Single-mindedness is praised and rewarded everywhere in science as well as in business and private matters. If integrating more aspects of life into one’s lifestyle, one is considered unfocused and not knowing what he/she wants. People typically educate and develop in clearly predefined, straight career paths, and socially common and therefore accepted ways in which people all too often assume a tunnel view on life so they can be put into one-themed, clearly labeled boxes.
The Last Universalist
As French Henri Poincare described so well “Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.” In the context of understanding life and its signification for human existence overall, some dots undoubtedly remain unconnected. Henri Poincare who died in 1912, is considered the ‘The Last Universalist’ in mathematics since he mastered all the disciplines at once. If today’s specialized scientific fields work in silos and are hindering inter-disciplinary cooperation, it might indeed be the case that a lot of knowledge is not brought into a more meaningful context and does not result into a house of wisdom that benefits and protects all humanity in a broader sense.
Missing systematic management of the mind
Project and productivity management skills to organize business processes are taught everywhere and on all levels of the education system. Surprisingly, the same diligence is not applied to the mental world. How can we think about our thinking and improve it for our own and others’ well-being? How can we critically check our awareness to make sure we don’t miss any essential aspects? The answers to these questions determine how we care for the world, and yet they are not discussed systematically enough in school. To quote the Buddha, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” I think it is overdue to build wholesome human attitudes, which is to think more and in different ways about how we develop and use awareness.
The benefit of mental triathlons
Awareness Intelligence is like a mental triathlon, or a triptych in art. It is not just one focus of mind, but a threefold set of socio-temporal perspectives that form a person’s worldview (for more on socio-temporal mental schemas see the Awareness Intelligence literature on https://mathias-sager.com/tag/awareness-intelligence/). It is to be hoped that one-sided extremism evolves into inherently diverse lifestyles. We need monks who are not only wise, but fit and socially engaging. We need physically fit intellectuals who care, and intellectual and kind sportspersons. We need leaders who serve on the ground of honest servant leadership style based on what’s healthy for human beings. And, we need real, fair competition that rewards not only the smart, but especially the kind.
Horizontal integration for more relevance
For a more harmonious and wholesome lifestyle it is to hope that personality is understood to not only develop vertically (i.e., into a specialization in one field), but horizontally (i.e., integrating multiple fields) to become aware of broader contexts, interdependencies, and connections across everything and all that is relevant.
This article is about the fascinating science of mental schemas and worldviews and how they relate to a person’s meaning and well-being. You can try out the related self-reflection tool, an exciting psycho-philosophical adventure, at www.mathias-sager.com.
Globalization has caused people to travel and migrate, buy products across borders, and inform themselves through global media. This strongly influences people’s identity and their psychological construction of the world (Reese, Rosenmann, & McGarty, 2015). It’s also a person’s internal system of meaning-making, respectively worldview that determines the scope and quality of capacities like the empathy one experiences (Nelems, 2017). Worldviews also help to interpret the world meaningfully, which allows us to better handle suffering (Yang, Liu, Sullivan, & Pan, 2016). Consequently, any investigation on how worldviews influence meaning/understanding seeks to derive insights that are beneficial for the individual well-being and the common good alike.
Worldviews are arrangements of beliefs used to create meaning of one’s experience of reality (Koltko-Rivera, 2004). From a cognitive perspective, worldviews involve ‘thinking systems’ including intricate patterns of thoughts and beliefs that integrate as an interactive whole (Davis, & Stroink, 2016). Beliefs are mental constellations that stand for relationships between categories, which determine how one experiences the world (Chen, Fok, Bond, & Matsumoto, 2006). For example, social worldview schemas would represent an individual’s beliefs about the social world (Sibley, & Duckitt, 2009). To mentally build a worldview, the abilities to learn and imagine, all of which require reflection, are essential (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). And humans do reflect on the continuum of time, a mental process that involves thinking about the past, present, and future (Vannucci, Peagatti, Chiorri, & Brugger, 2019).
The before-mentioned schematic concepts of beliefs can be called ‘meaning frameworks’ (Taves et al., 2018). Such a meaning framework is presented by Friedman (2018), who mentions two fundamental dimensions related to worldview, which are space and time. Neuroimaging research agrees that psychological orientation bases on the relationship between one’s behavior and the aspects of space, time, and people (Peer, Salomon, Goldberg, Blanke, & Arzy, 2015). Van Dijk and Withagen (2016) state that learning, specifically, meaning-making requires contextualization and a broadening of both the spatial and temporal scope of the individual.
