Tag Archives: Morality

The Meaning of Work (and Cultural Considerations at the Example of Japan)

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Introduction

Definition of meaning

Although ‘meaning’ isn’t reducible to a state-like single factor [1], 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 [2]. 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 [3].

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 [4].

Albeit the financialized political economy [5] ignores many aspects of work, such as its creative and interpersonal (social) value [6], the examples show that through psychological satisfaction, work can be a source of meaning beyond merely earning an income [4].

 

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 [7] 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 [8]. A culture, therefore, can be only as rich and meaningful as the work that produces it is itself. 

“Adulthood” identity

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 [9]. Companies use recruitment practices and regular personal assessment throughout an adult’s work life to socialize [10]. Age-based reward and promotion systems also support this ongoing socialization process [15]. 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 [10].

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 [11]. 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 [12]. 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 [13].

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 [14]. 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 [15]. 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 [16].

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 [17]. 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 [18].

Benefits from meaningful work

Psychological well-being

The benefit of employees perceiving their work as meaningful come as experiences of greater happiness, job satisfaction, team spirit, and commitment ([19]; [20]), 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 [21]. A greater sense of meaning in one’s work can be protective of burnout [22]. Eudaimonia is a term describing the sort of well-being that comes from living an engaging, meaningful, and fulfilling life [23]. 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 [24].

Performance and physical health

Work meaning is also closely linked to better outcomes, such as increased income, quality of work, and job satisfaction [25]. 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 [26]) 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 [27]. 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 [28].

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 [26]. 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 [29]. An organizational listening climate may facilitate such an awareness [30], and acting as a self-reflective mentor might be a useful avenue of experiencing meaning at work [31]. 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 [32]. 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 [19].

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. [33]. 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 [2]. 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.

 

References

[1] Leontiev, D. A. (2013). Personal meaning: A challenge for psychology. Journal Of Positive Psychology, 8(6), 459-470. doi:10.1080/17439760.2013.830767

[2] Liberman, S., & López Olmedo, R. (2017). Psychological Meaning of ‘Coauthorship’ among Scientists Using the Natural Semantic Networks Technique. Social Epistemology: A Journal Of Knowledge, Culture, And Policy, 31(2), 152-164.

[3] THE MEANING OF WORKING: JAPAN VS USA. (2011). Allied Academies International Conference: Proceedings of the Academy for Studies in International Business (ASIB), 11(1), 7-11.

[4] Cassar, L., & Meier, S. (2018). Nonmonetary Incentives and the Implications of Work as a Source of Meaning. Journal Of Economic Perspectives, 32(3), 215-238. doi:http://dx.doi.org.liverpool.idm.oclc.org/10.1257/jep.32.3.215

[5] Lapping, C., & Glynos, J. (2018). Psychical Contexts of Subjectivity and Performative Practices of Remuneration: Teaching Assistants’ Narratives of Work. Journal Of Education Policy, 33(1), 23-42.

[6] Gill, F. (2000). The meaning of work: Lessons from sociology, psychology, and political theory. JOURNAL OF SOCIOECONOMICS, (6). 725.

[7] Francis, V. F. (2018). Infusing Dispute Resolution Teaching and Training with Culture and Diversity. Ohio State Journal On Dispute Resolution, (Issue 2), 171.

[8] Bendassolli, P. F. (2016). Work and culture: Approaching cultural and work psychology. Culture & Psychology, 23(3), 372-390.

[9] Cook, H. M., & Shibamoto-Smith, J. S. (n.d). Japanese at work : politeness, power, and personae in Japanese workplace discourse. Cham : Palgrave Macmillan, [2018].

[10] Cook, E. E. (2016). Adulthood as Action Changing Meanings of Adulthood for Male Part-Time Workers in Contemporary Japan. Asian Journal Of Social Science, 44(3), 317-337.

[11] Morioka, R. (2014). Gender difference in the health risk perception of radiation from Fukushima in Japan: The role of hegemonic masculinity. Social Science & Medicine, 107105-112. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.02.014

[12] Hamada, l. (2017). Men’s unpaid domestic work: A critique of (re)doing gender in contemporary Japan. In M. Tsai, W. Chen, M. Tsai, W. Chen (Eds.) , Family, work and wellbeing in Asia (pp. 177-191). New York, NY, US: Springer Science + Business Media. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-4313-0_9

[13] Piotrowski, M., Wolford, R., Kalleberg, A., & Bond, E. (2018). Non-standard work and fertility: a comparison of the US and Japan. Asian Population Studies, 14(2), 116-136.

[14] Suzuki, Y., Tamesue, D., Asahi, K., & Ishikawa, Y. (2015). Grit and Work Engagement: A Cross-Sectional Study. Plos ONE, 10(9), 1-11. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137501

[15] Karyn A., L., & Arne L., K. (1988). Age and the Meaning of Work in the United States and Japan. Social Forces, (2), 337. doi:10.2307/2579185

[16] Duffy, R. D., Autin, K. L., & Bott, E. M. (2015). Work Volition and Job Satisfaction: Examining the Role of Work Meaning and Person-Environment Fit. Career Development Quarterly, 63(2), 126-140.

[17] Pugh, A. J. (2012). The Social Meanings of Dignity at Work. Hedgehog Review, 14(3), 30-38.

[18] Muto, S. (2016). [The hierarchical semantic structure of respect-related emotions in modern Japanese people]. Shinrigaku Kenkyu: The Japanese Journal Of Psychology, 87(1), 95-101.

[19] Leunissen, J. M., Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., & Cohen, T. R. (2018). Organizational Nostalgia Lowers Turnover Intentions by Increasing Work Meaning: The Moderating Role of Burnout. Journal of occupational health psychology, (1). 44.

[20] Fourie, M., & Deacon, E. (2015). Meaning in work of secondary school teachers: A qualitative study. South African Journal Of Education, 35(3), 1-8.

[21] Clausen, T., Burr, H., & Borg, V. (2014). Does Affective Organizational Commitment and Experience of Meaning at Work Predict Long-Term Sickness Absence?. Journal Of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 56(2), 129-135. doi:10.1097/JOM.0000000000000078

[22] Tei, S., Becker, C., Sugihara, G., Kawada, R., Fujino, J., Sozu, T., & … Takahashi, H. (2015). Sense of meaning in work and risk of burnout among medical professionals. Psychiatry And Clinical Neurosciences, 69(2), 123-124. doi:10.1111/pcn.12217

[23] Cake, M. A., Bell, M. A., & Bickley, N. (2015). The Life of Meaning: A Model of the Positive Contributions to Well-Being from Veterinary Work. Journal Of Veterinary Medical Education, 42(3), 184-193.

[24] Kinjerski, V., & Skrypnek, B. J. (2008). Four Paths to Spirit at Work: Journeys of Personal Meaning, Fulfillment, Well-Being, and Transcendence through Work. Career Development Quarterly, 56(4), 319-329.

[25] THE PATTERNING OF WORK MEANINGS WHICH ARE COTERMINOUS WITH WORK OUTCOME LEVELS FOR INDIVIDUALS IN JAPAN, GERMANY AND THE USA. (n.d). APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY-AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW-PSYCHOLOGIE APPLIQUEE-REVUE INTERNATIONALE, 39(1), 29-45.

[26] Rothausen, T. J., & Henderson, K. E. (2018). Meaning-based job-related well-being: Exploring a meaningful work conceptualization of job satisfaction. Journal Of Business And Psychology, doi:10.1007/s10869-018-9545-x

[27] Kitayama, S., Akutsu, S., Uchida, Y., & Cole, S. W. (2016). Work, meaning, and gene regulation: Findings from a Japanese information technology firm. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 72175-181. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.07.004

[28] Walter, T. (1993). Karoushi: Stress-Death and the Meaning of Work. Journal Of Business Ethics, (11), 869.

[29] 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.

[30] 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

[31] 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.

[32] 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.

[33] 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

Developing Cultural Empathy: Perspective Taking

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This article reflects on example biases that could impact one’s intercultural behavior and decision making and how the role of the media is shaping ideas about cultures. Finally, specifics of the European culture are analyzed as relevant for global talent management issues.

Culture is an unconsciously learned way of thinking and living of a particular group of people that reinforces that worldview through its in-group similarity [1]. To change ‘cultural DNA’ requires time, although the term refers to a psychological instinct built through the adaption of societal norms rather than through a genetic constitution. Different environmental challenges brought up intellectual orientations, which cannot be judged; they are just different. While empathy is considered to allow understanding between people, the bridges built between some may be the boundaries for others. This risks to cement in- and out-group hierarchies [2]. Besides empathy, enhanced critical thinking abilities are necessary to unveil moral subjectivity and contribute to increased cross-cultural understanding [3].

