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Note for the Teachers v
Note for the Students vi
Chapter 1
What is Psychology? 1
Chapter 2
Methods of Enquiry in Psychology 22
Chapter 3
The Bases of Human Behaviour 43
Chapter 4
Human Development 64
Chapter 5
Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes 84
Chapter 6
Learning 107
Chapter 7
Human Memory 131
Chapter 8
Thinking 149
Chapter 9
Motivation and Emotion 169

Glossary 188

Suggested Readings 198

What is Ps
1 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• understand the nature and role of psychology in understanding mind
and behaviour,
• state the growth of the discipline,
• know the different fields of psychology, its relationship with other
disciplines, and professions, and
• appreciate the value of psychology in daily life to help you understand
yourself and others better.

What is Psychology?
Psychology as a Discipline
Psychology as a Natural Science
Psychology as a Social Science
Understanding Mind and Behaviour
Popular Notions about the Discipline of Psychology
Evolution of Psychology
Some Interesting Landmarks in the Evolution of
Modern Psychology (Box 1.1)
Development of Psychology in India
Branches of Psychology
Themes of Research and Applications
Psychology and Other Disciplines
Psychologists at Work
The growth of the human mind Psychology in Everyday Life
is still high adventure,
Key Terms
in many ways the highest Summary
adventure on earth. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– Norman Cousins
You were, perhaps, asked by your teacher in the first class why you opted for
psychology over other subjects. What do you hope to learn? If you were asked this
question, what was your response? Generally, the range of responses which surface
in class to this question are truly bewildering. Most students give inane responses,
like they want to know what others are thinking. But then one also comes across
such responses as knowing oneself, knowing others or more specific responses like
knowing why people dream, why people go out of their way to help others or beat
each other up. All ancient traditions have engaged themselves with questions about
human nature. The Indian philosophical traditions, in particular, deal with questions
relating to why people behave in the manner in which they do. Why are people
generally unhappy? What changes should they bring about in themselves if they
desire happiness in their lives. Like all knowledge, psychological knowledge too is
intended to contribute to human well-being. If the world is full of misery, it is largely
due to humans themselves. Perhaps, you have asked why a 9/11 or war in Iraq
happened. Why innocent people in Delhi, Mumbai, Srinagar or in the North-East
have to face bombs and bullets? Psychologists ask what is in the experiences of
young men which turn them into terrorists seeking revenge. But there is another
side to human nature. You may have heard the name of Major HPS Ahluwalia,
paralysed waist down because of an injury he suffered in a war with Pakistan,
who climbed the Mt. Everest. What moved him to climb such heights? These are not
only questions about human nature which psychology addresses as a human
science. You will be surprised to learn that modern psychology also deals with
somewhat nebulous micro-level phenomenon like consciousness, focusing attention
in the face of noise, or supporters trying to burn down a shopping complex after
their team had scored victory in a football game over its traditional rival. Psychology
cannot claim that answers have been found to these complex questions. But it
surely has improved upon our understanding and how we make sense of these
phenomena. The most striking aspect of the discipline, unlike other sciences, lies in
the study of psychological processes which are largely internal and available to
humans for observation within themselves.

psychology was a study of the soul or mind.

But since then it has moved away considerably
Any knowledge discipline is hard to define. from this focus and established itself as a
Firstly, because it evolves continuously. scientific discipline which deals with processes
Secondly, because the range of phenomena it underlying human experience and behaviour.
studies cannot be captured by any one The range of phenomena it studies, some of
definition. This is even more true of psychology. which we mentioned above, are spread over
Long time back, students like yourself were told several levels, viz. individual, dyadic (two
that the term psychology is derived from two person) group, and organisational. They also
Greek words psyche meaning soul and logos have biological as well as social bases.
meaning science or study of a subject. Thus, Naturally, therefore, the methods required to

study them also vary greatly depending on the trying to understand how the mind works and
phenomenon one wants to study. A discipline to help us improve the uses and applications
is defined both in terms of what it studies and of these mental capacities.
how it studies. In fact, more in terms of how or Psychologists also study experiences of
method/s it uses. Keeping this in view, people. Experiences are subjective in nature.
psychology is defined formally as a science We cannot directly observe or know someone
which studies mental processes, experiences else’s experience. Only the experiencing person
and behaviour in different contexts. In doing can be aware or be conscious of her or his
so, it uses methods of biological and social experiences. Thus, experiences are embedded
sciences to obtain data systematically. It makes in our awareness or consciousness.
sense of these data so that they can be Psychologists have focused on experiences of
organised as knowledge. Let us try to pain being undergone by terminally ill patients
understand the three terms used in the or of psychological pain felt in bereavement,
definition, namely, mental processes, besides experiences which lead to positive
experience, and behaviour. feelings, such as in romantic encounters.
When we say experiences are internal to There are some esoteric experiences also which
the experiencing person, we refer to states of attract attention of psychologists, such as
consciousness or awareness or mental when a Yogi meditates to enter a different level
processes. We use our mental processes when of consciousness and creates a new kind of
we think or try to solve a problem, to know or experience or when a drug addict takes a
remember something. One level at which these particular kind of drug to get a high, even
mental processes are reflected is the brain though such drugs are extremely harmful.
activity. As we think or solve a mathematical Experiences are influenced by internal and the
problem, our brain activities can be observed external conditions of the experiencer. If you
using different techniques of brain imaging. are travelling in a crowded bus during a hot
However, we cannot say that brain activities summer day, you may not experience the
and mental processes are the same, although usual discomfort if you are going for a picnic
they are interdependent. Mental activities and with some close friends. Thus, the nature of
neural activities are mutually overlapping experience can only be understood by
processes but, they are not identical. Unlike analysing a complex set of internal and
the brain, the mind does not have a physical external conditions.
structure or has a location. Mind emerges and Behaviours are responses or reactions we
evolves as our interactions and experiences make or activities we engage in. When
in this world get dynamically organised in the something is hurled at you, your eyes blink in
form of a system which is responsible for the a simple reflex action. You are taking an
occurrence of various mental processes. examination and can feel your heart pounding.
Brain activities provide important clues to You decide to go for a particular movie with a
how our mind functions. But the friend. Behaviours may be simple or complex,
consciousness of our own experiences and short or enduring. Some behaviours are overt.
mental processes are much more than the They can be outwardly seen or sensed by an
neural or brain activities. Even when we are observer. Some are internal or covert. When
asleep some mental activities go on. We you are in a difficult situation while playing a
dream, and receive some information such game of chess you almost feel your hand
as a knock on the door while we are asleep. muscles twitching, trying to experiment with
Some psychologists have shown that we also a move. All behaviours, covert or overt, are
learn and remember in our sleep. Mental associated with or triggered by some stimulus
processes, such as remembering, learning, in the environment or changes that happen
knowing, perceiving, feeling are of interest to internally. You may see a tiger and run or think
psychologists. They study these processes that there is a tiger and decide to flee. Some

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
psychologists study behaviour as an students go on to earn a B.Sc. or M.Sc. degree
association between stimulus (S) and response in universities. In fact, two of the most sought
(R). Both stimulus and response can be after emerging disciplines which continuously
internal or external. borrow from psychology are Neuroscience and
Computer Science. Some of us would be aware
Psychology as a Discipline of the fast developing brain imaging techniques
like fMRI, EEG, etc. which make it possible to
As we have discussed above, psychology
study brain processes in real time, i.e. when
studies behaviour, experience and mental
they are actually taking place. Similarly, in IT
processes. It seeks to understand and explain
areas, both human-computer interaction and
how the mind works and how different mental
artificial intelligence cannot possibly grow
processes result in different behaviours. When
without psychological knowledge in cognitive
we observe others as lay or common persons,
processes. Thus, psychology as a discipline
our own points of view or our ways of
today has two parallel streams. One which
understanding the world influence our
makes use of the method in physical and
interpretations of their behaviours and
biological sciences and the other which makes
experiences. Psychologists try to minimise
use of the method of social and cultural
such biases in their explanations of behaviour
sciences in studying various psychological and
and experience in various ways. Some do so
social phenomena. These streams sometimes
by seeking to make their analysis scientific
converge only to drift apart and go their
and objective. Others seek to explain
separate ways. In the first case, psychology
behaviour from the point of view of the
considers itself as a discipline, which focuses
experiencing persons because they think that
largely on biological principles to explain
subjectivity is a necessary aspect of human
human behaviour. It assumes that all
experience. In the Indian tradition, self-
behavioural phenomena have causes which can
reflection and analysis of our conscious
be discovered if we can collect data
experiences, is held to be a major source of
systematically under controlled conditions.
psychological understanding. Many western
Here the aim of the researcher is to know cause
psychologists have also begun to emphasise
and effect relationship so that a prediction of
the role of self-reflection and self-knowledge
the behavioural phenomenon can be made and
in understanding human behaviour and
behaviour can be controlled if need be. On the
experience. Regardless of the differences in the
other hand, psychology as a social science
way psychologists go about the study of
focuses on how behavioural phenomena can
behaviour, mental processes and experiences,
be explained in terms of the interaction that
they seek to understand and explain them in
takes place between the person and the socio-
a systematic and verifiable manner.
cultural context of which s/he is a part. Each
Psychology, though it is a very old
behavioural phenomenon is assumed to have
knowledge discipline, is a young science, if one
multiple causes. Let us now discuss these two
were to take the year of the founding of the
streams separately.
first laboratory of psychology in 1879 in
Leipzig. However, what kind of science is
Psychology as a Natural Science
psychology, still remains a matter of debate,
particularly because of the new interfaces of It has been mentioned earlier that psychology
it that have emerged in recent times. has its roots in philosophy. However, modern
Psychology is generally categorised as a social psychology has developed because of the
science. But it should not come to you as a application of the scientific method to study
surprise that, not only in other countries, but psychological phenomenon. Science places a
also in India, it is also a subject of study offered great deal of emphasis on objectivity which
in the faculty of science, both at the can be obtained if there is consensus on the
undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Many definition of a concept and how it can be

measured. Psychology influenced by Descartes from a farmer’s family. Her grandparents,
and later on by the developments in physics parents and elder brother worked on their farm.
has grown by following what is called a They lived together in their house in the village.
hypothetico-deductive model. The model Ranjita was a good athlete and was the best
suggests that scientific advancement can take long distance runner in the school. She loved
place if you have a theory to explain a meeting people and making friends.
phenomenon. For example, physicists have Unlike her, Shabnam lived with her mother
what is called a Big-bang theory to explain in the same village. Her father worked in an
how the universe came to be formed. Theory office in a town nearby and came home during
is nothing else but a set of statements about holidays. Shabnam was a good artist and loved
how a certain complex phenomenon can be staying home and taking care of her younger
explained with the help of propositions which brother. She was shy and avoided meeting
are interrelated. Based on a theory, scientists people.
deduce or propose a hypothesis, that offers a Last year there was very heavy rain and
tentative explanation of how a certain the river nearby overflowed into the village.
phenomenon takes place. The hypothesis then Many houses in the low lying areas were
is tested and proved true or false based on flooded. The villagers got together and
empirical data that one has gathered. The organised help and gave shelter to people in
theory is revised if data gathered point in a distress. Shabnam’s house was also flooded
different direction than the one suggested by and she came to live in Ranjita’s house with
the hypothesis. Using the above approach her mother and brother. Ranjita was happy
psychologists have developed theories of helping the family and making them feel
learning, memory, attention, perception, comfortable in her house. When the flood water
motivation and emotion, etc. and have made receded, Ranjita’s mother and grandmother
significant progress. Till date, most of the helped Shabnam’s mother to set-up their house.
research in psychology follows this approach. The two families became very close. Ranjita
Apart from this, psychologists have also been and Shabnam also became very good friends.
considerably influenced by the evolutionary In this case of Ranjita and Shabnam, both
approach which is dominant in biological are very different persons. They grew up in
sciences. This approach has also been used different families under complex social and
to explain diverse kinds of psychological cultural conditions. You can see some
phenomenon such as attachment and regularity in the relationship of their nature,
aggression to mention just a few. experience and mental processes with their
social and physical environment. But at the
Psychology as a Social Science same time, there are variations in their
We mentioned above that psychology is behaviours and experiences which would be
recognised more as a social science because dif ficult to predict using the known
it studies the behaviour of human beings in psychological principles. One can understand
their socio-cultural contexts. Humans are not why and how individuals in communities
only influenced by their socio-cultural become quite helpful and self-sacrificing in
contexts, they also create them. Psychology crisis as was the case with the people in the
as a social science discipline focuses on village of Ranjita and Shabnam. But, even in
humans as social beings. Consider the that case, not every villager was equally helpful
following story of Ranjita and Shabnam. and also under similar circumstances not
Ranjita and Shabnam were in the same every community is so forthcoming; in fact,
class. Although, they were in the same class, sometimes, the opposite is true – people
they were just acquainted with each other and become antisocial under similar
their lives were quite different. Ranjita came circumstances indulging in looting and

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
exploitation when some crisis occurs. This relationship between the mind and the body
shows that psychology deals with human and that they were parallel to each other.
behaviour and experience in the context of Recent studies in affective neuroscience have
their society and culture. Thus, psychology is clearly shown that there is a relationship
a social science with focus on the individuals between mind and behaviour. It has been
and communities in relation to their socio- shown that using positive visualisation
cultural and physical environment. techniques and feeling positive emotions, one
can bring about significant changes in bodily
processes. Ornish has shown this in a number
of studies with his patients. In these studies a
You will recall that psychology was once person with blocked arteries was made to
defined as a science of the mind. For many visualise that blood was flowing through her/
decades, the mind remained a taboo in his blocked arteries. After practicing this over
psychology because it could not be defined in a period of time, significant relief was obtained
concrete behavioural terms or its location by these patients as the degree of blockage
could not be indicated. If the term “mind” has became significantly less. Use of mental
imagery, i.e. images generated by a person in
returned to psychology, we should thank
her/his mind, have been used to cure various
neuroscientists like Sperry and physicists like
kinds of phobias (irrational fears of objects and
Penrose, who have given it the respect which
situations). A new discipline called
it deserved and now has. There are scientists
Psychoneuroimmunology has emerged which
in various disciplines including psychology,
emphasises the role played by the mind in
who think that a unified theory of the mind is
strengthening the immune system.
a possibility, although it still is far away.
What is mind? Is it the same as brain? It
is true that mind cannot exist without brain,
Activity 1.1
but mind is a separate entity. This can be
Imagine and visualise yourself in the following
appreciated on account of several interesting situations. Mention three psychological processes
cases that have been documented. Some involved in each situation.
patients whose occipital lobes, which are 1. You are writing an essay for a competition.
responsible for vision, were surgically removed 2. You are chatting with a friend on an
have been found to be responding correctly to interesting topic.
3. You are playing football.
location and configuration of visual cues.
4. You are watching a soap opera on TV.
Similarly, an amateur athlete lost his arm in 5. Your best friend has hurt you.
a motorcycle accident but continued to feel 6. You are appearing in an examination.
an “arm” and also continued to feel its 7. You are expecting an important visitor.
movements. When of fered cof fee, his 8. You are preparing a speech to deliver in your
“phantom arm” reached out to the coffee cup
9. You are playing chess.
and when someone pulled it away, he 10. You are trying to figure out the answer of a
protested. There are other similar cases difficult mathematics problem.
documented by neuroscientists. A young man Discuss your answers with the teacher and
who suffered brain injury in an accident, after classmates.
he returned home from the hospital, claimed
that his parents had been replaced by their
“duplicates”. They were imposters. In each of POPULAR NOTIONS ABOUT THE DISCIPLINE
these cases, the person had suffered from OFPSYCHOLOGY
damage of some part of the brain but his
“mind” had remained intact. It was earlier We mentioned above that everyday, almost
believed by scientists that there is no everyone of us acts like a psychologist. We

try to understand why someone behaved in confidence. Dweck’s study tested this. She
the manner in which s/he did and come up took two groups of students who were trained
with ready explanations. Not only this, most for 25 days in solving math problems. The first
of us have developed our own theory of group was given easy problems which they were
human behaviour. If we want some worker always able to solve. The second group had a
to perform better than s/he has in the past, mix of easy and difficult problems. Obviously,
we know that we will need to push her/him. in case of difficult problems, they failed.
Maybe even use a stick because people are Whenever this happened Dweck told them that
basically lazy. Such popular theories of their failure was because they had not tried
human behaviour based on common sense hard enough and persuaded them not to give
may or may not be true if investigated up and keep trying. After the training period
scientifically. In fact, you will find that was over, a new set of math problems were
common sensical explanations of human given to the two groups. What Dweck found
behaviour are based on hindsight and explain goes against common belief. Those who had
very little. For example, if a friend you love always succeeded because they were given
goes away to a distant place, what will easy problems, gave up much faster when they
happen to your attraction for her/him? There faced failure than those who had experience
are two sayings which you may recall to of both success and failure and were taught
answer this question. One of them is “Out of to attribute failure to their lack of effort.
sight, out of mind”. The second one is There are many other common sense
“Distance makes the heart grow fonder”. Both notions which you may not find to be true.
of them make opposite statements, so which Not too long ago it was believed in some
one is true. The explanation you choose will cultures that men are more intelligent than
depend on what happens in your life after women or women cause more accidents than
your friend leaves. Suppose you are able to men. Empirical studies have shown that both
find a new friend, the saying “Out of sight, of these are untrue. Common sense also tells
out of mind” will be used by you or others to us that one is not able to give one’s best if you
explain your behaviour. If you are unable to are asked to perform before a large audience.
find a new friend, you will keep remembering Psychological studies have shown that if you
your friend fondly. In this case, the saying have practiced well, you may actually perform
“Distance makes the heart grow fonder” will better because the presence of others helps
explain your behaviour. Notice that in both your performance.
cases the explanation follows the occurrence It is hoped that as you go through this
of behaviour. Common sense is based on textbook you will discover that many of your
hindsight. Psychology as a science looks for beliefs and understanding of human behaviour
patterns of behaviour which can be predicted will change. You will also gather that
and not explained after the behaviour occurs. psychologists are different from astrologers,
Scientific knowledge generated by tantriks and palm readers because they
psychology often runs against common sense. systematically examine propositions based on
One such example is a study performed by data to develop principles about human
Dweck (1975). She was concerned with behaviour and other psychological phenomena.
children who gave up too easily when faced
with a difficult problem or failure. She Activity 1.2
wondered how they could be helped. Common
sense tells us to give them easy problems in Ask a cross-section of students about what they
order to increase their success rate so that think psychology is? Draw a comparison between
their confidence goes up. Only later should what they say and what the textbook tells you.
we give them difficult problems which they What conclusion can you draw?
will be able to solve because of their new-found

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
In the early 20th century, a new perspective
called Gestalt psychology emerged in
Psychology as a modern discipline, which is Germany as a reaction to the structuralism of
influenced to a large extent by Western Wundt. It focused on the organisation of
developments, has a short history. It grew out perceptual experiences. Instead of looking at
of ancient philosophy concerned with the components of the mind, the Gestalt
questions of psychological significance. We psychologists argued that when we look at the
mentioned earlier that the formal beginning world our perceptual experience is more than
of modern psychology is traced back to 1879 the sum of the components of the perception.
when the first experimental laboratory was In other words, what we experience is more
established in Leipzig, Germany by Wilhelm than the inputs received from our environment.
Wundt. Wundt was interested in the study of When, for example, light from a series of
conscious experience and wanted to analyse flashing bulbs falls on our retina, we actually
the constituents or the building blocks of the experience movement of light. When we see a
mind. Psychologists during Wundt’s time movie, we actually have a series of rapidly
analysed the structure of the mind through moving images of still pictures falling on our
introspection and therefore were called retina. Thus, our perceptual experience is more
structuralists. Introspection was a procedure than the elements. Experience is holistic; it is
in which individuals or subjects in a Gestalt. We will learn more about the Gestalt
psychological experiments were asked to psychology when we discuss about the nature
describe in detail, their own mental processes of perception in Chapter 5.
or experiences. However, introspection as a Yet another reaction to structuralism came
method did not satisfy many other in the form of behaviourism. Around 1910,
psychologists. It was considered less scientific John Watson rejected the ideas of mind and
because the introspective reports could not consciousness as subject matters of
be verified by outside observers. This led to psychology. He was greatly influenced by the
the development of new perspectives in work of physiologists like Ivan Pavlov on
psychology. classical conditioning. For Watson, mind is not
An American psychologist, William James, observable and introspection is subjective
who had set up a psychological laboratory in because it cannot be verified by another
Cambridge, Massachusetts soon after the observer. According to him, scientific
setting up of the Leipzig laboratory, developed psychology must focus on what is observable
what was called a functionalist approach to and verifiable. He defined psychology as a study
the study of the human mind. William James of behaviour or responses (to stimuli) which
believed that instead of focusing on the can be measured and studied objectively.
structure of the mind, psychology should Behaviourism of Watson was further developed
instead study what the mind does and how by many influential psychologists who are
behaviour functions in making people deal known as behaviourists. Most prominent
with their environment. For example, among them was Skinner who applied
functionalists focused on how behaviour behaviourism to a wide range of situations and
enabled people to satisfy their needs. popularised the approach. We will discuss
According to William James, consciousness Skinner’s work later in this textbook.
as an ongoing stream of mental process Although behaviourists dominated the field
interacting with the environment formed the of psychology for several decades after Watson,
core of psychology. A very influential a number of other approaches and views about
educational thinker of the time, John Dewey, psychology and its subject matter were
used functionalism to argue that human developing around the same time. One person
beings seek to function effectively by adapting who shook the world with his radical view of
to their environment. human nature was Sigmund Freud. Freud

viewed human behaviour as a dynamic unfold their inner potential. They argued that
manifestation of unconscious desires and behaviourism with its emphasis on behaviour
conflicts. He founded psychoanalysis as a as determined by environmental conditions
system to understand and cure psychological undermines human freedom and dignity and
disorders. While Freudian psychoanalysis takes a mechanistic view of human nature.
viewed human beings as motivated by These different approaches filled the
unconscious desire for gratification of pleasure history of modern psychology and provided
seeking (and often, sexual) desires, the multiple perspectives to its development. Each
humanistic perspective in psychology took of these perspectives has its own focus and
a more positive view of human nature. draws our attention to the complexity of
Humanists, such as Carl Rogers and Abraham psychological processes. There are strengths
Maslow, emphasised the free will of human as well as weaknesses in each approach. Some
beings and their natural striving to grow and of these approaches have led to further

Box 1.1 Some Interesting Landmarks in the E volution of Modern PPsychology

Evolution sychology

1879 Wilhelm Wundt establishes the first behaviourism as a major approach to

psychology laboratory in Leipzig, psychology.
Germany. 1954 Humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow
1890 William James publishes Principles of publishes ‘Motivation and Personality’.
Psychology. 1954 Bureau of Psychology is established at
1895 Functionalism is formulated as a system Allahabad.
of psychology. 1955 National Institute of Mental Health and
1900 Sigmund Freud develops Psychoanalysis. Neurosciences (NIMHANS) is established at
1904 Ivan Pavlov wins the Nobel Prize for his Bangalore.
work on digestive system that led to 1962 Hospital for Mental Diseases in Ranchi is
understanding of principles of established.
development of responses. 1973 Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen win the
1905 Intelligence test developed by Binet and Nobel Prize for their work on built-in species-
Simon. specific animal behaviour patter ns that
1916 First Psychology Department at Calcutta emerge without any prior experience/
University is established. learning.
1920 Gestalt psychology is born in Germany. 1978 Herbert Simon wins the Nobel Prize for work
1922 Psychology is included in Indian Science on decision-making.
Congress Association. 1981 David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel win the Nobel
1924 Indian Psychological Association is Prize for their research on vision cells in the
founded. brain.
1924 John B. Watson publishes ‘Behaviourism’, 1981 Roger Sperry wins the Nobel Prize for split-
a book that led to the foundation of brain research.
behaviourism. 1989 National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India
1928 N.N. Sengupta and Radhakamal Mukerjee was founded.
publish the first textbook on Social 1997 National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) is
Psychology (London : Allen & Unwin). established at Gurgaon, Haryana.
1949 Psychological Research Wing of the 2002 Daniel Kahneman wins the Nobel Prize for
Defence Science Organisation of India is research on human judgment and decision-
established. making under uncertainty.
1951 Humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers 2005 Thomas Schelling wins the Nobel Prize for his
publishes Client-Centred Therapy. work in applying Game Theory to
1953 B.F. Skinner publishes ‘Science and understanding of conflict and cooperation in
Human Behaviour’, strengthening economic behaviour.

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
developments in the discipline. Aspects of departure both within the country and abroad.
Gestalt approach and structuralism were These attempts have tried to establish the
combined and led to the development of the truth value of various assertions in Indian
cognitive perspective which focuses on how philosophical traditions through scientific
we know about the world. Cognition is the studies.
process of knowing. It involves thinking, The modern era of Indian psychology
understanding, perceiving, memorising, began in the Department of Philosophy at
problem solving and a host of other mental Calcutta University where the first syllabus
processes by which our knowledge of the world of experimental psychology was introduced
develops, making us able to deal with the and the first psychology laboratory was
environment in specific ways. Some cognitive established in 1915. Calcutta University
psychologists view the human mind as an started the first Department of Psychology in
information processing system like the the year 1916 and another Department of
computer. Mind, according to this view is like Applied Psychology in 1938. The beginning of
a computer and it receives, processes, modern experimental psychology at Calcutta
transforms, stores and retrieves information. University was greatly influenced by the Indian
Modern cognitive psychology views human psychologist Dr. N.N. Sengupta who was
beings as actively constructing their minds trained in USA in the experimental tradition
through their exploration into the physical and of Wundt. Professor G. Bose was trained in
the social world. This view is sometimes called Freudian psychoanalysis, another area which
constructivism. Piaget’s view of child influenced the early development of
development which will be discussed later is psychology in India. Professor Bose
considered a constructivist theory of established Indian Psychoanalytical
development of the mind. Another Russian Association in 1922. Departments of
psychologist Vygotsky went even further to Psychology in the Universities of Mysore and
suggest that the human mind develops Patna were other early centres of teaching and
through social and cultural processes in which research in psychology. From these modest
the mind is viewed as culturally constructed beginnings, modern psychology has grown as
through joint interaction between adults and a strong discipline in India with a large number
children. In other words, while for Piaget of centres of teaching, research and
children actively construct their own minds, applications. There are two centers of
Vygotsky took a view that mind is a joint excellence in psychology supported by the
cultural construction and emerges as a result UGC at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar and
of interaction between children and adults. at the University of Allahabad. About 70
universities offer courses in psychology.
DEVELOPMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY IN INDIA Durganand Sinha in his book Psychology
in a Third World Country: The Indian
The Indian philosophical tradition is rich in Experience published in 1986 traces the
its focus on mental processes and reflections history of modern psychology as a social
on human consciousness, self, mind-body science in India in four phases. According to
relations, and a variety of mental functions him, the first phase till independence was a
such as cognition, perception, illusion, phase with emphasis on experimental,
attention and reasoning, etc. Unfortunately, psychoanalytic and psychological testing
philosophical roots in the Indian tradition have research, which primarily reflected the
not influenced the development of modern development of the discipline in western
psychology in India. The development of the countries. The second phase till the 1960s was
discipline in India continues to be dominated a phase of expansion of psychology in India
by western psychology, although some into different branches of psychology. During
attempts have been made to find points of this phase Indian psychologists showed a

desire to have an Indian identity by seeking
to link western psychology to the Indian
context. They did this by using western ideas Various fields of specialisation in psychology
to understand the Indian situation. However, have emerged over the years. Some of these
psychology in India sought to become relevant are discussed in this section.
for Indian society in the post 1960s phase of
problem-oriented research. Psychologists Cognitive Psychology investigates mental
became more focused on addressing the processes involved in acquisition, storage,
problems of the Indian society. Further, the manipulation, and transfor mation of
limitations of excessive dependence on information received from the environment
western psychology for our social context were along with its use and communication. The
also realised. Leading psychologists major cognitive processes are attention,
emphasised the significance of research, which perception, memory, reasoning, problem
is of relevance to our situation. The search for solving, decision-making and language. You
a new identity of psychology in India led to will be studying these topics later in this
the phase of indigenisation, which started textbook. In order to study these cognitive
during the late 1970s. Besides rejecting the processes, psychologists conduct experiments
western framework, Indian psychologists in laboratory settings. Some of them also follow
stressed the need for developing an an ecological approach, i.e. an approach which
understanding based on a framework, which focuses on the environmental factors, to study
was culturally and socially relevant. This trend cognitive processes in a natural setting.
was also reflected in some attempts to develop Cognitive psychologists often collaborate with
psychological approaches based on traditional neuroscientists and computer scientists.
Indian psychology, which came from our
Biological Psychology focuses on the
ancient texts and scriptures. Thus, this phase
relationship between behaviour and the
is characterised by development in indigenous
physical system, including the brain and the
psychology, which originated from the Indian
rest of the nervous system, the immune
cultural context and was relevant for society
system, and genetics. Biological psychologists
and Indian psychology based on the Indian
often collaborate with neuroscientists,
traditional knowledge system. While these
zoologists, and anthropologists.
developments continue, psychology in India
Neuropsychology has emerged as a field of
is making significant contributions to the field
research where psychologists and
of psychology in the world. It has become more
neuroscientists are working together.
contextual emphasising the need for
Researchers are studying the role of
developing psychological principles, which are
neurotransmitters or chemical substances
rooted in our own social and cultural context.
which are responsible for neural
Alongside, we also find that new research
communication in different areas of the brain
studies involving interfaces with neuro-
and therefore in associated mental functions.
biological and health sciences are being carried
They do their research on people with normal
functioning brain as well as on people with
Psychology in India is now being applied
damaged brain by following advanced
in diverse professional areas. Not only have
technologies like EEG, PET and fMRI, etc.
psychologists been working with children
about which you will study later.
having special problems, they are employed
in hospitals as clinical psychologists, in Developmental Psychology studies the
corporate organisations in the HRD and physical, social and psychological changes
advertising departments, in sports that occur at different ages and stages over a
directorates, in the development sector and life-span, from conception to old age. The
in IT industry. primary concer n of developmental

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
psychologists is how we become what we are. Health Psychology focuses on the role of
For many years the major emphasis was on psychological factors (for example, stress,
child and adolescent development. However anxiety) in the development, prevention and
today an increasing number of developmental treatment of illness. Areas of interest for a
psychologists show strong interest in adult health psychologist are stress and coping, the
development and ageing. They focus on the relationship between psychological factors and
biological, socio-cultural and environmental health, patient-doctor relationship and ways
factors that influence psychological of promoting health enhancing factors.
characteristics such as intelligence, cognition,
Clinical and Counselling Psychology deals
emotion, temperament, morality, and social with causes, treatment and prevention of
relationship. Developmental psychologists different types of psychological disorders such
collaborate with anthropologists, as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and
educationists, neurologists, social workers, chronic substance abuse. A related area is
counsellors and almost every branch of counselling, which aims to improve everyday
knowledge where there is a concern for growth functioning by helping people solve problems
and development of a human being. in daily living and cope more effectively with
challenging situations. The work of clinical
Social Psychology explores how people are
psychologists does not differ from that of
affected by their social environments, how
counselling psychologists although a
people think about and influence others.
counselling psychologist sometimes deals with
Social psychologists are interested in such
people who have less serious problems. In
topics as attitudes, conformity and obedience
many instances, counselling psychologists
to authority, interpersonal attraction, helpful
work with students, advising them about
behaviour, prejudice, aggression, social personal problems and career planning. Like
motivation, inter-group relations and so on. clinical psychologists, psychiatrists also study
Cross-cultural and Cultural Psychology the causes, treatment, and prevention of
examines the role of culture in understanding psychological disorders. How are clinical
behaviour, thought, and emotion. It assumes psychologists and psychiatrists different? A
clinical psychologist has a degree in
that human behaviour is not only a reflection
psychology, which includes intensive training
of human-biological potential but also a
in treating people with psychological disorders.
product of culture. Therefore behaviour should
In contrast, a psychiatrist has a medical degree
be studied in its socio-cultural context. As you
with years of specialised training in the
will be studying in different chapters of this
treatment of psychological disorders. One
book, culture influences human behaviour in
important distinction is that psychiatrists can
many ways and in varying degrees. prescribe medications and give electroshock
Environmental Psychology studies the treatments whereas clinical psychologist
interaction of physical factors such as cannot.
temperature, humidity, pollution, and natural Industrial/Organisational Psychology deals
disasters on human behaviour. The influence with workplace behaviour, focusing on both the
of physical arrangement of the workplace on workers and the organisations that employ
health, the emotional state, and interpersonal them. Industrial/organisational psychologists
relations are also investigated. Current topics are concerned with training employees,
of research in this field are the extent to which, improving work conditions, and developing
disposal of waste, population explosion, criteria for selecting employees. For example,
conservation of energy, efficient use of an organisational psychologist might
community resources are associated with and recommend that a company may adopt a new
are functions of human behaviour. management structure that would increase

communication between managers and staff. psychology, forensic psychology, rural
The background of industrial and psychology, engineering psychology,
organisational psychologists often includes managerial psychology, community
training in cognitive and social psychology. psychology, psychology of women, and
political psychology, to name a few. Try the
Educational Psychology studies how people Activity 1.3 to reflect upon your interest areas
of all ages learn. Educational psychologists in psychology.
primarily help develop instructional methods
and materials used to train people in both
educational and work settings. They are also THEMES OF RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS
concerned with research on issues of relevance
for education, counselling and learning In the previous section, you got some idea of
problems. A related field, school psychology, the various branches of psychology. If you
focuses on designing programmes that were to ask a simple question about “what
promote intellectual, social, and emotional psychologists do?”, the usual answer will be
development of children, including those with that they do several things while working in a
special needs. They try to apply knowledge of variety of settings. However, if you try to
psychology in a school setting. analyse their work, you will notice that they
basically engage in two kinds of activities. One
Sports Psychology applies psychological is research in psychology; the other is
principles to improve sports performance by application of psychology.
enhancing their motivation. Sports psychology What are some of the themes which
is a relatively new field but is gaining provide direction to research and application
acceptance worldwide. of psychology? There are several such themes.
Other Emerging Branches of Psychology : We will focus on some of them.
The interdisciplinary focus on research and
application of psychology has led to the Theme 1 : Psychology like other sciences
emergence of varied areas like aviation attempts to develop principles of behaviour and
psychology, space psychology, military mental processes.
In research, the main concern is with the
understanding and explanation of behaviour
Activity 1.3 and mental events and processes.
Think about the areas of psychology that you have Psychologists, who choose to engage in
read in the text. Go through the list given below research, function more like other scientists.
and rank them from 1 (most interesting) to 11 (least Like them, they draw conclusions which are
interesting). supported by data. They design and conduct
Cognitive psychology experiments or studies under controlled
Biological psychology conditions on a wide range of psychological
Developmental psychology
phenomena. The purpose is to develop general
Social psychology
Cross-cultural and cultural psychology principles about behaviour and mental
Environmental psychology processes. The conclusions drawn on the basis
Health psychology of such studies apply to everybody and are,
Clinical and counselling psychology therefore, universal. Experimental,
Industrial/Organisational psychology
comparative, physiological, developmental,
Educational psychology
Sports psychology social, differential and abnormal psychology
After going through this textbook and completing
are generally regarded as domains
the course you may like to return to this activity representing “basic psychology”.
and mark the changes in your ranking. The themes of research in these fields differ
from each other. For example, experimental

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
psychologists study the processes of and biologists. Psychologists look for
perception, learning, memory, thinking, and explanations of various psychological
motivation, etc., using experiment as their phenomena based on individual-environment
method of enquiry, whereas physiological interactions. Although it is difficult,
psychologists attempt to examine psychologists do seek out the relative
physiological bases of these behaviours. importance of heredity and environment in
Developmental psychologists study qualitative explaining human behaviour.
and quantitative changes in behaviour from
the beginning of human life to its end, whereas Theme 3 : Human behaviour is caused.
social psychologists focus on the study of Most psychologists believe that all human
experience and behaviour of individuals as behaviour can be explained in terms of causes
they take place in social contexts. which are internal (to the organism) or external
having location in the outside environment.
Theme 2 : Human behaviour is a function of Causal explanations are central to all sciences
the attributes of persons and environment. because without understanding them no
Kurt Lewin first proposed the famous prediction will be possible. Although,
equation B = f(P,E) – which suggests that psychologists look for causal explanations of
behaviour is the product of a person and her/ behaviour, they also realise that simple linear
his environment. What this equation simply explanations, such as X Causing Y do not hold
tells us is that the variations we find in human true. There is no one cause of behaviour.
behaviour are largely due to the fact that Human behaviour has multiple causes.
persons differ with respect to their various Psychologists, therefore, look for causal
attributes because of their genetic models where a set of interdependent variables
endowments and diverse experiences and so are used to explain a behaviour. When it is
do the environments they are placed in. Here said that behaviour has multiple causes, it
the environment is conceptualised as it is means that it is difficult to pinpoint one cause
perceived or made sense of by the person. of a behaviour because it may itself be caused
Psychologists have for a long time considered by another variable, which in turn may be
that no two individuals are the same, if one caused by some other.
considers their psychological attributes. They
vary with respect to their intelligence, Theme 4 : Understanding of human behaviour
interests, values, aptitudes and various other is culturally constructed.
personality characteristics. In fact, This is a theme which has recently
psychological tests came to be constructed to surfaced. There are psychologists who believe
measure such differences. A discipline that most psychological theories and models
called, differential psychology, which focused are Euro-American in nature and therefore,
on individual differences emerged and do not help us in understanding behaviours
flourished in the late nineteenth and early in other cultural settings. Psychologists from
twentieth century. Most of it still remains in Asia, Africa and Latin America have been
the form of personality psychology. critical of Euro-American approaches which
Psychologists believe that although, core are propagated as universal. A similar critique
psychological processes are universal, they are is made by feminists who argue that
susceptible to individual dispositions. Besides psychology offers a male perspective and
individual differences, psychologists also ignores the perspective of women. They argue
believe that there are variations in behaviour in favour of a dialectical approach which will
which occur due to environmental factors. accommodate both male and female
This is a view which psychologists have taken perspectives in understanding human
from anthropologists, evolutionary theorists behaviour.

Theme 5 : Human behaviour can be controlled and principles derived from research can be
and modified through the application of meaningfully applied. On the other hand,
psychological principles. research is an integral part of even those fields
Why do scientists like to know how certain of psychology that are mainly characterised
events can be controlled, be they physical or by or subsumed under the category of
psychological? Their concern arises from their application. Due to ever increasing demands
desire to develop techniques or methods that of psychology in different settings, many fields
will improve the quality of human life. that were regarded as primarily “research-
Psychologists also seek the same while oriented” in previous decades, have also
applying knowledge generated by them. gradually turned into “application-oriented”.
This often requires removal of certain Newly emerging disciplines like applied
dif ficulties or adverse conditions that experimental psychology, applied social
individuals experience in different phases of psychology, and applied developmental
their life. Consequently, psychologists make psychology indicate that in fact all psychology
certain interventions into the lives of needy has the potential of application and is basically
people. This applied role of psychologists has, applied in nature.
on the one hand, brought the subject closer Thus, there is seemingly no fundamental
to the life of people in general than other social difference between research and application
science subjects and in knowing the limits of of psychology. These activities are highly
the applicability of its principles. On the other interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Their
hand, this role has also been very helpful in mutual interactions and pervasive influences
popularising psychology as a subject in itself. on each other have become so specific that
Thus, several independent branches of several offshoots have emerged in recent years
psychology have emerged that try to use with very specific emphasis on their subject
psychological theories, principles and facts to matters. Thus, ecological psychology,
diagnose and resolve problems related to environmental psychology, cross-cultural
psychology, biological psychology, space
industrial and organisational settings, clinical
psychology, and cognitive psychology, to
services, education, environment, health,
mention a few, have come up as new and
community development and so on. Industrial
frontier areas of research and application that
psychology, organisational psychology, clinical
previously formed part of other fields of
psychology, educational psychology,
psychology. These newer developments
engineering psychology and sports psychology
require highly specialised research skills and
represent some of the areas in which
training on the part of researchers than ever
psychologists are engaged in delivering
services to individuals, groups or institutions.


It may be noted at this point that various areas Any discipline, which deals with people, would
put under the rubrics of “basic” and “applied” definitely recognise the relevance of the
psychology are identified only on the basis of knowledge of psychology. Similarly
their emphasis on the study of certain subject psychologists also acknowledge the relevance
matters and broader concerns. There is no of other disciplines in understanding human
sharp cleavage between research and behaviour. This trend has led to the emergence
application of psychology. For example, basic of interdisciplinary approach in the field of
psychology provides us with theories and psychology. Researchers and scholars in
principles that form the basis of application science, social science and humanities have
of psychology and applied psychology provides felt the significance of psychology as a
us with different contexts in which the theories discipline. Figure 1.1 clearly shows the

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
relationship of psychology with other Economics, Political Science and
disciplines. In studying brain and behaviour, Sociology : As sister social science disciplines,
psychology shares its knowledge with these three have drawn considerably from
neurology, physiology, biology, medicine and psychology and have enriched it as well.
computer science. In studying human Psychology has contributed a great deal to the
behaviour (its meaning, growth and study of micro-level economic behaviour,
development) in a socio-cultural context, particularly in understanding consumer
psychology shares its knowledge with behaviour, savings behaviour and in decision-
anthropology, sociology, social work, political making. American economists have used data
science and economics. In studying mental on consumer sentiments to predict economic
activities involved in creation of literary texts, growth. Three scholars who have worked on
music and drama, psychology shares its such problems have received the Nobel Prize
knowledge with literature, art and music. in Economics, namely H. Simon, D. Kahneman
Some of the major disciplines linked to the and T. Schelling. Like economics, political
field of psychology are discussed below: science too draws considerably from
psychology, particularly, in understanding
Philosophy : Until the end of the 19th century, issues related to exercise of power and
certain concerns that are now part of authority, nature of political conflicts and their
contemporary psychology like, what is the resolutions, and voting behaviour. Sociology
nature of the mind or how do humans come and psychology come together to explain and
understand the behaviour of individuals
to know their motivations and emotions were
within different socio-cultural contexts. Issues
the concerns of philosophers. In the later part
related to socialisation, group and collective
of the 19th century, Wundt and other
behaviour, and intergroup conflicts gain from
psychologists adopted an experimental
both these disciplines.
approach to these questions and
contemporary psychology emerged. Despite Computer Science : From the very beginning,
the emergence of psychology as a science, it the effort of computer science has been in
greatly draws from philosophy, particularly mimicking the human mind. One can see it in
with respect to methods of knowing, and terms of how a ‘computer’ is structured, its
various domains of human nature. memory organised, sequential and
simultaneous (read parallel) processing of
Medicine : Doctors have realised that the information. Computer scientists and
maxim, healthy body requires a healthy mind, engineers are seeking to make computers not
is actually true. A large number of hospitals only more and more intelligent but also
now employ psychologists. The role of machines which can sense and feel.
psychologists in preventing people from Developments in both these disciplines have
engaging in health hazardous behaviours and brought about significant advancement in the
in adhering to the prescribed doctors’ regimen field of cognitive sciences.
are some of the important areas where the
two disciplines have come together. While Law and Criminology : A skilled lawyer and
treating patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, a criminologist requires knowledge of
and the physically challenged, or handling psychology in answering such questions as:
patients in the Intensive Care Unit, and How well a witness remembers an accident, a
patients during post operative care doctors street fight, or a murder? How well can s/he
have also felt the need for psychological report such facts when taking the witness
counselling. A successful doctor looks at the stand in the court? What factors influence the
psychological as well as physical well-being decision which is taken by the jury? What are
of the patients. the dependable signs of guilt and falsehood?

Political Science Education Economics

Philosophy Music and Fine Arts


Computer Science Law/Criminology

Medicine/Psychiatry Mass Communication

Architecture and Engineering Sociology

Fig.1.1 : Psychology and Other Disciplines

What factors are held important in holding a criminal act? Psychologists seek to answer
culprit responsible for her/his action? What these questions. Currently, a number of
degree of punishment is considered just for a psychologists are involved in research on such

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
issues, the answers to which would help the
legal system of the country in the future.
Psychologists today work in a variety of
Mass Communication : The print and the settings where they can apply psychological
electronic media have entered in our lives in a principles for teaching and training people to
very big way. They have a major influence on cope effectively with the problems of their lives.
our thinking, attitudes and our emotions. If Often referred to as “human service areas” they
they have brought us closer together, they have include clinical counselling, community,
also reduced cultural diversities. The impact school and organisational psychology.
of the media on the formation of attitudes of Clinical psychologists specialise in
children and their behaviour is a domain helping clients with behavioural problems by
where both these disciplines come together. providing therapy for various mental
Psychology also helps in developing strategies disorders and in cases of anxiety or fear, or
for better and effective communication. A with stresses at home or at work. They work
journalist in reporting news must know the either as private practitioners or at hospitals,
reader’s interests in the story. Since most mental institutions, or with social agencies.
stories deal with human events, knowledge of They may be involved in conducting
their motives and emotions is very important. interviews and administering psychological
A story will be more penetrating if based upon tests to diagnose the client’s problems, and
a background of psychological knowledge and use psychological methods for their treatment
insight. and rehabilitation. Job opportunities in
clinical psychology attract quite a few to this
Music and Fine Arts : Music and psychology field of psychology.
have converged in many areas. Scientists have Counselling psychologists work with
made use of music in raising work persons who suffer from motivational and
performance. Music and emotions is another emotional problems. The problems of their
area in which a number of studies have been clients are less serious than those of the
carried out. Musicians in India have recently clinical psychologists. A counselling
started experimenting with what they call psychologist may be involved in vocational
‘Music Therapy’. In this they use different rehabilitation programmes, or helping persons
‘Ragas’ for curing certain physical ailments. in making professional choices or in adjusting
The efficacy of music therapy still remains to to new and difficult situations of life.
be proven. Counselling psychologists work for public
agencies such as mental health centres,
Architecture and Engineering : At first glance hospitals, schools, colleges and universities.
the relationship between psychology and Community psychologists generally
architecture and engineering would appear focus on problems related to community
improbable. But such is actually not the case. mental health. They work for mental health
Ask any architect, s/he must satisfy her/his agencies, private organisations and state
clients by providing mental and physical space governments. They help the community and
through her design and satisfy aesthetically. its institutions in addressing physical and
Engineers must also take into account human mental health problems. In rural areas they
habits in their plans for safety, for example, may work to establish a mental health centre.
on streets and highways. Psychological In urban areas they may design a drug
knowledge helps in a big way in designing of rehabilitation programme. Many community
all mechanical devices and displays. psychologists also work with special
To sum up, psychology is located at the populations such as the elderly or the
intersection of many fields of knowledge physically or mentally challenged. Besides the
pertaining to human functioning. redir ection and evaluation of various

programmes and plans, community based social reforms, interventions at the individual
rehabilitation (CBR) is of major interest to levels are also needed in order to change. Many
community psychologists. of these problems are largely of psychological
School psychologists work in nature and they result from our unhealthy
educational systems, and their roles vary thinking, negative attitude towards people and
according to the levels of their training. For self and undesirable patterns of behaviour. A
example, some school psychologists only psychological analysis of these problems helps
administer tests, whereas others also both in having a deeper understanding of these
interpret test results to help students with problems and also in finding their effective
their pr oblems. They also help in the solutions.
formulation of school policies. They facilitate The potential of psychology in solving the
communication between parents, teachers problems of life is being realised more and
and administrators, and also provide teachers more. Media has played a vital role in this
and parents with information about the respect. You may have seen on television
academic progress of a student. counsellors and therapists suggesting
Organisational psychologists render solutions to a variety of problems related to
valuable help in dealing with problems that children, adolescents, adults and the elderly
the executives and employees of an people. You may also find them analysing vital
organisation tend to face in their respective social problems relating to social change and
roles. They provide organisations with development, population, poverty,
consultancy services and organise skill interpersonal or intergroup violence, and
training programmes in order to enhance their environmental degradation. Many
ef ficiency and ef fectiveness. Some psychologists now play an active role in
organisational psychologists specialise in designing and executing intervention
Human Resource Development (HRD), while programmes in order to provide people with a
others in Organisational Development and better quality of life. Hence, it is no surprise
Change Management programmes. that we find psychologists working in diverse
settings such as schools, hospitals, industries,
prisons, business organisations, military
establishments, and in private practice as
The discussion above may have clarified that consultants helping people solve problems in
psychology is not only a subject that satisfies their respective settings.
some of the curiosities of our mind about Besides helping you in rendering social
human nature, but it is also a subject that service to others, the knowledge of psychology
can offer solutions to a variety of problems. is also personally relevant to you in your day-
These may range from purely personal (for to-day life. The principles and methods of
example, a daughter having to face an alcoholic psychology that you will learn in this course
father or a mother dealing with a problem child) should be made use of in analysing and
to those that may be rooted within the family understanding yourself in relation to others.
set up (for example, lack of communication and It is not that we do not think about ourselves.
interaction among family members) or in a But very often, some of us think very highly
larger group or community setting (for example, of ourselves and any feedback that contradicts
terrorist groups or socially isolated our opinion about ourselves is rejected
communities) or may have national or because we engage in what is called a
international dimensions. Problems related to defensive behaviour. In some other cases,
education, health, environment, social justice, persons come to acquire a habit of running
women development, intergroup relations, etc. down themselves. Both conditions do not
are pervasive. While the solution of these permit us to grow. We need to have a positive
problems may involve political, economic and and balanced understanding of ourselves. You

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
may use psychological principles in a positive
manner to develop good habits of study for
improving your learning and memory, and for
Key Terms
solving your personal and interpersonal Behaviour, Behaviourism, Cognition, Cognitive
problems by using appropriate decision- approach, Consciousness, Constructivism,
making strategies. You will also find it of use Developmental psychology, Functionalism,
to reduce or alleviate the stress of Gestalt, Gestalt psychology, Humanistic
approach, Introspection, Mind,
examination. Thus, the knowledge of Neuropsychology, Physiological psychology,
psychology is quite useful in our everyday life, Psychoanalysis, Sociology, Stimulus,
and is rewarding from personal as well as Structuralism
social points of view.

• Psychology is a modern discipline aimed at understanding the complexities of mental
processes, experiences and behaviour of individuals in different contexts. It is treated as a
natural as well as a social science.
• The major schools of psychological thought are structuralism, functionalism, behaviourism,
Gestalt school, psychoanalysis, humanistic psychology and cognitive psychology.
• Contemporary psychology is multivocal as it is characterised by many approaches or
diverse views, which explain behaviour at different levels. These approaches are not
mutually exclusive. Each provides valuable insights into the complexities of human
functioning. The cognitive approach uses thought processes as central to psychological
functions. The humanistic approach views human functioning as characterised by a desire
to grow, be productive and fulfill human potential.
• Today psychologists work in many specialised fields which have their own theories and
methods. They make efforts to develop theories and solve problems in specific domains.
Some of the major fields of psychology are: cognitive psychology, biological psychology,
health psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, educational and school
psychology, clinical and counselling psychology, environmental psychology, industrial/
organisational psychology, sports psychology.
• More recently a need is felt to have multi/interdisciplinary initiatives to arrive at a better
understanding of reality. This has led to a collaboration across disciplines. Interests of
psychology overlap with social sciences (e.g., economics, political science, sociology),
biosciences (e.g., neurology, physiology, medicine), mass communication, and music and
fine arts. Such efforts have led to fruitful research and application.
• Psychology is a discipline not merely contributing to the development of theoretical
knowledge about human behaviour, but contributing to the solution of problems at different
levels. Psychologists are employed to help in diverse activities in a variety of settings
including schools, hospitals, industries, training institutes, military and government
establishments. Many of them are doing private practice and are consultants.

Review Questions
1. What is behaviour? Give examples of overt and covert behaviour.
2. How can you distinguish scientific psychology from the popular notions about the
discipline of psychology?
3. Give a brief account of the evolution of psychology.

4. What are the problems for which collaboration of psychologists with other disciplines
can be fruitful? Take any two problems to explain.
5. Differentiate between (a) a psychologist and a psychiatrist (b) a counsellor and a clinical
6. Describe some of the areas of everyday life where understanding of psychology can be
put to practice.
7. How can knowledge of the field of environmental psychology be used to promote
environment friendly behaviour?
8. In terms of helping solve an important social problem such as crime, which branch of
psychology do you think is most suitable. Identify the field and discuss the concerns of
the psychologists working in this field.

Project Ideas
1. This chapter tells you about several professionals in the field of psychology. Contact a
psychologist who fits into one of the categories and interview the person. Have a list of
questions prepared beforehand. Possible questions could be: (i) What kind of education is
necessary for your particular job? (ii) Which college/university would you recommend for
the study of this discipline? (iii) Are there many jobs available today in your area of work?
(iv) What would a typical day at work be like for you – or is there no such thing as
“typical”? (v) What motivated you to enter this line of work?
Write a report of your interview and include your specific reactions.
2. Go to the library or some bookstore or surf the internet and obtain names of some books
(fiction/non-fiction or films), which have reference to applications of psychology.
Prepare a report giving a brief synopsis.

Chapter 1 • What is Psychology?
Methods of Enquiry
in Ps
2 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• explain the goals and nature of psychological enquiry,
• understand different types of data used by psychologists,
• describe some important methods of psychological enquiry,
• understand the methods of analysing data, and
• learn about the limitations of psychological enquiry and ethical

Goals of Psychological Enquiry
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Alternative Paradigms of Research
Nature of Psychological Data
Some Important Methods in Psychology
Observational Method
Example of an Experiment (Box 2.1)
Experimental Method
Correlational Research
Survey Research
Example of Survey Method (Box 2.2)
Psychological Testing
Case Study
Analysis of Data
Quantitative Method
Qualitative Method
Limitations of Psychological Enquiry
Ethical Issues
An idea that is developed and put into
Key Terms
action is more important than an idea
that exists only as an idea. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– Gautam Buddha

You have read in the first chapter that psychology is the study of experiences,
behaviours, and mental processes. You may now be curious to know how
psychologists study these phenomena. In other words, what methods are used to
study behaviour and mental processes? Like all scientists, psychologists seek to
describe, predict, explain and control what they study. For this, psychologists rely
on formal, systematic observations to address their questions. It is the methodology
that makes psychology a scientific endeavour. Psychologists use a variety of research
methods because questions about human behaviour are numerous and all of them
cannot be studied by a single method. Methods such as observation, experimental,
correlational research, survey, psychological testing and case study are more
frequently used to study the problems of psychology. This chapter will familiarise
you with the goals of psychological enquiry, the nature of information or data that
we collect in psychological studies, the diverse range of methodological devices
available for the study of psychology, and some important issues related to
psychological studies.

