal rhythmic system of the universe on which Awareness Intelligence (see www.mathias-sager.com) is based.
Chapter 29 – Energy and the illusionary objectification of life
As energy works in waves, life operates in circles and cycles, in softness and roundness too. The earth rotates around the sun, we sleep and wake in rhythmic sequels, like the circle of birth and death. What a contrast we create between the spherical, freely flowing world of life energy and the squared and edged compositions of the frightened human mind seeking physical protection.
Instead of predominantly angular, cubic, boxed, parceled, square, and sharp constructions, round forms around us would remind us more accurately about the real, non-threatening nature of life.
Indeed, all form is coming from round and soft wombs and nests, and eventually everything is returning to the smooth nature of roundness. What is in form and still has edges, gets rounded up and polished by life’s allies, such as wind and water, until the shape is smoothened and eventually dissolved at all. And so does the human body’s contours that become softer as it ages. Women are often extraordinarily displaying so-called soft skills, and female leadership styles tend to emphasize humanitarian principles more than masculine styles stereotypically do. Therefore, the life giving, creative, and protective female nature might play an important role in operationalizing the development of Awareness Intelligence.
Little do we ask ourselves about our most vital relationship, the one with cosmic lifetime. It would be a good idea, as some people do, to write down one’s years left to increase mortality awareness. For example, if life expectancy was eighty years, and one is forty-four years now, it would remind of having only thirty-six years left. To be aware of life’s curvilinear rather than linear course, years would best be contemplated as seasonal compounds, which spiral into eternity as energy waves from both its carried corps and consciousness.
The universe is energy. Light is fast energy. Slow energy becomes heavy and dark. Today’s physicists have evidenced that space is not empty at all. According to Richard Feynman, an American theoretical physicist of the last century, “there is enough energy in a single cubic meter of space to boil all the oceans in the world.” As soon as objectification through slowed down energy vibrations occur, the illusions of time and solidity appear to us. The solid and hard that we appreciate as being most valuable is actually of lowest frequency energy.
High, warm vibration that did not manifest into cold objects, as we perceive them, is energy that is much more of a dynamic, powerful, and healing quality. Why do we surround us with the hard and cold of gold and diamonds instead of letting more sunshine warm our skin?
With our constrained five senses we perceive only relatively slow energy and time consciously. We see our existence as a major event, although it might be not more than an insignificant yet specific vibration of universal energy, as it pertains to our body. If the objectified form of where our soul houses in here on earth is just a short flicker in the context of eternal life, why should we take it so seriously? Consciousness as a constant energetic part of all universal energy will vibrate in and as endlessly different frequencies. Our current manifestation as a human body is just one among unlimited possibilities. For the universe, there are no different forms; form is a dualistic interpretation of the human mind that depends on the threshold of receptiveness of the five senses. Even from that rational perspective, however, the human form may not be the most exciting embodiment that our conscious energy will ever slowdown into.
Sometimes I ponder life as being a swim across a pond; a swim in a crowd of other swimmers that, at times, involves enduring colder streams of water, scary muddy parts, and which comes with physical strains. Then I see that it is just a swim and that my family, colleagues, and others of the current, former, and future swimming classes are observing and encouraging from the water’s edge. As I come closer to the other side of the pond, I see that it will have been a relatively short test. Depending on the diagonal chosen, the swim to the other shore is not the same length for everybody. All the souls of life around the pond, however, help that all involved eventually arrive at the other side. Nobody stays swimming; nobody stays in the water forever. Life takes care of all the swimmers to return safely to the land of real life, regardless of how they did during their swim. However, during the paddle, I realize that I serve as a role model for how to give my best. I’ve understood that I will benefit, thanks to the swimming experience, from various learnings even after I’ll have arrived, for me and for all others who go and will go through that crawl as well. The main benefit lies in learning and inspiring to enjoy every single second awareness-intelligently.
A key insight from the swim across the pond is that both sides of it are the same land of life. The ground from where I birthed into the water, is the same as I return to when I leave the water again. The possibility of returning implies a cyclical notion of life and time, regardless of whether I get another turn for a swim or not. Life is not a project because the end is the same as the start. There are no project-like goals to achieve other than just being your best self and learning as life would never end.
Part of Awareness Intelligence is the ability to mentally stretch to both sides of this imaginary pond of our earthly swim. For our eternal soul that is a breeze, but for our human lifetime awareness and related thinking, it is a gymnastic split we need to practice for.
All-inclusive and endless knowing requires to mentally stretch enough into the time before our physical birth, as well as into the time after our death to bend the timeline into a circle of perpetual and unified life.
We have to sense our soul-relatedness to the immaterial consciousness to detach ourselves from the illusion of time that is only bound to objects such as our bodies. Despite the need to handle practical time for physical experiences, one needs to connect to the timeless sphere of universal intelligence. It is our human capacity to be aware of this co-existence of practical and universal, cosmic time; the awareness of the parallel truth of life, life’s immortal intelligence that breathes the energy vibrations of consciousness even into our objectified temporal bodily manifestation.
Often breakthrough findings are the simplest ones. If something can’t be explained easily, it is not well understood. If spirituality is advertised as requiring miraculous super-powers hold by few, it might be spiritual elitism that is not for all of us. An awareness-intelligent understanding of spirituality may be considered prosaic considering its modest level of mysticism involved, and yet it is whole and infinite, full of all the beauty and joy that life has to offer. Spirituality is simple and pure humaneness, it is the ultimate mental playground of human realization.
We are all spiritual beings; we just need to be aware of and practicing it.
To organize our thinking about life, mind, and soul is not creating a false god. Neither has a logical arrangement have to deteriorate into a dogmatic belief system. Indeed, what wisdom means for one person may have a completely different meaning and quality for somebody else. What feels right at one time becomes obsolete later on. It’s of limited usefulness to name a spiritual authority or to lay down religious rules and rituals if not for institutional interests.
However, there is a universal structure of life that we should all be aware of.
It is important to visualize the matrix of Awareness Intelligence to internalize it as a mental skeleton that will help you keep a healthy psycho-spiritual posture.