Humans everywhere have the same desires, fears, and motivations [4]. Cultural differences shouldn’t be judged but seen rather relative [5] and therefore not to be blamed [1]. Judgments can unavoidably happen from unconscious biases triggering stereotypical exaggeration, or simplification out of context that result in prejudices. These are not immutable though in the sense that between bias and action critical thinking was not possible [6]. People have a psychological tendency to accredit more humanness to oneself than to others [7] The level of empathy is predictive of the strength of this in-/out-group bias [8]. Research found that more collectivist cultures show stronger empathy for in-group members [9]. If in an individualist culture, an individualistic mindset is activated though, all but the self may be considered as out-group members [10]. Contact with other cultures is the best means to anticipate such bias [11] and relationships with outgroups potentially reduces prejudice [12].

Be it for peace between countries or the functioning of multi-national organizations, intergroup empathy has become an increasingly important global challenge [4]. How balanced the media selects and presents its news is playing a vital role in shaping the cross-cultural understanding of individual, group, and societal identities. Media literacy, therefore, is a key strategy to develop cultural perspective-taking [13].

Despite Europe’s diverse composition of nations, the continent’s genetic base is much less variable than that of many other global regions. Europe is (to stay with the example) characterized by high in-group equality, which, on the other hand, may also degenerate into out-group domination. European leaders tend to be inclusive [4]. Indeed, German SME’s, for example, include all or most of the employees in Talent Management practices, which is in contrast to typical multinational enterprises [14]. Egalitarian attitudes within Europe cause leaders to backup leadership processes with bureaucratic rules that come with a loss in speed compared to other cultures. The European focus on individual rights, creativity and innovation, professional relationships, and the use of evidence-based data (in comparison to more intuitive thinking) might be an asset for fostering objectivity in global talent management practices [4]. This is important for talent-based economies as found in Western Europe [15] to remain competitive in the sourcing of global talent [16].

References

[1] Williams, T. R. (2013). Examine Your LENS: A Tool for Interpreting Cultural Differences. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal Of Study Abroad, 22148-165.

[2] Hollan, D. (2012). Author reply: The definition and morality of empathy. Emotion Review, 4(1), 83. doi:10.1177/1754073911421396

[3] Murray, J. W. (2015). Critical Thinking Activities and the Enhancement of Ethical Awareness: An Application of a “Rhetoric of Disruption” to the Undergraduate General Education Classroom. Open Review Of Educational Research, 2(1), 240-258.

[4] Bains, G. (2015). Cultural DNA: The psychology of globalization. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

[5] Gareis, E. (2005). Relativism versus Universalism: Developing a Personal Philosophy. Communication Teacher, 19(2), 39-43.

[6] Harris, W. T. (2010). Ending racism starts with accepting bias: bias is inevitable, racism is not. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ blog/colorstruck/201005/ending-racism-starts-accepting-bias

[7] Park, J., Haslam, N., Kashima, Y., & Norasakkunkit, V. (2016). Empathy, culture and self-humanising: Empathising reduces the attribution of greater humanness to the self more in Japan than Australia. International Journal Of Psychology, 51(4), 301-306.

[8] Krumhuber, E. G., Swiderska, A., Tsankova, E., Kamble, S. V., & Kappas, A. (2015). Real or Artificial? Intergroup Biases in Mind Perception in a Cross-Cultural Perspective. Plos One, 10(9), e0137840. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137840

[9] Chenbo, W., Bing, W., Yi, L., Xinhuai, W., & Shihui, H. (2015). Challenging emotional prejudice by changing self-concept: priming independent self-construal reduces racial in-group bias in neural responses to other. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 10(9), 1195-1201. doi:10.1093/scan/nsv005

[10] Jiang, C., Hou, Y., Han, S., & Varnum, M. W. (2014). Distinct effects of self-construal priming on empathic neural responses in Chinese and Westerners. Social Neuroscience, 9(2), 130-138.

[11] Dopierała, A., Jankowiak-Siuda, K., & Boski, P. (2017). Empathy gap – what do we know about empathizing with others′ pain?. Polish Psychological Bulletin, Vol 48, Iss 1, Pp 111-117 (2017), (1), 111. doi:10.1515/ppb-2017-0014

[12] Inzlicht, M., Gutsell, J. N., & Legault, L. (2012). Mimicry reduces racial prejudice. Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(1), 361-365. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.06.007

[13] Cole-Adams, J. (2013). Developing Intercultural Understanding with Difference Differently. Ethos, 21(1), 25-28.

[14] Festing, M., Schaefer, L., & Scullion, H. (2013). Talent management in medium-sized German companies: an explorative study and agenda for future research. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 24(9), 1872-1893.

[15] Oshri, I., & Ravishankar, M. (2014). On the attractiveness of the UK for outsourcing services. Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, (1), 18. doi:10.1108/SO-11-2013-0022

[16] Anil, K. (2006). STRATEGIES FOR GLOBAL R&D. Research Technology Management, (2), 48.

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer: Inspiration for the Leader in All of Us

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Father of Motivation and Sage of Maui

The life and work of author and speaker Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who died at the age of seventy-five in 2015, provides the opportunity to reflect on leadership from a holistic perspective beyond a specific organizational setting or national politics. Dyer’s many best-selling books on the practical psychology of personal development towards a positive transformation for all of humanity [1] brought him the nickname of the Father of Motivation by his fans [2]. Writing and meditating on Maui on Eastern Philosophies like Taoism, the Sage of Maui covers the self-conscious wisdom category of the self-help genre [3]. Like in the book ‘Wisdom of the Ages,’ Dyer’s messages focus on virtuous love, inspiration, and patience as found in Confucian, Christian, and Thoreauvian teachings [4]. Having written ‘Erroneous Zones,’ one of the most famous books of all time [5], and if leadership is about influence, Wayne Dyer was an enormous leader in influencing masses around the globe [6]. Although not limited to an organizational goal setting context, the topics Dyer was promoting represent the core of the study of leadership and address change, motivation, inspiration, and influence [7].

A practical, humorous, personal, and sometimes too self-confident leader?

As a Welch proverb puts it aptly: “The hand will not reach for what the heart does not long for” [8], p. 38. In that sense, Dyer’s messages speak empathically to the core desires of people through practical, humorous [9], and personal [6] stories, presented as inviting offerings rather than pushing rules. Practical intelligence is of high importance for leaders [7]. Indeed, Dyer focused on outcome rather than intellectualization [13], one possible reason why he chose the career of an independent writer rather than continuing his university job, which he saw limited to producing papers for the sake of a small self-serving academic community [14]. It was Dyer’s high self-confidence that allowed him to, for example, tell “the shocking truth” he was so convinced about publicly [10] and therefore intuitively take required risks to advance his growth as a leader [11]. Dyer got accused of plagiarism of Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) [12]. However, he did seemingly ignore what other people think of him [4] and unwaveringly continued his mission.

Life transitions and openness to experience

Assertiveness is the candid expression of one’s desires, opinions, and feelings and may help to get the recognition that is a powerful human motivator [7]. Wayne Dyer’s public exposure of his style in writing and speaking may have also reflected a personality tendency of extraversion. In the US, extraversion is a personality trait showcased to create a societal image of openness and friendliness [15]. It is therefore difficult to say how much Dyer’s demonstration of extraversion is part of his working brand to reach the goal of spreading his messages as much as possible, and how much, in comparison, he enjoyed his extended writing retreats on Maui from a more introvert perspective. In any case, according to his children’s accounts, he naturally loved to lecture and entertain others with his vast knowledge [16]. Extraversion and openness to experience are personal characteristics that strongly relate to leadership effectiveness [17]. Wayne Dyer’s openness to experience may be well seen in his demonstration of mindfulness that allowed him to accept new and demanding situations, to further develop his self-image, to promote changes, and to let go of attachments [18]. Dyer went through different career transitions and lived over time with three wives and eight children [3]. He also underwent a spiritual transformation in his “meaning stage” of life. These may be lessons of what Dyer framed in his film ‘Shift’ as “What was true in the morning has become a lie in the afternoon” [19].

Between charismatic mentorship and rescuer syndrome?