Prediction : The second goal of scientific

enquiry is prediction of behaviour. If you are
Like any scientific research, psychological able to understand and describe the behaviour
enquiry has the following goals: description, accurately, you come to know the relationship
prediction, explanation, and control of of a particular behaviour with other types of
behaviour, and application of knowledge so behaviours, events, or phenomena. You can
generated, in an objective manner. Let us try then forecast that under certain conditions
to understand the meaning of these terms. this particular behaviour may occur within a
certain margin of error. For example, on the
Description : In a psychological study, we basis of study, a researcher is able to establish
attempt to describe a behaviour or a a positive relationship between the amount of
phenomenon as accurately as possible. This study time and achievement in different
helps in distinguishing a particular behaviour subjects. Later, if you come to know that a
from other behaviours. For example, the particular child devotes more time for study,
researcher may be interested in observing
you can predict that the child is likely to get
study habits among students. Study habits
good marks in the examination. Prediction
may consist of diverse range of behaviours,
becomes more accurate with the increase in
such as attending all your classes regularly,
the number of persons observed.
submitting assignments on time, planning
your study schedule, studying according to Explanation : The third goal of psychological
the set schedule, revising your work on a daily enquiry is to know the causal factors or
basis etc. Within a particular category there determinants of behaviour. Psychologists are
may be further minute descriptions. The primarily interested in knowing the factors
researcher needs to describe her/his meaning that make behaviour occur. Also, what are the
of study habits. The description requires conditions under which a particular behaviour
recording of a particular behaviour which does not occur. For example, what makes
helps in its proper understanding. some children more attentive in the class? Why

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
some children devote less time for study as increase efficiency. Scientific enquiry is also
compared to others? Thus, this goal is conducted to develop new theories or
concerned with identifying the determinants constructs, which leads to further research.
or antecedent conditions (i.e. conditions that
led to the particular behaviour) of the Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
behaviour being studied so that cause-effect Science is not so defined by what it
relationship between two variables (objects) or
investigates as by how it investigates. The
events could be established. scientific method attempts to study a
Control : If you are able to explain why a particular event or phenomenon in an
particular behaviour occurs, you can control objective, systematic, and testable manner.
that behaviour by making changes in its The objectivity refers to the fact that if two
antecedent conditions. Control refers to three or more persons independently study a
things: making a particular behaviour happen, particular event, both of them, to a great
reducing it, or enhancing it. For example, you extent, should arrive at the same conclusion.
can allow the number of hours devoted to For instance, if you and your friend measure
study to be the same, or you can reduce them the length of a table using the same measuring
or there may be an increase in the study hours. device, it is likely that both of you would arrive
The change brought about in behaviour by at the same conclusion about its length.
psychological treatment in terms of therapy The second characteristic of scientific
in persons, is a good example of control. research is that it follows systematic
procedure or steps of investigation. It includes
Application : The final goal of the scientific
the following steps: conceptualisation of a
enquiry is to bring out positive changes in the
problem, collection of data, drawing
lives of people. Psychological research is
conclusions, and revising research conclusions
conducted to solve problems in various
and theory (see Fig.2.1). Let us discuss these
settings. Because of these efforts the quality
steps in some detail.
of life of people is a major concern of
psychologists. For example, applications of (1) Conceptualising a Problem : The process
yoga and meditation help to reduce stress and of scientific research begins when a researcher

1 2
Conceptualising a Problem Collecting Data
Selecting a topic for study Participants, methods,
tools and procedure

Revising Research
Conclusions Drawing Conclusions

Restating existing hypothesis/ Using statistical methods

formulating revised or a
new theory

Fig.2.1 : Steps in Conducting Scientific Enquiry

selects a theme or topic for study. Then s/he on television, higher is the degree of aggression
narrows down the focus and develops specific displayed by them’. In your research, you shall
research questions or problems for the study. now try to prove whether the statement is true
This is done on the basis of review of past or false.
research, observations, and personal
experiences. For example, earlier you read that (2) Collecting Data : The second step in
a researcher was interested in observing the scientific research is to collect data. Data
study habits of students. For this purpose, collection requires developing a research
s/he may identify different facets of study design or a blueprint of the entire study. It
habits first, and then decide whether s/he is requires taking decisions about the following
interested in study habits shown in the class four aspects: (a) participants in the study,
or at home. (b) methods of data collection, (c) tools to be
In psychology we study a diverse range of used in research, and (d) procedure for data
problems related to behaviour and collection. Depending upon the nature of the
experiences. These problems may be related study, the researcher has to decide who would
to (a) understanding our own behaviour (for be the participants (or informants) in the
example, how do I feel and behave when I am study. The participants could be children,
in a state of joy or grief? How do we reflect on adolescents, college students, teachers,
our own experiences and behaviour? Why do managers, clinical patients, industrial
workers, or any group of individuals in whom/
we forget?); (b) understanding other
where the phenomenon under investigation
individual’s behaviour (for example, Is Abhinav
is prevalent. The second decision is related to
more intelligent than Ankur? Why is someone
the use of methods of data collection, such as
always not able to complete her or his work on
observation method, experimental method,
time? Can the habit of smoking be controlled?
correlational method, case study, etc. The
Why do some people suffering from chronic
researcher needs to decide about appropriate
illness not take medicines?); (c) group
tools (for example, interview schedule,
influences on individual behaviour (for
observation schedule, questionnaire, etc.) for
example, why does Rahim spend more time
data collection. The researcher also decides
meeting with people than doing his work?,
about how the tools need to be administered
Why does a cyclist perform better when cycling
to collect data (i.e. individual or group). This
before a group of persons than when cycling
is followed by actual collection of data.
alone?); (d) group behaviour (for example, why
does risk-taking behaviour increase when (3) Drawing Conclusions : The next step is to
people are in a group?), and (e) organisational analyse data so collected through the use of
level (for example, why are some organisations statistical procedures to understand what the
more successful than others? How can an data mean. This can be achieved through
employer increase the motivation of graphical representations (such as preparation
employees?). The list is long and you will learn of pie-chart, bar -diagram, cumulative
about these various facets in subsequent frequencies, etc.) and by the use of different
chapters. If you are inquisitive, you can write statistical methods. The purpose of analysis
down a number of problems which you may is to verify a hypothesis and draw conclusions
like to probe. accordingly.
After identification of the problem, the
researcher proceeds by developing a tentative (4) Revising Research Conclusions : The
answer of the problem, which is called researcher may have begun the study with a
hypothesis. For example, based on the earlier hypothesis that there exists a relationship
evidence or your observation, you might between viewing violence on television and
develop a hypothesis ‘greater is the amount aggression among children. S/he has to see
of time spent by children in viewing violence whether the conclusions support this

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
hypothesis. If they do, the existing hypothesis/ attempting to disturb its natural flow. For
theory is confirmed. If not, s/he will revise or example, an explorer does not know what s/
state an alternative hypothesis/theory and he is looking for, how to look for it, and what
again test it based on new data and draw to expect. Rather, s/he tries to map an
conclusions which may be verified by future uncharted wilderness, with little or no prior
researchers. Thus, research is a continuous knowledge of the area, and her/his main task
process. is to record detailed descriptions of what is
found in a particular context.
Alternative Paradigms of Research Both scientific and interpretive traditions
are concerned with studying behaviour and
Psychologists suggest that human behaviour
experiences of others. What about our own
can and should be studied following the
personal experiences and behaviour? As a
methods adopted by sciences like physics,
student of psychology, you may ask yourself
chemistry, and biology. The key assumption
the question: why am I feeling sad? Many times
of this view is that human behaviour is
you take a pledge that you will control your
predictable, caused by internal and external diet or devote more time to studies. But when
forces, and can be observed, measured, and it actually comes to eating or studying you
controlled. In order to achieve these goals, the forget this. You might be wondering why one
discipline of psychology, for larger part of the does not have control over one’s behaviour.
twentieth century, restricted itself to the study Should psychology not help you in analysing
of overt behaviour, i.e. the behaviour that your own experiences, thought processes, and
could be observed and measured. It did not behaviour? It certainly should. The
focus on personal feelings, experiences, psychological enquiry does aim at
meanings, etc. understanding the self by reflecting on one’s
In recent years, a different method known own experiences and insights.
as interpretive has emerged. It emphasises
understanding over explanation and
prediction. It takes the stand that, in view of NATURE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA
complex and variable nature of human
You may want to consider how psychological
behaviour and experience, its method of data are different as compared to other
investigation should be different from the sciences. Psychologists collect a variety of
method of investigation of the physical world. information from different sources employing
This viewpoint emphasises the importance of diverse methods. The information, also called
how human beings give meaning to events and data (singular = datum), relate to the
actions and interpret them as they occur in a individuals’ covert or overt behaviour, their
particular context. Let us take the experiences subjective experiences, and mental processes.
that may occur in some unique contexts, such Data form an important input in psychological
as persons experiencing suffering due to enquiry. They in fact approximate the reality
external factors (for example, people affected to some extent and provide an opportunity to
by tsunami, earthquake, cyclone) or internal verify or falsify our ideas, hunches, notions,
factors (for instance, prolonged illness, etc.). etc. It should be understood that data are not
In such types of situations, objective independent entities. They are located in a
measurement is neither possible nor desirable. context, and are tied to the method and theory
Everyone interprets reality in her/his own way that govern the process of data collection. In
based on past experiences and contexts. other words, data are not independent of the
Therefore, we need to understand the physical or social context, the persons
subjective interpretation of the reality. The goal involved, and the time when the behaviour
here is to explore the different aspects of occurs. We behave differently when alone than
human experiences and behaviour without in a group, or at home and in office. You may

hesitate to talk in front of your parents and areas as intelligence, personality, interest,
teachers but not when you are with friends. values, creativity, emotions, motivation,
You may have also noticed that not all people psychological disorders, illusions,
behave in exactly the same manner in the same delusions, hallucinations, perceptual
situation. The method of data collection (survey, judgment, thought processes,
interview, experiment, etc.) used and the consciousness, subjective experiences, etc.
characteristics of respondents (such as,
individual or group, young or old, male or The above information could be from the
female, rural or urban, etc.) also influence the point of view of measurement somewhat crude.
nature and quality of data. It is possible that Like, in the form of categories (such as high/
when you interview a student, s/he may report low, yes/no), ranks which provide ordinal data,
behaving in a particular manner in a given viz. first, second, third, fourth, etc., or scores
situation. But when you go for actual (10, 12, 15, 18, 20, etc.) on scales. We also
observation you may find just the opposite of obtain verbal reports, observation records,
what s/he had reported. Another important personal diaries, field notes, archival data, etc.
feature of data is that it does not in itself speak Such types of infor mation is analysed
about reality. Inferences have to be made from separately using qualitative methods. You will
data. A researcher attaches meaning to the data get some idea about this later in this chapter.
by placing it in its proper context.
In psychology, different types of data or SOME IMPORTANT METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY
information are collected. Some of these types
are : In the previous section you read about wide
i) Demographic Information : This information variety of data that we collect in psychological
generally includes personal information like studies. All these varieties of data cannot be
name, age, gender, birth order, number of collected through a single method of enquiry.
siblings, education, occupation, marital Psychologists use a variety of methods like
status, number of children, locality of Observation, Experimental, Correlational,
residence, caste, religion, parental Survey, Psychological Testing, and Case Study
education, occupation, and family income, to collect data. The aim of this section is to
etc. guide you to select the methods which may be
ii) Physical Infor mation : This category appropriate for different research purposes. For
includes information about ecological example:
conditions (hilly/desert/forest), mode of
• You can observe the behaviour of spectators
economy, housing conditions, size of rooms,
watching a football match.
facilities available at home, in the
• You can conduct an experiment to see if
neighbourhood, in the school, mode of
children taking an examination do better
transportation, etc.
in the classroom in which they had studied
iii) Physiological Data : In some studies
the subject or in the examination hall
physical, physiological and psychological
(cause-effect relationship).
data are collected about height, weight,
• You can correlate intelligence with, say, self-
heart rate, level of fatigue, Galvanic Skin
esteem (for prediction purposes).
Resistance (GSR), electrical activity of the
brain measured by Electro-encephalograph • You can survey students’ attitude towards
(EEG), blood oxygen levels, reaction time, privatisation of education.
duration of sleep, blood pressure, pattern • You can use psychological tests to find out
of dream, amount of salivation, running and individual differences.
jumping rates (in case of animal studies), • You can conduct a case study on the
etc., are collected. development of language in a child.
iv) Psychological Information : Psychological The main characteristics of these methods
information collected, may relate to such are described in the following sections.

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
Observational Method needs to be made, in what for m the
observation will be recorded, and what
Observation is a very powerful tool of
methods will be used to analyse the observed
psychological enquiry. It is an effective method
of describing behaviour. In our daily life, we
remain busy with observing numerous things
Types of Observation
throughout the day. Many times, we do not
take notice of what we are seeing or what we Observation can be of the following types :
have seen. We see but we do not observe. We (a) Naturalistic vs Controlled Observation :
remain aware of only a few things that we see When observations are done in a natural or
daily. Have you experienced such a thing? You real-life settings (in the above example, it was
may also have experienced that if you carefully a school in which observation was made), it is
observe a person or event for some time, you called naturalistic observation. In this case
come to know many interesting things about the observer makes no effort to control or
the person or the event. A scientific manipulate the situation for making an
observation dif fers from day-to-day observation. This type of observation is
observation in many respects. These are : conducted in hospitals, homes, schools, day
(a) Selection : Psychologists do not observe all care centers, etc. However, many a times you
the behaviour that they encounter. Rather, might need to control certain factors that
they select a particular behaviour for determine behaviour as they are not the focus
observation. For example, you may be of your study. For this reason, many of the
interested to know how children studying in studies in psychology are conducted in the
laboratory. For example, if you read Box 2.1,
Class XI spend their time in school. Two things
you will come to know that smoke could only
are possible at this stage. As a researcher, you
be introduced in a controlled laboratory
might think that you have a fairly good idea
situation. This type of observation, called
about what happens in school. You might
Controlled Laboratory Observation, actually,
prepare a list of activities and go to the school
is obtained in laboratory experiments.
with a view to finding out their occurrences.
Alternatively, you might think that you do not (b) Non-Participant vs Participant Observation :
know what happens in the school and, by your Observation can be done in two ways. One,
observation you would like to discover it. you may decide to observe the person or event
from a distance. Two, the observer may
(b) Recording : While observing, a researcher
become part of the group being observed. In
records the selected behaviour using different
the first case, the person being observed may
means, such as marking tallies for the already
not be aware that s/he is being observed. For
identified behaviour whenever they occur,
example, you want to observe the pattern of
taking notes describing each activity in greater
interaction between teachers and students in
detail using short hand or symbols,
a particular class. There are many ways of
photographs, video recording, etc.
achieving this goal. You can install a video
(c) Analysis of Data : After the observations camera to record the classroom activities,
have been made, psychologists analyse which you can see later and analyse.
whatever they have recorded with a view to Alternatively, you may decide to sit in a corner
derive some meaning out of it. of the class without interfering or participating
It is important to know that making good in their everyday activities. This type of
observations is a skill. A good observer knows observation is called non-participant
what s/he is looking for, whom s/he wants to observation. The danger in this type of set-
observe, when and where the observation up is that the very fact that someone

Box 2.1 Example of an Experiment

Two American psychologists, Bibb Latane and ignored; within four minutes the room contained
John Darley, conducted a study in 1970. In order enough smoke to interfere with vision and breathing.
to participate in this study, the students of Latane and Darley were primarily interested in
Columbia University arrived individually at a knowing how frequently students simply got up and
laboratory. They were given the impression that left the room to report the emergency. Most (75 per
they would be interviewed on a certain topic. cent) of the students who were waiting alone reported
Each student was sent to a waiting room to the smoke, but those reporting in groups were far
complete a preliminary questionnaire. Some of less. Groups consisting of three naïve students
them found two other people already seated in reported it only 38 per cent of the time. When the
the room, while others sat down alone. Soon after students waited with two other confederates, who
the students had started working on the were instructed before hand by the researchers to
questionnaire, smoke began filling the room do nothing, only 10 per cent students reported
through a wall vent. The smoke could hardly be smoke.

(an outsider) is sitting and observing may bring

a change in the behaviour of students and the Activity 2.1
In participant observation, the observer A few students can observe one period when the
psychology teacher is teaching in the class. Note
becomes a part of the school or the group of
down, in detail, what the teacher does, what the
people being observed. In participant students do, and the entire pattern of interaction
observation, the observer takes some time to between the teacher and the students. Discuss
establish a rapport with the group so that they the observations made with other students and
start accepting her/him as one of the group teacher. Note the similarities and differences in
members. However, the degree of involvement observation.
of the observer with the group being observed
would vary depending upon the focus of the
study. Experimental Method
The advantage of the observation method
Experiments are generally conducted to
is that it enables the researcher to study
establish cause-effect relationship between
people and their behaviour in a naturalistic
two sets of events or variables in a controlled
situation, as it occurs. However, the
setting. It is a carefully regulated procedure
observation method is labour intensive, time
in which changes are made in one factor and
consuming, and is susceptible to the
its effect is studied on another factor, while
observer’s bias. Our observation is influenced
keeping other related factors constant. In the
by our values and beliefs about the person or
experiment, cause is the event being changed
the event. You are familiar with the popular
or manipulated. Effect is the behaviour that
saying: "We see things as we are and not as
changes because of the manipulation.
things are". Because of our biases we may
interpret things in a different way than what
The Concept of Variable
the participants may actually mean.
Therefore, the observer should record the You read earlier that in the experimental
behaviour as it happens and should not method, a researcher attempts to establish
interpret the behaviour at the time of causal relationship between two variables.
observation itself. What is a variable? Any stimulus or event

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
which varies, that is, it takes on different other. Also, independent variable chosen by
values (or changes) and can be measured is a the researcher is not the only variable that
variable. An object by itself is not a variable. influences the dependent variable. Any
But its attributes are. For example, the pen behavioural event contains many variables. It
that you use for writing is NOT a variable. But also takes place within a context. Independent
there are varieties of pens available in different and dependent variables are chosen because
shapes, sizes, and colour. All of these are of the researcher’s theoretical interest.
variables. The room in which you are sitting However, there are many other relevant or
is NOT a variable but its size is as there are extraneous variables that influence the
rooms of different sizes. The height of the dependent variable, but the researcher may
individuals (5' to 6') is another variable. not be interested in examining their effects.
Similarly, people of different races have These extraneous variables need to be
different colours. Young people have started controlled in an experiment so that a
dyeing their hair in different colours. Thus, researcher is able to pin-point the cause and
colour of hair becomes a variable. Intelligence effect relationship between independent and
is a variable (there are people with varying dependent variables.
levels of intelligence — high, moderate, low).
The presence or absence of persons in the Experimental and Control Groups
room is a variable as shown in the experiment
Experiments generally involve one or more
in Box 2.1. Thus, the variation can be in the
experimental groups and one or more control
quality or quantity of objects/events.
groups. An experimental group is a group in
Variables are of many types. We will
however focus on independent and dependent which members of the group are exposed to
independent variable manipulation. The
variables. Independent variable is that
variable which is manipulated or altered or control group is a comparison group that is
its strength varied by the researcher in the treated in every way like the experimental
experiment. It is the effect of this change in group except that the manipulated variable is
the variable which the researcher wants to absent in it. For example, in the study by
observe or note in the study. In the experiment Latane and Darley, there wer e two
conducted by Latane and Darley (Box 2.1), the experimental groups and one control group.
researchers wanted to examine the effect of As you may have noted, the participants in
the presence of other persons on reporting of the study were sent to three types of rooms.
the smoke. The independent variable was In one room no one was present (control
presence or absence of other persons in the group). In the other two rooms, two persons
room. The variables on which the effect of were already seated (experimental groups). Of
independent variable is observed is called the two experimental groups, one group was
dependent variable. Dependent variable instructed not to do anything when smoke
represents the phenomenon the researcher filled in the room. The other group was not
desires to explain. It is expected that change given any instructions. After the experimental
in the dependent variable will ensue from manipulation had occured the performance
changes in the independent variable. The of the control group measured in terms of
frequency of reporting of smoke in the above reporting of smoke was compared with that
case was the dependent variable. Thus, the of the experimental group. It was found that
independent variable is the cause, and the control group participants reported in
dependent variable the ef fect in any maximum numbers about the emergency,
experimental situation. followed by the first experimental group
One must remember that independent and members where the participants were not
dependent variables are interdependent. given any instructions, and the second
Neither of them can be defined without the experimental group (consisting of

confederates) reported the emergency • Elimination is not always possible. In such
situation, the least. cases, effort should be made to hold them
It should be noted that in an experiment, constant so that their effect remains the
except for the experimental manipulation, same throughout the experiment.
other conditions are kept constant for both • For controlling organismic (e.g., fear,
experimental and control groups. One motivation) and background variables
attempts to control all those relevant variables (such as rural/urban, caste, socio-
which can influence the dependent variable. economic status) matching is also used.
For example, the speed with which smoke In this procedure the relevant variables in
started entering the rooms, the total amount the two groups are equated or are held
of smoke in the rooms, physical and other constant by taking matched pairs across
conditions of the rooms were similar in case conditions of the experiment.
of all the three groups. The distribution of • Counter-balancing technique is used to
participants to experimental and control
minimise the sequence effect. Suppose
groups was done randomly, a method that
there are two tasks to be given in an
ensures that each person has an equal chance
experiment. Rather than giving the two
of being included in any of the groups. If in
tasks in the same sequence the
one group the experimenter had included only
experimenter may interchange the order
males and in the other group females, the
of the tasks. Thus, half of the group may
results obtained in the study, could be due to
the differences in gender rather than due to receive the tasks in the order of A and B
experimental manipulation. All relevant while the other half in order of B and A or
variables in experimental studies that might the same individual may be given the task
influence the dependent variable need to be in A, B, B, A order.
controlled. These are of three major types: • Random assignment of participants to
organismic variables (such as anxiety, different groups eliminates any potential
intelligence, personality, etc.), situational or systematic differences between groups.
environmental variables operating at the time
The strength of a well-designed experiment
of conducting the experiment (such as noise,
is that it can provide, relatively speaking, a
temperature, humidity), and sequential
convincing evidence of a cause-ef fect
variables. The sequence related variables
relationship between two or more variables.
assume significance when the participants in
However, experiments are often conducted in
experiments are required to be tested in
a highly controlled laboratory situation. In this
several conditions. Exposure to many
sense, they only simulate situations that exist
conditions may result in experimental fatigue,
in the outside world. They are frequently
or practice effects, which may influence the
results of the study and make the criticised for this reason. The experiments may
interpretation of the findings difficult. produce results that do not generalise well,
In order to control relevant variables, or apply to real situations. In other words, they
experimenters use several control techniques. have low external validity. Another limitation
Some illustrations are given below. of the laboratory experiment is that it is not
• Since the goal of an experiment is to always feasible to study a particular problem
minimise extraneous variables, the best experimentally. For example, an experiment
way to handle this problem is to eliminate to study the effect of nutritional deficiency on
them from the experimental setting. For intelligence level of children cannot be
example, the experiment may be conducted as it would be ethically wrong to
conducted in a sound-proof and air- starve anyone. The third problem is that it is
conditioned room to eliminate the effect of difficult to know and control all the relevant
noise and temperature. variables.

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
Field Experiments and Quasi Experiments the control group children who experienced
the earthquake but did not lose their parents.
If a researcher wants to have high
Thus, a quasi experiment attempts to
generalisability or to conduct studies which
manipulate an independent variable in a
are not possible in laboratory settings, s/he
may go to the field or the natural setting where natural setting using naturally occurring
the particular phenomenon actually exists. In groups to form experimental and control
other words, s/he may conduct a field groups.
experiment. For example, a researcher may
want to know which method would lead to Correlational Research
better learning among students—lecture or In psychological research, we often wish to
demonstration method. For this, a researcher determine the relationship between two
may prefer to conduct an experiment in the variables for prediction purposes. For
school. The researcher may select two groups example, you may be interested in knowing
of participants; teach one group by whether “the amount of study time” is related
demonstration method and another group by to the “student’s academic achievement”. This
the normal teaching method for sometime. S/ question is different from the one which
he may compare their performance at the end experimental method seeks to answer in the
of the learning session. In such types of sense that here you do not manipulate the
experiments, the control over relevant amount of study time and examine its impact
variables is less than what we find in on achievement. Rather, you simply find out
laboratory experiments. Also, it is more time- the relationship between the two variables to
consuming and expensive. determine whether they are associated, or
Many variables cannot be manipulated in covary or not. The strength and direction of
the laboratory settings. For example, if you the relationship between the two variables is
want to study the effect of an earthquake on represented by a number, known as
children who lost their parents, you cannot correlation coefficient. Its value can range from
create this condition artificially in the +1.0 through 0.0 to –1.0.
laboratory. In such situations, the researcher As you can see, the coef ficient of
adopts the method of quasi (the Latin word correlation is of three types: positive, negative,
meaning “as if ”) experimentation. In such and zero. A positive correlation indicates that
types of experiments, the independent variable as the value of one variable (X) increases, the
is selected rather than varied or manipulated
value of the other variable (Y) will also increase.
by the experimenter. For example, in the
Similarly when variable X decreases, a
experimental group we can have children who
decrease in Y too takes place. Suppose, it is
lost their parents in the earthquake and in found that more time the students spend on
studying, the higher was their achievement
Activity 2.2 score. Also the less they studied, the lower
was their achievement score. This type of
Identify the independent and dependent variables association will be indicated by a positive
from the given hypotheses.
1. Teachers’ classroom behaviour affects
number, and the stronger the association
students’ performance. between studying and achievement, the closer
2. Healthy parent-child relationship facilitates the number would be to +1.0. You may find a
emotional adjustment of children. correlation of +.85, indicating a strong positive
3. Increase in the level of peer pressure increases association between study time and
the level of anxiety.
achievement. On the other hand, a negative
4. Enriching the environment of young children
with special books and puzzles enhances their correlation tells us that as the value of one
performance. variable (X) increases, the value of the other
(Y) decreases. For example, you may

hypothesise that as the hours of study time panchayati raj institutions for running
increase, the number of hours spent in other programmes related to health, education,
activities will decrease. Here, you are expecting sanitation, etc. However, they have now
a negative correlation, ranging between 0 and evolved into a sophisticated technique which
–1.0. It is also possible that sometimes no helps in inferring various kinds of causal
correlation may exist between the two relationships. Box 2.2 provides an example of
variables. This is called zero correlation. a study using the survey method.
Generally, it is difficult to find zero correlation The survey research uses different
but the correlations found may be close to techniques for collecting information. Included
zero, e.g., -.02 or +.03. This indicates that no among these techniques are: personal
significant relationship exists between two interviews, questionnaires, telephonic surveys,
variables or the two variables are unrelated. and controlled observations. These techniques
are discussed here in some detail.
Survey Research
Personal Interviews
You may have read in the newspapers or seen
on the television that during elections surveys The interview method is one of the most
are conducted to find out if people would vote frequently used methods for obtaining
for a particular political party, or favour a information from people. It is used in diverse
particular candidate. Survey research came kinds of situations. It is used by a doctor to
into existence to study opinions, attitudes and obtain information from the patient, an
social facts. Their main concern initially was employer when meeting a pr ospective
to find out the existing reality or baseline. So employee, a sales person interviewing a
they were used to find out facts such as the housewife to know why she uses a certain
literacy rate at a particular time, religious brand of soap. On television, we often see
affiliations, income level of a particular group media persons interviewing people on issues
of people, etc.They were also used to find out of national and international importance.
the attitude of people towards family planning, What happens in an interview? We see that
the attitude towards giving powers to the two or more persons sit face-to-face with each

Box 2.2 Example of Survey Method

In December 2004, a survey was conducted by nor unhappy, and 7 per cent each fell in the last
“Outlook Saptahik” magazine (10 January 2005) two categories, more or less unhappy, and extremely
to know what makes the people of India happy. unhappy. The second question (Can you buy
The survey was conducted in eight big cities, happiness with money?) had three alternatives (Yes,
namely Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, No, Don’t know). About 80 per cent people expressed
Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, and Ranchi. that money can’t buy happiness. Another question
817 persons in the age group of 25-55 years tried to know “what gives them maximum
participated in the study. The questionnaire happiness?” More than 50 per cent respondents
used in the survey contained different types of reported that peace of mind (52 per cent) and health
questions. The first question (Are you happy?) (50 per cent) gave them maximum happiness. This
required respondents to give their views on a was followed by responses such as success in work
5-point scale (5=extremely happy, 4=more or less (43 per cent), and family (40 per cent). Another
happy, 3=neither happy nor unhappy, 2=more question asked was to know ‘what do they do when
or less unhappy, 1=extremely unhappy). About they feel unhappy or sad?” It was reported that 36
47 per cent people reported that they were per cent people opted for listening to music, 23 per
extremely happy, 28 per cent were more or less cent found respite in the company of friends, and
happy, 11 per cent said they were neither happy 15 per cent went for a movie.

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
other, in which one person (generally called (c) Group to Individuals : It is a situation where
interviewer) asks the questions and the other one group of interviewers interview one
person (called interviewee or respondent) person. You may experience this type of
answers the questions related to a problem. situation when you appear for a job
An interview is a purposeful activity conducted interview.
to derive factual information, opinions and (d) Group to Group : It is a situation where
attitudes, and reasons for particular one group of interviewers interview another
behaviour, etc. from the respondents. It is group of interviewees.
generally conducted face-to-face but sometimes
Interviewing is a skill which requires proper
it can also take place over the phone. training. A good interviewer knows how to make
There can be two broad types of interviews: the respondent at ease and get the optimal
structured or standardised, and answer. S/he remains sensitive to the way a
unstructured or non-standardised. This person responds and, if needed, probes for
distinction is based upon the type of more information. If the respondent gives vague
preparation we make before conducting the
answers, the interviewer may try to get specific
interview. As we have to ask questions during
and concrete answers.
the interview, it is required that we prepare a
The interview method helps in obtaining
list of questions before-hand. The list is called
in-depth information. It is flexible and
an interview schedule. A structured interview
adaptable to individual situations, and can
is one where the questions in the schedule
often be used when no other method is
are written clearly in a particular sequence.
possible or adequate. It can be used even with
The interviewer has little or no liberty to make
changes in the wordings of the questions or children, and non-literate persons. An
the order in which they are to be asked. The interviewer can know whether the respondent
responses to these questions are also, in some understands the questions, and can repeat or
cases, specified in advance. These are called paraphrase questions. However, interviews
close-ended questions. In contrast, in an require time. Often getting information from
unstructured interview the interviewer has the one person may take an hour or more which
flexibility to take decisions about the questions may not be cost-effective.
to be asked, the wording of the questions, and
the sequence in which questions are to be Questionnaire Survey
asked. Since responses are not specified in The questionnaire is the most common,
such type of interviews, the respondent can simple, versatile, and low-cost self-report
answer the questions in the way s/he chooses
method of collecting information. It consists
to. Such questions are called open-ended
of a predetermined set of questions. The
questions. For example, if the researcher
respondent has to read the questions and
wants to know about the happiness level of a
mark the answers on paper rather than
person, s/he may ask: How happy are you?
The respondent may reply to this question the respond verbally to the interviewer. They are
way s/he chooses to answer. in some ways like highly structured interviews.
An interview may have the following Questionnaires can be distributed to a group
combinations of participants in an interview of persons at a time who write down their
situation: answers to the questions and return to the
(a) Individual to Individual : It is a situation researcher or can be sent through mail.
where one interviewer interviews another Generally, two types of questions are used in
person. the questionnaire: open-ended and closed-
(b) Individual to Group : In this situation, one ended. With open-ended questions, the
interviewer interviews a group of persons. respondent is free to write whatever answer
One variant of it is called a Focus Group s/he considers appropriate. In the closed-
Discussion (FGD). ended type, the questions and their probable

answers are given and the respondent is for conducting surveys. Each method has its
required to select the correct answer. own advantages and limitations. The
Examples of closed-ended questions require researcher needs to exercise caution in
responses like: Yes/No, True/False, Multiple selecting a particular method.
choice, or using a rating scale. In case of rating The survey method has several
scale, a statement is given and the respondent advantages. First, information can be gathered
is asked to give her/his views on a 3-point quickly and efficiently from thousands of
(Agree, Undecided, Disagree), or 5-point persons. Second, since surveys can be
(Strongly Agree, Agree, Undecided, Disagree, conducted quickly, public opinions on new
Strongly Disagree) or 7-point, 9-point, 11- issues can be obtained almost as soon as the
point or 13-point scale. In some cases, the issues arise. There are some limitations of a
participants are asked to rank a number of survey too. First, people may give inaccurate
things in a preferential order. The information because of memory lapses or they
questionnaire is used for collecting may not want to let the researcher know what
background and demographic information, they really believe about a particular issue.
information about past behaviour, attitudes Second, people sometimes offer responses they
and opinions, knowledge about a particular think the researcher wants to hear.
topic, and expectations and aspirations of the
persons. Sometimes a survey is conducted by Psychological Testing
sending the questionnaire by mail. The main
problem of a mailed questionnaire is poor Assessment of individual differences has
response from the respondents. remained one of the important concerns of
psychology fr om the very beginning.
Activity 2.3 Psychologists have constructed different types
of tests for assessment of various human
An investigator wants to study people’s attitude characteristics, such as intelligence, aptitude,
towards welfare programmes by circulating a personality, interest, attitudes, values,
questionnaire via the Internet. Is this study likely educational achievement, etc. These tests are
to reflect the views of the general population used for various purposes, such as personnel
accurately? Why or why not?
selection, placement, training, guidance,
diagnosis, etc., in multiple contexts including
Telephone Survey educational institutions, guidance clinics,
industries, defence establishments, and so
Surveys are also conducted through forth. Have you ever taken a psychological
telephone, and now-a-days you must have test? If you have, you might have seen that a
seen programmes asking you to send your test contains a number of questions, called
views through mobile phones’ SMS. The items, with their probable responses, which
telephone survey helps in reducing time. ar e related to a particular human
However, since the respondents do not know characteristic or attribute. It is important here
the interviewer, the technique is fraught with that the characteristic for which a test has
uncooperativeness, reluctance, and superficial been developed, should be defined clearly and
answers by the respondents. There is also a unambiguously, and all items (questions)
possibility that those responding may differ should be related to that characteristic only.
from those not responding, e.g., on age, You might also notice that often a test is meant
gender, income levels, education levels, etc., for a particular age group. It may or may not
besides their psychological characteristics. have a fixed time limit for answering the
This will lead to very biased kinds of results. questions.
The method of observation have been Technically speaking, a psychological test
discussed earlier. This method is also used is a standardised and objective instrument

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
which is used to assess an individual’s is divided into two equal halves employing odd-
standing in relation to others on some mental even method (items 1,3,5,— in one group and
or behavioural characteristics. Two things are items 2,4,6,— in another group) and
worth noting in this definition: objectivity and correlation is computed between the scores
standardisation. Objectivity refers to the fact of odd and even items.
that if two or more researchers administer a For a test to be usable, it should also be
psychological test on the same group of people, valid. Validity refers to the question : “Does
both of them would come up with more or the test measure what it claims to measure”?
less the same values for each person in the For example, if you have constructed a test of
group. In order for a psychological test to mathematics achievement, whether the test
become an objective measure, it is essential is measuring mathematical achievement or
that items should be worded in such a manner for example, language proficiency.
that they communicate the same meaning to Finally, a test becomes a standardised test
different readers. Also, the instructions to the when norms are developed for the test. As
test takers about how to answer the test items mentioned earlier, norm is the normal or
should be specified in advance. The procedure average performance of the group. The test is
of administering the test such as administered on a large number of students.
environmental conditions, time limit, mode of Their average performance standards are set
administration (individual or group) should be based on their age, sex, place of residence,
spelt, and the procedure for scoring of the etc. This helps us in comparing the
participants’ responses need to be described. performance of an individual student with
The construction of a test is a systematic others of the same group. It also helps in
process and involves certain steps. It involves interpreting individuals’ score obtained on a
detailed analysis of items, and estimating test.
reliability, validity, and norms of the whole
test. Types of Tests
Reliability of the test refers to the
consistency of scores obtained by an individual Psychological tests are classified on the basis
on the same test on two different occasions. of their language, mode of administration, and
For example, you administer the test to a difficulty level. Depending upon the language,
group of students today and re-administer it we have verbal, non-verbal, and performance
on the same set of students after some time, tests. Literacy is required for taking verbal
let us say 20 days. If the test is reliable, there tests as the items have to be written in some
should not be any variation in the scores language. In non-verbal tests, items are made
obtained by the students on the two occasions. of symbols or pictures. Performance tests
For this, we can compute test-retest require movement of objects from their
reliability, which indicates the temporal respective places in a particular order.
stability (or stability of the test scores over Depending upon the mode of
time). It is computed by finding out co-efficient administration, psychological tests are divided
of correlation between the two sets of scores into individual or group tests. An individual
on the same set of persons. Another kind of test is administered by the researcher to one
test reliability is called split-half reliability. It person at a time, while group tests can be
gives an indication about the degree of internal administered to large number of persons at
consistency of the test. This is based on the the same time. In individual tests, the
assumption that items of a test if they are from researcher administers the test face to face
the same domain should correlate with each and remains seated before the test taker and
other. If they are from different domains, e.g., notes down the responses. In the group test,
are apples and oranges, then they would not. the instructions about answering the items,
For finding out internal consistency, the test etc., are written on the test, which the test

taker reads and answers the questions with infor mation about a person’s
accordingly. The test administrator explains background, interests, and past performance.
the instructions to the entire group. Individual
tests are time consuming, but are important Case Study
ways of getting responses from children, and
In this method, the emphasis is given on in-
from those who do not know the language.
depth study of a particular case. Researchers
Group tests are easy to administer and are
focus on cases which can provide critical
also less time consuming. However, the
responses are fraught with certain limitations. infor mation or new lear ning on less
The respondent may not be motivated enough understood phenomena. The case can be an
to answer the questions and may give fake individual with distinguishing characteristics
responses. (for example, a patient showing psychological
Psychological tests are also classified into disorders) or a small group of individuals
speed and power tests. In a speed test, there having some commonality among them (for
is a time limit within which the test taker is example, creative writers like Rabindra Nath
required to answer all the items. Such a test Tagore, and Mahadevi Verma), institutions (for
evaluates the individual on the basis of time example, poorly or successfully functioning
taken to answer the items accurately. In a school or a corporate office), and specific
speed test, all the items are of the same degree events (for example, children exposed to
of difficulty. On the other hand, power test devastation by tsunami, war or vehicular
assesses the underlying ability (or power) of pollution, etc.). The cases that we select for
the individuals by allowing them sufficient study are unique and, therefore, are rich in
time, i.e. these tests do not have any time limit. information. A case study employs multiple
In a power test, the items are generally methods for collecting information, such as
arranged in an increasing order of difficulty. interview, observation, and psychological tests
If a person, for example, is unable to solve the from a variety of respondents who in some
6th item, s/he will have difficulty in answering way or the other might be associated with the
the subsequent items. It is, however, difficult case and can provide useful information. With
to construct a pure speed or power test. the help of case studies, psychologists have
Majority of the tests are a combination of both done research to understand feelings,
speed and power. fantasies, hopes, fears, traumatic experiences,
While tests are often used in research and parental upbringing and so on, that helps to
for making decisions about people, tests must understand a person’s mind and behaviour.
be selected and used with great care. The test Case studies provide a narrative or detailed
user or the decision maker should not rely on descriptions of the events that take place in a
any single test. Test data should be combined person’s life.
A case study is a valuable research tool in
Activity 2.4 the field of clinical psychology and human
development. Freud’s insights that led to the
Take a test with its manual and read it carefully, development of psychoanalytic theory emerged
and identify the following : from his observations and showed that
• Number and type of items
• Information about reliability, validity, and
meticulous records must be maintained on
norms individual cases. Similarly, Piaget developed
• Type of test: verbal or otherwise, individual his theory of cognitive development on the
or groups basis of observations of his three children.
• Type of test: Speed, power, or mixed Case studies have been conducted to
• Any other characteristics understand the pattern of socialisation of
Discuss these with other students and the
children. For example, Minturn and Hitchcock
conducted a case study of socialisation of

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
children among Rajputs of Khalapur. data. We generally use two methodological
S. Anandalakshmy studied aspects of approaches for the analysis of data. These are:
childhood in a weavers’ community in Varanasi. quantitative and qualitative methods. In this
Case studies provide detailed in-depth section, we will briefly discuss these
depictions of people’s lives. However, while approaches.
generalising on the basis of individual cases
one needs to be very cautious. The problem of
Quantitative Method
validity in a single case study is quite
challenging. It is recommended that the As you may have gathered by now,
information should be collected using multiple psychological tests, questionnaires, structured
strategies from different sources of information interviews, etc. contain a series of close-ended
by a number of investigators. Careful planning questions. That is, the questions and their
of data collection is also very necessary. probable responses are given in these
Throughout the process of data collection the measures. Generally, these responses are
researcher is required to maintain a chain of given in scaled forms. That is, they indicate
evidence for linking various data sources the strength and magnitude of the response.
having bearing on the research questions. For example, they may vary from 1 (low) to 5,
As you have read, each method has its own 7 or 11 (high). The participants’ task is to select
limitations and advantages. Therefore, it is the most appropriate response. Sometimes
desirable that the researcher should not there are right and wrong responses. A
depend upon only one method. A combination researcher assigns a number to each answer
of two or more methods should be used to get (normally “1” for right answers, and “0” for
the real picture. If the methods converge, i.e. wrong answers). At the end, the researcher
they give the same results, one can certainly calculates the total of all these numbers and
be more confident. arrives at an aggregate score, which tells about
the participants’ level on that particular
Activity 2.5 attribute (for example, intelligence, academic
intelligence, etc.). In doing so, the researcher
Identify the most appropriate method of enquiry converts the psychological attributes into a
for the following research problems. quantity (usually numbers).
• Does noise influence the problem solving For the purpose of drawing conclusions,
ability of the people? a researcher may compare individual’s score
• Should there be a dress code for college with that of the group, or compare the scores
• Studying the attitude of students, teachers,
of two groups. This requires use of certain
and parents towards homework. statistical methods about which you will study
• Studying the behaviour of a student in a later. You have already read in mathematics
playgroup and in a classroom. in Class X about the methods of central
• Tracing the major life events of your favourite tendency (mean, median, and mode), methods
leader. of variability (range, quartile deviation,
• Assessing the anxiety level of Class XI
students of your school.
standard deviation), co-efficients of
correlation, and so forth. These and some
other advanced statistical methods enable a
researcher to make inferences and to give
ANALYSIS OF DATA meaning to the data.

In the earlier section, we discussed different

Qualitative Method
methods for collecting information. After data
are collected, the next job of the researcher is Human experiences are very complex. This
to draw conclusions. This requires analysis of complexity is lost when one elicits information

from a respondent on the basis of a question. decide a point as zero point and proceed
If you want to know how a mother feels about further. As a result, whatever scores we
the loss of her child, you will need to hear her get in psychological studies, are not
story to understand how her experience is absolute in nature; rather, they have
organised and what meaning she has given to relative value.
her suffering. Any attempt at its quantification In some of the studies ranks are used
will not enable you to get at the principles of as scores. For example, on the basis of
organising such experiences. Psychologists marks obtained in some test, the teacher
have developed various qualitative methods arranges the students in an order — 1, 2,
to analyse such data. One of them is Narrative 3, 4, … , and so on. The problem in such
Analysis. Also data are not always available type of assessment is that the difference
in the form of scores. When the researcher between first and second rank holders may
uses the method of participant observation or not be the same as is the difference
unstructured interview, the data are generally between the second and third rank
in a descriptive form—in participants’ own holders. Out of 50, the first rank holder
words, field notes taken by the researchers, might score 48, the second 47, and the
photographs, interview responses noted by the third 40. As you can see, the difference
researcher or taped/video-recorded, informal between the first and the second rank
talks, etc. These type of data cannot be holders is not the same as is the case
converted into scores or subjected to statistical between second and third rank holders.
analysis. Rather, the researcher uses the This also illustrates the relative nature of
technique of content analysis to find out the psychological measurement.
thematic categories and build those categories 2. Relative Nature of Psychological Tools :
taking examples from the data. It is more Psychological tests are developed keeping
descriptive in nature. in view the salient features of a particular
It must be understood that quantitative context. For example, a test developed for
and qualitative methods are not contradictory; urban students may contain items that
rather, they are complementary to each other. demand familiarity with the stimuli
In order to understand a phenomenon in its available in the urban setting—
totality, a suitable combination of both multistoried buildings, airplanes, metro
methods is warranted. railway, etc. Such a test is not suitable for
use with children living in tribal areas who
LIMITATIONS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ENQUIRY would be more at ease with items that
describe their flora and fauna. Similarly,
The advantages and limitations of each a test developed in the Western countries
method have been discussed earlier. In this may or may not be applicable in the Indian
section, you will read some general problems context. Such tests need to be properly
faced by psychological measurement. modified and adapted keeping in view the
characteristics of the context in which they
1. Lack of T rue Zero Point : In physical
are to be used.
sciences measurements do start from zero.
For example, if you want to measure the 3. Subjective Interpretation of Qualitative
length of the table, you can measure it Data : Data from qualitative studies are
starting from zero and can say it is 3' long. largely subjective since they involve
Psychological measurements do not have interpretation on the part of the researcher
a true zero point. For example, no person as well as the person providing data. The
in this world has zero intelligence. All of interpretations may vary from one
us have some degree of intelligence. What individual to the other. It is, therefore,
psychologists do is that they arbitrarily often suggested that in case of qualitative

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
studies, the field work should be done by shared with others. In some studies, the
more than one investigator, who at the end technique of deception is used in which
of the day should discuss their the participants are given instructions to
observations and arrive at an agreement think or imagine in certain ways and are
before finally giving it a meaning. In fact, given false information or feedback about
one is better off, if the respondents too their performance (for example, you are
are involved in such meaning-making very intelligent, you are incompetent). It
process. is, therefore, important that the
participants are explained the nature of
the study before its actual
As you know, psychological research is 3. Debriefing : Once the study is over, the
concerned with human behaviour, the participants are provided with necessary
researcher is expected to follow certain ethics information to complete their
(or moral principles) while conducting the understanding of research. This is
studies. These principles are: respect for particularly important if deception has
persons’ privacy and choice to participate been used in the study. Debriefing ensures
in the study, beneficence or protecting the that participants leave the study in the
participants in the study from any harm, same physical and mental state as when
and justice or sharing the benefits of they entered. It should offer reassurance
research with all participants. Some of the to the participants. The researcher should
important aspects of these ethical principles make efforts to remove any anxiety or other
are described as follows. adverse effects that participants may have
1. Voluntary Participation : This principle felt as a result of being deceived in the
states that the persons on whom you want course of the study.
to conduct the study should have the 4. Sharing the Results of the Study : In
choice to decide whether to participate or psychological research, after collecting
not to participate in the study. The information from the participants, we come
participants should have the freedom to back to our places of work, analyse the
decide about their participation without data and draw conclusions. It is obligatory
any coercion or excessive inducement, and for the researcher to go back to the
the freedom to withdraw from the research participants and share the results of the
without penalty, once it has begun. study with them. When you go for data
2. Informed Consent : It is essential that the collection, the participants develop certain
participants in a study should understand expectations from you. One of the
what will happen to them during the expectations is that you will tell them
study. The principle of informed consent about their behaviour that you have
states that potential participants must investigated in the study. As a researcher,
receive this information before data from it is our moral duty to go back to the
them are collected, so that they make an participants. This exercise has two
informed decision about participation in advantages. One, you fulfil the
the study. In some of the psychological expectations of the participants. Second,
experiments, electric shock is given to the the participants may tell you their opinion
participants during the experiment. Still about the results, which sometimes may
in some cases obnoxious (e.g., harmful or help you develop new insights.
unpleasant) stimuli are presented. They 5. Confidentiality of Data Source : The
may at times be required to give some participants in a study have the right to
private information, which is generally not privacy. The researcher must safeguard

their privacy by keeping the information
provided by them in strict confidence. The Key Terms
information should only be used for
research purposes and, in no Case study, Confidentiality, Control group,
circumstances, it should be passed on to Correlational research, Data, Debriefing,
other interested parties. The most effective Dependent variable, Experimental group,
Experimental method, Group test, Hypothesis,
way of protecting the confidentiality of Independent variable, Individual test,
participants is not to record their identities. Interview, Negative correlation, Norms,
This is, however, not possible in certain Objectivity, Observation, Performance tests,
kinds of research. In such cases, code Positive correlation, Power test, Psychological
test, Qualitative method, Quantitative method,
numbers are given on the data sheet, and
Questionnaire, Reliability, Speed test,
the names with the codes are kept Structured interview, Survey, Unstructured
separately. The identification list should be interview, Validity, Variable
destroyed as soon as the research is over.

• A psychological research is conducted for the purpose of description, prediction, explanation,
control of behaviour, and application of knowledge generated in an objective manner. It
involves the following four steps: conceptualising a problem, collection of data, analysing
data, drawing and revising research conclusions. The psychological research is also
conducted to discover and understand the subjective meanings of events as they occur in a
particular context, and also reflect upon one’s own behaviour and experiences.
• In psychological studies, different types of data including demographic, environmental,
physical, physiological, and psychological information are collected. However, the data in
psychological studies remain located in a context and are tied to the theory and method
used for its collection.
• Different methods are used for collecting information. The observation method is used for
describing the behaviour. It is characterised by selection of a particular behaviour, its recording
and analysis. Observation can be done in a naturalistic or controlled laboratory conditions.
It can take the form of a participant or non-participant observation.
• The experimental method helps in establishing cause-effect relationship. The effect of the
presence of independent variable on the dependent variable is studied using experimental
and control groups.
• The purpose of correlational research is investigating association between variables as well
as making predictions. The relationship between two variables can be positive, zero or
negative, and strength of association varies from +1.0 through 0.0 to –1.0.
• The focus of survey research is to inform about the existing reality. Surveys can be conducted
by using structured and unstructured interviews, mailed questionnaires, and telephone.
• The psychological tests are standardised and objective instruments which help in knowing
one’s standing in comparison to others. Tests can be verbal, non-verbal, and performance
types, which can be administered individually or to the entire group at a time.
• The method of case study gives detailed in-depth information about a particular case.
• The data collected through the use of these methods are analysed through quantitative and
qualitative methods. The quantitative methods allow the use of statistical procedure for
drawing conclusions. Narrative method and method of content analysis are some methods
that are used in case of qualitative research.
• Lack of absolute zero point, relative nature of psychological tools, and subjective interpretation
of qualitative data are some of the limitations of psychological enquiry. Ethical principles of
voluntary participation of the subjects, their informed consent, and sharing of results with
the participants must be followed by a researcher.

Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
Review Questions
1. What are the goals of scientific enquiry?
2. Describe the various steps involved in conducting a scientific enquiry.
3. Explain the nature of psychological data.
4. How do experimental and control groups differ? Explain with the help of an example.
5. A researcher is studying the relationship between speed of cycling and the presence of
people. Formulate a relevant hypothesis and identify the independent and dependent
6. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of experimental method as a method of enquiry.
7. Dr. Krishnan is going to observe and record children’s play behaviour at a nursery school
without attempting to influence or control the behaviour. Which method of research is
involved? Explain the process and discuss its merits and demerits.
8. Give two examples of the situations where survey method can be used. What are the
limitations of this method?
9. Differentiate between an interview and a questionnaire.
10. Explain the characteristics of a standardised test.
11. Describe the limitations of psychological enquiry.
12. What are the ethical guidelines that a psychologist needs to follow while conducting a
psychological enquiry?

Project Ideas
1. Conduct a survey of the after-school activities of Class V and Class IX students taking a
sample of 10 students in each. Find information about the time devoted by them in
various activities, such as studying, playing, television viewing, hobbies, etc. Do you find
any difference? What conclusions do you draw and what suggestions would you offer?
2. Conduct a study in your group to see the effect of recitation on learning of poetry. Take 10
six-year olds and divide them into two groups. Give group 1 a new poem to learn and
instruct them to read it loudly for 15 minutes. Take group 2 and give them the same new
poem to learn but instruct them not to read it loudly. After 15 minutes ask the two groups
to recall. Care needs to be taken to see that both the groups are dealt with separately.
After the recall has taken place, note down the observation.
Identify what method of research you used, the hypothesis, the variables and the
kind of experimental design that were there. Compare notes with the other groups and
share the result with your teacher in the class.

The Bases of Human
3 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• understand the evolutionary nature of human behaviour,
• relate the functions of nervous system and endocrine system to behaviour,
• explain the role of genetic factors in determining behaviour,
• understand the role of culture in shaping human behaviour,
• describe the processes of enculturation, socialisation, and acculturation,
• relate biological and socio-cultural factors in understanding human

Evolutionary Perspective
Biological and Cultural Roots
Biological Basis of Behaviour
Structure and Functions of Nervous System and
Endocrine System and their Relationship with
Behaviour and Experience
The Nervous System
The Endocrine System
Heredity: Genes and Behaviour
Cultural Basis : Socio-Cultural Shaping of Behaviour
Concept of Culture
Biological and Cultural Transmission (Box 3.1)
There are one hundred and Socialisation
ninety-three species of monkeys Acculturation
and apes. One-hundred and
ninety-two of them are covered with Key Terms
hair. The exception is the naked Summary
ape self-named, homo-sapiens. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– Desmond Morris
Human beings, the homo sapiens, are the most developed organisms among all
creatures on this earth. Their ability to walk upright, larger brain size relative to
body weight, and the proportion of specialised brain tissues make them distinct
from other species. These features have evolved through millions of years and have
enabled them to engage in several complex behaviours. Scientists have attempted
to study the relationship of complex human behaviour with the processes of the
nervous system, particularly of the brain. They have tried to discover the neural
basis of thoughts, feelings, and actions. By understanding the biological aspects of
human beings, you will be able to appreciate how brain, environment and behaviour
interact to generate unique forms of behaviour. In this chapter, we begin with a
general description of the nervous system in an evolutionary perspective. You will
also study the structure and functions of the nervous system. You will learn about
the endocrine system, and its influence on human behaviour. Later in this chapter,
you will also study the notion of culture and show its relevance to the understanding
of behaviour. This will be followed by an analysis of the processes of enculturation,
socialisation, and acculturation.

Evolution occurs through the process of

natural selection. You know that members of
You must have observed that people differ each species vary greatly in their physical
with respect to their physical and structure and behaviour. The traits or
psychological characteristics. The uniqueness characteristics that are associated with high
of individuals results from the interaction of rate of survival and reproduction of those
their genetic endowments and environmental species are the most likely ones to be passed
on to the next generations. When repeated
generation after generation, natural selection
In this world, there are millions of different
leads to the evolution of new species that are
species of organisms differing in a variety of
more effectively adapted to their particular
ways. Biologists believe that these species were
environment. This is very similar to the
not always like this; they have evolved to their selective breeding of horses or other animals
present form from their pre-existing forms. It these days. Breeders select the fittest and the
is estimated that the characteristics of modern fastest male and female horses from their
human beings developed some 2,00,000 years stock, and promote them for selective breeding
ago as a result of their continuous interaction so that they can get the fittest horses. Fitness
with the environment. is the ability of an organism to survive and
Evolution refers to gradual and orderly contribute its genes to the next generation.
biological changes that result in a species from Three important features of modern
their pre-existing forms in response to the human beings differentiate them from their
changing adaptational demands of their ancestors: (i) a bigger and developed brain with
environment. Physiological as well as increased capacity for cognitive behaviours
behavioural changes that occur due to the like perception, memory, reasoning, problem
evolution process are so slow that they become solving, and use of language for
visible after hundreds of generations. communication, (ii) ability to walk upright on

two legs, and (iii) a free hand with a workable or placing different demands on our lives.
opposing thumb. These features have been Such experiences, opportunities and demands
with us for several thousand years. also influence our behaviour considerably.
Our behaviours are highly complex and These influences become more potent and
more developed than those of other species visible as we move from infancy to later years
because we have got a large and highly of life. Thus, besides biological bases, there
developed brain. Human brain development is are cultural bases of behaviour also. You will
evidenced by two facts. Firstly, the weight of learn about the role of culture in behaviour at
the brain is about 2.35 per cent of the total a later point in this chapter.
body weight, and it is the highest among all
species (in elephant it is 0.2 per cent). Secondly,
the human cerebrum is more evolved than
other parts of the brain.
These evolutions have resulted due to the Neurons
influence of environmental demands. Some Neuron is the basic unit of our nervous
behaviours play an obvious role in evolution. system. Neurons are specialised cells, which
For example, the ability to find food, avoid possess the unique property of converting
predators, and defend one’s young are the various for ms of stimuli into electrical
objectives related to the survival of the impulses. They are also specialised for
organisms as well as their species. The reception, conduction and transmission of
biological and behavioural qualities, which are information in the form of electrochemical
helpful in meeting these objectives, increase signals. They receive information from sense
an organism’s ability to pass it on to the future organs or from other adjacent neurons, carry
generation through its genes. The them to the central nervous system (brain and
environmental demands lead to biological and spinal cord), and bring motor information from
behavioural changes over a long period of time. the central nervous system to the motor organs
(muscles and glands).
BIOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL ROOTS Nearly 12 billion neurons are found in the
human nervous system. They are of many
An important determinant of our behaviour types and vary considerably in shape, size,
is the biological structures that we have chemical composition, and function. Despite
inherited from our ancestors in the form of these differences, they share in common three
developed body and brain. The importance of fundamental components, i.e. soma,
such biological bases becomes obvious when dendrites, and axon.
we observe cases in which brain cells have The soma or cell body is the main body of
been destroyed by any disease, use of drug or the nerve cell. It contains the nucleus of the
an accident. Such cases develop various kinds cell as well as other structures common to living
of physical and behavioural disabilities. Many cells of all types (Figure 3.1). The genetic
children develop mental retardation and other material of the neuron is stored inside the
abnormal symptoms due to transmission of a nucleus and it becomes actively engaged during
faulty gene from the parents. cell reproduction and protein synthesis. The
As human beings, we not only share a soma also contains most of the cytoplasm (cell-
biological system, but also certain cultural fluid) of the neuron. Dendrites are the branch-
systems. These systems are quite varied across like specialised structures emanating from the
human populations. All of us negotiate our soma. They are the receiving ends of a neuron.
lives with the culture in which we are born Their function is to receive the incoming neural
and brought up. Culture provides us with impulses from adjacent neurons or directly
different experiences and opportunities of from the sense organs. On dendrites are found
learning by putting us in a variety of situations specialised receptors, which become active

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
when a signal arrives in electrochemical or energy comes into contact with receptors,
biochemical form. The received signals are electrical changes in the nerve potential start.
passed on to soma and then to axon so that Nerve potential is a sudden change in the
the information is relayed to another neuron electrical potential of the surface of a neuron.
or to muscles. The axon conducts the When the stimulus energy is relatively weak,
information along its length, which can be the electrical changes are so small that the
several feet in the spinal cord and less than a nerve impulse is not generated, and we do not
millimeter in the brain. At the terminal point feel that stimulus. If the stimulus energy is
the axon branches into small structures, called relatively strong, electrical impulses are
terminal buttons. These buttons have the generated and conducted towards the central
capability for transmitting information to nervous system. The strength of the nerve
another neuron, gland and muscle. Neurons impulse, however, does not depend on the
generally conduct information in one direction, strength of the stimulus that started the
that is, from the dendrites through soma and impulse. The nerve fibers work according to
axon to the terminal buttons. the “all or none principle”, which means that
The conduction of information from one they either respond completely or do not
place to another in the nervous system is done respond at all. The strength of the nerve
through nerves, which are bundles of axons. impulse remains constant along the nerve
Nerves are mainly of two types: sensory and fiber.
motor. Sensory nerves, also called afferent
nerves, carry information from sense organs Synapse
to central nervous system. On the other hand,
Information is transmitted from one place to
motor nerves, also called efferent nerves, carry
another within the nervous system in the form
information from central nervous system to
of a neural impulse. A single neuron can carry
muscles or glands. A motor nerve conducts
a neural impulse up to a distance covered by
neural commands which direct, control, and
the length of its axon. When the impulse is to
regulates our movements and other responses.
be conducted to a distant part of the body, a
There are some mixed nerves also, but sensory
number of neurons participate in the process.
and motor fibers in these nerves are separate.
In this process, one neuron faithfully relays
the information to a neighboring neuron. The
Nerve Impulse
axon tip of a preceding neuron make
Information travels within the nervous system functional connections or synapse with
in the form of a nerve impulse. When stimulus dendrites of the other neuron. A neuron is
Dendrites (receiving end) buttons


Soma Myelin sheath

Axon Nodes of ranvier


Fig.3.1 : The Structure of Neuron

never physically connected with another functions. Based on location, the nervous
neuron; rather there is a small gap between system can be divided into two parts: Central
the two. This gap is known as synaptic cleft. Nervous System (CNS) and Peripheral Nervous
The neural impulse from one neuron is System (PNS). The part of the nervous system
transmitted by a complex synaptic found inside the hard bony cases (cranium
transmission process to another neuron. The and backbone) is classified as CNS. Brain and
conduction of neural impulse in the axon is spinal cord are the organs of this system. The
electrochemical, while the nature of synaptic parts of the nervous system other than central
transmission is chemical (Figure 3.2). The nervous system are placed in the PNS. PNS
chemical substances are known as can be further classified into Somatic and
neurotransmitters. Autonomic nervous system. Somatic nervous
system is concerned with voluntary actions,
while the autonomic nervous system performs
functions on which we have no voluntary
control. The organisation of the nervous system
is schematically presented in Figure 3.3.

button Nervous System

vesicles Dendrite Peripheral Nervous
Central Nervous System (PNS)
System (CNS) (Neural Tissue outside
Brain and Spinal Cord)

Spinal Cord
Synaptic cleft (Ascending Pathways,
(Hindbrain, Midbrain,
Interneurons, and
and Forebrain)
Descending Pathway)
Fig.3.2 : Transmission of Nerve Impulse through
Synapse Somatic Nervous Autonomic Nervous
System (SNS) System (ANS)
(Sensory and Motor (Internal System,
STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS OF NERVOUS Nerves, Voluntary) Involuntary)


Division Division
EXPERIENCE (Trouble Shooter) (Housekeeping)

Since our biological structures play an

important role in organisation and execution
of behaviour, we shall look at these structures Endocrine System
in some detail. In particular, you will read
about the nervous system and the endocrine
system, which work together in giving a shape Fig.3.3 : Schematic Representation of the Nervous
to human behaviour and experience.

