The human sensory faculties, in addition to the processing power of the brain, play a vital and definitive role in how knowledge is acquired. The five major sensory faculties are sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. Cognition is the higher faculty that integrates and interprets inputs from these five senses. But what is also interesting is that the brain, rather than being a passive recipient of inputs also directs and conditions the other sense organs. This makes the brain the most powerful sense organ, for it can potentially control the flow and the meaning of information that is gathered through the five basis sensory inputs.
There are several factors that determine the accuracy of sensory information. The quality of the information source is one and the health of the receiving sensory organ is another. The conduciveness of the medium of transmission is also a key factor. The way these three factors interact and compound is best illustrated through the . . . Read More
Conventional knowledge, as gathered from history, mythology and literature, has always differentiated human personality types based on the birth order. But it is only in the recent century that scientific evidence is brought to bear on the subject. Today, based upon numerous surveys and scholarly studies conducted on the subject, it is fairly clear that birth order impacts aspects of personality. But there is disagreement among scholars as to the exact correlations between personality traits and birth order. The rest of this essay will peruse source work and Internet sources to arrive at current understanding on the relationship between birth order and personality.
The CBS News article titled Birth Order Affects Smarts, Personality (2010) forwards the view that the eldest among siblings tend to have superior intelligence while the younger ones “get better grades and are more outgoing”. Using robust methodology, a team of researchers from Lawrence High . . . Read More
First coined by social psychologist Leon Festinger in his 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, Cognitive Dissonance describes the state of conflict arising in the human mind as it tries to accommodate two opposing realities. This concept is best illustrated through Aesop’s fable of the hungry wolf. As the wolf’s attempts to get hold of the bunch of grapes fails repeatedly, it eventually gives up. But instead of smarting from the failure, it perks itself by thinking that the grapes were not needed after all. For all it knows they could turn out to be bitter and sour. The theory of Cognitive Dissonance is quite fundamental to the study of social psychology, as it is applicable to a vast array of everyday situations faced by people.
In my life so far, there have been many instance of Cognitive Dissonance. But I would regard a few of them to be particularly instructive and formative. One such is the high school prom event that happened last year. I am usually a . . . Read More
“Love is always something more and something different than can be captured by any single definition” (Watts, 2002).
Love is a universal phenomenon of life. Where ever life exists, love manifests there. Love can take various configurations too. While romantic love is the most publicised and celebrated type, parental love, sibling love and compassionate love towards larger humanity are all equally powerful and valid. Besides, there is also the love of art that powers creative energies, and the love of knowledge and discovery that drives a scientist toward this goal. Since Alan Watts is a spiritualist and philosopher, his understanding of love would have encompassed all of these possibilities. This essay would venture the arduous task of confining to words the endless scope and interpretation of this time-honoured concept.
Evolutionary sociology has offered to lay bare the practical and rather mundane reasons why love exists between two individuals . . . Read More
Ambrose Bierce’s short story titled An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is one of the classics of the art form. The story could be read from several different angles, such as the social, cultural, psychological, political, etc. First, the American Civil War of the 1860s provides the political angle. Second is the cultural angle, whereby the unique flavors of the American South can be appreciated. Third, the story provides rich material for studying the psychology of impending death. Apart from these merits, the story also excels in employing literary devices, which heighten its aesthetic effect. What we also witness in the short story are some of the persistent themes in Bierce’ fiction, namely, dark imagery, ambiguous setting of time, bare-essential descriptions, the background of war and magical/surreal events. Hence, not only does An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge present various analytic perspectives, but it is also stamped with the author’s unique artistic . . . Read More
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a popular science book published in 2005. The subject is the ‘human adaptive unconscious’, which is the cognitive phenomenon behind quick, frequent and automatic processes in the mind. Gladwell’s central thesis is that our minds can make fairly accurate judgments, without consuming much time and information. Gladwell goes on to present several supporting evidence to back up his thesis. These include verifiable cases from the domains of gambling, speed dating, strategy video games and malpractice suits. And I have to admit that most of them are quite convincing.
Gladwell describes the phenomena as ‘thin-slicing’, which humans employ most of the time as a way of de-cluttering the mind from the abundance of information available to it. According to Gladwell’s thesis, ‘thin-slicing’ is as good a strategy (if not better) than comprehensive analysis of an occurrence/situation. Hence, spontaneous . . . Read More
The definition and study of human intelligence is a subject that has attracted its fair share of controversy over the years. This is largely because there’s no consensus in how intelligence is defined. For example, while some scholars attribute practical problem solving skills, verbal ability and social competence as measures of intelligence, others include adaptability to new problems and situations, capacity for knowledge and creativity as key indicators. Then there are recent sociologists such as Daniel Goleman, who have revolutionized the concept of intelligence by including an ‘emotional’ dimension to the already accepted ‘cognitive’ dimension. Hence, the study of human intelligence is presently a flourishing field of scientific inquiry with a broad range of perspectives and approaches leading to its understanding. It is in this context that the role of working memory in the functioning of intelligence should be investigated.
Working memory (WM), alongside . . . Read More
The article by Colleen Burke titled Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: A Metaphor of Jungian Psychology is well written, insightful and instructive. The author draws on parallels between the works of two great intellectuals in the form of Joseph Conrad and Carl Gustav Jung. Although Conrad and Jung were not contemporaries, one could see striking resemblances between the theories proposed by them. Indeed, Conrad preceded Jung by a generation, yet there are strong analogues to Jungian Psychology to be witnessed in the works of Conrad, most accessible in the novella The Heart of Darkness. The rest of this essay will delve further into this assertion, by way of underscoring the valid rationale presented by Colleen Burke in her article.
Access to Jung’s views on Africa is to be found in his personal memoirs of his travels within the continent. In his classic memoir Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Jung expounds on the mysteries of African wilderness to that of its . . . Read More
Shere Hite is one of the most influential and controversial figures in sociology scholarship of the last half century. It won’t be an exaggeration to suggest that she is one of the most quoted authors in feminist scholarship; and her most famous work The Hite Report is even popular among lay readers. The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality was published in 1976. This was followed by The Hite Report on Male Sexuality in 1981 and The Hite Report on the Family in 1994. She is seen as an inspiration and role model for many feminist activists and writers for offering them radical new insights into female sexuality in western society. It is for the same reason that she is ostracized and attacked by conservative sections of western society, especially within the United States. Yet, there is no doubt that her contribution is quite significant in the context of the growth of sociology as a field.
A prominent feature of the report is its sprawling style of . . . Read More
It was learnt in the lessons that there are three basic frameworks for understanding human behaviour. Under the systems approach to human behaviour, psychologists have so far identified two prominent frameworks. The Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model (also referred as bio-ecological model) focuses on systems and human development. The bio-ecological model is derived out of developmental psychology. The bio-ecology model argues that individuals develop within the context of their ecology, which in turn can be broken down into the micro-system, the meso-system, the exo-system and the macro-system. The micro-system includes the family, the local neighbourhood, influential institutions in early life such as the school, church, etc. Similarly, the Exo-system of an individual “consists of linkages involving social settings that individuals do not experience directly, but can still influence their development.” (Lesson1a, p.3) The Macro-system refers to the wider . . . Read More