You can use the socio-temporal diagram as a template, but I recommend to imaginarily draw it in your mind again and again by yourself as it suits you. As a diagram, the vertical axis shows the increasing social scope of human relations. Starting from the intersection with the horizontal axis, which represents time, the first third of the vertical line shall be labeled ‘intra,’ which means ‘intrapersonal.’ The next, middle part of the vertical axis becomes ‘inter,’ which stands for the ‘inter-personal’ scope. The third and uppermost vertical section is the ‘extra,‘ which signifies ‘extra-personal.’ Now the horizontal axis. It partitions itself, in the order from left to right, into the ‘past,’ ‘present,’ and ‘future.’ Similar to a coordinate system, through these two both tripartite grid lines, a matrix can be formed. When using the vertical and horizontal axis’ labels in the same manner as the numerical coordinates of a map, or the letters and numbers of a chessboard, it is possible to identify the three times three – in total nine – fields of the matrix.
To describe Awareness Intelligence, the following three fields of the matrix are of primary interest:
It is first the reference of the ‘intra-past’ as it results from the projected intra-personal relating and past-timing.
The second matrix field we are going to focus on in more detail is the ‘inter-present,’
and the third one is the ‘extra-future.’
These are the three critical fields in the socio-temporal grid, each of which corresponds to a sub-category of Awareness Intelligence. The three tenets of Awareness Intelligence, therefore, are the ‘intra-past,’ the ‘inter-present,’ and the ‘extra-future.’
This coordinate system of human relations and modes of time is all we need for the validation of human awareness. Our quality of mind is determined by how we are positioning our thoughts regarding social relations and time. Intelligent awareness emerges when the three Awareness Intelligence categories harmoniously play together.
When we mentalize in a way that simultaneously includes our own past, our common present, and all humanity’s future, the whole scope of human experience unfolds.
Although the socio-temporal matrix comprises of nine fields, the focus is kept on the three healthily intelligent fields that support a sober watching mind and enable the benefits of individual, organizational, and universally shared well-being. The six less discussed parts of the grid implicitly reveal themselves as being related to problematic states of the mind like past-oriented judging of others, present feelings of obligations due to transactional relationships, and future-directed worries as concerned by one’s ego. In other words, focusing the intra-past, inter-present, and extra-future coordinate map fields does help to position inter-personal relationships unconditioned by time, and detach oneself from relationships and objects as not related to the present moment.
Having established the matrix of Awareness Intelligence with its three modes, we can now systematically navigate the intelligently observing mind in more detail and depth without getting lost. As much as we try, for example in romantic relationships, we can’t fully connect with other creatures on a physical level.
We want to unify so much that we sometimes try to become one body; in vain. It is only on a mental level that it is possible to transcend the separating physical forms and plug together into the life that is the soul,
respectively the animating spirit of everything and everyone. Only the collective of this life force of the human species persists into the future, long after my and your body will have died.
The awareness of this timeless extra-personal relationship with all humanity is what I call the ‘extra-future.’ As part of and as the culmination of Awareness Intelligence, it bears the biggest truth of spirituality.
Let’s start to exemplify Awareness Intelligence in the first necessary insight into the ‘intra-past.’ Purifying one’s self-perception leads the way to overcome self-inadequacy as achieved through the insight of the ‘inter-present,’ for the self then can courageously and lovingly complete into the continuous entirety of the ‘extra-future.’
Although ‘meaning’ isn’t reducible to a state-like single factor , the meaning of a concept (i.e., work) is related to how an individual does experience the significance of a situation that causes related inferential intentions to behave in a certain way . While for many people the primary meaning of work lies in the earning of money for making a living, work provides also for values such as achievement, honor, and social relationships that determine how central the purpose of work is as compared to other life aspects like leisure, family, and community .
Economist and psychologist approach to work
The economist approach to work assumes a transactional exchange of time and effort for money. Non-financial job values have gotten limited attention by economists when examining work motivation and productivity. However, like for example, academics who have highest job security without the need to outperform, and who study beyond working hours without monetary incentives, are motivated by pure contribution to a subject, intellectual stimulation, and the satisfaction from a deliberate exchange of knowledge. Similarly, entrepreneurs enjoy the freedom of autonomous decision-making regardless of ‘pain’ put into it in the form of time and effort. Top talents have been found to prefer to work for social organizations rather than just for the best paying one .
Albeit the financialized political economy  ignores many aspects of work, such as its creative and interpersonal (social) value , the examples show that through psychological satisfaction, work can be a source of meaning beyond merely earning an income .
Cultural features of work meaning
Work creates culture, culture creates work
Culture as a guiding set of material, mental, and spiritual values that are based on a group’s experiences over time, creates meaning on how to behave and work  and, at the same time, its meaning itself is produced by work. Consequently, work should be considered a meaning-making construct of and within culture respectively as the producer and product of people’s mindset simultaneously . A culture, therefore, can be only as rich and meaningful as the work that produces it is itself.
In most Western cultures, there is today a less clear boundary between school and work life. In Japanese society though, there exists still a distinct point in time (usually beginning of April every year) that is marking the end of one’s student identity through entering the working world on full-time basis, which means to becoming a ‘shakaijin,’ i.e., a person of society/workforce . Companies use recruitment practices and regular personal assessment throughout an adult’s work life to socialize . Age-based reward and promotion systems also support this ongoing socialization process . More recently, the traditional path to adulthood and ‘companyism’ has become more diverse, and the increasing number of part-time workers and contractors is shaping a changing understanding of the transition to adulthood and work life, one that takes place rather through action than through the acquisition of the ‘shakaijin’ status .
Masculine breadwinner identity
Company respectively work-led socialization reinforces gender roles. The breadwinning role is a priority in masculine identity. After the earthquake in 2011, men’s concern in Fukushima was less related to health than to the loss of their economic situation . As in Japanese patriarchal culture, the father role is still primarily related to company job-related work, childcare duties are culturally assigned to solely to the female role (i.e., mother or grandmother), which provides a widespread potential for work-family conflicts. Shared family and work-related commitments, however, begin to be seen as essential to improve self-worthiness and a sense of meaningfulness in life . Men who don’t exhibit a regular full-time job are more likely to marry late. Also, males with non-standard jobs have the lowest chance of getting children, an effect that is prevalent in Japan, but not in the US, for example .
