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" "riting a book is a task that involves a great deal of cognitive energy
: -± behavioural discipline. But of utmost importance, especially in the
case of a work of non-fiction meant for academic purpose, is the kind of
support one gets from social and environmental variables. This book is no
First and foremost, I would like to thank the staff members of three
libraries that I had frequently accessed in the course of writing this book:
Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) library, Jawaharlal Nehru
University (JNU) Central Library, and Delhi University (DU) Central
Reference Library. Besides these, I am also grateful to the staff at Ranchi
University central library for their support.
Staying focussed and not giving up when aspiring to meticulously write
a book is a challenge. My friends Amit Anand, Rajiv Ranjan Singh,
Dheeraj Kumar and Parthiban Palanisamy have boosted my morale in
every step while I wrote this book. I have got significant inputs with regards
to the material and presentation from friends Rupesh Agrawal, Ekta
Khatwani and Dr. Vijay Tadia.

Most of the editing work of the book was done while I was undergoing
my training at National Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT), Nagpur. I got
significant support from some of my IRS colleagues in readying the book
-Puneetinder Walia, who designed the cover page; Sridhar Dora, who
lent me Ms laptop so that I could comfortably do my proof-reading; S.
Sundar Raj an, who made significant suggestions regarding the final
presentation of the book.
Finally, I am greatly indebted to my publishers at New Vishal
Publications (NVP), Mithilesh Oberoi and Mridul Oberoi for bearing
with my impatience and getting the book published in the present form.
This is a book directed towards students of competitive exams,
especially the Civil Service Exam conducted by Union Public Service
Commission (UPSC) for recruitment into IAS, IPS, IRS, and other services.
Hence, it is made more in the format of notes rather than in the form of
scholarly discussion. However, I have detailed the sources I have referred
to in the reference section.
When I had started preparing for civil services, I had taken mathematics
and physics as my options. I had, in fact, given my preliminary examination
with mathematics as an optional. But owing to various reasons, I decided to
take psychology and sociology as my options for mains. Now, being a stu
dent from engineering background, I was new to psychology as a subject.
And I had extremely less time between prelims and mains. On top of that, I
experienced great difficulty in obtaining good source materials on paper 2.
This was because paper 2 was about applications and issues. The topics are
contemporary and a single source covering most of the topics wasn't avail
able. Besides, this paper deals with a wide array of issues. So to deal with
the problem, I relied heavily on scholarly books and journal articles I got
access to in various libraries of Delhi. I also got involved in meticulous note-
making. By the time I got my result (I had got 196* rank on the merit list), I
had very solid notes on psychology paper 2. With encouragement from
friends, I finally decided to rewrite my notes in book form with additional

Now some suggestion about how to use this book. Please remem
ber that as the name suggests, Applied Psychology is an advanced
level course in most universities. To understand the contents in this
book, a basic prerequisite is to know the basics of psychology. For
civil service aspirants, a thorough grasp of paper 1 is a must before
reading this book. Reading this book without proper grasp of basic
psychology can be dangerous, as it may lead to learning of incorrect
concepts which you will later have to unlearn. Hence, i suggest that
you read it only after having a grasp over paper 1 syllabus of psychol
ogy. Also, it will be better to read the chapters in the order mentioned
in the contents of this book. This is because, some chapters (such as
gender psychology, rehabilitation psychology, military psychology
etc) are better understood after reading chapters such as organizational
psychology and psychological well-being.
Applied psychology is a vast and contemporary field. Hence,
this book can never claim to be extensive enough to be a single ex
haustive source. At the same time, you readers are the best judge of
what this book lacks and how it could be improved further. I invite
your kind suggestions and feedback on the book.

Srnarak Swain
E-mail :

-z cgy applied to Human Problems

:: :hological well being and Menial Disorders 2

^srapeutic Approaches ,., ..2 7

sKatilifation Psychology 44

bo cgy applied to Human Resource Development

Educational Psychology. 78

Work Psychology and Organisational Behaviour 108

:~orfs Psychology................ 1 61

Military Psychology ., ] 67

: ogy applied to Socio-Economic Problems

Application of Psychology to disadvantaged groups 176

:sychologica! problems of social integration 192

Psychology of terrorism 215

=3ychology of Gender 224

Application of psychology to environment and related fields 235


Psychology applied to Socio-Economic Development

13. Community Psychology..... .......■■ 256

14. Psychology and Economic development 271

Psychology applied to Technology-related issues

15. Psychology of Information Technology and Mass Media 300

16. Media influences on pro and antisocial behaviour.... ....324


17. Measurement of Individual Differences - 333

References ■-• - ^
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

Psychology Applied
to Human Problems
1. Psychological well being and Mental Disorders

