Archive for the ‘Theories’ tag
Social cognition is all about the cognitive activities and processes in the context of social relationships. The broad categories in social cognition would include things like social perception, attitudes, attributions, self and identity, prejudice and ideology. In this blog, I will focus on the some of the theoretical foundations of social cognition. This will be followed by a separate post discussing some of the broad categories mentioned above.
There are several main ideas under cognitive models. One of which is how we can use metaphors to describe the cognitive processes. For example, these processes can be described as an information processor. Another metaphor also commonly used is a naive scientist model. Under this model, people I said to understand the world around them in the manner of a scientist. They make observations, to hypothesise, they observe again, and eventually coming to a conclusion. Although many other metaphors are also used, information processor and the naive scientist model are by far the most common.
Another approach is called perceptual cognitivism. Under this theory, nothing sensed by the person can be said to be true or absolute truth. Everything sensed by any person is a perception of reality. However, it is argued that given the enormous amount of stimulus around us, it will be impossible to process them all. Therefore, it was proposed that schemas exist to allow categorisation of different stimulus, which in turns allows the person to reduce the amount of processing. This is called mental representations.
Under identity theory, a distinction between personal identity and social identity is made. Fundamentally, personal identity is strictly personal and does not involve any other individuals. For example, statements such as ‘ I am hungry ’, ‘ I am hot ’ and ‘ I love swimming ’ are strictly rational and does not involve any other individuals. By contrast, statements such as ‘ I am Chinese ’and ‘ I am a web scientist ’ shows aspects of social identity. Social identity is concerned with how an individual views his or her own relationships with other members of the group.
It has been shown that where categorisation exist, typical expectation or stereotype within the category is often exaggerated while those that are counter stereotyped behaviour are often underestimated. It has also been known that depending on how the individual perceive he or she compares with the other members of the social group, he or she may evaluate him or herself differently.
I will be summarising what I have learned about social perception and attitudes in the next blog.
PRIVACY (Politics & Psychology) – Blog post 3
So continuing on with my reading into two unfamiliar disciplines, it occurred to me this week that perhaps I may have been ‘jumping the gun’ somewhat by pre-empting the key areas within politics and psychology in relation to the issue of privacy, without obtaining a basic knowledge of what these two subjects are concerned with. Thus I have taken a step back from looking at the areas of ‘self’ within psychology and ‘security’ within politics and decided to read more about the basic underlying principles of each discipline instead.
For psychology I have been reading a number of books in order to gain an insight into the founding psychologists and the theories they presented. In particular I have found the following helpful:
Psychology – Carlson, Martin & Buskist (2004)
Psychology: an integrated approach – Eysenck (1998)
Approaches to Psychology 2nd ed. – Glassman (1995)
Beginning at the philosophical roots of psychology, I have been acquiring information about different theories and who conceived them, such as: Rene Descarts (1596-1650) – Dualism (the belief that it is possible that all reality can be divided into two separate identities: mind & matter), John Locke (1632-1704) – Empiricism (the pursuit of truth through observation and experience), David Hume (1711-1776) – Positivism (the concept that all meaningful ideas can be defined by observable material) and Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753) – Idealism (the belief that knowledge of events in the world are not purely obtained from direct experience rather that knowledge is the outcome of inferences based on the accumulation of past experiences derived via the senses. Perhaps the most productive way to utilise all these concepts would be to correlate them and use them in a manner whereby they complement each other as it seems obvious to me that they all have basic similarities in that they are all concerned with the workings of the mind and the way in which individuals acquire knowledge.
Regarding politics, I have conducted similar research into the development of political ideologies and key theorists and resumed my reading of Political Thinkers: from Socrates to the present – David Boucher & Paul Kelly (2003). From here I have identified a number of important and influential schools of thought. Starting with the The Sophists, whose key ideas included moral and political issues and accepted a group way of thought such as justice being essential to society but also being beneficial to the individual, democracy being limited and justice being perceived as a convention as opposed to nature, which brings pleasure; law is unable to uphold justice thus it is better to be unjust wherever possible (Protagoras, Thrasymachus & Antiphon). Following on from the Sophists were the great thinkers Socrates (Elenchus – questions and answers leading to ignorance being admitted; Virtue – the basis of knowledge in conjunction with other virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice; Daimonion – the ‘inner voice’ which opposes active participation in politics; Techne – arts and crafts used as analogies for the basis of civil obedience) Plato (Forms – non- dynamic objects which are accessible to the mind but not the senses, providing reputable standards for good judgement and knowledge) and Aristotle (Human Nature – humans are social and political animas and in order to live a full life, require harmonious fellowship with others in a community) who collectively redefined a stronger case for justice. Already I am discovering that some theories have an underlying theme of human perception and also behaviour seems inherent as a recurrent theme.
The more I read into these two disciplines the more I am assuming that there may be some overlapping theories and concepts which can be applied to the issue of privacy and as such privacy on the Web. However I do not want to be too presumptuous or have too many pre-conceived notions without any evidence!