Given the importance of work as a provider of status, identity, and meaning, it is understandable that Japanese commit with a lot of grit to it . Over time, Japan’s values align more closely with global trends insofar as there is a great emphasis on the economic function of work as well . Will that be enough meaning to engage the next generations of employees as well? Research is showing that lack of meaning at work is reducing work volition and work-related well-being significantly .
Economy of dignity and respect
A further question is how much a collectivist society may be able to reduce the dependency on others and society overall because over-dependency on the meaning of work risks to hamper dignity. The individual capacity to understand and position oneself as a fully recognized societal participant is vital to the notion of dignity as sourced from within. It is to hope that companies and society, not only in Japan, help to create dignity by de-stigmatizing of traditional personhood markers such as employment type and gender roles . It’s maybe such a shift from status-focus to an action-focus orientation that also explains the changing meaning of ‘sonkei’ (Japanese for respect). Formal respect (e.g., towards age-based status) is increasingly recognized as a moral duty rather than an emotion built on genuine love and admiration .
Benefits from meaningful work
The benefit of employees perceiving their work as meaningful come as experiences of greater happiness, job satisfaction, team spirit, and commitment (; ), thus reducing turnover rates and long-term sickness absences. This is because of the positive emotional bondage to the workplace that is an end in itself; a characteristic also called intrinsic motivation . A greater sense of meaning in one’s work can be protective of burnout . Eudaimonia is a term describing the sort of well-being that comes from living an engaging, meaningful, and fulfilling life . Such a spirit at the workplace can be fostered by letting employees feel they contribute to something more significant in connection to a common connection and purpose .
Performance and physical health
Work meaning is also closely linked to better outcomes, such as increased income, quality of work, and job satisfaction . Finally, a sense of purpose and sense of socially embedded growth in and from work (i.e., eudaimonic, meaning-based well-being versus hedonic, pleasure-based job-satisfaction ) was found to be associated with positive health outcomes, for example, by the means of supporting one’s physical resistance against adversities like inflammation or viral infection . The Japanese type of stress-death, the so-called ‘karoushi’ (death from overwork) cannot be seen as a physiological phenomenon only. Rather death is caused by a vicious cycle of depressive feelings, and states of helplessness and unescapable despair combined with overwork .
Fostering meaning at work
A culture of mentorship and nostalgia
For a long time, job satisfaction research has been focused on an organizational perspective without sufficiently considering the role of the job on family, the standard of living, personal development, and on a worker’s larger worldview . It is crucial to understand better situational contexts in which meaning ensues. Researchers found that the highest levels of meaning arise during spiritual practices and work hours, especially when performing social job components such as talking to people. As a general pattern, meaning occurs most during states of increased awareness . An organizational listening climate may facilitate such an awareness , and acting as a self-reflective mentor might be a useful avenue of experiencing meaning at work . Indeed, studies among nursing practices from different countries (e.g., Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, and Korea) confirm that leaders and a culture of mentorship are important for fostering meaning of work for both mentors and the mentees . Also, the induction of nostalgia (i.e., remembering sentimental events from the past) can be used to meet employees longing for wistful affection to the past and may increase an employee’s perception of the meaningfulness of his/her organizational life and therefore the attachment to it .
The need for humanizing the economy
The hope that unfulfilling, unsatisfying, and even health and life-threatening mental stress at work will improve may be overshadowed by the continuing centrality of profit margins and efficiency in corporations. Neo-liberal development in Japan has shaken the traditions of secure long-term employment and a state responsible for citizens welfare. While the need for meaning at the workplace implies rather a humanization of the economy and society, capitalist marketization of everything is continuing. Corporate managers continue to exploit deregulated labor and capital and maintain insecurity and growing competition among workers. . While rhetoric is sometimes trying to convince otherwise, understandably in the light of how grim the reality reveals, capitalism’s ultimate sense is about capital rather than humanity. In case of conflict, business goals come before anything else. Regardless of how meaningful employees perceive their job, no CEO is considered unsuccessful when driving profits within legal constraints and without caring especially about humanistically meaningful jobs. It’s, therefore, as an example, a non-surprising and common observation that such managers only after their retirement turn to a more dedicated anthropological role of contributing to society.
Meaning determines moral and ethical intentions and behavior
It seems that people need to find answers from within because the treadmill of the pursuit of consumption, pleasure, and economic success from work won’t fulfill the potential of greater meaning at work in many cases, regardless of how comfortable or tough the circumstances. It is each and everyone’s responsibility to fill the void of meaning through their sacred awareness, philosophy, and artful approach to put it into practice. And it is critical that we help others to do so too. The meaning of work should be considered simultaneously from an individual, organizational, and societal perspective, considering its psychological function for everyone. Meaning is the basis on which intentions ensue and according actions follow . Consequently, claiming peaceful fulfillment in one’s work is an essential part of and prerequisite for moral and ethical behavior towards oneself and others alike.
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 Walter, T. (1993). Karoushi: Stress-Death and the Meaning of Work. Journal Of Business Ethics, (11), 869.
 Kucinskas, J., Wright, B. E., & Riepl, S. (2018). The Interplay Between Meaning and Sacred Awareness in Everyday Life: Evidence From a Daily Smartphone Study. International Journal For The Psychology Of Religion, 28(2), 71-88.
 Reed, K., Goolsby, J. R., & Johnston, M. K. (2016). Extracting Meaning and Relevance from Work: The Potential Connection Between the Listening Environment and Employee’s Organizational Identification and Commitment. International Journal Of Business Communication, 53(3), 326-342. doi:10.1177/2329488414525465
 Kennett, P., & Lomas, T. (2015). Making meaning through mentoring: Mentors finding fulfilment at work through self-determination and self-reflection. International Journal Of Evidence Based Coaching And Mentoring, (2), 29.
 Malloy, D. C., Fahey-McCarthy, E., Murakami, M., Lee, Y., Choi, E., Hirose, E., & Hadjistavropoulos, T. (2015). Finding Meaning in the Work of Nursing: An International Study. Online Journal Of Issues In Nursing, 20(3), 7.
