Friday, 2 December 2016

Cognitive Psychology

Why do we have details than we can easily recall, while others see hard to remember? Why is it that we have some things on our fingertips while some others can even stick on our toes? This is what cognitive psychologists grapple with.

Cognitive Psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with the study of mental processes such as "attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity, and thinking." It involves all that which goes on inside the brain…

Scholars in this field are interested in how people understand, diagnose, and solve problems, concerning themselves with the mental processes which mediate between stimulus and response.

In the late 1960s, the term ‘Cognitive Psychology’ was coined by Ulric Neisser, with a definition that had its emphasis on the view that the mind has a certain conceptual structure. According to him, ‘cognition’  refers to all the processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. It is concerned with these processes even when they operate in the absence of relevant stimulation, as in images and hallucinations. Cognition therefore seems to be involved in all that an individual engages in. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

What Would Wilhelm Wundt Say?

       Now, there are a very large number of bodily movements, having their source in our nervous system, that do not possess the character of conscious actions

Physiological psychology is, therefore, first of all psychology

The attitude of physiological psychology to sensations and feelings, considered as psychical elements, is naturally the attitude of psychology at large

Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you're going to live your life

My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength

The distinguishing characteristics of mind are of a subjective sort; we know them only from the contents of our own consciousness

We speak of virtue, honour, reason; but our thought does not translate any one of these concepts into a substance

Physiological psychology, on the other hand, is competent to investigate the relations that hold between the processes of the physical and those of the mental life

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference 

In Aristotle the mind, regarded as the principle of life, divides into nutrition, sensation, and faculty of thought, corresponding to the inner most important stages in the succession of vital phenomena

Quotes Compiled By Brian Kasaine

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (1832-1920)

Wilhelm Wundt was a German physician, physiologist, philosopher and professor. His father was a Lutheran minister. He studied in the University of Tubingen, University of Berlin and the University of Heidelberg. Wilhelm graduated from the University of Heidelberg with a doctorate in medicine, and then proceeded to join the university’s staff as an assistant to Helmholtz (a physicist and physiologist). It was while working as an assistant that he wrote his work “Contributions to the theory of sense perception”. Later on, he wrote again and this time published a text book on human physiology. In 1867, his endless efforts saw him become a professor in acquainting medical students with the exact physical needs for medical investigation, and then 1874 elevated him to being a professor of Inductive Philosophy in Zurich.

While working at the University of Heidelberg, Wundt came up with the first course ever taught in scientific psychology, a breakthrough that makes history document him as one of the founding fathers of psychology. He goes down in history as the first person to ever call himself a psychologist.  His lectures on psychology titled “Lectures on the mind of human and animals” got published between 1863 and 1864. Wundt, referred to as the father of experimental psychology, wrote the “principles of physiological psychology” (1874), a work that became one of the most important in the history of psychology.

He postulated that psychology is a science and went ahead to found the first ever formal laboratory for psychological research in the University of Leipzig (1879), which explored the nature of religious beliefs, identified mental disorders and abnormal behaviors, and sought for damaged parts of the brain. Through the works in the laboratory, he was able to establish psychology as a separate science from other topics. Wundt received a universal acclaim when he was ranked the 93rd most cited psychologist of the 20th century, alongside John Dewey, Edwin Boring and Amos Tversky.

The Philosophische studien (1881), a journal done by him, climbed its way up to being the first academic journal for psychological research. Wundt focused on three areas of mental functioning- thoughts, perception and feelings. The three form the rudiments studied today in cognitive psychology.

 The distinguishing characteristics of mind are of a subjective sort; we know them only from the contents of our own consciousness ~ Wilhem Wundt

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tabula Rasa

Tabula rasa means ‘scraped tablet’ in Latin, and in Epistemology (theory of knowledge) and psychology, it means ‘clean slate’. In various works, the human mind has been viewed as a tabula rasa. This means that it has been viewed as a mind that accommodates knowledge and then proceeds to form itself based on experiences and perceptions, locking out the stand that there were any pre-existing innate ideas as a starting platform. This therefore means that humans are born with a blank mind which is later fed with ideas through various experiences.

