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The Psychology of Worldviews: Toward a Non-Reductive Science of Personality

Nilsson, Artur LU (2013)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Personer drivs inte enbart av djuriska instinkter, utan de är även språkliga och existentiellt medvetna varelser, vars upplevelser och handlingar är fyllda av subjektiv mening. Att förstå en människa som en person är att förstå honom eller henne som ett rationellt system som har viljor, rädslor, förhoppningar, trosföreställningar, och andra sätt att ge sin värld mening, och inte bara som ett mekaniskt system av som styrs av samma orsaker som andra djur. Men nutida personlighetspsykologi har, i stor utsträckning, fokuserat på personlighetens beteendeaspekt på bekostnad av dess meningsaspekt, utan att inse att subjektiv mening är en grundläggande aspekt av personligheten i sig självt snarare än... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Personer drivs inte enbart av djuriska instinkter, utan de är även språkliga och existentiellt medvetna varelser, vars upplevelser och handlingar är fyllda av subjektiv mening. Att förstå en människa som en person är att förstå honom eller henne som ett rationellt system som har viljor, rädslor, förhoppningar, trosföreställningar, och andra sätt att ge sin värld mening, och inte bara som ett mekaniskt system av som styrs av samma orsaker som andra djur. Men nutida personlighetspsykologi har, i stor utsträckning, fokuserat på personlighetens beteendeaspekt på bekostnad av dess meningsaspekt, utan att inse att subjektiv mening är en grundläggande aspekt av personligheten i sig självt snarare än blott en orsak till beteende. Mitt övergripande syfte med denna avhandling är, därför, att bidra till att etablera en genuint icke-reduktiv personlighetsvetenskap som, på ett systematiskt sätt, studerar de meningssystem som utgör personers världsbilder, som grundläggande källor till mening i personligheten. Jag ämnar både etablera ett begreppsligt och teoretiskt fundament för studiet av världsbild och presentera empirisk forskning om världsbilder.

De begreppsliga och teoretiska frågorna behandlar jag i de inledande kapitlen och i den första artikeln. Jag börjar med att utarbeta en icke-reduktivt realistisk personlighetsfilosofi som styr mellan reduktionism och socialkonstruktionism, och genom att föreslå att vi behöver en rikare och mer koherent förståelse av personligheten och en rikare metodologi, snarare än ett radikalt nytt metodologiskt paradigm. Jag fortsätter med att diskutera begränsningar, och begreppsliga problem, hos befintliga traditioner i personlighetspsykologin, och därefter lägga fram ett begreppsligt fundament för världsbildens psykologi som kan hantera dessa problem och begränsningar. Jag avgränsar världsbildsbegrepp som de som refererar till personliga antaganden, begrepp, och skript som, genom att fungera som underliggande struktur, eller bakgrund, för intentionalistiska tankar, känslor, och handlingar, utgör de mest centrala källorna till subjektiv mening. Jag fortsätter genom att diskutera världsbildens struktur och dynamik i termer av relationen mellan interna mekanismer för meningsskapande och de universella aspekterna av människans existentiella situation som alla världsbilder måste hantera. Jag avslutar de inledande kapitlen genom att beskriva bakgrunden för den empiriska forskningen och diskutera begränsningar med denna avhandling samt möjligheter för vidare teori och forskning. Jag fortsätter, i den första artikeln, genom att mer ingående argumentera för att studiet av objektiva beteendemönster (eng. ”traits”) och studiet av subjektiv mening (d.v.s. världsbild) utgör ömsesidigt irreducibla delar av personlighetspsykologin, och för att värdsbilden inte är mindre universell i sin struktur, eller på andra sätt mindre grundläggande för personligheten, än beteendemönster. Jag avslutar med att diskutera vikten av att förklara enhetlighet inte enbart inom beteendemönster utan även inom världsbilder och mellan världsbilder och beteendemönster, samt vikten av att komplettera studiet av individuella differenser med personalistisk metodologi.

