Psychology underscores the scientific study of behavior or mind. It is a multifaceted field of study involving study of health coupled with the study of cognitive processes, social behavior, and human development among other disciplines. Psychology as a scientific field endeavors to find out the causes of certain behaviors. The process of evaluation of the cause of certain behaviors is done using observations, analyses, and measurement techniques.
Predictions and generations coupled with explanations are then deployed to interpret the observations. This aspect suggests that psychology can be deployed to provide explanations for almost all phenomena in the society. This paper discusses major elements of the intellectual, social, and political contexts that shaped the emerging field of constructed views of human nature, health and illness, and change.
Intellectual elements shaping psychology emerging field constructed views of human nature, health and illness, and change
Intellectual intelligence is especially important in the studies of leadership. Extension of intellectual intelligence studies of psychology to the emerging field of constructed views of human nature, health and illness, and change is particularly important since leaders in any social settings are charged with the noble task of driving change. For leaders to create change successfully, they need to have the capacity to manage their emotions well.
For this purpose, integration of the perspectives of emotional intelligence in studies of human nature and change becomes crucial (Gardner & Stough, 2009, p.69). For the successful coexistence of different people in the same environment, they should embody qualities such as the ability to listen effectively to others, the ability and willingness to speak in honest and kind manner, be approachable and have the capacity to make well-informed decisions.
In the proposed research, all these traits are engulfed within the spheres of emotional and intellectual intelligence. Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to proactively understand and manage not only an individual’s emotions, but also the emotions of other people interacting with such an individual (Sosick & Megerian, 2008, p.369).
The concept of intellectual and emotional intelligence constitutes five crucial building blocks. The first block is the self-awareness. Self-awareness implies that people have the capacity to understand their feelings eloquently and appreciate how such feelings affect other people. This requirement infers that a person in question clearly understands his or her strengths coupled with weakness that may influence his or her ability to interact and integrate with other people within society.
The second element is self-regulation. This element entails remaining in control of every situation that an individual faces. In other words, people that are capable of self-regulation have minimal probabilities to attack various members of work teams, make rushed emotionally instigated decisions, or compromise the values of the work team members. The other three elements are motivation, social skills, and empathy. Empathy entails putting one into the situation of another person, which in the context of societal leadership, the situation is that of the subordinates. In relation to social skills, highly interactive people have high levels of intellectual and emotional intelligence coupled with howling communication skills.
Political elements shaping psychology emerging field constructed views of human nature, health and illness, and change
Politics is an important aspect in psychological studies. Psychology forms the lens for understanding politics. Politics entail decision-making processes based on the understanding of the environment in which people live coupled with their interaction processes. Cottam et al. (2010) who reckon, “Political psychological theory and approaches have been applied in many contexts such as a leadership role, domestic and foreign policy making, behavior in ethnic violence, war and genocide, group dynamics and conflict, racist behaviors, voting attitudes and motivation, voting and the role of the media, nationalism, and political extremism” (p.23).
This assertion implies that political psychology plays pivotal roles in the studies of political behavior and dynamics coupled with providing an explanation for the manner in which people accomplish social understandings of politics.
Political psychology may be subdivided into a number of elements, which help in fostering the understanding of human nature in framing their understandings on politics. These elements include the psychoanalytic approach, trait based approach, and motive-based approach to interpret political opinions forming process as part of human nature. The psychoanalytic approach borrows from the Sigmund Freud’s theories of unconsciousness and behavior motives.
According to Freud (1950), the decision making process in leaders is a function of the personality characteristics –super ego, ego and id, which are controlled by the reality principles coupled with the pleasure principle. The psychoanalytic elements of political psychology are also instrumental in the studies of political leader’s psycho-biographies. This discipline attempts to draw various inferences based on the social, political, and the personal development processes beginning from the childhood in an effort to develop ample understanding of the behavior patterns, which are vital in decision-making processes coupled with implementation of the motives and strategies of change.
Traits are composed of various characteristics, which develop and stabilize with time depending on exposure to different situations requiring the decision-making process. Gordon Allport introduced three main psychological traits that are relevant in political discourses.
The common traits include introducing central and the cardinal groups of traits. These psychological traits suggest that human nature is developed such that people portray different characteristics in different degrees and in different extents. Although contributions of Gordon Allport in the literature on the psychological traits relevant in politics and other scenarios involving leadership made a big impact on the studies of political psychology, the most recognized traits theory in the big five-personality traits theory. These five traits are “neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness” (Bandura et al., 1999, p.576).
Different combinations of these traits produce political leaders with different aspects defining their nature in political discourses. For example, individuals who have extroversion traits portray extremely good skills in leadership. Politics, as an important aspect of social development, requires outstanding leadership skills to prevent development and subsequent growth of societal conflicts.
Motives are crucial elements of political psychology by helping to define human nature and desires of change. Sears et al. (2003) posit, “Motives embrace goal-oriented behavior driven by the need for three things, viz. power, affiliation intimacy, and achievement” (p.97). These aspects are also referred as common human goals in political psychology. The need to engage in politics is often accompanied by the need to gain power and control. Arguing from paradigms of political psychology, Sears et al. (2003) suggest, “Leaders with high power motivation and low in need of affiliation intimacy motivation make better presidents” (p.105).