tabula rasa… an absence of preconceived ideas or predetermined goals; a clean slate…
(Online definition)
Aristotle’s work on the soul (De Anima- 4th Century) postulates that the mind of a new born human can be compared to a blank writing tablet. Some students (Stoics and Peripatetics) from Aristotle’s school also argued that originally humans harbor a state of mental blankness. The faculties of the mind were originally only potential bearing or inactive, so to speak, before they received ideas from the senses and converted the ideas into knowledge, after responding to them via an intellectual process. Later in the 17th Century, an essay on human understanding done by John Locke postulated that initially, the mind resembled a ‘white paper, void of all characters’. The essay went on to argue that all the materials of reason and knowledge were drawn from experiences. However, John Locke did not fully buy the idea of the mind being initially totally blank, he instead held a belief that the mind initially played home to an innate power of reflection - which can be broken down to awareness of own ideas, emotions, sensations and other inbuilt systems. He was later in the 18th century backed by David Hume, a Scottish Empirist. The qualified notions of the tabular rasa remained influential in Anglo-American and British philosophy through the mid 20th century.

Though he did not mention it, JB Watson the proponent of behaviourist approach topsychology  seems to agree on this concept when he said;

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select--doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and, yes, even beggarman and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years.

The proponents of the tabular rasa generally add weight to the side of ‘nurture’, when it comes to the heated debate on “nature versus nurture”, a debate touching on the aspects of an individual’s personality, social and emotional behavior, knowledge, and sapience.

”Have not we already disposed off the difficulty about interaction involving a common element, when we said that mind is in a sense potentially whatever is thinkable, though actually it is nothing until it has thought? What it thinks must be in it just as characters may be said to be on a writing tablet on which as yet nothing stands written. This is exactly what happens”  

                                                             Aristotle (In his treatise, De Anima)

Monday, 27 June 2016

Emotional Intelligence ...the new buzzword in academia and corporate world

Aristotle father of the field of logic, and a student of Plato once said...

‘Anyone can become angry ...that is easy. But to be angry with the right person to the right degree at the right time for the right purpose and in the right way, that is not easy’

...our best intentions can be undermined by our inability to subdue destructive and self-defeating emotional impulses. An individual’s inability to rein over their emotional impulses and ‘read’ another’s inner emotional states (feelings) can ruin their personal, professional, relational, financial, physical, and social aspects of their lives. But an understanding of the mechanics of emotion, some knowledge on the complex world of feelings and clarity on the previously unexplored continent of emotional states can help us know how to channel feelings in intelligent ways. Ignorance of how to handle emotions makes individuals lose their temper as easily and unintentionally as they would lose a pen. But, with emerging subject matter on Emotional Intelligence (EQ), it is possible to be poised during perplexing moments, to choose relaxation over rage and to shake off our sullen shells and have joyful moments when being gloomy would be understood.

It was Daniel Goleman, previously a New York Times Reporter, and Harvard educated-PhD in Psychology, who first introduced the term, Emotional Intelligence to the larger global population. He defines Emotional Intelligence as the “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”Ever since the publication of his book; ‘Emotional Intelligence, Why it matters more than IQ’,(1995), Emotional intelligence has become so popular that some schools, especially in the west, have adapted it as part of the curriculum to help children improve their self-awareness and confidence, manage disruptive emotional states, be empathetic, improve academic performance and in behaviour modification.

Coming at a time when success in life was thought to unquestionably depend on one’s IQ, EQ
provided an alternative way of thinking about excellence in life. The phrase, emotional intelligence has since found its way in the most unlikely places as in cartoon scripts (Dilbert and Zippy the Pinhead). Its recognition surpassing what Daniel Goleman envisioned, He says that students in high schools, business students in college, and religious leaders, from Judaism to Christianity, all seem to have suddenly gotten interest in EQ or EI as it is also frequently abbreviated. IQ, as depicted is the photo to the right is only but a tip of the iceberg, the real mountain is below the sea!

This concept has not been left out by the businesses and corporate world. Managers and business people have learned that the enormous challenges facing their human resource can be remedied by the EQ concept, if they are to compete in the ever evolving global market. For example, building good relationships with peers, subordinates, superiors and clients is vital for business and corporate development. This is best achieved through developing EQ within the human resource.

According to the Harvard Business review, high levels of Emotional Intelligence positively  impacts the areas of leadership, and should therefore incorporated as part of employee development (a form of adult education). According to this review, EI is hailed as “a ground-breaking, paradigm-shattering idea, one of the most influential business ideas of the decade”

Helping people learn Emotional Intelligence is therefore crucial. Low levels of EI have been associated with under performance, substance abuse, and failures in relationships. These correlations pointed to possibilities in this concept to be used in personal development. Compounded with Social intelligence, it become Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills or abilities, which now forms part of a comprehensive curriculum in some schools in early elementary years. Helping students accurately label and recognize their emotions, and how those emotions lead, and inform their actions. In this respect, at elementary years, kids are helped to develop the ability to identify nonverbal clues on the feelings of another person, and at Junior high, develop the capability to identify what creates stress for them, and what motivates peak performance for them. This has been found t be so critical that in 2002, a worldwide initiative was started by UNESCO to promote SEL across 140 countries.