The Nervous System The Peripheral Nervous System

Human nervous system is the most complex The PNS is composed of all the neurons and
and most developed of all living creatures. nerve fibers that connect the CNS to the rest
Though the nervous system functions as a of the body. The PNS is divided into Somatic
whole, for the ease of study, we can divide it Nervous System and Autonomic Nervous
into many parts depending on its location or System. The autonomic nervous system is

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
further divided into Sympathetic and There are thirty one sets of spinal nerves
Parasympathetic systems. The PNS provides coming out of or reaching to the spinal cord.
information to the CNS from sensory receptors Each set has sensory and motor nerves. Spinal
(eyes, ears, skin, etc.) and relays back motor nerves have two functions. The sensory fibers
commands from the brain to the muscles and of the spinal nerves collect sensory information
glands. from all over the body (except the head region)
and send them to the spinal cord from where
The Somatic Nervous System they are then carried out to the brain. In
addition, motor impulses coming down from
This system consists of two types of nerves,
the brain are sent to the muscles by the motor
called cranial nerves and spinal nerves. There
fibers of the spinal nerves.
are twelve sets of cranial nerves which either
emanate from or reach different locations of
The Autonomic Nervous System
the brain. There are three types of cranial
nerves - sensory, motor, and mixed. Sensory This system governs activities which are
nerves collect sensory information from normally not under direct control of
receptors of the head region (vision, audition, individuals. It controls such internal functions
smell, taste, touch, etc.) and carry them to as breathing, blood circulation, salivation,
the brain. The motor nerves carry motor stomach contraction, and emotional reactions
impulses originating from the brain to muscles (Figure 3.4). These activities of the autonomic
of the head region. For example, movements system are under the control of different
of the eyeballs are controlled by motor cranial structures of the brain.
nerves. Mixed nerves have both sensory and The Autonomic Nervous System has two
motor fibers, which conduct sensory and divisions: Sympathetic division and
motor information to and from the brain. Parasympathetic division. Although the effect

Parasympathetic Sympathetic
Stimulates tear glands
Constricts pupil Dilates pupil

Inhibits tear gland Inhibits salivation

Increases salivation Increases sweating

Accelerates heart
Slows heart
Dilates bronchi
Constricts bronchi
Decreases digestive
functions of stomach
Increases digestive
Secretes adrenaline
functions of stomach

Chain of Decreases digestive

Increases digestive
sympathetic functions of intestine
functions of intestine
Spinal ganglia
Inhibits bladder
Contracts bladder

Fig.3.4 : The Functions of the Autonomic Nervous System

of one division is opposite to the effect of the Brain scanning reveals that while some mental
other, both work together to maintain a state functions are distributed among different
of equilibrium. The sympathetic division deals areas of the brain, many activities are localised
with emergencies when the action must be also. For example, the occipital lobe of the
quick and powerful, such as in situations of brain is a specialised area for vision.
fight or flight. During this period, the digestion
stops, blood flows from internal organs to the Activity 3.1
muscles, and breathing rate, oxygen supply,
heart rate, and blood sugar level increases. Ask some students to make small slips of paper
The Parasympathetic division is mainly and write names of the parts of the nervous
concerned with conservation of energy. It system on them. Put the slips together in a bowl
monitors the routine functions of the internal and ask the students from the class to pick one
slip each. Give them a few minutes and ask them
system of the body. When the emergency is to learn the location and function of the part
over, the parasympathetic division takes over; mentioned in the slip. Each student is to then come
it decelerates the sympathetic activation and forward and introduce him/herself as that part
calms down the individual to a normal and explain the location and functions of that
condition. As a result all body functions like part.
heart beat, breathing, and blood flow return
to their normal levels.
Structure of the Brain
The Central Nervous System For the convenience of study, the brain can
The central nervous system (CNS) is the centre be divided into three parts: Hindbrain,
of all neural activity. It integrates all incoming Midbrain and Forebrain (Figure 3.5).
sensory information, performs all kinds of
cognitive activities, and issues motor
commands to muscles and glands. The CNS Cerebrum Thalamus
comprises (a) brain and (b) spinal cord. You (cerebral cortex)
will now read about the functions of the major Hypothalamus
parts of the brain and for what behaviours is Pineal gland
each part responsible.
The Brain and Behaviour Pons
It is believed that the human brain has evolved Medulla
over millions of years from the brains of lower oblongata
animals, and this evolutionary process still
continues. We can examine the levels of
structures in the brain, from its earliest to the Cerebellum
Pituitary gland
most recent form in the process of evolution.
Spinal cord
The limbic system, brain stem and cerebellum
are the oldest structures, while Cerebral
Cortex is the latest development in the course Fig.3.5 : Structure of the Brain
of evolution. An adult brain weighs about Hindbrain
1.36 kg and contains around 100 billion
This part of the brain consists of the following
neurons. However, the most amazing thing
about the brain is not its number of neurons
but its ability to guide human behaviour and Medulla Oblongata : It is the lowest part of the
thought. The brain is organised into structures brain that exists in continuation of the spinal
and regions that perform specific functions. cord. It contains neural centres, which

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
regulate basic life supporting activities like a vital role in our behaviour. It regulates
breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. This physiological processes involved in emotional
is why medulla is known as the vital centre of and motivational behaviour, such as eating,
the brain. It has some centres of autonomic drinking, sleeping, temperature regulation,
activities also. and sexual arousal. It also regulates and
controls the internal environment of the body
Pons : It is connected with medulla on one
(e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, temperature)
side and with the midbrain on the other. A
and regulates the secretion of hormones from
nucleus (neural centre) of pons receives
various endocrine glands.
auditory signals relayed by our ears. It is
believed that pons is involved in sleep Thalamus : It consists of an egg-shaped cluster
mechanism, particularly the sleep of neurons situated on the ventral (upper) side
characterised by dreaming. It contains nuclei of the hypothalamus. It is like a relay station
affecting respiratory movement and facial that receives all incoming sensory signals from
expressions also. sense organs and sends them to appropriate
parts of the cortex for processing. It also
Cerebellum : This highly developed part of the
receives all outgoing motor signals coming
hindbrain can be easily recognised by its
from the cortex and sends them to appropriate
wrinkled surface. It maintains and controls
parts of the body.
posture and equilibrium of the body. Its main
function is coordination of muscular The Limbic System : This system is composed
movements. Though the motor commands of a group of structures that form part of the
originate in the forebrain, the cerebellum old mammalian brain. It helps in maintaining
receives and coordinates them to relay to the internal homeostasis by regulating body
muscles. It also stores the memory of movement temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar
patterns so that we do not have to concentrate level. It has close links with the hypothalamus.
on how to walk, dance, or ride a bicycle. Besides hypothalamus, the limbic system
comprises the Hippocampus and Amygdala.
Midbrain The hippocampus plays an important role in
long-term memory. The amygdala plays an
The midbrain is relatively small in size and it
important role in emotional behaviour.
connects the hindbrain with the forebrain. A
few neural centres related to some special The Cerebrum : Also known as Cerebral
reflexes and visual and auditory sensations Cortex, this part regulates all higher levels of
are found here. An important part of midbrain, cognitive functions, such as attention,
known as Reticular Activating System (RAS), perception, learning, memory, language
is responsible for our arousal. It makes us behaviour, reasoning, and problem solving.
alert and active by regulating sensory inputs. The cerebrum makes two-third of the total
It also helps us in selecting information from mass of the human brain. Its thickness varies
the environment. from 1.5 mm to 4 mm, which covers the entire
surface of the brain and contains neurons,
Forebrain neural nets, and bundles of axons. All these
It is considered to be the most important part make it possible for us to perform organised
of the brain because it performs all cognitive, actions and create images, symbols,
emotional, and motor activities. We will associations, and memories.
The cerebrum is divided into two
discuss four major parts of the forebrain:
symmetrical halves, called the Cerebral
hypothalamus, thalamus, limbic system, and
Hemispheres. Although the two hemispheres
appear identical, functionally one hemisphere
Hypothalamus : The hypothalamus is one of usually dominates the other. For example, the
the smallest structures in the brain, but plays left hemisphere usually controls language

behaviour. The right hemisphere is usually inside the spine. Its one end is connected with
specialised to deal with images, spatial the medulla of the brain and another is free
relationships, and pattern recognition. These at the tail end. Its structure all along its length
two hemispheres are connected by a white is similar. The butterfly shaped mass of grey
bundle of myelinated fibers, called Corpus matter present in the centre of the spinal cord
Callosum that carries messages back and forth contains association neurons and other cells.
between the hemispheres. Surrounding the grey matter is the white
Cerebral cortex has also been divided into matter of the spinal cord, which is composed
four lobes - Frontal lobe, Parietal lobe, of the ascending and descending neural tracts.
Temporal lobe, and Occipital lobe. The Frontal These tracts (collections of nerve fibers)
lobe is mainly concerned with cognitive connect the brain with the rest of the body.
functions, such as attention, thinking, The spinal cord plays the role of a huge cable,
memory, learning, and reasoning, but it also which exchanges innumerable messages with
exerts inhibitory effects on autonomic and the CNS. There are two main functions of the
emotional responses. The Parietal lobe is spinal cord. Firstly, it carries sensory impulses
mainly concerned with cutaneous sensations coming from the lower parts of the body to
and their coordination with visual and auditory the brain; and motor impulses originating from
sensations. The Temporal lobe is primarily the brain to all over the body. Secondly, it
concerned with the processing of auditory performs some simple reflexes that do not
information. Memory for symbolic sounds and involve the brain. Simple reflexes involve a
words resides here. Understanding of speech sensory nerve, a motor nerve, and the
and written language depends on this lobe. The association neurons of the grey matter of the
Occipital lobe is mainly concerned with visual spinal cord.
information. It is believed that interpretation
of visual impulses, memory for visual stimuli Reflex Action
and colour visual orientation is performed by
this lobe. A reflex is an involuntary action that occurs
Physiologists and psychologists have tried very quickly after its specific kind of
to identify specific functions associated with stimulation. The reflex action takes place
specific brain structures. They have found that automatically without conscious decision of
no activity of the brain is performed only by a the brain. Reflex actions are inherited in our
single part of the cortex. Normally, other parts nervous system through evolutionary
are involved, but it is also correct that there is processes, for example, the eye-blinking reflex.
some localisation of functions, i.e. for a Whenever any object suddenly comes near our
particular function, a particular part of the eyes, our eyelids blink. Reflexes serve to
cortex plays a more important role than the protect the organism from potential threats
other parts. For example, if you are driving a and preserve life. Though several reflex actions
car, you see the road and other vehicles by are performed by our nervous system, the
the function of your occipital lobe, hear the familiar reflexes are the knee jerk, pupil
horns by the function of your temporal lobe, constriction, pulling away from very hot or cold
do many motor activities controlled by parietal objects, breathing and stretching. Most reflex
lobe, and make decisions by the help of frontal actions are carried out by the spinal cord and
lobe. The whole brain acts as a well do not involve the brain.
coordinated unit in which different parts
contribute their functions separately. The Endocrine System
The endocrine glands play a crucial role in
Spinal Cord our development and behaviour. They secrete
The spinal cord is a long rope-like collection specific chemical substances, called
of nerve fibers, which run along the full length hor mones, which control some of our

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
behaviours. These glands are called ductless Some hormones are secreted at a steady
glands or endocrine glands, because they do rate throughout life, while others are secreted
not have any duct (unlike other glands) to send at an appropriate time in life. For example,
their secretions to specific places. Hormones the growth hormone is released steadily
are circulated by the bloodstream. The through childhood, with some spurt during
endocrine glands form the endocrine system adolescence, but gonadotropic hormones are
of the body. This system works in conjunction secreted at the age of puberty, which
with different parts of the nervous system. The stimulates the secretion of appropriate sex
whole system is thus known as hormones among boys and girls. As a result,
neuroendocrine system. Figure 3.6 shows the primary and secondary sexual changes take
major endocrine glands of the body. place.

Thyroid Gland
This gland is located in the neck. It produces
Pituitary thyroxin that influences the body’s metabolic
rate. Optimum amount of thyroxin is secreted
and regulated by an anterior pituitary
hormone, the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.
(TSH). The steady secretion of this hormone
maintains the production of energy,
consumption of oxygen and elimination of
Pancreas wastes in body cells. On the other hand,
underproduction of thyroxin leads to physical
and psychological lethargy. If thyroid gland is
removed in young animals, their growth is
glands stunted and they fail to develop sexually.

Ovary Adrenal Gland

(in female)
This gland is located above each kidney. It has
(in male)
two parts, adrenal cortex and adrenal
medulla, each secreting different hormones.
The secretion of adrenal cortex is controlled
Fig.3.6 : Major Endocrine Glands and regulated by Adrenocorticotrophic
Hormone (ACTH) secreted by anterior pituitary
Pituitary Gland gland. When the secretion of adrenal cortex
This gland is situated within the cranium just goes down, anterior pituitary gets the message
below the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland and increases the secretion of ACTH, which
is divided into anterior pituitary and posterior stimulates the adrenal cortex to secrete more
pituitary. The anterior pituitary is directly hormones.
connected with hypothalamus, which The adrenal cortex secretes a group of
regulates its hormonal secretions. The hormones, called corticoids, which are
pituitary gland secretes the growth hormone utilised by the body for a number of
and many other hormones, which direct and physiological purposes, e.g., regulation of
regulate the secretions of many other minerals in the body, particularly sodium,
endocrine glands found in our body. This is potassium, and chlorides. Any disturbance in
why the pituitary gland is known as the its function seriously affects the functions of
“master gland”. the nervous system.

Adrenal medulla secretes two hormones, preparation of uterus for the possible reception
namely epinephrine and norepinephrine of fertilised ovum.
(also known as adrenaline and noradrenaline, The hormonal system for reproductive
respectively). Sympathetic activation, such as behaviour is much simpler in the male
increased heart rate, oxygen consumption, because there is no cyclic pattern. Testes in
metabolic rate, muscle tone, etc., take place males produce sperm continuously and
through the secretion of these two hormones. secrete male sex hormones called androgens.
Epinephrine and norepinephrine stimulate the The major androgen is testosterone.
hypothalamus, which prolongs emotions in an Testosterone prompts secondary sexual
individual even when the stressor has been changes such as physical changes, growth of
removed. facial and body hairs, deepening of voice, and
increase in sexually oriented behaviour.
Pancreas Increased aggression and other behaviours are
The pancreas, lying near the stomach, has a also linked with testosterone production.
primary role in digestion of food, but it also The normal functioning of all hormones is
secretes a hormone known as insulin. Insulin crucial to our behavioural well-being. Without
helps the liver to break down glucose for use a balanced secretion of hormones, the body
by the body or for storage as glycogen by the would be unable to maintain the state of
liver. When insulin is not secreted in proper internal equilibrium. Without the increased
amount, people develop a disease, called secretion of hormones during the times of
diabetic mellitus or simply diabetes. stress, we would not be able to react effectively
to potential dangers in our environment.
Gonads Finally, without the secretion of hormones at
specific times in our lives, we would not be
Gonads refer to testes in males and ovaries in able to grow, mature and reproduce.
females. The hormones secreted by these
glands control and regulate sexual behaviours
and reproductive functions of males and HEREDITY : GENES AND BEHAVIOUR
females. Secretion of hormones of these glands
We inherit characteristics from our parents in
is initiated, maintained and regulated by a
the form of genes. A child at birth possesses a
hormone, called gonadotrophic hormone
unique combination of genes received from
(GTH) secreted by the anterior pituitary. The
both parents. This inheritance provides a
secretion of GTH starts at the age of puberty
distinct biological blueprint and timetable for
(10 to 14 years in human beings) and
an individual’s development. The study of the
stimulates gonads to secrete hormones, which
inheritance of physical and psychological
in turn stimulates development of primary and
characteristics from ancestors is referred to
secondary sexual characteristics.
as genetics. The child begins life as a single
The ovaries in females produce estrogens
zygote cell (mother’s ovum fertilised by father’s
and progesterone. Estrogens guide the sexual
sperm). Zygote is a tiny cell with a nucleus in
development of the female body. Primary
its center containing chromosomes. These
sexual characteristics related with
chromosomes with all genes are inherited from
reproduction, such as development of ovum
each parent in equal numbers.
or egg cell, appear on every 28 days or so in
the ovary of a sexually mature female.
Secondary sexual characteristics, such as
breast development, rounded body contours, Chromosomes are the hereditary elements of
widened pelvis, etc., also depend on this the body. They are threadlike-paired
hormone. Progesterone has no role in sexual structures in the nucleus of each cell. The
development. Its function is related with number of chromosomes per nucleus is

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
distinctive, and is constant for each living other behavioural traits). The traits, which can
organism. The gametic cells (sperm and ovum) be passed on to the offspring through genetic
have 23 chromosomes but not in pairs. A new material are called its genotype. All biological
generation results from the fusion of a sperm and psychological characteristics that a modern
cell and an egg cell. man possesses are the result of genotype
At the time of conception, the organism inheritance with phenotypical variations.
inherits 46 chromosomes from parents, 23 A given gene can exist in several different
from the mother and 23 from the father. Each forms. Change of a gene from one form to
of these chromosomes contains thousands of another is called mutation. The type of
genes. However, the sperm cell (fathers’) differs mutation that occurs spontaneously in nature
from the egg cell (mother’s) in one important provides variation in genotypes and permits
respect. The 23rd chromosome of the sperm the evolution of new species. Mutation permits
cell can be either the capital X or Y type of the recombination of new genes with the genes
english alphabet. If the X type sperm fertilises already present. This new combination of
the egg cell, the fertilised egg will have an XX genes structure is then put to test in the
23rd chromosome pair, and the child will be a environment, which can select out those
female. On the other hand, if a Y type sperm genotypes that turn out to be best fitted for
the environment.
fertilises the egg, the 23rd chromosome pair
will be XY, and the child will be a male.
Chromosomes are composed mainly of a CULTURAL BASIS : SOCIO-CULTURAL
substance called Deoxyribonucleic Acid SHAPING OF BEHAVIOUR
(DNA). Our genes are composed chiefly of DNA
molecules. The two genes that control the After reading the biological basis of behaviour
development of each trait are situated at the you may have developed an idea that many of
same locus, one on each chromosome of a our behaviours are influenced by hormones
particular pair. The exception is the sex and many others occur as reflexive responses.
chromosomes, i.e. the pair of chromosomes However, hormones and reflexes do not
that determines an individual’s sex. explain all of our behaviour. The hormones
play an important role in regulating human
physiology, but they do not completely control
Activity 3.2 human behaviour. Similarly stereotype (fixed
pattern), which is the most distinguishing
Divide the class in two groups and have a debate feature of a reflex, does not appear with most
on the topic “Psychologists should leave the study
human responses.
of neurons, synapses and the nervous system to
biologists”. One group should speak in favour and We can draw examples from several
the other group against the motion. domains of our life to argue that our behaviour
is more complex than the behaviour of
animals. A major reason for this complexity
is that unlike animals, human beings have a
culture to regulate their behaviour. Let us
Every chromosome stores thousands of genetic consider the basic need of hunger. We know
commands in the form of genes. These genes that it has a biological basis, which is common
dictate much of the course of an organism’s among animals and human beings, but the
development. They contain instructions for the way this need is gratified by human beings is
production of specific proteins, which regulate extremely complex. For example, some people
the body’s physiological processes and the eat vegetarian food, while others eat non-
expression of phenotypic traits. The observable vegetarian food. How have they become
traits of an organism are called phenotype (e.g., vegetarians and non-vegetarians? Some
body built, physical strength, intelligence, and vegetarians take eggs; others do not. Why is

that so? Try to think how people have come is also governed by many rules, standards,
to behave so differently in terms of food intake. values, and laws. However, these rules and
If you explore further you will also find standards also remain in a continuous process
variations in the manner in which food is eaten of change.
(e.g., directly with hand, or with the help of These examples illustrate that biological
spoons, forks and knives). factors alone cannot help us very much in
Sexual behaviour can be taken as another understanding human behaviour. The nature
example. We know that this behaviour involves of human beings is very different from those
hormones and reflexive reactions in animals provided to us by biological scientists. Human
and human beings alike. While among animals nature has evolved through an interplay of
sexual behaviour is fairly simple and reflexive biological and cultural forces. These forces
(all animals indulge in sexual behaviour have made us similar in many ways and
almost in the same manner), it is so complex different in others.
among human beings that it can hardly be
described as reflexive. Partner preferences are Concept of Culture
a key feature of human sexual behaviour. The
bases of these preferences widely differ within You have read that human behaviour can
and across societies. Human sexual behaviour be understood only by viewing it in the

Box 3.1 Biological and Cultural Transmission


In relatively modern years, a discipline called involves intergenerational learning (via teaching and
sociobiology has emerged that deals with the imitation), which makes it distinct from biological
interaction of biology and society. It explains transmission. In cultural transmission, individuals are
human social behaviour in an evolutionary influenced by people other than their biological
framework on the basis of “inclusive fitness”, parents, while in biological transmission only the
which means that each organism is supposed to parents can be the source of influence. Thus, only
behave in a manner so as to maximise its human beings have “cultural parents” (e.g., members
reproductive success. Researchers, who have of extended families, teachers, and other influential
studied several social behaviours (e.g., courtship, people). Cultural evolution is also not restricted to
mating, child rearing), underscore the continuity intergenerational influences. Ideas are transmitted
of development of biologically related creatures. within generations so much so that it is even possible
They recognise that human behaviour cannot be for older people to model their behaviour after younger
attributed solely to biological predispositions. It ones.
is greatly affected by learning. Heidi Keller, a The two processes are also similar in important
distinguished psychologist, recently argued that ways. Both proceed in interaction with the demands
genetic endowment should not be misunderstood of environment. Both involve changes that either stay
as expressing fixed, deterministic relationships or get lost depending on how adaptive they are (i.e.,
between genes and behaviour. She has proposed how nicely they fit the environment in which they first
the notion of “genetic preparedness”, which occurred). Thus, at the human level, we find evidence
suggests that acquisition of particular behaviours for a “dual inheritance” theory. Biological inheritance
via learning occurs in fairly efficient ways to takes place through genes, while cultural inheritance
facilitate our adaptations with the environment. takes place through memes. The former takes place
It is now believed that human evolution in a “top-down” manner (i.e. from parents to children),
involves both genetic and cultural transmissions. while the latter may also take place in a “bottom-up”
These transmission processes are different in manner (i.e. from children to parents). Dual inheritance
certain respects, but they have parallel features. theory also shows that although biological and cultural
Genetic transmission is a process that occurs in forces may involve different processes, they work as
all organisms in a similar manner, but cultural parallel forces, and interact with each other in offering
transmission is a unique human process. It explanation of an individual’s behaviour.

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
socio-cultural context in which it occurs. schooling. This institution also provides with
Human behaviour is fundamentally social. It behavioural expectation for all those who
involves relationships with other people, participate in it . Both teachers and students
reactions to their behaviour, and engagement have a series of roles to play and
with innumerable products made available to responsibilities to share. Individuals, families
us by our predecessors. Although many other and communities have different views about
species are also social like us, human beings schooling. Some believe that school education
are cultural as well. is a valuable thing. They have unshaken faith
You may ask: what does it mean to be that school education can make people
cultural? In order to answer this question, we powerful and change their destiny. Others
will need to understand the meaning of consider it neither valuable nor do they have
culture. In the simplest terms, culture refers faith in its strength as such. Some societies
to “the man-made part of the environment”. emphasise on equal education for boys and
It comprises diverse products of the behaviour girls; others do not. Some groups widely
of many people, including ourselves. These participate in the process of schooling, others
products can be material objects (e.g., tools, (e.g., some tribal groups) participate little or
sculptures), ideas (e.g., categories, norms) or not at all. People with special needs often
social institutions (e.g., family, school). We find remain deprived of school education for a
them almost everywhere. They influence number of reasons. People’s views about
behaviour, although we may not always be communities, gender, caste groups and those
aware of it. with special needs and their educability also
Let us look at some examples. The room differ widely across societies.
you might be in now is a cultural product. It As you look around you will find that
is the result of someone’s architectural ideas much of our life as human beings involves
and building skills. Your room may be interacting with various cultural products,
rectangular, but there are many places where and behaving in accord with them. This means
rooms are not rectangular (e.g., those of that culture shapes our behaviour in a
Eskimos). While reading this chapter you significant manner. However, it may also be
might be sitting on a chair that some people noted at this point that just as culture shapes
designed and built some time ago. Since sitting us, we also shape our culture. Several
in a chair requires a particular posture, this anthropologists have pointed out the mutual
invention is shaping your behaviour. There are influences of culture and psyche on each
societies without chairs. Just try to think how other. They suggest that the relationship
people in those societies would be sitting in between individuals and their social
order to do some reading. surroundings is interactive, and in the course
Students sit on chairs in the “classrooms”, of these interactions, they constitute each
but chairs are not found in all schools. In other. This perspective emphasises that
schools in most villages there are no chairs human beings are not passive recipients of
for students. They sit on the ground, or on a cultural forces. Instead, they themselves create
piece of sack spread over it. That in some the context in which their behaviour is shaped.
societies children gather in rooms facing a
teacher is another kind of cultural product,
called “schooling”. This institution may have Activity 3.3
material aspects, such as buildings, and
Talk to students belonging to different States
ideational aspects, such as the notion that
regarding their food, festivals, dress, customs,
schooling should take place at a specific place etc.
and time, or the idea that individuals attending Prepare a list of the differences and
“schools” must be evaluated and given similarities and discuss with your teacher.
certificates on successful completion of

What is Culture? In the previous paragraphs, we have made
frequent use of the terms culture and
In spite of the fact that culture is always with
society. Often they are considered to carry
us, much confusion exists in defining culture.
similar meaning. Let us note at this point that
It is more like the notion of “energy” in physics
they are not the same thing. A society is a
or “group” in sociology. Some believe that
group of people who occupy a particular
culture really exists out there, and it matters
territory and speak a common language not
to individuals, while others believe that culture
generally understood by neighbouring people.
does not really exist, instead it is an idea
A society may or may not be a single nation,
created and shared by a group of people.
but every society has its own culture, and it is
The innumerable definitions of culture
culture that shapes human behaviour from
commonly point to some of its essential
society to society. Culture is the label for all
features. One is that culture includes
the different features that vary from society
behavioural products of others who preceded
to society. It is these different features of
us. It indicates both substantial and abstract
society whose influences psychologists want
particulars that have prior existence in one
to examine in their studies of human
form or another. Thus, culture is already there
behaviour. Thus, a group of people, who
as we begin life. It contains values that will be
manage their livelihood through hunting and
expressed and a language in which to express
gathering in forests, would present a life
them. It contains a way of life that will be
characterised by certain features that will not
followed by most of us who grow up in that
be found in a society that lives mainly on
context. Such a conceptualisation of culture
agricultural produce or wage earnings.
tends to place it outside the individual, but
there are also treatments of culture that places
Cultural Transmission
it in the minds of individuals. In the latter case,
culture is identified with a historically We have seen earlier that as human beings
transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in we are both biological and socio-cultural
symbols. Culture provides meaning by creatures. As biological creatures, we have
creating significant categories like social certain vital needs. Their fulfilment enhances
practices (e.g., marriage) and roles (e.g., our chances of surviving. In fulfilling these
bridegroom) as well as values, beliefs and needs we use most of our acquired skills. We
premises. As Richard Shweder put it, to learn also have a highly developed capacity to benefit
that “a mother’s sister’s husband is an uncle”, from experiences of our own and those of
one must somehow receive the ‘frame’ of others. No other creature has learning capacity
understanding from others. to the same extent as we have. No other
Whether culture is taken as an existing creature has created an organised system of
reality, or as an abstraction, or both, it exerts learning, called education, and none in this
many real influences on human behaviour. It universe wants to learn as much as we do. As
allows us to categorise and explain many a result, we display many forms of behaviour
important differences in human behaviour that are uniquely human, and creations of
that were previously attributed to biological what we call culture. The processes of
differences. Social and cultural contexts within enculturation and socialisation make us
which human development takes place vary cultural beings.
widely over time and place. For example, some
twenty years ago children in India would not ENCULTURATION
have known several products that are now part
of a child’s world. Similarly an Adivasi living Enculturation refers to all learning that takes
in a remote forest or hilly area would not have place without direct, deliberate teaching. We
a “pizza” or “sandwich” as breakfast. learn certain ideas, concepts, and values

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
simply because of their availability in our generation to the next. Its failure in any society
cultural context. For example, what is may endanger the very existence of that
“vegetable” and what is “weed” or what is society.
“cereal” and what is “non-cereal” is defined The concept of socialisation suggests that
by what is already there, previously labelled all human beings are capable of a far greater
as “vegetable” or “cereal” and agreed upon by repertoire of behaviours than they ever exhibit.
people at large. Such concepts are transmitted, We begin life in a particular social context,
both directly and indirectly, and are learned and there we learn to make certain responses
very well because they are an integral part of and not others. The most clear example is our
the life of a cultural group, and are never linguistic behaviour. Although we can speak
questioned. All such examples of learning are any language that exists in this world, we learn
called “enculturation”. to speak only that language which people
Thus, enculturation refers to all learning around us speak. Within this social context
that occurs in human life because of its we also learn many other things (e.g., when
availability in our socio-cultural context. The to express emotions and when to suppress
key element of enculturation is learning by them).
observation. Whenever we learn any content The probability of our behaving in a
of our society by observation, enculturation particular way is greatly affected by people who
is in evidence. These contents are culturally relate to us. Any one who possesses power
shaped by our preceding generations. In this relative to us can socialise us. Such people are
sense, enculturation always refers to learning called “socialisation agents”. These agents
something that is already available. A major include parents, teachers and other elders, who
part of our behaviour is the product of are more knowledgeable in the ways of their
enculturation. In Indian families, many society. Under certain conditions, however, even
complex activities, like cooking, are learned our age peers can affect socialisation.
by observation. There is no prescribed The process of socialisation is not always
curriculum and no textbook for such activities, a smooth transition between the individual
and there is also no deliberate instruction for and the socialisation agent. It sometimes
cooking. involves conflicts. In such situations not only
Although the effects of enculturation are are some responses punished, but some are
obvious, people are generally not aware of also blocked by the behaviour of others in
these effects. They are also generally not aware effective ways. At the same time, several
of what is not available in the society to be responses need to be rewarded so that they
learned. This leads to an apparent paradox acquire greater strength. Thus, reward and
that people who are most thoroughly punishment serve as basic means for
enculturated are often the least aware of their achieving the goals of socialisation. In this
culture’s role in modeling them. sense, all socialisation seems to involve efforts
by others to control behaviour.
SOCIALISATION Socialisation although primarily consists
of deliberate teaching for producing
Socialisation is a process by which individuals “acceptable” behaviour, the process is not
acquire knowledge, skills and dispositions, unidirectional. Individuals are not only
which enable them to participate as effective influenced by their social environment, but
members of groups and society. It is a process they also influence it. In societies that
that continues over the entire life-span, and comprise many social groups, individuals may
through which one learns and develops ways choose those to which they wish to belong.
of effective functioning at any stage of With increased migration, individuals are not
development. Socialisation forms the basis of only socialised once, but are often re-socialised
social and cultural transmission from one differently in their life-span. This process is

known as acculturation which we will discuss praising) or in other tangible ways (e.g., buying
later in this chapter. chocolates or objects of child’s desire). They
Due to the processes of enculturation and also discourage certain behaviours through
socialisation we find behavioural similarities non-approving behaviours. They also arrange
within societies and behavioural differences to put children in a variety of situations that
across societies. Both processes involve provide them with a variety of positive
learning from other people. In the case of experiences, learning opportunities, and
socialisation, the learning involves deliberate challenges. While interacting with children
teaching. In the case of enculturation, teaching parents adopt different strategies, which are
is not necessary for learning to take place. generally known as parenting styles. A
Enculturation means engagement of people distinction is made between authoritative,
in their culture. Since most of the learning authoritarian and democratic or permissive
takes place with our engagement in our parenting styles. Studies indicate that parents
culture, socialisation can be easily subsumed vary enormously in the treatment of children
under the process of enculturation. in terms of their degree of acceptance and
A good deal of our learning involves both degree of control. The conditions of life in which
enculturation and socialisation. Language parents live (poverty, illness, job stress, nature
learning is a good example. While a lot of of family) also influence the styles they adopt
language learning takes place spontaneously, in socialising children. Grandparental
there is also certain amount of direct teaching proximity and network of social relationships
of the language, such as in grammar courses play considerable role in child socialisation
in elementary schools. On the other hand, directly or through parental influences.
learning of language other than the mother
tongue, such as learning of Hindi by a School
European child, or of French by a child in
India, is completely a deliberate process. School is another important socialising agent.
Since children spend a long time in schools,
Socialisation Agents which provide them with a fairly organised set
up for interaction with teachers and peers,
A number of people who relate to us possess school is today being viewed as a more
power to socialise us. Such people are called important agent of child socialisation than
“socialisation agents”. Parents and family parents and family. Children learn not only
members are the most significant socialisation cognitive skills (e.g., reading, writing, doing
agents. Legal responsibility of child care, too, mathematics) but also many social skills (e.g.,
lies with parents. Their task is to nurture ways of behaving with elders and age mates,
children in such a manner that their natural accepting roles, fulfilling responsibilities). They
potentials are maximised and negative also learn and internalise the norms and rules
behaviour tendencies are minimised or of society. Several other positive qualities, such
controlled. Since each child is also part of a as self-initiative, self-control, responsibility,
larger community or society, several other and creativity are encouraged in schools.
influences (e.g., teachers, peer groups) also These qualities make children more self-
operate on her/his life. We will briefly discuss reliant. If the transaction has been successful,
some of these influences. the skills and knowledge children acquire in
schools either through curriculum or
Parents interaction with teachers and peers also get
Parents have most direct and significant transferred to other domains of their life. Many
impact on children’s development. Children researchers believe that a good school can
respond in different ways to parents in altogether transform a child’s personality. That
different situations. Parents encourage certain is why we find that even poor parents want to
behaviours by rewarding them verbally (e.g., send their children to good schools.

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
Peer Groups
One of the chief characteristics of the middle
childhood stage is the extension of social Acculturation refers to cultural and
network beyond home. Friendship acquires psychological changes resulting from contact
great significance in this respect. It provides with other cultures. Contact may be direct
children not only with a good opportunity to (e.g., when one moves and settles in a new
be in company of others, but also for organising culture) or indirect (e.g., through media or
various activities (e.g., play) collectively with the other means). It may be voluntary (e.g., when
members of their own age. Qualities like one goes abroad for higher studies, training,
sharing, trust, mutual understanding, role job, or trade) or involuntary (e.g., through
acceptance and fulfilment develop in interaction colonial experience, invasion, political refuge).
with peers. Children also learn to assert their In both cases, people often need to learn (and
own point of view and accept and adapt to those also they do learn) something new to negotiate
of others. Development of self-identity is greatly life with people of other cultural groups. For
facilitated by the peer group. Since example, during the British rule in India many
communication of children with peer group is individuals and groups adopted several
direct, process of socialisation is generally aspects of British lifestyle. They preferred to
go to the English schools, take up salaried
jobs, dress in English clothes, speak English
Media Influences language, and change their religion.
Acculturation can take place any time in
In recent years media has also acquired the one’s life. Whenever it occurs, it requires
property of a socialisation agent. Through re-learning of norms, values, dispositions, and
television, newspapers, books and cinema the patterns of behaviour. Changes in these
external world has made/is making its way aspects require re-socialisation. Sometimes
into our home and our lives. While children people find it easy to learn these new things,
learn about many things from these sources, and if their learning has been successful, shifts
adolescents and young adults often derive in their behaviour easily take place in the
their models from them, particularly from direction of the group that brings in
television and cinema. The exposure to acculturation. In this situation transition to a
violence on television is a major issue of new life is relatively smooth and free from
discussion, since studies indicate that problems. On the other hand, in many
observing violence on television enhances situations people experience difficulties in
aggressive behaviour among children. There dealing with new demands of change. They
is a need to use this agent of socialisation in a find change difficult, and are thrown into a
better way in order to prevent children from state of conflict. This situation is relatively
developing undesirable behaviours. painful as it leads to experience of stress and
other behavioural difficulties by acculturating
individuals and groups.
Activity 3.4 Psychologists have widely studied how
people psychologically change during
Observe 4-5 families belonging to different acculturation. For any acculturation to take
cultural and socio-economic background for
place contact with another cultural group is
about half an hour in the morning and evening
interacting with their children for five days. essential. This often generates some sort of
Do you find any difference in parental conflict. Since people cannot live in a state of
interaction with their sons and daughters? conflict for a long time, they often resort to
Note their distinct pattern of behaviour and certain strategies to resolve their conflicts. For
discuss this with your teacher. a long time it was felt that social or cultural
change oriented towards modernity was

unidirectional, which meant that all people In order to place some confidence in
confronting the problem of change would move conscious acceptance of change, we need to
from a traditional state to a state of modernity. analyse them at the subjective level. John Berry
However, studies carried out with immigrants is well-known for his studies on psychological
to western countries and native or tribal people acculturation. He argues that there are two
in different parts of the world have revealed important issues that all acculturating
that people have various options to deal with individuals and groups face in culture-contact
the problem of acculturative changes. Thus, situations. One relates to the degree to which
the course of acculturative change is there is a desire to maintain one’s culture and
multidirectional. identity. Another relates to the degree to which
there is a desire to engage in daily interactions
Activity 3.5 with members of other cultural group(s).
Based on people’s positive or negative
Make an attempt to find out people who have answer to these issues, the following four
lived for an extended period of time in different acculturative strategies have been derived:
cultures. Interview and ask them to give some Integration : It refers to an attitude in in
examples of cultural differences and similarities which there is an interest in both, maintaining
in attitudes, norms, and values. one’s original culture and identity, while
staying in daily interaction with other cultural
groups. In this case, there is some degree of
Changes due to acculturation may be cultural integrity maintained while interacting
examined at subjective and objective levels. with other cultural groups.
At the subjective level, changes are often Assimilation : It refers to an attitude,
reflected in people’s attitudes towards change. which people do not wish to maintain their
They are referred to as acculturation attitudes. cultural identity, and they move to become
At the objective level, changes are reflected in an integral part of the other culture. In this
people’s day-to-day behaviours and activities. case, there is loss of one’s culture and identity.
These are referred to as acculturation Separation : It refers to an attitude in
strategies. In order to understand which people seem to place a value on holding
acculturation, it is necessary to examine it at on to their original culture, and wish to avoid
both levels. At the objective level of interaction with other cultural groups. In this
acculturation, one can look at a variety of case, people often tend to glorify their cultural
changes that might be evident in people’s life. identity.
Language, dressing style, means of livelihood, Marginalisation : It refers to an attitude
housing and household goods, ornaments, in which there is little possibility or interest
furniture, means of entertainment, use of in one’s cultural maintenance, and little
technology, travel experience, and exposure interest in having relations with other cultural
to movies, etc. can provide clear indications groups. In this case, people generally remain
of change that individuals and groups might undecided about what they should do, and
have accepted in their life. Based on these continue to stay with a great deal of stress.
indicators, we can easily identify the degree You have read in this chapter that human
to which acculturative change has entered into behaviour is not fully under the control of
an individual’s or a group’s life. The only biological factors alone. Socio-cultural factors
problem is that these indicators do not always interact with biological dispositions of
indicate conscious acceptance of change by individuals to give a particular shape to their
individuals or groups; they are held by people behaviour in a given society. Since societies
because they are easily available and and cultures across the globe are not
economically affordable. Thus, in some cases, homogeneous, human behaviour is also not
these indicators appear somewhat deceptive. expressed in the same way everywhere. This

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
allows us to say that besides biological roots,
there are cultural roots of human behaviour.
While genes write the script of biological
Key Terms
transmissions, memes write the script of Acculturation, All-Or-None Property/Principle,
cultural transmissions. The genes and memes Arousal, Axons, Brain stem, Central nervous
work together to allow behaviour to unfold system, Cerebellum, Cerebral cortex,
partly in some similar and partly in different Chromosomes, Cortex, Culture,
ways within and across societies. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Enculturation,
Understanding of cultural basis of behaviour Endocrine glands, Environment, Evolution,
Genes, Hemispheres, Heredity, Homo
will make you realise that behavioural sapiens, Homeostasis, Hypothalamus,
differences between individuals or groups are Medulla, Memes, Nerve impulse, Neurons,
not due to the structural and functional Nucleus, Reticular Activating System (RAS),
properties of their biological system alone. Skeletal muscles, Socialisation, Soma (Cell
Cultural features of individuals and groups body), Somatic nervous system, Species,
contribute in significant ways in generating Synaptic vesicles
behavioural differences.

• The human nervous system consists of billions of interconnected, highly specialised cells
called neurons. Neurons or nerve cells control and coordinate all human behaviour.
• The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord. Peripheral nervous
system branches out from the CNS to all parts of the body. It has two divisions: the somatic
nervous system (related to the control of skeletal muscles) and the autonomic nervous system
(related to control of internal organs). The autonomic system is sub-divided into the sympathetic
and parasympathetic systems.
• Neurons have dendrites, which receive impulses; and the axon, which transmits impulses
from cell body to other neurons or to muscle tissue.
• Every axon is separated by a gap called synapse. A chemical called neurotransmitter is
released from the axon terminal that carries the message to the other neuron.
• The central core of the human brain includes hindbrain (consisting of the medulla, the pons,
the reticular formation, and the cerebellum), the midbrain, and the thalamus and hypothalamus.
Above the central core lies the forebrain or cerebral hemispheres.
• The limbic system is involved in the regulation of behaviours such as fighting, fleeing etc. It is
comprised of hippocampus, amygdala and hypothalamus.
• The endocrine system consists of the glands; pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal gland,
pancreas and gonads. The hormones secreted by them play a crucial role in behaviour and
• In addition to biological factors, culture is considered an important determinant of human
behaviour. If refers to the man-made part of the environment, which has two aspects —
material and subjective. It refers to a shared way of life of a group of people through which
they derive meanings of their behaviours and base their practices. These meanings and
practices are transmitted through generations.
• Though, biological factors play a general enabling role, the development of specific skills and
competencies is dependent upon the cultural factors and processes.
• We learn about culture through the processes of enculturation and socialisation.
Enculturation refers to all learning that take place without direct, deliberate teaching.
• Socialisation is a process by which individuals acquire knowledge, skills and dispositions,

which enable them to participate as effective members of groups and society. The most
significant socialisation agents are parents, school, peer groups, mass media, etc.
• Acculturation refers to cultural and psychological changes resulting from contact with other
cultures. The acculturative strategies adopted by individuals during the course of
acculturation are integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalisation.

Review Questions
1. How does the evolutionary perspective explain the biological basis of behaviour?
2. Describe how neurons transmit information?
3. Name the four lobes of the cerebral cortex. What functions do they perform?
4. Name the various endocrine glands and the hormones secreted by them. How does the
endocrine system affect our behaviour?
5. How does the autonomic nervous system help us in dealing with an emergency situation?
6. Explain the meaning of culture and describe its important features.
7. Do you agree with the statement that ‘biology plays an enabling role, while specific aspects
of behaviour are related to cultural factors’. Give reasons in support of your answer.
8. Describe the main agents of socialisation.
9. How can we distinguish between enculturation and socialisation? Explain.
10. What is meant by acculturation? Is acculturation a smooth process? Discuss.
11. Discuss the acculturative strategies adopted by individuals during the course of

Project Ideas
1. Collect information on a person with brain damage. You can take help from a doctor,
consult books or search the internet. Compare it with the normal functioning brain and
prepare a report.
2. Write down your daily routine. This should include the activity undertaken, as well as the
time when it is done. For example, if you watch television between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
daily, you should write down the time as well as the activity. Put in as many details as you
can. You could include names of the specific programmes you watch on Television. Make
a separate schedule for weekdays and weekends. The class can examine the daily schedules,
and see which activities are more common amongst the students. Can some cultural
values/beliefs be inferred to underlie common, shared experiences? (for example, that all
students spend many hours in school on a daily basis reflects that they come from cultures
which value school education).

Chapter 3 • The Bases of Human Behaviour
Human Development
4 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• describe the meaning and process of development,
• explain the influence of heredity, environment and context on human
• identify the stages of development and describe the major characteristics
of infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age, and
• reflect on your own course of development and related experiences.

Meaning of Development
Life-Span Perspective on Development
Growth, Development, Maturation, and
Evolution (Box 4.1)
Factors Influencing Development
Context of Development
Overview of Developmental Stages
Prenatal Stage
I wish I could travel by the road that
crosses the baby’s mind, and out Childhood
beyond all bounds; where messengers Gender and Sex Roles (Box 4.2)
run errands for no cause between the Challenges of Adolescence
kingdoms of kings of no history; where Adulthood and Old Age
Reason makes kites of her laws and
Key Terms
flies them, and Truth sets Fact free Summary
from its fetters. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– Rabindranath Tagore

If you look around, you will notice that from birth onwards changes of various
kinds are taking place in an individual’s life, which continue even during old age.
Over a span of time, a human grows and develops, learns to communicate, walk,
count, and read and write. S/he also learns to distinguish between right and wrong.
S/he makes friends, goes through puberty, gets married, rears children, and grows
old. Even though we differ from each other, we share many commonalities. Most of
us learn to walk by the first year and talk by the second year. This chapter will
familiarise you with the changes observed in people during the course of their life-
span in different domains. You will learn about key developmental processes and
changes taking place in major periods during the life-span: prenatal, infancy,
childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. This would be a journey of personal
understanding and self-discovery which should help in your future development.
The study of human development would also help you to deal with others better.

associated with the processes of knowing,

and experiencing, such as thought,
When we think of development, invariably we perception, attention, problem solving, etc.
think of physical changes, as these are Socio-emotional processes that influence
commonly observed at home with younger development r efer to changes in an
siblings, with parents and grandparents, in individual’s interactions with other people,
school with peers or others around us. From changes in emotions, and in personality. A
conception until the moment of death, we not child’s hug to her/his mother, a young girl’s
only change physically, but we also change in affectionate gesture to her/his sibling, or an
the way we think, use language, and develop adolescent’s sorrow at losing a match are all
social relationships. Remember that, changes reflections of socio-emotional processes deeply
are not confined to any one area of a person’s involved in human development.
life; they occur in the person in an integrated Although you would be reading about the
manner. Development is the pattern of different processes in different chapters of this
progressive, orderly, and predictable changes textbook, it is important to remember that the
biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional
that begin at conception and continue
processes are interwoven. These processes
throughout life. Development mostly involves
influence changes in the development of the
changes — both growth and decline, as
individual as a whole throughout the human
observed during old age.
Development is influenced by an interplay
of biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional
Life-Span Perspective on Development
processes. Development due to genes
inherited from parents, such as in height and The study of development according to the
weight, brain, heart, and lungs development, Life-Span Perspective (LSP) includes the
etc. all point towards the role of biological following assumptions :
processes. The role of cognitive processes 1. Development is lifelong, i.e. it takes place
in development relate to mental activities across all age groups starting from

Chapter 4 • Human Development
conception to old age. It includes both gains 5. Development is influenced by historical
and losses, which interact in dynamic conditions. For example, the experiences
(change in one aspect goes with changes in of 20-year olds who lived through the
others) ways throughout the life-span. freedom struggle in India would be very
2. The various processes of human different from the experiences of 20 year
development, i.e. biological, cognitive, and olds of today. The career orientation of
socio-emotional are interwoven in the school students today is very different from
development of a person throughout the those students who were in schools 50
life-span. years ago.
3. Development is multi-directional. Some 6. Development is the concer n of a
dimensions or components of a given number of disciplines. Different
dimension of development may increase, disciplines like psychology, anthropology,
while others show decrement. For example, sociology, and neuro-sciences study
the experiences of adults may make them human development, each trying to
wiser and guide their decisions. However, provide answers to development
with an increase in age, one’s performance throughout the life-span.
is likely to decrease on tasks requiring 7. An individual responds and acts on
speed, such as running. contexts, which include what was
4. Development is highly plastic, i.e. within inherited, the physical environment, social,
person, modifiability is found in historical, and cultural contexts. For
psychological development, though example, the life events in everyone’s life
plasticity varies among individuals. This are not the same, such as, death of a
means skills and abilities can be improved parent, accident, earthquake, etc., affect
or developed throughout the life-span. the course of one’s life as also the positive

Box 4.1 Growth, Development, Maturation, and Evolution


Growth refers to an increase in the size of body commonalities in our growth and development.
parts or of the organism as a whole. It can be For example, most children can sit without support
measured or quantified, for example, growth in by 7 months of age, stand with support by 8 months
height, weight, etc. Development is a process and walk by one year. Once the underlying physical
by which an individual grows and changes structure is sufficiently developed, proficiency in these
throughout the life cycle. The term development behaviours requires adequate environment and little
applies to the changes that have a direction and practice. However, special efforts to accelerate these
hold definite relationship with what precedes it, behaviours do not help if the infant is maturationally
and in turn, will determine what will come after. not ready. These processes seem to “unfold from
A temporary change caused by a brief illness, within”: following an inner, genetically determined
for example, is not considered a part of timetable that is characteristic of the species.
development. All changes which occur as a result Evolution refers to species-specific changes. Natural
of development are not of the same kind. Thus, selection is an evolutionary process that favours
changes in size (physical growth), changes in individuals or a species that are best adapted to
proportion (child to adult), changes in features survive and reproduce. The evolutionary changes are
(disappearance of baby teeth), and acquiring new passed from one generation to the next within a
features are varied in their pace and scope level. species. Evolution proceeds at a very slow pace.
Development includes growth as one of its Emergence of human beings from great apes took
aspects. Maturation refers to the changes that about 14 million years. It has been estimated that
follow an orderly sequence and are largely the ‘Homo sapiens’ came into existence only about
dictated by the genetic blueprint which produces 50,000 years ago.

influences such as winning an award or characteristics. Phenotypes include physical
getting a good job. People keep on changing traits, such as height, weight, eye and skin
with changing contexts. colour, and many of the psychological
characteristics such as intelligence, creativity,
and personality. These observable
FACTORS INFLUENCING DEVELOPMENT characteristics of an individual are the result
Have you observed in your class that some of of the interaction between the person’s
you have dark skin, others have light coloured inherited traits and the environment. You
skins, colour of your hair and eyes are know it is the genetic code which predisposes
different, some of you are tall, others short, a child to develop in a particular way. Genes
some are quiet or sad while others are talkative provide a distinct blueprint and timetable for
the development of an individual. But genes
or cheerful. People also differ with respect to
do not exist in isolation and development
intelligence, learning abilities, memory, and
occurs within the context of an individual’s
other psychological characteristics besides
environment. This is what makes each one of
physical characteristics. Despite these
us a unique person.
variations, no one can be mistaken for any
What are the environmental influences?
other species: we all are homo sapiens. What
How does the environment af fect
causes us to be different from each other but
development? Imagine a child, with genotype
at the same time more like each other? The
that predisposes her/him to be introverted,
answer lies in the interaction of heredity and
in an environment that promotes social
interaction and extroversion. The influence of
You have already learned in Chapter 3 that such an environment may make the child a
the principles of heredity explain the little extroverted. Let us take another example.
mechanism for transmission of characteristics An individual with “short” height genes, even
by every species from one generation to the if s/he is in a very good nutritional
next. We inherit genetic codes from our environment, will never be able to be taller
parents, which are in every cell of our body. than average. This shows that genes set the
Our genetic codes are alike in one important limit and within that limit the environment
way; they contain the human genetic code. It influences development.
is because of the human genetic code that a You know by now that parents provide the
fertilised human egg grows into a human baby genes for the child’s development. Do you
and cannot grow into an elephant, a bird or a know that they also play an important role in
mouse. determining the type of environment their
Genetic transmission is very complex. children will encounter? Sandra Scarr (1992)
Most characteristics that we observe in believes that the environment parents provide
humans are combinations of larger number for their children depends to some extent on
of genes. You can imagine the combinations their own genetic predisposition. For example,
produced by 80,000 or more genes – if parents are intelligent and are good readers
accounting for a variety of characteristics and they would provide their children with books
behaviours. It is also not possible to possess to read, with the likely outcome that their
all the characteristics made available to us by children would become good readers who
our genetic structure. The actual genetic enjoy reading. A child’s own genotype (what
material or a person’s genetic heritage is s/he has inherited) such as being cooperative,
known as genotype. However, not all of this and attentive is likely to result in teachers and
genetic material is apparent or distinctly parents giving more pleasant response as
identifiable in our observable characteristics. compared to children who are not cooperative
Phenotype is the way an individual’s genotype or not attentive. Besides these, children
is expressed in observable and measurable themselves choose certain environments

Chapter 4 • Human Development
based on their genotype. For example, because
of their genotype, children may perform well
in music or sports and they will seek and Macrosystem
spend more time in environments, which will ies Beli
olog Exosystem e fs
enable them to perform their musical skills; Ide
similarly an athlete would seek sports-related
environment. These interactions with Friends Microsystem Neighbour
environment keep changing from infancy Family School
through adolescence. Environmental The
influences are as complex as the genes we

inherit. Neighbourhood Work

Mass settings


If your class monitor is selected on the Media


basis of being academically bright and a
popular student, do you think it is because of
her/his genes or the influence of the Time
environment? If a child from a rural area who
is very intelligent, is not able to get a job
because of her/his inability to express herself/
himself fluently or handle computers, do
you think - it is because of genes or
Fig.4.1 : Bronfenbrenner’s Contextual View of
Development does not take place in a vacuum. experiences likely to influence an individual’s
It is always embedded in a particular socio- relationships with others. The exosystem
cultural context. As you shall read in this includes events in social settings where the
chapter, transition during one’s lifetime such child does not participate directly, but they
as entering school, becoming an adolescent, influence the childs’ experiences in the
finding jobs, marrying, having children, immediate context. For example, the transfer
retirement, etc. all are joint functions of the of father or mother may cause tension among
biological changes and changes in one’s the parents which might af fect their
environment. The environment can change or interactions with the child or the general
alter during any time of the individual’s life- amenities available to the child like quality of
span. schooling, libraries, medical care, means of
Urie Bronfenbrenner’s contextual view of entertainment, etc. Macrosystem includes the
development emphasises the role of culture in which the individual lives. You have
environmental factors in the development of read in Chapter 3 about the importance of
an individual. This has been depicted in culture in the development of an individual.
Figure 4.1. Chronosystem involves events in the
The microsystem is the immediate individual’s life course, and socio-historical
environment/setting in which the individual circumstances of the time such as, divorce of
lives. It is in these settings where the child parents or parents’ economic setback, and
directly interacts with social agents – the their effect on the child.
family, peers, teachers, and neighbourhood. In a nutshell, Bronfenbrenner’s view is that
The mesosystem consists of relations between a child’s development is significantly affected
these contexts. For instance, how a child’s by the complex world that envelops her/him
parents relate to the teachers, or how the – whether it be the minutiae of the
parents view the adolescent’s friends, are conversations s/he has with her/his

playmates, or the social and economic life- have dif ferent consequences for
circumstances into which s/he is born. development in dif ferent people. The
Research has shown that children in ecological environment can change or alter
impoverished environments have during any time of the individual’s life-span.
unstimulating environment devoid of books, Therefore, to understand differences in the
magazines, toys, etc., lack experiences such functioning of an individual, it is important
as visits to library, museum, zoo, etc., have to see the individual in the context of her/
parents who are ineffective as role models, and his experiences.
live in overcrowded and noisy surroundings.
As a result of these conditions children are at
a disadvantage and have difficulties in
Activity 4.1
What would your life be if you lived in a rural
Durganand Sinha (1977) has presented an area or a small town, devoid of all amenities,
ecological model for understanding the which you are used to in a city (or vice-versa)?
development of children in Indian context. Discuss in small groups keeping in mind factors
Ecology of the child could be viewed in terms like poverty, illiteracy, pollution, population, etc.
of two concentric layers. The “upper and the
more visible layers” consist of home, school,
peer groups, and so on. The most important OVERVIEW OF DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES
ecological factors influencing development of
the child in the visible upper layer constitute Development is commonly described in terms
the: (i) home, its conditions in terms of of periods or stages. You must have observed
overcrowding, space available to each member, that your younger brother or sister, or parents,
toys, technological devices used, etc., and even yourself, all behave in different ways.
(ii) nature and quality of schooling, facilities If you observe people living in your
to which the child is exposed, and (iii) nature neighbourhood, you would find that they too
of interactions and activities undertaken with do not behave in a similar manner. This
peer groups from childhood onwards. variation is partly because everyone is in a
These factors do not operate different stage of life. Human life proceeds
independently but constantly interact with through different stages. For example, you are
one another. Since these are also embedded at present in the stage of adolescence and after
in a larger and a more pervasive setting, the a few years you will enter the stage of
“surrounding layers” of the child’s ecology adulthood. Developmental stages are assumed
constantly influence the “upper layer” to be temporary and are often characterised
factors. However, their influences are not by a dominant featur e or a leading
always clearly visible. The elements of the characteristic, which gives each period its
uniqueness. During a particular stage,
surrounding layer of ecology constitute the:
individual progresses towards an assumed
(i) general geographical environment. It
goal - a state or ability that s/he must achieve
includes space and facilities for play and
in the same order as other persons before
other activities available outside the home
progressing to the next stage in the sequence.
including general congestion of the locality Of course, individuals do vary with respect to
and density of population, (ii) institutional the time or rate of development from one stage
setting provided by caste, class, and other to another. It may be noted that certain
factors, and (iii) general amenities available patterns of behaviour and certain skills are
to the child like drinking water, electricity, learned more easily and successfully during
means of entertainment and so on. certain stages. These accomplishments of a
The visible and the surrounding layer person become the social expectations of that
factors interact with one another and may stage of development. They are known as