Regarding the above-mentioned social dimension (Peer et al., 2015), the intra-personal, inter-personal, and extra-personal factors have been found to influence human perception, experience, and the capacity to manage life areas such as risks (Jayasuriya, Whittaker, Halim, & Matineau, 2012). Intra-personal means the thoughts and beliefs related to the individual herself (Jayasuriya et al., 2012). A definition of inter-personal comes from those thoughts and beliefs, which are related to personal interactions with others (Jayasuriya et al., 2012). Extra-personal can be defined as a social scope that goes beyond the direct interaction with others (Jayasuriya et al., 2012). Extra-personal beliefs are related to long-term interests such as social needs that surpass intra- and inter-personal benefits (Sternberg, Reznitskaya, & Jarvin, 2007). They can comprise social relationships beyond group memberships, i.e., being a member of the whole human species (Leary, Tipsord, & Tate, 2008).
Vannucci et al. (2019) mention that the temporal dimension of reflective thought is dependent on spatial context (i.e., including places close and far, the world, and the cosmos), but these researchers do not specifically focus the interpersonal, respectively social component of context. Similarly, Sullivan, Stewart, and Diefendorf (2015) see time and space as the critical variables for human cognition. Still, their model fails to consider the impact of the social dimension on perception too. To clarify the construction of worldviews, novel Socio-Temporal Mental Schema Analysis (STMSA) tool, on the other hand, is specifying ‘spatial’ as the ‘social’ attributes of the intra-, inter-, and extra-personal.
Nilsson (2014a) suggests that a person’s worldview, i.e., the schema through which the world is experienced, influences one’s well-being. Cloninger’s ‘unity of being’ represents a model of a coherent self-concept that consists of the self, others, and the world as a whole and has an impact on the degree of self-reliance, hope, the ability to cope, compassion, and cooperativeness (Garcia & Rosenberg, 2016). In that sense, the socio-temporal matrix (see Figure 1) researched, validated and developed as a framework to identify and visualize worldviews, can facilitate the exploration of similar possible psychological effects related to a person’s meaning-making and well-being through socio-temporal worldviews. Therefore, it is to understand individuals’ socio-temporal worldview ontology through introspective information gathering (Nilsson, 2014b).
Figure 1. The socio-temporal matrix of worldview schemas
The novel socio-temporal matrix is derived as described in the following and as visualized by Figure 1. On the x-axis of the model, there are three variables of the temporal dimension. More specifically, this horizontal axis partitions itself, in the order from left to right, into the ‘past,’ ‘present,’ and ‘future.’ The vertical y-axis of the matrix contains the three variables of the social dimension. Starting from the intersection with the horizontal axis, which represents time as explained, the first third of the vertical line (y-axis) shall be labeled ‘intra-’ that is short for ‘intra-personal. The next, middle part of the vertical axis becomes ‘inter-,‘which stands for the ‘inter-personal’ scope. The third and uppermost vertical section is the ‘extra-,‘ which signifies ‘extra-personal.’ Similar to a coordinate system, through these two tripartite grid lines, a matrix can be formed (see Figure 1). When using the vertical and horizontal axis’ labels in the same manner as the numerical coordinates of a map, or the letters and numbers of a chessboard, it is possible to identify and navigate the three times three – in total nine – fields of the matrix (see Figure 1).
The nine fields of the matrix will be used to inquire about socio-temporal mental schemas. An individual’s worldview schema is expected to consist of a specific set of matrix fields, depending on whether one’s belief system emphasizes certain socio-temporal mental states over others. For example, one may emphasize other-related extra-past (e.g., socio-cultural upbringing), behave in an inter-present, rather relationship-dominated way, while focusing, however, on a self-oriented intra-future. Such a socio-temporal mental worldview schema might link to specific meanings as, for example, a more independent (i.e., denoted by the intra-past instead of an inter- or extra-past) and other-oriented (i.e., depicted as the extra-future rather than an inter- or intra-future) cognitive socio-temporal worldview preference.
Socio-temporal schema constellations are expected to emerge from combinations of meaningful and often frequented social and temporal aspects within the socio-temporal matrix. The novel Socio-Temporal Mental Schemas Analysis (STMSA) tool investigates users’ worldviews based on their related schema constellations. The results can serve the users’ as a mental map to support the navigation of socio-temporal worldviews. As such, the matrix proves to be useful for self-reflection and fostering awareness about oneself and others.