De empiriska studierna presenterar jag i de andra och tredje artiklarna som ingår i denna avhandling. Denna forskning handlar om Humanism och Normativism, som är två av de bredaste och viktigaste världsbildsbegreppen i tidigare forskningslitteratur. De representerar huruvida människan tillskrivs ett inneboende värde och en särskild ontologisk status (humanism) gentemot huruvida människan ses som kapabel att uppnå värde och förverkliga sig själv bara genom att uppnå normer och ideal som existerar utanför henne själv (normativism). Även om dessa ursprungligen beskrevs som motpoler så har tidigare forskning funnit förvånansvärt låga korrelationer mellan dem. I den första empiriska artikeln introducerar jag en hierarkisk modell av deras struktur, utvecklar skalor för att mäta deras facetter, och demonstrerar, genom konfirmatorisk faktoranalys, att de är, i motsats till vad man tidigare trott, negativt relaterade vad gäller syn på människans natur, attityd till känslor, och attityd till andra människor, men icke-relaterat vad gäller kunskapssyn och politiska värderingar. Jag presenterar också resultat som underbygger deras diskriminanta och prediktiva validitet i relation till andra världsbildsvariabler, livsmål, utbildningsfält, politisk och religiös orientering, samt ”Big Five”-beteendemönster. I den andra empiriska artikeln undersöker jag, med hjälp av stigmodeller, hur humanism och normativism kan bidra till den politiska psykologins förklaringar av hur meningssystem, och andra psykologiska faktorer, ligger bakom politisk ideologi. Resultaten indikerar att humanism är relaterat till politisk ideologi genom preferens för jämlikhet, vilket medieras av moraliska intuitioner om rättvisa och undvikande av skada, emotionalitet, och ärlighet/ödmjukhet, samt att normativism är relaterat till politisk ideologi genom både motstånd mot förändring och låg preferens för jämlikhet, vilket medieras av rättfärdigande av systemet, moraliska intuitioner om lojalitet, auktoritet, och renhet, och låg öppenhet. Båda dessa empiriska artiklar ger tydliga belägg för att det finns breda meningssystem som skär igenom hela världsbilden och att dessa är viktiga för att förklara andra psykologiska fenomen. De hjälper därigenom till att underbygga och, förhoppningsvis sprida, världsbildens psykologi. (Less)
Abstract
Persons are not just mechanical systems of instinctual animalistic proclivities, but also language-producing, existentially aware creatures, whose experiences and actions are drenched in subjective meaning. To understand a human being as a person is to understand him or her as a rational system that wants, fears, hopes, believes, and in other ways imbues the world with meaning, rather than just a mechanical system that is subject to the same chains of cause and effect as other animals. But contemporary personality psychology has, to a great extent, focused on the behavioral side of personality, while neglecting its meaning side, failing to realize that subjective meanings are part of the very constitution rather than just causes of... (More)
Persons are not just mechanical systems of instinctual animalistic proclivities, but also language-producing, existentially aware creatures, whose experiences and actions are drenched in subjective meaning. To understand a human being as a person is to understand him or her as a rational system that wants, fears, hopes, believes, and in other ways imbues the world with meaning, rather than just a mechanical system that is subject to the same chains of cause and effect as other animals. But contemporary personality psychology has, to a great extent, focused on the behavioral side of personality, while neglecting its meaning side, failing to realize that subjective meanings are part of the very constitution rather than just causes of personality. My overarching purpose with this dissertation is, consequently, to contribute to the establishment of a genuinely non-reductive science of personality that systematically studies the systems of meaning that comprise a person’s worldview in their own right, as sources of meaning in personality. I both establish conceptual and theoretical foundations for the psychology of worldviews and present empirical research on worldviews.