Chapter 4 • Human Development
developmental tasks. You will now read The neural connections among these cells
about the different stages of development and develop at a rapid rate.
their main features. The newborn is not as helpless as you
might think. The activities needed to sustain
Prenatal Stage life functions are present in the newborn — it
breathes, sucks, swallows, and discharges the
The period from conception to birth is known
bodily wastes. The newborns in their first week
as the prenatal period. Typically, it lasts for
of life are able to indicate what direction a
about 40 weeks. You know by now that the
sound is coming from, can distinguish their
genetic blueprint guides our development
mother’s voice from the voices of other women,
during the prenatal period and after birth.
and can imitate simple gestures like tongue
Both genetic and environmental factors affect
protrusion and mouth opening.
our development during different periods of
Motor Development : The newborn’s
prenatal stage.
movements are governed by reflexes — which
Prenatal development is also affected by
are automatic, built-in responses to stimuli.
maternal characteristics, which include
They are genetically-carried survival
mother’s age, nutrition, and emotional state.
mechanisms, and are the building blocks for
Disease or infection carried by the mother can
subsequent motor development. Before the
adversely affect prenatal development. For
newborns have had the opportunity to learn,
example, rubella (German measles), genital
reflexes act as adaptive mechanisms. Some
herpes, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus
reflexes present in the newborn — coughing,
(HIV) are believed to cause genetic problems
blinking, and yawning persist throughout their
in the newborn. Another source of threat to
lives. Others disappear as the brain functions
prenatal development is teratogens -
mature and voluntary control over behaviour
environmental agents that cause deviations
starts developing (see Table 4.1).
in normal development that can lead to serious
As the brain is developing, physical
abnormalities or death. Common teratogens development also progresses. As the infant
include drugs, infections, radiations, and grows, the muscles and nervous system
pollution. Intake of drugs (marijuana, heroin, mature which lead to the development of finer
cocaine, etc.), alcohol, tobacco, etc. by women skills. Basic physical (motor) skills include
during pregnancy may have harmful effects grasping and reaching for objects, sitting,
on the foetus and increase the frequency of crawling, walking and running. The sequence
congenital abnormalities. Radiations (such as of physical (motor) development is universal,
X-rays), and certain chemicals near industrial with minor exceptions.
areas can cause permanent change in the Sensory Abilities : You know by now that
genes. Environmental pollutants and toxic newborns are not as incompetent as they look.
wastes like carbon monoxide, mercury and They can recognise their mother’s voice just a
lead are also sources of danger to the unborn few hours after birth and have other sensory
child. capabilities. How well can infants see?
Newborns prefer to look at some stimuli rather
INFANCY than others such as faces, although these
preferences change over the first few months
The brain develops at an amazing rate before of life. The newborn’s vision is estimated to
and after birth. You have already read in be lower than the adult vision. By 6 months it
Chapter 3 about the parts of the brain and improves and by about the first year, vision is
the important role played by cerebrum in almost the same as that of an adult (20/20).
human functions, such as language, Can a newborn see colour? The current
perception, and intelligence. Just before birth consensus is that they might be able to
the newborns have most but not all brain cells. distinguish between red and white colours but

Table 4.1 Some Major Reflexes in the Newb

Reflex Description Developmental Course

Rooting Turning the head and opening the Disappears between 3 and 6 months
mouth when touched on the cheek
Moro If there is a loud noise, the baby Disappears in 6 to 7 months
will throw her/his arms outward (although reaction to loud noises is
while arching her/his back, and permanent)
then bring the arms together as
if grasping something
Grasp When a finger or some other object is Disappears in 3 to 4 months;
pressed against the baby’s palm, the replaced by voluntary grasping
baby’s fingers close around it
Babinski When the bottom of the baby’s foot Disappears in 8 to 12 months
is stroked, the toes fan out and
then curl

in general they are colour deficient and full of life, experiences the world through senses
colour vision develops by 3 months of age. and interactions with objects — through
What is the nature of hearing in newborns? looking, hearing, touching, mouthing, and
Infants can hear immediately after birth. As grasping. The newborn lives in the present.
the infant develops, proficiency at localising What is out of sight is out of mind. For
sound improves. Newborns respond to touch example, if you hide the toy in front of the
and they can even feel pain. Both smell and child with which the child has been playing,
taste capacities are also present in the the young infant would react as if nothing has
newborn. happened, i.e. s/he will not search for the toy.
Cognitive Development : Does a 3 year The child assumes the toy does not exist.
old child understand things the same way as According to Piaget, children at this stage do
would an 8 year old? Jean Piaget stressed that not go beyond their immediate sensory
children actively construct their experience, i.e. lack object permanence —
understanding of the world. Information does the awareness that the objects continue to
not simply enter their minds from the exist when not perceived. Gradually by 8
environment. As children grow, additional months of age the child starts pursuing the
information is acquired and they adapt their object partially covered in her/his presence.
thinking to include new ideas, as this improves The basis of verbal communication seems
their understanding of the world. Piaget to be present in infants. Vocalisation begins
believed that a child’s mind passes through a with the infant’s babbling, sometime between
series of stages of thought from infancy to 3 to 6 months of age. You will read about early
adolescence (see Table 4.2). language development in Chapter 8.
Each stage is characterised by a distinct Socio-emotional Development : Babies
way of thinking and is age related. It is from birth are social creatures. An infant starts
important to remember that it is the different preferring familiar faces and responds to
way of thinking which makes one stage more parent’s presence by cooing and gurgling. They
advanced than the other and not the amount become more mobile by 6 to 8 months of age
of information. This also shows why you at and start showing a preference for their
your age think differently from an 8 year old. mother’s company. When frightened by a new
The child during infancy, i.e. the first two years face or when separated from their mother, they

Chapter 4 • Human Development
Table 4.2 Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
Stage Approximate Age Characteristics

Sensorimotor 0-2 years Infant explores the world by coordinating

sensory experiences with physical actions.
Preoperational 2-7 years Symbolic thought develops; object
permanence is established; the child cannot
coordinate different physical attributes of an
Concrete operational 7-11 years The child can reason logically about concrete
events and classify objects into different sets.
Is able to perform reversible mental operations
on representations of objects.
Formal operational 11-15 years The adolescent can apply logic more
abstractly; hypothetical thinking develops.

cry or show distress. On being reunited with consistently and appropriately reciprocate to
the parent or caregiver they reciprocate with their signals of love and affection. According to
smiles or hugs. The close emotional bond of Erik Erikson (1968), the first year of life is the
affection that develop between infants and key time for the development of attachment. It
their parents (caregivers) is called represents the stage of developing trust or
attachment. In a classic study by Harlow and mistrust. A sense of trust is built on a feeling of
Harlow (1962), baby monkeys were separated physical comfort which builds an expectation
from their mothers approximately 8 hours of the world as a secure and good place. An
after birth. The baby monkeys were placed in infant’s sense of trust is developed by
experimental chambers and reared for 6 responsive and sensitive parenting. If the
months by surrogate (substitute) “mothers”, parents are sensitive, affectionate, and
one made of wire and the other of cloth. Half accepting, it provides the infant a strong base
the baby monkeys were fed by the wire mother, to explore the environment. Such infants are
half by the cloth mother. Regardless of whether likely to develop a secure attachment. On the
they were fed by the wire or the cloth mother other hand, if parents are insensitive and show
the baby monkeys showed a preference for the dissatisfaction and find fault with the child, it
cloth mother and spent a lot more time with can lead to creating feelings of self-doubt in
her. This study clearly demonstrates that the child. Securely attached infants respond
providing nourishment or feeding was not positively when picked up, move freely, and
crucial for attachment and contact-comfort is play whereas insecurely attached infants feel
important. You too may have seen young anxious when separated and cry due to fear
children having a strong attachment to a and get upset. A close interactive relationship
favourite toy or blanket. There is nothing with warm and affectionate adults is a child’s
unusual in this, as the children know that first step towards healthy development.
the blanket or toy is not their mother. Yet it
provides them comfort. As children grow and CHILDHOOD
become more sure of themselves, they
abandon these objects. The child’s growth slows down during early
Human babies also form an attachment childhood as compared to infancy. The child
with their parents or caregivers who develops physically, gains height and weight,

learns to walk, runs, jumps, and plays with a and body fat decreases. The brain and the
ball. Socially, the child’s world expands from head grow more rapidly than any other part
the parents to the family and adults near home of the body. The growth and development of
and at school. The child also begins to acquire the brain are important as they help in the
the concepts of good and bad, i.e. develops a maturation of children’s abilities, such as eye-
sense of morality. During childhood, children hand coordination, holding a pencil, and
have increased physical capacities, can attempts made at writing. During middle and
perform tasks independently, can set goals, late childhood years, children increase
and meet adult expectations. The increasing significantly in size and strength; increase in
maturation of the brain along with weight is mainly due to increase in the size of
opportunities to experience the world, the skeletal and muscular systems, as well as
contribute to development of children’s size of some body organs.
cognitive abilities. Motor Development : Gross motor skills
Physical Development : Early develop- during the early childhood years involve the
ment follows two principles : (i) development use of arms and legs, and moving around with
proceeds cephalocaudally, i.e. from the confidence and more purposefully in the
cephalic or head region to the caudal or tail environment. Fine motor skills — finger
region. Children gain control over the upper dexterity and eye-hand coordination —
part of the body before the lower part. This is improve substantially during early childhood.
why you would notice that the infant’s head During these years the child’s preference for
is proportionately larger than her/his body left or right hand also develops. The major
during early infancy or if you see an infant accomplishments in gross and fine motor skills
crawling, s/he will use the arms first and then during early childhood years are given in
shift to using the legs, (ii) growth proceeds from Table 4.3.
the centre of body and moves towards the Cognitive Development : The child’s
extremities or more distal regions — the ability to acquire the concept of object
proximodistal trend, i.e. children gain control permanence enables her/him to use mental
over their torso before their extremities. symbols to represent objects. However, the
Initially infants reach for objects by turning child at this stage lacks the ability that allows
their entire body, gradually they extend their her/him to do mentally what was done
arms to reach for things. These changes are physically before. Cognitive development in
the result of a maturing nervous system and early childhood focuses on Piaget’s stage of
not because of any limitation since even preoperational thought (see Table 4.2). The
visually impaired children show the same child gains the ability to mentally represent
sequence. an object that is not physically present. You
As children grow older, they look slimmer may have observed children draw designs/
as the trunk part of their bodies lengthens figures to represent people, trees, dog, house,

Table 4.3 Major Accomplishments in Gross and FFine

ine Motor Skills

Age in Years Gross Motor Skills Fine Motor Skills

3 years Hopping, jumping, running Build blocks, pick objects with

forefinger and thumb
4 years Climb up and downstairs with Fit jigsaw puzzle precisely
one foot on each step
5 years Run hard, enjoy races Hand, arm, and body all coordinate
with eye movement

Chapter 4 • Human Development
etc. This ability of the child to engage in preoperational child would have done? S/he
symbolic thought helps to expand her/his is likely to focus on only one aspect-length or
mental world. The progress in symbolic height. Concrete operations allow the child to
thought continues. A salient feature of focus on different characteristics and not focus
preoperational thought is egocentrism (self- on one aspect of the object. This helps the
focus), i.e. children see the world only in terms child to appreciate that there are different ways
of their own selves and are not able to of looking at things, which also results in the
appreciate others’ point of view. Children decline of her/his egocentrism. Thinking
because of egocentrism, engage in animism - becomes more flexible, and children can think
thinking that all things are living, like oneself. about alternatives when solving problems, or
They attribute life-like qualities to inanimate mentally retrace their steps if required. Even
objects. For example, if a child while running though the preoperational child develops the
slips on the road, s/he might show animism ability to see relationships between different
by saying “road hurt me”. As children grow properties of an object, s/he cannot do
and are approximately between 4 and 7 years abstract thinking, i.e. s/he still cannot
of age they want answers to all their questions manipulate ideas in the absence of objects.
like: Why is the sky blue? How do trees grow? For example, steps required to complete
and so on. Such questions help the child to algebraic equations, or imagining line of
know why things are as they are. Piaget called
longitude or latitude of the earth.
this the stage of intuitive thought. Another
The growing cognitive abilities of children
feature of thought during preoperational stage
facilitate the acquisition of language. You will
is characterised by children having a tendency
read in Chapter 8, how children develop
for centration, i.e. focusing on a single
vocabulary and grammar.
characteristic or feature for understanding an
event. For example, a child may insist on
drinking a “big glass” of juice, preferring a tall Activity 4.2
narrow glass to a short broad one, even though
both might be holding the same amount of Take two transparent glasses of the same size
juice. and pour same amount of water in both. Ask a
As the child grows and is approximately child of Class II and Class V of your school:
whether the glasses contain the same amount of
between 7 and 11 years of age (the period of water? Take another tall thin glass and in front
middle and late childhood) intuitive thought of the child empty water from one of the earlier
is replaced by logical thought. This is the stage glasses to the third glass. Now ask her/him which
of concrete operational thought, which is glass has more water? Did you find any difference
made up of operations — mental actions that in their responses?
allows the child to do mentally what was done
physically before. Concrete operations are also
mental actions that are reversible. In a well- Socio-emotional Development : The
known test, the child is presented with two important dimensions of children’s socio-
identical balls of clay. One ball is rolled by the emotional development are the self, gender
experimenter into a long thin strip and the and moral development. During the early
other ball remains in its original shape. On years of childhood, some important
being asked which has more clay, the child developments in the self take place. The child
of 7 or 8 years, would answer that, both have due to socialisation has developed a sense of
the same amount of clay. This is because the who s/he is and whom s/he wants to be
child imagines the ball rolled into thin strip identified with. The developing sense of
and then into a ball, that means s/he is able independence makes children do things in
to imagine reversible mental action on their own way. According to Erikson, the way
concrete/real objects. What do you think a parents respond to their self-initiated activities

leads to developing a sense of initiative or understanding in early childhood is limited to
sense of guilt. For example, giving freedom and defining oneself thr ough physical
opportunities for play like cycling, running, characteristics: I am tall, she has black hair, I
skating, etc. and answering children’s am a girl, etc. During middle and late
questions will create a sense of support for childhood, the child is likely to define oneself
the initiative taken. In contrast, if they are through internal characteristics such as, “I
made to feel that their questions are useless, am smart and I am popular” or “I feel proud
and games played by them are stupid, the when teachers assign me responsibility in
children are likely to develop feelings of guilt school”. In addition to defining oneself through
over self-initiated activities, which may persist psychological characteristics, children’s self-
through the children’s later life also. Self- descriptions also include social aspects of self,

Box 4.2 Gender and Sex Roles

Is chess a man’s game or woman’s game or both? of development. Through rewards and punishments,
Is baking a woman’s activity or a man’s activity? they induce in children gender appropriate and
What about driving, debating, and experimenting inappropriate behaviours. Parents often use rewards
in a physics laboratory? Or consider some of the and punishments to teach their daughters to be
products sold on T.V. for young men and young feminine and boys to be masculine. Peer influence is
women? What do they tell about how girls and also considered to be a major contributor to gender
boys should be? socialisation.
Psychologists have meticulously researched Parents restrict school-aged girls more than they
on whether sex differences exist. Research shows restrict school-aged boys, and assign boys and girls
that males have been consistently found to be different types of chores. In everyday interactions,
more aggressive than females. Men perform parents give their daughters a kind of ‘dependence
better than women on tests of sit-ups, short-run training’, and their sons a kind of ‘independence
speeds and long jumps. Women show better, fine training’. Media, including cartoons and commercials
eye-hand coordination than men do, and their are known to perpetuate gender stereotypes.
joints and limbs are more flexible than men’s. Research on gender stereotypes in commercials
What do you think is the origin of these shows that across cultures authority figures in
differences? Are these essential, or in other commercials were males, and women were more likely
words, are women born with certain ‘feminine’ to be shown in dependent and domestic roles, or
traits, and men with certain ‘masculine’ traits? women were more likely to sell body products, and
Or are these differences the creation of the world men more likely to sell sports products.
we live in? Once children learn the role of male or female,
The most powerful roles into which people are they organise their world on the basis of gender also.
socialised are gender roles. They specify the range Children’s attention and behaviour are guided by an
of behaviours which are considered appropriate internal motivation to conform to gender based socio-
for males or females. While sex refers to the cultural standards and stereotypes. Children also
biological dimension of being male or female, actively socialise themselves according to the gender
gender refers to the social dimension of being male mores of their culture. Once they have internalised
or female. There are several aspects of gender. gender standards, they begin to expect gender
Among these, important ones are gender identity appropriate behaviour from themselves. Young boys
of male or female, which most children begin to may refuse to wear feminine clothes in a fancy dress
acquire by the time they are about 3 years old competition. When playing house (ghar-ghar), girls
and can accurately label themselves as boys and may refuse to play the father’s role. Once they have
girls. As they grow, preferences can be evidenced identified with their own gender, children may model
in their toys and play. after a powerful cultural figure of the same gender.
A gender role is a set of expectations that The “gender typing” occurs when individuals are
prescribes how females and males should think, ready to encode and organise information along the
act and feel. Parents are important influences on lines of what is considered appropriate or typical for
gender socialisation especially in the early years males and females in a society.

Chapter 4 • Human Development
such as references to social groups like being actions are wrong because s/he is punished,
a member of school’s music club, environment and right because s/he is rewarded. As the
club, or any religious group. Children’s self- child grows, i.e. by early adolescence, s/he
understanding also includes social develops moral reasoning through set of rules
comparison. Children are likely to think about of others, such as parents or laws of the
what they can do or cannot do in comparison society. These rules are accepted by the
with others. For example, “I got more marks children as their own. These are “internalised”
than Atul” or “I can run faster than others in in order to be virtuous and to win approval
the class”. This developmental shift leads to from others (not to avoid punishment).
establishing one’s differences from others as Children view rules as absolute guidelines,
an individual. which should be followed. Moral thinking at
Once the children enter school their social this stage is relatively inflexible. As they grow,
world expands beyond their families. They also they gradually develop a personal moral code.
spend greater amount of time with their age You have seen that by the end of childhood
mates or peers. Thus the increased time that a more gradual growth rate enables the child
children spend with their peers shapes their to develop skills of coordination and balance.
development. Language develops and the child can reason
logically. Socially the child has become more
Activity 4.3 involved in social systems, such as family and
peer group. The next section traces changes
Act like a boy if you are a girl or act like a girl if in human development during adolescence
you are a boy for atleast one hour in front of your and adulthood.
friends and parents. Reflect on your experience
and note others’ reaction to your behaviour. You
can also ask them about their reactions. How Activity 4.4
difficult was it to perform like the other gender?
A patient is critically ill, hospitalised for many
years and shows no improvement. Should the life
Moral Development : Another important support system of the patient be withdrawn?
aspect of the child’s development is learning What is your view on euthanasia or “mercy killing”
to differentiate between the rightness or as it is sometimes called. Discuss with your teacher.
wrongness of human acts. The way children
come to distinguish right from wrong, to feel
guilty, to put themselves in other people’s CHALLENGES OF ADOLESCENCE
position, and to help others when they are in
trouble, are all components of moral The term adolescence derives from the Latin
development. Just as children pass through word adolescere, meaning “to grow into
the various stages of cognitive development, maturity”. It is the transitional period in a
according to Lawrence Kohlberg, they pass person’s life between childhood and
through the various stages of moral adulthood. Adolescence is commonly defined
development, which are age related. Kohlberg as the stage of life that begins at the onset of
interviewed children in which they were puberty, when sexual maturity, or the ability
presented with stories in which the characters to reproduce is attained. It has been regarded
face moral dilemmas. Children were asked as a period of rapid change, both biologically
what the characters in the dilemma should and psychologically. Though the physical
do, and why. According to him, children changes that take place during this stage are
approach thinking about right and wrong universal, the social and psychological
differently at different ages. The young child, dimensions of the adolescent’s experiences
i.e. before 9 years of age, thinks in terms of depend on the cultural context. For example,
external authority. According to her/him, in cultures where the adolescent years are

viewed as problematic or confusing, the sexuality is caused by factors such as
adolescent will have very different experiences individual’s awareness of the biological
from someone who is in a culture, where changes taking place and the emphasis placed
adolescent years are viewed as beginning of on sexuality by peers, parents, and society.
adult behaviour and, therefore, undertaking Even then, many adolescents lack adequate
responsible tasks. Although most societies knowledge or have misconceptions about sex
have at least a brief period of adolescence, it and sexuality. Sex is a topic parents find
is not universal across cultures. dif ficult to discuss with children, so
Physical Development : Puberty or sexual adolescents tend to become secretive about
maturity marks the end of childhood and sexual concerns which make exchange of
signifies the beginning of adolescence, which information and communication difficult. The
is characterised by dramatic physical changes concern over adolescent sexuality has become
in both, gr owth rate, and sexual intense in recent times because of the risk of
characteristics. However, puberty is not a AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
sudden event, but is part of a gradual process. The development of a sexual identity
The hormones released during puberty result defines the sexual orientation and guides
in the development of primary and secondary sexual behaviour. As such it becomes an
sexual characteristics. The primary sex important developmental task for adolescents.
characteristics include those directly related How did you think of yourself at the beginning
to reproduction and the secondary sex of puberty? Adolescents are preoccupied with
characteristics include features or signs of what they are like and develop individual
achieving sexual maturity. Pubertal changes images of what they look like. Another
in boys are marked by acceleration in growth, important developmental tasks during
facial hair, and changes in voice. In girls, rapid adolescence is accepting one’s physical self/
growth in height usually begins about two maturity. Adolescents need to develop a
years before menarche, the onset of realistic image of their physical appearance,
menstruation. The growth spurt generally which is acceptable to them. It is important
begins at the age of 12 or 13 for boys and at to keep in mind that puberty also involves
the age of 10 or 11 for girls. It is normal to cognitive and social changes along with
have variations in the pubertal sequence. For physical changes.
example, among two boys (or two girls) of same Cognitive Developmental Changes :
chronological age, one may complete pubertal Adolescents’ thought becomes more abstract,
sequence before the other has begun it. Both logical, and idealistic; they become more
genetics and environment play a part in this. capable of examining their own thoughts,
For example, identical twins reach menarche others’ thoughts, and what others are thinking
closer in time than do fraternal twins; on an about them. Adolescents’ developing ability to
average, girls from affluent families go through reason gives them a new level of cognitive and
menarche earlier than girls from poor families; social awareness. Piaget believed that formal
and historical trends show that the age of operational thought appears between the age
menarche is declining in industrialised nations of 11 and 15. During this stage adolescent
reflecting better nutrition and advances in thinking expands beyond actual concrete
medical care. experiences and they begin to think more in
Physical development during adolescence abstract terms and reason about them. In
is also accompanied by a number of addition to being abstract, adolescent thought
psychological changes. Around puberty is also idealistic. Adolescents begin to think
adolescents show an increase in interest in about ideal characteristics for themselves and
members of the opposite sex and in sexual others and compare themselves and others
matters and a new awareness of sexual with these ideal standards. For example, they
feelings develops. This increased attention to may think what an ideal parent is like and

Chapter 4 • Human Development
compare their parents with these ideal the parents; ‘you don’t understand me’. To
standards. This may at times make retain their sense of personal uniqueness they
adolescents wonder which of the new-found may weave stories filled with fantasy around
ideal standards they should adopt. In contrast them to create a world that is away from
to trial and error approach used by children reality. Personal fables are often part of
in earlier stages of development, adolescent adolescent diaries.
thinking becomes more systematic in solving Forming an Identity : You must have
problems — they think of possible courses of sought answers to questions such as : Who
action, why something is happening the way am I? Which subjects should I study? Do I
it is, and systematically seek solutions. Piaget believe in God? The answers to all these
called this type of logical thinking — questions involve the quest to define one’s
hypothetical deductive reasoning. sense of self or the search for identity.
Logical thought also influences the Identity is who you are and what your values,
development of moral reasoning. Social rules commitments and beliefs are. The primary task
are not considered as absolute standards and of adolescence is to establish an identity
moral thinking shows some flexibility. The separate from the parents. During adolescence
adolescent recognises alternative moral a detachment process enables the individual
courses, explores options, and then decides to develop a personalised set of beliefs that
on a personal moral code. For example, should are uniquely her or his own. In the process of
I smoke as everyone I know does? Is it ethical achieving an identity the adolescent could
to copy answers in the examinations? This also experience conflict with parents and within
lends the possibility of adolescents not herself or himself. Those adolescents who can
following society’s norms if they conflict with cope with the conflicting identities develop a
personal code of ethics. For example, new sense of self. Adolescents who are not
individuals at this age might participate in a able to cope with this identity crisis are
protest march for a cause rather than adhere/ confused. This “identity confusion”, according
conform to college norm. to Erikson, can lead to individuals isolating
Adolescents also develop a special kind of themselves from peers and family; or they may
egocentrism. According to David Elkind, lose their identity in the crowd. Adolescents
imaginary audience and personal fable are on one hand, may desire independence but
two components of adolescents’ egocentrism. may also be afraid of it and show a great deal
Imaginary audience is adolescent’s belief that of dependence on their parents. Rapid
others are as preoccupied with them as they fluctuations between self-confidence and
are about themselves. They imagine that insecurity are typical of this stage. Adolescents
people are always noticing them and are may at one time complain of being “treated
observing each and every behaviour of theirs. like a baby” whereas on other occasions they
Imagine a boy who thinks that all will notice may seek comfort by depending on their
the ink spot on his shirt, or a girl with a pimple parents. Seeking an identity involves searching
feels, all people would think how bad her skin for continuity and sameness in oneself, greater
is. It is this imaginary audience, which makes responsibility and trying to get a clear sense
them extremely self-conscious. The personal of who one is, i.e. an identity.
fable is part of the adolescents’ egocentrism The for mation of identity during
that involves their sense of uniqueness. adolescence is influenced by several factors.
Adolescents’ sense of uniqueness makes them The cultural background, family and societal
think that no one understands them or their values, ethnic background, and socio-
feelings. For example, an adolescent girl thinks economic status all prevail upon the
that none can sense the hurt that she feels adolescents’ search for a place in society.
because of being betrayed by a friend. It is Family relationships become less important
quite common to hear the adolescent say to as the adolescent spends more time outside

the home and develops a strong need for peer delinquency, substance abuse, and eating
support and acceptance. Increased disorders.
interactions with peers provide them with Delinquency : Delinquency refers to a
opportunities for refining their social skills and variety of behaviours, ranging from socially
trying out different social behaviours. Peers unacceptable behaviour, legal offences, to
and parents are dual forces having major criminal acts. Examples include truancy,
influences on adolescents. At times conflicting running away from home, stealing or burglary
situations with parents lead to increased or acts of vandalism. Adolescents with
identification with peers. But generally parents delinquency and behavioural problems tend to
and peers serve complementary functions and have a negative self-identity, decreased trust,
fulfil different needs of the adolescents. and low level of achievement. Delinquency is
Vocational commitment is another factor often associated with low parental support,
influencing adolescent identity formation. The inappropriate discipline, and family discord.
question “What are you going to be when you Often adolescents from communities
grow up?”, requires the ability to think about characterised by poverty, unemployment, and
the future and to be able to set realistic and having feelings of alienation from the middle
achievable goals. In some cultures freedom is class perform antisocial acts to gain attention
given to the young people to choose an and to be popular with their peers. However,
occupation, whereas in certain other cultures most delinquent children do not remain
the option of making this choice is not given delinquent forever. Change in their peer group,
to the children. Here parents’ decision is likely becoming mor e aware of their social
to be accepted by the children. What has been responsibilities and developing feelings of self-
your experience while making a choice in the worth, imitating positive behaviour of the role
selection of subjects? Career counselling in models, breaking negative attitudes, and
schools offers information regarding appraisal overcoming poor self-concept help in reduction
of the students for various courses and jobs of delinquent behaviour.
and provides guidance in making a decision Substance Abuse : Adolescent years are
about career choices. especially vulnerable to smoking, alcohol and
Some Major Concerns : As adults when drug abuse. Some adolescents take recourse
we reflect on our adolescent years and recall to smoking and drugs as a way of coping with
the conflicts, uncertainties, occasional stress. This can interfere with the development
loneliness, group pressures, we feel it was of coping skills and responsible decision-
definitely a vulnerable period. During making. The reasons for smoking and drug
adolescence peer influence, new gained use could be peer pressure and the
freedom, unresolved problems may create adolescents’ need to be accepted by the group,
difficulties for many of you. Conforming to peer or desire to act more like adults, or feel a need
pressure can be both positive and negative. to escape the pressure of school work or social
Adolescents are often confronted with activities. The addictive powers of nicotine
decisions regarding smoking, drugs, alcohol, make it difficult to stop smoking. It has been
and breaking parental rules, etc. These found that adolescents who are more
decisions are taken without much regard to vulnerable to drugs, alcohol, and nicotine use,
the effect they can have. Adolescents may face are impulsive, aggressive, anxious, depressive,
periods of uncertainty, loneliness, self-doubt, and unpredictable, have low self-esteem, and
anxiety, and concern about themselves and low expectation for achievement. Peer pressure
their future, they are also likely to experience and the need to be with their peer group make
excitement, joy, and feelings of competence the adolescent either go along with their
as they over come the developmental demands to experiment with drugs, alcohol,
challenges. You will now read about some of and smoking or be ridiculed. Drug use if
the major challenges faced by adolescents like continued long enough can lead to

Chapter 4 • Human Development
physiological dependency, i.e. addiction to to live with their parents even after getting
drugs, alcohol or nicotine may seriously married and being financially independent.
jeopardise the rest of the adolescents’ lives. The assumption of adult roles is directed by
Positive relationships with parents, peers, an individual’s social context. The best time
siblings, and adults play an important role in for some of the most important life events (i.e.
preventing drug abuse. In India, a successful marriage, job, having children) might be quite
anti-drug programme is the Society for Theatre different in different cultures but within a
in Education Programme in New Delhi. It uses culture there is similarity in the course of adult
street performances to entertain people development.
between 13 to 25 years of age while teaching In early adulthood, two major tasks are,
them how to say no to drugs. The United exploring the possibilities for adult living and
Nations International Drug Control Programme developing a stable life structure. The twenties
(UNDCP) has chosen the programme as an represent the novice phase of adult
example to be adopted by other non- development. Gradually, a transition from
governmental organisations in the region. dependence to independence should occur.
Eating Disorders : Adolescents’ obsession This could be marked by an image of the kind
with self, living in fantasy world and peer of life the young person wants, especially in
comparisons lead to certain conditions where terms of marriage and a career.
they become obsessed with their own bodies. Career and Work : Earning a living,
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that choosing an occupation, and developing a
involves relentless pursuit of thinness through career are important themes for people in their
starvation. It is quite common to see twenties and thirties. Entering work life is a
adolescents eliminate certain foods from their challenging event in anyone’s life. There are
diets or to eat slimming foods only. The media apprehensions regarding dif ferent
also projects thinness, as the most desirable adjustments, proving one’s competence,
image and copying such fashionable image of performance, dealing with competition, and
thinness leads to anorexia nervosa. Bulimia coping with expectations both of the employers
is another form of an eating disorder in which and oneself. It is also the beginning of new
the individual follows a binge-and-purge eating roles and responsibilities. Developing and
pattern. The bulimic goes on an eating binge, evaluating a career becomes an important task
then purges by self-induced vomiting or using of adulthood.
a laxative at times alternating it with fasting. Marriage, Parenthood, and Family : The
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are primarily adjustments that young adults have to make
female disorders more common in urban when entering a marriage relate to knowing
families. the other person if not known earlier, coping
with each other’s likes, dislikes, tastes, and
choices. If both the partners are working,
adjustments are required regarding sharing
and performing roles and responsibilities at
An adult is generally defined as someone who In addition to getting married, becoming a
is responsible, mature, self-supporting, and parent can be a difficult and stressful transition
well integrated into society. There is a variation in young adults, even though it is usually
in developing these attributes, which suggests accompanied by the feeling of love for the baby.
that there is a shift in timing when an How adults experience parenting is affected by
individual becomes an adult or assumes adult different situations such as the number of
roles. Some people take up jobs along with children in the family, the availability of social
their college studies or may get married and support, and the happiness or unhappiness
not pursue their studies. Others may continue of the married couple.

Death of a spouse or divorce creates a of the challenges, which the aged have to cope
family structure in which a single parent either with include retirement, widowhood, illness,
the mother or the father has to take up the or death in the family. The image of old age is
responsibility of the children. In recent times, changing in certain ways. Now there are people
women are increasingly seeking employment who have crossed seventy years of age or so
outside the home thus creating another type and are quite active, energetic, and creative.
of family in which both parents work. The They are competent and are therefore, valued
stressors when both parents are working are by society in many walks of life. In particular,
quite the same as of a single working parent, we have aged people in politics, literature,
namely, taking care of children, their school- business, art and science. The myth of old age
work, illness, and coping with workload at as an incapacitating and therefore, frightening
home and in the office, etc. Despite the phase of life is changing.
stresses associated with parenting, it provides Of course, the experience of old age also
a unique opportunity for gr owth and depends on the socioeconomic conditions,
satisfaction and is perceived as a way of availability of health care, attitude of people,
establishing concern and guiding the next expectations of society and the available
generation. support system. Work is most important
Physical changes during middle ages are during early adult years, then family becomes
caused by maturational changes in the body. most important and beyond that health
Though individuals may vary in the rate at becomes the most important issue in the
which these changes occur, almost all middle- person’s life. Clearly, successful ageing for
aged people notice gradual deterioration in much of our adult life focuses on how effective
some aspects of their physical functioning we are at work, how loving our relationships
such as decline in vision, sensitivity to glare, are in our family, how good our friendships
hearing loss and changes in physical are, how healthy we are, and how cognitively
appearance (e.g., wrinkles, grey hair or fit we are.
thinning of hair, weight gain). Do cognitive Retirement from active vocational life is
abilities change during adulthood? It is quite significant. Some people perceive
believed that some cognitive abilities decline retirement as a negative change. They
with age while others do not. Decline in consider it as a separation from an important
memory is more in tasks involving long-term source of satisfaction and self-esteem. Others
memory than short-ter m memory. For view it as a shift in life with more time to
example, a middle-aged person can remember pursue their own interests. It is seen that
the telephone number immediately after s/he older adults who show openness to new
has heard it but may not remember it so experiences, more striving and achievement-
efficiently after a few days. Memory tends to oriented behaviour prefer to keep busy and
show greater decline, while wisdom may are better adjusted.
improve with age. Remember that individual Older adults also need to adjust to changes
differences exist in intelligence at every age in the family structure and new roles (grand
and as not all children are exceptional, neither parenting) that have to be learnt. Children
do all adults show wisdom. usually are busy in their careers and families
and may set up independent homes. Older
Old Age adults may depend on their children for
Just when “old age” begins, is not easy to financial support and to overcome their
determine. Traditionally, the age of retirement loneliness (after children have moved out).
was linked to old age. Now that people are This might trigger-off feelings of hopelessness
living longer, age of retiring from work is and depression in some people.
changing, and the cut-of f point for the In old age feeling of loss of energy, and
definition of “old age” is moving upward. Some dwindling of health and financial assets, lead

Chapter 4 • Human Development
to insecurity and dependency. The elderly tend spouse is usually seen as the most difficult
to look towards others to lean on and to care loss. Those left behind after the death of their
for them. Indian culture favours dependency partner suffer deep grief, cope with loneliness,
of elderly on their children, for old age needs depression, financial loss and are also at risk
caring. In fact, parents in most oriental of many health related problems. Widows by
cultures rear their children with the fond hope far out number widowers, because studies
that they will care for them during old age. It show that women live longer than men and
is important to give the elderly a sense of tend to marry men older than themselves.
security and belonging, a feeling that people During such times, support from children,
care for them (especially in the time of crisis), grandchildren, and friends can help the
and to remember that we all have to grow old individual cope with the loss of spouse.
one day. People in different cultures view death
differently. In the Gond culture in our country,
Activity 4.5 it is believed that death is caused by magic
and demon. In the Tanala cultur e of
Madagascar, natural forces are thought to
Interview people from three different stages of life,
for example, 20-35, 35-60 and over 60 years of cause death. Human development as you have
age. Talk to them about: read in this chapter thus, helps you to
a. Major transitions that have taken place in understand the influence of various factors
their lives. in an individual’s lifetime.
b. How they feel these transitions have affected
Compare the events considered important in
different groups.
Key Terms
Adolescence, Animism, Attachment,
Centration, Cephalocaudal trend, Concrete
Although death is more likely to occur in operational stage, Deductive thought,
late adulthood, death can come at any point Development, Egocentrism, Evolution, Gender,
in development. The deaths, especially of Identity, Infancy, Maturation, Menarche,
Motor development, Object permanence,
children and younger adults, are often Operations, Phenotype, Prenatal period,
perceived to be more tragic than those of Preoperational stage, Primary sex
others. In children and younger adults, death characteristics, Proximodistal trend, Puberty,
is more likely to occur because of accidents Reflexes, Secondary sex characteristics, Self,
but in older adults it is more likely to occur Sensorimotor stage, Teratogens
because of chronic disease. The death of a

• Prenatal development may be affected by maternal malnutrition, maternal drug use and
some maternal illnesses.
• Motor development follows cephalocaudal and proximodistal trends. Early motor development
depends on both maturation and learning.
• Cultural variations in child rearing can affect the patterns of attachment between the child
and the caregiver.
• According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, the main characteristics of sensorimotor
stage is the child’s gradual recognition of the permanence of objects. The preoperational
stage is marked by certain deficiencies in thinking such as centration, irreversibility, and

• During the concrete operations stage, children develop the ability to perform operations on
mental representations, making them capable of conservation. The stage of formal operations
is more abstract, systematic, and develops logical thought.
• According to Kohlberg, moral reasoning progresses through three levels that are related to
age and determined by cognitive development.
• The growth spurt at puberty is a prominent event involving the development of reproductive
maturity and secondary sex characteristics. According to Erikson, the key challenge of
adolescence is to make some progress towards a sense of identity.
• During adulthood personality is marked by both stability and change. Many landmarks in
adult development involve transitions in family relationships, including adjustment to
marriage, parenthood, and children leaving home.
• Age-related physical transitions during adulthood include changes in appearance, memory,
and in the cognitive domain.

Review Questions
1. What is development? How is it different from growth and maturation?
2. Describe the main features of life-span perspective on development.
3. What are developmental tasks? Explain by giving examples.
4. ‘Environment of the child has a major role in the development of the child’. Support your
answer with examples.
5. How do socio-cultural factors influence development?
6. Discuss the cognitive changes taking place in a developing child.
7. Attachment bonds formed in childhood years have long-term effects. Explain taking
examples from daily life.
8. What is adolescence? Explain the concept of egocentrism.
9. What are the factors influencing the formation of identity during adolescence? Support
your answer with examples.
10. What are the challenges faced by individuals on entry to adulthood?

Project Ideas
1. Think of your experiences during the last 2-3 years and answer the following : Did you
have confrontations with your parents? What were the main problems? How did you
solve your problems, and whose help did you seek? Compare your list with your
classmates. Are there any similarities? Can you now think of better ways of solving the
problems faced by you?
2. Develop a script from a preoperational (4-7 years old) child’s point of view for playing
with friends. Develop the same script for an adolescent. How do these scenarios differ?
How are roles played by your friends different?

Chapter 4 • Human Development
Sensory,, AAttentional
Sensory ttentional and
Perceptual Processes
5 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• understand the nature of sensory processes,
• explain the processes and types of attention,
• analyse the problems of form and space perception,
• examine the role of socio-cultural factors in perception, and
• reflect on sensory, attentional and perceptual processes in everyday life.

Knowing the World
Nature and Varieties of Stimulus
Sense Modalities
Visual Sensation
Other Human Senses (Box 5.1)
Auditory Sensation
Attentional Processes
Selective Attention
Divided Attention (Box 5.2)
Sustained Attention
Span of Attention (Box 5.3)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Box 5.4)
Perceptual Processes
Processing Approaches in Perception
The Perceiver
Principles of Perceptual Organisation
Perception of Space, Depth, and Distance
Monocular Cues and Binocular Cues
Perceptual Constancies
Socio-Cultural Influences on Perception

Key Terms
The quality of life is determined
by its activities. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– Aristotle

In the previous chapters you have already learnt how we respond to various stimuli
present in the external and internal environment with the help of our receptors.
While some of these receptors are clearly observable (for example, eyes or ears),
others lie inside our body, and are not observable without the help of electrical or
mechanical devices. This chapter will introduce you to various receptors that collect
a variety of information from the external and internal worlds. The focus will be
particularly on the structure and function of eye and ear, including some interesting
processes associated with vision and audition. You will also know some important
things about attention, which helps us to notice and register the information that
our sense organs carry to us. Different types of attention will be described along
with the factors that influence them. At the end, we will discuss the process of
perception that allows us to understand the world in a meaningful way. You will
also have an opportunity to know how we are sometimes deceived by certain types
of stimuli such as figures and pictures.

not only from the external world, but also from

our own body. The information collected by
The world in which we live is full of variety of our sense organs forms the basis of all our
objects, people, and events. Look at the room knowledge. The sense organs register several
you are sitting in. You will find so many things kinds of information about various objects.
around. Just to mention a few, you may see However, in order to be registered, the objects
your table, your chair, your books, your bag, and their qualities (e.g., size, shape, colour)
your watch, pictures on the wall and many must be able to draw our attention. The
other things. Their sizes, shapes, and colours registered information must also be sent to
are also different. If you move to other rooms the brain that constructs some meaning out
of your house, you will notice several other of them. Thus, our knowledge of the world
new things (e.g., pots and pans, almirah, TV). around us depends on three basic processes,
If you go beyond your house, you will find still called sensation, attention, and perception.
many more things that you generally know These processes are highly interrelated; hence,
about (trees, animals, buildings). Such they are often considered as different elements
experiences are very common in our day-to- of the same process, called cognition.
day life. We hardly have to make any efforts
If someone asks you, “How can you say
that these various things exist in your room, The external environment that surrounds us
or house, or in the outside environment?”, you contains a wide variety of stimuli. Some of
will most probably answer that you see or them can be seen (e.g., a house), while some
experience them all around you. In doing so, can be heard only (e.g., music). There are
you are trying to tell the person that the several others that we can smell (e.g., fragrance
knowledge about various objects becomes of a flower) or taste (e.g., sweets). There are
possible with the help of our sense organs (e.g., still others that we can experience by touching
eyes, ears). These organs collect information (e.g., softness of a cloth). All these stimuli

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
provide us with various kinds of information. Functional Limitations of Sense Organs
We have very specialised sense organs to deal
Before we move on to a discussion of sense
with these different stimuli. As human beings
organs, it is important to note that our sense
we are bestowed with a set of seven sense
organs function with certain limitations. For
organs. These sense organs are also known
example, our eyes cannot see things which
as sensory receptors or information gathering
are very dim or very bright. Similarly our ears
systems, because they receive or gather
cannot hear very faint or very loud sounds.
information from a variety of sources. Five of
these sense organs collect information from The same is true for other sense organs also.
the external world. These are eyes, ears, nose, As human beings, we function within a limited
tongue, and skin. While our eyes are primarily range of stimulation. For being noticed by a
responsible for vision, ears for hearing, nose sensory receptor, a stimulus has to be of an
for smell, and tongue for taste, skin is optimal intensity or magnitude. The
responsible for the experiences of touch, relationship between stimuli and the
warmth, cold, and pain. Specialised receptors sensations they evoke has been studied in a
of warmth, cold, and pain are found inside discipline, called psychophysics.
our skin. Besides these five external sense In order to be noticed a stimulus has to
organs, we have also got two deep senses. They carry a minimum value or weight. The
are called kinesthetic and vestibular systems. minimum value of a stimulus required to
They provide us with important information activate a given sensory system is called
about our body position and movement of absolute threshold or absolute limen (AL).
body parts related to each other. With these For example, if you add a granule of sugar to
seven sense organs, we register ten different a glass of water, you may not experience any
variety of stimuli. For example, you may notice sweetness in that water. Addition of a second
whether a light is bright or dim, whether it is granule to water may also not make it taste
yellow, red or green, and so on. With sound sweet. But if you go on adding sugar granules
you may notice whether it is loud or faint, one after another, there will come a point when
whether it is melodious or distracting, and so you will say that the water is now sweet. The
on. These different qualities of stimuli are also minimum number of sugar granules required
registered by our sense organs. to say that the water is sweet will be the AL of
It may be noted at this point that the AL is
not a fixed point; instead it varies considerably
Our sense organs provide us with first-hand across individuals and situations depending
information about our external or internal on the people’s organic conditions and their
world. The initial experience of a stimulus or motivational states. Hence, we have to assess
an object registered by a particular sense it on the basis of a number of trials. The
organ is called sensation. It is a process number of sugar granules that may produce
through which we detect and encode a variety the experience of “sweetness” in water on
of physical stimuli. Sensation also refers to 50 per cent of occasions will be called the AL
immediate basic experiences of stimulus of sweetness. If you add more number of sugar
attributes, such as “hard”, “warm”, “loud”, and granules, the chances are greater that the
“blue”, which result fr om appropriate water will be reported more often as sweet than
stimulation of a sensory organ. Different sense plain.
organs deal with different forms of stimuli and As it is not possible for us to notice all
serve different purposes. Each sense organ is stimuli, it is also not possible to differentiate
highly specialised for dealing with a particular between all stimuli. In order to notice two
kind of information. Hence, each one of them stimuli as different from each other, there has
is known as a sense modality. to be some minimum difference between the

value of those stimuli. The smallest difference with the external world. Audition and other
in the value of two stimuli that is necessary to senses also contribute significantly to
notice them as different is called difference information gathering from the external world.
threshold or difference limen (DL). To We shall discuss vision and audition in some
understand it, we may continue with our detail. The main features of other senses can
“sugar water” experiment. As we have seen, be found in Box 5.1.
the plain water is experienced as sweet after Visual sensation starts when light enters
the addition of certain number of sugar the eyes and stimulates our visual receptors.
granules. Let us remember this sweetness. The Our eyes are sensitive to a spectrum of light,
next question is: how many sugar granules the wavelength of which ranges from 380 nm
will be needed in the water in order to to 780 nm (nm refers to nanometer, which is
experience its sweetness as different from the one billionth of a meter). No sensation is
previous sweetness. Go on adding sugar registered beyond this range of light.
granules one after another tasting the water
each time. After addition of a few granules, The Human Eye
you will notice at a point that the water is now A diagram of the human eye is shown in
sweeter than the previous one. The number Figure 5.1. As you can see, our eye is made
of sugar granules added to the water to up of three layers. In the outer layer, there is
generate an experience of sweetness that is a transparent cornea and a tough sclera that
different from the previous sweetness on 50 surrounds the rest of the eye. It protects the
per cent of the occasions will be called the DL eye and maintains its shape. The middle layer
of sweetness. Thus, difference threshold is the is called choroid, which is richly supplied with
minimum amount of change in a physical blood vessels. The inner layer is known as
stimulus that is capable of producing a retina. It contains the photoreceptors (rods
sensation difference on 50 per cent of the and cones) and an elaborate network of
trials. interconnecting neurons.
You may realise by now that understanding The eye is generally compared with a
of sensations is not possible without camera. For example, the eye and camera have
understanding the AL and DL of different types a lens. The lens divides the eye into two
of stimuli (for example, visual, auditory), but unequal chambers, namely aqueous chamber
that is not enough. Sensory processes do not and vitreous chamber. The aqueous chamber
depend only on the stimulus characteristics. is located between the cornea and the lens. It
Sense organs and the neural pathways is smaller in size and is filled with a water-
connecting them to various brain centers also like substance, called aqueous humor. The
play a vital role in this process. A sense organ vitreous chamber is located between the lens
receives the stimulus and encodes it as an and the retina. It is filled with a jelly like
electrical impulse. For being noticed this protein, called vitreous humor. These fluids
electrical impulse must reach the higher brain help in holding the lens at its appropriate place
centers. Any structural or functional defect or and in proper shape. They also allow enough
damage in the receptor organ, its neural flexibility for the occurrence of accommodation
pathway, or the concerned brain area may lead — a process through which the lens changes
to a partial or complete loss of sensation. its shape in order to focus the objects at
varying distances. This process is regulated
Visual Sensation
by ciliary muscles, which are attached to the
Among all sense modalities, vision is the most lens. These muscles flatten the lens to focus
highly developed in human beings. Various the distant objects and thicken it to focus the
estimates indicate that we use it in near objects. Like a camera, the eye also has
approximately 80 per cent of our transactions a mechanism to control the amount of light

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
Box 5.1 Other Human Senses

Besides vision and audition, there are other temperature, its pressure on our tongue, and
senses that enrich our perceptions. For example, many other sensations. When these factors are
an orange looks attractive not only because of it removed, we are left with only four basic tastes.
is colour but also because it has got a special Besides, the combination of different flavours in
flavour and taste. These other senses are briefly varied proportions results in a different kind of
described here. flavour which may be quite unique.
1. Smell : The stimulus for smell sensation 3. Touch and other skin senses : Skin is a sensory
consists of molecules of various substances organ that produces sensations of touch
contained in the air. They enter the nasal (pressure), warmth, cold, and pain. In our skin
passage where they dissolve in moist nasal there are specialised receptors for each one of
tissues. This brings them in contact with these sensations. The receptors of touch are not
receptor cells contained in olfactory evenly distributed in our skin. That is why some
epithelium. Human beings possess about 50 areas of our body (e.g., face, fingertips) are more
million of these receptors, whereas dogs sensitive than others (e.g., legs). Pain sensation
possess more than 200 million of these has no specific stimulus. Hence, determining its
receptors. Nevertheless, our ability to detect mechanism has been fairly difficult.
smell is impressive. It is indicated that human 4. The Kinesthetic system : Its receptors are found
beings can recognise and distinguish among primarily in joints, ligaments, and muscles. This
approximately 10,000 different odours. The system gives us information about the location
sense of smell also shows sensory of our body parts in relation to each other, and
adaptation like other senses. allows us to perform simple (e.g., touching one’s
2. Taste : The sensory receptors for taste are nose) and complex movements (e.g., dancing). Our
located inside small bumps on the tongue, visual system provides a great deal of help in
known as papillae. In each papilla there is a this respect.
cluster of taste buds. Human beings possess 5. The Vestibular system : This system gives us
almost 10,000 taste buds. While people claim information about our body position, movement,
to distinguish a large number of flavours in and acceleration — the factors that are critical
food, there are only four basic tastes, namely for maintaining our sense of balance. The sensory
sweet, sour, bitter and salty. How is it then organs of this sense are located in the inner ear.
that we perceive many more? The answer is While vestibular sacs inform us of our body
that we are aware not only of the taste of positions, the semicircular canals inform us about
the food, but also of its smell, its texture, its our movements and acceleration.

entering into it. The iris serves this purpose. (colour) vision. Each eye contains about 100
It is a disc-like coloured membrane lying million rods and about 7 million cones. The
between the cornea and the lens. It controls cones are highly concentrated in the central
the amount of light entering the eye by region of the retina surrounding the fovea,
regulating pupil dilation. In dim light the pupil which is a small circular region of the size of a
dilates; in bright light it contracts. pea. It is also known as the yellow spot. It is
Retina is the inner most layer of an eye. It the region of maximum visual acuity. Besides
is made up of five types of photosensitive cells photoreceptors, retina also contains a bundle
among which rods and cones are most of axons of a cell (called ganglion cell) that
important. Rods are the receptors for scotopic forms the optic nerve, which leads to the
vision (night vision). They operate at low brain.
intensities of light, and lead to achromatic
(colourless) vision. Cones are the receptors for Working of the Eye
photopic (day light) vision. They operate at high Passing through conjunctiva, cornea, and
levels of illumination, and lead to chromatic pupil, the light enters the lens, which focuses

Vitreous humor


Iris stimulus


Optic nerve


Blind spot
Ciliary muscle Retina

Fig.5.1 : Structure of the Human Eye

it on to the retina. Retina is divided into two Adaptation

parts: the nasal half and the temporal half.
The human eye can function at a very large
The inner half portion of the eye (towards the
range of light intensities. Sometimes we have
nose), taking the center of fovea as mid-point,
to undergo a rapid change in illumination
is called the nasal half. The outer half portion
levels. For example, when we go to a matinee
of the eye (towards the temple) from the center show movie, we find it difficult to see things
of fovea is called the temporal half. Light from in the hall on entering into it. However, after
the right visual field stimulates the left half of spending about 15 to 20 minutes there, we
each eye (i.e. the nasal half of the right eye are able to see everything. After the show when
and the temporal half of the left eye), and light we go out into the open, we find the light
from the left visual field stimulates the right outside the hall too bright to see things, or
half of each eye (i.e. the nasal half of the left sometimes even to keep our eyes open.
eye and the temporal half of the right eye). An However, within a minute or so we feel
inverted image of the object is formed on the comfortable, and are able to see things
retina. The neural impulse is transmitted to properly. This adjustment is faster than the
the visual cortex through the optic nerve where one made on entering the hall. The process of
the image is re-inverted and processed. You getting adjusted to different intensities of light
can see in Fig.5.1 that the optic nerve leaves is called ‘visual adaptation’.
the retina from the area that has no Light adaptation refers to the process of
photoreceptors. In this area visual sensitivity adjusting to bright light after exposure to dim
is completely absent. Therefore, it is called the light. This process takes nearly a minute or
blind spot. two. On the other hand, dark adaptation

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
refers to the process of adjusting to a dimly Colour Vision
illuminated environment after exposure to
In our interaction with the environment we
bright light. This may take half an hour or
not only experience a variety of objects, but
even longer depending on the previous level
also their colours. It may be noted that colour
of exposure of the eye to light. There are certain
is a psychological property of our sensory
ways in which these processes can be
experience. It is created when our brain
facilitated. An interesting activity is given
interprets the information received from the
below to demonstrate this process to you.
external world. It may be remembered that
light is described physically in terms of
Activity 5.1 wavelength, not in terms of colour. As we have
read earlier, the visible spectrum is a range
Move from a lighted area to a dark room and note of energy (380-780 nm) that our
how much time you take to see things clearly in
that room.
photoreceptors can detect. The energy lower
Next time put on red goggles while you stay or higher than the visible spectrum is harmful
in the lighted place. Then move into the dark room to the eyes. The sun light is a perfect mixture
and note how much time you take to see things of seven colours just like a rainbow. The
clearly in that room. colours observed are violet, indigo, blue,
You will notice that the use of red goggles has
green, yellow, orange, and red, abbreviated
greatly reduced the time required for dark
adaptation. as ‘VIBGYOR’.
Do you know why has this happened?
Discuss with your friends and the teacher. The Dimensions of Colour
A person with normal colour vision can
Photochemical Basis of Light and Dark distinguish more than seven million different
Adaptation : You may wonder why the light shades of colour. Our experiences of colour
and dark adaptations take place. According can be described in terms of three basic
to the classical view, light and dark dimensions, called hue, saturation, and
adaptations occur due to certain brightness. Hue is a property of chromatic
photochemical processes. The rods have a colours. In simple words, it refers to the name
photo-sensitive chemical substance, called of the colour, e.g., red, blue, and green. Hue
rhodopsin or visual purple. By the action of varies with wavelength, and each colour is
light the molecules of this chemical substance identified with a specific wavelength. For
get bleached or broken down. Under such example, blue has a wavelength of about 465
conditions the light adaptation takes place in nm, and green of about 500 nm. Achromatic
the eyes. On the other hand, the dark colours like black, white or grey are not
adaptation is achieved by the removal of light, characterised by hues. Saturation is a
and thereby allowing for restorative processes psychological attribute that refers to the
to regenerate the pigment in the rods with the relative amount of hue of a surface or object.
help of vitamin A. The regeneration of The light of single wavelength (monochromatic)
rhodopsin in rods is a time consuming appears to be highly saturated. As we mix
process. That is why dark adaptation is a different wavelengths, the saturation
slower process than light adaptation. It has decreases. The colour grey is completely
been found that people who suffer from unsaturated. Brightness is the perceived
vitamin A deficiency do not achieve dark intensity of light. It varies across both
adaptation at all, and find it really difficult to chromatic and achromatic colours. White and
move in the dark. This condition is generally black represent the top and bottom of the
known as night blindness. A parallel chemical brightness dimension. White has the highest
believed to be found in cones is known as degree of brightness, whereas black has the
iodopsin. lowest degree.

Colour Mixtures The Human Ear
There is an interesting relationship among Ear is the primary receptor of auditory stimuli.
colours. They form complementary pairs. While its well-known function is hearing, it
When mixed in correct proportions the also helps us in maintaining our body balance.
complementary colours yield an achromatic The structure of an ear is divided into three
grey or white. Examples of complementary segments, called the external ear, the middle
colours are red-green and yellow-blue. Red, ear, and the inner ear (Fig.5.2).
green and blue are called primary colours, External Ear : It contains two main structures,
because on mixing, the light of these three namely pinna and auditory meatus. Pinna is
colours can produce almost any colour. The a cartilaginous funnel-shaped structure that
most common example is the television screen. collects sound waves from the surroundings.
It contains spots of blue, red and green Auditory meatus is a canal protected by hair
colours. The combinations of these three and wax that carries sound waves from pinna
produce different colours and shades that we to the tympanum or ear drum.
see on the TV screen.
Middle Ear : The middle ear starts with
After Images tympanum, a thin membrane highly sensitive
to sound vibrations. This is followed by the
This is quite an interesting phenomenon tympanic cavity. It is connected to the
related to visual sensations. The effect of a pharynx with the help of Eustachian tube,
visual stimulus persists for some time even which maintains the air pressure in tympanic
after the removal of that stimulus from the cavity. From the cavity the vibrations pass to
visual field. This effect is called after image. three ossicles known as malleus (hammer),
After images are positive and negative. incus (anvil), and stapes (stirrup). They
Positive after images resemble the original increase the intensity of sound vibrations
stimulus in terms of hue, saturation, and about 10 times, and send them to the inner
brightness. They usually occur after a brief ear.
intense stimulation of dark adapted eyes. On
the other hand, negative after images appear Inner Ear : The inner ear has a complicated
in complementary colours. These images structure known as membranous labyrinth,
appear when a person stares at the patch of a which is encapsulated in a bony shell called
particular colour for at least 30 seconds, and bony labyrinth. A lymph-like fluid is found in
then transfers the gaze to a neutral the space between bony labyrinth and
background (e.g., a white or grey surface). If membranous labyrinth. This is called
the person looks at the blue colour, the perilymph.
negative after image will appear in yellow. The bony labyrinth has three semi-
Similarly, a red stimulus will yield a negative circular canals at right angle to each other, a
after image of green colour. cavity, called vestibule, and a coiled structure,
called cochlea. The semicircular canals have
Auditory Sensation fine hair cells, which are highly sensitive to
postural changes as well as changes in the
Audition or hearing is also an important sense body orientation. Inside the bony cochlea,
modality that carries great value for us. It there is a membranous cochlea, which is also
provides us with reliable spatial information. known as scala media. It is filled with
Besides orienting us to certain objects or endolymph, and has a spirally coiled
individuals, it plays a vital role in spoken membrane, called basilar membrane. It has
communication also. Auditory sensation got fine hair cells arranged in a series to form
begins when sound enters our ear and the organ of corti. This is the main organ for
stimulates the chief organs of hearing. hearing.

