Category: Psychology


Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas and philosophy in The Tipping Point, as they apply to Occupy Wall Street Movement

Malcolm Gladwell has attempted to create a unique style of scholarship that navigates between science and popular culture.  As a result he has earned the wrath from both quarters.  For example, scientists accuse him for being simplistic or lacking in rigor. On the other side, commentators from mainstream media accuse him of bringing esoteric scientific concepts to popular discourse. Yet, his book The Tipping Point has sold more than a 3 million copies.  His other titles such as Blink (2005), Outliers (2008), David and Goliath (2013), etc, continue to fascinate and provoke in equal measure. Despite the controversies surrounding some of Gladwell’s inferences, his ideas and philosophies have become assimilated into popular discourse. It is an interesting exercise to study how the most important social movement of recent times – Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) – measures up in relation to the author’s theories. This essay endeavors to perform the same.

The Occupy . . . Read More

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How was the shift from behaviourism to cognitive psychology ‘revolutionary’ in the Kuhnian sense?

The advent of cognitive science at the centre of studying psychology is widely portrayed to be a revolutionary event.  It was in the 1950s that the shift from behaviourism to cognitive psychology took its first bold step.  There has been no reverting back to behaviourism as the dominant paradigm within psychology ever since. Cognitive psychology is one of the disciplines in psychology that focuses on studying internal mental processes.  How individuals perceive, conceive, recall from memory, articulate their views and arrive at conclusions, etc, are studied. As opposed to Behavioural psychology, Cognitive psychology adopts a scientific analytic method rather than introspective or speculative theorizing.  At the outset, it acknowledges the presence of such internal mental states as knowledge, belief, motivation, desire, etc. This essay will evaluate how ‘revolutionary’ an event, in the Kuhnian sense, was the placement of cognitive science at the centre of . . . Read More

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Existential Themes in the film My Life Without Me

The basic plot of the movie – that set on the last days of a dying young woman – hints at being a tear-jerking melodrama.  But contrary to this threat My Life Without Me delivers a surprisingly novel representation of a life about to end.  The announcement of death, instead of limiting the physical and mental possibilities of the young woman Ann, actually liberates her to explore them to the fullest.  The film is rich in its philosophical content, particularly themes central to Existentialism.  This essay will showcase how through the strength of her character and a preference for rationality over sentimentality Ann represents a true existential hero.

Hardly 23 years of age, Ann lives an arduous yet contented life. She lives with her young family in a caravan put out in the backyard of her mother’s house.  Although the relationship with her mother is somewhat troubled, she has a loving husband and two adorable girls.  Her father is . . . Read More

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What is the basic controversy about advertising for children (and commercialization of childhood)?

(In order to limit the negative aspects, should the government regulate it, or is this responsibility more with others (e.g. families, media, schools, etc).)

Advertising targeted against kids is a concept that invokes ethical issues.  The major criticism against this practice is that it abuses the vulnerability of children for commercial gain.  The ‘kid market’ as it is called is a multi-billion dollar industry today.  As capitalism becomes entrenched as the uncontested economic model, all aspects of life are being commoditized and commercialized.  Children are taught from a very young age that in order to be happy one has to consume products and services.  Even self-worth is tied into the drive for consumerism, leading children to develop the belief that they are worth what they possess.  Moreover, “whilst this child-targeted marketing used to concentrate on sweets and toys, it now includes clothes, shoes, a range of fast foods, sports . . . Read More

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How does power of Higher Authority manifest in Antigone by Sophocles and Another Antigone by A.R.Gurney?

Almost two and a half millennia separate the ancient Greek version of Antigone (attributed to Sophocles) and its modern adaptation written by A.R. Gurney. The classic version is part of Sophocles’ trilogy of Theban plays: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. The great Greek myth of Oedipus continues to be integral to the Western literary canon even today.  Starting from 5th century B.C., various ancient writers of the Hellenistic era made references to Oedipus in their works.  The modern adaptation for theatre by A.R. Gurney offers an interesting contextualization of heroine Antigone’s fight against authority.  In both the cases, the theme is the same, one of confrontation of the individual will against a powerful authority figure.  In Sophocles’ Antigone, this antagonist was Creon the King. In Gurney’s play it is the Professor in Classics Department George Henry Harper.  But the nature of struggle of the two heroines is the same. This essay . . . Read More

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Critical Analysis of a theme in The pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness was a commercially successful film whose main appeal is its ‘feel-good’ ending.  It treads the much worn path of the rags-to-riches narrative, albeit with some variations in plot, characterization and context.  This paper would argue that despite the commercial success of the film, it fails as a social instrument.  In other words, if the purpose of cinema is not merely to entertain but also to educate, the Pursuit of Happyness fails on the latter count.