Chen, S. X., Fok, H. K., Bond, M. H., & Matsumoto, D. (2006). Personality and beliefs about the world revisited: Expanding the nomological network of social axioms. Personality and Individual Differences, 41(2), 201–211
Davis, A. C., & Stroink, M. L. (2016). The Relationship between Systems Thinking and the New Ecological Paradigm. Systems Research & Behavioral Science, 33(4), 575–586.
Friedman, H. L. (2018). Transpersonal psychology as a heterodox approach to psychological science: Focus on the construct of self-expansiveness and its measure. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 6(1), 230–242.
Garcia, D., & Rosenberg, P. (2016). Out of Flatland: The Role of the Notion of a Worldview in the Science of Well-being.
Jayasuriya, R., Whittaker, M., Halim, G., & Matineau, T. (2012). Rural health workers and their work environment: the role of inter-personal factors on job satisfaction of nurses in rural Papua New Guinea. BMC Health Services Research, 12, 156.
Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind. Science, 330(6006), 932
Koltko-Rivera, M. E. (2004). The Psychology of Worldviews. Review of General Psychology, 8(1), 3–58.
Leary, M. R., Tipsord, J. M., & Tate, E. B. (2008). Allo-inclusive identity: Incorporating the social and natural worlds into one’s sense of self. In H. A.Wayment & J. J.Bauer (Eds.), Transcending self-interest: Psychological explorations of the quiet ego (pp. 137–147). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 10.
Nelems, R. J. (2017). What Is This Thing Called Empathy? At the Interface / Probing the Boundaries, (92), 17–38.
Nilsson, A. (2014a). A non-reductive science of personality, character, and well-being must take the person’s worldview into account. Frontiers in Psychology.
Nilsson, A. (2014b). Personality psychology as the integrative study of traits and worldviews. New Ideas in Psychology, 18.
Peer, M., Salomon, R., Goldberg, I., Blanke, O., & Arzy, S. (2015). Brain system for mental orientation in space, time, and person. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112, 11072–11077.
Reese, G., Rosenmann, A., & McGarty, C. (2015). Globalisation and global concern: Developing a social psychology of human responses to global challenges. European Journal Of Social Psychology, 45(7), 799-805.
Sibley, C., & Duckitt, J. (2009). Big-Five Personality, Social Worldviews, and Ideological Attitudes: Further Tests of a Dual Process Cognitive-Motivational Model. Journal of Social Psychology, 149(5), 545–561.
Sternberg, R. J., Reznitskaya, A., & Jarvin, L. (2007). Teaching for Wisdom: What Matters Is Not Just What Students Know, but How They Use It. London Review of Education, 5(2), 143–158.
Taves, A., Asprem, E., Ihm, E. (2018). Psychology, meaning making, and the study of worldviews: Beyond religion and non-religion. (2018). Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, (3), 207.
Van Dijk, L., & Withagen, R. (2016). Temporalizing agency: Moving beyond on- and offline cognition. Theory And Psychology, 26(1), 5-26.
Vannucci, M., Pelagatti, C., Chiorri, C., & Brugger, P. (2019). Space–time interaction: visuo-spatial processing affects the temporal focus of mind wandering. Psychological Research, (4), 698.
Yang, Q., Liu, S., Sullivan, D., & Pan, S. (2016). Interpreting suffering from illness: The role of culture and repressive suffering construal. Social Science & Medicine, 160, 67–74.
In most of today’s scientific research, I find it still difficult to see how the link between the universe and human psychology is made. It seems like current awareness is not up to seeing the study of the human mind being first and uttermost linked to overarching factors such as
The human soul that is connected to the universal consciousness and cosmic time.
mathias sager (Awareness Intelligence)
As French Henri Poincare described so well “Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.” In the context of understanding life and its signification for human existence overall, some dots undoubtedly remain unconnected. Henri Poincare who died in 1912, is considered the ‘The Last Universalist’ in mathematics since he mastered all the disciplines at once. If today’s specialized scientific fields work in silos and are hindering inter-disciplinary cooperation, it might indeed be the case that
A lot of knowledge is not brought into a more meaningful context and does not result into a house of wisdom that benefits and protects all humanity in a broader sense.
mathias sager (Awareness Intelligence)
Project and productivity management skills to organize business processes are taught everywhere and on all levels of the education system. Surprisingly, the same diligence is not applied to the mental world.