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes



Facial nerve

Auditory nerve


Pinna Cochlea

Eustachian tube

Tympanic Round
membrane Stirrup window

Fig.5.2 : Structure of the Human Ear

Working of the Ear disturbs the surrounding medium (i.e. air),

and pushes the air molecules back and forth.
Pinna collects the sound vibrations and serves
This results in changes in pressure that spread
them to the tympanum through the auditory
outward in the form of sound waves, travelling
meatus. From the tympanic cavity the
at a rate of about 1,100 ft/sec. These changes
vibrations are transferred to the three ossicles,
travel in waves much like the ripples set up
which increase their strength and transmit
by a stone thrown into a pond. When these
them to the inner ear. In the inner ear the
sound waves strike our ears, they initiate a
cochlea receives the sound waves. Through
set of mechanical pressure changes that
vibrations the endolymph is set in motion,
ultimately trigger the auditory receptors.
which also vibrates the organ of corti. Finally,
The simplest kind of sound wave is one
the impulses are sent to the auditory nerve,
that causes successive pressure changes over
which emerges at the base of cochlea and
time in the form of a single repeating sine wave
reaches the auditory cortex where the impulse
(Fig.5.3). Sound waves vary in amplitude as
is interpreted.
well as in wavelength. Amplitude is a general
measure of stimulus magnitude. It is the
Sound as a Stimulus
amount of change in pressure, i.e. the extent
We all know that sound is the stimulus for of displacement of the molecules from the
ears. It results from pressure variations in the position of rest. In Fig.5.3 the amplitude of
external environment. Any physical movement sound wave is represented as the distance of

the crest or trough from its mean position. sound reflects the complexity of its sound
Wavelength is the distance between the two waves. Most of the sounds found in natural
crests. Sound waves are basically formed due environments are complex.
to alternate compression and decompression
(rarefaction) of air molecules. A complete Activity 5.2
change in pressure from compression to
rarefaction and again to compression makes Vision and hearing are generally believed to be
a cycle of the wave. the two most highly prized senses. What would
your life be if you lost any one of your senses?
Which sense would you find more traumatic to
lose? Why? Think and write down.
What if you could magically improve the
performance of one of your senses, which sense
would you choose to improve? Why? Could you

improve the performance of this one sense without

magic? Think and write down.
Discuss with your teacher.

one cycle
In the previous section we have discussed
Fig.5.3 : Sound Waves some sensory modalities that help us in
collecting information from the external world
Sound waves are described in terms of and also from our internal system. A large
their frequency, which is measured in terms number of stimuli impinge upon our sense
of cycles per second. Its unit is called Hertz organs simultaneously, but we do not notice
(Hz). Frequency and wavelength have an all of them at the same time. Only a selected
inverse relationship. When the wavelength few of them are noticed. For example, when
increases, the frequency decreases, and when you enter your classroom you encounter
the wavelength decreases, the frequency several things in it, such as doors, walls,
increases. Amplitude and frequency both are windows, paintings on walls, tables, chairs,
physical dimensions. Besides these, there are students, schoolbags, water bottles, and so
three psychological dimensions of sound, on, but you selectively focus only on one or
namely loudness, pitch and timbre. two of them at one time. The process through
Loudness of the sound is determined by which certain stimuli are selected from a group
its amplitude. Sound waves with large of others is generally referred to as attention.
amplitude are perceived as loud; those with At this point it may be noted that besides
small amplitude are perceived as soft. selection, attention also refers to several other
Loudness is measured in decibels (db). Pitch properties like alertness, concentration, and
refers to highness or lowness of a sound. The search. Alertness refers to an individual’s
seven notes used in Indian classical music readiness to deal with stimuli that appear
represent a gradual increase in their pitch. before her/him. While participating in a race
Frequency determines the pitch of a sound in your school, you might have seen the
wave. The higher the frequency, the higher will participants on the starting line in an alert
be the pitch. The range of hearing is generally state waiting for the whistle to blow in order
20 Hz-20,000 Hz. Timbre refers to the nature to run. Concentration refers to focusing of
or quality of a sound. For example, the sound awareness on certain specific objects while
of a car engine and a person talking differ with excluding others for the moment. For example,
respect to quality or timbre. The timbre of a in the classroom, a student concentrates on

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
the teacher’s lecture and ignores all sorts of have already indicated that our perceptual
noises coming from different corners of the system has a limited capacity to receive and
school. In search an observer looks for some process information. This means that it can
specified subset of objects among a set of deal only with a few stimuli at a given moment
objects. For example, when you go to fetch of time. The question is, which of those stimuli
your younger sister and brother from the will get selected and processed? Psychologists
school, you just look for them among have identified a number of factors that
innumerable boys and girls. All these activities determine the selection of stimuli.
require some kind of effort on the part of
people. Attention in this sense refers to “effort Factors Affecting Selective Attention
Several factors influence selective attention.
Attention has a focus as well as a fringe.
These generally relate to the characteristics
When the field of awareness is centered on a
of stimuli and the characteristics of
particular object or event, it is called focus or
individuals. They are generally classified as
the focal point of attention. On the contrary,
“external” and “internal” factors.
when the objects or events are away from the
External factors are related to the features
center of awareness and one is only vaguely
of stimuli. Other things held constant, the size,
aware of them, they are said to be at the fringe
intensity, and motion of stimuli appear to be
of attention.
important determinants of attention. Large,
Attention has been classified in a number
bright, and moving stimuli easily catch our
of ways. A process-oriented view divides it into
attention. Stimuli, which are novel and
two types, namely selective and sustained.
moderately complex, also easily get into our
We will briefly discuss the main features of
focus. Studies indicate that human
these types of attention. Sometimes we can
photographs are more likely to be attended to
also attend to two different things at the same
than the photographs of inanimate objects.
time. When this happens, it is called divided
Similarly, rhythmic auditory stimuli are more
attention. Box 5.2 describes when and how
readily attended to than verbal narrations.
the division of attention is possible.
Sudden and intense stimuli have a wonderful
capacity to draw attention.
Selective Attention
Internal factors lie within the individual.
Selective attention is concerned mainly with These may be divided into two main categories,
the selection of a limited number of stimuli or viz. motivational factors and cognitive factors.
objects from a large number of stimuli. We Motivational factors relate to our biological

Box 5.2 Divided Attention

In day-to-day life we attend to several things at time. However, this becomes possible only with highly
the same time. You must have seen people driving practiced activities, because they become almost
a car and talking to a friend, or attending to phone automatic and require less attention to perform than
calls on a mobile set, or putting on sunglasses, or new or slightly practiced activities.
listening to music. If we watch them closely, we Automatic processing has three main
will notice that they are still allocating more effort characteristics; (i) It occurs without intention, (ii) It takes
to driving than to other activities, even though place unconsciously, and (iii) It involves very little (or
some attention is given to other activities. It no) thought processes (e.g., we can read words or tie
indicates that on certain occasions attention can our shoelaces without giving any thought to these
be allocated to more than one thing at the same activities).

or social needs. When we are hungry, we notice given moment of time are not completely
even a faint smell of food. A student taking an blocked. The filter only attenuates (weakens)
examination is likely to focus on a teacher’s their strength. Thus some stimuli manage to
instructions more than other students. escape through the selective filter to reach
Cognitive factors include factors like interest, higher levels of processing. It is indicated that
attitude, and preparatory set. Objects or personally relevant stimuli (e.g., one’s name
events, which appear interesting, are readily in a collective dinner) can be noticed even at a
attended by individuals. Similarly we pay very low level of sound. Such stimuli, even
quick attention to certain objects or events to though fairly weak, may also generate
which we are favourably disposed. Preparatory response occasionally by slipping through the
set generates a mental state to act in a certain selective filter.
way and readiness of the individual to respond Multimode theory was developed by
to one kind of stimuli and not to others. Johnston and Heinz (1978). This theory
believes that attention is a flexible system that
Theories of Selective Attention allows selection of a stimulus over others at
three stages. At stage one the sensory
A number of theories have been developed to
representations (e.g., visual images) of stimuli
explain the process of selective attention. We
are constructed; at stage two the semantic
will briefly discuss three of these theories.
representations (e.g., names of objects) are
Filter theory was developed by Broadbent
constructed; and at stage three the sensory
(1956). According to this theory, many stimuli
and semantic representations enter the
simultaneously enter our receptors creating
consciousness. It is also suggested that more
a kind of “bottleneck” situation. Moving
processing requires more mental effort. When
through the short-term memory system, they
the messages are selected on the basis of stage
enter the selective filter, which allows only one
one processing (early selection), less mental
stimulus to pass through for higher levels of
effort is required than when the selection is
processing. Other stimuli are screened out at
based on stage three processing (late
that moment of time. Thus, we become aware
of only that stimulus, which gets access
through the selective filter.
Sustained Attention
Filter-attenuation theory was developed
by Triesman (1962) by modifying Broadbent’s While selective attention is mainly concerned
theory. This theory proposes that the stimuli with the selection of stimuli, sustained
not getting access to the selective filter at a attention is concerned with concentration. It

Box 5.3 Span of Attention

Our attention has a limited capacity to receive span of attention varies within the limit of seven plus
stimuli. The number of objects one can attend to at or minus two. This is popularly known as the “magic
a brief exposure (i.e. a fraction of a second) is called number”. It means that at a time, people can attend to
“span of attention” or “perceptual span”. More a set of five to seven numbers, which can be extended
specifically, the span of attention refers to the to nine or more under exceptional conditions. That is
amount of information an observer can grasp from perhaps the reason why motorbikes or cars are given
a complex array of stimuli at a single momentary a number plate that contains only four digit numbers
exposure. This can be determined by the use of an with some alphabets. In case of violation of driving rules
instrument, called “tachistoscope”. On the basis of a traffic police can easily read and note these numbers
several experiments, Miller has reported that our along with the alphabets.

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
refers to our ability to maintain attention on factor. Intense and long lasting stimuli
an object or event for longer durations. It is facilitate sustained attention and result in
also known as “vigilance”. Sometimes people better performance. Temporal uncertainty is
have to concentrate on a particular task for a third factor. When stimuli appear at regular
many hours. Air traffic controllers and radar intervals of time they are attended better than
readers provide us with good examples of this when they appear at irregular intervals.
phenomenon. They have to constantly watch Spatial uncertainty is a fourth factor. Stimuli
and monitor signals on screens. The that appear at a fixed place are readily
occurrence of signals in such situations is attended, whereas those that appear at
usually unpredictable, and errors in detecting random locations are difficult to attend.
signals may be fatal. Hence, a great deal of Attention has several practical
vigilance is required in those situations. implications. The number of objects one can
readily attend to in a single glance is used to
Factors Influencing Sustained Attention design the number plates of motorbikes and
Several factors can facilitate or inhibit an cars so that the traffic police can easily notice
individual’s performance on tasks of sustained them in the case of traffic rule violations
attention. Sensory modality is one of them. (Box 5.3). A number of children fail to perform
Performance is found to be superior when the well in school simply due to the problem of
stimuli (called signals) are auditory than when attention. Box 5.4 presents some interesting
they are visual. Clarity of stimuli is another information about a disorder of attention.

Box 5.4 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD

Hyperactivity HD)

This is a very common behavioural disorder found found to account for ADHD more reliably than other
among children of the primary school age. It is factors. Currently ADHD is considered to have multiple
characterised by impulsivity, excessive motor causes and effects.
activity, and an inability to attend. The disorder is Disagreement remains over the most effective
more prevalent among boys than among girls. If method of treatment of ADHD. A drug, called Ritalin, is
not managed properly, the attention difficulties may widely used, which decreases children’s over-activity
persist into adolescence or adult years. Difficulty and distractibility, and at the same time increases their
in sustaining attention is the central feature of this attention and ability to concentrate. However, it does
disorder, which gets reflected in several other not “cure” the problem, and often also results in such
domains of the child. For example, such children negative side-effects as the suppression in normal
are highly distractible; they do not follow growth of height and weight. On the other hand,
instructions, have difficulty in getting along with behavioural management programmes, featuring
parents, and are negatively viewed by their peers. positive reinforcement and structuring lear ning
They do poorly in school, and show difficulties in materials and tasks in such a way that minimises errors
reading or learning basic subjects in schools in and maximises immediate feedback and success, have
spite of the fact that there is no deficit in their been found quite useful. Successful modification of
intelligence. ADHD is claimed with cognitive behavioural training
Studies generally do not provide evidence for programme in which rewards for desired behaviours
a biological basis of the disorder, whereas some are combined with training in the use of verbal self-
relationship of the disorder with dietary factors, instructions (stop, think, and then do). With this
particularly food colouring, has been documented. procedure, the ADHD children learn to shift their
On the other hand, social-psychological factors (e.g., attention less frequently and to behave reflectively —
home environment, family pathology) have been a learning that is relatively stable over time.

the whole is known as bottom-up processing.
The notion that recognition process begins
In the previous section we have examined that from the whole, which leads to identification
the stimulation of sensory organs leads us to of its various components is known as top-
experience something such as, a flash of light down processing. The bottom-up approach
or a sound, or a smell. This elementary lays emphasis on the features of stimuli in
experience, called sensation, does not provide perception, and considers perception as a
us with any understanding of the stimulus process of mental construction. The top-down
that stimulated the sense organ. For example, approach lays emphasis on the perceiver, and
it does not inform us about the source of the considers perception as a process of
light, sound or fragrance. In order to make recognition or identification of stimuli. Studies
sense out of the raw material provided by the show that in perception both the processes
sensory system, we process it further. In doing interact with each other to provide us with an
so, we give meaning to stimuli by using our understanding of the world.
learning, memory, motivation, emotions, and
other psychological processes. The process by THE PERCEIVER
which we recognise, interpret or give meaning
to the information provided by sense organs is Human beings are not just mechanical and
called perception. In interpreting stimuli or passive recipients of stimuli from the external
events, individuals often construct them in world. They are creative beings, and try to
their own ways. Thus perception is not merely understand the external world in their own
an interpretation of objects or events of the ways. In this process their motivations and
external or internal world as they exist, instead expectations, cultural knowledge, past
it is also a construction of those objects and experiences, and memories as well as values,
events from one’s own point of view. beliefs, and attitudes play an important role
The process of meaning-making involves in giving meaning to the external world. Some
certain sub-processes. These are shown in of these factors are described here.
Processing Approaches in Perception
The needs and desires of a perceiver strongly
How do we identify an object? Do we identify influence her/his perception. People want to
a dog because we have first recognised its furry fulfil their needs and desires through various
coat, its four legs, its eyes, ears, and so on, or means. One way to do this is to perceive
do we recognise these different parts because objects in a picture as something that will
we have first identified a dog? The idea that satisfy their need. Experiments were
recognition process begins from the parts, conducted to examine the influence of hunger
which serve as the basis for the recognition of on perception. When hungry persons were

Fig.5.4 : Sub-processes of Perception

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
shown ambiguous pictures, they were found
to perceive them as pictures of food objects
more often than satiated (non-hungry)

Expectations or Perceptual Sets

The expectations about what we might
perceive in a given situation also influence our
perception. This phenomenon of perceptual
familiarisation or perceptual generalisation
reflects a strong tendency to see what we
expect to see even when the results do not
accurately reflect external reality. For example,
if your milkman delivers you milk daily at
about 5.30 A.M., any knocking at the door
around that time is likely to be perceived as
the presence of the milkman even if it is Fig.5.5 : CEFT
someone else.
the triangle. Those who can do it quickly will
Activity 5.3 be called “field independent”; those who take
long time will be called “field dependent”.
To demonstrate expectancy tell your friend to close
her eyes. Write 12, 13, 14, 15 on the board. Ask
Cultural Background and Experiences
her to open her eyes for 5 seconds, look at the
board, and look down recording what she saw. Different experiences and lear ning
Repeat replacing only the 12, 14, 15 with A, C, D opportunities available to people in different
viz. ‘A 13 C D’. Ask her again to note down
cultural settings also influence their
what she saw. Most people write down B in place
of 13. perception. People coming from a pictureless
environment fail to recognise objects in
pictures. Hudson studied the perception of
pictures by African subjects, and noted several
Cognitive Styles
difficulties. Many of them were unable to
Cognitive style refers to a consistent way of identify objects depicted in pictures (e.g.,
dealing with our environment. It significantly antelope, spear). They also failed to perceive
affects the way we perceive the environment. distance in pictures, and interpreted
There are several cognitive styles that people pictures incorrectly. Eskimos have been found
use in perceiving their environment. One most to make fine distinction among a variety of
extensively used in studies is the “field snow that we may be unable to notice. Some
dependent and field independent” cognitive aboriginal groups of Siberian region have been
style. Field dependent people perceive the found to differentiate among dozens of skin
external world in its totality, i.e. in a global or colours of reindeers, which we would not be
holistic manner. On the other hand, field able to do.
independent people perceive the external These studies indicate that the perceiver
world by breaking it into smaller units, i.e. in plays a key role in the process of perception.
an analytic or differentiated manner. People process and interpret stimuli in their
Look at Fig.5.5. Can you find out the own ways depending on their personal, social
triangle hidden in the picture? How much time and cultural conditions. Due to these factors
do you take to locate it? Try to find out the our perceptions are not only finely tuned, but
time other students of your class take to locate also modified.

and sky stay behind the figure and are
perceived as background.
Our visual field is a collection of different To test this experience, look at the Fig.5.6
elements, such as points, lines, and colours. given below. You will see either the white part
However, we perceive these elements as of the figure, which looks like a vase (flower
organised wholes or complete objects. For pot), or the black part of the figure, which looks
example, we see a bicycle as a complete object, like two faces.
not as a collection of different parts (e.g.,
saddle, wheel, handle). The process of
organising visual field into meaningful wholes
is known as form perception.
You may wonder how different parts of an
objects are organised into a meaningful whole.
You may also ask if there are certain factors
that facilitate or inhibit this process of
Several scholars have tried to answer such
questions, but the most widely accepted
answer has been given by a gr oup of
researchers, called Gestalt psychologists.
Prominent among them are Köhler, Koffka,
and Wertheimer. Gestalt means a regular
figure or a for m. According to Gestalt
psychologists, we perceive different stimuli not
as discrete elements, but as an organised Fig.5.6 : Rubin’s Vase
“whole” that carries a definite form. They
believe that the form of an object lies in its We distinguish figure from the ground on
whole, which is different from the sum of their the basis of the following characteristics:
parts. For example, a flower pot with a bunch 1. Figure has a definite form, while the
of flowers is a whole. If the flowers are removed, background is relatively formless.
the flower pot still remains a whole. It is the 2. Figure is more organised as compared to
configuration of the flower pot that has its background.
changed. Flower pot with flowers is one 3. Figure has a clear contour (outline), while
configuration; without flowers it is another the background is contourless.
configuration. 4. Figure stands out from the background,
The Gestalt psychologists also indicate that while the background stays behind the
our cerebral processes are always oriented figure.
towards the perception of a good figure or 5. Figure appears more clear, limited, and
pragnanz. That is the reason why we perceive relatively nearer, while the background
everything in an organised form. The most appears relatively unclear, unlimited, and
primitive organisation takes place in the form away from us.
of figure-ground segregation. When we look The discussion presented above indicates
at a surface, certain aspects of the surface that human beings perceive the world in
clearly stand out as separate entities, whereas organised wholes rather than in discrete parts.
others do not. For example, when we see words The Gestalt psychologists have given us several
on a page, or a painting on a wall, or birds laws to explain how and why different stimuli
flying in the sky, the words, the painting, and in our visual field are organised into
the birds stand out from the background, and meaningful whole objects. Let us look at some
are perceived as figures, while the page, wall, of these principles.

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
The Principle of Proximity The Principle of Smallness
Objects that are close together in space or time According to this principle, smaller areas tend
are perceived as belonging together or as a to be seen as figures against a larger
group. For example, Fig.5.7 does not look like background. In Fig.5.10 we are more likely to
a square pattern of dots, but as a series of see a black cross rather than a white cross
columns of dots. Similarly, Fig.5.7 also looks within the circle because of this principle.
like a group of dots together in rows.

Fig.5.7 : Proximity

The Principle of Similarity Fig.5.10 : Smallness

Objects that are similar to one another and The Principle of Symmetry
have similar characteristics are perceived as
a group. In Fig.5.8 the little circles and squares This principle suggests that symmetrical areas
are evenly spaced both horizontally and tend to be seen as figures against
vertically so that the proximity does not come asymmetrical backgrounds. For example, in
into play. Instead, we tend to see alternating Fig.5.11 the black areas are seen as figures
columns of circles and squares. (as they have symmetrical properties) against
their white asymmetrical background.

Fig.5.8 : Similarity

The Principle of Continuity Fig.5.11 : Symmetry

This principle states that we tend to perceive The Principle of Surroundedness

objects as belonging together if they appear
to form a continuous pattern. For instance, According to this principle, the areas
we are more likely to identify two lines a-b surrounded by others tend to be perceived as
and c-d crossing than to identify four lines figures. For example, the image in Fig.5.12
meeting at the center p. looks like five figures against the white
background rather than the word ‘LIFT’.

Fig.5.9 : Continuity
LIFT Fig.5.12 : Surroundedness

The Principle of Closure Monocular Cues (Psychological Cues)
We tend to fill the gaps in stimulation and Monocular cues of depth perception are
perceive the objects as whole rather than their effective when the objects are viewed with only
separate parts. For example, in Fig.5.13 the one eye. These cues are often used by artists
small angles are seen as a triangle due to our to induce depth in two dimensional paintings.
tendency to fill the gaps in the object provided Hence, they are also known as pictorial cues.
by our sensory input. Some important monocular cues that help us
in judging the distance and depth in two
dimensional surfaces are described below. You
will find some of them applied in Fig.5.14.

Fig.5.13 : Closure


The visual field or surface in which things
exist, move or can be placed is called space.
The space in which we live is organised in three
dimensions. We perceive not only the spatial
attributes (e.g., size, shape, direction) of
various objects, but also the distance between
the objects found in this space. While the
images of objects projected on to our retina Fig.5.14 : Monocular Cues
are flat and two dimensional (left, right, up, The above picture will help you to understand some
down), we still perceive three dimensions in monocular cues: Interposition and relative size (see the
the space. Why does it happen so? It occurs trees). Which other cues can you locate in the picture?
due to our ability to transfer a two dimensional
retinal vision into a three dimensional Relative Size : The size of retinal image allows
perception. The process of viewing the world us to judge distance based on our past and
in three dimensions is called distance or depth present experience with similar objects. As
perception. the objects get away, the retinal image
Depth perception is important in our daily becomes smaller and smaller. We tend to
life. For example, when we drive, we use depth perceive an object farther away when it
to assess the distance of an approaching appears small, and closer when it appears
automobile, or when we decide to call a person bigger.
walking down the street, we determine the
Interposition or Overlapping : These cues occur
loudness with which to call.
when some portion of the object is covered by
In perceiving depth, we depend on two
another object. The overlapped object is
main sources of information, called cues. One
considered farther away, whereas the object
is called binocular cues because they require
that covers it appears nearer.
both eyes. Another is called monocular cues,
because they allow us to perceive depth with Linear Perspective : This reflects a
just one eye. A number of such cues are used phenomenon by which distant objects appear
to change a two dimensional image into a three to be closer together than the nearer objects.
dimensional perception. For example, parallel lines, such as rail tracks,

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
appear to converge with increasing distance that are close. The rate of an object’s
with a vanishing point at the horizon. The more movement provides a cue to its distance. For
the lines converge, the farther away they example, when we travel in a bus, closer
appear. objects move “against” the direction of the bus,
whereas the farther objects move “with” the
Aerial Perspective : The air contains
direction of the bus.
microscopic particles of dust and moisture
that make distant objects look hazy or blurry.
Binocular Cues (Physiological Cues)
This effect is called aerial perspective. For
example, distant mountains appear blue due Some important cues to depth perception in
to the scattering of blue light in the three dimensional space are provided by both
atmosphere, whereas the same mountains are the eyes. Three of them have particularly been
perceived to be closer when the atmosphere found to be interesting.
is clear.
Retinal or Binocular Disparity : Retinal
Light and Shade : In the light some parts of disparity occurs because the two eyes have
the object get highlighted, whereas some parts different locations in our head. They are
become darker. Highlights and shadows separated from each other horizontally by a
provide us with information about an object’s distance of about 6.5 centimeters. Because of
distance. this distance, the image formed on the retina
of each eye of the same object is slightly
Relative Height : Larger objects are perceived
different. This difference between the two
as being closer to the viewer and smaller
images is called retinal disparity. The brain
objects as being farther away. When we expect
interprets a large retinal disparity to mean a
two objects to be the same size and they are
close object and a small retinal disparity to
not, the larger of the two will appear closer
mean a distant object, as the disparity is less
and the smaller will appear farther away.
for distant objects and more for the near
Texture Gradient : It represents a phenomenon objects.
by which the visual field having more density
Convergence : When we see a nearby object
of elements is seen farther away. In the
our eyes converge inward in order to bring the
Fig.5.15 the density of stones increases as we
image on the fovea of each eye. A group of
look farther away.
muscles send messages to the brain regarding
the degree to which eyes are turning inward,
and these messages are interpreted as cues
to the perception of depth. The degree of
convergence decreases as the object moves
further away from the observer. You can
experience convergence by holding a finger in
front of your nose and slowly bringing it closer.
The more your eyes turn inward or converge,
the nearer the object appears in space.
Accommodation : Accommodation refers to a
process by which we focus the image on the
Fig.5.15 : Texture Gradient
retina with the help of ciliary muscle. These
Motion Parallax : It is a kinetic monocular cue, muscles change the thickness of the lens of
and hence not considered as a pictorial cue. the eye. If the object gets away (more than 2
It occurs when objects at different distances meters), the muscle is relaxed. As the object
move at a different relative speed. The distant moves nearer, the muscle contracts and the
objects appear to move slowly than the objects thickness of the lens increases. The signal

about the degree of contraction of the muscle the image that it casts on the retina is a circle,
is sent to the brain, which provides the cue or an ellipse, or roughly a short line (if the
for distance. plate is viewed from the edge). It is also called
form constancy.
Activity 5.4
Brightness Constancy
Hold a pencil in front of you. Close your right eye
and focus on the pencil. Now open the right eye
Visual objects not only appear constant in
and close the left eye. Keep doing it simultaneously their shape and size, they also appear constant
with both the eyes. The pencil will appear to move in their degree of whiteness, greyness, or
from side to side in front of your face. blackness even though the amount of physical
energy reflected from them changes
considerably. In other words, our experience
PERCEPTUAL CONSTANCIES of brightness does not change in spite of the
changes in the amount of reflected light
The sensory information that we receive from reaching our eyes. The tendency to maintain
our environment constantly changes as we apparent brightness constant under different
move around. Yet we form a stable perception amount of illumination is called brightness
of an object seen from any position and in constancy. For example, surface of a paper
any intensity of light. Perception of the objects which appears white in the sun light, is still
as relatively stable in spite of changes in the perceived as white in the room light. Similarly,
stimulation of sensory receptors is called coal that looks black in the sun also looks
perceptual constancy. Here we will examine black in room light.
three types of perceptual constancies that we
commonly experience in our visual domain.
Size Constancy Our perceptions are not always veridical.
The size of an image on our retina changes Sometime we fail to interpret the sensory
with the change in the distance of the object information correctly. This results in a
from the eye. The further away it is, the smaller mismatch between the physical stimuli and
is the image. On the other hand, our its perception. These misperceptions resulting
experience shows that within limits the object from misinterpretation of information received
appears to be about the same size irrespective by our sensory organs are generally known as
of its distance. For example, when you illusions. These are experienced more or less
approach your friend from a distance, your by all of us. They result from an external
perception of the friend’s size does not change stimulus situation and generate the same kind
much despite the fact that the retinal image of experience in each individual. That is why
(image on retina) becomes larger. This illusions are also called “primitive
tendency for the perceived size of objects to organisations”. Although illusions can be
remain relatively unchanged with changes in experienced by the stimulation of any of our
their distance from the observer and the size senses, psychologists have studied them more
of the retinal image is called size constancy. commonly in the visual than in other sense
Shape Constancy Some perceptual illusions are universal
and found in all individuals. For example, the
In our perceptions the shapes of familiar rail tracks appear to be converging to all of
objects remain unchanged despite changes in us. These illusions are called universal
the pattern of retinal image resulting from illusions or permanent illusions as they do
differences in their orientation. For example, not change with experience or practice. Some
a dinner plate looks the same shape whether other illusions seem to vary from individual

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
to individual; these are called personal to be important. In the absence of these, the
illusions. In this section, we will describe some light points will not appear as moving. They
important visual illusions. will appear either as one point, or as different
points appearing one after another, without
Geometrical Illusions any experience of motion.
Experience of illusions indicates that
In Fig.5.16 the Muller-Lyer illusion has been
people do not always perceive the world as it
shown. All of us perceive line A as shorter than
is; instead they engage in its construction,
line B, although both the lines are equal. This
sometimes based on the features of stimuli
illusion is experienced even by children. There
and sometimes based on their experiences in
are some studies that suggest that even
a given environment. This point will be further
cleared in the section that follows now.

Fig.5.16 : Muller-Lyer Illusion

animals experience this illusion more or less Several psychologists have studied the
processes of perception in different socio-
like us. Besides Muller-Lyer illusion, several
cultural settings. The questions they try to
other visual illusions are experienced by
answer through these studies are: Does
human beings (also birds and animals). In
perceptual organisation of people living in
Fig.5.17 you can see the illusion of vertical
different cultural settings take place in an
and horizontal lines. Although both the lines
uniform manner? Are the perceptual processes
are equal, we perceive the vertical line as longer
universal, or they vary across different cultural
than the horizontal line.
settings? Because we know, people living in
different parts of the world look different, many
psychologists hold the view that their ways of
perceiving the world must be different in some
respects. Let us examine some studies relating
to perception of illusion figures and other
pictorial materials.
Fig.5.17 : Vertical-Horizontal Illusion
You are already familiar with Muller-Lyer
and Vertical-Horizontal illusion figures.
Apparent Movement Illusion Psychologists have used these figures with
several groups of people living in Europe,
This illusion is experienced when some Africa, and many other places. Segall,
motionless pictures are projected one after Campbell, and Herskovits carried out the most
another at an appropriate rate. This illusion extensive study of illusion susceptibility by
is referred to as “phi-phenomenon”. When we comparing samples from remote African
see moving pictures in a cinema show, we are villages and Western urban settings. It was
influenced by this kind of illusion. The found that African subjects showed greater
succession of flickering electrical lights also susceptibility to horizontal-vertical illusion,
generate this illusion. This phenomenon can whereas Western subjects showed greater
be experimentally studied with the help of an susceptibility to Muller-Lyer illusion. Similar
instrument by presenting two or more lights findings have been reported in other studies
in a succession. For the experience of this also. Living in dense forests the African
illusion, Wertheimer had reported the presence subjects regularly experienced verticality (e.g.,
of appropriate level of brightness, size, spatial long trees) and developed a tendency to
gap, and temporal contiguity of different lights overestimate it. The Westerners, who lived in

an environment characterised by right angles, in villages, and people employed and living in
developed a tendency to underestimate the cities. Their studies indicate that
length of lines characterised by enclosure (e.g., interpretation of pictures is strongly related
arrowhead). This conclusion has been to cultural experiences of people. While people
confirmed in several studies. It suggests that in general can recognise familiar objects in
the habits of perception are learnt differently pictures, those less exposed to pictures have
in different cultural settings. difficulty in the interpretation of actions or
In some studies people living in different events depicted in them.
cultural settings have been given pictures for
identification of objects and interpretation of
depth or other events represented in them.
Hudson did a seminal study in Africa, and
Key Terms
found that people, who had never seen
Absolute threshold, After images, Binocular
pictures, had great difficulty in recognising cues, Bottom-up processing, Cochlea, Cones,
objects depicted in them and in interpreting Dark adaptation, Depth perception, Difference
depth cues (e.g., superimposition). It was threshold, Divided attention, Eustachian tube,
indicated that informal instruction in home Figure-ground segregation, Filter theory,
and habitual exposure to pictures were Filter-attenuation theory, Gestalt, Light
necessary to sustain the skill of pictorial depth adaptation, Loudness, Monocular cues, Organ
of corti, Perceptual constancies, Phi-
perception. Sinha and Mishra have carried out phenomenon, Pitch, Primary colours, Retina,
several studies on pictorial perception using Rhodopsin, Rods, Selective attention,
a variety of pictures with people from diverse Sustained attention, T imbre, Top-down
cultural settings, such as hunters and processing, Visual illusions, Wavelength
gatherers living in forests, agriculturists living

• Knowledge of our internal and external world becomes possible with the help of senses. Five
of them are external senses, and two are internal senses. The sense organs receive various
stimuli and send them in the form of neural impulses to specialised areas of brain for
• Vision and audition are the two most widely used senses. Rods and cones are the receptors
for vision. Rods function in low intensities of light, whereas cones function at high intensities
of light. They are responsible for achromatic and chromatic vision, respectively.
• Light and dark adaptations are two interesting phenomena of the visual system. Hue, saturation
and brightness are the basic dimensions of colour.
• Sound serves as stimulus for auditory sensations. Loudness, pitch, and timbre are the properties
of sound. Organ of corti located in the basilar membrane is the chief organ of hearing.
• Attention is a process through which we select certain information by filtering out many others
that appear to be irrelevant at a given moment of time. Activation, concentration, and search
are important properties of attention.
• Selective and sustained attention are two major types of attention. Divided attention is evident
in the case of highly practiced tasks in which there is much automaticity of information
• The span of attention is the magical number of seven plus and minus two.
• Perception refers to the processes of interpretation and informed construction of the information
received from sensory organs. Human beings perceive their world in terms of their motivations,
expectations, cognitive styles, and cultural background.
• Form perception refers to the perception of a visual field set off from rest of the field by visible
contours. The most primitive form of organisation takes place in the form of figure-ground

Chapter 5 • Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes
• Gestalt psychologists have identified several principles that determine our perceptual
• The image of an object projected on to the retina is two dimensional. Three dimensional
perception is a psychological process that depends on correct utilisation of certain monocular
and binocular cues.
• Perceptual constancies refer to invariance of our perceptions of an object seen from any
position and in any intensity of light. There is good evidence for size, shape, and brightness
• Illusions are the examples of nonveridical perceptions. They refer to misperceptions resulting
from misinterpretation of information received by our sensory organs. Some illusions are
universal, while others are more personal and culture-specific.
• Socio-cultural factors play an important role in our perceptions by generating differential
familiarity with and salience of stimuli as well as certain habits of perceptual inference
among people.

Review Questions
1. Explain the functional limitations of sense organs.
2. What is meant by light and dark adaptation? How do they take place?
3. What is colour vision and what are the dimensions of colour?
4. How does auditory sensation take place?
5. Define attention. Explain its properties.
6. State the determinants of selective attention. How does selective attention differ from
sustained attention?
7. What is the main proposition of Gestalt psychologists with respect to perception of the
visual field?
8. How does perception of space take place?
9. What are the monocular cues of depth perception? Explain the role of binocular cues in
the perception of depth?
10. Why do illusions occur?
11. How do socio-cultural factors influence our perceptions?

Project Ideas
1. Collect ten advertisements from magazines. Analyse the content and message being
conveyed in each advertisement. Comment on the use of various attentional and perceptual
factors to promote the given product.
2. Give a toy model of a horse/elephant to visually challenged and sighted children. Let the
visually challenged children feel by touching the toy model for some time. Ask the children
to describe the model. Show the same toy model to sighted children. Compare their
descriptions and find out their similarities and differences.
Take another toy model (e.g., a parrot) and give it to a few visually challenged children
to have a feel of it by touching. Then give a sheet of paper and a pencil and ask them to
draw the parrot on the sheet. Show the same parrot to sighted children for some time,
remove the parrot from their sight, and ask to draw the parrot on a sheet of paper.
Compare the drawings of the visually challenged and sighted children and examine
their similarities and differences.

6 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• describe the nature of learning,
• explain different forms or types of learning and the procedures used in
such types of learning,
• understand various psychological processes that occur during learning
and influence its course,
• explain the determinants of learning, and
• familiarise yourself with some applications of learning principles.

Nature of Learning
Paradigms of Learning
Classical Conditioning
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
Operant/Instrumental Conditioning
Determinants of Operant Conditioning
Classical and Operant Conditioning : Differences (Box 6.1)
Key Learning Processes
Learned Helplessness (Box 6.2)
Observational Learning
Cognitive Learning
Verbal Learning
Concept Learning
Skill Learning
Transfer of Learning
Factors Facilitating Learning
The Learner : Learning Styles
Learning Disabilities
Applications of Learning Principles
Learning preserves errors Key Terms
of the past as well as its Summary
wisdom. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– A.N. Whitehead
At the time of birth every human baby is equipped with the capacity to make a
limited number of responses. These responses occur reflexively whenever
appropriate stimuli are present in the environment. As the child grows and
matures, s/he becomes capable of making diverse types of responses. These
include identifying the images of some persons as one’s mother, father or
grandfather, using a spoon when eating food, and learning how to identify
alphabets, to write, and to combine them into words. S/he also observes others
doing things in specific environmental conditions, and imitates them. Learning
names of objects such as book, orange, mango, cow, boy, and girl, and retaining
them is another important task. As one grows older, one observes many events or
objects, and learns their distinct features. Objects are categorised as ‘furniture’,
‘fruits’, and so on. One also learns to drive a scooter or a car, to communicate with
others effectively, and to interact with others. It is all due to learning that a person
becomes hard working or indolent, socially knowledgeable, skilled, and
professionally competent. Each individual manages her or his life and solves all
kinds of problems because of the capacity to learn and adapt. This chapter focuses
on the various aspects of learning. First, learning is defined and characterised as
a psychological process. Second, an account is presented that explains how one
learns. A number of learning methods that account for simple to complex types of
learning are described. In the third section, some empirical phenomena, that occur
in the course of learning, are explained. In the fourth section, different factors that
determine the speed and extent of learning are described including different
learning styles and learning disabilities.

always involves some kinds of experience. We

experience an event occurring in a certain
As indicated above learning is a key process sequence on a number of occasions. If an event
in human behaviour. It refers to a spectrum happens then it may be followed by certain
of changes that take place as a result of one’s other events. For example, one learns that if
experience. Learning may be defined as “any the bell rings in the hostel after sunset, then
relatively permanent change in behaviour or dinner is ready to be served. Repeated
behavioural potential produced by experience”. experience of satisfaction after doing
One must remember that some behavioural something in a specified manner leads to the
changes occur due to the use of drugs, or formation of habit. Sometimes a single
fatigue. Such changes are temporary. They are experience can lead to learning. A child strikes
a matchstick on the side of a matchbox, and
not considered learning. Changes due to
gets her/his fingers burnt. Such an experience
practice and experience, which are relatively
makes the child learn to be careful in handling
permanent, are illustrative of learning.
the matchbox in future.
Behavioural changes that occur due to
Features of Learning
learning are relatively permanent. They must
The process of learning has certain distinctive be distinguished from the behavioural changes
characteristics. The first feature is that learning that are neither permanent nor learned. For

example, changes in behaviour often occur or action. Let us understand what is meant
due to the effects of fatigue, habituation, and by the term inference. Suppose you are asked
drugs. Suppose you are reading your textbook by your teacher to memorise a poem. You read
of psychology for sometime or you are trying that poem a number of times. Then you say
to learn how to drive a motor car, a time comes that you have learned the poem. You are asked
when you will feel tired. You stop reading or to recite the poem and you are able to recite
driving. This is a behavioural change due to it. The recitation of the poem by you is your
fatigue, and is temporary. It is not considered per for mance. On the basis of your
learning. performance, the teacher infers that you have
Let us take another case of change in one’s learned the poem.
behaviour. Suppose in the vicinity of your
residence a marriage is being performed. It
generates a lot of noise, which continues till
late night. In the beginning, the noise distracts Learning takes place in many ways. There are
you from whatever you are doing. You feel some methods that are used in acquisition of
disturbed. While the noise continues, you simple responses while other methods are
make some orienting reflexes. These reflexes used in the acquisition of complex responses.
become weaker and weaker, and eventually In this section you will learn about all these
become undetectable. This is also one kind of methods. The simplest kind of learning is
behavioural change. This change is due to called conditioning. Two types of conditioning
continuous exposure to stimuli. It is called
have been identified. The first one is called
habituation. It is not due to learning. You must
classical conditioning, and the second
have noticed that people who are on sedatives
instrumental/operant conditioning. In
or drugs or alcohol, their behaviour changes
addition, we have observational learning,
as it affects physiological functions. Such
cognitive learning, verbal learning, concept
changes ar e temporary in nature and
learning, and skill learning.
disappear, as the effect wears out.
Lear ning involves a sequence of
psychological events. This will become clear if CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
we were to describe a typical learning
experiment. Suppose psychologists are This type of learning was first investigated by
interested in understanding how a list of words Ivan P. Pavlov. He was primarily interested in
is learned. They will go through the following the physiology of digestion. During his studies
sequence : (i) do a pre-test to know how much he noticed that dogs, on whom he was doing
the person knows before learning, (ii) present his experiments, started secreting saliva as
the list of words to be remembered for a fixed soon as they saw the empty plate in which
time, (iii) during this time the list of words is food was served. As you must be aware, saliva
processed towards acquiring new knowledge, secretion is a reflexive response to food or
(iv) after processing is complete, new something in the mouth. Pavlov designed an
knowledge is acquired (this is LEARNING), and experiment to understand this process in
(v) after some time elapses, the processed detail. He again used dogs. In the first phase,
information is recalled by the person. By a dog was placed in a box and harnessed. The
comparing the number of words which a dog was left in the box for some time. This
person now knows as compared to what s/he was repeated a number of times on different
knew in the pre-test, one infers that learning days. In the meantime, a simple surgery was
did take place. conducted, and one end of a tube was
Thus, learning is an inferred process and inserted in the dog’s jaw and the other end of
is different from performance. Performance the tube was put in a measuring glass. The
is a person’s observed behaviour or response experimental setup is illustrated in Figure 6.1.

Chapter 6 • Learning
In the second phase of the experiment, the Unconditioned Stimulus (US) and salivation
dog was kept hungry and placed in harness which follows it, an Unconditioned Response
with one end of the tube ending in the jaw (UR). After conditioning, salivation started to
and the other end in the glass jar. A bell was occur in the presence of the sound of the bell.
The bell becomes a Conditioned Stimulus
One-way (CS) and saliva secretion a Conditioned
glass wall Response (CR). This kind of conditioning is
called classical conditioning. The procedure
is illustrated in Table 6.1. It is obvious that
the learning situation in classical conditioning
is one of S–S learning in which one stimulus
(e.g., sound of bell) becomes a signal of another
stimulus (e.g., food). Here one stimulus
signifies the possible occurrence of another
Examples of classical conditioning abound
Tube from Cup for Recording in everyday life. Imagine you have just finished
salivary glands measuring saliva device your lunch and feel satisfied. Then you see
some sweet dish served on the adjoining table.
Fig.6.1 : A Dog in Pavlovian Harness for Conditioning This signals its taste in your mouth, and
triggers the secretion of saliva. You feel like
sounded and immediately thereafter food
eating it. This is a conditioned response (CR).
(meat powder) was served to the dog. The dog
Let us take another example. In the early
was allowed to eat it. For the next few days,
stages of childhood, one is naturally afraid of
everytime the meat powder was presented, it
any loud noise. Suppose a small child catches
was preceded by the sound of a bell. After a
an inflated balloon which bursts in her/his
number of such trials, a test trial was
hands making a loud noise. The child becomes
introduced in which everything was the same
afraid. Now the next time s/he is made to hold
as the previous trials except that no food
a balloon, it becomes a signal or cue for noise
followed sounding of the bell. The dog still
and elicits fear response. This happens
salivated to the sound of the bell, expecting
because of contiguous presentation of balloon
presentation of the meat powder as the bell
as a conditioned stimulus (CS) and loud noise
had come to be connected with it. This
as an unconditioned stimulus (US).
association between the bell and food resulted
in acquisition of a new response by the dog,
Determinants of Classical Conditioning
i.e. salivation to the sound of the bell. This
has been termed conditioning. You may have How quickly and strongly acquisition of a
noticed that all dogs salivate when they are response occurs in classical conditioning
presented with food. Food is thus an depends on several factors. Some of the major

Table 6.1 Relationship of Stages of Conditioning and Operations

Stages of Nature of Stimulus Nature of Response
Before Food (US) Salivation (UR)
Sound of the Bell Alertness (No Specific Response)
During Sound of the Bell (CS) + Food (US) Salivation (UR)
After Sound of the Bell (CS) Salivation (CR)

factors influencing learning a CR are described 3. Intensity of Conditioned Stimuli : This
below: influences the course of both appetitive and
1. T ime Relations between Stimuli : The aversive classical conditioning. More intense
classical conditioning procedures, discussed conditioned stimuli are more effective in
below, are basically of four types based on the accelerating the acquisition of conditioned
time relations between the onset of conditioned responses. It means that the more intense the
stimulus (CS) and unconditioned stimulus conditioned stimulus, the fewer are the
(US). The first three are called forward number of acquisition trials needed for
conditioning procedures, and the fourth one conditioning.
is called backward conditioning procedure.
The basic experimental arrangements of these Activity 6.1
procedures are as follows:
a) When the CS and US are presented In order to understand and explain conditioning,
together, it is called simultaneous you may carry out the following exercise. Take
a few pieces of mango pickle on a plate and
show it to the students in the classroom. Ask
b) In delayed conditioning, the onset of them what they experienced in their mouth?
CS precedes the onset of US. The CS Most of your classmates are likely to report
ends before the end of the US. some salivation in their mouth.
c) In trace conditioning, the onset and
end of the CS precedes the onset of US
with some time gap between the two. OPERANT/INSTRUMENTAL CONDITIONING
d) In backward conditioning, the US
precedes the onset of CS. This type of conditioning was first investigated
It is now well established that delayed by B.F. Skinner. Skinner studied occurrence
conditioning procedure is the most effective of voluntary responses when an organism
way of acquiring a CR. Simultaneous and trace operates on the environment. He called them
conditioning procedures do lead to acquisition operants. Operants are those behaviours or
of a CR, but they require greater number of responses, which are emitted by animals and
acquisition trials in comparison to the delayed human beings voluntarily and are under their
conditioning procedure. It may be noted that control. The term operant is used because the
the acquisition of response under backward organism operates on the environment.
conditioning procedure is very rare. Conditioning of operant behaviour is called
2. Type of Unconditioned Stimuli : The operant conditioning.
unconditioned stimuli used in studies of Skinner conducted his studies on rats and
classical conditioning are basically of two pigeons in specially made boxes, called the
types, i.e. appetitive and aversive. Appetitive Skinner Box. A hungry rat (one at a time) is
unconditioned stimuli automatically elicits placed in the chamber, which was so built that
approach responses, such as eating, drinking, the rat could move inside but could not come
caressing, etc. These responses give out. In the chamber there was a lever, which
satisfaction and pleasure. On the other hand, was connected to a food container kept on the
aversive US, such as noise, bitter taste, electric top of the chamber (see Figure 6.2). When the
shock, painful injections, etc. are painful, lever is pressed, a food pellet drops on the
harmful, and elicit avoidance and escape plate placed close to the lever. While moving
responses. It has been found that appetitive around and pawing the walls (exploratory
classical conditioning is slower and requires behaviour), the hungry rat accidentally presses
greater number of acquisition trials, but the lever and a food pellet drops on the plate.
aversive classical conditioning is established The hungry rat eats it. In the next trial, after
in one, two or three trials depending on the a while the exploratory behaviour again starts.
intensity of the aversive US. As the number of trials increases, the rat takes

Chapter 6 • Learning
lesser and lesser time to press the lever for response. They include its types – positive or
food. Conditioning is complete when the rat negative, number or frequency, quality –
presses the lever immediately after it is placed superior or inferior, and schedule – continuous
in the chamber. It is obvious that lever pressing or intermittent (partial). All these features
is an operant response and getting food is its influence the course of operant conditioning.
consequence. Another factor that influences this type of
learning is the nature of the response or
behaviour that is to be conditioned. The
interval or length of time that lapses between
occurrence of response and reinforcement also
influences operant learning. Let us examine
some of these factors in detail.

Types of Reinforcement
Reinforcement may be positive or negative.
Positive reinforcement involves stimuli that
have pleasant consequences. They strengthen
and maintain the responses that have caused
them to occur. Positive reinforcers satisfy
Fig.6.2 : Skinner Box
needs, which include food, water, medals,
In the above situation the response is praise, money, status, information, etc.
instrumental in getting the food. That is why, Negative reinforcers involve unpleasant and
this type of lear ning is also called painful stimuli. Responses that lead organisms
instrumental conditioning. Examples of to get rid of painful stimuli or avoid and escape
instrumental conditioning abound in our from them provide negative reinforcement.
everyday life. Children who want to have some Thus, negative reinforcement leads to learning
sweets in the absence of their mother learn to of avoidance and escape responses. For
locate the jar in which mother hides the sweets instance, one learns to put on woollen clothes,
for safekeeping and eat it. Children learn to burn firewood or use electric heaters to avoid
be polite and say ‘please’ to get favours from the unpleasant cold weather. One learns to
their parents and others. One learns to operate move away from dangerous stimuli because
mechanical gadgets such as radio, camera, they provide negative reinforcement. It may
T.V., etc. based on the principle of be noted that negative reinforcement is not
instrumental conditioning. As a matter of fact punishment. Use of punishment reduces or
human beings learn short cuts to attain suppresses the response while a negative
reinforcer increases the probability of
desired goals or ends through instrumental
avoidance or escape response. For instance,
drivers and co-drivers wear their seat belts to
avoid getting injured in case of an accident or
Determinants of Operant Conditioning
to avoid being fined by the traffic police.
You have noted that operant or instrumental It should be understood that no
conditioning is a form of learning in which punishment suppresses a response
behaviour is learned, maintained or changed permanently. Mild and delayed punishment
through its consequences. Such consequences has no effect. The stronger the punishment,
are called reinforcers. A reinforcer is defined the more lasting is the suppression effect but
as any stimulus or event, which increases the it is not permanent.
probability of the occurrence of a (desired) Sometimes punishment has no effect
response. A reinforcer has numerous features, irrespective of its intensity. On the contrary,
which affect the course and strength of a the punished person may develop dislike and

hatred for the punishing agent or the person some trials it is given and in others it is
who administers the punishment. omitted. Thus, the reinforcement may be
continuous or intermittent. When a desired
Number of Reinforcement and other Features response is reinforced every time it occurs we
call it continuous reinforcement. In contrast,
It refers to the number of trials on which an
in intermittent schedules responses are
organism has been reinforced or rewarded.
sometimes reinforced, sometimes not. It is
Amount of reinforcement means how much
known as partial reinforcement and has been
of reinforcing stimulus (food or water or
found to produce greater resistance to
intensity of pain causing agent) one receives
extinction – than is found with continuous
on each trial. Quality of reinforcement refers
to the kind of reinforcer. Chickpeas or pieces
of bread are of inferior quality as compared
Delayed Reinforcement
with raisins or pieces of cake as reinforcer.
The course of operant conditioning is usually The ef fectiveness of reinforcement is
accelerated to an extent as the number, dramatically altered by delay in the occurrence
amount, and quality of r einforcement of reinforcement. It is found that delay in the
increases. delivery of reinforcement leads to poorer level
of performance. It can be easily shown by
Schedules of Reinforcement asking children which reward they will prefer
for doing some chore. Smaller rewards
A reinforcement schedule is the arrangement
immediately after doing the chore will be
of the delivery of reinforcement during
preferred rather than a big one after a long
conditioning trials. Each schedule of
reinforcement influences the course of
conditioning in its own way; and thus
Key Learning Processes
conditioned responses occur with differential
characteristics. The organism being subjected When learning takes place, be it classical or
to operant conditioning may be given operant conditioning, it involves the
reinforcement in every acquisition trial or in occurrence of certain processes. These include

Box 6.1 Classical and Operant Conditioning : Differences


1. In classical conditioning, the responses are 3. In classical conditioning, the experimenter

under the control of some stimulus because controls the occurrence of US, while in operant
they are reflexes, automatically elicited by conditioning the occurrence of the reinforcer is
the appropriate stimuli. Such stimuli are under the control of the organism that is learning.
selected as US and responses elicited by Thus, for US in classical conditioning the
them as UR. Thus Pavlovian conditioning, in organism remains passive, while in operant
which US elicits responses, is often called conditioning the subject has to be active in order
respondent conditioning.
to be reinforced.
In instrumental conditioning, responses
4. In the two forms of conditioning, the technical
are under the control of the organism and
are voluntary responses or ‘operants’. Thus, terms used to characterise the experimental
in the two forms of conditioning different proceedings are different. Moreover what is called
types of responses are conditioned. reinforcer in operant conditioning is called US in
2. In classical conditioning the CS and US are classical conditioning. An US has two functions.
well-defined, but in operant conditioning CS In the beginning it elicits the response and also
is not defined. It can be inferred but is not reinforces the response to be associated and
directly known. elicited later on by the CS.