2. Therapeutic Approaches

3. Rehabilitation Psychology
2 Applied Psychology

• The concept of Health and


1 •

Well-being : The concept
Factors affecting Positive
Factors affecting Subjective
• Happiness Disposition
• Lifestyle and Health
Psychological •

Normality and Abnormality
Causal factors in Mental
Well-being • Schizophrenia and
delusional disorders

and Mental Disorders • Mood disorders

• Anxiety disorders
• Personality disorders
• Substance-Abuse disorder

n The Concept of Health concept, health is multi-dimensional and

subjective in nature. An individual may suffer
It is tough to define health, as it is not a from physical disability and yet be healthy.
single concept. Rather health refers to a Another individual with no medical disorder
philosophical construct which has been may not be.
variously inferred by various schools of study. Here, we will understand the concept of
When the term health originated, it was health, positive health and ill-health as they
associated with both physiological functioning have evolved in modern western psychology.
and mental and moral soundness as well as Beyond this, we will also investigate into notion
spiritual salvation. These were, of course, only of health in Indian culture. These ideas can be
philosophical theories of health. Many dealt under the following heads :
supernatural phenomena were attached to 1. Traditional medical concept
health. In few cultures, health was a divine 2. WHO concept of health
responsibility and ill-health a supernatural 3. Ecological concept of health
phenomena where the forces of darkness has
4. Positive Psychology Movement
taken over man.
5. Concepts of health in Yogic Psychology
With advances in scientific fields of medicine,
psychology, science and sociology, these
The traditional medical concept of health is
philosophical theories have given way to more the earliest scientific notion of health. It
scientific ideas. Yet, health is but a collection of conceptualizes health as a disease-free state.
ideas rather than an integrated idea. This is This view was very popular among physicians
because the concept of health varies from culture and medical personnel in the first half of the
to culture. Also, individuals differ in their ideas twentieth century. A major flaw with this view
of health ! The only agreement is that as a is that it works on the assumption that health
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

and disease are objective phenomena that can 3. It is a utopian view of health. The WTO
be observed and quantified. A second flaw was definition, it seems, tries to paint a perfectly
that rather than representing the presence of healthy state which is unrealistic and
certain attributes, it defines health solely in unreachable.
terms of lack of ill health. Thus, according to the The ecological concept of health emerged in
medical concept, there is a dichotomy between reaction to the previous medical and holistic
health and illness. What is not illness is health! approaches discussed above. This concept is
Truth is, there is a continuum between absolute different from the earlier concepts in two aspects:
illness and absolute health. One can have some ‘first, by conceiving health as a more relative
disease, yet be healthy. Hence, it is flawed to sort of concept and second, by placing a greater
take health as the absence of ill health. emphasis on the interrelationship between the
A third flaw of the traditional medical environment and the individual’s quality of life.
concept was that it neglected the individual as These ecological and relative definitions of
a whole when it focussed its attention on health were heavily based on an evaluation of
specific diseases. Any workable concept of the person’s level of functioning and adaptation
health necessarily has to be a holistic concept. to the environment’ (Boruchovitch and Mednick,
An attempt to define health more holistically 2002).
was made by the World Health Organization This view has immense utilitarian value, in
(WHO). WHO conceptualizes health as “a state the sense that (1) it conceptualizes health as a
of complete physical, mental and social well- relative concept, (2) it focuses on the functional
being and not merely as the absence of disease adaptation of the individual to her environment,
or infirmity”. This concept was a radical hence includes issues like quality of life as well
departure from the medical concept in that it
as maladaptation and lastly (3) it is a specific
defines health in terms of presence of some definition. Hence, it can be used to operationally
positive attributes. It conceptualizes health as a define health.
positive state of well-being in which not only
physical health but also social, psychological, Some attempts to integrate various ideas of
health have been made. However, other
economic and political aspects of health are
psychologists argue that health refers to a
incorporated into a single definition.
number of entities and therefore, is a multi
Yet, there are certain grave problems with dimensional concept. Smith (1981) has tried to
the WHO concept of health. Some important organize (not integrate) multiple views of health
ones are : into four distinct models :
1. Being so broad and vague, the WHO concept (a) Clinical
has low utilitarian value. Any concept needs
(b) Role performance
to be specific to be defined operationally and
to be applied to practical situations. (c) Adaptive and
2. Though words like well-being and wellness (d) Eudaimonistic
are used freely, these concepts haven’t been Smith reiterates that these four models are
clearly defined. not exclusive but are progressively wider
4 Applied Psychology