How can we think about our thinking and improve it for our own and others’ well-being?
How can we critically check our awareness to make sure we don’t miss any essential aspects?
The answers to these questions determine how we care for the world, and yet they are not discussed systematically enough in school. To quote the Buddha, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” I think it is overdue to build wholesome human attitudes, which is to
Think more and in different ways about how we develop and use awareness.
1.Know that the brain has different chemical processes for addictive pleasure experiences (neurotransmitter is dopamine) versus more long-term, empathic, and self-sufficient happiness-related behavior (neurotransmitter is serotonin).
2.Reducedistractions, especially to avoid over-dependence (addiction) to technology and social networks that interrupt your attention and learning.
3.Increase for how long you are able to stay offline and/or exclusively focused for better learning results.
4.Train your brain through exercising, diet, sleep, and alternative learning strategies.
5.Recognize how your consciousness requires the joint operation of brain, body, and the world. Brain activities may be necessary, but not sufficient preconditions for human behavior.
6.Experiment with stretching your sense of time and thinking of cyclical time. The soul/spirit wants to expand. As the earth is not a plate where you can fall off the edges, time may not be a simple line with birth and life ‘abysses.’
7.Do not fear the future. The brain takes even distantly thought threats for real and causes already now suffering, anxiety, and depression.
8.Do not fear loss. If we are only our physical brain, we don’t need to fear any regrets or pain after death. If there is something more permanent than our brain, death isn’t an existential threat to fear either.
9.Useintuition, imagination, and intention to ‘real-life check’ what really counts in everything you learn: Is it meaningful, unlimited, and purposeful? If not, it’s not worth it.
10.Read to activate your brain, increase the working memory’s capacity, and expand attention span.
All courses are based on latest research and consistently assume a cross-cultural and cooperative perspective. The courses aim to equip the participants with practical tools for personal and career success and can be tailored to your needs, on-site and through eLearning.
All the lessons are available as focused lectures or interactive workshop and are complemented with accompanying material, further readings, exercises, group works, and quizzes/tests.
I’m standing with my name for it.
Multi-Disciplinary: Combining knowledge from psychology, art, technology, and business for holistic approaches.
Cross-Cultural: Using cross-cultural competencies and agility to bridge cultural gaps for the benefit of our diverse participants.
Inter-Generational: Empowering to learn, strategize, and develop with tailored solutions according to lifespan development.
To understand the psychological and behavioural processes on which lasting learning results from experience.
In this course, participants will get input about major learning theories and get to understand of how humans do learn, process and remember information. Course participants will also consider and get examples on how practitioners can use these theories to explain behavior in cross-cultural contexts.
To provide participants an understanding of leadership from a psychological perspective, and to examine the impact of culture on leadership success.
In this course, participants will study leadership challenges from a several different psychological perspectives, gaining an understanding of more or less effective leadership styles across different cultures and contexts, and the ethical use of power and influence.
To develop an understanding of the psychological aspects around human capital development, cultural agility, and the impact and effectiveness of different global talent management strategies.
This course explores the interaction between personality, leadership types, and individual learning styles. Course participants will evaluate the psychological concept of talent and study the criteria for attracting, retaining and developing talent globally. Participants will also consider the effectiveness and fairness of global talent management strategies and their impact at individual and organizational levels.
The course ‘Developing Leadership Skills’ is a compelling summary of latest research and good practices that may well become your passport to explore new ways of effective leadership styles, increased levels of motivation, and untapped creativity.
Whether you are an HR practitioner, an aspiring or current leader, an executive coach, or a student, this logically structured course will help you in becoming personally and professionally more effective and efficient. You are offered practical tools for insight and understanding of your possible
roles in team situations,
conflict management style,
successful negotiation strategies,
better decision-making, as well as
unlocking of your innovation capacity.
The goal of this course is to make sure you will find answers to the questions that are relevant for personal growth and a thriving career. Compact, straightforward, and with numerous references to further information, the interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural knowledge and perspectives presented in the twelve short lectures will benefit your well-being and success as a dynamic leader and the common good alike.
Mathias’ transferable skills and experience are in education, business administration, advisory, risk management, and psychology and learning & development to facilitate change from a cross-cultural perspective. He has led quality and complex programs successfully working with diverse teams and collaborating interdisciplinary with stakeholders to achieve innovative solutions. Mathias has worked as a teacher, a leadership trainer, as well as a senior manager responsible for client relationships, counseling, and virtual teams around the world. Also, he’s a social entrepreneur and serving as a strategy and leadership advisor for various clients.