 Gagne, N. O. (2018). “Correcting Capitalism”: Changing Metrics and Meanings of Work among Japanese Employees. Journal Of Contemporary Asia, 48(1), 67-87. doi:10.1080/00472336.2017.1381984
Whether in a few or many single sessions picked according to your interest, or be it by attending the whole certificate courses, you will learn, reflect upon, discuss and start to apply:
How to improve individual well-being, organizational performance, and social contribution for your private life and professional career
How to develop a personal (self-) leadership that combines multi-disciplinary, inter-generational, and cross-cultural knowledge better
The goals of the unique approach fostered in these meetups include lectures and discussions/group works that are intended to spark critical thinking, stimulate new ideas, and motivate for self-improvement. You’ll be inspired, encouraged, and enabled to lead your way for deeper experiences and bigger impacts.
October 10, 2018 – November 14, 2018 ‘The Psychology of Learning & Developing a Growth Mindset’ Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 19:00 – #01 1/6 The History and Philosophy of Learning (for Life) Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 19:00 – #02 2/6 Behaviorism, and Animal and Human Learning Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 19:00 – #03 3/6 Social Learning & Developing a Growth Mindset Wednesday, October 31, 2018, 19:00 – #04 4/6 Brain and Memory in Learning Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 19:00 – #05 5/6 Learning and Motivation Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 19:00 – #06 6/6 Learner Profiles and Strategies
November 21, 2018 – January 16, 2019 ‘Inspiring Others Across Cultures and (Self-)Leadership Psychology’ Wednesday, November 21, 2018 – #07 1/6 Leadership Philosophy Wednesday, November 28, 2018 – #08 2/6 Leaders and Followers & Leadership Strategies Wednesday, December 5, 2018 – #09 3/6 Personality and Leadership Styles Wednesday, December 12, 2018 – #10 4/6 Inspirational Leaders Wednesday, January 9, 2019 – #11 5/6 Leadership, (Cultural) Threats, and Change Wednesday, January 16, 2019 – #12 6/6 Leadership, Power, and Influence
January 23, 2018 – February 27, 2019 ‘Developing Human Capital, Cultural Agility, and Global Talent Management’ Wednesday, January 23, 2019 – #13 1/6 The Psychology of Talent, Competencies, and Appraisal Wednesday, January 30, 2019 – #14 2/6 Developing Human Capital: Success in Learning Wednesday, February 6, 2019 – #15 3/6 Mobility and Cultural Agility Wednesday, February 13, 2019 – #16 4/6 Global Mindset Wednesday, February 20, 2019 – #17 5/6 Global Talent Management Strategies Wednesday, February 27, 2019 – #18 6/6 Developing Cultural Empathy
Approach All the courses and sessions are presented in easy English and supported by Japanese keyword slides. The international and Japanese participants both are encouraged and helped in interacting in English as a second language. The sessions are interactive, engaging, and provide a safe environment to learn. The goal is to inspire you for increased self-efficacy, wherever the starting point. You will leave the discussion energized by meaningful knowledge and friendly contacts. Welcome and let’s learn for life!
Tickets Tickets are available for the six sessions, each 1.5 hours on Tuesday evening from 19:30 – 21:00 (door opening at 19:00) Prices include drinks and snacks – Single session: YPY 1,800 per ticket (paid at the entrance JPY 2,000) – The whole course of 6 sessions: JPY 9,000 (paid before the first session)
Certification 3 Certificates* in Personal Development for Individual Well-Being, Organizational Performance, and the Common Good across Cultures. – Certificate 1: Learning Master – Certificate 2: Master in Self-Leadership – Certificate 3: Global Mindset Mastery
If you attend each of the three certificate courses, the combined certificate is awarded: – Certificate of “Master in Learning, Self-Leadership, and Global Mindset”
All courses are based on latest research and consistently assume a cross-cultural and cooperative perspective. The courses aim to equip the participants with practical tools for personal and career success and can be tailored to your needs, on-site and through eLearning.
All the lessons are available as focused lectures or interactive workshop and are complemented with accompanying material, further readings, exercises, group works, and quizzes/tests.
I’m standing with my name for it.
Multi-Disciplinary: Combining knowledge from psychology, art, technology, and business for holistic approaches.
Cross-Cultural: Using cross-cultural competencies and agility to bridge cultural gaps for the benefit of our diverse participants.
Inter-Generational: Empowering to learn, strategize, and develop with tailored solutions according to lifespan development.
To understand the psychological and behavioural processes on which lasting learning results from experience.
In this course, participants will get input about major learning theories and get to understand of how humans do learn, process and remember information. Course participants will also consider and get examples on how practitioners can use these theories to explain behavior in cross-cultural contexts.
To provide participants an understanding of leadership from a psychological perspective, and to examine the impact of culture on leadership success.
In this course, participants will study leadership challenges from a several different psychological perspectives, gaining an understanding of more or less effective leadership styles across different cultures and contexts, and the ethical use of power and influence.
To develop an understanding of the psychological aspects around human capital development, cultural agility, and the impact and effectiveness of different global talent management strategies.
This course explores the interaction between personality, leadership types, and individual learning styles. Course participants will evaluate the psychological concept of talent and study the criteria for attracting, retaining and developing talent globally. Participants will also consider the effectiveness and fairness of global talent management strategies and their impact at individual and organizational levels.
The course ‘Developing Leadership Skills’ is a compelling summary of latest research and good practices that may well become your passport to explore new ways of effective leadership styles, increased levels of motivation, and untapped creativity.
Whether you are an HR practitioner, an aspiring or current leader, an executive coach, or a student, this logically structured course will help you in becoming personally and professionally more effective and efficient. You are offered practical tools for insight and understanding of your possible
roles in team situations,
conflict management style,
successful negotiation strategies,
better decision-making, as well as
unlocking of your innovation capacity.
The goal of this course is to make sure you will find answers to the questions that are relevant for personal growth and a thriving career. Compact, straightforward, and with numerous references to further information, the interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural knowledge and perspectives presented in the twelve short lectures will benefit your well-being and success as a dynamic leader and the common good alike.
Mathias’ transferable skills and experience are in education, business administration, advisory, risk management, and psychology and learning & development to facilitate change from a cross-cultural perspective. He has led quality and complex programs successfully working with diverse teams and collaborating interdisciplinary with stakeholders to achieve innovative solutions. Mathias has worked as a teacher, a leadership trainer, as well as a senior manager responsible for client relationships, counseling, and virtual teams around the world. Also, he’s a social entrepreneur and serving as a strategy and leadership advisor for various clients.