Regardless of the leadership position, it seems that the opportunity to help others’ personal growth, rather than sources of satisfaction like power, salary and status [7] represented the main motive of meaningfulness for Wayne Dyer throughout his life. Dyer spent parts of his childhood in foster homes. However, he described himself as seeing and remembering mainly the positive aspects, what helped him already at the age of three to help others in overcoming their despair [10]. It may be this “naturally” developed talent of soothing others distress that adds a charismatic quality [20] to Dyer’s personality. In his thirties, Dyer visited his father’s grave and could resolve his anger towards that person who had left a wife with small children in a difficult situation. This pivotal event of forgiveness might not only have unlocked Dyer’s potential as a writer [10] but may have been necessary not to let the urge to mentor other people become a self-serving compensation for emotional and psychological issues; which would also be known as the rescuer syndrome [21].

Holistic leadership: inspirational motivation, trust, and loving service

Like Einstein and Emerson, Wayne Dyer believed in the Transcendentalist ideas [3] of the human soul being able to intuitively connect to the spiritual truth that creates a collective consciousness [22], itself capable of reconstructing the world [23]. Wishing to lead a God-realized life [24] and occasionally named a self-help guru [25] and pied piper of the movement [5], Dyer could be suspect of suffering self-perceptions of grandiosity [20]. However, Dyer believed, and that’s the position of equality that might have been so appealing to his diverse readers, that the divine realm is available to all [1]. Such an uplifting vision is inspirationally motivating and contributes to a new-genre leadership style that emphasizes an environment of trust and feelings beyond what is necessarily found in transformational leadership [26]. Dyer may be an example of one of the newest leadership theories, that is authentic leadership, and which is true to its values [27]. As a friendly, amiable, assertive, and serving ‘soft leader’ [28], Dr. Wayne W. Dyer lived the messages he taught [6]. It is loving service and unselfish love that makes holistic leadership [29].

 

References

[1] About Dr. Wayne Dyer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drwaynedyer.com/about-dr-wayne-dyer/

[2] Percival, J. (2004). Desire vs intent. Nursing Standard, 19(7), 27.

[3] Valiunas, A. (2010). The Science of Self-Help. New Atlantis: A Journal Of Technology & Society, 2885-100.

[4] Bauman, A., Post, M., & Cooper, P. (2000). Catching Up With…Wayne Dyer. Runner’s World, 35(9), 15.

[5] Rogers,  J.  (2015, September 1). Wayne Dyer, author of ‘Erroneous Zones’, dies at 75. Retrieved from http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/sep/01/wayne-dyer-author-of-erroneous-zones-dies-at-75/

[6] Inam, H. (2015, August 31). Wayne Dyer On Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/hennainam/2015/08/31/wayne-dyer-on-leadership/#5a62d3ea3012

[7] DuBrin, A. J. (2015). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

[8] Zufelt, J. M. (2016). Leadership vs Pushership. Leadership Excellence Essentials, 33(9), 37.

[9] Robbins, T. (2015b). Dr. Wayne Dyer interview with Tony Robbins | Power Talk! | Part 2 of 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXpBW4w9ZnY

[10] Robbins, T. (2015a). Dr. Wayne Dyer interview with Tony Robbins | Power Talk! | Part 1 of 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBYO4M_c9UY

[11] Singh, A. (2009). Leadership Grid between Concern for People and Intuition. Leadership & Management In Engineering, 9(2), 71-82. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)1532-6748(2009)9:2(71)

[12] Wayne Dyer. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Dyer

[13] Manifesting What You Want. (2016). IDEA Fitness Journal, 13(7), 111.

[14] Dyer, W. (2015) I Can See Clearly Now, Hay House, Inc.

[15] King, F. (2012). RUNNING DEEP: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. NATIONAL REVIEW -BRISTOL CONNECTICUT THEN NEW YORK-, (11). 45.

[16] Anders, N. (2016) Wayne Dyer: Himmel auf Erden ist kein Ort, es ist eine Entscheidung.: Zusammenführung der 55+ höchsten Lebensweisheiten von Dr. Wayne Dyer (German Edition). Freiheit. JETZT! Kindle file.

[17] DeRue, D. S, Nahrgang, J. D., Wellman, N., & Humphrey, S. E. (2011). Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: An integration and meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Personnel Psychology, 64, 7-52.

[18] Day, D. )., & Gregory, J. ). (2017). Mindfulness as a Prerequisite to Effective Leadership; Exploring the Constructs that Foster Productive Use of Feedback for Professional Learning. Interchange, 48(4), 363-375. doi:10.1007/s10780-017-9307-0

[19] Waghmare, H. [Good Health 24/7] (2015). The Shift – Wayne Dyer – Positive Attitude – English [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfT8Ts6wPFs&t=732s

[20] Doyle, M. E., & Smith, M. K. (2001). Classical models of managerial leadership: Trait, behavioural, contingency and transformational theory. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/leadership/traditional_leadership.htm

[21] De Vries, M. K. (2013). Are you a mentor, a helper or a rescuer?. Organizational Dynamics, 42(4), 239-247. doi:10.1016/j.orgdyn.2013.07.001c

[22] Williamson, A., & Null, J. W. (2008). RALPH WALDO EMERSON’S EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY AS A FOUNDATION FOR COOPERATIVE LEARNING. American Educational History Journal, 35(1/2), 381.

[23] Barney, J. B., Wicks, J., Otto Scharmer, C., & Pavlovich, K. (2015). Exploring transcendental leadership: a conversation. Journal Of Management, Spirituality & Religion, 12(4), 290-304. doi:10.1080/14766086.2015.1022794

[24] Altersitz, K., Bechtel, B., & Mullin, D. W. (2010). ‘Father of Motivation’ offers advice for the self-actualized life. Ocular Surgery News, 28(4), 15.

[25] A Tribute To Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. (2015). Leadership Excellence Essentials. p. 5.

[26] Bonau, S. (2017). How to become an inspirational leader, and what to avoid. Journal Of Management Development, 36(5), 614-625. doi:10.1108/JMD-03-2015-0047

[27] Billsberry, J., & North-Samardzic, A. (2016). Surfacing Authentic Leadership: Inspiration from “After Life”. Journal Of Leadership Education, 15(2), 1-13.

[28] Rao, M. (2013). Soft leadership: a new direction to leadership. Industrial & Commercial Training, 45(3), 143-149. doi:10.1108/00197851311320559

[29] Dhiman, S. (2017). Holistic leadership : a new paradigm for today’s leaders. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Compassionate leadership: If we all ‘lead,’ we don’t need ‘managers’ anymore

There are significant differences between leadership and management

In our contemporary world both leadership and management may be required and co-exist in different situations, but the identification and understanding of their distinguishing features is important if we want to use both of them effectively and eventually think about shifting the emphasis towards managers who are real leaders too.

Having been in diverse leadership and/or management positions in educational institutions and schools, business and consulting firms, military/public service organizations, media and communication practices, as well as leisure/sports clubs and civic movements over the last 20 years, I’ve reflected on the difference between leadership and management from many different angles. I’m always coming back to the conclusion that the concepts of leadership and management are not as related as the popular interchangeable use of the terms might suggest.

The ultimate market-participating organizational SMART goals versus dreams and visions

Like a path is leading to a different place, or a sheep can be led into a stable, human leadership can be defined as leading something or somebody towards a certain direction. It is said that leadership requires meaning; meaning that is represented and communicated through goals. Although managerial and leadership goals should always be believed to be achievable, the type of goal formation process and quality of goals themselves involved in leadership and management differs significantly [1].

A leader typically is self-guided by intuition and his intimate moral understanding, while a manager is hired by the board of directors pursuing shareholders interest for securing maximized return on their investments. In case of doubt or conflict, the financial interests always have to succeed over other values in a for-profit organization. Manager’s success is measured by how accurately they achieve the business goals. The more long-term, the less predictable the attainment of goals becomes. Leadership tolerates not directly measurable long-term results [1]. Managers, in contrast, for above reasons preferably are to set short-term goals. To ensure that goals are as clear and realistic as possible, so-called SMART goals are commonly used in the corporate world, which ought to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Leaders may not only not have SMART goals, but even allow more vague dreams and visions that are often requiring significant imagination.

There is a difference between the concept of power based on formal authority and influence through inspiration

One broad approach is to define leadership as the interpersonal dimension of management that comprises the “ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals” ([2], p. 5). Frequently leadership gets confused with authority, seeing power as being based on formal roles. The formal assignments of a manager or officer let people notice legitimacy and comply with instructions because of fear of negative consequences in case of non-compliance [3]. When saying that leadership requires power, it is, however, not this authoritarian capability of incurring costs (for example in the form of punishment) for the people who refuse to obey [1]. Authoritarian regimes as examples of tight leadership in the form of control and prescription are generating poor results for the people. Instead, it is the ability to inspire for a voluntary fellowship by unforceful means that is resulting in individual prosperity, well-being, and peace through personal self-determination and fulfillment. Real leadership allows people self-leadership.