Cross-cultural developmental psychology
Psychology of Learning
Global Talent Management (GTM)
Leadership and Business Administration
Strategic Thinking, ICT, and Risk and Program Management
Visiting Researcher at University of Tokyo (Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies)
Founder of the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium
Research collaboration related to the PCJ
Strategy Advisory and Project Management Services for International Technology Companies in Japan and India
Strategy and concept
Branding, Marketing, and P&R
Occasional Instructor Leadership & Organizational Development at J-Globalgroup
Conceptualization of a Learning & Development model
Event facilitator and Instructor
Senior Manager | Financial Services (Advisory) at Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC
Global lead and coordination of IT advisory, risk, assurance, and compliance projects for Japanese and International clients in the Financial Services sector
Team leader and counselor in the International IT Risk and Assurance practice
Cross-service line and multidisciplinary team and business development
Senior Manager, Advisory Services | EMEIA Financial Services, Ernst & Young AG
Advisory Services IT Risk and Assurance Insurance Services Team Leader Switzerland
Learning champion for the national IT Advisory practice, including design and deployment of learning maps, including the coordination and delivery of training and recruitment
Design, implementation and lead of project management office services
Trainer/Lecturer at the Akademie der Treuhandkammer (academy of the Institute of Certified Accountants and Tax Consultants)
Conception and realization (train the trainer and lecturer) of the Modules “Audit” and “Professional Judgment: Process oriented audit”
Trainer for Leadership Communication at the Centre for Information and Communication of the Swiss Army (ZIKA)
Leadership communication and conﬂict management trainer for public services personnel
Communications manager of the Center for Information and Communications of the Swiss Army
High School Teacher, Rupperswil
Class tutor, all courses
Cross-cultural developmental psychology
Psychology of Learning
Global Talent Management (GTM)
Leadership, Business Administration, and Project Management
-Diploma in Psychology (MSc program University of Liverpool), 2016 – 2018
-Executive MBA in ICT Management, University of Fribourg, 2010 – 2014
-Bachelor in Information Management, IFA, 2005 – 2007
-Postgraduate Certificate in Crisis Communication, 2006 – 2006
-Bachelor in Education Science, University of Neuchâtel, Higher Pedagogical Institute, Zofingen, 1995 – 1998
Strength-based approaches to fostering “female” leadership styles
Humanitarian principles and global egalitarian mindset
The case for gender equality
Although women represent half of the population in education and global workforce at career start and mid-level management, men outnumber women in all sectors’ leadership positions. The role of female talents in future leadership is a critical challenge  for the growth of economies . A study among a big sample across 26 countries found that work-life balance, commitment, and turnover thoughts are related to perceived job autonomy that is, for women, mediated by present gender egalitarianism .
Prestige economies and cultural tightness
Prestige governs economies, causing countries with high expenditure in research and development to have comparatively fewer female members (e.g., Japan with 11.6% female researchers, and only 9.7% professors), while low-expenditure nations (e.g., the Philippines and Thailand employ female researchers beyond 45%) . To stay with the example of Japan, nations with similar challenges related to vocational stereotypes, job availability constraints, traditional bias and a collective mindset, even when not having as much government promotion of female employment as Japan, tend to have fewer women in corporate executive positions. Roibu and Roibu (2017) ascribe this to the strictness of how social and work rules are enforced . Indeed, cultural tightness, i.e., the fierceness of norms, contributes to explaining why some organizations in some countries are less successful in advocating women leadership than others . However, the finding of male domination in higher leadership positions seems to be more generally a phenomenon somewhat independent of nationality, culture, and even legislation for gender equality .
Functional literacy and inclusiveness
Fast technological change can negatively pronounce skill deterioration during work interruption, such as caused by maternity leave . Also, education needs to be carefully analyzed regarding whether it is suited to improve social inclusion or whether, in contrast, aggravates competitive exclusivity . For example, functional literacy programs shouldn’t be designed as a reading and writing capability only, but as emancipatory enablers that integrate reading, writing, and socio-economic and political understanding for democratic participation and the self-efficient creation of social networks and wealth .