Chapter 6 • Learning
Box 6.2 Learned Helplessness

It is an interesting phenomenon, which is a result suffered the shock through, and did not attempt to
of an interaction between the two forms of escape. This behaviour of the dog was called learned
conditioning. Learned helplessness underlies helplessness.
psychological cases of depression. Seligman and This phenomenon has been shown to be operative
Maier demonstrated this phenomenon in a study in humans also. It has been found that continuous
on dogs. First, they subjected dogs to sound (CS) failure in a set of tasks shows the occurrence of
and electric shock (US) using classical conditioning learned helplessness. In an experimental study, the
procedure. The animal had no scope to escape or subjects are initially given failure experience
avoid the shock. This pairing was repeated a irrespective of their performance. In the second phase
number of times. Then the dogs were subjected to the subjects are given a task. Learned helplessness
shock in an operant conditioning procedure. The is often measured in terms of the subject’s ability and
dogs could escape the shock by pressing their persistence before they give up the task. Continuous
heads against the wall. After having experienced failure leads to little persistence and poor performance.
inescapable shock in the Pavlovian contingency, This shows helplessness. There are numerous studies
the dog failed to escape or avoid shock in the that demonstrate that persistent depression is often
operant conditioning procedure. The dog just caused by learned helplessness.

reinforcement, extinction or non-occurrence lead to the desired response. Such a response

of learned response, generalisation of is shaped by reinforcing successive
learning to other stimuli under some approximations to the desired response.
specifiable conditions, discrimination
between reinforcing and non-reinforcing Extinction
stimuli, and spontaneous recovery.
Extinction means disappearance of a learned
response due to removal of reinforcement from
the situation in which the response used to
Reinforcement is the operation of occur. If the occurrence of CS-CR is not
administering a reinforcer by the experimenter. followed by the US in classical conditioning,
Reinforcers are stimuli that increase the rate or lever pressing is no more followed by food
or probability of the responses that precede. pellets in the Skinner box, the learned
We have noted that reinforced responses behaviour will gradually be weakened and
increase in rate, while non-reinforced ultimately disappear.
responses decrease in rate. A positive Learning shows resistance to extinction.
reinforcer increases the rate of response that It means that even though the learned
precedes its presentation. Negative reinforcers response is now not reinforced, it would
increase the rate of the response that precedes continue to occur for sometime. However, with
their removal or termination. The reinforcers increasing number of trials without
may be primary or secondary. A primary reinforcement, the r esponse strength
reinforcer is biologically important since it gradually diminishes and ultimately it stops
determines the organism’s survival (e.g., food occurring. How long a learned response shows
for a hungry organism). A secondary reinforcer resistance to extinction depends on a number
is one which has acquired characteristics of of factors. It has been found that with
the reinforcer because of the organism’s increasing number of reinforced trials
experience with the environment. We resistance to extinction increases and learned
frequently use money, praise, and grades as response reaches its highest level. At this level
reinforcers. They are called secondary performance gets stabilised. After that the
reinforcers. Systematic use of reinforcers can number of trials do not make a difference in

the response strength. Resistance to extinction For example, suppose a child is conditioned
incr eases with increasing number of to be afraid of a person with a long moustache
reinforcements during acquisition trials, and wearing black clothes. In subsequent
beyond that any increase in number of situation, when s/he meets another person
reinforcement reduces the resistance to dressed in black clothes with a beard, the child
extinction. Studies have also indicated that shows signs of fear. The child’s fear is
as the amount of reinforcement (number of generalised. S/he meets another stranger who
food pellets) increases during acquisition is wearing grey clothes and is clean-shaven.
trials, resistance to extinction decreases. The child shows no fear. This is an example of
If reinforcement is delayed during discrimination. Occurrence of generalisation
acquisition trials, the resistance to extinction means failure of discrimination.
increases. Reinforcement in every acquisition Discriminative response depends on the
trial makes the learned response to be less discrimination capacity or discrimination
resistant to extinction. In contrast, learning of the organism.
intermittent or partial reinforcement during
acquisition trials makes a learned response Spontaneous Recovery
more resistant to extinction.
Spontaneous recovery occurs after a learned
Generalisation and Discrimination response is extinguished. Suppose an
organism has learned to make a response for
The processes of generalisation and
getting reinforcement, then the response is
discrimination occur in all kinds of learning.
extinguished and some time lapses. A question
However, they have been extensively
now may be asked, whether the response is
investigated in the context of conditioning.
completely extinguished, and will not occur if
Suppose an organism is conditioned to elicit a
the CS is presented. It has been demonstrated
CR (saliva secretion or any other reflexive
that after lapse of considerable time, the
response) on presentation of a CS (light or
learned or CR recovers and occurs to the CS.
sound of bell). After conditioning is established,
and another stimulus similar to the CS (e.g., The amount of spontaneous recovery depends
ringing of telephone) is presented, the organism on the duration of the time lapsed after the
makes the conditioned response to it. This extinction session. The longer the duration of
phenomenon of responding similarly to similar time lapsed, the greater is the recovery of
stimuli is known as generalisation. Again, learned response. Such recovery occurs
suppose a child has learned the location of a spontaneously. Fig.6.3 shows the
jar of a certain size and shape in which sweets phenomenon of spontaneous recovery.
are kept. Even when the child’s mother is not (1) (2) (3)
around, the child finds the jar and obtains the Acquisition Extinction Spontaneous
sweets. This is a learned operant. Now the (CS+US) (CS alone) recovery
sweets are kept in another jar of a different (CS alone)
size and shape and at a different location in
Strength of the CR

the kitchen. In the absence of the mother the

child locates the jar and obtains the sweets.
This is also an example of generalisation. When
a learned response occurs or is elicited by a
new stimulus, it is called generalisation.
Baseline Rest
Another process, which is complimentary
to generalisation, is called discrimination.
Generalisation is due to similarity while Trials
discrimination is a response due to difference. Fig.6.3 : Phenomenon of Spontaneous Recovery

Chapter 6 • Learning
an experimental room in which similar toys
were placed around. The children were allowed
The next form of learning takes place by to play with the toys. These groups were
observing others. Earlier this form of learning secretly observed and their behaviours noted.
was called imitation. Bandura and his It was found that those children who saw
colleagues in a series of experimental studies aggressive behaviour being rewarded were
investigated observational learning in detail. most aggressive; children who had seen the
In this kind of learning, human beings learn aggressive model being punished were least
social behaviours, therefore, it is sometimes aggressive. Thus, in observational learning
called social learning. In many situations observers acquire knowledge by observing the
individuals do not know how to behave. They model’s behaviour, but perfor mance is
observe others and emulate their behaviour. influenced by model’s behaviour being
This form of learning is called modeling. rewarded or punished.
Examples of observational lear ning You must have noticed that children
abound in our social life. Fashion designers observe adults’ behaviours, at home and
employ tall, pretty, and gracious young girls during social ceremonies and functions. They
enact adults in their plays and games. For
and tall, smart, and well-built young boys for
instance, young children play games of
popularising clothes of different designs and
marriage ceremonies, birthday parties, thief
fabrics. People observe them on televised
and policeman, house keeping, etc. Actually
fashion shows and advertisements in
they enact in their games what they
magazines and newspapers. They imitate these
observe in society, on television, and read in
models. Observing superiors and likeable
persons and then emulating their behaviour
Children lear n most of the social
in a novel social situation is a common
behaviours by observing and emulating adults.
The way to put on clothes, dress one’s hair,
In order to understand the nature of
and conduct oneself in society are learned
observational learning we may refer to the through observing others. It has also been
studies conducted by Bandura. In one of his shown that children learn and develop various
well-known experimental study, Bandura personality characteristics through
showed a film of five minutes duration to observational learning. Aggressiveness, pro-
children. The film shows that in a large room social behaviour, courtesy, politeness,
there are numerous toys including a large diligence, and indolence are acquired by this
sized ‘Bobo’ doll. Now a grown-up boy enters method of learning.
the room and looks around. The boy starts
showing aggressive behaviour towards the toys
in general and the bobo doll in particular. He Activity 6.2
hits the doll, throws it on the floor, kicking it
and sitting on it. This film has three versions. You can have first-hand experience of observational
In one version a group of children see the boy learning by doing the following exercise.
(model) being rewarded and praised by an Collect four or five school going children and
demonstrate how to make a boat out of a sheet of
adult for being aggressive to the doll. In the
paper. Do it two or three times and ask the children
second version another group of children see to observe carefully. After having shown how to
the boy being punished for his aggressive fold the paper in different ways for a number of
behaviour. In the third version the third group times, give them sheets of paper and ask them to
of children are not shown the boy being either make a toy boat.
rewarded or punished. Most children will be able to do it somewhat
After viewing a specific version of the film successfully.
all the three groups of children were placed in

learning can be generalised to other similar
problem situations.
Some psychologists view learning in terms of
cognitive processes that underlie it. They have Latent Learning
developed approaches that focus on such Another type of cognitive learning is known
processes that occur during learning rather as latent learning. In latent learning, a new
than concentrating solely on S-R and S-S behaviour is learned but not demonstrated
connections, as we have seen in the case of until reinforcement is provided for displaying
classical and operant conditioning. Thus, in it. Tolman made an early contribution to the
cognitive learning, there is a change in what concept of latent learning. To have an idea of
the learner knows rather than what s/he does. latent learning, we may briefly understand his
This form of learning shows up in insight experiment. Tolman put two groups of rats in
learning and latent learning. a maze and gave them an opportunity to
explore. In one group, rats found food at the
Insight Learning end of the maze and soon learned to make
their way rapidly through the maze. On the
Kohler demonstrated a model of learning
other hand, rats in the second group were not
which could not be readily explained by
rewarded and showed no apparent signs of
conditioning. He perfor med a series of
learning. But later, when these rats were
experiments with chimpanzees that involved reinforced, they ran through the maze as
solving complex problems. Kohler placed efficiently as the rewarded group.
chimpanzees in an enclosed play area where Tolman contended that the unrewarded
food was kept out of their reach. Tools such rats had learned the layout of the maze early
as poles and boxes were placed in the in their explorations. They just never displayed
enclosure. The chimpanzees rapidly learned their latent learning until the reinforcement
how to use a box to stand on or a pole to move was provided. Instead, the rats developed a
the food in their direction. In this experiment, cognitive map of the maze, i.e. a mental
learning did not occur as a result of trial and representation of the spatial locations and
error and reinforcement, but came about in directions, which they needed to reach their
sudden flashes of insight. The chimpanzees goal.
would roam about the enclosure for some time
and then suddenly would stand on a box, grab
a pole and strike a banana, which was out of VERBAL LEARNING
nor mal reach above the enclosure. The Verbal learning is different from conditioning
chimpanzee exhibited what Kohler called and is limited to human beings. Human
insight learning – the process by which the beings, as you must have observed, acquire
solution to a problem suddenly becomes clear. knowledge about objects, events, and their
In a nor mal experiment on insight features largely in terms of words. Words then
learning, a problem is presented, followed by come to be associated with one another.
a period of time when no apparent progress is Psychologists have developed a number of
made and finally a solution suddenly emerges. methods to study this kind of learning in a
In insight learning, sudden solution is the rule. laboratory setting. Each method is used to
Once the solution has appeared, it can be investigate specific questions about learning
repeated immediately the next time the of some kind of verbal material. In the study
problem is confronted. Thus, it is clear that of verbal learning, psychologists use a variety
what is learned is not a specific set of of materials including nonsense syllables,
conditioned associations between stimuli and familiar words, unfamiliar words (see Table
responses but a cognitive relationship between 6.2 for sample items), sentences, and
a means and an end. As a result, insight paragraphs.

Chapter 6 • Learning
Table 6.2 Sample Lists of Items used in Verbal Learning Experiments
Nonsense syllables Unfamiliar words Familiar words

Methods used in Studying Verbal Learning begins. One by one the stimulus words are
presented and the participant tries to give the
1. Paired-Associates Learning : This method
correct response term. In case of failure, s/he
is similar to S-S conditioning and S-R learning.
is shown the response word. In one trial all
It is used in learning some foreign language
the stimulus terms are shown. Trials continue
equivalents of mother tongue words. First, a
until the participant gives all the response
list of paired-associates is prepared. The first
words without a single error. The total number
word of the pair is used as the stimulus, and
of trials taken to reach the criterion becomes
the second word as the response. Members of
the measure of paired-associates learning.
each pair may be from the same language or
two different languages. A list of such words 2. Serial Learning : This method of verbal
is given in Table 6.3. learning is used to find out how participants
The first members of the pairs (stimulus learn the lists of verbal items, and what
term) are nonsense syllables (consonant- processes are involved in it. First, lists of verbal
vowel-consonant), and the second are English items, i.e. nonsense syllables, most familiar
nouns (response term). The learner is first or least familiar words, interrelated words, etc.
shown both the stimulus-response pairs are prepared. The participant is presented the
together, and is instructed to remember and entire list and is required to produce the items
recall the response after the presentation of in the same serial order as in the list. In the
each stimulus term. After that a learning trial first trial, the first item of the list is shown,

Table 6.3 Examples of Stimulus – Response PPairs

airs used in PPaired-Associates
aired-Associates Learning
Stimulus - Response Stimulus - Response

and the participant has to produce the second from a list containing the same association
item. If s/he fails to do so within the prescribed value. On the basis of research findings, the
time, the experimenter presents the second following generalisations have been made.
item. Now this item becomes the stimulus and Learning time increases with increase in
the participant has to produce the third item length of the list, occurrence of words with low
that is the response word. If s/he fails, the association values or lack of relations among
experimenter gives the correct item, which the items in the list. The more time it takes to
becomes the stimulus item for the fourth word. learn the list, stronger will be the learning. In
This procedure is called serial anticipation this respect psychologists have found that the
method. Learning trials continue until the total time principle operates. This principle
participant correctly anticipates all the items states that a fixed amount of time is necessary
in the given order. to learn a fixed amount of material, regardless
of the number of trials into which that time is
3. Free Recall : In this method, participants
divided. The more time it takes to learn, the
are presented a list of words, which they read
stronger becomes the learning.
and speak out. Each word is shown at a fixed
If participants are not restricted to the
rate of exposure duration. Immediately after
serial learning method and are allowed to give
the presentation of the list, the participants
free recall, verbal lear ning becomes
are required to recall the words in any order
organisational. It implies that in free recall
they can. Words in the list may be interrelated
participants recall the words not in their order
or unrelated. More than ten words are
of presentation, but in a new order or
included in the list. The presentation order of
sequence. Bousfield first demonstrated this
words varies from trial to trial. This method is
experimentally. He made a list of 60 words
used to study how participants organise words
that consisted of 15 words drawn from each
for storage in memory. Studies indicate that
of the four semantic categories, i.e. names,
the items placed in the beginning or end of
animals, professions, and vegetables. These
the lists are easier to recall than those placed
words were presented to participants one by
in the middle, which are more difficult to
one in random order. The participants were
required to make free recall of the words.
However, they recalled the words of each
Determinants of Verbal Learning
category together. He called it category
Verbal learning has been subjected to the most clustering. It is worth noting that, though,
extensive experimental investigations. These the words were presented randomly the
studies have indicated that the course of verbal participants organised them category-wise in
learning is influenced by a number of factors. recall. Here category clustering occurred
The most important determinants are the because of the nature of the list. It has also
different features of the verbal material to be been demonstrated that free recall is always
learned. They include length of the list to be organised subjectively. Subjective organisation
learned and meaningfulness of the material. shows that the participants organise words
Meaningfulness of material is measured in or items in their individual ways and recall
several ways. The number of associations accordingly.
elicited in a fixed time, familiarity of the Verbal learning is usually intentional but
material and frequency of usage, relations a person may learn some features of the words
among the words in the list, and sequential unintentionally or incidentally. In this kind of
dependence of each word of the list on the learning, participants notice features such as
preceding words, are used for assessing whether two or more words rhyme, start with
meaningfulness. Lists of nonsense syllables are identical letters, have same vowels, etc. Thus,
available with different levels of associations. verbal learning is both intentional as well as
The nonsense syllables should be selected incidental.

Chapter 6 • Learning
Rules that are used to connect the features
Activity 6.3 to form a concept may be very simple or
complex. A rule is an instruction to do
Take the following words and write them on
separate cards, and ask the participants to read something. Keeping in view the rules that are
them aloud one by one. After completion of two used in defining concepts, psychologists have
readings, ask them to write down the words in studied two types of concepts : artificial
any order : book, law, bread, shirt, coat, paper, concepts and natural concepts or categories.
pencil, biscuit, pen, life, history, rice, curd, shoes, Artificial concepts are those that are well-
sociology, sweet, pond, potato, ice-cream, muffler,
defined and rules connecting the features are
and prose. After the presentation, ask them to
write down the words they read, without bothering precise and rigid. In a well-defined concept the
about the order of presentation. features that represent the concept are both
Analyse your data to see whether recalled singly necessary and jointly sufficient.
words show any organisation. Every object must have all the features in order
to become an instance of the concept. On the
other hand, natural concepts or categories are
usually ill-defined. Numerous features are
CONCEPT LEARNING found in the instances of a natural category.
Such concepts include biological objects, real
The world, in which we live, consists of world products, and human artefacts such as
innumerable objects, events and living beings. tools, clothes, houses, etc.
These objects and events are different in their Let us take the example of the concept of
structures and functions. One of the many a square. It is a well-defined concept. It must
things human beings have to do is to organise have four attributes, i.e. closed figure, four
the objects, events, animals, etc., into sides, each side of equal length, and equal
categories so that within the category, objects angles. Thus a square consists of four features
are treated as equivalent even though they are connected by a conjunctive rule. In order to
different in their features. Such understand various rules for creating well-
categorisations involve concept learning. defined concepts let us look at Figure 6.4.

What is a Concept?
A concept is a category that is used to refer to
a number of objects and events. Animal, fruit,
building, and crowd are examples of concepts
or categories. It may be noted that the terms,
concept and category, are interchangeably
used. A concept is defined as ‘a set of features
or attributes connected by some rule’. Instances
of a concept are those objects or events or
behaviours, which have common features. A
feature is any characteristic or aspect of an
object or event or living organism that is
observed in them, and can be considered
equivalent to some features observed or
discriminated in other objects. Features are of
innumerable kinds and their discriminability
depends upon the degree of the observer’s Fig.6.4 : Sixteen figures containing two shapes –
square and triangle, two shades – pink and grey,
perceptual sensitivity. Properties like colour, cross on top and bottom, circles – right or left sides
size, number, shape, smoothness, roughness, of figures. These figures are used as instances of
softness, and hardness are called features. and non-instances of an artificial concept.

In Figure 6.4 there are 16 cards having shorthand writing, and writing and reading
two shapes - square and triangle, two shades- are examples of skills. Such skills are learned
pink and grey, signs of cross on top or bottom, by practice and exercise. A skill consists of a
and small circle on right side or left side. With chain of perceptual motor responses or as a
the help of these cards one can create a sequence of S-R associations.
number of concepts by using different rules.
The set of features that are connected by some Phases of Skill Acquisition
rule are called relevant features. The features Skill lear ning passes through several
that are not included in the rule are considered qualitatively different phases. With each
to be irrelevant features. For example, in the successive attempt at learning a skill, one’s
cards shown in Figure 6.4 there are four performance becomes smoother and less effort
features — shape, shade, cross or no cross demanding. In other words, it becomes more
on the top, and circle on the right or left side. spontaneous or automatic. It has also been
In creating a conjunctive concept by using shown that in each phase the performance
two features one may use shape and side as improves. In transition from one phase to the
the relevant ones, and leave out two others as next, when the level of performance stands
irrelevant. For such a concept, the exemplars still, it is called performance plateau. Once
and non-exemplars are given in Figure 6.5. the next phase begins, performance starts
You will study more about concepts in Chapter improving and its level starts going up.
8 on thinking. One of the most influential accounts of the
phases of skill acquisition is presented by
Fitts. According to him, skill learning passes
through three phases, viz. cognitive,
associative and autonomous. Each phase or
stage of skill learning involves different types
of mental processes. In the cognitive phase of
skill learning, the learner has to understand
and memorise the instructions, and also
understand how the task has to be performed.
In this phase, every outside cue, instructional
demand, and one’s response outcome have to
be kept alive in consciousness.
The second phase is associative. In this
phase, different sensory inputs or stimuli are
linked with appropriate responses. As the
practice incr eases, errors decrease,
performance improves and time taken is also
Fig.6.5 : The four figures on the top are the reduced. With continued practice, errorless
exemplars of the concept, and rest of the figures are performance begins, though, the learner has
non-exemplars. The exemplars of the concept must to be attentive to all the sensory inputs and
be triangle and grey. Other features are irrelevant.
maintain concentration on the task. Then the
third phase, i.e. autonomous phase, begins.
In this phase, two important changes take
place in per formance: the attentional
demands of the associative phase decrease,
Nature of Skills
and interference created by external factors
A skill is defined as the ability to perform some reduces. Finally, skilled performance attains
complex task smoothly and efficiently. Car automaticity with minimal demands on
driving, airplane piloting, ship navigating, conscious effort.

Chapter 6 • Learning
Transitions from one phase to the other score of the experimental group is higher than
clearly show that practice is the only means that of the control group, it implies that
of skill learning. One has to keep on exercising positive transfer has taken place. If the score
and practicing. As the practice increases, is lower than the control group, it means
improvement rate gradually increases; and negative transfer has taken place. If the two
automaticity of errorless per formance groups perform equally well, then it shows that
becomes the hallmark of skill. That is why it transfer effect is zero.
is said that ‘practice makes a man perfect’. It must be noted that in the study of
transfer effect, a distinction is made between
general transfer and specific transfer. It is
TRANSFER OF LEARNING now a well-known fact that prior learning
The term transfer of learning is often called always leads to positive general transfer. It is
transfer of training or transfer effect. It refers only in specific transfer that transfer effects
are positive or negative, and in some
to the effects of prior learning on new learning.
conditions there is zero effect, though in
Transfer is considered to be positive if the
reality, due to general transfer, zero transfer
earlier learning facilitates current learning. It
is theoretically untenable. Let us try to
is considered to be negative transfer if new
understand the nature of general transfer and
learning is retarded. Absence of facilitative or
specific transfer.
retarding ef fect means zero transfer.
Psychologists use specific experimental
designs in the study of transfer effects. One General (Generic) Transfer
such design is presented in Table 6.4 General transfer is not clearly conceptualised
Suppose you want to know whether and defined in its details. However, prior
learning of English language affects learning learning predisposes one to learn another task
of French. To study this you select a large in a better manner. The learning of one task
sample of participants. Now you randomly warms-up the learner to learn the next task
divide the sample into two groups, one to be more conveniently. You must have seen a
used in the experimental condition and the cricketer going to the pitch to take her/his
other as control group. The experimental position near the wicket. The cricketer walks
group of participants learns English language by jumping on one foot then on the other.
for a year and is tested to find out their S/he moves her/his two hands holding the bat
achievement in English. In the second year, sideways to loosen up. When you write answers
they study French. In the end this group is while appearing at the examination, your
tested to find out its achievement scores in writing is slow and sitting position awkward
French. The control group in the first phase for efficient writing. However, you get warmed
does not learn English language and just does up after having written two or three pages. Your
its routine work for one year. In the second speed increases and your body gets well
year, these participants learn French for a year adjusted to the writing task. This continues
and their achievement scores are obtained. until the writing of the last answer is over. After
The achievement scores in French of the two some time, warm-up effect disappears.
groups are then compared. If the achievement Warm-up effect lasts over one session of

Table 6.4 Experimental Design used in the Study of Transf

Transf er Eff
ransfer ects of Learning
Group of Participants Phase 1 Phase 2
Experimental Learns task A Learns task B
Control Does not learn but rests Learns task B

learning. Only in that session one can learn 3. In the third case, the stimuli are same
two or more tasks. but responses are different. In such
conditions also some positive transfer
Specific Transfer occurs.
4. In the fourth case, the stimuli are different,
Whenever an organism learns something, it but responses are the same. Therefore new
consists of a series of stimulus-response associations with responses are to be
associations. Any task can be understood as a learned. In this case positive transfer is
chain of discriminable stimuli, each of which obtained.
has to be associated with a specific response. 5. In the fifth case, stimuli and responses are
Specific transfer means the effect of learning the same, but associations are altered.
of task A on learning of task B. The learning of Because of this, alteration negative transfer
task A may make the learning of task B easier occurs in the learning of the second task.
or more difficult or have no such effect. Such It is so because the associations learned
transfers depend on similarity-dissimilarity in the initial task interfere in the learning
between the initial learning task and the second of new associations. Such interferences are
task. The possible relationships between discussed in Chapter 7 which deals with
stimuli and responses are shown in Table 6.5. human memory.

Table 6.5 Similarity-Dissimilarity Relationship between the Initial and Subsequent Learning Tasks
S.No. Initial Task Second Task Comments
1. SA – R A SC – RD Both stimuli and responses are different
2. SA – R A SA – R A Stimuli are the same and responses are similar
3. SA – R A SA – R D Stimuli same but responses are different
4. SA – R A SC – RA Stimuli are different but responses same
5. SA – R A S A – RA Same stimuli and responses but associations

On the basis of a long series of

experimental studies, the following
conclusions have been drawn about specific In the preceding section we examined the
transfer with reference to the situations shown specific determinants of learning, such as
in Table 6.5. contiguous presentation of CS and US in
1. In the first instance, the initial and transfer
classical conditioning; number, amount, and
tasks are very different both in stimuli as
delay of reinforcement in operant conditioning;
well as in responses. Hence no specific
status and attractiveness of models in
transfer is expected. However, due to the
mechanism of general transfer some observational learning; procedure in verbal
degree of positive transfer may occur. lear ning; and the nature of rules and
2. In the second case, the stimuli of the two perceptual features of objects and events in
tasks are the same and responses are concept learning. Now, we shall discuss some
highly similar. Therefore, maximum general deter minants of learning. This
transfer may occur. It has been regularly discussion is not exhaustive. Rather it deals
shown that in this condition positive with some salient factors only which are found
transfer takes place. very important.

Chapter 6 • Learning
Continuous vs Partial Reinforcement organism to act for fulfilling the current need.
In experiments on learning the experimenter In other words, motivation energises an
can arrange to deliver reinforcement according organism to act vigorously for attaining some
to a specific schedule. In the context of goal. Such acts persist until the goal is
learning, two kinds of schedules namely attained and the need is satisfied. Motivation
continuous and partial have been found very is a prerequisite for learning. Why does a child
important. In continuous reinforcement the forage in the kitchen when the mother is not
participant is given reinforcement after each in the house? S/he does so because s/he
target response. This kind of schedule of needs sweets to eat for which s/he is trying to
reinforcement produces a high rate of locate the jar in which sweets are kept. During
responding. However, once the reinforcement the course of foraging the child learns the
is withheld, response rates decrease very location of the jar. A hungry rat is placed in a
quickly, and the responses acquired under this box. The animal forages in the box for food.
schedule tend to extinguish. Since organism Incidentally it presses a lever and food drops
is getting reinforcement on each trial, the in the box. With repeated experience of such
effectiveness of that reinforcer is reduced. In activity, the animal learns to press the lever
such schedules where reinforcement is not immediately after the animal is placed there.
continuous, some responses are not Have you ever asked yourself why you are
reinforced. Hence, they are called partial or studying psychology and other subjects in
intermittent reinforcement. There are several Class XI? You are doing so to pass with good
ways in which one might reinforce responses marks or grades in your final examination.
according to an intermittent schedule. It has The more motivated you are, the more hard
been found that partial reinforcement work you do for learning. Your motivation for
schedules often produce very high rates of learning something arises from two sources.
responding, particularly when responses are You learn many things because you enjoy
reinforced according to ratio. In this kind of them (intrinsic motivation) or they provide you
schedule, an organism often makes several the means for attaining some other goal
responses that are not reinforced. Therefore, (extrinsic motivation).
it becomes difficult to tell when a
reinforcement has been discontinued Preparedness for Learning
completely and when it has merely been The members of different species are very
delayed. When reinforcement is continuous it different from one another in their sensory
is easier to tell when it has been discontinued. capacities and response abilities. The
This kind of difference has been found crucial mechanisms necessary for establishing
for extinction. It has been found that extinction associations, such as S-S or S-R, also vary
of a response is more difficult following partial from species to species. It can be said that
reinforcement than following continuous species have biological constraints on their
reinforcement. The fact that the responses learning capacities. The kinds of S-S or S-R
acquired under partial reinforcement are learning an organism can easily acquire
highly resistant to extinction is called partial depends on the associative mechanism it is
reinforcement effect. genetically endowed with or prepared for. A
particular kind of associative learning is easy
for apes or human beings but may be
All living organisms have survival needs and extremely difficult and sometimes impossible
human beings, in addition, have growth needs. for cats and rats. It implies that one can learn
Motivation is a mental as well as a only those associations for which one is
physiological state, which arouses an genetically prepared.

The concept of preparedness may be best and Personality Patterns. A brief description
understood as a continuum or dimension, on of these approaches are given below:
one end of which are those learning tasks or 1. Perceptual Modality are biologically-based
associations which are easy for the members reactions to the physical environment. It
of some species, and on the other end are those refers to the preferences of persons
learning tasks for which those members are through which they take in information
not prepared at all and cannot learn them. In such as auditory, visual, smell,
the middle of the continuum fall those tasks kinesthetic, and tactile.
and associations for which the members are 2. Infor mation Processing distinguishes
neither prepared nor unprepared. They can between the way we are structured to
learn such tasks, but only with great difficulty think, solve problems, and remember
and persistence. information. This may be thought of as the
way we process information. For example,
active/reflective, sensing/intuitive,
THE LEARNER : LEARNING STYLES sequential/global, serial/simultaneous,
You may have observed that some children, 3. Personality Patterns are the way we
sometimes from the same family, perform well interact with our surroundings. Each one
in school whereas others do not. There has of us has a preferred, consistent, and
been a great deal of research on learning styles distinct way of perceiving, organising, and
over the last several decades. It demonstrates retaining information. This approach
the differences in the way people learn within focuses on understanding how personality
the same class, culture, community or socio- affects the way people interact with the
economic group and those belonging to environment, and how this affects the way
different groups. individuals respond to each other within
Lear ning style may be defined as the learning environment.
‘a learner’s consistent way of responding to There are several dimensions along which
and using stimuli in the context of learning’. In learning styles differ. For example, Anderson
other words, it is ‘the way in which each differentiated between analytic and relational
learner begins to concentrate, processes, and styles of learning. These have been illustrated
retains new and complex information’. It may in Table 6.6. It is clear that people with a
be noted that this interaction occurs differently relational style learn material best through
for everyone. For example, you may have exposure to a full unit or phenomenon. They
noticed that children in your class are unique comprehend parts of the unit only by
in their personalities, cultural experiences, understanding their relationship to the whole.
and values. Different students prefer different On the other hand, people with an analytical
learning environments, learning modalities lear ning style lear n more easily when
and they all have unique strengths, talents, information is presented step by step in a
and weaknesses. cumulative sequential pattern that builds
Therefore, it is necessary to examine each towards a conceptual understanding.
individual’s personal characteristics to One must remember that the various
determine what is most likely to trigger each learning styles are points along a scale that
learner’s concentration, maintain it, respond help us to discover the different forms of
to her or his natural processing style and mental representation. They do not
facilitate long-term memory. There are various characterise people. Therefore, we should not
instruments which are used to determine a divide the population into a set category (e.g.,
student’s learning style. visual person, extrovert, etc.). We are capable
Learning styles are mainly derived from of learning under any style, no matter what
Perceptual Modality, Information Processing, our preference may be.

Chapter 6 • Learning
Table 6.6 Learning Styles
Relational Style Analytical Style
1. Perceive information as part of total 1. Able to disembed information from total
picture picture (focus on detail)
2. Exhibit intuitive thinking 2. Exhibit sequential and structured
3. Learn materials that have a human, 3. Learn materials that are inanimate and
social content and are characterised by impersonal more easily
experiential/cultural relevance more
4. Have a good memory for verbally 4. Have a good memory for abstract ideas
presented ideas and infor mation, and irrelevant information
especially if relevant
5. Are more task-oriented concerning non- 5. Are more task-oriented concerning
academic areas academics
6. Are influenced by authority figures’ 6. Are not greatly affected by the opinions
expression of confidence or doubt in of others
students’ ability
7. Prefer to withdraw from unstimulating 7. Show ability to persist unstimulating
task performance task
8. Style conflicts with the traditional 8. Style matches most school
school environment environments

inherent in the child. It is presumed that these

difficulties originate from problems with the
You must have heard, observed or read that functioning of the central nervous system. It
thousands of children get enrolled for may occur in conjunction with physical
education in schools. Some of them, however, handicaps, sensory impairment, mental
find the demands of educational process too retardation, or without them.
difficult to meet, and they drop out. Such It must be noted that learning disabilities
students are called “drop-outs”. The reasons may be observed as a distinct handicapping
for this are numerous, such as sensory condition in children of average to superior
impairment, mental retardation, social and intelligence, adequate sensory motor systems,
emotional disturbance, poor economic and adequate learning opportunities. If it is
conditions of the family, cultural beliefs and not remedied, it may continue throughout life
norms or other environmental influences. and affect self-esteem, vocation, social
Apart from these conditions, there is another relations, and daily living activities.
source of obstacle in the continuance of
education that is called learning disabilities. Symptoms of Learning Disabilities
It makes school learning, i.e. acquisition of There are many symptoms of learning
knowledge and skills too difficult to grapple disabilities. They become manifest in different
with. Such children also fail to move forward combinations in children who suffer from this
in their learning activities. disorder irrespective of their intelligence,
Learning disability is a general term. It motivation, and hard work for learning.
refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders 1. Difficulties in writing letters, words and
manifested in terms of difficulty in the phrases, reading out text, and speaking
acquisition of learning, reading, writing, appear quite frequently. Quite often they
speaking, reasoning, and mathematical have listening problems, although they
activities. The sources of such disorders are may not have auditory defects. Such

children are very different from others in of the symptoms related to lear ning
developing learning strategies and plans. disabilities.
2. Learning-disabled children have disorders
of attention. They get easily distracted and
cannot sustain attention on one point for
long. More often than not, attentional The principles of learning have great value for
deficiency leads to hyperactivity, i.e. they enriching human life in all spheres of life. All
are always moving, doing different things, activities and behaviours that make personal,
trying to manipulate things incessantly. social, and economic life peaceful and
3. Poor space orientation and inadequate pleasurable are learned. Their learning should
sense of time are common symptoms. be psychologically guided. Contemporary
Such children do not get easily oriented to psychologists have developed techniques and
new surroundings and get lost. They lack procedures based on the principles of classical
a sense of time and are late or sometimes and operant conditioning, social learning,
too early in their routine work. They also verbal learning, concept learning, and skill
show confusion in direction and misjudge learning for improving many aspects of life.
right, left, up and down. We can have a glimpse of the applications of
4. Learning-disabled children have poor lear ning principles in four areas, i.e.
motor coordination and poor manual organisations, in treatment of maladjustive
dexterity. This is evident in their lack of behaviours, in rearing children, and school
balance, inability to sharpen pencil, handle learning.
doorknobs, difficulty in learning to ride a In organisations, a number of problems
bicycle, etc. such as absenteeism, frequent medical leave,
5. These children fail to understand and indiscipline, and lack of proper skills pose
follow oral directions for doing things. serious problems. Applying the principles of
6. They misjudge relationships as to which lear ning may solve these problems. To
classmates are friendly and which ones are increase attendance and reduce absenteeism
indif ferent. They fail to lear n and an interesting device is used in some
understand body language. organisations. At the end of every third month,
7. Learning-disabled children usually show name slips of employees, not being absent on
perceptual disorders. These may include a single working day are placed in a drum.
visual, auditory, tactual, and kinesthetic Four to five per cent of the names are randomly
misperception. They fail to differentiate a drawn and they are given attractive rewards
call-bell from the ring of the telephone. It for not being absent on a single working day.
is not that they do not have sensory acuity. Such rewards have been found to reduce
They simply fail to use it in performance. absenteeism. To increase the number of
8. Fairly large number of learning-disabled employees, who have not gone on medical leave
children have dyslexia. They quite often for full one year, various benefits are given.
fail to copy letters and words; for example, Such partial rewards reduce the incidence of
they fail to distinguish between b and d, medical leave. With a view to improving
p and q, P and 9, was and saw, unclear discipline, managers start functioning as
and nuclear, etc. They fail to organise verbal models for employees, or employees are placed
materials. under such model managers.
It must be noted that lear ning Based on the principles of learning, a
disabilities are not incurable. Remedial number of therapeutic procedures have been
teaching methods go a long way in helping developed to modify maladaptive and socially
them to learn and become like other students. incapacitating habits and behaviours. In these
Educational psychologists have developed procedures, the principle of extinction is
appropriate techniques for correcting most employed. In the case of those children and

Chapter 6 • Learning
adults who exhibit irrational and unfounded read in detail about these therapies in Class
fear with accompanying avoidance behaviour, XII.
implosive therapy and flooding are used. The principles of learning are widely used
Implosive therapy starts with the person in teaching. Educational objectives are decided
imagining their most feared form of contact after analysing the instructional tasks and
with the feared object, accompanied by vivid fitting them into various types of learning such
verbal descriptions by the therapist. The as S-S or S-R, verbal, observational, and skill
therapist functions as a coach. On the other learning. Students are told what they have to
hand, flooding is exposure that takes place in learn and appropriate practice conditions
vivo (e.g., with an actual feared object) and is are provided. Students are made active
considered to be the most effective of all participants in the acquisition of information,
treatments for fear. To help those suffering meaning, and correct responses. Teachers act
from excessive anxieties and fears, the as models and mentors for students to
technique of systematic desensitisation is emulate them with a view to promote
used. It is a form of behaviour therapy used appropriate social behaviours and personal
to reduce phobic patients’ anxiety responses habits. Students are provided ample
through counterconditioning, i.e. an attempt opportunities for practice as they are required
to reverse the process of classical conditioning to do homework. Skills are analysed as S-R
by associating the crucial stimulus with a new chains and students are allowed to learn skills
conditioned response. In order to eliminate practically.
habits that are undesirable and injurious for The principles of learning are best applied
health and happiness, aversion therapy is in child rearing provided both the parents are
used. The therapist arranges things in such a aware of the principles of learning. By using
way that occurrence of maladjustive habits the classical conditioning procedure children
generates painful experiences and to avoid are made to learn necessary signs of danger
them clients learn to give them up. For and safety. The behaviour of children can
example, alcohol is paired with an emetic drug easily be modified and shaped through the
(which induces severe nausea and vomiting) use of operant conditioning procedure. By
so that nausea and vomiting become a using rewards judiciously parents can make
conditioned response to alcohol. Modeling children enthusiastic learners. As models and
and systematic use of reinforcement for mentors, parents make children socially
shaping and developing competence are skillful, duty oriented and resourceful.
extensively used. Persons suffering from
excessive shyness and having difficulties in
interpersonal interactions are subjected to
assertive learning. This therapy is also based Key Terms
on the principles of learning. There are persons
who lose mental peace with accelerated rate Associative learning, Biofeedback, Cognitive
map, Concept, Conditioned response,
of breathing, loss of appetite, and rise in blood
Conditioned stimulus, Conditioning,
pressure at the slightest provocation. In such Discrimination, Dyslexia, Extinction, Free
cases psychotherapists give biofeedback recall, Generalisation, Insight, Learning
treatment. This technique is based on the disabilities, Mental set, Modeling, Negative
interaction between classical and instrumental reinforcement, Operant or instrumental
conditioning. In biofeedback, a bodily function conditioning, Positive reinforcement,
Punishment, Reinforcement, Serial learning,
(such as heart rate or blood pressure) is
Spontaneous recovery, Transfer of learning,
monitored and information about the function Unconditioned response, Unconditioned
is fed back to the person to facilitate improved stimulus, Verbal learning
control of the physiological process. You will

• Learning is any relatively permanent change in behaviour or behavioural potential produced
by experience or practice. It is an inferred process and differs from performance which is the
observed behaviour/response/action.
• The main types of learning are: classical and operant conditioning, observational learning,
cognitive learning, verbal learning, concept learning, and skill learning.
• Pavlov first investigated classical conditioning in the course of studies on digestion in dogs.
In this kind of learning an organism comes to associate stimuli. A neutral stimulus (CS) that
signals an unconditioned stimulus (US) begins to produce a response (CR) that anticipates
and prepares the organism for US.
• Skinner first investigated operant or instrumental conditioning (OC). An operant is any
response voluntarily emitted by an organism. OC is a type of learning in which response is
strengthened if followed by reinforcement. A reinforcer can be any event that increases the
frequency of preceding response. Thus, the consequence of a response is crucial. The rate of
OC is influenced by the type, number, schedule, and delay of reinforcement.
• Observational learning is also known as imitation, modeling and social learning. We acquire
knowledge by observing a model’s behaviour. The performance depends on whether the
model’s behaviour is rewarded or punished.
• In verbal learning words get associated with one another on the basis of structural, phonetic,
and semantic similarity and contrast. They are often organised in clusters. In experimental
studies, paired-associates learning, serial learning, and free recall methods are used.
Meaningfulness of material, and subjective organisation influence learning. It may be
incidental also.
• Concept is a category. It involves a set of features connected with a rule or instruction. A
concept can be natural or artificial. Artificial concepts are well-defined while natural concepts
are usually ill-defined. Experimental studies of well-defined concepts have been undertaken
through selection and reception procedures. The natural concepts have fuzzy boundaries.
• Skill refers to the ability to carry out complex tasks smoothly and efficiently. They are learned
by practice and exercise. The skilled performance is the organisation of S-R chain into large
response patterns. It passes through cognitive, associative, and autonomous phases.
• Effect of prior learning on new learning is called transfer of learning. It may be general (e.g.,
warm-up) or specific. It depends on similarity of S-R associations in the two learning tasks.
• Factors facilitating learning include motivation and preparedness of the organism.
• Learning style refers to the way in which each learner begins to concentrate on, process,
and retain new and difficult information.
• Learning disabilities (e.g., reading, writing) restrict learning in people. They are hyperactive,
lack sense of time, and eye-hand coordination, etc.
• The principles of learning are applied in organisations, treatment of maladjustive reactions,
child rearing, and school learning.

Review Questions
1. What is learning? What are its distinguishing features?
2. How does classical conditioning demonstrate learning by association?
3. Define operant conditioning. Discuss the factors that influence the course of operant
4. A good role model is very important for a growing up child. Discuss the kind of learning
that supports it.
5. Explain the procedures for studying verbal learning.
6. What is a skill? What are the stages through which skill learning develops?

Chapter 6 • Learning
7. How can you distinguish between generalisation and discrimination?
8. How does transfer of learning takes place?
9. Why is motivation a prerequisite for learning?
10. What does the notion of preparedness for learning mean?
11. Explain the different forms of cognitive learning?
12. How can we identify students with learning disabilities?

Project Ideas
1. How do your parents reinforce you for behaving in the ways they think are good for you?
Select five different instances. Compare these with the reinforcement employed by teachers
in the classroom and relate them to the concepts taught in the class.
2. If your younger sister or brother has indulged in some undesirable behaviour, how would
you help her/him to get rid of that behaviour. Make use of the learning principles discussed
in the chapter.

Human Memory
7 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• understand the nature of memory,
• distinguish between different types of memory,
• explain how the contents of long-term memory are represented and
• appreciate the constructive and reconstructive processes in memory,
• understand the nature and causes of forgetting, and
• learn the strategies for improving memory.

Nature of Memory
Information Processing Approach : The Stage Model
Memory Systems : Sensory, Short-term and Long-term Memories
Working Memory (Box 7.1)
Levels of Processing
Types of Long-term Memory
Declarative and Procedural; Episodic and Semantic
Long-term Memory Classification (Box 7.2)
Methods of Memory Measurement (Box 7.3)
Knowledge Representation and Organisation in Memory
Memory Making: Eyewitness and False Memories (Box 7.4)
Memory as a Constructive Process
Nature and Causes of Forgetting
Forgetting due to Trace Decay, Interference and Retrieval Failure
Repressed Memories (Box 7.5)
The advantage of bad Enhancing Memory
memory is that one Mnemonics using Images and Organisation
enjoys several times,
Key Terms
the same good things Summary
for the first time. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– Friedrich Nietzsche
All of us are aware of the tricks that memory plays on us throughout our lives. Have
you ever felt embarrassed because you could not remember the name of a known
person you were talking to? Or anxious and helpless because everything you
memorised well the previous day before taking your examination has suddenly
become unavailable? Or felt excited because you can now flawlessly recite lines of
a famous poem you had learnt as a child? Memory indeed is a very fascinating yet
intriguing human faculty. It functions to preserve our sense of who we are, maintains
our interpersonal relationships and helps us in solving problems and taking
decisions. Since memory is central to almost all cognitive processes such as
perception, thinking and problem solving, psychologists have attempted to
understand the manner in which any information is committed to memory, the
mechanisms through which it is retained over a period of time, the reasons why it
is lost from memory, and the techniques which can lead to memory improvement.
In this chapter, we shall examine all these aspects of memory and understand
various theories which explain the mechanisms of memory.
The history of psychological research on memory spans over hundred years.
The first systematic exploration of memory is credited to Hermann Ebbinghaus, a
German psychologist of late nineteenth century (1885). He carried out many
experiments on himself and found that we do not forget the learned material at an
even pace or completely. Initially the rate of forgetting is faster but eventually it
stabilises. Another view on memory was suggested by Frederick Bartlett (1932)
who contended that memory is not passive but an active process. With the help of
meaningful verbal materials such as stories and texts, he demonstrated that memory
is a constructive process. That is, what we memorise and store undergoes many
changes and modifications over time. So there is a qualitative difference in what
was initially memorised by us and what we retrieve or recall later. There are other
psychologists who have influenced memory research in a major way. We shall
review their contributions in this chapter at appropriate places.

you perhaps learned during your early

schooling. Memory is conceptualised as a
Memory refers to retaining and recalling process consisting of three independent,
information over a period of time, depending though interrelated stages. These are
upon the nature of cognitive task you are encoding, storage, and retrieval. Any
required to perform. It might be necessary to information received by us necessarily goes
hold an information for a few seconds. For through these stages.
example, you use your memory to retain an (a) Encoding is the first stage which refers to
unfamiliar telephone number till you have a process by which information is recorded
reached the telephone instrument to dial, or and registered for the first time so that it
for many years you still remember the becomes usable by our memory system.
techniques of addition and subtraction which Whenever an external stimulus impinges on

our sensory organs, it generates neural human memory came to be seen as a system
impulses. These are received in different areas that processes information in the same way
of our brain for further processing. In as a computer does. Both register, store, and
encoding, incoming information is received manipulate large amount of information and
and some meaning is derived. It is then act on the basis of the outcome of such
represented in a way so that it can be manipulations. If you have worked on a
processed further. computer then you would know that it has a
(b) Storage is the second stage of memory. temporary memory (random access memory
Information which was encoded must also be or RAM) and a permanent memory (e.g., a hard
stored so that it can be put to use later. disk). Based on the programme commands,
Storage, therefore, refers to the process the computer manipulates the contents of its
through which information is retained and
memories and displays the output on the
held over a period of time.
screen. In the same way human beings too
(c) Retrieval is the third stage of memory.
register information, store and manipulate the
Information can be used only when one is able
stored information depending on the task that
to recover it from her/his memory. Retrieval
refers to bringing the stored information to they need to perform. For example, when you
her/his awareness so that it can be used for are required to solve a mathematical problem,
performing various cognitive tasks such as the memory relating to mathematical
problem solving or decision-making. It may operations, such as division or subtraction are
be interesting to note that memory failure can carried out, activated and put to use, and
occur at any of these stages. You may fail to receive the output (the problem solution). This
recall an information because you did not analogy led to the development of the first
encode it properly, or the storage was weak model of memory, which was proposed by
so you could not access or retrieve it when Atkinson and Shiffrin in 1968. It is known as
required. Stage Model.



Initially, it was thought that memory is the According to the Stage Model, there are three
capacity to store all information that we memory systems : the Sensory Memory, the
acquire through learning and experience. It Short-term Memory and the Long-term
was seen as a vast storehouse where all Memory. Each of these systems has different
information that we knew was kept so that features and performs different functions with
we could retrieve and use it as and when respect to the sensory inputs (see Fig.7.1). Let
needed. But with the advent of the computer, us examine what these systems are:

Sensory Memory Short-term Long-term

Iconic (Sight) Memory Memory
Echoic (Sound) Store Capacity - Elaborative Permanent
and other senses Attention small Rehearsals Store Capacity -
Information Store Capacity - Duration - less unlimited
large than 30 seconds Duration - upto
Duration - less a life time
than one second

Fig.7.1 : The Stage Model of Memory

Chapter 7 • Human Memory
Sensory Memory registers where infor mation decays
automatically in less than a second.
The incoming information first enters the
sensory memory. Sensory memory has a large
Long-term Memory
capacity. However, it is of very short duration,
i.e. less than a second. It is a memory system Materials that survive the capacity and
that registers information from each of the duration limitations of the STM finally enter
senses with reasonable accuracy. Often this the long-term memory (abbreviated as LTM)
system is referred to as sensory memories or which has a vast capacity. It is a permanent
sensory registers because informations from storehouse of all informations that may be as
all the senses are registered here as exact recent as what you ate for breakfast yesterday
replica of the stimulus. If you have experienced to as distant as how you celebrated your sixth
visual after-images (the trail of light that stays birthday. It has been shown that once any
after the bulb is switched off) or when you information enters the long-term memory
hear reverberations of a sound when the sound store it is never forgotten because it gets
has ceased, then you are familiar with iconic encoded semantically, i.e. in terms of the
(visual) or echoic (auditory) sensory registers. meaning that any information carries. What
you experience as forgetting is in fact retrieval
Short-term Memory failure; for various reasons you cannot retrieve
the stored information. You will read about
You will perhaps agree that we do not attend retrieval related forgetting later in this chapter.
to all the informations that impinge on our So far we have only discussed the structural
senses. Information that is attended to enters features of the stage model. Questions which
the second memory store called the short-term still remain to be addressed are how does
memory (abbreviated as STM), which holds information travel from one store to another
small amount of information for a brief period and by what mechanisms it continues to stay
of time (usually for 30 seconds or less). in any particular memory store. Let us examine
Atkinson and Shiffrin pr opose that the answers to these questions.
information in STM is primarily encoded How does information travel from one store
acoustically, i.e. in terms of sound and unless to another? As an answer to this question,
rehearsed continuously, it may get lost from Atkinson and Shiffrin propose the notion of
the STM in less than 30 seconds. Note that control processes which function to monitor
the STM is fragile but not as fragile as sensory the flow of information through various

Box 7.1 Working Memory

In recent years, psychologists have suggested that holds a limited number of sounds and unless
the short-term memory is not unitary, rather it may rehearsed they decay within 2 seconds. The second
consist of many components. This multi- component visuospatial sketchpad stores visual and
component view of short-term memory was first spatial information and like phonological loop the
proposed by Baddeley (1986) who suggested that capacity of the sketchpad too is limited. The third
the short-term memory is not a passive storehouse component, which Baddeley calls the Central
but rather a work bench that holds a wide variety Executive, organises information from phonological
of memory materials that are constantly handled, loop, visuospatial sketchpad as well as from the long-
manipulated and transformed as people perform term memory. Like a true executive, it allocates
various cognitive tasks. This work bench is called attentional resources to be distributed to various
the working memory. The first component of the informations needed to perform a given cognitive
working memory is the phonological loop which operation and monitors, plans, and controls behaviour.

memory stores. As suggested earlier, all as many ways as possible. You can expand
informations which our senses receive are not the information in some kind of logical
registered; if that be the case, imagine the kind framework, link it to similar memories or else
of pressure that our memory system will have can create a mental image. Figure 7.1, that
to cope with. Only that information which is presents the stage model of memory, also
attended to enters the STM from sensory depicts the arrows to show the manner in
registers and in that sense, selective attention, which information travels from one stage to
as you have already read in Chapter 5, is the another.
first control process that decides what will Experiments, which were carried out to
travel from sensory registers to STM. Sense test the stage model of memory, have produced
impressions, which do not receive attention, mixed results. While some experiments
fade away quickly. The STM then sets into unequivocally show that the STM and LTM
motion another control process of are indeed two separate memory stores, other
maintenance rehearsal to retain the evidences have questioned their
information for as much time as required. As distinctiveness. For example, earlier it was
the name suggests, these kinds of rehearsals shown that in the STM information is encoded
simply maintain infor mation through acoustically, while in LTM it is encoded
repetition and when such repetitions semantically, but later experimental evidences
discontinue the information is lost. Another show that information can also be encoded
control process, which operates in STM to semantically in STM and acoustically in LTM.
expand its capacity, is Chunking. Through
chunking it is possible to expand the capacity
of STM which is otherwise 7+2. For example, Activity 7.1
if you are told to remember a string of digits
such as 194719492004 (note that the number I. Try to remember the following list of digits
(individual digits)
exceeds the capacity of STM), you may create
the chunks as 1947, 1949, and 2004 and
Now try to memorise them in the following
remember them as the year when India became groups:
independent, the year when the Indian 1 9 25 49 81 121
Constitution was adopted, and the year when Finally memorise them in the following
the tsunami hit the coastal regions of India and manner:
South East Asian countries. 12 32 52 72 92 112
From the STM information enters the long- What difference do you observe?
term memory through elaborative rehearsals. II. Read out the lists given below in a row at the
As against maintenance rehearsals, which are speed of one digit per second to your friend
carried through silent or vocal repetition, this and ask her/him to repeat all the digits in
rehearsal attempts to connect the ‘to be the same order:
retained information’ to the already existing List Digits
infor mation in long-term memory. For 1 (6 digits) 2-6-3-8-3-4
example, the task of remembering the meaning 2 (7 digits) 7-4-8-2-4-1-2
of the word ‘humanity’ will be easier if the 3 (8 digits) 4-3-7-2-9-0-3-6
meanings of concepts such as ‘compassion’, 4 (10 digits) 9-2-4-1-7-8-2-6-5-3
5 (12 digits) 8-2-5-4-7-4-7-7-3-9-1-6
‘truth’ and ‘benevolence’ are already in place.
The number of associations you can create Remember that your friend will recall the
around the new information will determine its digits as soon as you finish the list. Note how
many digits are recalled. The memory score
permanence. In elaborative rehearsals one
of your friend will be the number of digits
attempts to analyse the information in terms correctly recalled by her/him. Discuss your
of various associations it arouses. It involves findings with your classmates and teacher.
organisation of the incoming information in

Chapter 7 • Human Memory
Shallice and Warrington in the year 1970 produces memory that is fragile and is likely
had cited the case of a man known as KF who to decay rather quickly. However, there is a
met with an accident and damaged a portion third and the deepest level at which
of the left side of his cerebral hemisphere. information can be processed. In order to
Subsequently, it was found that his long-term ensure that the information is retained for a
memory was intact but the short-term memory longer period, it is important that it gets
was seriously affected. The stage model analysed and understood in terms of its
suggests that informations are committed to meaning. For instance, you may think of cat
the long-term memory via STM and if KF’s as an animal that has furs, has four legs, a
STM was affected, how can his long-term tail, and is a mammal. You can also invoke an
memory be normal? Several other studies have image of a cat and connect that image with
also shown that memory processes are similar your experiences. To sum up, analysing
irrespective of whether any information is information in terms of its structural and
retained for a few seconds or for many years phonetic features amounts to shallower
and that memory can be adequately processing while encoding it in terms of the
understood without positing separate memory meaning it carries (the semantic encoding) is
stores. All these evidences led to the the deepest processing level that leads to
development of another conceptualisation memory that resists forgetting considerably.
about memory which is discussed below as Understanding memory as an outcome of
the second model of memory. the manner in which information is encoded
initially has an important implication for
learning. This view of memory will help you
realise that while you are learning a new
The levels of processing view was proposed lesson, you must focus on elaborating the
by Craik and Lockhart in 1972. This view meaning of its contents in as much detail as
suggests that the processing of any new possible and must not depend on rote
information relates to the manner in which it memorisation. Attempt this and you will soon
is perceived, analysed, and understood which realise that understanding the meaning of
in turn determines the extent to which it will information and reflecting on how it relates
eventually be retained. Although this view has to other facts, concepts, and your life
undergone many revisions since then, yet its experiences is a sure way to long-term
basic idea remains the same. Let us examine retention.
this view in greater detail.
Craik and Lockhart proposed that it is TYPES OF LONG-TERM MEMORY
possible to analyse the incoming information
at more than one level. One may analyse it in As you have read in Box 7.1, the short-term
terms of its physical or structural features. memory is now seen as consisting of more than
For example, one might attend only to the one component (working memory). In the same
shape of letters in a word say cat - inspite of way it is suggested that long-term memory too
whether the word is written in capital or small is not unitary because it contains a wide
letters or the colour of the ink in which it is variety of information. In view of this,
written. This is the first and the shallowest contemporary formulations envisage long-
level of processing. At an intermediate level term memory as consisting of various types.
one might consider and attend to the phonetic For instance, one major classification within
sounds that are attached to the letters and the LTM is that of Declarative and Procedural
therefore the structural features are (sometimes called nondeclarative) memories.
transformed into at least one meaningful word All information pertaining to facts, names,
say, a word cat that has three specific letters. dates, such as a rickshaw has three wheels or
Analysing information at these two levels that India became independent on August 15

1947 or a frog is an amphibian or you and Episodic memory contains biographical
your friend share the same name, are part of details of our lives. Memories relating to our
declarative memory. Procedural memory, on personal life experiences constitute the
the other hand, refers to memories relating to episodic memory and it is for this reason that
procedures for accomplishing various tasks its contents are generally emotional in nature.
and skills such as how to ride a bicycle, how How did you feel when you stood first in your
to make tea or play basketball. Facts retained class? Or how angry was your friend and what
in the declarative memory are amenable to did s/he say when you did not fulfil a promise?
verbal descriptions while contents of If such incidents did actually happen in your
procedural memory cannot be described life, you perhaps will be able to answer these
easily. For example, when asked you can questions with reasonable accuracy. Although
describe how the game of cricket is played but such experiences are hard to forget, yet it is
if someone asks you how do you ride a bicycle, equally true that many events take place
you may find it difficult to narrate. continuously in our lives and that we do not
Tulving has proposed yet another remember all of them. Besides, there are
classification and has suggested that the painful and unpleasant experiences which are
declarative memory can either be Episodic or not remembered in as much detail as pleasant
Semantic. life experiences.

Box 7.2 Long-term Memory Classification

The study of memory is a fascinating field and events contribute to it. During old age, the most recent
researchers have reported many new phenomena. years of life are likely to be well remembered. However,
The following phenomena show the complex and before this, around 30 years’ of age, decline in certain
dynamic nature of human memory. kinds of memory starts.
Flashbulb Memories : These are memories of Implicit Memory : Recent studies have indicated
events that are very arousing or surprising. Such that many of the memories remain outside the
memories are very detailed. They are like a photo conscious awareness of a person. Implicit memory is
taken with an advanced model camera. You can a kind of memory that a person is not aware of. It is
push the button, and after one minute you have a a memory that is retrieved automatically. One
recreation of the scene. You can look at the interesting example of implicit memory comes from
photograph whenever you want. Flashbulb the experience of typing. If someone knows typing
memories are like images frozen in memory and that means s/he also knows the particular letters
tied to particular places, dates, and times. on the keyboard. But many typists cannot correctly
Perhaps, people put in greater effort in the label blank keys in a drawing of a keyboard. Implicit
formation of these memories, and highlighting memories lie outside the boundaries of awareness.
details might lead to deeper levels of processing In other words, we are not conscious of the fact that
as well as offer more cues for retrieval. a memory or record of a given experience exists.
Autobiographical Memory : These are personal Nevertheless, implicit memories do influence our
memories. They are not distributed evenly behaviour. This kind of memory was found in patients
throughout our lives. Some periods in our lives suffering from brain injuries. They were presented a
produce more memories than others. For instance, list of common words. A few minutes later the patient
no memories are reported pertaining to early was asked to recall words from the list. No memory
childhood particularly during the first 4 to 5 years. was shown for the words. However, if s/he was
This is called childhood amnesia. There is a prompted to say a word that begins with these letters
dramatic increase in the frequency of memories and two letters are given, the patient was able to
just after early adulthood, i.e. in the twenties. recall words. Implicit memories are also observed in
Perhaps emotionality, novelty, and importance of people with normal memories.

Chapter 7 • Human Memory
Semantic memory, on the other hand, is for various other classifications of long-term
the memory of general awareness and memory.
knowledge. All concepts, ideas and rules of
logic are stored in semantic memory. For
instance, it is because of semantic memory Activity 7.2
that we remember the meaning of say ‘non-
violence’ or remember that 2+6=8 or the STD 1. Think about your early school days. Write
down two separate events that occurred during
code of New Delhi is 011 or that the word
those days, and which you remember vividly.
‘elaphant’ is misspelt. Unlike episodic memory Use separate sheets for writing about each
this kind of memory is not dated; you perhaps event.
will not be able to tell when you learnt the 2. Think of the first month in Class XI. Write down
meaning of non-violence or on which date you two separate events that occurred during the
came to know that Bangalore is the capital of month, and which you remember vividly. Use
Karnataka. Since the contents of semantic separate sheets for each event.
memory relate to facts and ideas of general Compare these in terms of length, felt emotions,
awareness and knowledge, it is affect-neutral and coherence.
and not susceptible to forgetting. See Box 7.2

Activity 7.3
Write the sentences given below on separate cards. Invite some junior students to play this
game with you. Seat her/him across a table in front of you. Tell her/him “In this game you will
be shown some cards one by one at a steady pace, you have to read the question written on
each card and answer it in yes or no”.
Note down the answers.
1. Is the word written in capital letters? BELT
2. Does the word rhyme with the word crew? grew
3. Does the word fit in the following sentence?
“____________ study in school”. Students
4. Does the word rhyme with the word gold? mood
5. Is the word written in capital letters? bread
6. Does the word fit in the following sentence?
“The son of my uncle is my ____________.” cousin
7. Does the word fit in the following sentence?
My _________ is a vegetable. home
8. Does the word fit in the following sentence?
“__________ is a piece of furniture”. Potato
9. Is the word written in capital letters? TABLE
10. Does the word rhyme with the word wears? bears
11. Is the word written in capital letters? marks
12. Does the word rhyme with the word clear? five
13. Does the word fit in the following sentence?
“Children like to play __________ .” games
14. Does the word fit in the following sentence?
“People usually meet __________ in the bucket.” friends
15. Does the word fit in the following sentence?
“My class room is filled with ________.” shirts
16. Does the word fit in the following sentence?
“My mother gives me enough pocket __________.” money
After completing the task of reading the cards, ask the students to recall the words about which
the questions were asked. Note down the words recalled. Count the number of words recalled in
the structural, phonological, and semantic types of processing required by the question.
Discuss results with your teacher.