The conceptual and theoretical issues are addressed in the introductory chapters and the first paper. I begin by explicating a non-reductive realist philosophy of personality that steers between reductionism and social constructionism, and by suggesting that we need a more coherent understanding of personality and a richer study of it, rather than a radically new methodology. I continue by discussing the limitations of, and conceptual issues with, previous approaches to personality, and by outlining the conceptual foundations for a psychology of worldviews to remediate their weaknesses, demarcating worldview constructs as referring to presuppositions, concepts, and narrative scripts that, by working as the substrata, or background, for intentional thought, feeling, and action, form the most central sources of meaning. I continue by discussing the structure and dynamics of worldviews in terms of the relationship between innate meaning-making mechanisms and the universal features of the existential condition that they address. I conclude the introductory chapters by describing the background of the empirical research and by discussing limitations with the present thesis and directions for future theory and research. I continue, in the first paper, to argue that the study of traits (objective behavioral regularities) and the study of worldviews (subjective meanings) form mutually irreducible parts of personality psychology and that worldviews are not inherently less universal in terms of structure, or in other ways less basic, than traits. I conclude this paper by emphasizing the need to address coherence not just in behavior, but also within worldviews and between traits and worldviews, and to complement traditional individual differences research with personalistic methodology.

The empirical research is presented in the second and third papers included in this thesis. This research addresses Humanism and Normativism, which are arguably the two broadest and potentially most important worldview constructs in the research literature today, representing whether human beings are thought of as intrinsically valuable and ontologically important (humanism) or as acquiring value and reality only through the attainment of external norms and ideals (normativism). Although originally thought to be opposites, previous research has suggested that they are uncorrelated. In the first empirical paper, I introduce a hierarchical model of their structure, develop scales to measure their facets, and demonstrate through confirmatory factor analysis that they are, contrary to previous wisdom, negatively related in terms of view of human nature, attitude to affect, and interpersonal attitude, but unrelated in terms of epistemology and political values. I present evidence also of discriminant and predictive validity in relation to other worldview variables, life goals, educational field, political and religious orientation, and the Big Five aspects. In the second empirical paper, I use humanism and normativism to explain the broad systems of meaning that potentially underlie, and intersect with, variables from the most important models of the underpinnings of political ideology today, through path modeling. The results suggest that humanism is related to political ideology through preference for equality, as mediated by moral concern with fairness and the avoidance of harm, emotionality, and honesty-humility, and that normativism is related to political ideology through conservative attitudes in general, as mediated by system justification, moral concern with authority, loyalty, and purity, and low openness. Both of the empirical articles provide ample evidence of broad systems of meaning cutting across different aspects of the worldview and of their explanatory power with regards to other psychological phenomena. These studies thereby help to substantiate the viability of the psychology of worldviews. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Professor Caprara, Gian Vittorio, University of Rome "La Sapienza"
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Worldview, personality, philosophy of life, weltanshauung, life view, ideology, existentialism, non-reductive, humanism, normativism, polarity theory, political psychology, philosophy of science, philosophy of psychology, philosophical orientation, basic assumptions, presuppositions, core assumptions, personal constructs, theoretical psychology, integrative framework, personalism
pages
233 pages
publisher
Lund University
defense location
Hörsal 128, St. Algatan 4, Lund
defense date
2013-06-10 13:15
ISBN
978-91-7473-554-3
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9d343cb7-7dfb-4735-96c3-886820cc3681 (old id 3738772)
date added to LUP
2013-05-17 08:19:16
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:09
@phdthesis{9d343cb7-7dfb-4735-96c3-886820cc3681,