conceptualizations of health. For instance, the of ancient India. Yoga doesn’t belief in
clinical model defines health minimally as the dichotomies of positive health and illness; nor
absence of diseases. On the other end, the does it recognize divisions on the lines of
eudaimonistic model is the broadest concept. It physical, mental and spiritual dimensions.
includes the basic ideas of the three earlier Rather, all these ideas are integrated in a model
models and also issues of self-actualization and called the Anasakti-Asakti model.
self-fulfilment. Asakti refers to attachment – attraction
Positive Psychology is the branch of towards individuals or objects with expectations.
psychology that focuses on positive experiences This attachment leads to cathartic fixation, to
rather than negative ones. Positive psychology use the Freudian terminology, and may lead to
hasn’t contributed to the concept of health in a frustration and mental problems if the need is
big way; yet it has helped shift the focus of not fulfilled. Asakti leads to anxiety, depression,
attention towards well-being. Central to positive fear and insecurities. Asakti manifests itself in
psychology is the idea that the individual’s three important psychological aspects :
experience matters. It defines health in terms of 1. Raga : It is the attraction towards selected
the individual’s perception of how healthy she persons and objects with expectations and
is. While earlier ideas of health were from ego involvement.
academic and professional perspective, positive
psychology states that the health of an individual 2. Dwesha : It is a feeling of hatred and a
tendency to cause harm. Dwesha leads to
is how healthy he/she feels ! This is radical in
negative emotions, violence, aggression etc.
the sense that how one feels also determines her
health. If, suppose, a man has good functional 3. Ahamkara : It refers to the need for
adaptation to his surrounding and is not recognition, egoism and arrogance.
diseased, yet is pessimistic and unhappy with Anasakti is detachment. Only detachment
me. Can this man be called healthy? from the material world can help one to pursue
After discussing the various conceptuali self-actualization. Inherent here is also the
zations of health in modern western psychology, notion of spiritual health. An anasakt individual
let us now take a look at cross-cultural variations experiences spiritual unity of atman (herself)
in the idea of health. It would amaze you to with the Brahman (the supreme one). As a
know that spiritual health is a part of the result, the anasakt individual is free from pain
concept of health in many cultures. Yet, this and sufferings.
concept was largely absent in western Asakti and Anasakti are not dichotomies.
psychology before Maslow. Here, I will deal Rather, they are polar opposites on a continuum
with a single cross-cultural definition of health: .... no person is 100% detached or 100% attached.
that of yogic psychology.

Health in Yogic Psychology

While a holistic concept of health has evolved To conclude, health is a multi-dimensional
in the west only lately, an equally holistic concept that means not only the absence of
concept of health can be found in yoga literature diseases but also proper functional adaptation
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

to environment. Health doesn’t refer to sickness in rural areas of Allahabad. Using