Box 7.3 Methods of Memory M easurement

There are many ways in which memory is semantic memory is not amenable to any
measured experimentally. Since there are many forgetting because it embodies general knowledge
kinds of memories, any method appropriate for that we all possess. In sentence verification task,
studying one type of memory may not be suited the participants are asked to indicate whether the
for studying another. The major methods which given sentences are true or false. Faster the
are used for memory measurement are being participants respond, better retained is the
presented here : information needed to verify those sentences (see
a) Free Recall and Recognition (for measuring Activity 7.3 for use of this task in measurement of
facts/episodes related memory) : In free recall semantic knowledge).
method, participants are presented with c) Priming (for measuring information we cannot
some words which they are asked to report verbally) : We store many kinds of
memorise and after some time they are asked information that we can’t report verbally - for
to recall them in any order. The more they instance, information necessary to ride a bicycle
are able to recall, the better their memory is. or play a sitar. Besides, we also store information
In recognition, instead of being asked to that we are not aware of, which is described as
generate items, participants see the items implicit memory. In priming method, participants
that they had memorised along with are shown a list of words, such as garden,
distracter items (those that they had not seen) playground, house, etc. and then they are shown
and their task is to recognise which one of parts of these words like gar, pla, ho, along with
those they had lear nt. The greater the parts of other words they had not seen.
number of recognition of ‘old items’, better is Participants complete parts of seen words more
the memory. quickly than parts of words they had not seen.
b) Sentence Verification Task (for measuring When asked, they are often unaware of this and
semantic memory) : As you have already read, report that they have only guessed.

take variable lengths of time in answering

questions, which require semantic judgments.
ORGANISATION IN MEMORY While responding to question ‘Do birds fly?’ a
In this section we will take a look at the person will take not more than a second but
organisational structure that the contents of answering a question ‘Are birds animals’? may
long-term memory acquire over a period of take longer. Depending upon how much time
time. Since long-term memory holds a very people take in responding to questions such
large amount of information which is put to as these, the nature of organisation in long-
use with amazing efficiency, it would be very term memory has been inferred.
useful to know how our memory system The most important unit of representation
organises its contents so that the right of knowledge in long-term memory is a
information is available at the right moment. concept. Concepts are mental categories for
It is important to note at this point that many objects and events, which are similar to each
ideas relating to organisation of the content other in one or in more than one way.
of long-term memory have resulted from Concepts once formed get organised in
experiments that have employed semantic categories — a category itself is a concept but
retrieval tasks. You will perhaps agree that it also functions to organise similarities among
there cannot be any error in recalling the other concepts based on common features. For
contents of semantic memory. For anyone who example, the word mango is a category
knows that birds fly will not make a mistake because different varieties of mangoes can be
in answering a question — Do birds fly? The subsumed within it and it is also a concept
answer will be in affirmative. But people may within the category of fruit. Concepts may also

Chapter 7 • Human Memory
get organised in schema. They are mental of experiments were asked to verify the truth
frameworks which represent our knowledge of the statements such as ‘canary is a bird’ or
and assumptions about the world. For ‘a canary is an animal’ (answer was in Yes/
example, think of a schema of a drawing room. No). These were generally class-inclusion
It will have different objects/things, like a sofa statements in which the subject was word
set, center table, paintings, etc., which are ‘canary’ (perhaps, you know, it is a bird) and
found in a drawing room and where they are the predicate took the form ‘is a’. A critical
found in the drawing room. finding of such experiments was that as the
So far we have examined the concept as predicate became hierarchically more remote
the basic level at which knowledge is from the subject in a sentence, participants
represented in the long-term memory and the took longer time to verify that it is true or false.
notions of category and schema as the first Thus, people took longer to verify that a
level at which concepts are organised. Let ‘canary is an animal’ compared to that which
us now look at a higher level of organisation said ‘canary is a bird’ because bird is an
that concepts acquire in the long-term immediate superordinate category in which
memory. canary is subsumed while animal is a
In the year 1969, Allan Collins and Ross superordinate category which is more distant
Quillian published a landmark research paper and remote from the concept canary.
in which they suggested that knowledge in According to this view, we can store all
long-term memory is organised hierarchically knowledge at a certain level that ‘applies to
and assumes a network structure. Elements all the members of a category without having
of this structure are called nodes. Nodes are to repeat that information at the lower levels
concepts while connections between nodes are in the hierarchy’. This ensures a high degree
labelled relationships, which indicate category of cognitive economy, which means
membership or concept attributes. maximum and efficient use of the capacity of
In order to verify the proposed network long-term memory with minimum
structure of long-term knowledge, participants redundancy.

Has skin
Eats food
Can move around

Has wings
Bird Can fly Has fins
Has feathers Fish Can swim
Has gills

Canary Has long thin legs

Is pink
Ostrich Is tall
Is edible
Can’t fly Salmon
Swims upstream
to lay eggs
Can sing Is yellow

Can bite Is dangerous

Fig.7.2 : The Hierarchical Network Model

So far we have discussed concept as unit visually. This is known as dual coding
of representation of knowledge in the long- hypothesis, originally proposed by Paivio.
term memory and looked at various ways in According to this hypothesis, concrete nouns
which concepts get organised. Does this mean and information related to concrete objects are
that knowledge is encoded only in word-like encoded and stored in the form of images while
format or can there be other ways of encoding? information related to abstract concepts
It has been shown that information can be assume a verbal and a descriptive code. For
coded in a perceptual format or in terms of example, if you are asked to describe a bird,
images. An image is a concrete form of the first thing that happens is that an image
representation which directly conveys the of a bird is generated and based on this image,
perceptual attributes of an object. If you were you describe a bird. But, on the other hand,
to come across the word ‘school’, an image of the meanings of concepts like ‘truth’ or
your own school will get generated. In fact, ‘honesty’ will not have such accompanying
almost all concrete objects (and concepts) images. So, any information which has been
generate images and the knowledge related to encoded verbally as well as in the form of
them is encoded both verbally as well as images is recalled with greater ease.

Box 7.4 Memory Making : Eyewitness and FFalse

Eyewitness alse Memories

Eyewitness Memory False Memory

Court procedures followed in criminal trials, use An interesting phenomenon called false memory can
the testimony given by the eyewitness of the be induced by powerful imagination of events that did
offense. It is considered to be the most reliable not take place at all. Surprised? Let us look at one
evidence for or against the accused. Some such study carried out by Garry, Manning and Loftus
experiments carried out by Loftus and her in 1996 and understand the features of false memory.
colleagues during the mid-seventies showed that Initially they presented before the participants
the eyewitness’s memory is susceptible to many of their experiments, a list of events that could have
flaws. occurred in their lives. In the first phase of this
The experimental procedure followed by Loftus experiment, they rated the likelihood that each of
was very simple. A film clipping of an event (usually these events actually took place in their lives to the
a car accident) was shown to the participants. This best of their childhood memories. Two weeks later,
was followed by some questions, which interferes they were invited again to the laboratory and were
with encoding of the event. One of the questions asked to imagine those events and visualise as if
was “how fast were the cars going when they they actually happened to them. In particular, events
smashed into each other”. In another question the which were rated low in terms of their likelihood of
verb smashed was replaced with the verb occurrence, were chosen for the task of visualising
contacted. Those who were asked the first question and imagining. This was the second phase of the
(which included the word ‘smashed’) estimated the experiment. Finally, in the third phase, the
speed of the cars as 40.8 mph. Those who were experimenters pretended that they had misplaced
given the second question (i.e. with the word the event likelihood ratings which they had obtained
‘contacted’) estimated that the speed of the cars during the first phase and therefore requested the
was only 31.8 mph. Clearly, the nature of leading participants to respond to the list, once again.
questions changed the memory. In fact, the Interestingly, events which were rated low on
encoding of the event was ‘overwritten’ by likelihood in the first phase but were later visualised
misleading questions. Some of these errors are also and imagined as real were now rated high. The
committed because of affective nature of the event participants reported that those events actually took
itself. For example, events depicting violence or a place in their lives. These findings suggest that
tragedy tend to arouse strong emotions, the memory can be induced and implanted through
eyewitnesses get overwhelmed and do not pay imagination inflation — a finding that provides useful
attention to details while encoding. insights into memory processes.

Chapter 7 • Human Memory
Information which has been encoded and processes. He conducted simple experiments
stored in the form of images leads to the in which reading of such stimulus materials
development of mental models. There are many was followed by fifteen minutes break and then
routine tasks which require mental models. the participants of his experiment recalled what
For example, following a road direction, they had read. Bartlett used the method of
assembling a bicycle or even preparing to cook serial reproduction in which the participants
an exotic dish from instructions given in a of his experiments recalled the memory
cookery book require that spatial mental materials repeatedly at varying time intervals.
models are created from verbal descriptions. While engaging in serial reproduction of
Mental models, therefore, refer to our belief learned material his participants committed
about the manner in which our environment a wide variety of ‘errors’ which Bartlett
is structured and such beliefs are formed with considered useful in understanding the
the help of concrete images as well as verbal process of memory construction. His
descriptions. participants altered the texts to make them
more consistent with their knowledge, glossed
over the unnecessary details, elaborated the
main theme and transformed the material to
If you were to carefully examine the initial look more coherent and rational.
explorations about memory processes, you will In order to explain such findings, Bartlett
perhaps conclude that memory primarily invoked the term schema, which according
consists of reproduction of stored materials. to him ‘was an active organisation of past
This view was held by Ebbinghaus and his reactions and past experiences’. Schemas refer
followers who emphasised the quantity of to an organisation of past experiences and
information that can be stored in the memory knowledge, which influence the way in which
and judged its accuracy by matching the incoming information is interpreted, stored,
contents of storage and reproduction. If the and later retrieved. Memory, therefore,
reproduced version of the stored material becomes an active process of construction
showed any deviation, it was seen as an error where information is encoded and stored in
and a case of memory failure. This storage terms of a person’s understanding and within
metaphor of memory implied that the memory her/his previous knowledge and expectations.
was a passive occurrence of learnt material
that has been transported to its long-term NATURE AND CAUSES OF FORGETTING
storehouse. This position was challenged by
Bartlett in the early thirties who contended Each one of us has experienced forgetting and
that memory is an active process and all that its consequences almost routinely. Why do we
we have stored undergoes continuous change forget? Is it because the information we
and modification. What we memorise is commit to our long-term memory is somehow
influenced by the meaning we assign to the lost? Is it because we did not memorise it well
stimulus material and once it is committed to enough? Is it because we did not encode the
our memory system, it cannot remain in information correctly or is it because during
isolation from other cognitive processes. storage, it got distorted or misplaced? Many
In essence, therefore, Bartlett saw memory theories have been forwarded to explain
as a constructive and not a reproductive forgetting and now you will read about those
process. Using meaningful materials such as that seem plausible and have received
texts, folk tales, fables, etc. Bartlett attempted considerable attention.
to understand the manner in which content The first systematic attempt to understand
of any specific memory gets affected by a the nature of forgetting was made by Hermann
person’s knowledge, goals, motivation, Ebbinghaus, who memorised lists of nonsense
preferences and various other psychological syllables (CVC trigrams such as NOK or SEP

etc.) and then measured the number of trials decay due to disuse, then people who go to
he took to relearn the same list at varying time sleep after memorising should forget more
intervals. He observed that the course of compared to those who remain awake, simply
forgetting follows a certain pattern which you because there is no way in which memory
can see in Figure 7.3. traces can be put to use during sleep. Results,
however, show just the opposite. Those who
remain awake after memorising (waking


Amount forgotten (per cent)

Amount retained (per cent)

condition) show greater forgetting than those

who sleep (sleeping condition).

20 min.

Amount Because trace decay theory did not explain

1 hr. forgotten forgetting adequately, it was soon replaced by
8.8 hrs.

another theory of forgetting which suggested
that new information that enters the long-term
memory interferes with the recall of earlier

Amount memories and therefore, interference is the

retained main cause of forgetting.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 30 31 100 Forgetting due to Interference

Time since learning (in days) If forgetting is not due to trace decay then why
does it take place? A theory of forgetting that
Fig.7.3 : Ebbinghaus’s Curve of Forgetting has perhaps been the most influential one is
the interference theory which suggests that
As the figure indicates, the rate of forgetting is due to interference between
forgetting is maximum in the first nine hours, various informations that the memory store
particularly during the first hour. After that contains. This theory assumes that learning
the rate slows down and not much is forgotten and memorising involve for ming of
even after many days. Although Ebbinghaus’s associations between items and once acquired,
experiments constituted initial explorations these associations remain intact in the
and were not very sophisticated yet they have memory. People keep acquiring numerous
influenced memory research in many such associations and each of these rests
important ways. It is now upheld, almost independently without any mutual conflict.
unanimously, that there is always a sharp However, interference comes about at a time
drop in memory and thereafter the decline is of retrieval when these various sets of
very gradual. Let us now examine the main associations compete with each other for
theories, which have been advanced to explain retrieval. This interference process will become
forgetting. clearer with a simple exercise. Request your
friend to learn two separate lists of nonsense
Forgetting due to Trace Decay syllables (list A and list B) one after the other
and after a while ask her/him to recall the
Trace decay (also called disuse theory) is the nonsense syllables of list A. If while trying to
earliest theory of forgetting. The assumption recall the items of list A, s/he recalls some of
here is that memory leads to modification in the items of list B, it is because of the
the central nervous system, which is akin to association formed while learning list B are
physical changes in the brain called memory interfering with the earlier association which
traces. When these memory traces are not were formed while learning list A.
used for a long time, they simply fade away There are atleast two kinds of interferences
and become unavailable. This theory has been that may result in forgetting. Interference can
proved inadequate on several grounds. If be proactive (forward moving) which means
forgetting takes place because memory traces what you have learnt earlier interferes with

Chapter 7 • Human Memory
Table 7.1 Experimental Designs ffor
or Retroactive and PProactive
roactive Interference

Retroactive Interference Phase 1 Phase 2 Testing Phase

Experimental participant/group Learns A Learns B Recalls A
Control participant/group Learns A Rests Recalls A

Proactive Interference
Experimental participant/group Learns A Learns B Recalls B
Control participant/group Rests Learns B Recalls B

the recall of your subsequent learning or Forgetting due to Retrieval Failure

retroactive (backward moving) which refers to
Forgetting can occur not only because the
difficulty in recalling what you have learnt
memory traces have decayed over time (as
earlier because of learning a new material. In suggested by the disuse theory) or because
other words, in proactive interference, past independent sets of stored associations
learning interferes with the recall of later compete at the time of recall (as suggested by
learning while in retroactive interference the the interference theory) but also because at
later learning interferes with the recall of past the time of recall, either the retrieval cues are
learning. For example, if you know English absent or they are inappropriate. Retrieval
and you find it difficult to learn French, it is cues are aids which help us in recovering
because of proactive interference and if, on information stored in the memory. This
the other hand, you cannot recall English view was advanced by Tulving and his
equivalents of French words that you are associates who carried out several
currently memorising, then it is an example experiments to show that contents of memory
of retr oactive inter ference. A typical may become inaccessible either due to
experimental design that is used to absence or inappropriateness of retrieval cues
demonstrate proactive and retroactive that are available/employed at the time of
interference has been presented in Table 7.1. recall.

Box 7.5 Repressed Memories

Some individuals undergo experiences that are in highly generalised amnesia. One of the results of
traumatic. A traumatic experience emotionally such flights is the emergence of a disorder known as
hurts a person. Sigmund Freud posited that such ‘fugue state’. Persons who become victims of such a
experiences are repressed into the unconscious state assume a new identity, name, address, etc.
and are not available for retrieval from memory. They have two personalities and one knows nothing
It is a kind of repression — painful, threatening, about the other.
and embarrassing memories are held out of Forgetfulness or loss of memory under stress
consciousness. and high anxiety is not uncommon. Many hard
In some persons, traumatic experiences may working and ambitious students aspire for high
give rise to psychological amnesia. Some scores in final examinations and to achieve such
individuals experience crisis, and are utterly ends they put in long hours in studies. But when
incapable of coping with such events. They close they receive the question paper, they become
their eyes, ears and mind to such harsh realities extremely nervous and forget everything they had
of life, and take mental flight from them. It results prepared well.

Activity 7.4
Given below are two lists of words. First memorise the list in such a way that you are able to
recall the words without any error. Now you take up the second list and memorise it to the
criterion of correct recall error. Forget about the list and read something else for an hour. Now
recall the words in the first list and write them down. Note the total number of words correctly
recalled and the number of words incorrectly recalled.
List 1
Goat Sheep Leopard
Jackal Monkey Camel
Mule Deer Squirrel
Horse Cheetah Wolf
Snake Rabbit Parrot
List 2
Pig Elephant Donkey
Pigeon Cobra Tiger
Mynah Lion Calf
Bears Fox Crow
Buffalo Mouse
Get the cooperation of one of your friends and request her/him to memorise the words of List 1
to the criterion as stated above. Request her/him to sing a song and have a cup of tea with you.
Keep her/him engaged in some conversation for an hour or so. Then request her/him to write
down the words s/he had memorised earlier.
Compare your recall with the one made by your friend.

Let us understand this with the help of an improved. There are a number of strategies
example. Suppose you have memorised a list for improving memory called mnemonics
of meaningful words like hut, wasp, cottage, (pronounced ni-mo-nicks) to help you improve
gold, bronze, ant, etc. in which words belonged your memory. Some of these mnemonics
to six categories (like places of living, names involve use of images whereas others
of insects, types of metal, etc.). If after a while emphasise self-induced organisation of
you are asked to recall those you may recall a learned information. You will now read about
couple of them but if during the second recall mnemonics and some suggestions given for
attempt, you are also provided with category memory improvement.
names, then you may find that your recall is
near total. Category names in this example Mnemonics using Images
act as retrieval cues. Besides category names,
the physical context in which you learn also Mnemonics using images require that you
provides effective retrieval cues. create vivid and interacting images of and
around the material you wish to remember.
The two prominent mnemonic devices, which
ENHANCING MEMORY make interesting use of images, are the
keyword method and the method of loci.
All of us desire to possess an excellent memory
system that is robust and dependable. Who, (a) The Keyword Method : Suppose you want
after all, likes to face situations of memory to learn words of any foreign language. In
failures that lead to so much of anxiety and keyword method, an English word (the
embarrassment? After learning about various assumption here is that you know English
memory related processes, you certainly would language) that sounds similar to the word of
like to know how your memory can be a foreign language is identified. This English

Chapter 7 • Human Memory
word will function as the keyword. For example, (b) First Letter Technique : In order to employ
if you want to remember the Spanish word for the first letter technique, you need to pick up
duck which is ‘Pato’, you may choose ‘pot’ as the first letter of each word you want to
the keyword and then evoke images of keyword remember and arrange them to form another
and the target word (the Spanish word you want word or a sentence. For example, colours of a
to remember) and imagine them as interacting. rainbow are remembered in this way
You might, in this case, imagine a duck in a (VIBGYOR- that stands for Violet, Indigo, Blue,
pot full of water. This method of learning words Green, Yellow, Orange and Red).
of a foreign language is much superior Mnemonic strategies for memory
compared to any kind of rote memorisation. enhancement are too simplistic and perhaps
underestimate complexities of memory tasks
(b) The Method of Loci : In order to use the
and difficulties people experience while
method of loci, items you want to remember
memorising. In place of mnemonics, a more
are placed as objects arranged in a physical
comprehensive approach to memory
space in the form of visual images. This
improvement has been suggested by many
method is particularly helpful in remembering
psychologists. In such an approach, emphasis
items in a serial order. It requires that you
is laid on applying knowledge about memory
first visualise objects/places that you know
processes to the task of memory improvement.
well in a specific sequence, imagine the objects
Let us examine some of these suggestions.
you want to remember and associate them one
It is suggested that one must :
by one to the physical locations. For example,
(a) Engage in Deep Level Processing : If you
suppose you want to remember bread, eggs,
want to memorise any information well,
tomatoes, and soap on your way to the market,
engage in deep level processing. Craik and
you may visualise a loaf of bread and eggs
Lockhart have demonstrated that processing
placed in your kitchen, tomatoes kept on a
information in terms of meaning that they
table and soap in the bathroom. When you
convey leads to better memory as compared
enter the market all you need to do is to take
to attending to their surface features. Deep
a mental walk along the route from your
processing would involve asking as many
kitchen to the bathroom recalling all the items questions related to the information as
of your shopping list in a sequence. possible, considering its meaning and
examining its relationships to the facts you
Mnemonics using Organisation
already know. In this way, the new information
Organisation refers to imposing certain order will become a part of your existing knowledge
on the material you want to remember. framework and the chances that it will be
Mnemonics of this kind are helpful because remembered are increased.
the framework you create while organisation
(b) Minimise Interference : Interference, as we
makes the retrieval task fairly easy.
have read, is a major cause of forgetting and
(a) Chunking : While describing the features therefore you should try to avoid it as much
of short-term memory, we noted how chunking as possible. You know that maximum
can increase the capacity of short-term interference is caused when very similar
memory. In chunking, several smaller units materials are learned in a sequence. Avoid this.
are combined to form large chunks. For Arrange your study in such a way that you do
creating chunks, it is important to discover not learn similar subjects one after the other.
some organisation principles, which can link Instead, pick up some other subject unrelated
smaller units. Therefore, apart from being a to the previous one. If that is not possible,
control mechanism to increase the capacity distribute your learning/practice. This means
of short-term memory, chunking can be used giving yourself intermittent rest periods while
to improve memory as well. studying to minimise interference.

(c) Give Yourself enough Retrieval Cues : While solve all problems related to retention and
you learn something, think of retrieval cues bring about an over night memory
inherent in your study material. Identify them improvement. In order to improve your
and link parts of the study material to these memory, you need to attend to a wide variety
cues. Cues will be easier to remember of factors which affect your memory such as
compared to the entire content and the links your health status, your interest and
you have created between cues and the motivation, your familiarity with the subject
content will facilitate the retrieval process. matter and so on. In addition, you must learn
Thomas and Robinson have developed to use strategies for memory improvement
another strategy to help students in depending upon the nature of memory tasks
remembering more which they called the you are required to accomplish.
methods of PQRST. This acronym stands for
Preview, Question, Read, Self-recitation, and
Test. Preview refers to giving a cursory look at Key Terms
the chapter and familiarising oneself with its
contents. Question means raising questions Chunking, Cognitive economy, Concepts,
and seeking answers from the lesson. Now Control process, Dual coding, Echoic memory,
Encoding, Episodic memory, Elaborative
start reading and look for answers of questions
rehearsals, Fugue state, Infor mation
you had raised. After reading try to rewrite processing approach, Maintenance
what you have read and at the end test how rehearsals, Memory making, Mnemonics,
much you have been able to understand. Schema, Semantic memory, Serial
At the end, a note of caution must be reproduction, Working memory
sounded. There is no one method that can

• Memory is seen as consisting of three interrelated processes of encoding, storage and retrieval.
• While encoding is registering the incoming information in a way that it becomes compatible
to the memory system, storage and retrieval refers to holding the information over a period
of time and bringing the information back to one’s awareness, respectively.
• The Stage Model of Memory compares memory processes with the working of a computer
and suggests that incoming information is processed through three distinct stages of sensory
memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.
• Levels of processing view of memory contends that the information can be encoded at any
of the three levels, namely, the structural, the phonetic and the semantic. If an information
is analysed and encoded semantically, which is the deepest level of processing, then it
leads to better retention.
• Long-term memory has been classified in many ways. One major classification is that of
declarative and procedural memory and another is that of episodic and semantic memory.
• Contents of long-term memory get represented in terms of concepts, categories and images
and are organised hierarchically.
• Forgetting refers to loss of stored information over a period of time. After a material is learnt,
there is a sharp drop in its memory and then the decline is very gradual.
• Forgetting has been explained as resulting from trace decay and interference. It may also
be caused due to absence of appropriate cues at the time of retrieval.
• Memory is not only a reproductive but also a constructive process. What we store undergoes
change and modification within one’s past knowledge and schema.
• Mnemonics are strategies for improving memory. While some mnemonics use images, other
emphasise organisation of the learnt material.

Chapter 7 • Human Memory
Review Questions
1. What is the meaning of the terms ‘encoding’, ‘storage’ and ‘retrieval’?
2. How is information processed through sensory, short-term and long-term memory systems?
3. How are maintenance rehearsals different from elaborative rehearsals?
4. Differenciate between declarative and procedural memories?
5. Describe the hierarchical organisation in long-term memory?
6. Why does forgetting take place?
7. How is retrieval related forgetting different from forgetting due to interference?
8. What evidence do we have to say that ‘memory is a constructive process’?
9. Define mnemonics? Suggest a plan to improve your own memory.

Project Ideas
1. Recall and write down an event of your life that you remember very clearly. Also request
others (those who were participants of that event such as your brother/sister, parents or
other relatives/friends) to do the same. Compare the two recalled versions and look for
discrepancies and similarities. Try to reason why there are similarities and discrepancies.
2. Narrate a story to your friend and ask her/him to write it down after an hour. Also request
her/him to narrate what s/he had written to another person. Continue this process till
you have at least 5 versions of the original story. Compare the various versions and
identify constructive processes in memory.

8 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• describe the nature of thinking and reasoning,
• demonstrate an understanding of some cognitive processes involved in
problem solving and decision-making,
• understand the nature and process of creative thinking and learn ways
of enhancing it,
• understand the relationship between language and thought, and
• describe the process of language development and its use.

Nature of Thinking
Building Blocks of Thought
Culture and Thinking (Box 8.1)
The Processes of Thinking
Problem Solving
Nature and Process of Creative Thinking
Nature of Creative Thinking
Lateral Thinking (Box 8.2)
Process of Creative Thinking
Developing Creative Thinking
Barriers to Creative Thinking
But whatever the process, the result is Strategies for Creative Thinking
wonderful, gradually from naming an Thought and Language
object we advance step-by-step until Development of Language and Language Use
we have traversed the vast difference Bilingualism and Multilingualism (Box 8.3)
between our first stammered syllable
Key Terms
and the sweep of thought in a Summary
line of Shakespeare. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– Helen Keller
Think for a moment: how many times and in what ways you are using the word
‘think’ in your day-to-day conversations. Sometimes probably, you use it as a
synonym to remember (I can’t think of her name), pay attention (think about it ) or
convey uncertainty (I think today my friend will visit me). ‘Think’ has a wide range
of meanings which cover a number of psychological processes. However, in
psychology, thinking is a core subject area with an independent existence and a
meaning of its own. In this chapter, we will discuss thinking as a mental activity
directed at solving a problem, making inferences, judging certain facts, and deciding
and choosing between options. Further, the nature and characteristics of creative
thinking, what it involves and how it can be developed will also be discussed.
Have you ever seen a small child building a tower with blocks or sand? The child
would build a tower, dismantle it, make another one and so on and so forth. While
doing this, the child sometimes talks to herself or himself. The speech would primarily
include the steps s/he is following or want to follow (“not this”, “a little small”, “a
tree at the back”), evaluation of the design (“nice”). You also might have experienced
talking to yourself while solving a problem. Why do we talk while we think? What
is the relationship between language and thought? In this chapter, we shall also be
discussing the development of language and the relationship between language
and thought. Before starting our discussion on thinking, it is necessary to discuss
thinking as the base of human cognition.

Thinking is mostly organised and goal

directed. All day-to-day activities, ranging from
Thinking is the base of all cognitive activities cooking to solving a math problem have a goal.
or processes and is unique to human beings. One desires to reach the goal by planning,
It involves manipulation and analysis of recalling the steps that one has already
information received from the environment. followed in the past if the task is familiar or
For example, while seeing a painting, you are inferring strategies if the task is new.
not simply focusing on the colour of the Thinking is an internal mental process,
painting or the lines and strokes, rather you which can be inferred from overt behaviour.
are going beyond the given text in interpreting If you see a chess player engrossed in thinking
its meaning and you are trying to relate the for several minutes before making a move, you
information to your existing knowledge. cannot observe what he is thinking. You can
Understanding of the painting involves simply infer what he was thinking or what
creation of new meaning that is added to your strategies he was trying to evaluate, from his
knowledge. Thinking, therefore, is a higher next move.
mental process through which we manipulate
and analyse the acquired or existing Building Blocks of Thought
information. Such manipulation and analysis We already know that thinking relies on
occur by means of abstracting, reasoning, knowledge we already possess. Such
imagining, problem solving, judging, and knowledge is represented either in the form
decision-making. of mental images or words. People usually

think by means of mental images or words. experience in reading a map, remembering
Suppose you are travelling by road to reach a the different places and subsequently locating
place, which you had visited long back. You them in a physical map in your examination.
would try to use the visual representation of In doing this, you were mostly forming and
the street and other places. On the other hand, using mental images. An image is a mental
when you want to buy a storybook your choice representation of a sensory experience; it
would depend upon your knowledge about can be used to think about things, places,
different authors, themes, etc. Here, your and events. You can try out Activity 8.1,
thinking is based on words or concepts. We which demonstrates how images are formed.
shall first discuss mental image and then move
on to concepts as the base of human thought. Activity 8.1
Mental Image Give a map, like the following in Fig.8.2a, to your
friend to observe for 2 minutes and tell her/him
Suppose, I ask you to imagine a cat sitting that later on s/he will be asked to locate the
on a tree with its tail slightly raised and marked places in a blank map. Then present a
curved. You would most likely try to form a map, like the one in Fig.8.2b, with no indications
visual image of the whole situation, of the different places. Ask your friend to locate
the places s/he has seen in the first map. Then
something similar to what the girl in the
ask how s/he was able to locate the places. S/he
picture is doing (Fig.8.1). Or think of another will probably be able to tell you the way s/he
formed an image of the whole situation.

Fig.8.2a : A Map Showing Places

Fig.8.1 : The Girl forming a Mental Image

situation where you are asked to imagine Concepts

yourself standing in front of the Taj Mahal How do you know that a lion is not a bird
and describe what you see. While doing this but a parrot is? You have already read this in
you are actually forming a visual image of Chapter 7. Whenever we come across an
the event. You are probably trying to see object or event familiar or unfamiliar, we try
through your mind’s eye, just like the way to identify the object or event by extracting
you would see a picture. Why is it useful to its characteristics, matching it with the already
draw a map while giving directions to existing category of objects and events. For
someone? Try to remember your earlier example, when we see an apple, we categorise

Chapter 8 • Thinking
In the library too you have seen books
organised as per subject areas and labelled
so that you would be able to find them
quickly with less effort. Thus, for making our
thought process quick and efficient, we form
concepts and categorise objects and events.
You can find out how children form concepts
by doing Activity 8.2.

Activity 8.2
Take a piece of cardboard and cut triangles,
circles, and squares of three different sizes each,
small, medium and large. Then colour them yellow.
Similarly prepare a second set and colour them
green and a third set and colour them red. Now
Fig.8.2b : A Blank Map Up Side Down you have a set of 27 cards varying in shape, size,
and colour. Ask a child of five to six years of age
to group the similar cards together.
it as fruit, when we see a table we categorise
it as furniture, when we see a dog we
categorise it as an animal, and so on. When If you will try the above activity with a
we see a new object, we try to look for its group of small children, you will observe that
characteristics, match them with there are a number of ways in which the child
characteristics of an existing category, and if would respond. S/he would pile them up into
matching is perfect we give it the name of that different groups based on:
category. For example, while walking on the 1. size: all small triangles, squares, and
road you come across an unfamiliar circles together, all medium sized together,
quadruped of a very small size, with a face and so on.
like a dog, wagging its tail and barking at 2. shape: all triangles together, all circles
strangers. You would no doubt identify it as together, and so on
a dog and probably think that it is of a new 3. colour: all reds together, all yellows
breed, which you have never seen before. You together, and so on
would also conclude that it would bite 4. both size and shape: all small triangles
strangers. A concept thus, is a mental together, all medium triangles together,
representation of a category. It refers to a class and so on.
of objects, ideas or events that share common 5. size, shape and colour: all small circles of
properties. red colour together, all medium circles of
Why do we need to form concepts? yellow colour together, and so on.
Concept formation helps us in organising our You have already learned about concept
knowledge so that whenever we need to learning in Chapter 6, and the use of concepts
access our knowledge, we can do it with less in Human Memory in Chapter 7. Concepts
time and effort. It is something similar to usually fall into hierarchies or levels of
what we do to organise our things at home. understanding. The levels are classified as
Children who are very systematic and superordinate (the highest level), basic
organised, put their things such as books, (an intermediate level), and subordinate
note books, pen, pencil, and other accessories (the lowest level). While speaking we mostly
in specific places in their cupboard, so that use basic level concepts. When a person says,
in the morning, they don’t have to struggle “I saw a dog” a basic level is used. Such a
to find a particular book or the geometry box. statement is much more likely to be made than

“I saw a four legged animal that barks and category of “chair” otherwise under the
wags its tail” or “an animal”. The first category of “table”. Consider another example:
(subordinate) is far too specific than is needed the concept ‘cup’. Cups : (i) are concrete
for conversation, while the second objects, (ii) are concave, (iii) can hold solids
(superordinate) is far too vague to convey the and liquids, (iv) have handles. What about
intended message. Children also learn basic cups we see in the market: with no handle,
level concepts first and then the other levels. with a square shape or unusually big in size?
Most of the concepts people use in thinking In an experiment, the participants were shown
are neither clear nor unambiguous. They are the pictures of cups as in Fig.8.3 and W. Labov
fuzzy. They overlap one another and are often asked them: which of these would you describe
poorly defined. For example, under which as the prototype for the concept “cup”?
category would you put a small stool? Would Participants mostly chose number 5.
you put it under the category of ‘chair’ or Interestingly, some participants call number
under the category of ‘table’? The answer to 4 a bowl and number 9 a vase because they
these questions is that we construct a model were so different.
or prototype. A prototype is the best
representative member of the category. 1 2 3 4
Eleanor Rosch argues that in considering how
people think about concepts, prototypes are 5 13
often involved in real life. In prototype
matching, people decide whether an item is a 6 11 14
member of a category by comparing it with
the most typical item(s) of the category. 7
12 15
Therefore, in the above example of the stool,
you would try to compare it with a standard 8
study chair (if you consider it as the typical
example of a chair) and a small study table (if 17
you consider it as the typical example of a 19
table) and then match the properties of the
stool with these two concepts. If it matches
with a chair you would put it under the Fig.8.3 : When is a Cup a “Cup”?

Box 8.1 Culture and Thinking

Our beliefs, values, and social practices influence object separately which is called “analytical thinking”.
the way we think. In a study conducted on Asian people (Japanese, Chinese, Koreans) think more
American and Asian students, pictures like the about the relationship between objects and
following (underwater scene) were used. The backgrounds, which is called “holistic thinking”.
subjects were asked to have a look at the scene
for a brief period and then were asked to describe
what they saw. The American students focussed
on the biggest, brightest, and most outstanding
features (for example, “the large fish swimming
to the right”). In contrast, the Japanese students
focussed on the background (for example, “the
bottom was rocky” or “the water was green”).
Based on these kinds of findings, researchers
concluded that Americans usually analyse each

Chapter 8 • Thinking
you perform to reach a defined goal, for
example, preparing a quick snack for your
So far we have been discussing what we mean friend who has just arrived at your place. In
by thinking and what is the nature of thinking. problem solving there is an initial state (i.e.
We also learnt that thinking uses mental the problem) and there is an end state (the goal).
images and concepts as the base. Now we will These two anchors are connected by means of
discuss how thinking proceeds in a particular several steps or mental operations. Table 8.1
area: problem solving. would clarify your understanding of various
steps through which one solves a problem.
You can try out the problems given in
PROBLEM SOLVING Activity 8.3 with your friends and observe how
they are approaching the problem. You can
How do we proceed while repairing a broken
ask them the steps they follow while solving
cycle, or planning a summer tour or patching
these problems.
up a broken friendship? In some cases the
solution is reached quickly as in repair of a Obstacles to Solving Problems
bicycle based on immediately available cues
whereas others are more complex and require Two major obstacles to solving a problem are
time and effort. Problem solving is thinking mental set and lack of motivation.
that is goal-directed. Almost all our day-to-
day activities are directed towards a goal. Here Mental Set
it is important to know that problems are not Mental set is a tendency of a person to solve
always in the form of obstacles or hurdles that problems by following already tried mental
one faces. It could be any simple activity that operations or steps. Prior success with a

Table 8.1 Mental Operations Involved in Solving a PProblem


Let us look at the problem of organising a play in school on the occasion of Teachers’ Day.
Problem solving would involve the following sequence.
Mental operation Nature of problem
1. Identify the problem A week is left for teachers’ day and you are given
the task of organising a play.
2. Represent the problem Organising a play would involve identification of
an appropriate theme, screening of actors,
actresses, arranging money, etc.
3. Plan the solution: Search and survey various available themes for
Set sub-goals a play, and consult teachers and friends who have
the expertise. The play to be decided, based on
such considerations as cost, duration, suitability
for the occasion, etc.
4. Evaluate all solutions (plays) Collect all the information/stage rehearsal.
5. Select one solution and execute it Compare and verify the various options to get the
best solution (the play).
6. Evaluate the outcome If the play (solution) is appreciated, think about
the steps you have followed for future reference
for yourself as well as for your friends.
7. Rethink and redefine problems After this special occasion you can still think about
and solutions ways to plan a better play in future.

experienced this while solving mathematical
Activity 8.3 problems. After completing a couple of
questions, you form an idea of the steps that
Problem 1
Anagrams : Rearrange the letters to form a word. are required to solve these questions and
(You can also construct some similar words) subsequently you go on following the same
NAGMARA steps, until a point where you fail. At this point
BOLMPER you may experience difficulty in avoiding the
SLEVO already used steps. Those steps would
interfere in your thought for new strategies.
However, in day-to-day activities we often rely
Problem 2 on past experiences with similar or related
Joining dots : Without lifting your pencil from the problems.
paper, connect all nine dots by drawing four Like mental set, functional fixedness in
straight lines. problem solving occurs when people fail to
solve a problem because they are fixed on a
thing’s usual function. If you have ever used
a hardbound book to hammer a nail, then you
have overcome functional fixedness.

Lack of Motivation
Problem 3 People might be great at solving problems, but
Try out the ‘water in three bottles’ activity with
your friend.
all their skills and talents are of no use if they
There are three bottles, A, B, and C. Bottle A are not motivated. Sometimes people give up
can hold 21 ml., B can hold 127 ml., and C can easily when they encounter a problem or failure
hold 3 ml. The task for your friend is to get 100 ml in implementing the first step. Therefore, there
of water with the help of these three bottles. There is a need to persist in their effort to find a
are six more problems like this. These seven
problems are given below.
Problems The required The capacity of the
quantity bottles in ml. REASONING
If you find a person desperately running on
1. 100 21 127 3 the railway platform, you could infer a number
2. 99 14 163 25 of things such as: he is running to catch the
3. 5 18 43 10
4. 21 9 42 6
train which is about to leave, he wants to see
5. 31 20 59 4 off his friend sitting in the train which is about
6. 20 23 49 3 to leave, he has left his bag in the train and
7. 25 28 76 3 wants to get in before the train leaves the
(Answers are given at the end of the chapter) station. To figure out why this person is
running, you could use different kinds of
reasoning, deductive or inductive.
particular strategy would sometimes help in
solving a new problem. However, this tendency Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
also creates a mental rigidity that obstructs Since your previous experience indicates that
the problem solver to think of any new rules people run on the platform to catch a train,
or strategies. Thus, while in some situations you would conclude that this person is getting
mental set can enhance the quality and speed late and is running to catch the train.
of problem solving, in other situations it The kind of reasoning that begins with an
hinders problem solving. You might have assumption is called deductive reasoning.

Chapter 8 • Thinking
Thus deductive reasoning begins with making conclude that the person had left his bag in
a general assumption that you know or believe the train. One mistake you would probably
to be true and then drawing specific make here is jumping to a conclusion without
conclusion based on this assumption. In other knowing all possible facts.
words, it is reasoning from general to From the above discussion we can
particular. Your general assumption is that conclude that reasoning is the process of
people run on the railway platform only when gathering and analysing information to arrive
they are getting late for the train. The man is at conclusions. In this sense, reasoning is also
running on the platform. Therefore, he is a form of problem solving. The goal is to
getting late for the train. One mistake that you determine what conclusion can be drawn from
are making (and generally people do commit certain given information.
such mistakes in deductive reasoning) is that Most cases of scientific reasoning are
you (they) assume but do not always know if inductive in nature. Scientists and even
the basic statement or assumption is true. If lay persons consider a number of instances
the base information is not true, i.e. people and try to determine what general rule covers
also run on the platform for other reasons then them all. Think of yourself using your
your conclusion would be invalid or wrong. knowledge of problem solving steps discussed
Look at the mouse in Fig.8.4. earlier in planning for a play, or conducting a
project. Your inductive reasoning is being
applied here.
ur le Analogy is another form of reasoning
h a ve fo gs,
ats le which involves four parts, A is to B as C is to
All c ave four a cat
Ih I a m D with the relation between the first two parts
there being the same as the relation between the
last two. For example, water is to fish as air is
to human; white is to snow as black is to
coal. Analogies can be helpful in solving
problems. They help us in identifying and
visualising the salient attributes of an
object or event, which would otherwise go

Fig.8.4 : Is the mouse making a True and DECISION-MAKING

Valid Conclusion?
Inductive and deductive reasonings allow us
Another way to figure out why the man is to make judgments. In judgment we draw
running on the platform is to use inductive conclusions, form opinions, evaluate events,
reasoning. Sometimes you would analyse objects, based on knowledge and available
other possible reasons and observe what the evidences. Consider this example, the man is
man is actually doing and then draw a very talkative, likes to mix with people, can
conclusion about his behaviour. Reasoning, convince others with ease — he would be most
that is based on specific facts and observation, suitable for a salesperson’s job. Our judgment
is called inductive reasoning. Inductive of this person is based on the specific
reasoning is drawing a general conclusion characteristics of an expert salesperson. Here
based on particular observation. In the earlier we will discuss how we make decisions and
example, you observed the other person’s judgments.
subsequent action or actions such as: entering Sometimes judgments are automatic and
into the train compartment and returning with require no conscious effort by the person and
a bag. Based on your observation you would occur as a matter of habit, for example,

applying brakes on seeing the red light. will differ. In real life situations we take quick
However, evaluating a novel or a literary text decisions and therefore, it is not possible
requires reference to your past knowledge and always to evaluate every situation thoroughly
experience. Judging the beauty of a painting and exhaustively.
would involve your personal preferences. Thus
our judgments are not independent of our
beliefs and attitudes. We also make changes
in our judgments based on newly acquired THINKING
information. Consider this example. A new You might have wondered at times how some
teacher joins the school, students make on-
one for the first time, thought of acts like
the-spot judgment of the teacher as being very
planting a seed, or devising a wheel, or
strict. However, in subsequent classes, they
decorating the walls of caves with drawings,
closely interact with the teacher and make
etc. Perhaps not satisfied with the old ways of
changes in their evaluation. Now they
carrying out day-to-day activities, such
judge the teacher to be extremely student-
persons thought of something original. There
are countless others whose creativity has led
Many of the problems you solve each day
to the present day scientific and technological
require you to make decisions. What to wear
for the party? What to eat for dinner? What to progress that we now enjoy. Music, painting,
say to your friend? The answer to all these poetry, and other forms of art that give us
lies in picking or choosing one of several pleasure and joy, are all products of creative
choices. In decision-making, we sometimes thinking.
choose among options based on choices of You might have heard about A.D. Karve, a
personal significance. Judgment and decision- botanist from our country, who got the UK’s
making are interrelated processes. In decision- top energy award for devising a smokeless
making the problem before us is to choose ‘Chullah’. He converted dry, useless sugarcane
among alternatives by evaluating the cost and leaves into clean fuel. You might have also
benefit associated with each alternative. For heard of Class XI student Ashish Panwar, who
example, when you have the option to choose won a bronze medal for assembling a five feet
between psychology and economics as tall robot at the First International Robotics
subjects in Class XI, your decision would be Olympiad held at Glasgow. These are only a
based upon your interest, future prospects, few examples of creativity. Try to think of some
availability of books, efficiency of teachers, etc. other examples of creativity in different fields.
You could evaluate them by talking to seniors It is important to remember that creative
and faculty members and attending a few thinking is not always expressed in
classes, etc. Decision-making differs from extraordinary work. One does not have to be a
other types of problem solving. In decision- scientist or an artist to be a creative thinker.
making we already know the various solutions Everyone has the potential to be creative.
or choices and one has to be selected. Suppose Creative thinking can be applied in almost any
your friend is a very good player of badminton. area of human activity at different levels. It
S/he is getting an opportunity to play at the could be reflected in activities like writing,
state level. At the same time the final teaching, cooking, enacting roles, story telling,
examination is approaching and s/he needs conversation, dialogues, asking questions,
to study hard for it. S/he will have to choose playing games, trying to solve day-to-day
between two options, practising for badminton problems, organising activities, helping others
or studying for the final examination. In this resolve conflicts, and so on. This concept of
situation her/his decision will be based upon ‘Everyday Creativity’, which is reflected in one’s
evaluation of all possible outcomes. way of perceiving thinking and problem solving,
You would observe that people differ in is different from the ‘special talent creativity’
their priorities and therefore their decisions seen in outstanding creative achievements.

Chapter 8 • Thinking
Nature of Creative Thinking many answers. A few such questions are given
Creative thinking is distinguished from other
• What are the various uses of cloth?
types of thinking by the fact that it involves
• What improvements will you suggest in a
the production of novel and original ideas or
chair so that it becomes more comfortable
solutions to problems. Sometimes, creative
and aesthetically pleasing?
thinking is understood just as a new way of
• What will happen if examinations are
thinking or thinking differently. However, it is abolished in schools?
important to know that, besides novelty, Answers to the above questions require
originality is also an important characteristic divergent thinking which is an open-ended
of creative thinking. Every year new models thinking where the individual can think of
of household appliances, tape-recorders, cars, different answers to the questions or problems
scooters, and television sets produced may not in terms of her/his experiences. Such kind of
be original unless unique features are added thinking helps in producing novel and original
to these products. Creative thinking thus ideas.
refers to originality and uniqueness of ideas Divergent thinking abilities generally
or solutions that did not previously exist. include fluency, flexibility, originality, and
Creative thinking is also generally elaboration.
characterised by what Bruner calls “effective • Fluency is the ability to produce many
surprise”. If the product or idea is unusual, ideas for a given task or a problem. The
the response of most who experience it is one more ideas a person produces, the higher
of instant surprise or of being startled. his fluency ability. For example, more the
Another important criterion that number of uses of a paper cup, more would
characterises creative thinking is its be the fluency.
appropriateness in a particular context. • Flexibility indicates variety in thinking.
Simply thinking of being different without any It may be thinking of different uses of an
purpose, doing things in one’s own ways, being object, or different interpretation of a
non-conformist, indulging in fantasy without picture, story or different ways of solving
any purpose or coming out with a bizarre idea, a problem. In case of uses of a paper cup,
is at times mistaken for creative thinking. for example, one may give an idea to use it
Researchers tend to agree that thinking is said as a container or to draw a circle, etc.
to be creative when it is reality-oriented,
appropriate, constructive, and socially
J.P. Guilford, a pioneer in creativity
research, proposed two types of thinking:
convergent and divergent. Convergent
thinking refers to thinking that is required to
solve problems which have only one correct
answer. The mind converges to the correct
solution. To illustrate, look at the question
given below. It is based on a number series,
where you have to find the next number. Only
one right answer is expected.
Q. 3,6,9….. what will come next?
Ans. 12.
Now you try to think of certain questions
for which there is no one right answer but Fig.8.5 : Thinking Divergently

Box 8.2 Lateral Thinking

Edward de Bono has used the term ‘lateral the ‘Six thinking hats’ technique to stimulate different
thinking’ to what Guilford termed as divergent modes of thinking. One can put on or take off these
thinking. He makes a distinction between vertical hats according to the type of thinking required to be
thinking and lateral thinking. Vertical thinking used. White hat means gathering information, facts,
involves mental operations that move in a straight figures, and filling gaps in information. Red hat covers
line back and forth between lower and higher expression of feelings, and emotions on the subject.
level concepts whereas lateral thinking involves Black hat represents judgment, caution and logic.
looking for alter native ways of defining and Yellow hat covers thinking on what will work and
interpreting problems. He states “vertical (logical) why it will be beneficial. Green hat is for creativity,
thinking digs the same hole deeper, i.e. thinking alter natives and changes. Blue hat represents
deeper in the same direction; lateral thinking is thinking about the process and not the ideas as such.
concerned with digging a hole in another place”. The ‘six thinking hats’ reflect different perspectives
De Bono suggests that lateral thinking can help from which an issue or problem is viewed. The
make mental leaps and is likely to create a technique can be used individually as well as in
number of ways of thinking. De Bono developed groups.

• Originality is the ability to produce ideas Divergent thinking is essential in generating

that are rare or unusual by seeing new a wide range of ideas. Convergent thinking is
relationships, combining old ideas with important to identify the most useful or
new ones, looking at things from different appropriate idea.
perspectives etc. Research has shown that
fluency and flexibility are the necessary Activity 8.4
conditions for originality. The more and
varied ideas one produces, the greater the Frame five different kinds of questions requiring
likelihood of original ideas. divergent thinking on issues and problems related
to traffic management/pollution/corruption/
• Elaboration is the ability that enables a
illiteracy/poverty. Share and discuss in the class.
person to go into details and workout
implications of new ideas.
Divergent thinking abilities facilitate
Process of Creative Thinking
generation of a variety of ideas which may not
seem to be related. For example, what are the In recent years, more and more attention has
common ideas for enhancing food production? been given to the way the human mind
The likely answers would be related to quality operates. Research has made it clear that
of seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, and so on. If thinking of new and unusual ideas involve
someone thinks of cultivation in a desert for more than a flash of insight. There are stages
extracting protein from weeds, it would be a before and after the new ideas come.
remote idea. The association here is between The starting point in creative process is
‘food production’ and ‘desert’ or ‘weeds’. the need to think or bring out something new
Ordinarily, we do not associate these together. which initiates the effort. Not everyone
But, if we let our mind free to seek new and experiences this need, as one can be happy
remote associations, a number of combination and contented, in carrying out routine work.
of ideas may arise out of which one or two The need for search of new ideas and solutions
may turn out to be original. You must arises from sensing problems and gaps in
remember that both convergent and divergent information. The process of creative thinking
thinking are important for creative thinking. begins with the preparation stage that

Chapter 8 • Thinking
appropriateness of ideas or solutions are
tested and judged. Here, convergent thinking
plays its role in selecting the appropriate idea
or solution that works.


As discussed in the previous section, you may
recall that the potential for creative thinking
is in all of us. It is not limited to a few talented
artists or scientists or to a chosen few. The
expression of creative thinking may vary from
individual to individual. Although hereditary
factors are important in determining the extent
to which one can be creative, environmental
Fig.8.6 : The Creative Process factors facilitate or hamper the development
of creative thinking abilities. Research in
requires one to understand the task or different countries including India has shown
problem in hand, analyse the problem, and a slump in the level of creative thinking of
become aware of the background facts and school children at different stages due to
related information. The process evokes environmental factors. On the other hand,
curiosity and excitement to think more and research also indicates that children from
more in different directions. The person tries lower socio-economic groups, ethnic and
to look at the task or problem from different minority groups have substantial untapped
angles and viewpoints. Here, divergent creativity and that they are creative in many
thinking abilities discussed earlier play their different ways.
role to help one extend in new directions. Research has also shown that all of us can
Coming back to the process, when the make better use of our abilities for creative
person is trying to generate alternative ideas thinking through practice and training. We can
and trying to view the problem or task from become more imaginative, flexible, and original
an unusual perspective, there may be a feeling in solving day-to-day problems creatively and
of getting stuck. One may even get disgusted effectively. Development of creative thinking
with failure and may leave the problem or the is important for one’s personal growth and
task for sometime. This is the stage of fulfilment.
incubation. Research shows that creative
ideas may not occur immediately during Barriers to Creative Thinking
incubation when the individual is not The first step in developing creative thinking
consciously thinking about the problem but is to identify inhibiting factors that impede
seeking relaxation from conscious effort. They creative expression and then make conscious
may occur or strike when a person is doing attempts to overcome the same. As we are
something else, for example, going to sleep, discussing, you may analyse how you
waking up, taking a bath or just walking along. approach your tasks and problems.
Followed by incubation is the stage of There are blocks to creative thinking which
illumination - the ‘Aha’! or ‘I have found it’ can be categorised as habitual, perceptual,
experience, the moment we normally associate motivational, emotional, and cultural.
with emergence of creative ideas. There usually Although much habitual learning is necessary
is, a feeling of excitement, even satisfaction, for smooth and efficient functioning within the
of having found a creative idea. Last is the daily routine, the tendency to be overpowered
stage of verification when the worth or by habits particularly in one’s ways of thinking

can be detrimental to creative expression. We to block creative thinking. Cultural blocks
become so used to thinking and perceiving arise due to the fear of being different, the
things in a familiar way that it becomes tendency to maintain status quo, willingness
difficult to think in novel ways. It may be to accept mediocrity, preservation of personal
related to our tendency to quickly jump to security, social pressure, over dependence on
conclusions, not to see problems from fresh others, etc.
perspectives, be satisfied with routine patterns The fact that everyone has the potential to
of doing things, or resist to overcome pre- be creative and that one can differ in one’s
conceived view points, and not to change expression of creative thinking requires that
immediate judgment, etc. The perceptual we all tap our creative potential and remove
blocks prevent us from being open to novel the barriers as discussed above.
and original ideas. Try to recall the joining
dot problem in Activity 8.3, where you were Activity 8.5
required to connect all nine dots with four
straight lines going through each dot only once Ponder over some statements that we often use
without lifting the pencil or pen from the paper. and which may prevent or aid the emergence of
those creative ideas. List those which may block
The solution to the problem lies in going
new ideas like ‘This is not logical’, ‘Time is too short
beyond the boundaries. We assume that to think any more’, ‘It would not work’, etc. and
boundaries exist whereas they did not. Many positive statements like ‘Is there any other way?’,
would attempt to solve the problem by staying ‘What else?’, etc.
in the square that the nine dots form. There
is nothing in the directions to do this. The
joining dots problem is indicative of the Strategies for Creative Thinking
boundaries and the limitations that are
Research on characteristics of creative people
assumed or self-imposed.
has revealed that there are certain attitudes,
Motivational and emotional blocks also
dispositions, and skills which facilitate creative
interfere with creative thinking which show thinking. Here are some strategies to help you
that creative thinking is not merely a cognitive enhance your creative thinking abilities and
process. Lack of motivation, fear of failure, fear skills:
of being different, fear of ridicule or rejection, • Become more aware and sensitive to be
poor self-concept, negativism, etc. may able to notice and respond to feelings,
hamper creative thinking. For example, some sights, sounds, textures around you. Spot
people may not be motivated enough to extend problems, missing information, anomalies,
themselves and make extra efforts. A person gaps, deficiencies, and so on. Try to notice
may find that s/he can not do it further, may contradictions and incompleteness in
leave the problem in between or may accept situations that others may not do. For this,
the intermediate idea as the final idea. Further, cultivate the habit of wider reading,
some people, for example, have negative exposure to a variety of information, and
assumptions about themselves. They feel that develop the art of asking questions,
they are not capable of doing some tasks. You pondering over the mysteries of situations
may be surprised to know that Thomas Alva and objects.
Edison, the inventor of the bulb, took years of • Generate as many ideas, responses,
experimentation with hundreds of failures solutions or suggestions on a given task
before he produced the first bulb. or situation to increase your flow of
Cultural barriers are related to excessive thoughts. Try deliberately to look for
adherence to traditions, expectations, multiple angles of a task and situation to
conformity pressures, and stereotypes. increase flexibility in your thinking. It
Conformity to some extent is essential for could be, for example, thinking of
social existence but excessive conformity to alternative arrangements of furniture in a
traditions, rituals, and procedures are likely room to generate more space, different

Chapter 8 • Thinking
ways of conversing with people, looking for work according to your interest and
costs and benefits of a course of study or hobbies. It may be decorating the house,
career, looking for ways of dealing with an improvising or redesigning of old objects,
angry friend, helping others, etc. making use of waste products in multiple
• Osborn’s Brainstorming technique can be ways, completing incomplete ideas in
used to increase fluency and flexibility of unique ways, giving new twist to stories
ideas to open-ended situations. or poems, developing riddles, puzzles,
Brainstorming is based on the principle solving mysteries and so on.
that producing ideas should be kept • Never accept the first idea or solution.
separate from the evaluation of their worth. Many ideas die because we reject them
The basic assumption is to let the minds thinking that the idea might be a silly idea.
think freely and the tendency to put You have to first generate a number of
judgment on the worth of ideas may be possible ideas or solutions, then select the
postponed, i.e. imagination should be best from among them.
given priority over judgment till all the • Get a feedback on the solutions you decide
ideas are exhausted. This helps in on from others who are less personally
increasing the fluency of ideas and piling involved in the task.
up alternatives. Brainstorming can be • Try to think of what solutions someone
practised by playing brainstorming games
else may offer for your problems.
with family members and friends keeping
• Give your ideas the chance to incubate.
its principles in mind. Use of checklists
Allowing time for incubation between
and questions often provide a new twist
production of ideas and the stage of
for ideas like, What other changes? What
evaluation of ideas, may bring in the ‘Aha!’
else? In how many ways could it be done?
What could be the other uses of this object?
• Sometimes ideas cluster like branches of
and so on.
• Originality can be developed by practicing a tree. It is useful to diagram your thinking
fluency, flexibility, habit of associative so that you can follow each possible branch
thinking, exploring linkages, and fusing to its completion.
distinct or remote ideas. A creative thinker, • Resist the temptation for immediate
it is said, may not evolve new ideas but reward and success and cope with the
evolve new combination of ideas. It is the frustration and failure. Encourage self-
chain of thoughts and cross-fertilisation evaluation.
of ideas that may bring out something new. • Develop independent thinking in making
The idea of the ‘rocking chair’ has come judgments, figuring out things without any
from the combination of ‘chair’ and ‘see- help or resources.
saw’. Practice making unusual and • Visualise causes and consequences and
unexpected associations using analogies. think ahead, predicting things that have
Sometimes finding original ideas/solutions never happened, like, suppose the time
requires a dramatic shift of focus which starts moving backwards, what would
can be facilitated by asking oneself : what happen?, If we had no zero?, etc.
is the opposite of the commonplace or • Be aware of your own defenses concerning
usual solution to the problem? Allow the problem. When we feel threatened by
conflicting thoughts to co-exist. Looking a problem we are less likely to think of
for solutions opposite to the obvious may creative ideas.
lead to original solutions. • Last but not the least, be self-confident
• Engage yourself more frequently in and positive. Never undermine your
activities which require use of imagination creative potential. Experience the joy of
and original thinking rather than routine your creation.