Politicians deploying motivation in the form of achievement motivations fail to make successful politicians particularly in a situation where such leaders have higher degrees of power motivation. Sears et al. (2003) add, “Motives have been shown to be correlated more highly with situation and time since last goal-fulfillment, rather than consistent traits” (p.115). This assertion suggests that consistency in the motivation of politicians and the followers is crucial for the success of political leadership.
Social elements shaping psychology emerging field constructed views of human nature, health and illness, and change
People live in environments involving interaction with other people. Their construction of human nature and understandings of nature, health and illness, and change is influenced by elements such as behaviors of other people, feelings, and their own thoughts, which help them to attach meaning to the general environment. These elements are subject to the actual presence or even imagined presence of another person. Social psychology is the scientific study aimed at developing an understanding of “how the thought, feeling and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other human beings” (Reicher & Haslam, 2006, p.11).
Intrapersonal and interpersonal phenomenon are the main important elements of the social psychology, which informs the social context that shaped the emerging field of constructed views of human nature, health and illness, and change.
Interpersonal phenomenon has altitudes, persuasion, social cognition, and self-concept as its main sub elements. “Attitudes are defined as learned, global evaluations of a person, object, place, or issue that influence thought and action” (Reicher & Haslam, 2006, p.15). Altitudes influence factors that help in the attachment of meaning to particular social problems or any other condition that affects people such as illness and health. For instance, people’s understanding on the mental illness is subject to their understanding on how people, which are perceived as mentally ill, react and behave within their societies.
People then develop altitudes to attribute the behaviors of such people to the condition whenever they encounter people portraying similar behaviors. In this process, intrinsic persuasions are important. Persuasions refer to the “an active method of influence that attempts to guide people toward the adoption of an attitude, idea, or behavior by rational or emotive means” (Reicher & Haslam, 2006, p.27). In helping to shape people’s understandings on various issues including human nature, change, and health, persuasion creates appeals. In normalization of certain characteristics of behavior shown by a given person as an indication of a given health condition, persuasion is influenced by factors such as the context, the communicator characteristics, and the medium in which the communication is taking place.
Social cognitions shape human nature. This assertion refers to the manner in which people think, perceive, or even recall information relating to other people. Aronson et al. (2003) posit, “Much research rests on the assertion that people think about other people differently from non-social targets” (p.83). Attribution is one of the most important elements of social cognitions that help to explain human behavior characterizing their nature. External or internal factors form the loci of the human behavior. The internal factors assign various causes of human behavior to character, differing abilities, personality, and disposition.
External factors relate human behavior to situational elements, for instance the condition of the weather. Behaviors defining the nature of people are also attributed to controllable vs. uncontrollable factors and stable vs. unstable factors. However, in attributions of human nature to different traits or characters possessed by people, various errors may occur such as fundamental attribution error and self-serving error.
Self-concept is yet another important element of social psychology that helps in explaining the nature of people’s nature, their understanding on key issues affecting their lives such as illness and health, or even their capacity to embrace societal change. Self-concept is constituted of self-schemas. Self-schemas encompass the beliefs possessed by individuals, which are instrumental in aiding people to process information in a self-reliant manner. ‘Self’ is a crucial aspect of social psychology since it helps to direct the attention of people to a conversation or even activate memory so that people can attach meaning to their environment. In this sense, the ‘self’ impacts people’s behaviors, cognitions, and emotional intelligence, which are essential elements in defining human nature and change.
Social phenomena encompass a major element of social psychology. The understandings that people have on certain issues that affect them collectively within the society they live in are subject to social influences, interpersonal attractions, and group dynamics. “Social influence is an overarching term given to describe the persuasive effects people have on each other” (Leffel, 2008, p.186). From the paradigms of this aspect of social psychology, people’s nature is shaped by conformity and obedience coupled with the need to enhance compliance. The capacity to attempt to live and behave like other people groups people into social sets.
These groups then connect with each other through social relationships to form a society. The groups interact and share their experiences coupled with self-identities so that they are in a position to interpret different phenomena in similar ways using common paradigms. This aspect explains why the necessity of change in a social setting is normally a collective bargaining effort of different groups of people making up a society.
Aronson, E., Wilson, D., & Akert, R. (2003). Social Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, A. (1999). Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63(3), 575–582.
Cottam, L., Dietz-Uhler, B., & Mastors, E. (2010). Introduction to Political Psychology. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Gardner, L., & Stough, C. (2009). Examining the relationship between leadership and emotional intelligence in senior level managers. Journal of Leadership and Organization Development, 23(2), 68-78.
Freud, S. (1950). Mass Psychology and other Writings. London, UK: Antony Rowe.
Leffel, G. (2008). Who cares? Generativity and the moral emotions, Part 2: A social intuitionist model of moral motivation. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 36(3), 182-201.
Reicher, S., & Haslam, A (2006). Rethinking the psychology of tyranny: The BBC prison study. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45(1), 1–40.
Sears, O., Huddy, L., & Jervis, R. (2003). Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Sosick, J., & Megerian, J. (2008). Understanding leader emotional intelligence and performance. Group and Organization Management, 24(3), 367-391.