dichotomous states but to a continuum as statistical tools, he derived three factors which
under: explained 62.5% of the total variance. These are:
1. Vitality : powerful, untiring, physically strong,
good digestion etc.
2. Hardiness : Rarely fall sick, high immunity,
not lazy etc.
Today, the concept of health is being
3. Fitness : Energetic, strong, carefree
reinvented to include well-being, feeling of
A study that throws light on the superstitions
happiness, a sense of satisfaction and harmony
attached to health beliefs was by Rizvi (1991).
between mind and body.
He studied the health beliefs of the Jaunsaris of
the Himalayan region and found that health for
Jaunsaris means proper functioning of the body.
Conceptualizing Health in India Those who had a muscular body, were able to
Clearly, the concept of health varies society work hard and could digest good food were
to society. The Anasakti-Asakti model is one of considered healthy. On the other hand, ill-
the many definitions of health forwarded in health was defined as not feeling well. Most of
Indian philosophical texts. There are many the diseases were attributed to sins, crimes,
more conceptualizations that make the Indian non-observance of religious laws etc. Hence the
concept of health broad-based and affirmative cure prescribed was to appease supernatural
(D. Sinha, 1990). entities with prayers, vows, holy baths and
For instance, Sushrut, the father of medicine sacrifices.
and surgery in ancient India, defined health as
prassannanmendriyanamah Swastha i.e. health n Well-Being
as a state of delight with feelings of spiritual,
physical and mental well-being. The essential Well-being can mean two concepts at the
features for a healthy person are possessing in same time : economic well-being which is an
the right quantity (Sama), the objective measure of economic standing of an
1. Defects or weaknesses (Samadosah), individual. Alternately, it also refers to subjective
2. Digestive quality (Samaagni), well-being i.e. an individual’s degree of
3. Semen (Samadhatu) and satisfaction with various facets of life. It is
4. Normal bodily functions (Malakriya) subjective because it is the individual’s
perspective of her satisfaction with life.
(D. Sinha, 1990)
Subjective well-being (SWB) is defined as an
But then, you may say these are only
individual’s cognitive and affective evaluations
definitions mentioned in ancient scriptures. How
of her life (Diener et al, 2002). Simply stated, it
do the people define and conceptualize health
is a technical term for happiness. The more
today? Some empirical studies have thrown
light on this. For instance, Tripathi (1993) satisfied you are with life, happier you are. The
focus of this section is on subjective well-being
conducted a study of the meaning of health and
which is now touted as the best measure of
6 Applied Psychology

health of an individual. good food etc.). But there is no short-cut to

For many years, the focus of researchers was gratification. It demands ego-involvement.
primarily on negative emotions such as anxiety, The third route of SWB is that of finding a
depression and anger. The school of positive meaning in life. How does one make her life
psychology seeks to shift the focus to positive meaningful ? Knowledge, altruism, family and
emotions of happiness and satisfaction. Well- community welfare, and spirituality are certain
being refers not just to positive health but also elements, the pursuit of which leads to
to aspects of emotion that make life more happiness. Basically, these are some activities
satisfying. that help us realize something higher than self,
So, what constitutes SWB ? According to a ‘meaningful life’, for example, altruism helps
Seligman (2004), there are three components of the individual self to connect to the society at
SWB : large. Spirituality helps the self connect in
1. Pleasure harmony with the divine. Whether divine exists
or not, this leads to harmony.
2. Engagement
Peterson et al. (2005) have developed some
3. Meaning
measures of happiness to assess how people
The pleasure route to greater happiness (i.e.
use the three routes to happiness. They have
SWB) is hedonic, increasing positive emotion.
found that people tend to rely on one route
Within limits, this route leads to positive
rather than another. Following this finding,
emotions. However, there are limits set on
they have given a typology :
positive emotions by genetic factors. Heredity
1. The pleasant life : Tendency to pursue
determines a certain band in which positive
happiness by boosting positive emotion.
emotions vary. Most modern researchers agree
that there is a happiness disposition i.e. some 2. The good life : Tendency to pursue
individuals are hereditarily more predisposed happiness via gratifications.
to have better positive emotions. Fortunately, 3. The meaningful life : The tendency to
positive emotion is not the sole determinant of pursue happiness via using our strengths
happiness and those with lower positive towards something larger than ourselves.
emotions (pagged on their hereditary codes) can 4. The full life : A person who uses all three
still achieve higher levels of happiness routes to happiness is said to lead a full life.
(Seligman, 2002).
Engagement refers to the pursuit of activities
that lead to intrinsic gratification. We are often
intrinsically motivated to do certain things over
others. One may find gratificatioin in watching
movies, another in writing, still another in
reading psychology (though I am not sure how
psychology can help gratify one!) and yet another
in arts. There is no short-cut to gratification. We
can take short-cuts to pleasure (e.g. masturbating,
taking drugs, watching pornography, taking
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