Thought as Determinant of Language
The noted Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget
Till now, we have discussed the nature and believed that thought not only determines
meaning of thinking and how thinking is based language, but also precedes it. Piaget argued
on images and concepts. We have also that children form an internal representation
discussed the various processes of thought. of the world through thinking. For example,
Throughout the discussion did you feel that when children see something and later copy
words or language are essential to express what it (a process called imitation), thinking does
we think? This section examines the take place, which does not involve language.
relationship between language and thought: A child’s observation of other’s behaviour and
that language determines thought, that thought imitation of the same behaviour, no doubt
determines language, and that thought and involves thinking but not language. Language
language have different origins. Let us examine is just one of the vehicles of thinking. As
these three viewpoints in some detail. actions become internalised, language may
affect children’s range of symbolic thinking but
Language as Determinant of Thought is not necessary for the origins of thought.
In Hindi and other Indian languages we use a Piaget believed that though language can be
number of different words for various kinship taught to children, understanding of the words
relationships. We have different terms for require knowledge of the underlying concepts
mother’s brother, father’s elder brother, (i.e. thinking). Thus, thought is basic, and
father’s younger brother, mother’s sister’s necessary if language is to be understood.
husband, father’s sister’s husband, and so on.
An English person uses just one word uncle Different Origins of Language and Thought
to describe all these kinship relationships. In The Russian psychologist, Lev Vyogotsky,
the English language there are dozens of words argued that thoughts and language develop
for colours whereas some tribal languages in a child separately until about two years of
have only two to four colour terms. Do such age, when they merge. Before two years
differences matter for how we think? Does an thought is preverbal and is experienced more
Indian child find it easier to think about and in action (Piaget’s sensory motor stage). The
dif ferentiate between various kinship child’s utterances are more automatic reflexes
relationships compared to her English- - crying when uncomfortable - than thought-
speaking counterpart? Does our thinking based. Around two years of age, the child
process depend on how we describe it in our expresses thought verbally and her/his speech
language? reflects rationality. Now children are able to
Benjamin Lee Whorf was of the view that manipulate thoughts using soundless speech.
language determines the contents of thought. He believed that during this period the
This view is known as linguistic relativity development of language and thinking become
hypothesis. In its strong version, this interdependent; the development of
hypothesis holds what and how individuals conceptual thinking depends upon the quality
can possibly think is determined by the of inner speech and vice versa. Thought is used
language and linguistic categories they use without language when the vehicle of thinking
(linguistic determinism). Experimental is non-verbal such as visual or movement-
evidence, however, maintains that it is possible related. Language is used without thought
to have the same level or quality of thoughts when expressing feelings or exchanging
in all languages depending upon the pleasantries, for example “Good morning! How
availability of linguistic categories and are you?” “Very well, I am fine”. When the two
structures. Some thoughts may be easier in functions overlap, they can be used together
one language compared to another. to produce verbal thought and rational speech.

Chapter 8 • Thinking
be discussing these three characteristics of
The first characteristic of language is that
Meaning and Nature of Language it involves symbols. Symbols represent
something or someone else, for example, the
In the previous section we discussed the
place where you live is called ‘home’, the place
relationship between language and thought.
where you study is called ‘school’, the thing
In this section, we will examine how human
that you eat is called ‘food’. Words like home,
beings acquire and use language in different
school, food, and numerous other words do
age groups. Think for a moment: what would
not in themselves carry any meaning. When
have happened if you did not have a language
these words are associated with some objects/
to express whatever you wanted to say? In
the absence of language you will not be able events they attain meaning and we begin
to communicate your ideas and feelings, nor recognising those objects/events, etc. with
will you have the opportunity to know or have particular words (symbols). We use symbols
access to what others think and feel. As a child while thinking.
when you first started saying “”, The second characteristic of language is
it not only gave you tremendous boost to that it involves rules. While combining two or
continue repeating this activity but also was more words we usually follow a definite and
a great moment of joy for your parents and accepted order of presenting these words. For
other care-givers. Slowly you learnt to say ‘ma’ example, one would most likely say “I am going
and ‘papa’ and sometime later combined two to school” and not “school am going I”.
or more words to communicate your needs, The third characteristic of language is that
feelings, and thoughts. You learnt words it is used for communicating one’s thought,
appropriate for situations and also learnt the ideas, intentions, and feelings to others. On
rules of putting these words in sentences. many occasions we communicate through the
Initially you learnt to communicate in the use of our body parts, called gestures or
language being used at home (usually the postures. This type of communication is called
mother-tongue), went to school and learnt the non-verbal communication. Some people who
formal language of instruction (in many cases cannot use oral speech, like the ones with
this language is different from the mother- severe hearing and speech problems,
tongue), and were promoted to higher grades communicate through signs. Sign language is
and learnt other languages. If you look back, also a form of language.
you will realise that your journey from crying
and saying “” to the attainment of Development of Language
mastery in not one but many languages, has
been a fascinating one. In this section we shall Language is a complex system and unique to
be discussing the salient features of language human beings. Psychologists have tried to
acquisition. teach sign language, use of symbols to
You have been using language all your life. chimpanzees, dolphins, parrots, etc. But it is
Now try to define accurately what it is that observed that, human language is more
you have been using. Language consists of a complex, creative, and spontaneous than the
system of symbols organised by means of system of communication other animals can
certain rules that we use to communicate with learn. There is also a great deal of regularity
each other. You will notice that language has with which children all over the world seem to
three basic characteristics: (a) the presence of be learning the language or languages to which
symbols, (b) a set of rules to organise these they are exposed. When you compare
symbols, and (c) communication. Here we shall individual children, you find that they differ a

great deal in the rate of their language (the exact age varies from child to child) most
development as well as in how they go about children enter the one-word-stage. Their first
it. But when you take a general view of word usually contains one syllable – ma or
children’s acquisition of language all over the da, for instance. Gradually they move to one
world you find some predictable pattern in or more words which are combined to form
which children proceed from almost no use of whole sentences or phrases. So they are called
language to the point of becoming competent holophrases. When they are 18 to 20 months
language users. Language develops through of age, children enter a two-word stage and
some of the stages discussed below. begin to use two words together. The two-word
Newborn babies and young infants make stage exemplifies telegraphic speech. Like
a variety of sounds, which gradually get telegrams (got admission, send money) it
modified to resemble words. The first sound contains mostly nouns and verbs. Close to
produced by babies is crying. Initial crying is their third birthday, i.e. beyond two-and-a-
undifferentiated and similar across various half years, children’s language development
situations. Gradually, the pattern of crying gets focused on rules of the language they
varies in its pitch and intensity to signify hear.
different states such as hunger, pain, and How is language acquired? You must be
sleepiness, etc. These differentiated crying wondering: “How do we learn to speak?” As
sounds gradually become more meaningful with many other topics in psychology, the
cooing sounds (like ‘aaa’, ‘uuu’, etc.) usually question of whether a behaviour develops as
to express happiness. a result of inherited characteristics (nature)
At around six months of age children enter or from the effects of learning (nurture) has
the babbling stage. Babbling involves been raised with regard to language. Most
prolonged repetition of a variety of consonants psychologists accept that both nature and
and vowel sounds (for example, da—, aa—, nurture are important in language
ba—). By about nine months of age these acquisition.
sounds get elaborated to strings of some sound Behaviourist B.F. Skinner believed we
combinations, such as ‘dadadadadada’ into learn language the same way as animals learn
repetitive patterns called echolalia. While the to pick keys or press bars (refer to Chapter 6
early babblings are random or accidental in on Learning). Language development, for the
nature, the later babblings seem to be imitative behaviourists follow the learning principles,
of adult voices. Childr en show some such as association (the sight of bottle with
understanding of a few words by the time they the word ‘bottle’), imitation (adults use of word
are six months old. Around the first birthday “bottle”), and reinforcement (smiles and hugs

Box 8.3 Bilingualism and Multilingualism

Bilingualism refers to attaining proficiency in emotional level. It is possible for individuals to have
communicating through any two languages. multiple mother tongues. The Indian social context is
Learning of more than two languages is referred characterised by grass root multilingualism which
to as multilingualism. The term mother tongue has makes bi/multilingualism a characteristic at the levels
been variously defined as one’s native language, of individual as well as society. Most Indians use more
the language spoken by the individual from the than one language to communicate in various domains
cradle; language ordinarily used at home; of their daily life activities. Thus, multilingualism is a
language spoken by the mother; etc. However, way of life in India. Studies reveal that bilingualism/
generally the mother tongue is viewed as a multilingualism facilitates cognitive, linguistic, and
language with which one identifies at the academic competence of children.

Chapter 8 • Thinking
when the child says something right). There Language Use
is also evidence that children produce sounds
As we have discussed earlier, language use
that are appropriate to a language of the
involves knowing socially appropriate ways
parent or care-giver and are reinforced for
having done so. The principle of shaping leads of communication. Knowledge of vocabulary
to successive approximation of the desired and syntax of a language does not ensure
responses so that the child eventually speaks proper use of language to achieve the purpose
as well as the adult. Regional differences in of communication in a variety of social
pronunciation and phrasing illustrate how situations. When we use language we have
different patterns are reinforced in different various pragmatic intentions such as
areas. requesting, asking, thanking, demanding,
Linguist Noam Chomsky put forth the etc. In order to effectively serve these social
innate proposition of development of language. goals, language use must be pragmatically
For him the rate at which children acquire correct or contextually appropriate besides
words and grammar without being taught can being grammatical and meaningful. Children
not be explained only by learning principles. often have difficulty with choice of
Children also create all sorts of sentences they appropriate utterances for politeness or for
have never heard and, therefore, could not be requests and their use of language conveys
imitating. Children throughout the world seem a demand or a command instead of a polite
to have a critical period — a period when request. When children are engaged in
learning must occur if it is to occur conversations, they also have difficulty in
successfully — for learning language. Children taking turns in speaking and listening like
across the world also go through the same adults.
stages of language development. Chomsky
believes language development is just like
physical maturation- given adequate care, it
“just happens to the child”. Children are born Key Terms
with “universal grammar”. They readily learn
Bilingualism, Brainstor ming, Concepts,
the grammar of whatever language they hear.
Convergent thinking, Creativity, Decision-
Skinner’s emphasis on learning explains making, Deductive reasoning, Divergent
why infants acquire the language they hear thinking, Functional fixedness, Illumination,
and how they add new words to their Images, Incubation, Inductive reasoning,
vocabularies. Chomsky’s emphasis on our Judgment, Language, Mental representation,
built-in readiness to learn grammar helps Mental set, Multilingualism, Problem solving,
Reasoning, Remote association, Syntax,
explain why children acquire language so
readily without direct teaching.

• Thinking is a complex mental process through which we manipulate information (either
acquired or stored). It is an internal process that can be inferred from behaviour. Thinking
involves mental representations that are either mental images or concepts.
• Complex thought processes are problem solving, reasoning, decision-making, judgment, and
creative thinking.
• Problem solving is thinking directed towards the solution of a specific problem.
• Mental set, functional fixedness, lack of motivation and persistence are some of the hindrances
for effective problem solving.

• Reasoning, like problem solving, is goal directed, involves inference and can be either deductive
or inductive.
• In making judgment, we draw conclusions, form opinions, make evaluations about objects or
• In decision-making one must choose among several available alternatives.
• Judgment and decision-making are interrelated processes.
• Creative thinking involves the production of something new and original — it may be an idea,
object or solution to a problem.
• Developing creative thinking requires overcoming blocks to creative expression and using
strategies to enhance creative thinking skills and abilities.
• Language is distinctly human. It consists of symbols, organised on the basis of certain rules
to communicate intentions, feelings, motives, and desires among human beings.
• Major development in language occurs during the first two to three years of age.
• Language and thought are intricately related.

Review Questions
1. Explain the nature of thinking.
2. What is a concept? Explain the role of concept in the thinking process.
3. Identify obstacles that one may encounter in problem solving.
4. How does reasoning help in solving problems?
5. Are judgment and decision-making interrelated processes? Explain.
6. Why is divergent thinking important in creative thinking process?
7. What are the various barriers to creative thinking?
8. How can creative thinking be enhanced?
9. Does thinking take place without language? Discuss.
10. How is language acquired in human beings?

Project Ideas
1. Observe children of 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years old over a period of one week. Record the
speech and note how the child is learning words and how many words the child has
learnt over this period.
2. Make a collage of news headlines, advertisements, cartoons etc. and arrange them in
your own way to depict a particular theme or a context other than the one in which they
were used. Write an original message or slogan to describe it. Reflect on the steps and the
barriers you experienced in thinking of original ideas.

Chapter 8 • Thinking
Answers to problems in Activity 8.3


Problem 2 :

Problem 3 :
The solution for this problem is fill bottle B (127 ml) completely and then pour out water in bottle A (21 ml)
to fill it completely. Now 106 ml is left in bottle B (127ml–21ml). Next pour enough water out of B to fill up C
(3 ml), and then empty the bottle C by pouring out all the water from C. Now there is 103 ml of water in B and
C is empty. Then again pour water from B to fill up C. Now you will be left with 100 ml of water in B.

In case of the first 5 problems, the desired amount can be reached by the sequence B–A–2C. However, the 6th
and 7th problems are critical. In the 6th problem, the desired amount of water is 20 ml and the capacity of
the three bottles are: A can hold 23 ml, B can hold 49 ml and C can hold 3 ml. Observe how the participant
is solving this problem. Most likely he would successfully solve the problem by following the already tried
sequence {49–23–(2 X 3)} without even thinking or trying a simpler and quick method of pouring water from
A to C. If your friend is following this procedure then you can conclude that solving the 5 problems has
formed a mental set in her/his mind. The 7th problem requires a direct solution of pouring water from A to
C. But the mental set is so powerful that many would fail to think of any other steps, other than the already
tried one.

The standard method A simpler method A case where only the simple method works
Problems 1-5 Problem 6 Problem 7

Motivvation and Emotion
9 After reading this chapter, you would be able to
• understand the nature of human motivation,
• describe the nature of some important motives,
• describe the nature of emotional expression,
• understand the relationship between culture and emotion, and
• know how to manage your own emotions.

Nature of Motivation
Types of Motives
Biological Motives
Psychosocial Motives
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Self-Motivation (Box 9.1)
Nature of Emotions
Physiological Bases of Emotions
Physiology of Emotion (Box 9.2)
Lie Detection (Box 9.3)
Cognitive Bases of Emotions
Cultural Bases of Emotions
Expression of Emotions
Culture and Emotional Expression
Culture and Emotional Labeling
Managing Negative Emotions
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Box 9.4)
Management of Examination Anxiety (Box 9.5)
Enhancing Positive Emotions
Emotional Intelligence (Box 9.6)

Key Terms
Emotion has taught mankind Summary
to reason. Review Questions
Project Ideas
– Marquis de Vauvenargues
Sunita, a girl from a little known town, puts in 10-12 hours of hard work everyday
in order to get through the various engineering entrance examinations. Hemant, a
physically challenged boy, wants to take part in an expedition and trains himself
extensively in a mountaineering institute. Aman saves money from his scholarship
so that he can buy a gift for his mother. These are just a few examples, which
indicate the role motivation plays in human behaviour. Each of these behaviours
are caused by an underlying motive. Behaviour is goal-driven. Goal-seeking
behaviour tends to persist until the goal is achieved. For achieving their goals people
plan and undertake different activities. How is Sunita going to feel if after all the
hard work she has put in, she does not succeed or Aman’s scholarship money gets
stolen. Sunita, perhaps, will be sad and Aman angry. This chapter will help you to
understand the basic concepts of motivation and emotion, and related developments
in these two areas. You will also get to know the concepts of frustration and conflict.
The basic emotions, their biological bases, overt expressions, cultural influences,
their relationship with motivation, and some techniques to help you manage your
emotions better will also be dealt with.

drives, needs, goals, and incentives come

NATURE OF MOTIVATION under the broad cluster of motivation.
The concept of motivation focuses on
explaining what “moves” behaviour. In fact, The Motivational Cycle
the term motivation is derived from the Latin Psychologists now use the concept of need to
word ‘movere’, referring to movement of describe the motivational properties of
activity. Most of our everyday explanation of behaviour. A need is lack or deficit of some
behaviour is given in terms of motives. Why necessity. The condition of need leads to drive.
do you come to the school or college? There
may be any number of reasons for this
behaviour, such as you want to learn or to Need
make friends, you need a diploma or degree
to get a good job, you want to make your
parents happy, and so on. Some combination Reduction of Drive
of these reasons and/or others would explain arousal
why you choose to go in for higher education.
Motives also help in making predictions about
behaviour. A person will work hard in school,
in sports, in business, in music, and in many Achievement Arousal
other situations, if s/he has a very strong need
for achievement. Hence, motives are the
general states that enable us to make Goal-directed
predictions about behaviour in many different behaviour
situations. In other words, motivation is one
of the determinants of behaviour. Instincts, Fig.9.1 : The Motivational Cycle

A drive is a state of tension or arousal or psychosocial per se, rather they are aroused
produced by a need. It energises random in the individual with varying combinations.
activity. When one of the random activities
leads to a goal, it reduces the drive, and the Biological Motives
organism stops being active. The organism The biological or physiological approach to
returns to a balanced state. Thus, the cycle of explain motivation is the earliest attempt to
motivational events can be presented as shown understand causes of behaviour. Most of
in Fig.9.1. the theories, which developed later, carry
Are there different types of motives? Are traces of the influence of the biological
there any biological bases explaining different approach. The approach adhering to the
kinds of motives? What happens if your motive concept of adaptive act holds that organisms
remains unfulfilled? These are some of the have needs (internal physiological imbalances)
questions we will discuss in the following that produce drive, which stimulates
sections. behaviour leading to certain actions towards
achieving certain goals, which reduce the
TYPES OF MOTIVES drive. The earliest explanations of motivation
relied on the concept of instinct. The term
Basically, there are two types of motives : instinct denotes inborn patterns of behaviour
biological and psychosocial. Biological motives that are biologically determined rather than
are also known as physiological motives as learned. Some common human instincts
they are guided mostly by the physiological include curiosity, flight, repulsion,
mechanisms of the body. Psychosocial reproduction, parental care, etc. Instincts are
motives, on the other hand, are primarily innate tendencies found in all members of a
learned from the individual’s interactions with species that direct behaviour in predictable
the various environmental factors. ways. The term instinct most approximately
However, both types of motives are refers to an urge to do something. Instinct has
interdependent on each other. That is, in some an “impetus” which drives the organism to do
kind of situations the biological factors may something to reduce that impetus. Some of
trigger a motive whereas in some other the basic biological needs explained by this
situations, the psychosocial factors may approach are hunger, thirst, and sex, which
trigger the motive. Hence, you should keep in are essential for the sustenance of the
mind that no motive is absolutely biological individual.

Types of Motives

Biological Motives Psychosocial Motives

Focus on the innate, biological causes Focus on psychological and social
of motivation like hormones, (as well as environmental) factors and
neurotransmitters, brain structures how they interact with each other to
(hypothalamus, limbic system, etc.). produce motivation. For example,
For example, hunger, thirst and need for achievement, affiliation, power,
sex motives. curiosity and exploration, and self-
actualisation motives.

Fig.9.2 : Types of Motives

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion
Hunger for a period of several hours, the mouth and
throat become dry, which leads to dehydration
When someone is hungry, the need for food
of body tissues. Drinking water is necessary
dominates everything else. It motivates people
to wet a dry mouth. But a dry mouth does not
to obtain and consume food. Of course we
always result in water drinking behaviour. In
must eat to live. But, what makes you feel
fact processes within the body itself control
hungry? Studies have indicated that many
thirst and drinking of water. Water must get
events inside and outside the body may trigger
into the tissues sufficiently to remove the
hunger or inhibit it. The stimuli for hunger
include stomach contractions, which signify dryness of mouth and throat.
Motivation to drink water is mainly
that the stomach is empty, a low concentration
of glucose in the blood, a low level of protein triggered by the conditions of the body: loss
and the amount of fats stored in the body. of water from cells and reduction of blood
The liver also responds to the lack of bodily volume. When water is lost by bodily fluids,
fuel by sending nerve impulses to the brain. water leaves the interior of the cells. The
The aroma, taste or appearance of food may anterior hypothalamus contains nerve cells
also result in a desire to eat. It may be noted called ‘osmoreceptors’, which generate nerve
that none of these alone gives you the feeling impulses in case of cell dehydration. These
that you are hungry. All in combination act nerve impulses act as a signal for thirst and
with external factors (such as taste, colour, drinking; when thirst is regulated by loss of
by observing others eating, and the smell of water from the osmoreceptors, it is called
food, etc.) to help you understand that you cellular -dehydration thirst. But what
are hungry. Thus, it can be said that our food mechanisms stop the drinking of water? Some
intake is regulated by a complex feeding- researchers assume that the mechanism
satiety system located in the hypothalamus, which explains the intake of water is also
liver, and other parts of the body as well as responsible for stopping the intake of water.
the external cues available in the environment. Others have pointed out that the role of stimuli
Some physiologists hold that changes in resulting from the intake of water in the
the metabolic functions of the liver result in a stomach must have something to do with
feeling of hunger. The liver sends a signal to a stopping of drinking water. However, the
part of the brain called hypothalamus. The precise physiological mechanisms underlying
two regions of hypothalamus involved in the thirst drive are yet to be understood.
hunger are - the lateral hypothalamus (LH)
and the ventro-medial hypothalamus (VMH). Sex
LH is considered to be the excitatory area. One of the most powerful drives in both
Animals eat when this area is stimulated. animals and human beings is the sex drive.
When it is damaged, animals stop eating and Motivation to engage in sexual activity is a very
die of starvation. The VMH is located in the strong factor influencing human behaviour.
middle of the hypothalamus, which is However, sex is far more than a biological
otherwise known as hunger-controlling area motive. It is different from other primary
which inhibits the hunger drive. Now can you motives (hunger, thirst) in many ways like,
guess about people who overeat and become (a) sexual activity is not necessary for an
obese, and people who eat very little or who individual’s survival; (b) homeostasis (the
are on a diet? tendency of the organism as a whole to
maintain constancy or to attempt to restore
Thirst equilibrium if constancy is disturbed) is not
What would happen to you, if you were the goal of sexual activity; and (c) sex drive
deprived of water for a long time? What makes develops with age, etc. In case of lower
you feel thirsty? When we are deprived of water animals, it depends on many physiological

conditions; in case of human beings, the sex Need for Power
drive is very closely regulated biologically,
Need for power is an ability of a person to
sometimes it is very difficult to classify sex
produce intended effects on the behaviour and
purely as a biological drive.
emotions of another person. The various goals
Physiologists suggest that intensity of the
of power motivation are to influence, control,
sexual urge is dependent upon chemical
persuade, lead, and charm others and most
substances circulating in the blood, known
importantly to enhance one’s own reputation
as sex hormones. Studies on animals as well
in the eyes of other people.
as human beings have mentioned that sex
David McClelland (1975) described four
hormones secreted by gonads, i.e. testes in
general ways of expression of the power
males and the ovaries in females ar e
motive. First, people do things to gain feeling
responsible for sexual motivation. Sexual
of power and strength from sources outside
motivation is also influenced by other
themselves by reading stories about sports
endocrine glands, such as adrenal and
stars or attaching themselves to a popular
pituitary glands. Sexual drive in human
figure. Second, power can also be felt from
beings is primarily stimulated by external
sources within us and may be expressed by
stimuli and its expression depends upon
building up the body and mastering urges and
cultural learning.
impulses. Third, people do things as
individuals to have an impact on others. For
Psychosocial Motives
example, a person argues, or competes with
Social motives are mostly learned or acquired. another individual in order to have an impact
Social groups such as family, neighbourhood, or influence on that person. Fourth, people
friends, and relatives do contribute a lot in do things as members of organisations to have
acquiring social motives. These are complex an impact on others as in the case of the leader
forms of motives mainly resulting from the of a political party; the individual may use the
individual’s interaction with her/his social party apparatus to influence others. However,
environment. for any individual, one of these ways of
expressing power motivation may dominate,
Need for Affiliation but with age and life experiences, it varies.
Most of us need company or friend or want to
Need for Achievement
maintain some form of relationship with
others. Nobody likes to remain alone all the You might have observed some students work
time. As soon as people see some kinds of very hard and compete with others for good
similarities among themselves or they like each marks/grades in the examination, as good
other, they form a group. Formation of group marks/grades will create opportunities for
or collectivity is an important feature of human higher studies and better job prospects. It is
life. Often people try desperately to get close the achievement motivation, which refers to
to other people, to seek their help, and to the desire of a person to meet standards of
become members of their group. Seeking other excellence. Need for achievement, also known
human beings and wanting to be close to them as n-Ach, energises and directs behaviour as
both physically and psychologically is called well as influences the perception of situations.
affiliation. It involves motivation for social During the formative years of social
contact. Need for affiliation is aroused when development, children acquire achievement
individuals feel threatened or helpless and also motivation. The sources from which they learn
when they are happy. People high on this need it, include parents, other role models, and
are motivated to seek the company of others socio-cultural influences. Persons high in
and to maintain friendly relationships with achievement motivation tend to prefer tasks
other people. that are moderately difficult and challenging.

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion
They have stronger-than-average desire for a hierarchy. His viewpoint about motivation
feedback on their performance, that is to know is very popular because of its theoretical and
how they are doing, so that they can adjust applied value which is popularly known as the
their goals to meet the challenge. “Theory of Self-actualisation” (see Fig.9.3).

Curiosity and Exploration

Often people engage in activities without a
clear goal or purpose but they derive some Self-
kind of pleasure out of it. It is a motivational actualisation
tendency to act without any specific needs
identifiable goal. The tendency to seek for a
Esteem needs
novel experience, gain pleasure by obtaining
information, etc. are signs of curiosity. Hence,
curiosity describes behaviour whose primary Belongingness needs
motive appears to remain in the activities
Safety needs
What will happen if the sky falls on us?
Questions of this kind (What will happen if…)
stimulate intellectuals to find answers. Physiological needs
Studies show that this curiosity behaviour is
not only limited to human beings, animals too
show the same kind of behaviour. We are Fig.9.3 : Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
driven to explore the environment by our
curiosity and our need for sensory stimulation. Maslow’s model can be conceptualised as
The need for varied types of sensory a pyramid in which the bottom of this
stimulations is closely related to curiosity. It hierarchy represents basic physiological or
is the basic motive, and exploration and biological needs which are basic to survival
curiosity are the expressions of it. such as hunger, thirst, etc. Only when these
Our ignorance about a number of things needs are met, the need to be free from
around us becomes a powerful motivator to threatened danger arises. This refers to the
explore the world. We get easily bored with safety needs of physical and psychological
repetitive experiences. So we look for nature. Next comes the need to seek out other
something new. people, to love and to be loved. After these
In the case of infants and small children, needs are fulfilled, the individual strives for
this motive is very dominant. They get esteem, i.e. the need to develop a sense of self-
satisfaction from being allowed to explore, worth. The next higher need in the hierarchy
which is reflected in their smiling and reflects an individual’s motive towards the
babbling. Children become easily distressed, fullest development of potential, i.e. self-
when the motive to explore is discouraged, as actualisation. A self-actualised person is self-
you have read in Chapter 4. aware, socially responsive, creative,
spontaneous, open to novelty, and challenge.
MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS S/he also has a sense of humour and capacity
for deep interpersonal relationships.
There are various views on human motivation, Lower level needs (physiological) in the
the most popular among these is given by hierarchy dominate as long as they are
Abraham H. Maslow (1968; 1970). He unsatisfied. Once they are adequately
attempted to portray a picture of human satisfied, the higher needs occupy the
behaviour by arranging the various needs in individual’s attention and effort. However, it

must be noted that very few people reach the realise our goal. The blocking of a desired goal
highest level because most people are is painful, but all of us experience it in life in
concerned more with the lower level needs. different degrees. Frustration occurs when an
anticipated desirable goal is not attained and
Activity 9.1 the motive is blocked. It is an aversive state
and no one likes it. Frustration results in a
Actual actions sometimes contradict the hierarchy variety of behavioural and emotional reactions.
of needs. Soldiers, police officers, and fire They include aggressive behaviour, fixation,
personnels have been known to protect others by escape, avoidance, and crying. In fact
facing very endangering situations, seemingly in frustration-aggression is a very famous
direct contradiction to the prominence of safety
hypothesis proposed by Dollard and Miller.
Why does it happen? Discuss it in your group It states that frustration produces aggression.
and then with your teacher. Aggressive acts are often directed towards the
self or blocking agent, or a substitute. Direct
aggressive acts may be inhibited by the threat
Frustration and Conflict of punishment. The main sources or causes
of frustration are found in: (i) environmental
So far we have taken a look at the various forces, which could be physical objects,
theoretical perspectives on motivation. They constraining situations or even other people
explain the process of motivation and what who prevent a person from reaching a
leads to motivated action and what are the particular goal, (ii) personal factors like
reasons for different motives. Now we will try inadequacies or lack of resources that make
to understand what happens when motivated it difficult or impossible to reach goals, and
action is blocked or it fails due to certain (iii) conflicts between different motives.
reasons. We will also try to understand what
happens when one is faced with more than Conflict
one motive or need at the same time. These
Conflict occurs whenever a person must
two concerns can be explained in the form of
choose between contradictory needs, desires,
two important concepts related to motivation,
motives, or demands. There are three basic
namely frustration and conflict.
forms of conflicts, for example, approach-
approach conflict, avoidance-avoidance
conflict, and approach-avoidance conflict.
We come across many occasions when things Approach-approach conflict comes from
go in an unexpected direction and we fail to having to choose between two positives and


Alternative A3
Failure Pathways Conflict Frustration

Target A5 Aggression
Arousal Behaviour

Fig.9.4 : Need-Conflict-Frustration Route

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion
Box 9.1 Self-

Here are a few ways of motivating your own self to have but attach it with some small goal).
as well as others: 5. Compliment yourself on being an achiever each time
1. Be planned and organised in whatever you you hit a target (Say “Cheers! I did it”, “I am really
do. good with that”, “I think I can do things smartly”,
2. Learn to prioritise your goals (Rank them 1,2, etc.).
3…). 6. If the targets seem difficult to attain, again break
3. Set short-term targets (In a few days, a week, them up into smaller ones and approach them one
a month, and so on). by one.
4. Reward yourself for hitting the set targets (You 7. Always try to visualise or imagine the outcomes of
could reward yourself with small things like a all the hard work you have to put in to reach your
new pen, chocolates or anything that you want set goals.

desirable alternatives. Avoidance-avoidance the relative strength/importance of one over

conflict comes from choosing between two the other, and environmental factors.
negatives, or mutually undesirable Conflicting situations should be resolved after
alternatives. In real life, these double due consideration of the pros and cons of each
avoidance conflicts involve dilemmas such as of the choices. A point to note here is that
choosing between the dentist and tooth decay, conflicts cause frustration, which in turn, can
roadside food and starvation, etc. Approach- lead to aggression. For instance, a young man
avoidance conflict comes from being attracted who wants to be a musician but is pursuing
to and repelled by the same goal or activity. a course in management due to parental
These types of conflicts are also difficult to pressure and is not able to perform as per
resolve, as they are more troublesome than the expectations of his parents may turn
avoidance conflicts. A central characteristic of aggressive upon being questioned on his poor
approach-avoidance conflict is ambivalence — performance in the course.
a mix of positive and negative conflicts. Some
examples of approach-avoidance conflicts are:
a person wanting to buy a new motorbike but Activity 9.2
not wanting to make monthly payments,
wanting to eat when one is overweight, and Try to answer the following questions and work
on the weaker areas:
planning to marry someone her/his parents
1. List the plans/activities you intend to
strongly disapprove of. Many of life’s important undertake during this week.
decisions have approach-avoidance 2. Do you have any goals set for the month
dimensions. ahead? If yes, what are they? Try to list them.
A major source of frustration lies in 3. Do you have a daily routine chart? If not, then
motivational conflict. In life, we are often try to prepare one by distributing your time
influenced by a number of competing forces judiciously for studies, rest, recreation, and
that propel us in different directions. Such other activities, if any.
4. Are you able to follow your routine chart
situations demonstrate the condition of
successfully? (If you already have one).
conflict. Hence, the simultaneous existence of 5. If you are not able to follow a routine
multiple wishes and needs characterise successfully think about the ways in which
conflict. you could overcome your irregular habits and
In all the cases of conflicts, the selection try to follow them.
of one option against the other depends on

influence the experience of emotions. These
factors are gender, personality, and
‘Swati is very happy. Her examination result psychopathology of certain kinds. Evidence
has been declared today and she has topped indicates that women experience all the
the class. She is feeling euphoric. However, her emotions except anger more intensely than
friend Pranoy is feeling sad, as he has not done men. Men are prone to experience high
well. Among her friends some are feeling intensity and frequency of anger. This gender
jealous of Swati’s achievement. Jeevan who difference has been attributed to the social
has not performed up to his expectation is roles attached to men (competitiveness) and
angry with himself; he feels unhappy that his women (affiliation and caring).
parents would be very disappointed’.
Joy, sorrow, hope, love, excitement, anger, PHYSIOLOGICAL BASES OF EMOTIONS
hate, and many such feelings are experienced
in the course of the day by all of us. The term ‘Divya is desperate to get a job. She has
emotion is often considered synonymous with prepared well for the interview and feels
the terms ‘feeling’ and ‘mood’. Feeling denotes confident. As she enters the room and the
the pleasure or pain dimension of emotion, interview begins, she becomes extremely tense.
which usually involves bodily functions. Mood Her feet go cold, her heart starts pounding, and
is an affective state of long duration but of she is unable to answer appropriately’.
lesser intensity than emotion. Both these Why did this happen? Try thinking about
terms are narrower than the concept of a similar situation that you have faced
emotion. Emotions are a complex pattern of sometime in your life. Can you describe
arousal, subjective feeling, and cognitive probable reasons for this? As we will see, a
interpretation. Emotions, as we experience great deal of physiological changes happen
them, move us internally, and this process when we experience emotion. When we are
involves physiological as well as psychological excited, afraid or angry, these bodily changes
reactions. might be relatively easy to note. All of you must
Emotion is a subjective feeling and the have noted the increase in heart rate,
experience of emotions varies from person to throbbing temples, increased perspiration,
person. In psychology, attempts have been and trembling in your limbs when you are
made to identify basic emotions. It has been angry or excited about something.
noted that at least six emotions are Sophisticated equipment has made it possible
experienced and recognised everywhere. to measure the exact physiological changes
These are: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, that accompany emotions. Both autonomic as
sadness, and surprise. Izard has proposed a well as somatic nervous system play important
set of ten basic emotions, i.e. joy, surprise, roles in the emotional process. The experience
anger, disgust, contempt, fear, shame, guilt, of emotions is a result of a series of
interest, and excitement with combinations of neurophysiological activations in which
them resulting in other emotional blends. thalamus, hypothalamus, limbic system, and
According to Plutchik, there are eight basic or the cerebral cortex are involved significantly.
primary emotions. All other emotions result Individuals with extensive injury in these brain
from various mixtures of these basic emotions. areas have been known to demonstrate
He arranged these emotions in four pairs of impaired emotional abilities. Selective
opposites, i.e. joy-sadness, acceptance- activation of different brain areas has been
disgust, fear-anger, and surprise-anticipation. experimentally shown to arouse different
Emotions vary in their intensity (high, low) emotions in infants and adults.
and quality (happiness, sadness, fear). One of the earliest physiological theories
Subjective factors and situational contexts of emotion was given by James (1884) and

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion
Box 9.2 Physiology of Emotion

The nervous system, central as well as peripheral, activity and secretion of endocrine glands, and
plays a vital role in the regulation of emotion. organises the somatic pattern of emotional behaviour.
Thalamus : It is composed of a group of nerve Limbic System : Along with thalamus and
cells and acts as a relay center of sensory nerves. hypothalamus the limbic system plays a vital role in
Stimulation of thalamus produces fear, anxiety, regulation of emotion. Amygdala is a part of limbic
and autonomic reactions. A theory of emotion given system, responsible for emotional control and involves
by Cannon and Bard (1931) emphasises the role formation of emotional memories.
of thalamus in mediating and initiating all Cortex : Cortex is intimately involved in emotions.
emotional experiences. However, its hemispheres have a contrasting role to
Hypothalamus : It is considered the primary play. The left frontal cortex is associated with positive
center for regulation of emotion. It also regulates feelings whereas the right frontal cortex with negative
the homeostatic balance, controls autonomic feelings.

supported by Lange, hence, it has been named However, this theory faced a lot of criticism
the James-Lange theory of emotion (see and fell in disuse. Another theory was
Fig.9.5). The theory suggests that proposed by Cannon (1927) and Bard (1934).
environmental stimuli elicit physiological The Cannon-Bard theory claims that the
responses from viscera (the internal organs entire process of emotion is mediated by
like heart and lungs), which in turn, are thalamus which after perception of the
associated with muscle movement. For emotion-provoking stimulus, conveys this
example, startling at an unexpected intense information simultaneously to the cerebral
noise triggers activation in visceral and cortex and to the skeletal muscles and
muscular organs followed by an emotional sympathetic nervous system. The cerebral
arousal. Put in other words, James-Lange cortex then determines the nature of the
theory argues that your perception about your perceived stimulus by referring to past
bodily changes, like rapid breathing, a experiences. This determines the subjective
pounding heart, and running legs, following experience of the emotion. At the same time
an event, brings forth emotional arousal. The the sympathetic nervous system and the
main implication made by this theory is that muscles provide physiological arousal and
particular events or stimuli provoke particular prepare the individual to take action (see
physiological changes and the individual’s Fig.9.6).
perception of these changes results in the The ANS is divided into two systems,
emotion being experienced. sympathetic and parasympathetic. These two

Road accident Increased heart rate, perspiration Fear

Specific physiological Perception of

Stimulus Emotion experienced
changes physiological changes

Fig.9.5 : James-Lange Theory of Emotion

Sympathetic nervous Physiological changes
system, Muscles enabling action

Stimulus Thalamus

Subjective experience
Cerebral cortex of the emotion

Fig.9.6 : Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion

systems function together in a reciprocal the process of experience and expression of

manner. In a stressful situation the emotion.
sympathetic system prepares the body to face
the situation. It strengthens the internal
environment of the individual by controlling
the fall in heart rate, blood pressure, blood Most psychologists today believe that our
sugar, etc. It induces a state of physiological cognitions, i.e. our perceptions, memories,
arousal that prepares the individual for fight interpretations are essential ingredients of
or flight response in order to face the stressful
emotions. Stanley Schachter and Jerome
situation. As the threat is removed the
Singer have proposed a two-factor theory in
parasympathetic system gets active and
which emotions have two ingredients:
restores the balance by calming the body. It
restores and conserves energy and brings the physical arousal and a cognitive label. They
individual back to a normal state. presumed that our experience of emotion
Though acting in an antagonistic manner, grows from our awareness of our present
the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems arousal. They also believed that emotions are
are complementary to each other in completing physiologically similar. For example, your

Box 9.3 Lie Detection

Lie detectors are also called polygraphs because crime being investigated. The lie detector or the
they graphically record several bodily reactions polygraph records the changes in neurophysiological
simultaneously which measure the bodily arousal activities that occur while the suspected individual
of the individual. Typically a lie detector measures answers these questions.
changes in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing Though the polygraph makes several objective
rate and depth, and the Galvanic Skin Response recordings, the interpretation of these records relies
(GSR) which indicates variations in the electrical heavily on the subjective judgment by the examiner.
conductivity of the skin. It is also probable that several unrelated factors
The individual being tested is first asked a like fear, pain or anxiety being felt by the individual
series of neutral (control) questions to establish during the test may affect her/his level of arousal.
the baseline. Simple questions are followed by It is possible for the individual to lie with it. The
specific questions that are designed to evoke validity of polygraph results is doubtful; however
responses from a guilty knowledge supposedly these are still used by law-enforcing agencies for
indicating the individual’s involvement in the lie detection.

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion
Fig.9.7 : Schachter-Singer Theory of Emotion

heart beats faster when you are excited or or seen another person’s face, still smile or
scared or angry. You are physiologically frown in the same way that children with
aroused and look to the external world for normal vision do.
explanation. Thus, in their view an emotional But on comparing different cultures we see
experience requires a conscious interpretation that learning plays an important role in
of the arousal. emotions. This happens in two ways. First,
If you are aroused after physical exercise cultural learning influences the expression of
and someone teases you, the arousal already emotions more than what is experienced, for
caused by the exercise may lead to example, some cultures encourage free
provocation. To test this theory, Schachter and emotional expression, whereas other cultures
Singer (1962) injected subjects with teach people, through modeling and
epinephrine, a drug that produces high reinforcement, to reveal little of their emotions
arousal. Then these subjects were made to in public.
observe the behaviour of others, either in an Second, learning has a great deal to do
euphoric manner (i.e. shooting papers at a with the stimuli that produce emotional
waste basket) or in an angry manner (i.e. reactions. It has been shown that individuals
stomping out of the room). As predicted, the with excessive fears (phobia) of elevators,
euphoric and angry behaviour of others automobiles, and the like learnt these fears
influenced the cognitive interpretation of the through modeling, classical conditioning or
subjects’ own arousal. avoidance conditioning.


T ill now we have been discussing the Do you get to know that your friend is happy
physiological and the cognitive bases of or sad or indifferent? Does s/he understand
emotions. This section will examine the role your feelings? Emotion is an internal
of culture in emotions. Studies have revealed experience not directly observable by others.
that the most basic emotions are inborn and Emotions are inferred from verbal and non-
do not have to be learned. Psychologists largely verbal expressions. These verbal and non-
have a notion that emotions, especially facial verbal expressions act as the channels of
expressions, have strong biological ties. For communication and enable an individual to
example, children who are visually impaired express one’s emotions and to understand the
from birth and have never observed the smile feelings of others.

Fear Anger Happy Sad

Fig.9.8 : Sketches of Facial Expressions of Emotions

Culture and Emotional Expression behaviours are also significant. You must have
seen how in Indian classical dances like
The verbal channel of communication is
Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak
composed of spoken words as well as other
and others, emotions are expressed with the
vocal features of speech like pitch and
help of movements of eyes, legs, and fingers.
loudness of the voice. These non-verbal
The dancers are trained rigorously in the
aspects of the voice and temporal
grammar of body movement and non-verbal
characteristics of speech are called
communication to express joy, sorrow, love,
‘paralanguage’. Other non-verbal channels
anger, and various other forms of emotional
include facial expression, kinetic (gesture,
posture, movement of the body) and proximal states.
(physical distance during face-to-face The processes involved in emotions have
interaction) behaviours. Facial expression is been known to be influenced by culture.
the most common channel of emotional Current research has dealt more specifically
communication. The amount and kind of with the issue of universality or culture
information conveyed by the face is easy to specificity of emotions. Most of this research
comprehend as the face is exposed to the full has been carried out on the facial expression
view of others (see Fig.9.8). Facial expressions of emotions as the face is open to easy
can convey the intensity as well as the observation, is relatively free from complexity
pleasantness or unpleasantness of the and provides a link between subjective
individual’s emotional state. Facial experience and overt expression of an emotion.
expressions play an important role in our Still it must be emphasised that emotions are
everyday lives. There has been some research conveyed not only via face. A felt emotion may
evidence supporting Darwin’s view that facial be communicated through other non-verbal
expressions for basic emotions (joy, fear, channels as well, for example, gaze behaviour,
anger, disgust, sadness, and surprise) are gestures, paralanguage, and proximal
inborn and universal. behaviour. The emotional meaning conveyed
Bodily movements further facilitate the via gestures (body language) varies from
communication of emotions. Can you feel the culture to culture. For example, in China, a
difference between your body movements handclap is an expression of worry or
when you feel angry and movements when you disappointment, and anger is expressed with
feel shy? Theatre and drama provide an laughter. Silence has also been found to
excellent opportunity to understand the convey dif ferent meanings for different
impact of body movements in communicating cultures. For example, in India, deep emotions
emotions. The roles of gestures and proximal are sometimes communicated via silence. This

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion
may convey embarrassment during freely, the North American subjects produced
communication in Wester n countries. 40 different responses for the facial expression
Cultural differences have also been found in of anger and 81 different responses for the
the gaze behaviour. It has been observed that facial expression of contempt. The Japanese
the Latin Americans and the Southern produced varied emotional labels for facial
Europeans direct their gaze to the eyes of the expressions of happiness (10 labels), anger (8
interactant. Asians, in particular, Indians and labels), and disgust (6 labels). Ancient Chinese
Pakistanis, prefer a peripheral gaze (looking literature cites seven emotions, namely, joy,
away from the conversational partner) during anger, sadness, fear, love, dislike, and liking.
an interaction. The physical space (proximity) Ancient Indian literature identifies eight such
also divulges different kinds of emotional emotions, namely, love, mirth, energy, wonder,
meaning during emotional exchanges. The anger, grief, disgust, and fear. In Western
Americans, for example, do not prefer an literature, certain emotions like happiness,
interaction too close; the Oriental Indians sadness, fear, anger, and disgust are uniformly
consider a close space comfortable for an treated as basic to human beings. Emotions
interaction. In fact, the touching behaviour in like surprise, contempt, shame, and guilt are
physical proximity is considered reflective of not accepted as basic to all.
emotional warmth. For example, it was In brief, it might be said that there are
observed that the Arabs experience alienation certain basic emotions that are expressed and
during an interaction with the North understood by all despite their cultural and
Americans who prefer to be interacted from ethnic differences, and there are certain others
outside the olfactory (too close) zone. that are specific to a particular culture. Again,
it is important to remember that culture plays
Activity 9.3 a significant role in all processes of emotion.
Both expression and experience of emotions
Emotional expressions vary in their intensity as are mediated and modified by culture specific
well as variety. In your spare time, try collecting ‘display rules’ that delimit the conditions
from old magazines or newspapers as many under which an emotion may be expressed
pictures of different individuals expressing various and the intensity with which it is displayed.
emotions. Make picture cards pasting each
photograph on a piece of cardboard and number
them. You can make a set of such cards that MANAGING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
represent different emotional expressions. Involve
a group of your friends in the activity. Display Try living a day in which you do not feel any
these cards one by one to your friends and ask
emotion. You would realise that it is difficult
them to identify the emotions being portrayed.
Note down the responses and notice how your even to imagine a life without emotions.
friends differ from each other in labelling the same Emotions are a part of our daily life and
emotion. You can also try to categorise the pictures existence. They form the very fabric of our life
using categories like positive and negative, intense and interpersonal relations.
and subtle emotions, and so on. Try to notice how Emotions exist on a continuum. There are
people differ from each other in expressing the
various intensities of an emotion that can be
same emotion. What could be the reason for such
differences? Discuss in class. experienced by us. You can experience extreme
elation or slight happiness, severe grief or just
pensiveness. However, most of us usually
maintain a balance of emotions.
Culture and Emotional Labeling
When faced with a conflicting situation,
Basic emotions also vary in the extent of individuals attempt to adjust and derive a
elaboration and categorical labels. The coping mechanism either with task or defense-
Tahitian language includes 46 labels for the oriented reactions. These coping patterns help
English word anger. When asked to label them prevent abnormal emotional reactions

such as anxiety, depression etc. Anxiety is a negative emotions and enhancing positive
condition that an individual develops in case emotions.
of failure to adopt an appropriate ego defense. Though most researchers focus their
For example, if the individual fails to adhere attention only on negative emotions like anger,
to a defense of rationalisation for his immoral fear, anxiety, etc., recently the field of ‘Positive
act (like cheating or stealing), he may develop Psychology’ has gained much prominence. As
intense apprehension about the outcomes of the name suggests, positive psychology
such an act. Anxious individuals find it concerns itself with the study of features that
difficult to concentrate or to make decisions enrich life like, hope, happiness, creativity,
even for trivial matters. courage, optimism, cheerfulness, etc.
The state of depression affects an Effective emotion management is the key
individual’s ability to think rationally, feel to effective social functioning in modern times.
realistically, and work effectively. The condition The following tips might prove useful to
overwhelms the mood state of the individual. you for achieving the desired balance of
Because of its enduring nature, the individual emotions :
who suffers from depression develops a variety • Enhance self-awareness : Be aware of
of symptoms like difficulty in falling asleep, your own emotions and feelings. Try to
increased level of psychomotor agitation or gain insight into the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of your
retardation, decreased ability to think or feelings.
concentrate, and loss of interest in personal or • Appraise the situation objectively : It
social activities, etc. has been proposed that emotion is
In daily life, we are often faced with preceded by evaluation of the event. If the
conflicting situations. Under demanding and event is experienced as disturbing, your
stressful conditions, a lot of negative emotions sympathetic nervous system is activated
like fear, anxiety, disgust, etc. develop in an and you feel stressed. If you do not
individual to a considerable extent. Such experience the event as disturbing, then
negative emotions, if allowed to prevail for a there is no stress. Hence, it is you who
long time, are likely to affect adversely the decides whether to feel sad and anxious
person’s psychological and physical health. or happy and relaxed.
This is the reason why most of the stress • Do some self-monitoring : This involves
management programmes emphasise emotion constant or periodic evaluation of your past
management as an integral part of stress accomplishments, emotional and physical
management. The major focus of emotion states, real and vicarious experiences. A
management techniques is the reduction of positive appraisal would enhance your

Box 9.4 Post

ost--Traumatic Stress Disorder

A disaster produces serious disruption of the Either of these conditions may lead to development
functioning of human society, resulting in of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where the
widespread material or environmental loss, person tends to re-experience the event through
which cannot be dealt with immediately with the flashbacks and get overwhelming thoughts about the
existing resources. Disaster may be natural (like event even after a substantial period of time. This
earthquake/cyclone/tsunami) or man-made (like condition makes a person emotionally disturbed and
war). The trauma an individual experiences the person fails to adopt an appropriate coping
during a disaster may range from mere strategy in regular activities. Emotions manifest in
perception of such an event to actually uniquely recognisable patterns with maladaptive
encountering it, which may be life threatening. behaviour (like depression) and autonomic arousal.

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion
faith in yourself and lead to enhanced • Be creative : Find and develop an interest
feeling of wellness and contentment. or a hobby. Engage in an activity that
• Engage in self-modeling : Be the ideal for interests and amuses you.
yourself. Repeatedly observe the best parts • Develop and nurture good relation-
of your past performance and use them ships : Choose your friends carefully. In
as an inspiration and motivation to the company of happy and cheerful friends
perform better in the future. you will feel happy in general.
• Perceptual reorganisation and cognitive • Have empathy : Try understanding other’s
restructuring : Try viewing the events feelings too. Make your relationships
differently and visualise the other side of meaningful and valuable. Seek as well as
the coin. Restructure your thoughts to provide support mutually.
enhance positive and reassuring feelings • Participate in community service : Help
and eliminate negative thoughts. yourself by helping others. By doing

Box 9.5 Management of Examination Anxiety

For most of us an approaching examination brings • Inoculation : Inoculate yourself against

about a feeling of a churning stomach and anxiety. stress. Exposure through rehearsals and role-
In fact, any situation which involves performing playing prepares you physically and mentally to
a task and the awareness of being evaluated for face the examination situation better and with
the performance is an anxiety-provoking situation confidence.
for most people. A certain level of anxiety is • Positive thinking : Have faith in yourself.
definitely essential as it motivates and pushes Structure your thoughts with systematically listing
us to put up our best performance but a high level the thoughts that worry you and then rationally
of anxiety becomes an impediment in optimum dealing with them one by one. Emphasise on your
perfor mance and achievement. An anxious strengths. Suggest to yourself to be positive and
individual is highly aroused physiologically and enthusiastic.
emotionally, and hence is not able to perform to • Seek support : Do not hesitate to ask for help
the best of her/his abilities. from your friends, parents, teachers or seniors.
An examination is a potentially stress Talking about a stressful situation to a close
provoking situation and like other stressful person makes one feel light and helps gain insight.
situations coping involves two strategies, i.e. The situation may not be as bad as it seems.
Monitoring or taking effective action, and Blunting
or avoiding the situation. On the other hand, blunting strategies involve
Monitoring involves taking effective and direct avoiding the stressful situation. True, avoidance is
action to deal with the stressful situation. The neither desirable nor possible in an examination
following strategies can be used for monitoring : situation, but the following techniques may prove
• Prepare well : Prepare well for the useful:
examination and prepare well in advance. • Relaxation : Lear n to relax. Relaxation
Give yourself ample time. Familiarise yourself techniques help you calm your nerves and give
with the pattern of question papers and you an opportunity to reframe your thoughts.
frequently asked questions. This gives you a There are many different relaxation techniques.
sense of predictability and control and In general, this involves sitting or lying down in a
reduces the stress potential of the comfortable posture in a quiet place, relaxing your
examination. muscles, reducing the external stimulation as well
• Have a rehearsal : Make yourself go through as minimising the flow of thoughts and focusing.
a mock examination. Ask your friend to test • Exercise : A stressful situation overactivates the
your knowledge. You can also rehearse sympathetic nervous system. Exercise helps in
mentally in your mind. Visualise yourself channelising the excess energy generated by this.
taking the examination completely relaxed and A brief period of light exercise or active sport will
confident and then passing with flying colours. help you concentrate better on your studies.

community service (for example, helping • Do not ascribe intentions and ulterior
an intellectually challenged child learn an motives to others.
adaptive skill), you will gain important • Resist having irrational beliefs about
insights about your own difficulties. people and events.
• Try to find constructive ways of expressing
Activity 9.4 your anger. Have control on the degree and
duration of anger that you choose to
Think of an intense emotional experience you have express.
gone through recently and explain the sequence • Look inward not outward for anger control.
of events. How did you deal with it? Share it with
• Give yourself time to change. It takes time
your class.
and effort to change a habit.


Managing your Anger
Anger is a negative emotion. It carries the mind Our emotions have a purpose. They help us
adapt to the ever-changing environment and
away or in other words, the person looses
are important for our survival and well-being.
control on behavioural functions during the
Negative emotions like fear, anger or disgust
state of anger. The major source of anger is
prepare us mentally and physically for taking
the frustration of motives. However, anger is
immediate action towards the stimulus that
not a reflex, rather it is a result of our thinking.
is threatening. For example, if there was no
Neither is it automatic nor uncontrollable and
fear we would have caught a poisonous snake
caused by others but it is a self-induced choice
in our hand. Though negative emotions protect
that the individual makes. Anger is a result of
us in such situations but excessive or
your thinking and hence is controllable by
inappropriate use of these emotions can
your own thoughts only. Certain key points
become life threatening to us, as it can harm
in anger management are as follows:
our immune system and have serious
• Recognise the power of your thoughts. consequences for our health.
• Realise you alone can control it. Positive emotions such as hope, joy,
• Do not engage in ‘self-talk that burns’. Do optimism, contentment, and gratitude
not magnify negative feelings. energise us and enhance our sense of

Box 9.6 Emotional Intelligence

Expressions of emotion depend on regulation of of emotional intelligence subsumes intrapersonal and

emotion for self or others. Persons who are interpersonal elements. The intrapersonal element
capable of having awareness of emotions for self includes factors like self-awareness (ability to keep
or others and regulate accordingly are called negative emotions and impulses under control), and
emotionally intelligent. Persons who fail to do so, self-motivation (the drive to achieve despite setbacks,
deviate and thereby develop abreaction of developing skills to attain targets and taking initiative
emotion, resulting in psychopathology of certain to act on opportunities). The interpersonal element of
kinds. emotional intelligence includes two components:
By emotional intelligence, we understand social awareness (the awareness and the tendency
‘the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s to appreciate other’s feelings) and social competence
emotions, to discriminate among them and to use (social skills that help to adjust with others, such as
the information to guide one’s thinking and team building, conflict management, skills of
actions’ (Mayer & Salovey, 1999). The concept communicating, etc.).

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion
emotional well-being. When we experience • Having quality connections with others,
positive affect, we display a greater preference and supportive network of close
for a large variety of actions and ideas. We relationships.
can think of more possibilities and options to • Being engaged in work and gaining
solve whatever problems we face and thus, mastery.
we become proactive. • A faith that embodies social support,
Psychologists have found that people, who purpose and hope, leading a life of
were shown films depicting joy and purpose.
contentment, came up with more ideas • Positive interpretations of most daily
regarding things they would like to do as events.
compared to those who were shown films
evoking anger and fear. Positive emotions give
us a greater ability to cope with adverse Key Terms
circumstances and quickly return to a normal
state. They help us set up long-term plans Amygdala, Anxiety, Arousal, Autonomic
and goals, and form new relationships. Various nervous system, Basic emotions, Biological
ways of enhancing positive emotions are given needs (hunger, thirst, sex), Central nervous
system, Conflict, Emotional intelligence,
Esteem needs, Examination anxiety,
• Personality traits of optimism, Expression of emotions, Frustration,
hopefulness, happiness and a positive self- Hierarchy of needs, Motivation, Motives,
regard. Need, Power motive, Psychosocial motives,
• Finding positive meaning in dire Self-actualisation, Self-esteem

• The process of persistent behaviour directed towards a specific goal, which results from
certain driving forces, is called motivation.
• There are two types of motivation, namely, biological, and psychosocial motivation.
• Biological motivation focuses on the innate, biological causes of motivation like hormones,
neurotransmitters, brain structures (hypothalamus, limbic system), etc. Examples of biological
motivation are hunger, thirst, and sex.
• Psychosocial motivation explains motives resulting mainly from the interaction of the
individual with his social environment. Examples of psychosocial motives are need for
affiliation, need for achievement, curiosity and exploration, and the need for power.
• Maslow arranged various human needs in an ascending hierarchical order, beginning with
the most basic physiological needs, and then safety needs, love and belongingness needs,
esteem needs, and finally on the top of the hierarchy is the need for self-actualisation.
• Other concepts related to motivation are frustration and conflicts.
• Emotion is a complex pattern of arousal that involves physiological activation, conscious
awareness of feeling, and a specific cognitive label that describes the process.
• Certain emotions are basic like joy, anger, sorrow, surprise, fear, etc. Other emotions are
experienced as a result of combination of these emotions.
• Central and autonomic nervous system play a major role in regulating emotions.
• Culture strongly influences the expression and interpretation of emotions.
• Emotion is expressed through verbal and non-verbal channels.
• It is important to manage emotions effectively in order to ensure physical and psychological

Review Questions
1. Explain the concept of motivation.
2. What are the biological bases of hunger and thirst needs?
3. How do the needs for achievement, affiliation, and power influence the behaviour of
adolescents? Explain with examples.
4. What is the basic idea behind Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Explain with suitable examples.
5. Does physiological arousal precede or follow an emotional experience? Explain.
6. Is it important to consciously interpret and label emotions in order to explain them?
Discuss giving suitable examples.
7. How does culture influence the expression of emotions?
8. Why is it important to manage negative emotions? Suggest ways to manage negative

Project Ideas
1. Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, analyse what kind of motivational forces might have
motivated the great mathematician S.A. Ramanujan and the great shehnai Maestro Ustad
Bismillah Khan (Bharat Ratna) to perform exceptionally in their respective fields. Now
place yourself and five more known people in terms of need satisfaction. Reflect and
2. In many households, family members do not eat without bathing first and practise religious
fasts. How have different social practices influenced your expression of hunger and thirst?
Conduct a survey on five people from different backgrounds and prepare a report.

Chapter 9 • Motivation and Emotion