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Συντάχθηκε απο τον/την Χρήστος Μπούμπουλης (Christos Boumpoulis)   
Πέμπτη, 03 Ιούλιος 2014 18:16
MaxPlanckInstHumanDevelopment.jpg

Today, I had an wonderful time as I visited the Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung (Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin).

The architectural design was amazing and the library was circular having an uncovered round garden, in the middle.

The May 2014, volume 106, number 5 issue of the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” (www.apa.org/pubs/journals/psp) has one quite interesting article that is titled as “Moral Actor, Selfish Agent” (p. 790-802) and was written by Jeremy A. Frimer, Nicola K. Schaefer, and Harrison Oakes.

The abstract of this article:

People are motivated to behave selfishly while appearing moral. This tension gives rise to 2 divergently motivated selves. The actor – the watched self – tends to be moral; the agent – the self as executor – tends to be selfish. [Note: There is an obvious similarity with the “Stanford prison experiment”, C.B.]. Three studies present direct evidence of the actor's and agent's distinct motives. To recruit the self-as-actor, we asked people to rate the importance of various goals. To recruit the self-as-agent, we asked people to describe their goals verbally. In Study 1, actors claimed their goals were equally about helping the self and others (viz., moral); agents claimed their goals were primarily about helping the self (viz., selfish). This disparity was evident in both individualist and collectivist cultures, attesting to the universality of the selfish agent. Study 2 compared actors' and agents' motives to those of people role-playing highly prosocial or selfish exemplars. In content (Study 2a) and in the impressions they made on an outside observer (Study 2b), actors' motives were similar to those of the prosocial role-playing, whereas agents' motives were similar to those of the selfish role-players. Study 3 accounted for the difference between the actor and agent: Participants claimed that their agent's motives were the more realistic and that their actor's motives were the more idealistic. The 'selfish agent'/'moral actor' duality may account for why implicit and explicit measures of the same construct diverge, and why feeling watched brings out the better angels of human nature”.

  • Why do people do nice things for each other? Perhaps seeing another person's hardship draws feelings of empathy and genuine desires to relieve the difficulty. Alternatively – and more cynically – helping others may benefit the helper, particularly when other people are aware of the good deed. People value generosity in others. Thus, appearing to be prosocial builds a positive reputation, which, in turn, confers social and material gains. [p. 790]

  • With reference to this thought experiment, Glaucon defended the cynical proposal - that behind all virtuous behavior is the singular, self-interested motivation to appear virtuous to others. In this article, we present evidence that humans have a dualistic motivational system that is consistent with Glaucon's proposition (in Plato's Republic). Specifically, people have (at least) two selves: an agent – the executor of action – and an actor – the watched self (McAdams, 2013). The actor tends to be moral; the agent tends to be unabashedly selfish. [p. 790]

  • We maintain that the agent's selfishness is a universal feature of human nature, not merely an element of a particular time or culture. The individual self is motivationally more important than the collective/relational self to people of myriad cultures (Gaertner et al., 2012). Selfishness secures the required resources for individual survival, a task of critical importance to survival and reproduction. In comparison, prosocial behavior is of secondary importance to survival because it does not guarantee that the individual's immediate survival needs are met [p. 792]

  • The motivation to behave selfishly while appearing moral gave rise to two, divergently motivated selves. The actor – the watched self – tends to be moral; the agent – the self as executor – tends to be selfish. Each self serves its own adaptive function: The actor helps people maintain inclusion in groups, whereas the agent attends to basic survival needs. Three studies support the thesis that the actor is moral and the agent is selfish. In Study 1, actors alaimed their goals were equally about helping the self and others (viz., moral); agents claimed their goals were primarily about helping the self (viz., selfish). This disparity was evident in both individualist and collectivist cultures, albeit more so among individualists. Study 2 compared actors and agents' motives to those of people role-playing highly prosocial or selfish exemplars. In content and in the impression they made upon an outside observer, actors' motives were similar to those of the prosocial role-players, whereas agents' motives were similar to those of the selfish role-players. In Study 3, participants claimed that their agent's motives were the more realistic and their actor's motives the more idealistic of the two. When asked to take on an idealistic mindset, agents became more moral; a realistic mindset made the actor more selfish. [p. 800]

  • Is the agent's selfishness a universal feature of human nature, sourced to evolutionary selection processes (Dawkins, 2006) or a cultural artifact (Miller, 1999)? The results from Study 1 suggest that both may be the case; The agent's selfishness is evident in both individualist and collectivist cultures, suggesting that the selfish agent is a human universal. [p. 800]

  • When in the executor self-as-agent mindset, people claim to be selfish and experience this nature as reflective of reality. When viewing themselves from an outsider's perspective (the self-as-actor), people claim to be moral and experience this nature as reflective of their ideals. [p. 800]



Notes

I have studied economics in the University of Athens, Greece and computer programming in various seminars. Though I have read some books about psychology, I am not a psychology expert. For this reason, my personal opinions, about the above mentioned article, could be wrong.

At the university I studied a lesson about social sciences and their self-reference character. For example, the object of psychology has not a static structure and dynamics the way e.g. the object of the science of Physics, does. Instead, the objects of the so called, social "sciences" have structures and dynamics which dynamically change due to various reasons, among of which and the theories generated by those very social sciences. This, practically means that human behavior may change due to the propagation of a new theory by psychology and by this way, this theory may self-confirmed or instead, may self-disproved.

By definition, theories embed choices with regard to various influencing parameters. Within a theory, some parameters are considered as important (and are included in the related Studies) while others are considered as unimportant and are excluded from the study. For example, the above mentioned article, in order to satisfactorily explain human behavior has chosen to includes only two players (the actor and the agent). If, there are e.g. seven additional players which highly influence the subjects' behavior, then, the conclusions of the study are circumstantial and not realistic. In general, by omitting one or more important influencing parameters from our theories we may, intentionally or by negligence, faultily present what is unnatural, and/or incompatible with the human nature, and/or inhumane, as being natural, and/or compatible with the human nature, and/or humane; and vice versa.

If we take into account:

  • The self-reference character of social theories.

  • The probable instrumental character of science, in general.

  • The content and the timing of the above mentioned article.

then, we may gain insight,

  • about various historical occasions (e.g. we can completely exonerate the Germans about the atrocities within former East Germany - show-trials, tortures, oppression, etc.),
  • about various political and economical asymmetries of our days and also,
  • about which one is the effective way for peacefully and creatively achieving, peace, freedom, friendship and frugal prosperity, for our nations; for our families; for our selves; and for our dear friends.



Note: the photo was found here.


Τελευταία Ενημέρωση στις Σάββατο, 05 Ιούλιος 2014 14:41