The pursuit of happiness is of paramount misunderstandings about a person and it is

importance in modern health psychology causing me anxiety, I would directly approach
because of its importance to human beings. It is the person. If, on the other hand, I don’t directly
so important to humans that ‘the pursuit of deal with the stressful situation but attempt to
happiness’ is an academy award winning movie manage the emotional response that results
starring Will Smith. The concept of SWB helps from it, it is emotion-focused coping. This style
us to understand factors that make up happy may take many forms – denial, avoidance etc. I
and satisfied, beyond material consumption. may deny that there is any misunderstanding
or I may avoid stressful situations. A third class
n Factors affecting Positive Health is seeking support i.e. turning to others for
assistance and emotional support.
Many models explaining the nature of It has been found that problem-focused
positive health have been forwarded by coping and seeking social support lead to
psychologists. For example, the stress-model favourable adjustment to stressors. On the other
believes that how one deals with external hand, emotion-focused coping strategies that
stressors determines how healthy she is. Many involve avoiding feelings leads to poor
other models look into many other factors that adjustment. In one study (Holahan and Moos,
affect positive health. A few factors that affect 1991), coping patterns in more than 400
positive health can be listed here : California adults were studied over a 1-year
1. Stress coping style period. The results confirm the above conclusion.
2. Resilience The study further found that emotion-focused
3. Beliefs and Attitude strategies lead to depression and poor
adjustment to stressors.
4. Lifestyle
5. Social support Resilience
6. Finding meaning in life Resilience is the ability to bounce back from
7. Anasakti adversity. Resilience shows the unusual ability
8. Sense of humour of some to manage extremely stressful situations.
Some of these factors are elaborated below : The research on resilience has mostly focused
on resilient children. For instance, Priscilla is a
Stress Coping Style child who grew up in a terrible home
There are countless ways in which people environment with a psychotic mother and a
may respond to a stressful event; yet broadly father who abused her and committed suicide
there are three coping styles : in her presence. Despite these experiments
1. Problem-focused coping Prescilla grew up into a highly successful
woman (narrated in Passer and Smith, 2007, p.
2. Emotion-focused coping
3. Seeking social support
Above example shows that some individuals
Problem-focused coping refers to strategies
have better ability to cope with stress than
to directly confront and deal with the demands
others. It has been found that resilient kids have
of the situation. For example, if I have
8 Applied Psychology

certain unique characteristics, like adequate basically helps himself. It gives a meaning to
intellectual functioning, social skills, self- life, but how ? Altruism helps the self become
efficacy, faith, optimism and hope. part of the larger, undivided self. In an analysis
of 1700 women who were regularly involved in
Beliefs and Attitude helping others, it was found that there was
Great therapists like Ellis and Beck have considerable improvement in the physical health
observed that many negative emotions are the of the helpers. Disorders such as headaches,
result of incorrect cognitions and beliefs. Beliefs, multiple sclerosis and depression suffered by
attitudes and cognitions are important factors the helpers showed improvement. This was in
influencing positive health. It has been addition to the positive sense of having done
empirically proved that optimistic expectations some good which enhances one’s self-concept.
and positive attitudes lead to better health. On (See Pandya, 1997). Hence, ‘altruism behaves
the other hand, rigid expectations from life like a miracle drug and a strange one at that. It
leads to extreme stress. Pessimism leads to has beneficial effects on the person doing the
unnecessary anxiety and depression. helping – the helper’s high. It benefits the person
In one study, women suffering from cancer to whom help is directed; and it can stimulate
were studied over a 5-year period (Levy et al., healthy responses in persons at a distance who
1988). It was found that women who were may view it only obliquely... part of the warm
optimistic lived longer on average than feeling may be due to coming home – returning
pessimistic women. This shows the direct to our original, undivided, larger self, the part of
correlation between health and optimism. In a us that connects, that knows no divisions in
one year long study conducted by Peterson and space and time’ (Dossey, 1991, p. 290).
Seligman (1987) optimists were found to have
Sense of Humour
half as many infectious illnesses and visits to
doctors as pessimists. Laughter is the best medicine, and its
therapeutic uses have been well documented.
Finding Meaning in Stressful Life The value of laughter has been documented
Humanistic theorists have emphasized that even in our ancient text Hasya Rasya. How is
human beings are motivated to find meaning in humour related to positive health ? Basically,
life. There are many routes to exploring meaning humour leads to unparalleled relaxation. Hence,
in life, that includes creativity, artistic work, a person with a sense of humour affords better
spirituality, altruism etc. Some people turn to and more positive affect, even in stressful
spirituality and find meaning of life in divinity. situations.
Surprisingly, spirituality has been positively This is the reason why many psychologists
correlated with positive health. Spiritual beliefs recommend patients of depression and anxiety
provide personal beliefs that are a source of to join laughter clubs. In a typical laughter
comfort in times of crisis. exercise, a regular group gathers early in the
A behaviour that peculiarly leads to positive morning. ‘After initial warming up exercises,
health is altruism. Many researchers have aimed at expanding the lungs, a leader starts off
shown that by helping others, the altruist a round of laughter. Initially this happens
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