Leadership goes beyond the leadership aspects practiced in business administration

When the sum of the leadership structures followed by society is called culture [1], then the sum of management structures of market-participating organizations can be seen as the economy. Leaders create culture through the leadership structures they leave behind ([1], p. 11), while managers build administrations through the organizational patterns they establish. This thinking is in line with the terminology used in managerial education, where the top courses for aspiring or acting executive officers award for the title of the Master of Business Administration. Increasing parts of businesses consist of technology and digital resources, whereas human aspects tend to be further pushed into the background. Emotional and organic elements are taken out from the management of resources in favor of optimal planning accuracy. Again, although there may (but doesn’t have to) be some deal of leadership involved as well in steering a business, a real leader would never be reduced to be an administrator in that sense.

The irrelevance of leadership in the management of expectations

As Rudy Giuliani once put it, leaders first figure out what’s right, and then explain it to people, as opposed to first having people explain it and then just saying what they want to hear ([2], p.3). Indeed, managers tend to behave in a manner more or less in line with the management style endorsed within their country, industry or organization [4]. Firms choose new executives whose values are consistent with their own. If an executive is not filling the role as expected, he will be replaced with somebody who adheres more closely to expectations. From that perspective it is essential to have a rider, to use this metaphor, who holds the reins of a horse put before a cart, but any other rider who follows the relatively simple rules how to guide a horse and carriage can carry them as well. You can even let a child play the carter. It can be observed that the horse’s, respectively the organization’s personality, to come back to the organizational context, is actually more important than the “leader” himself [2].

Leaders emerge when there is an urge for change or the need to resolve a crisis or conflict

Leadership creates change, often of dramatic dimensions, such as when completely new market dynamics are developed, societal perceptions are shifted, or more diverse cultures emerge. Management on the other hand often is concerned about maintaining predictability and order [2]. Let’s think about why and how changes are managed in organizations. A big part of organizational administration deals with tracking changes to protect the status quo of power balances and interests of stakeholders and resources that contribute most to the profitable business. Such times of contentedness and stability are not calling for leaders whose strength is to move towards widening the range of beneficiaries. It is the time of crisis, in which leaders emerge. Managers monitor operational excellence of their subordinates typically in periods of economic strain. Charisma arises when there are heightened levels of distress among an increasing number of people that can be of not only financial but also psychological nature, constituting an individual and collective crisis of meaning that demands answers. If the problem is sought to be solved by somebody else, the ground is fertile for people to follow a leader who convincingly directs toward a comforting solution [3]. It has to be carefully evaluated whether these promises are meaningful and serving the common good, or whether there is an overemphasis on leader-reliance for whatever reason. Leaders are also required in situations of conflict. Conflict as the opposite of leadership is characterized by the absence of a functioning leader-follower relationship, typically because of disagreements related to a common course of action [1].

There is little leadership required and even possible in corporations

Following the argumentation so far, it is conceivable to suggest, assuming a bit a black and white perspective, that in organizations, at ordinary times there is little leadership required and even possible. Instead, what is required is a disciplined management that administers an organization to stay on track without visioning any significant change that would require leadership. Abraham Maslow regarded leaders as self-actualizing individuals who are self-determined, independent of culture, and following their inner guidance to help their fellow humans. For a leader of such qualities a narrow corporate environment likely would be unsatisfying at least and possibly over longer or sooner and would also be ethically conflicting. Executives of big corporations have contributed to the mistrust in corporate ethics due to their perceived focus on self-promotion and excessive greed. What seems to be required is more compassionate leadership in the service of others respectively in the view of the broader society and humanity beyond an institutional context [5].

The difference between moral, ethics, and professionalism

Ninety-nine percent of the global wealth is controlled by the top one percent of richest people. The issue is that this causes, for example, the daily death of tens of thousands of innocent children who are left without the necessary means to survive, such as food or health care. Unfortunately, as long as it is a tolerated practice that the already highly concentrated wealth is invested almost exclusively in opportunities that further accentuate this income and wealth inequality, there is little hope that compassionate (moral) and ethical leadership will prevail. Corporate social responsibility struggles to demonstrate a positive impact on the single measure bottom-line of financial profit generation, why it remains not much more than an afterthought. On the one hand, public relations and marketing communications of organizations increasingly use language that includes terms like ‘sharing,’ ‘love,’ ‘community,’ and ‘better world for all,’ to brand themselves socially towards consumers who are willing to pay a premium for such labels. This is true even for industries such as tobacco and arms. On the other hand, corporate ethics training is poised to be mere professional instruction on how to operate within legal constraints without jeopardizing business performance. This may be diligent management to serve capital, but not leadership to improve the human condition.

Shaping the role of genuinely great managerial leadership

Again, in all kinds of organizational settings, there may be a necessary mix of administrative and leadership qualities at work, suggesting a combined role of a ‘managerial leader’ [2].

Maybe the understanding of managerial leadership as based on self-actualization could further evolve to increasingly focus the help of other people in the organizational context while also not losing sight of the fairness towards and the well-being of people in the broader national societal and even global humanitarian context. Importantly, we should not forget that such a broadening of the benefits of leadership requires courageous first-/early-moving followers, who lead others not to remain passive bystanders but to support change towards growth and development of all actively. Asking managerial questions for organizational survival is foundational, but without further questioning on what basis, to what extent, and at whose cost, it is difficult to see real leadership added to management. The more inclusive and compassionate questions get expanded to the scope of all humanity, the greater the leadership involved.

In the current economic and competitive context, cooperation may indeed risk losing some battles in the field of short-term inter-organizational rivalry. However, already today more than ever, genuinely great managerial leadership also can become a competitive advantage and an opportunity for priceless emotional rewards for our all well-being. I think we are on the way to return to a more overall life-relevant philosophical understanding of leadership in which everyone’s full human potential is embraced. In that sense, leadership beyond management is relevant and possible for all of us. If we all assume a managerial leadership role, we don’t need managers anymore. Let’s take the chance.

References

[1] Paschen, M., & Dihsmaier, E. (2013). The psychology of human leadership: How to develop charisma and authority. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

[2] DuBrin, A. J. (2015). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

[3] Doyle, M. E., & Smith, M. K. (2001). Classical models of managerial leadership: Trait, behavioural, contingency and transformational theory. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/leadership/traditional_leadership.htm

[4] Dorfman, P., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., Dastmalchian, A., & House, R. (2012). GLOBE: A twenty year journey into the intriguing world of culture and leadership. Journal of World Business, 47(4), 504–518.

[5] Soni, B., & Soni, R. (2016). Enhancing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Effective Leadership. Competition Forum, 14(2), 259-263.

Leadership Philosophy Illustrated by the Example of Robert Owen, Pioneer of the Cooperative Movement

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What are your beliefs and perspectives regarding leadership? What do you think makes an effective leader? Illustrated by the example of Robert Owen, the acknowledged pioneer of the cooperative movement, a leader’s goal, effectiveness, and fellowship is assessed. The brief analysis bases on evidence from research in relevant leadership theories.

General Definition of Leadership

Many of the greatest villains in history were, in some way, successful leaders when the definition of leadership is considered independent of good or evil intentions [1]. In that sense, leadership is generally defined as the “ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals” ([2], p.2). In a capitalist economy, the most basic organizational goal is to compete for profits. Socially responsible and socially irresponsible behavior both are equally present in corporate environments as either of them is exerted only as long as they are underrepresented and therefore providing for a competitive advantage [3].

Robert Owen: Father of the Cooperative Movement & Transformational Leadership

I have chosen British man Robert Owen, who acknowledgedly spurred the cooperative movement as a visionary of cooperative values to address societal issues [4], such as improving labor conditions, reforming education, and banning child labor in factories [5]. Rather than relying on authoritarian power to keep people complying with leadership [1], Owen emphasized benevolence and the desire to promote the welfare of others [5]. Owen’s leadership style was, rather than transactional, much more transformational, i.e., visionary and appealing to people’s good nature [6]. Owen may be even an example of an authentic leader. Authentic leadership is one of the latest theories in the field and focuses leaders authenticity of values, trustfulness, and open communication [7].