The main criticism is toward its core message that among the thousands of honest aspirants for the American Dream only a few lucky ones make through.  The final shot of the film is not merely the triumph of its protagonist, but equally the defeat of multitudes of his brethren. The defeated cannot said to have all been less industrious than our hero.  Luck plays a major role in deciding who succeeds. One also needs to question the kind of culture in which the odds are so stacked that . . . Read More

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Is Ahab the uncivilized one in Moby Dick?

There is no doubt that Ahab is the most uncivilized and barbaric of the sailors.  Although he is the captain of the ship and holds authority over the entire crew, his actions do not merit him respectability.  The harpooners carry a tarnished image by virtue of their profession – they are obligated to massacre the whales.  But Ahab’s livelihood is more of his own choice. He could easily have chosen a merchant’s life and look at fishing and hunting as merely commercial opportunities.  Indeed, Ahab was reminded of this saner and safer option by his lieutenants in the Pequod. But his vanity is too big for such humbling decisions.  Even before the grand ship set sail, Ahab was deep in his ambition of killing Moby Dick the white whale.  His battle cry is full of vehemence and bloodlust, as his final moments spent fighting the giant beast clearly reveal: “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from . . . Read More

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Theme of Personal Obsession in The Emperor’s Babe and Purple Hibiscus

Both the stories in question have a female, colored protagonist.  The two central characters Zuleika and Kambili are also similarly aged – it is their teenage years that are being explored.  Even before they reach adulthood they go through enormous upheavals in their lives. Moreover, their stories fit into a colonial discourse with attendant features of cultural displacement, social alienation and economic exploitation.  There is yet another interesting similarity between the two heroines, namely, their personal obsessions. But the objects of their obsessions are not the same. Likewise, secondary characters in the two stories have obsessions of their own. This essay endeavors to show how there are a range of psychological dispositions among various characters which account for their obsessions  and how the authors’ own obsessions bear upon them.

The Emperor’s Babe is a fresh and vivid verse narrative of a young woman in Ancient Rome.  Born into poverty and . . . Read More

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How does Freudian Theory help to explain social formation?

Freudian Theory has been criticized by feminists for espousing a patriarchal social formation. The most vocal critique among Second Wave feminists is Betty Friedan, whose cornerstone work Feminine Mystique (published in 1963) took issue with Freudian psychoanalysts. She perceived Freudian Theory to comply with a subordinate role for women in and outside the household. The 1950s was a time when working-class and middle-class women were “suffering from suburban domesticity”. (Rorty, 2008, p.56) Second Wave feminists fought against this view of social formation. They found a natural ally in the cause of black Americans for their civil rights. Hence the 1960s witnessed a strong social movement along the twin axis of race and gender. In the beginning feminists were sceptical – if not antagonistic – to psychoanalysis. They marked it as spawning patriarchy and with it the earlier quiescence of women. But by 1973,

“women psychoanalysts, psychologists, and . . . Read More

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Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models

Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S.A. (1961). Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 575-582.

Aggression is all around modern society. We witness it in television, video games, news, cinema, etc. The research article by Bandura, Ross & Ross makes it near conclusive that children learn and replicate the behaviours of their models (meaning adults). The two main classes of adult behaviour exposed to children in the experiments are ‘aggressive’ and ‘non-aggressive’. And depending on the type of exposure the children imbibe and replicate the same type of behaviour when placed in a similar setting. So, witnessing parents perform violent actions (even if against toys) leads to children internalizing that behaviour as acceptable. Likewise witnessing parents conduct themselves in a non-violent manner leads to reinforcement of this type of behaviour. There is also a correlate on gender . . . Read More

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