Cross-cultural developmental psychology
Psychology of Learning
Global Talent Management (GTM)
Leadership and Business Administration
Strategic Thinking, ICT, and Risk and Program Management
Visiting Researcher at University of Tokyo (Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies)
Founder of the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium
Research collaboration related to the PCJ
Strategy Advisory and Project Management Services for International Technology Companies in Japan and India
Strategy and concept
Branding, Marketing, and P&R
Occasional Instructor Leadership & Organizational Development at J-Globalgroup
Conceptualization of a Learning & Development model
Event facilitator and Instructor
Senior Manager | Financial Services (Advisory) at Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC
Global lead and coordination of IT advisory, risk, assurance, and compliance projects for Japanese and International clients in the Financial Services sector
Team leader and counselor in the International IT Risk and Assurance practice
Cross-service line and multidisciplinary team and business development
Senior Manager, Advisory Services | EMEIA Financial Services, Ernst & Young AG
Advisory Services IT Risk and Assurance Insurance Services Team Leader Switzerland
Learning champion for the national IT Advisory practice, including design and deployment of learning maps, including the coordination and delivery of training and recruitment
Design, implementation and lead of project management office services
Trainer/Lecturer at the Akademie der Treuhandkammer (academy of the Institute of Certified Accountants and Tax Consultants)
Conception and realization (train the trainer and lecturer) of the Modules “Audit” and “Professional Judgment: Process oriented audit”
Trainer for Leadership Communication at the Centre for Information and Communication of the Swiss Army (ZIKA)
Leadership communication and conﬂict management trainer for public services personnel
Communications manager of the Center for Information and Communications of the Swiss Army
High School Teacher, Rupperswil
Class tutor, all courses
Cross-cultural developmental psychology
Psychology of Learning
Global Talent Management (GTM)
Leadership, Business Administration, and Project Management
-Diploma in Psychology (MSc program University of Liverpool), 2016 – 2018
-Executive MBA in ICT Management, University of Fribourg, 2010 – 2014
-Bachelor in Information Management, IFA, 2005 – 2007
-Postgraduate Certificate in Crisis Communication, 2006 – 2006
-Bachelor in Education Science, University of Neuchâtel, Higher Pedagogical Institute, Zofingen, 1995 – 1998
It remains a challenge to explain how individuals transition from one goal cycle to the other . But this is a relevant question in lifespan development. Life course theory conceptualizes series of events respectively transitions in life . While there are many terms to describe life transitions (e.g., turning points, momentous events, etc.), there seems to be agreement that transitions are about major life changes .
Life changes can be school transitions, life events such as parenthood, migration , or retirement . These normative events mostly are experienced positively; there are also unexpected and involuntary events that are perceived more negatively though . In other words, transitional phases potentially present opportunities and uncertainties . It is difficult to disengage from prior goals and commit to new ones, as goals stand for a hoped future and consequently also support psychological well-being . Cultural and societal changes can trigger change, but there is also increasing variability in developmental journeys within societies and generations as people exercise agency, i.e., taking conscious decisions to initiate and go through life course transitions, be it as an adjustment to the current social environment or not .
Learning helps to cope with stress from life transitions  while going through transitions conceptualized as experiencing disequilibrium and stability adds to psychological resilience . Seen it that way, transitions naturally involve chance, choice, and change, all interlinked to trigger, enable, and result in personal development and growth.
Photo credit: LaughingRaven (pixabay.com)
 Heckhausen, J., Wrosch, C., & Schulz, R. (2010). A motivational theory of life-span development. Psychological Review, 117 (1), 32–60.
 Alwin, D. F. (2012). Integrating Varieties of Life Course Concepts. Journals Of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences And Social Sciences, 67(2), 206-220.
 Svob, C., Brown, N., Reddon, J., Uzer, T., & Lee, P. (2014). The transitional impact scale: Assessing the material and psychological impact of life transitions. Behavior Research Methods, 46(2), 448-455. doi:10.3758/s13428-013-0378-2
 Syed, M. (2017). Identity integration across cultural transitions: Bridging individual and societal change. Journal Of Psychology In Africa, 27(2), 105-114. doi:10.1080/14330237.2017.1301675
 King, L. A., & Hicks, J. A. (2007). Lost and Found Possible Selves: Goals, Development, and Well-Being. New Directions For Adult And Continuing Education, (114), 27-37.
 Flaherty, M. G. (2013). Age and agency: Time work across the life course. Time & Society, 22(2), 237-253. doi:10.1177/0961463X12455598
 Carragher, L., & Golding, B. (2015). Older Men as Learners: Irish Men’s Sheds as an Intervention. Adult Education Quarterly, 65(2), 152-168. doi:10.1177/0741713615570894
 Henning, P. B. (2011). Disequilibrium, Development and Resilience Through Adult Life. Systems Research & Behavioral Science, 28(5), 443-454. doi:10.1002/sres.1108
 Merriam, S. B. (2005). How adult life transitions foster learning and development. New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, 2005(108), 3.
The traditional self-esteem paradigm does not take into account sufficiently the idea of bottom-up causality from state self-esteem (e.g., contextual academic achievement, social status, and appearance) to trait self-esteem (i.e., global self-esteem; e.g., a relatively stable personality characteristic, such as narcissism). This is problematic as it cannot explain, and is contradicted by, many studies showing that development throughout the lifespan is influenced by state self-esteem and self-experiences.
This essay evaluates whether “the fundamental problem of social psychology is the moralization of the individual by the society” (McDougall, 1908 as cited in , p.8). Also, how does attachment theory permeate aspects of human (and ecological) relationships , and how are emotional, moral, and identity development and personality theory aspects intertwined? Finally, implications are suggested regarding factors that have the potential to influence attachment style throughout the lifespan and across cultures.
According to John Bowlby’s attachment theory, a child develops a secure attachment style from experiencing availability and sensitivity from primary caregivers. In contrast, caregivers who are unavailable or insensitive cause a child developing insecure attachment, and abuse and threat lead to so-called disorganized attachment styles comprising of anxious and avoidant types . Secure attachment style enables better relationships with oneself and others . The preferred view of a natural need for a mother as the foundation for the traditional nuclear family that was propagated by the mid 20th-century society became challenged by Harlow’s experiments. Laboratory monkeys perished when deprived of their parents, but given a surrogate caregiver, they survived without a biological mother; they developed antisocial behavior due to the ‘machine-mother’s’ over-availability though . Harlow found also that peer relationships (e.g., playmates) allowed monkey infants to survive maternal deprivation or abuse, while the absence of peer experiences left them psychologically damaged .