Leadership as a Context-sensitive Process

While earlier leadership theories studied individual traits and behavior of leaders without appropriate attention to context [6], modern leadership research integrates bidirectional processes between leaders and followers that are context and time sensitive. [8]. As a reformer and pioneer of socialism in Britain, Robert Owen non-violently led change [9] that may have informed later human resource development (HRD) approaches towards fair and nurturing workplaces [10].  Owen’s communitarian society experiments like ‘New Harmony’ in the US became, albeit not directly achieving its aspirations, valuable for progress in scientific research and the co-operative movement. Owens inconsistency between his optimism to radically change society on the one hand, and his sense for the need of gradual change on the other hand, helped him to inspire a broad variety of different people over time [11]. Because of his persisting beliefs despite failure [11], his courage to lead, his rhetorical skills, and his progressive view on the determining impact of the environment on character contributed positively to Owen’s persuasiveness [12].

Leadership Grandiosity and Followers’ Motives

Some researchers put leadership facets like grandiosity into the context of a narcissistic personality type that is characterized by the belief of superiority in achieving social needs through the self-motive of helping others [13]. The propagation of the advent of a new moral world by the second coming of Christ as a common transatlantic aspect of Owenism [5] may have resonated with followers desire for psychological safety [14]. Other motives to follow the Owenite movement were community creation, self-employment, and exclusive and profitable business opportunities [15]. Figures like Ernestine Rose, an American representative of the women’s rights movement of the 19th century, became followers of Robert Owen because he helped them to reinforce their belief in the possible change towards a more just society [16].

Photo credit: Eliens (pixabay.com)

References

[1] Paschen, M., & Dihsmaier, E. (2013). The psychology of human leadership: How to develop charisma and authority. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

[2] DuBrin, A. J. (2015). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

[3] DeMaCarty, P. (2009). Financial Returns of Corporate Social Responsibility, and the Moral Freedom and Responsibility of Business Leaders. Business And Society Review: Journal Of The Center For Business Ethics At Bentley College, 114(3), 393-433.

[4] María Fernanda, L. G. (2013). La teoría sobre la naturaleza del hombre y la sociedad en el pensamiento de Robert Owen como base del socialismo británico (1813-1816) / Robert Owen’s Theory on the Nature of Man and Society as a Base for British Socialism (1813-1816) / A teoria sobre a natureza do homem e da sociedade no pensamento de Robert Owen como base do socialismo britânico (1813-1816). Historia Crítica, (50), 213.

[5] Harrison, J. C. (1968). THE OWENITE SOCIALIST MOVEMENT IN BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES. Labor History, 9(3), 323.

[6] Doyle, M. E., & Smith, M. K. (2001). Classical models of managerial leadership: Trait, behavioural, contingency and transformational theory. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/leadership/traditional_leadership.htm

[7] Billsberry, J., & North-Samardzic, A. (2016). Surfacing Authentic Leadership: Inspiration from “After Life”. Journal Of Leadership Education, 15(2), 1-13.

[8] Dinh, J. E., Lord, R. G., Gardner, W. L., Meuser, J. D., Liden, R. C., & Hu, J. (2014). Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives. Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 36-62.

[9] Sirucek, P. (2015). Polozapomenute postavy ekonomickeho mysleni–Robert Owen. (Half-Forgotten Personalities of Economic Thought–Robert Owen. With English summary.). Acta Oeconomica Pragensia, 23(4), 78-85.

[10] Hatcher, T. (2013). Robert Owen: A historiographic study of a pioneer of human resource development. European Journal Of Training And Development, 37(4), 414-431. doi:10.1108/03090591311319799

[11] Mclaren, D. J. (1996). Robert Owen, William Maclure and New Harmony. History Of Education, 25(3), 223-33.

[12] Lambert, P. (1966). A New Light on Owen and Co-operatives of the Pre-Rochdale Type. Annals Of Public & Co-Operative Economy, 37(3), 305.

[13] Humphreys, J. )., Hayek, M. )., Pane Haden, S. )., Williams, J. )., Novicevic, M. )., & Gibson, J. ). (2016). Disharmony in New Harmony: insights from the narcissistic leadership of Robert Owen. Journal Of Management History, 22(2), 146-170. doi:10.1108/JMH-05-2015-0167

[14] Raes, E., Decuyper, S., Lismont, B., Van den Bossche, P., Kyndt, E., Demeyere, S., & Dochy, F. (2013). Facilitating Team Learning through Transformational Leadership. Instructional Science: An International Journal Of The Learning Sciences, 41(2), 287-305.

[15] Thornes, R. (1981). Co-operation and the English Working-class movement 1816-44. Bulletin — Society For The Study Of Labour History, (43), 4-5.

[16] Anderson, B. S. (2017). The New Moral World. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756247.003.0003

Escaping (Psycho-)Logic Traps for Better Solutions

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Summary. Social traps are situations in which individuals take rational (and often egoist) short-term decisions that, however, lead to negative collective results in the long-term. Some psycho-(logic) traps involve an isolating and limiting view on available behavioral choices. Because everyone needs to feel competent to take future action, the failure trap lets people deny their potential for further learning and engage in task-irrelevant actionism. The sunk cost fallacy is such an example in which, due to already made investments, there is a reluctance to change the unsuccessful course of behavior. Most social issues are not unfortunate events; they have to do with whether we base our solution design on observations rather than assumptions, and whether we accept our duty to act as if we trusted others, although there is always evidence for peoples untrustworthiness. Rather than limiting our fight for survival on individual competition, we can act as institutional entrepreneurs, guiding groups, and societies towards a better future.

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The Psychology of Political Helplessness

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Summary. Even small daily exposures to oppressive structures of economic and political/social environments influence people’s psychological internalization of observed superiority and inferiority. Conforming behavior provides the necessary practice to develop the tendency to obey the “unavoidable” orders of oppressors in a learned “helpless” manner. The more hierarchical a political system, the more is helplessness learned with the result of uncritical and fearful behavior that is undermining democratic processes. The creation of awareness about existing power differentials and their detrimental effects is needed as the basis to enable an individual and collective path towards action against personal and social injustices.

Continue reading The Psychology of Political Helplessness

Individual and Collective Products and Producers of Society

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Content 1. Development of agentic power, 2. Forethought, intentionality, reactiveness, and self-reflection, 3. Collective efficacy: shared belief in agency, 4. Applied collective agency

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Egocentrism: Who can take whose empathic perspective?

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Egocentrism occurs as part of preschoolers’ development in the so-called pre-operational stage and means the inability of a child to differentiate between its own and other people’s thoughts [1]. In other words, children would not realize the suffering of others as such at all [2]. This poses a quite depressive outlook and may not correspond to own experience and observations. Aren’t there more empathy-promising possibilities than such a radical and moral-disabling egocentrism? Is there potential for interventions? And what does animal research tell us?

Continue reading Egocentrism: Who can take whose empathic perspective?

How poorly do we understand animal-human (dis-)similarity?

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The question of animal-human similarity is essential to decide whether animals should be treated alike [1] and whether animals possess rights [2]. What characteristic determines a human being as distinct from animals? What about people with genetic anomalies or other disabilities on the one hand side, and, for example, especially well trained chimpanzees on the other [3]?

Proponents of animals’ legal status as private property that can be exploited by humans always find new approaches to legitimate the dissimilarity argument like, for example, further experiments designed to identify differences in the perception of pain, which is stimulating additional painful animal research [1]. Evidence from experimental neurological studies of emotional activities shows that intense brain arousal happens in evolutionary shared neural areas that are still common in all mammals. Emotional states matter to animals. It can be easily observed how animals seek rewards and avoid punishments. Such positive and negative learning experiences indicate the existence of psychological and sensitive behavior in all human and non-human mammals [4].

Especially when fearing punishment, nonhuman and human animals tend to copy the behavior of others [5]. Social learning is vital for the transmission of culture and learning between subjects of high similarity, the so-called assortative social learning, is preferred [6]. The study of conformity has gained popularity in animal research in recent years [7]. Imitation as a social learning mode of animals and humans was already described by Thorndike a couple of centuries ago. Imitative behavior with its high copying accuracy might be essential in cultivating traditions [8]. The limited richness in chimpanzee culture compared to human culture may lie in the higher reliance of children on social rewards while chimpanzees rely more on their own knowledge [9]. There is growing evidence for close analogies of human and chimpanzee social learning and culture [10].

Some argue that Konrad Lorenz’ study of adaptiveness, i.e., observing stimuli-response behavior in the context of the specific environment (and life experiences [12], has not been maintained sufficiently in animal research methodology [11]. However, whatever improved scientific methods will reveal, the scientific communities’ and citizens’ judgment regarding which psychological commonalities are of moral relevance and which not, remains an issue that needs careful consideration. We might still not know how inaccurate our understanding of animals’ minds is. Our historically poor understanding [2] should, in any case, attune us with a rather humble attitude.