through jokes but the group learns that a single are certain factors that we often believe lead to
person bursting into laughter soon infects the happiness. Especially in our modern consumerist
rest of the group. Variations on the theme have culture, money is said to satisfy the wants of the
been devised – laughing with the mouth shut, consumer. And it is believed that the more you
laughing with the mouth wide open but without consume, the happier you are. However,
creating any sound. These are said to expand psychological studies have provided certain
the lungs and ensure better oxygenation of the counter-intuitive results. Obviously being very
blood in addition to releasing tension’. (Pandya, poor makes people unhappy and reduces their
1997, p. 194-195). SWB. But once people rise above the poverty
level, little relation is seen between income and
Factors affecting Subjective SWB. For instance, one study found a correlation
of only 0.12 between income and SWB in USA,
Well-Being an affluent country (Diener et al., 1993).
Empirical surveys have consistently found that
To assess the factors affecting subjective
even those who are poor or disabled characterize
well-being, researchers typically study factors
themselves as fairly happy (Diener and Diener,
that predict satisfaction and happiness. Based
1996). Similarly, even though good looking
on an array of research on various factors, the
people enjoy a variety of advantages in
following list can be drawn (Weitten, p. 422):
comparison to unattractive people, it doesn’t
1. Factors that do not predict satisfaction and mean that they have better SWB.
Finally, it is generally believed that SWB
(a) Money decreases in old age. But empirical findings
(b) Age have shown that age accounts for less than 1%
(c) Physical attractiveness of the variation in people’s sense of satisfaction
with life (Inglehart, 1990).
2. Factors that moderately predict satisfaction
and Happiness
(a) Health Moderately Good Predictors of Health
(b) Social Network
Good physical health is obviously a factor
(c) Religion influencing happiness. But it doesn’t mean that
(d) Culture people with health problems can’t be happy.
3. Strong predictors of Subjective Well-Being Research reveals that individuals who develop
(SWB) serious, disabling health problems aren’t as
(a) Work unsatisfied with life as we would like to believe
(Myers, 1992). Rather, good health may not lead
(b) Love and Marriage
to happiness as people tend to take good health
(c) Personality for granted (Freedman, 1978).
Factors that do not predict SWB : Social networks like social support, family
Money, beauty and physical attractiveness and friendship networks contribute to SWB.
10 Applied Psychology

Good interpersonal relations with others lends Humanistic theorists have emphasized that job
a sense of satisfaction. Also, spirituality and satisfaction helps the individual realize her
religious beliefs seem to foster happiness. potential and actualize her self. No wonder,
Researchers haven’t yet established the exact studies have shown that job satisfaction leads
link but many large-scale surveys suggest that to SWB (Warr, 1999), whereas unemployment
people with religious convictions are happier has strong negative effects on SWB (Argyle,
than people who label themselves as non- 1999).
religious. Myers (1992) argues that this is Finally, there are some dispositional factors
because religion gives people a sense of purpose in the level of happiness. Personality is a strong
and meaning in life. causal factor of SWB. Some people seem to be
Cross-cultural variations in SWB have been happy regardless of triumphs or setbacks; others
noted. These variations have mostly been related seem to be unhappy no matter what. For instance,
to individualistic versus collectivistic orientation. in one study it was found that winning lottery
In individualistic cultures, the individual puts tickets or being victims of accidents only
personal goal ahead of group goals and defines her marginally changes level of happiness (Brickman
identity in terms of her personal attributes. In et al., 1978). Many scholars today agree that
contrast, individuals of collectivistic cultures happiness is more due to internal factors than
put group goals ahead of personal goals and defines external factors. Strong correlations have been
her identity in terms of the group she belongs to found between SWB and personality traits like
(Weitten, P. 424). Interestingly, people from extraversion, self-esteem and optimism. For
individualistic cultures report somewhat higher example, people who are outgoing, upbeat and
SWB than that of collectivistic cultures (Diener sociable tend to be happier than others (Also
and Suh, 1999). No conclusion should be drawn see the section on happiness disposition).
from this, however, because of presence of many
other variables (for example, western countries
are both rich and individualistic. Though wealth Conclusion
doesn’t predict SWB, poverty does. Countries of This section just gave an overview of certain
the east with collectivistic orientation are mired factors that affect subjective well-being. However,
by large-scale poverty). one must understand that subjective well-being
is subjective i.e. it is about how one feels. I have
Strong Predictors of SWB discussed research findings that money doesn’t
Though people in romantic relations and lead to happiness beyond a limit. But a miser
marriages often complain a lot, they have been may feel utmost happiness on being able to
found to be happier than those who aren’t hoard money ! When it comes to happiness,
involved in a romantic relation or marriage. everything is relative (Argyle, 1999). Above
Married people are happier than those who are factors are only indicative of the general
single or divorced (Myers and Diener, 1995). population. Causality for SWB vary across
Another strong predictors of SWB is work. individuals and across contexts.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