Attachment styles and their effects
Attachment style is predictive of health-promoting behavior, whereas insecure attachment increases the probability of engaging in unhealthy behavior, such as risky sexual relationships, substance abuse, and poor diet . Avoidant attachment prevents an individual from effective socialization, communication, and problem-solving . Individual differences in mindfulness in adolescence can be traced back to early childhood background . A positive (vs. harsh, controlling, or uninvolving) parenting style is associated with lower relational aggression . Secure attachment is predictive of seeking help and consequently getting support . Collaboration, companionship, and support from classmates, co-workers, and family affect emotional processes that are decisive in academic success, which is especially challenging in intercultural environments with differing motivations and socio-emotional competencies. A student’s connection to the school determines school success . Social and emotional learning (SEL) can strengthen self-esteem, competence, and social inclusion that is supportive of the social and emotional health of youth . For adolescents, new close friendships satisfy age-appropriate attachment needs . The importance of high-quality peer attachment in adolescence is reflected by its negative correlation with exposure to violence  and depression that often impacts later romantic relationships .
Adult relationships and social bonding
Both child-parent and romantic partnerships follow a process from pre-attachment to a goal-corrected partnership . This bonding development towards a secure base is possible without secure attachment style of the partners. A couple defines each other as primary origin of support, whether this is effective or not . Romantic relationships may compensate for insecure attachment and related adverse developmental consequences; therefore, a secure partner’s behavior may directly alleviate an avoidant or anxiously attached partner’s concerns . Attachment in adulthood is also related to Hirschi’s Social Bonding Model. One’s attachment to norms as established by a workplace could be measured by job satisfaction that was found to be predictive of rule-breaking ideation and toleration .
Is morality the result of socialization from child-rearing, education, and promotion of norms? Lawrence Kohlberg with his influential research on moral development from the 1960s onwards provided evidence that already young children care about the needs and suffering of others and take spontaneous action to help . An indirect relationship between moral reasoning and attachment theory exists regarding secure attachment being favorable for cognitive development . Early social relationships foster empathy , which might be important for moral behavior. A 7-month-old child’s lowered attentional bias toward fearful facial expressions and the resulting less intensive engagement with the social contact was found to be predictive for lower attachment security at the age of 14 months . An infant’s egocentrism has to be seen as a cognitive inability to coordinate own and others perspectives . Promisingly, instructions can positively stimulate the reaching of higher moral levels . Kohlberg’s successive stages of moral development range from stage 1 that is guided by fear of punishment or seeking reward up to stage six that represents an independent and overarching orientation of moral principles .
Factors influencing attachment and moral development
Attachment style was reported to be modestly associated with some personality traits . Lonely persons might have a less positive stance towards others, what can reinforce their insecure attachment style . However, personality factors such as temperament and genetics are incapable of predicting attachment . Women suffer more from avoidant attachment style than male in their romantic partnerships . There is, however, no gender difference in moral perspectives evidenced . Religion and culture, though, can be influential on attachment orientation .
Emotion regulation training proved to be positively impacting attachment when targeting self-esteem as the primary reason for insecure attachment . When relationship difficulties are impeding self-worth with negative influences on secure attachment, the risk for anxiety and depression increases . Social anxiety mediates attachment , why therapies addressing anxiety work well for insecure attachment treatment . Insecure attachment has been successfully addressed by attachment-informed therapy promoting positive group relationships, e.g., in the context of substance abuse to substitute inter-personal relations . Motherhood itself can strengthen a mother’s self-esteem and therefore help her improve her attachment security . More than a third of people who grew up without a clear sense of belonging to a particular culture experience difficulties in establishing intimate friendships, but they use their shared transnational lifestyle to bond with others . Social orientation, compliance, self-control, and self-esteem are seen as preconditions for moral development , which are, at the same time, factors that are necessary for the healthy growth of individuals in general too.
Photo credit: loilamtan (pixabay.com)
 Kohlberg, L. (2008). The development of children’s orientations toward a moral order: I. Sequence in the development of moral thought. Human Development, 51(1), 8-20. doi:10.1159/000112530
 Rubinstein, G., Tziner, A., & Bilig, M. (2012). Attachment, Relationship Quality and Stressful Life Events: A Theoretical Meta-Perspective and Some Preliminary Results. Revista De Psicologia Del Trabajo Y De Las Organizaciones, 28(3), 151-156.
 Barnes, R., & Josefowitz, N. (2014). Forensic assessment of adults reporting childhood sexualized assault: A lifespan developmental analysis. Psychological Injury And Law, 7(1), 18-33. doi:10.1007/s12207-014-9185-z
 Vicedo, M. (2009). Mothers, machines, and morals: Harry Harlow’s work on primate love from lab to legend. Journal Of The History Of The Behavioral Sciences, 45(3), 193-218. doi:10.1002/jhbs.20378
 Bekaroglu, E., & Özlem, B. (2017). The Relationship Between Attachment Styles, Emotion Regulation Strategies, and Health-Promoting Behaviors: Extreme Sports Participants Versus Non-Participants. Journal Of Clinical Sport Psychology, 11(2), 89-106.
 Tayebeh, R., Aliye, S., Morteza Modares, G., Saeed, V., Toktam, K., & Shadi, S. (2016). Effects of Emotion Regulation Training on Attachment Style of Primiparous Pregnant Women with Insecure Attachment. Journal Of Evidence-Based Care, Vol 6, Iss 1, Pp 19-28 (2016), (1), 19. doi:10.22038/ebcj.2016.6709
 Pepping, C. A., & Duvenage, M. (2016). The origins of individual differences in dispositional mindfulness. Personality And Individual Differences, 93130-136. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.05.027
 Kawabata, Y., Alink, L. R., Tseng, W., van IJzendoorn, M. H., & Crick, N. R. (2011). Maternal and paternal parenting styles associated with relational aggression in children and adolescents: A conceptual analysis and meta-analytic review. Developmental Review, 31240-278. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2011.08.001
 Moran, P. (2007). Attachment style, ethnicity and help-seeking attitudes among adolescent pupils. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 35(2), 205-218. doi:10.1080/03069880701256627
 Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432.