Strength-based approaches to fostering “female” leadership styles
Some woman may be more sold on power-promising, rewarding, and recognizing careers  and learn how to play the neo-liberal corporate game. Many, on the other hand, do also keep a philanthropic attitude that might not be come to success in an economy that rewards competition . Leadership styles are evolving though, and the value of emotional intelligence is bringing female leaders, albeit slowly, into pole positions . Strength-based approaches to talent development can help also preserving gender-specific genuineness throughout personal careers .
Humanitarian principles and global “female” mindset
The human species can change its mindset, and a female leadership style based on humanitarian principles might be precisely the fit for an increasingly globalized and cooperating world . Millennial women are expected to have a high interest to play a global role . Already existing transnational women’s movements  may additionally help to boost self-esteem to create more egalitarian local and global environments.
 Andrews, S. (2017). Leadership, EQ, and Gender: Global Strategies for Talent Development. TD: Talent Development, 71(2), 7.
 Roibu, I., & Roibu, P. A. (. (2017). The Differences between Women Executives in Japan and Romania. Oradea Journal Of Business And Economics, Vol 2, Iss 1, Pp 81-90 (2017), (1), 81.
 Halliday, C. S., Paustian-Underdahl, S. C., Ordonez, Z., Rogelberg, S. G., & Zhang, H. (2017). Autonomy as a key resource for women in low gender egalitarian countries: A cross-cultural examination. Human Resource Management, 57(2), 601-615.
 Morley, L. (2014). Lost Leaders: Women in the Global Academy. Higher Education Research And Development, 33(1), 114-128.
 Toh, S. M., & Leonardelli, G. J. (2013). Cultural constraints on the emergence of women leaders: How global leaders can promote women in different cultures. Organizational Dynamics, 42(3), 191-197. doi:10.1016/j.orgdyn.2013.06.004
 Jung, J. H., & Choi, K. (2009). Technological Change and Returns to Education: The Implications for the S&E Labor Market. Global Economic Review, 38(2), 161-184. doi:10.1080/12265080902891461
 Appleby, Y., & Bathmaker, A. M. (2006). The new skills agenda: increased lifelong learning or new sites of inequality?. British Educational Research Journal, 32(5), 703-717.
 Kagitcibasi, C., Goksen, F., & Gulgoz, S. (2005). Functional adult literacy and empowerment of women: Impact of a functional literacy program in Turkey. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(6), 472-489.
 Morley, L. (2016). Troubling intra-actions: gender, neo-liberalism and research in the global academy. Journal Of Education Policy, 31(1), 28-45.
 David, E. (2010). Aspiring to leadership … a woman’s world? An example of developments in France. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, (4), 347. doi:10.1108/13527601011086577
 Garcea, N., Linley, A., Mazurkiewicz, K., & Bailey, T. (2012). Future female talent development. Strategic HR Review, (4), 199. doi:10.1108/14754391211234913
 Werhane, P. H. (2007). Women Leaders in a Globalized World. Journal Of Business Ethics, (4), 425. doi:10.1007/s10551-007-9516-z
 Stefanco, C. J. (2017). Beyond Boundaries: Millennial Women and the Opportunities for Global Leadership. Journal Of Leadership Studies, 10(4), 57-62. doi:10.1002/jls.21505
Summary. The transverse patterning (TP) task is a cognitive problem resembling the childhood game of “rock-paper-scissors” requiring decision-making in the process of learning associations between paired stimuli. The TP problem served the assessment of configural learning deficits due to hippocampal damages in animals. In experiments with humans, training has proven to increase test subjects’ TP task performance. This supports the interpretation that even older adults may be able to learn to adapt their cognitive strategies to compensate for age-related working memory deterioration. Furthermore, older adults may disproportionately benefit from visual versions of TP task, which involve semantic knowledge. This was found to support older individuals in the application of cognitive strategies that are activating less age-sensitive working memory and brain areas.
You an try the TP learning memory experiment yourself at opl.apa.org.
Human interactions don’t lack technical but rather cooperative communication skills. The good news is that pro-social behavior can be learned. Collective argumentation is one means to scaffold learners’ engagement in group work. Also, the negotiation of values is vital for achieving a shared sense of agency and accountability between teachers and students. In computer-enabled learning, consequential engagement in the form of enabling equitability and showing the benefits beyond single contributions, as well as using game formats are promising pathways to progress cooperation in learning environments.
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 . In other words, children would not realize the suffering of others as such at all . 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?
The question of animal-human similarity is essential to decide whether animals should be treated alike  and whether animals possess rights . 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 ?
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 . 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 .