n Happiness Disposition 1996). Other traits like self-esteem and optimism

also are good predictors of happiness.
Some people seem to be destined to be Biological factors also seem to affect
happy, while some others unhappy, whatever happiness disposition. A study of 2,310 identical
be their personal achievements or setbacks. and fraternal twins found that identical twins
Back in my graduation days, some students are far more similar in subjective well being,
were never happy with life. A student I knew whatever their life circumstances be (Lykken
did not show any enthusiasm after his and Tellegen, 1996). The underlying mechanism
application for higher education in a top US isn’t clear, though it may be because of genetic
university was accepted. On the other hand, I factors that control right-hemisphere and left-
would be ready for parties even on days my hemisphere activation of brain. It is also possible
research guide scolded me for my lousy project that neurotransmitters that lead to positive and
work. My guide believed that I am shameless, negative emotions are genetically different in
but the reality is that I am predisposed to be a people.
happy person !
Indeed, Eysenck (1967) has tried to link the
Disposition is the tendency in an individual two factors discussed above : personality and
to react to a given situation in a specific way. biological factors. He had made a distinction
Hence, it includes inherent personality trait or between neuroticism and emotional stability as
biological attribute. Happiness refers to ability a trait in people. In neurotics, sudden change in
to cope with situations with positive emotions arousal of autonomic nervous system takes
and getting satisfaction from life. Happiness place.
disposition refers to the natural tendency of Today, it is accepted that individual
some people to deal with a stressful situation
differences in happiness exist. Happiness
more positively than others. From the previous
disposition refers to the internal factors that
section, we know that many factors affect a
cause these individual difference. Subjective
person’s subjective well-being (SWB). These
well being is the result of interaction between
factors can be external or internal. Happiness happiness disposition and external factors.
disposition concentrates on the factors internal
to the individual that affect happiness and
SWB. n Lifestyle Factors in Health
There are two major internal factors that
Health of an individual is a product of her
may predispose some towards happiness :
genes and environment. While genes predispose
1. Personality factors her towards some diseases, environmental
2. Biological and genetic factors factors like life stress, lifestyle, bacteria, virus,
Personality factors have shown strong success and failure have an important role to
play in the incidence of diseases. Of these
correlation to happiness. Extroverts, for instance,
have been found to be happier than introverts. environmental factors, lifestyle is a singularly
People who are outgoing and sociable tend to important factor that is leading to an increased
be happier than others (Lucas, Diener and Suh, prevalence of psychosomatic diseases. The aim
12 Applied Psychology