 Gorrese, A. (2016). Peer Attachment and Youth Internalizing Problems: A Meta-Analysis. Child & Youth Care Forum, 45(2), 177-204.
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 Sochos, A. (2014). Couple Attachment and Relationship Duration in Psychotherapy Patients: Exploring a New Methodology of Assessment. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 42(2), 138-153.
 Bradford, A., Burningham, K., Sandberg, J., & Johnson, L. (2017). The Association between the Parent–Child Relationship and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression: The Roles of Attachment and Perceived Spouse Attachment Behaviors. Journal Of Marital And Family Therapy, 43(2), 291-307. doi:10.1111/jmft.12190
 Donleavy, G. (2008). No man’s land: Exploring the space between Gilligan and Kohlberg. Journal Of Business Ethics, 80(4), 807-822.
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 Thompson, R. (2012). Whither the Preconventional Child? Toward a Life-Span Moral Development Theory. Child Development Perspectives, 6(4), 423-429.
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Most of us have heard about the misery existing in many parts of the globe. 3.5 billion people live at $2.5 a day. According to UNESCO, every day 22,000 children die because of poverty. Why is it so easy to forget that? Good people end up by concluding that we do our best we can, because “we have it good here,” and we must be given credit for the care we provide to our families, communities, parties, and regions. Really, is that it?
In our Western “developed” societies we enjoy global services, we read international news, and we travel to most distant places. We imagine danger lurking from other continents and from people of other races. Although popular media’s priority is not to educate us on real issues, we still get enough information between all the advertisement and distraction that gives us in minimum a clue how to complete the picture around our feeling that there may be something wrong. So why are we still ignoring or forgetting the overwhelming exploitation, destruction, and poverty in our earthly neighborhoods though?
I rarely hear overt statements trying to explain the suffering of people in poor environments with their individual laziness, stupidity, or own made weak education. So, it seems we are capable of understanding and caring, but with a rather narrow scope when it comes to admitting where help is needed most from our own side. But again, nobody would hustle to provide an already rich with even more unnecessary luxury when confronted with the decision whether to help a dying child instead, right? And yes, there were enough resources to keep all bellies sufficiently filled. The wealth of a couple of dozens of dynasties equaling the worth of around half of the world’s population indicates that it isn’t a natural law that we already lucky ones would need to starve too to feed the 1 billion children who live in severe poverty in our modern times.
I have found and tested over time a scoping model that clarifies what it means to be truly human(e) and how we can identify erroneous scoping and re-focus ourselves feasibly on the combinations of time-relational dimensions that are the ground for developing universal human clear-, fore-, and farsightedness.
The intra-past: In contrast to using history for legitimizing inter-personal (-national, etc.) conflicts, the past is where we can come to terms with ourselves, i.e., understanding your psychological and spiritual world. Take the lessons-learned, but forgive and move on.
The inter-present: ‘Living in the present’ is good advice for interdependent (vs. independent or dependent) relationships. Rather than relating to others in a transactional way as we are so much taught economically, don’t expect anything in return for your love and don’t sell your soul for what you don’t unconditionally mean.
The extra-future: If we define ourselves not just as how much we consume and amass regarding material and financial wealth but as what we intend to achieve for the next generations to come, we evolve from a liability to wise heroes. Sadly, many elderly are honored mainly for their economic status. There is never a better moment than now to sow the seeds for a healthy future for all by being guided by values of equity and sustainability.
If you scope your human being and becoming that way, you will inevitably get your view cleared up to a panoramic horizon that sets free your full human potential. Follow these ambitions and your doubts will vanish soon. We don’t need to abstain from the progress we were born in as some mean arguments of the sort of “Don’t complain about capitalism if you use it” want to impose guilt on us. However, we are only guilty at humanity if we are not constantly trying to innovate, change, and commit for a better future for all. Better conditions for even more people are possible. We might find a lot of such examples that we are enjoying right now, which our grandparents did not yet (i.e., achievements like advanced democracies, improved gender and racial equality, etc.).
What’s in for you when you engage in finding better solutions for all? What’s in for you if not material gain, especially not in the short-term? A deep satisfaction and fulfillment, motivation to get up and do important work, and compassion and love from being close to what really matters: service to humanity, including the well-being of our children and their children. The world needs every one of us! Now! Enjoy!
Developmental psychology comprises the research of children’s cognitive, societal, and emotive development, and is especially interested in studying how children learn . During the last decades, lifespan developmental psychology became an “independent, interdisciplinary specialization of life sciences” [2, p. 25] that is embracing the developmental stages over a whole lifespan . Lifespan development research seeks insight into the determinants of individuals’ well-being, e.g., ‘successful aging,’ while drawing on traditional developmental psychology’s components of health, cognition, and relationships .
The Role of Culture
The impressive achievements in human collective creation may be seen as essentially the result of social rather than mental capacities . Despite the plethora of cultural psychology research, there remains critique whether culture and context can play the central role in exploring what is influencing social behavior . As a counter-argument some researchers propose the womanist model to overcome the definition of the self as a mere function of culture and societal norms .
Social abilities of children at different development stages have been reported to be comparable . Extending developmental research to life-span theories entailing adulthood and old age, as already proposed by Erikson’s identity development model from 1959 , causes a shift towards increased importance of culture. Developmental neurobiological processes that are more influential in early life stages give way to increased effects from culture and social learning at later life stages . Regarding child development there are increasingly calls for inclusion of, for example, native cultures in research .
Towards Holistic Lifespan Development Psychology Approaches
Jean Piaget’s (1896 – 1994) view that meaning results from physical interaction with the environment could not hinder psychology’s tendential development of an inconsideration of brain and body in mental processes. However, the modern enactivist approach is (again) conceptualizing a close link between organism and environment . Today a more holistic perspective follows earlier research that has focused either internal or exogenic elements in identity development . Contemporary research emphasizes the need to better understand the complex human environment , to examine individual (e.g., gender-specific, but controlled for culture) within-person developmental processes in longitudinal studies , and to capture the more granular day-to-day events’ influence on crucial lifespan factors .