Photo credit: tskirde (pixabay.com)

References

[1] Bryant, T. (2007). Similarity or Difference as a Basis for Justice: Must Animals be Like Humans to be Legally Protected from Humans [article]. Law And Contemporary Problems, (1), 207.

[2] Mameli, M., & Bortoletti, L. (2006). Animal Rights, Animal Minds, and Human Mindreading. Journal Of Medical Ethics, (2), 84. doi:10.1136/jme.2005.013086

[3] Gilsason, B. J., & Meyer, M. (2012). Humans and great apes: A search for truth and ethical principles. Journal Of Animal Law, 81-25.

[4] Panksepp, J. (2011). Cross-Species Affective Neuroscience Decoding of the Primal Affective Experiences of Humans and Related Animals. Plos ONE, 6(9), 1-15. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021236

[5] Lindström, B., & Olsson, A. (2015). Mechanisms of Social Avoidance Learning Can Explain the Emergence of Adaptive and Arbitrary Behavioral Traditions in Humans. Journal Of Experimental Psychology. General, 144(3), 688-703. doi:10.1037/xge0000071

[6] Katsnelson, E., Lotem, A., & Feldman, M. W. (2014).  Assortative social learning and its implications for human (and animal?) societiesEvolution, 68(7), 1894-1906. doi:10.1111/evo.12403

[7] Claidiere, N., & Whiten, A. (2012). Integrating the Study of Conformity and Culture in Humans and Nonhuman Animals. Psychological Bulletin, 138(1), 126-145.

[8] Mesoudi, A., Schillinger, K., Lycett, S. J., & Mesoudi, A. (2015). The impact of imitative versus emulative learning mechanisms on artifactual variation: implications for the evolution of material culture. Evolution And Human Behavior, 36(6), 446-455.

[9] Van Leeuwen, E. C., Call, J., & Haun, D. M. (2014). Human children rely more on social information than chimpanzees do. Biology Letters, 10(11), 20140487. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0487

[10] Whiten, A. (2017). Social Learning and Culture in Child and Chimpanzee. Annual Review Of Psychology, 68129-154. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010416-044108

[11] Saraiva, R. S. (2006). Classic ethology reappraised. Behavior & Philosophy, 3489-107.

[12] Vanderveldt, A., Oliveira, L., & Green, L. (2016). Delay discounting: Pigeon, rat, human—does it matter?. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning And Cognition, 42(2), 141-162. doi:10.1037/xan0000097

The People’s Disruption: Platform Co-ops for Global Challenges (November 10-11, 2017 / The New School, New York City)

 

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The People’s Disruption: Platform Co-ops for Global Challenges

November 10-11, 2017 / The New School, New York City

The first platform cooperativism event in 2015 popularized the #platformcoop concept, and the conference a year later brought together co-op and union leaders to push the model forward. This third event will zero in on ways that platform cooperatives can help to address some of the future’s most urgent challenges. The fairer digital economy we need is already emerging, but it won’t happen on its own. That’s where you come in.

  • Learn about new platform co-op projects that are shaping this emerging ecosystem, from blockchain-based financing to user-owned clouds
  • Reflect on research about platform co-op experiments in recent years
  • Confront growing challenges from artificial intelligence to global governance
  • Join leaders from co-ops, industry, labor, and social movements—from Associated Press to Black Lives Matter—to raise the scale of our ambition

Platform cooperatives are poised to be a dynamic, transformative force in building a more equitable economy for people across various income, race and class strata, starting with the most vulnerable populations. This is a political and economic movement that can disrupt Silicon Valley’s disruptors by shifting the focus toward fundamentally fairer forms of ownership and governance. Over the past few years, the burgeoning of platform co-ops, community currencies, worker’s tech, the solidarity economy, and B Corps have shown us that alternative economies are not only necessary but possible. Come help us make platform cooperativism part of the new normal.

Convened by

Trebor Scholz, Camille Kerr, Nathan Schneider, Palak Shah
Featuring

Alicia Garza / Felicia Wong / Brad Burnham / danah boyd / Joseph Blasi / Pia Mancini / Yochai Benkler / Juliet Schor

And many more: platform.coop/2017/participants

Sponsored by

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Also, don’t miss:
Platform Coop 2017: Technology Afterparty

(November 12, New York, NY)

An after-party for #platformcoop-obsessed tech developers and platform designers to come together and learn from one-another, connect, and co-create.
Register here —it’s free.
DazzleCon ’17

(November 15-17, Portland, OR)

Still accepting applications! If you’re a post-revenue founder interested in learning more about creating a more inclusive and ethical type of funding, be sure to visit www.zebrasunite.com.

More Information and Apply
Tenerife Colaborativa 2017

(November 23-27, Tenerife, Spain)

An opportunity to discover the keys that encourage economic paradigm shift and to explore initiatives that lead to practice.

More information and Registration

Culture Blindness and Academic Capitalism

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Summary. The advancement of a genuinely global science beyond Euro-American mainstream, the reduction of international research inequalities, and the mitigation of adverse effects of academic capitalism are important to make progress in understanding and helping humanity worldwide. 

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A Reply to the Article “Obedience” (ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com)

A Reply to the Article “Obedience” (ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com). PLEASE VISIT.

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Comment:

Impressive (depressing) figures. Thanks for sharing as this is of uttermost importance.

I’m practicing here for drafting letters to Gates and co.

Why do these rich/powerful not change the world for the better? Because they just habitually might not change their convictions that made them multi-billionaires? Because they don’t see the chain of causes leading to inequality?

Regarding Bill Gates, for example, of course, one can argue that the development of the Personal Computer did a lot of great things for some people (not the majority of the world population though). I believe, however, that likely somebody else in a similar environment would have come up with a similar advancement. We probably wouldn’t have missed out on computers without Bill Gates. And although Gates and Buffet are from an absolute number perspective praised to be the most generous donators to (their own) foundations, they obviously care before anything else to remain the richest people in the world. Is that really so adorable? They don’t change the game; they only fight some symptoms of the sick system they are profiting from. And maybe they fight also their guilty conscience and feel good about being applauded to be generous?

The rich and powerful who still could buy and influence everything with only a fraction of their current fortune could invest into social impact businesses, empower awareness and education, and enable cooperative governance models to foster democracy and equality to eradicate hunger. There are obvious (or not for them?) ways to let benefit more people from the earthly resources that are extracted primarily for the enrichment of very few. Even if the money is not inherited and if one justifies his/her wealth compared to others’ poverty with a superiority in smartness or industriousness, does that justify amassing, holding back money that could help children from dying of hunger? How hypocritical is it to revel in grief about natural disasters or accidents, while forgetting systematically human-made, constant, and long-term poverty that is the cause for more than 20,000 children dying every single day?!

Even when they have lived their life and could survive with a couple of billion dollars, why do they still not change for making an systematic positive impact? Whose slaves are they? Slaves of their fear? Fear of not being obedient to the capitalist system? They ARE the system of capital as they control a significant part of it. Fear of themselves? Fear of looking into the mirror?! I already hear the reasoning that I don’t have the right to speak that way as I also enjoy privileges. This is not entirely accurate, because when all the volunteering and level of modesty (avoidance of unnecessary luxury/waste) put into proportional perspective, it is definitively in better support of a sustainable world. And let’s not forget the impact of promoting systematic change for all (e.g., by fostering democratically, cooperatively (instead of capitalistically) owned companies), instead of one’s own elitist circles only.

These are the strikingly game-changing questions I’d like to ask them and other fearful obedient directly. Let’s help our children to become courageous and strong leaders, happy in modesty but ambitious in their positive social impact for all. 

Attachment and Moral Development Theory

mathias-sager-attachment-moral development

Summary

This essay evaluates whether “the fundamental problem of social psychology is the moralization of the individual by the society” (McDougall, 1908 as cited in [1], p.8). Also, how does attachment theory permeate aspects of human (and ecological) relationships [2], 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.

Attachment Theory

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 [3]. Secure attachment style enables better relationships with oneself and others [3]. 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 [4]. 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 [4].