(UNESCO statement of ten basic principles for implementing SEL to the ministries of education in 140 countries)
The SEL program among children was found to help prevent bullying, drug abuse, violence and other forms of delinquency in among school going children, and acted also as a performance improvement strategy. SEL skills therefore pay off not only in increased empathy, good behavior, but also in improved performance.
In the corporate world, companies are now looking through the lens of EI when recruiting, retaining, promoting or engaging in capacity development for their personnel, and team building. Talent Smart have shown that 90% of peak performers have a high EI, while 80% of low performers posses a low EI.
Further, EI ‘helps in formation, development, maintenance, and enhancement of close personal relationships. And unlike IQ which remains almost constant over lifetime, EQ improves and keeps on evolving as we ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE and GROW
According to the Ability Model of EI, Salovey and Mayer’s have over a long period of study revised the definition of EI to "The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth,” and later evolved into "the capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions, to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth." 

According to this definition, it is important to have the four abilities to,-

*      Perceive emotions, - identify one’s own emotions, and also identify emotions in pictures, voices, faces, or cultural representations. It is this ability that is key in emotional intelligence as it helps in processing all other contents of the emotions

*      Using Emotions, - effective thinking, decision making and problem solving requires one to be able to control emotions in a manner that they make such cognitive process possible.

*      Understanding Emotions, - One needs to cultivate the ability to grasp the complicated relationships among emotions. This involves one’s ability to comprehend and monitor the ways in which emotions evolve, and therefore be sensitive to the slight variations.

*      Managing Emotions, - Regulating emotions is two way. We regulate our emotions and those of others to achieved intended ojectives.

According to the Mixed Model introduced by Goleman, EI is portrayed as a wide array of skills and competences that drive optimum performance. 
The main constructs of this model are:-

v  Self-awareness

v  Self-regulation

v  Social Skills

v  Empathy

v  Motivation

Sunday, 26 June 2016

PLATO (427 BC – 347 BC)

Plato, alias Aristocles Planton was a great philosopher in classical Greece and was a student of Socrates. History documents him as the founder of The Academy in Athens, which was the 1st higher learning institution in the West. Plato was the teacher of Aristotle, another great philosopher during his time who took Plato’s teaching towards a new direction.

He authored many philosophical works which stamped great influence on the Western thought. His works toured justice, beauty and equality, and he also held discussions on aesthetics, political philosophy, theology, cosmology, metaphysics and the philosophy of language. Apart from his great teacher Socrates, he also learned from some of Athen’s finest works- including the doctrines of Cratylus,Pythagoras and Parmenides. His school, The Academy, taught Astronomy, Biology, Mathematics, Political theory and Philosophy. His burning desire was to see his school stamp great impact on leadership by providing a place for future leaders to discover how to build a better government in the Greek city states.

During the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta, Plato served briefly. He also, at a point in his life, eyed politics and made this clear by expressing his desire and holding the door of his heart open for politics. However, the execution of his great teacher Socrates in 399 BCE tore his ambitions apart and he fell back to a life of studying and writing. He travelled for twelve years throughout the Mediterranean region studying. Among the subjects he studied was Mathematics with Pythagorean's in Italy, Geometry, Geology, Astronomy and Religion in Egypt. These studies propelled him towards a life in writing.

The works of Plato have stood the test of time and still stand even as years elapse, as essential for understanding the universe. For instance, his work that presents the use of reason to develop a more fair and just society- focusing on equality, serves as the foundation of the modern democracy.

These are books authored by Plato: Symposium, Republic, Allegory of the cave, Phaedo, Apology

Complied by Brian Kasaine

Plato's Take

The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself

The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men

 Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety  to life and to everything

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in an year of conversation

 We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light

The beginning is the most important part of the work

Human behavior flows from three main sources; desire, emotion, and knowledge

 Courage is knowing what not to fear

The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life

To suffer the penalty of too much haste, which is too little speed

There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands

Necessity…the mother of invention

Thinking; the talking of the soul with itself

 A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers

Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue

People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die

Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet

We are twice armed if we fight with faith

The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily. This is the man of moderation, the man of manly character and of wisdom

Complied by Brian Kasaine