Interdisciplinary Globalization of Lifespan Development Research
Economically developed regions, sometimes referred to as Western countries, make up only 20 percent of the world population while developing economies’ population is even disproportionately continuing to grow. At the same time, economic development in the Non-Western, often collectivist societies are likely to influence the development of related cultures dramatically. Therefore, to understand human developmental, psychology needs to focus more on where the big changes and populations are .
To further integrate all relevant aspects of human development, a closer collaboration between the life course sociology and life span psychology seems to be a promising aspiration . Like the emergence of culture and art marked a new era of Homo sapiens some ten thousand years ago , maybe breakthroughs in understanding human lifespan development related to culture may define next evolutionary steps of humanity.
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Summary. Developmental psychology aims to predict future behavior and outcomes. Many factors contribute to personality and the manifestation of behavior. These may be of biological, psychological, and social nature. While psychoanalysis sees our moral development as a rather automatic process determined mainly during childhood, Eysenck’s personality traits in interaction with the environment provide for an approach that involves more the possibility of learning. According to his Antisocial Behavior Hypothesis (ASB), individual differences in psychoticism are relevant even for the development of criminal thinking. Psychoticism is a trait that represents a continuum from aggressiveness and divergent thinking at the one end, and empathy and caution at the other. The materialization of criminal thinking, however, depends heavily on the social environment, why prisons may be rather ineffective environments for social rehabilitation of criminals.
Individually Different Learning Responses
The goal of developmental personality psychology is to find answers to what personality trait tendencies can predict what kind of behavior . Both the biological and social components are essential in Eysenck’s biosocial theories. For example, it could be confirmed that the interaction between testosterone with genetic, psychological and social factors is influencing behavior . Similarly, the significantly biologically based personality traits are not necessarily directly determining behavior, but they are interacting according to their tendency with the (social) environment through learning processes . Although adolescence is considered a naturally critical transition phase, the changes may be attenuated by learning and decisions to take, like, for example, what to do after school, which directions to choose for privately, educationally, and professionally .
The Morality Hypothesis
Eysenck’s personality traits do not only provide insight into a current state, but rather are seen as precursors of future behavior and consequences . One approach related to personal development is called the morality hypothesis, in which Eysenck explained well-behavior with the formation of conscience that is depending on the presence of relatively low levels of Extraversion and Neuroticism as favorable for being inhibitive enough to develop a conscience . Freud’s theory about the superego allows less optimism about the learning ability of the human mind, as the moral instance of the super-ego is functioning automatically, directed by a psychic force established during childhood .
Antisocial Behavior Hypothesis (ASB)
Eysenck’s theory describing the interplay between personality temperament and socialization to predict future (problematic) conduct is referred to the Antisocial Behavioral Hypothesis (ASB) . Analysis revealed that antisocial behavior stemmed from high scores in primarily Psychoticism and secondarily Neuroticism trait scales . The role of Psychoticism for preceding antisocial behavior was also confirmed , who concluded with recommending the targeting of reducing the psychoticism tendency in interventions targeting anti-social adolescents. A group of researchers provide a convincing application case of the finding that personality traits alone are not the only factor for behavior to emerge . Increased levels of all the dimensions, mostly heightened values in psychoticism though were predictive of criminal thinking. However, the manifestation of criminal thinking was influenced by the social environment. Consequently, it has to be questioned how effective prison environments are in reducing criminal thinking and behavior (i.e., reduction of recidivism rate), as it is a place where criminal identities and thinking is omnipresent and therefore criminal energy is potentially reinforced .
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Summary. Research from developmental psychology is suggesting that personality traits are inherently stable across a lifetime. Some characteristics may explain actual behavior or predict future development. This post, however, examines the question related to how much of our underlying personality is “nature or nurture.” In summary, genetic factors are independent of age and sex influencing character stability during childhood, while environmental factors are largely contributing to changes during adolescence and adulthood. Child rearing, culture, and health are significantly contributing to the changes that occur besides natural constancies.
Genetic and Environmental Influences on Personality
Freud’s psychosexual mental processes attempting to explain the psychological development and Eysenck’s explanation looking after brain structures and functionality are opposed to personality theories that are more emphasizing the long-lasting influences of exogenous factors such as social adaptation and family environment factors (Briley & Tucker-Drob, 2014; Pulkkinen, 2009). Both genetic inheritance and external factors are preserving or changing personality (Briley & Tucker-Drob, 2014, p. 1303). According to Blatný, Millová, Jelínek, and Osecká (2015), personality traits related to malleability are predominantly at work in adolescence. The influence of the environment increases in adulthood (Bleidorn, Kandler, & Caspi, 2014). Consequently, the family environment and socio-economic factors have little influence on the genetically inherent personality traits (Hur, 2007). This, of course, does not mean that such influences may not shape behavior, as we all can observe how persons respond to the environment, albeit according to one’s characteristics. In other words, genetics is responsible for stability, and the environment for change in individual traits during late adolescence respectively early adulthood (Bratko & Butkovic, 2007). Macaskill, Hopper, White, & Hill (1994) found that Psychoticism and Neuroticism are mostly depending on genetic factors and not age and gender, while this wasn’t the case for extraversion.
(Environmental) Factors Causing Changes in Personality Traits
Personality traits are considered to be relatively consistent over time (Briley & Tucker-Drob, 2014). Environmental factors are estimated to influence change in psychological traits for up to 100% during adolescence to early adulthood (Bratko & Butkovic, 2007). Considering an extended period (10 – 12 years) genetic influences may contribute to change too to some extent (Bratko & Butkovic, 2007). According to Secular changes in personality (2013), it matters during what cultural époque one is living as 75-year-olds after 2000 are more extroverted than groups of the same age back in the 1970s. Traumatic experiences in childhood can be another source triggering personality change manifesting later on in life (Li, Wang, Hou, Wang, Liu, & Wang, 2014). The existence of illness during adolescence may also impact later psychological development and on the trait level that means that increased neuroticism in the form of ill feeling goes together with the health of individuals (Wilson, Wrench, McIntosh, Bladin, & Berkovic, 2009). Similarly, developmental psychology today can verify the presence of adult personality disorders already in childhood (Lenkiewicz, Srebnicki, & Bryńska, 2016).
Although personality psychology’s progress in longitudinal lifespan personality development studies (Bleidorn et al., 2014), further research is needed to understand better the interplay of genetic and environmental factors related to their influences on psychological trait development (Pulkkinen, 2009).
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