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 [5]. Avoidant attachment prevents an individual from effective socialization, communication, and problem-solving [6]. Individual differences in mindfulness in adolescence can be traced back to early childhood background [7]. A positive (vs. harsh, controlling, or uninvolving) parenting style is associated with lower relational aggression [8]. Secure attachment is predictive of seeking help and consequently getting support [9]. 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 [10]. Social and emotional learning (SEL) can strengthen self-esteem, competence, and social inclusion that is supportive of the social and emotional health of youth [10]. For adolescents, new close friendships satisfy age-appropriate attachment needs [11]. The importance of high-quality peer attachment in adolescence is reflected by its negative correlation with exposure to violence [12] and depression that often impacts later romantic relationships [11].

Adult relationships and social bonding

Both child-parent and romantic partnerships follow a process from pre-attachment to a goal-corrected partnership [13]. 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 [13]. 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 [14]. 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 [15].

Moral development

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 [16]. An indirect relationship between moral reasoning and attachment theory exists regarding secure attachment being favorable for cognitive development [17]. Early social relationships foster empathy [18], 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 [19]. An infant’s egocentrism has to be seen as a cognitive inability to coordinate own and others perspectives [20]. Promisingly, instructions can positively stimulate the reaching of higher moral levels [21]. 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 [15].

Factors influencing attachment and moral development

Attachment style was reported to be modestly associated with some personality traits [22]. Lonely persons might have a less positive stance towards others, what can reinforce their insecure attachment style [23]. However, personality factors such as temperament and genetics are incapable of predicting attachment [19]. Women suffer more from avoidant attachment style than male in their romantic partnerships [24]. There is, however, no gender difference in moral perspectives evidenced [15]. Religion and culture, though, can be influential on attachment orientation [6].

Emotion regulation training proved to be positively impacting attachment when targeting self-esteem as the primary reason for insecure attachment [6]. When relationship difficulties are impeding self-worth with negative influences on secure attachment, the risk for anxiety and depression increases [22]. Social anxiety mediates attachment [25], why therapies addressing anxiety work well for insecure attachment treatment [26]. 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 [27]. Motherhood itself can strengthen a mother’s self-esteem and therefore help her improve her attachment security [28]. 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 [29]. Social orientation, compliance, self-control, and self-esteem are seen as preconditions for moral development [30], which are, at the same time, factors that are necessary for the healthy growth of individuals in general too.

Photo credit: loilamtan (pixabay.com)

References

[1] 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

[2] 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.

[3] 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

[4] 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

[5] 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.

[6] 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

[7] 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

[8] 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

[9] 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

[10] 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.

[11] Gorrese, A. (2016). Peer Attachment and Youth Internalizing Problems: A Meta-Analysis. Child & Youth Care Forum, 45(2), 177-204.

[12] Heinze, J. )., Zimmerman, M. )., Cook, S. )., Wood, E. )., & Dumadag, A. ). (2017). Friendship Attachment Style Moderates the Effect of Adolescent Exposure to Violence on Emerging Adult Depression and Anxiety Trajectories. Journal Of Youth And Adolescence, 1-17. doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0729-x

[13] 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.

[14] 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

[15] Donleavy, G. (2008). No man’s land: Exploring the space between Gilligan and Kohlberg. Journal Of Business Ethics, 80(4), 807-822.

[16] Turiel, E. ). (2008). The development of children’s orientations toward moral, social, and personal orders: More than a sequence in development. Human Development, 51(1), 21-39. doi:10.1159/000113154

[17] Reimer, K. (2005). Revisiting moral attachment: Comment on identity and motivation. Human Development, 48(4), 262-266.

[18] Thompson, R. (2012). Whither the Preconventional Child? Toward a Life-Span Moral Development Theory. Child Development Perspectives, 6(4), 423-429.

[19] Attention to Faces Expressing Negative Emotion at 7 Months Predicts Attachment Security at 14 Months. (2015). Child Development, (5), 1321. doi:10.1111/cdev.12380

[20] Boom, J. (2011). Egocentrism in moral development: Gibbs, Piaget, Kohlberg. New Ideas In Psychology, 29(Special Issue: Cognitive Robotics and Reevaluation of Piaget Concept of Egocentrism), 355-363. doi:10.1016/j.newideapsych.2010.03.007

[21] Kohlberg and Piaget: differences and similarities. (1991). Journal of Moral Education, (1), 47.

[22] Surcinelli, P., Rossi, N., Montebarocci, O., & Baldaro, B. (2010). Adult Attachment Styles and Psychological Disease: Examining the Mediating Role of Personality Traits. Journal Of Psychology, 144(6), 523-534.

[23] Trémeau, F., Antonius, D., Malaspina, D., Goff, D. C., & Javitt, D. C. (2016). Loneliness in schizophrenia and its possible correlates. An exploratory study. Psychiatry Research, 246211-217. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2016.09.043

[24] Barry, C., Madsen, S., Nelson, L., Carroll, J., & Badger, S. (2009). Friendship and Romantic Relationship Qualities in Emerging Adulthood: Differential Associations with Identity Development and Achieved Adulthood Criteria. Journal Of Adult Development, 16(4), 209-222.

[25] Manes, S. )., Nodop, S. )., Altmann, U. )., Gawlytta, R. )., Strauss, B. )., Dinger, U. )., & … Willutzki, U. ). (2016). Social anxiety as a potential mediator of the association between attachment and depression. Journal Of Affective Disorders, 205264-268. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.06.060

[26] Ravitz, P., McBride, C., & Maunder, R. (2011). Failures in interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): factors related to treatment resistances. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 67(11), 1129-1139. doi:10.1002/jclp.20850

[27] Fletcher, K., Nutton, J., & Brend, D. (2015). Attachment, A Matter of Substance: The Potential of Attachment Theory in the Treatment of Addictions. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(1), 109. doi:10.1007/s10615-014-0502-5

[28] Buchholz, E. S., & Gol, B. (1986). More than playing house: A developmental perspective on the strengths in teenage motherhood. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 56(3), 347-359. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.1986.tb03468.x

[29] Jang, J. (2010). Transnational Student Identity Development through the Cosmopolite Lens: Benefits and Challenges of Straddling Cultures. Vermont Connection, 31136-146.

[30] Berkowitz, M. W., & Grych, J. (1998). Fostering goodness: Teaching parents to facilitate children’s moral development. Journal of Moral Education, 27, 371–391.

Erroneous Scoping

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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!

Richer and richer

Ha ha, Gupta style (listen to the audio). A poem from my Indian friend Gupta san who still thinks he can better the world. Goooo, Gupta san!

Who has the money?
The rich who get richer and richer.
Who is financing new businesses?
The rich who get richer and richer.
What kind of businesses do they finance?
Profitable businesses that make the rich and richer.
That means businesses where the rich get more out of it than they put in?
Yes.
But who then puts in more than they get out of it,
so that the rich can get more out of it than they put in?
The planet and the poor.
That’s how the environment and society do pay the rich
who get richer and richer.

What made Rosa Parks stand up for her rights? Continuity/discontinuity and nature/nurture aspects of psychological development

rosa parks

Rosa Parks is called a “civil rights pioneer” [1], an Alabama seamstress who was “sparking the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960s” [2, p. 184], and a ‘one hit wonder’ who refused in 1955 to give up her seat just because of being tired from shopping [11]. Activists’ security it is essential to declare their protests as rather casual than strategic [3]. Some quote her with “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in,” speaks of a strategic intent though [4]. Some argue that it is incorrect that she was the mother of the Civil Rights Movement; others had resisted before her, and it was Martin Luther King and others who organized the protest against bus segregation [5]. So, what makes Rosa Parks a heroine?

Continue reading What made Rosa Parks stand up for her rights? Continuity/discontinuity and nature/nurture aspects of psychological development

Moral Development

mathias-sager-moral-development

Definitions of morality

Societal and ecological problems are considered to be a result of moral deficits, and in various scientific disciplines morality is an important subject [1]. In developmental psychology, the notion of ‘development’ generally relates to permanent positive progress across the whole lifespan [2]. Macklin (as cited in [2]) provides the principles of humaneness and humanity for a definition of morality. Rationalistic proponents of morality theories such as Kohlberg focus on reasoning as the facilitator of moral judgment and prosocial behavior. Kohlberg’s theory states that moral development passes through six sequential developmental stages. Internalistic views, which argue that reasoning is leading to moral behavior were proven flawed. Rather it was found that moral emotions and motivations are required as well [2].

Morality development across the lifespan

Morality is seen to develop from earliest childhood and research confirms observations of prosocial behavior as early as at age 2 [3]. As the information processing capability of children increases, older children need to align their morality accordingly [2]. In contrast to adolescence, intelligence, however, doesn’t seem to be related to moral development in childhood [4]. Adolescence and early adulthood appear to be especially important for moral self-development [3]. Initiatives to educate emerging adults for openness to diversity, for which moral reasoning has proven to be a predictive factor, are frequent and often fruitful [5]. Strengthening the self as a means to achieve goals and as an end-goal in itself is typically starting to be more and more replaced from childhood to mid adulthood, albeit never completely, by the purpose for social connection [6].