Especially when fearing punishment, nonhuman and human animals tend to copy the behavior of others . Social learning is vital for the transmission of culture and learning between subjects of high similarity, the so-called assortative social learning, is preferred . The study of conformity has gained popularity in animal research in recent years . 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 . 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 . There is growing evidence for close analogies of human and chimpanzee social learning and culture .
Some argue that Konrad Lorenz’ study of adaptiveness, i.e., observing stimuli-response behavior in the context of the specific environment (and life experiences , has not been maintained sufficiently in animal research methodology . 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  should, in any case, attune us with a rather humble attitude.
Photo credit: tskirde (pixabay.com)
 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.
 Mameli, M., & Bortoletti, L. (2006). Animal Rights, Animal Minds, and Human Mindreading. Journal Of Medical Ethics, (2), 84. doi:10.1136/jme.2005.013086
 Gilsason, B. J., & Meyer, M. (2012). Humans and great apes: A search for truth and ethical principles. Journal Of Animal Law, 81-25.
 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
 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
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Introspection as the scientific method had to give place to behavioral psychology in the nineteenth century , which opposed mentalist approaches to the study of associative mechanisms in learned behavior  with rigorous observable laboratory experiments and animal behavior training as performed by B.F. Skinner  (Figure 1.). Associationists like E. Thorndike believed in biological processes which construe memory in the form of neuronal connections in the brain . Reinforcement, for example in the form of dopamine rewards, was considered necessary feedback for learning enablement . Today there is substantial evidence that learning can happen without this kind of reinforcement though . The classical conditioning (Figure 2.) through basic physical stimulation proven too simplistic, Ivan Pavlov introduced a second system allowing for linguistic inputs too . L.S. Vygotsky considered language as a requirement for the human ability to analyze the world by cognitively separating real-world objects from related conceptualizations . Signs and symbols allow a shared subjectivity, e.g., between teacher and student . Verbal animal behavior is studied to find roots for the development of human language sophistication .
Figure 1. Skinner’s Operant Conditioning Quadrant
Figure 2. Pavlov’s classical conditioning
Cognitive Approach to Learning
Noam Chomsky criticized that animal verbal behavior might follow different principles that wouldn’t allow generalization attempts to human behavior . The lack of real-life conditions in the laboratory environments and the difficulty to repeat animal experiments in wild life , ethical constraints in animal research limiting invasive practices , utterly operant-mathematical approaches, and an over-emphasis on language opened the way towards cognitive approaches beyond the study of language . The negligence of instinct’s role, as proven by Konrad Lorenz to be relevant for imprinting mechanisms in learning (Figure 3.), also brought behaviorism into critique . Vygotsky’s developmental method of research of the human species was re-discovered . Around the same time, after the mid of the twentieth century, Jean Piaget’s schema theory (Figure 4.) introduced the concepts of assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration as the developmental cognitive principles of his influential genetics based philosophy .
Figure 3. Konrad Lorenz’ Imprinting
Figure 4. Piaget’s Schema stages
After 1980, intelligence, especially Howard E. Gardner’s multiple intelligences (Figure 5.) (but also, Robert J. Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence , as well as his personality characteristics related to thinking styles ), were taken into account in education programs . Autonomous learning raised from Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (Figure 6.) noticing that human behavior is about willful and context-dependent mental processes . Innate needs for competence, as described by Skinner , and Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory further contributed to the motivational aspect of learning .
Figure 5. Gardner’s multiple intelligences
Figure 6. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
Piaget and Vygotsky both construct human development holistically from transactional, relational, and situational thinking perspectives . Such a constructivism also implies that education is about active learning rather than teaching , putting the focus on human growth experience instead of economic principles . Vygotsky with his socio-cultural approach to psychological development (Figure 7.) is, in my opinion, best reflecting Plato’s principle of “the meaning of the world is embedded in the experience of the world” (p. 399) reminding us that the theory of learning remains a dynamic and context-sensitive science going forward .
Figure 7. Vygotsky’s Socio-cultural approach
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The traditional self-esteem paradigm does not take into account sufficiently the idea of bottom-up causality from state self-esteem (e.g., contextual academic achievement, social status, and appearance) to trait self-esteem (i.e., global self-esteem; e.g., a relatively stable personality characteristic, such as narcissism). This is problematic as it cannot explain, and is contradicted by, many studies showing that development throughout the lifespan is influenced by state self-esteem and self-experiences.