  abstract     = {Persons are not just mechanical systems of instinctual animalistic proclivities, but also language-producing, existentially aware creatures, whose experiences and actions are drenched in subjective meaning. To understand a human being as a person is to understand him or her as a rational system that wants, fears, hopes, believes, and in other ways imbues the world with meaning, rather than just a mechanical system that is subject to the same chains of cause and effect as other animals. But contemporary personality psychology has, to a great extent, focused on the behavioral side of personality, while neglecting its meaning side, failing to realize that subjective meanings are part of the very constitution rather than just causes of personality. My overarching purpose with this dissertation is, consequently, to contribute to the establishment of a genuinely non-reductive science of personality that systematically studies the systems of meaning that comprise a person’s worldview in their own right, as sources of meaning in personality. I both establish conceptual and theoretical foundations for the psychology of worldviews and present empirical research on worldviews.<br/><br>
 The conceptual and theoretical issues are addressed in the introductory chapters and the first paper. I begin by explicating a non-reductive realist philosophy of personality that steers between reductionism and social constructionism, and by suggesting that we need a more coherent understanding of personality and a richer study of it, rather than a radically new methodology. I continue by discussing the limitations of, and conceptual issues with, previous approaches to personality, and by outlining the conceptual foundations for a psychology of worldviews to remediate their weaknesses, demarcating worldview constructs as referring to presuppositions, concepts, and narrative scripts that, by working as the substrata, or background, for intentional thought, feeling, and action, form the most central sources of meaning. I continue by discussing the structure and dynamics of worldviews in terms of the relationship between innate meaning-making mechanisms and the universal features of the existential condition that they address. I conclude the introductory chapters by describing the background of the empirical research and by discussing limitations with the present thesis and directions for future theory and research. I continue, in the first paper, to argue that the study of traits (objective behavioral regularities) and the study of worldviews (subjective meanings) form mutually irreducible parts of personality psychology and that worldviews are not inherently less universal in terms of structure, or in other ways less basic, than traits. I conclude this paper by emphasizing the need to address coherence not just in behavior, but also within worldviews and between traits and worldviews, and to complement traditional individual differences research with personalistic methodology.<br/><br>
 The empirical research is presented in the second and third papers included in this thesis. This research addresses Humanism and Normativism, which are arguably the two broadest and potentially most important worldview constructs in the research literature today, representing whether human beings are thought of as intrinsically valuable and ontologically important (humanism) or as acquiring value and reality only through the attainment of external norms and ideals (normativism). Although originally thought to be opposites, previous research has suggested that they are uncorrelated. In the first empirical paper, I introduce a hierarchical model of their structure, develop scales to measure their facets, and demonstrate through confirmatory factor analysis that they are, contrary to previous wisdom, negatively related in terms of view of human nature, attitude to affect, and interpersonal attitude, but unrelated in terms of epistemology and political values. I present evidence also of discriminant and predictive validity in relation to other worldview variables, life goals, educational field, political and religious orientation, and the Big Five aspects. In the second empirical paper, I use humanism and normativism to explain the broad systems of meaning that potentially underlie, and intersect with, variables from the most important models of the underpinnings of political ideology today, through path modeling. The results suggest that humanism is related to political ideology through preference for equality, as mediated by moral concern with fairness and the avoidance of harm, emotionality, and honesty-humility, and that normativism is related to political ideology through conservative attitudes in general, as mediated by system justification, moral concern with authority, loyalty, and purity, and low openness. Both of the empirical articles provide ample evidence of broad systems of meaning cutting across different aspects of the worldview and of their explanatory power with regards to other psychological phenomena. These studies thereby help to substantiate the viability of the psychology of worldviews.},
  author       = {Nilsson, Artur},
  isbn         = {978-91-7473-554-3},
  keyword      = {Worldview,personality,philosophy of life,weltanshauung,life view,ideology,existentialism,non-reductive,humanism,normativism,polarity theory,political psychology,philosophy of science,philosophy of psychology,philosophical orientation,basic assumptions,presuppositions,core assumptions,personal constructs,theoretical psychology,integrative framework,personalism},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {233},
  publisher    = {Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {The Psychology of Worldviews: Toward a Non-Reductive Science of Personality},
  year         = {2013},
}