Moral inclusiveness and education for moral engagement

Despite (or because of) any such communal motives, there are psychological limits for the reach of individuals’ moral justice, which causes the perception of moral dilemmas. Because people tend to judge outsiders more rigidly, it is important to develop an understanding of morality that values a global perspective of impartiality and universality to overcome the phenomenon of moral exclusion [7]. It suggests integrating moral community, besides other aspects, within a complete model of morality as measured by the evidently reliable and valid Moral Identity Questionnaire [8].

Although moral progress is an inherent human capability, it needs to be individually and actively developed [2]. Antisocial and aggressive behavior was found to interlink with moral disengagement and that the strength of these processes is much influenced by the immediate interpersonal social context [1]. It is therefore critical to pay attention to what educative experiences an environment is intentionally or unintentionally cultivating [9]. Dialogic teaching promotes moral learning by expanding learners’ capacity to capture a broader understanding of the oneness with the otherness and the potential for positive individual and collective change [10].

Photo credit: pascualamaia (pixabay.com)

References

[1] Brugman, D., Keller, M., & Sokol, B. (2013). Introduction: Meaning, measurement, and correlates of moral development. European Journal Of Developmental Psychology, 10(2), 99-105. doi:10.1080/17405629.2013.769368

[2] Schinkel, A., & de Ruyter, D. (2017). Individual Moral Development and Moral Progress. Ethical Theory And Moral Practice, 20(1), 121-136. doi:10.1007/s10677-016-9741-6

[3] Lapsley, D., & Carlo, G. (2014). Moral Development at the Crossroads: New Trends and Possible Futures. Developmental Psychology, 50(1), 1-7.

[4] Beissert, H.M., & Hasselhorn, M. (2016). Individual differences in moral development: Does intelligence really affect children’s moral reasoning and moral emotions?. Frontiers In Psychology, Vol 7 (2016), doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01961/full

[5] Gerson, M., & Neilson, L. (2014). The importance of identity development, principled moral reasoning, and empathy as predictors of openness to diversity in emerging adults. SAGE Open, 4(4), 11p.. doi:10.1177/2158244014553584

[6] Walker, L. J., & Frimer, J. A. (2015). Developmental Trajectories of Agency and Communion in Moral Motivation. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 61(3), 412-439.

[7] Passini, S. (2010). Moral Reasoning in a Multicultural Society: Moral Inclusion and Moral Exclusion. Journal For The Theory Of Social Behaviour, 40(4), 435-451.

[8] Black, J. E., & Reynolds, W. M. (2016). Development, reliability, and validity of the Moral Identity Questionnaire. Personality & Individual Differences, 97120-129. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.03.041

[9] King, P. M. (2009). Principles of development and developmental change underlying theories of cognitive and moral development. Journal Of College Student Development, 50(6), 597-620. doi:10.1353/csd.0.0104

[10] English, A. R. (2016). Dialogic Teaching and Moral Learning: Self-Critique, Narrativity, Community and “Blind Spots”. Journal Of Philosophy Of Education, 50(2), 160-176.

The importance of intuition

mathias-sager-intuition

What are the “hidden” aspects, the unconscious parts of personalities’ mental functioning that is determining human behavior? While Freud is using the term ‘drive,’ ‘instinct’ and ‘intuition’ (more casually also ‘gut feeling’) are rather popular expressions too, while ‘instinct’ may be seen as a more inherent, and ‘intuition’ as a more experience based type of unconscious mental activity (Sun & Wilson, 2014). Intuition may be substantial for the humanist approach as well, as there is an expectation that the self-actualization tendency is at work in unconscious situations such as creative work, euphoria, and intuition (Gordon, 2012).

Ancient definition states that intuition is a mechanism, which allows becoming conscious about something that is already known (Carina & Johannes, 2016). Recent definitions describe intuitions as a rapid, effortless, automatic, and unconscious process (Murphy, 2014). As Martindale and Collins (2013) put it, intuition is the revelation of memorized information and therefore represents a skill rather than a myth. Freud’s psychoanalytic technique of free association to make unconscious experiences conscious (Ziegler, 2002) may, therefore, be helping intuition.

There is increasing scientific evidence for that the human mind operates in two modes, a conscious (rational) and an unconscious (intuitive) one (Krieshok, Motl, & Rutt, 2011). However, latest state of neuroscientific research rather supports a tripartite structure of the mind composed of instincts, emotions (intuitions), and thoughts, while “emotions are not always automatic and not in general opposition to reason” (Levine, 2017, p. 1). Intuition was neuro-psychologically found to have a low- and high-level capacity, the latter being able to reconcile conflicting aspects of one’s self-concept in the form of consolidating feelings (Carina & Johannes, 2016). Consequently, intuitions could help preventing neurosis as a result of conflicts between the real and ideal self, as a self-actualizing person may experience (Finke, 2002). The importance of intuition respectively feelings for judgmental ability has been shown by Palmeira (2014). Furthermore, intuition seems to be particularly important for challenging, life purpose related (Carina & Johannes, 2016), and new and unusual situations (Gächter, 2012). However, according to Krieshok et al. (2011) people tend to take major decisions consciously and therefore more according to their social identity than based on personally intuitive and genuine criteria.

Intuition also plays a major role in moral judgment as personal differences may result from how someone depends on it (Lombrozo, 2009). Strikingly, people’s intuitive response generally results in more cooperative behavior and (over-) thinking may increase more egoistic behavior (Gächter, 2012).  In conclusion, it seems that intuition is important for human judgment and behavior and sound decisions might come from a balance of reasoning and intuition (Krieshok et al., 2011). Skilled intuition may even be an indicator of mental health. Carina and Johannes (2016) found that depressed individuals are less capable of taking choices and healthy test person have been evaluated as being able to use their intuition for problem-solving. Intuition capacity can be measured with the Types of Intuition Scale (TIntS) measures (Pretz et al., 2004).

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References

Carina, R., & Johannes, M. (2016). Loosing gut feeling? Intuition in Depression. Frontiers In Psychology, Vol 7 (2016), doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01291/full

Finke, J. (2002). Aspects of the actualizing tendency from a humanistic psychology perspective. Person-Centered And Experiential Psychotherapies, 1(1-2), 28-40. doi:10.1080/14779757.2002.9688276

Gächter, S. (2012). Human behaviour: A cooperative instinct. Nature, 489(7416), 374-375. doi:10.1038/489374a

Gordon, S. (2012). Existential Time and the Meaning of Human Development. Humanistic Psychologist, 40(1), 79. doi:10.1080/08873267.2012.643691

Krieshok, T., Motl, T., & Rutt, B. (2011). The Evolution of Vocational Psychology: Questions for a Postmodern Applied Discipline. Journal Of Career Assessment, 19(3), 228-239.

Levine, D. S. (2017). Modeling the instinctive-emotional-thoughtful mind. Cognitive Systems Research, doi:10.1016/j.cogsys.2017.05.002

Lombrozo, T. (2009). The Role of Moral Commitments in Moral Judgment. Cognitive Science, 33(2), 273-286. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01013.x

Martindale, A., & Collins, D. (2013). The Development of Professional Judgment and Decision Making Expertise in Applied Sport Psychology. Sport Psychologist, 27(4), 390-398.

Murphy, P. (2014). Teaching Applied Ethics to the Righteous Mind. Journal Of Moral Education, 43(4), 413-428.

Palmeira, M. (2014). Intuitions in Conflict: Preference Reversals Due to Switch Between Sensitization and Diminishing Sensitivity. Journal Of Behavioral Decision Making, 27(2), 124-133.

Pretz, J., Brookings, J., Carlson, L., Humbert, T., Roy, M., Jones, M., & Memmert, D. (2014). Development and Validation of a New Measure of Intuition: The Types of Intuition Scale. Journal Of Behavioral Decision Making, 27(5), 454-467.

Sun, R., & Wilson, N. (2014). Roles of Implicit Processes: Instinct, Intuition, and Personality. Mind And Society: A Journal Of Cognitive Studies In Economics And Social Sciences, 13(1), 109-134.

Ziegler, D. J. (2002). Freud, Rogers, and Ellis: A comparative theoretical analysis. Journal Of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 20(2), 75-92. doi:10.1023/A:1019808217623