of this section is to discuss the modern lifestyle where obesity increases and scope of
and its demerits; lastly, a normative model of physical exercise is low.
lifestyle for perfect health is provided.
• Increased stressors : In today’s times wants
The Modern Lifestyle are unlimited. To fulfil these wants, the
income desired is unlimited. Aspirations are
The modern lifestyle is a complex whole of high. Hence, there is always tension to earn
learned habits in urban India which is
more. If a person earns more, she is tensed
responsible for various ill-healths. Let us take
that she has to spend more. She hits the
certain examples :
shopping mall and finds that what she
• Eating habits : In the name of modernization, earns is still less to meet her consumerist
various unhealthy eating styles are promoted. wants. The tension in offices is also more.
Partly this is because of consumerism i.e. Individuals hardly get job satisfaction as the
advertisements that create a perception that only factor that motivates them is the salary
larger the consumption of food, greater the
which never seems to be sufficient.
happiness. Secondly, the consumption of
junk food like burgers, pizzas etc. with high There are other stressors working in modern
cultures. In urban India, for instance, the social
fat content is increasing. This leads to
problems of obesity, coronary heart diseases support and friendship network is low. Even
divorce rate is high. As a result, a major factor
and other ailments. The per capita
behind stress reduction is absent.
consumption of alcohol, tobacco and fats is
rising by the day. About 53% of adult males The uneven and odd time at which people in
and 3% of adult females smoke bidi or metros sleep is also an issue. Many BPO
cigarette. employees work in night-shifts and hence face
many psychological problems.
Also our eating preferences are shifting from
fresh and fibrous food to heavy, oily, spicy From above, we see that modern lifestyle
and processed foods, which we can’t digest leads to both physical and psychological
easily (Parashar, 2000). problems. Parashar (2000) is so frustrated with
the lifestyle that he opines : ‘our present lifestyle
• Exercise : Previously, people used to get
has forced us to become materialistic, selfish,
sufficient physical exercise owing to low
egoistic and self centred. We have restricted
development of transport and certain healthy
ourselves only to physical health and we have
lifestyles. But the situation has changed. For
example, the prevalence of elevators in most forgotten about the mental, social and spiritual
health. Materialism is indeed the original cause
modern buildings and preferred usage of
of all misery including diseases and a loss of a
these elevators has decreased the use of
balanced state of mind’. He has made certain
stair-case. In an article in the Times of India,
amazing revelations about how our lifestyle is
psycho-analyst Sudhir Kakkar had opined
linked to diseases : ‘Unmindful modernisation
that television (TV) has led to a lifestyle
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

is proving to be a curse for the health of Indian psychological well-being. Hence, it tries to fuse
people. Almost half of the Indian population is Vichara (thinking) and Vihara (recreation) with
suffering from some physical disease or mental Ahara and Achara.
disorder. Presently 50 millon Indians are
suffering from blood pressure and other cardiac Ahara : Ayurveda advises that vegetarian
disorders. The number of diabetic patients is 30 food should be preferred over non-vegetarian
food. For better health, our food should contain
million. About 8 lac people die every year due
fresh vegetables and sufficient fibre contents. As
to tobacco consumption and India tops the list
already discussed, spicy and junk food causes
of patients having mouth cancer worldwide ...
obesity, diabetes, gastric ulcers and hypertension.
the number of patients suffering from anxiety, The oil that we use should be wisely selected.
depression, insomnia and addiction is rising
Saturated fats derived from animal food, coconut
sharply... one of the main factors responsible for
oils and palm can clog arteries if consumed in
this situation is the faulty lifestyle we have excess. South Indian people suffer from a number
chosen in the name of modernisation. The urban of diseases related to saturated fats due to
population has forgotten the basic principles of excess consumption of coconut oil (Parashar,
healthy living like – early to bed and early to 2000). Rather, polyunsaturated fats found in the
rise, physical exercise, diligence, contentment, oils of corn, sunflower, fatty fish and cotton
endurance, cooperation etc.’ (i bid). seeds actually reduce blood cholesterol level.
Similarly, monounsaturated fats found in olive
peanuts help protect against incidence of heart
Ayurveda : Normative Model for
Perfect Health
Ayurveda further advocates that the principle
of “Virudh Bhojana” should be followed. “Virudh
The modern lifestyle is harmful for health.
Bhojana” or opposite food means one mustn’t
Then which lifestyle should we follow for a
consume two food items with opposite effects at
better health ? While western psychologists are
the same time. For example, items like ice cream
researching on various alternative lifestyles,
shouldn’t be taken with hot tea or coffee.
Parashar (2000) proposes that we use the life
Similarly, it is not advised to take meat with
style advocated in Ayurveda. The life style
milk; curd with milk etc. If taken so, it may lead
advocated by Ayurveda is based on four
to stomach imbalances and such problems as
fundamental principles :
gastric upsets and food poisoning.
1. Ahara (food)
2. Vihara (Recreation) Achara : Ayurveda has distinguished three
3. Achara (Routine) types of routines :
4. Vichara (Thinking) 1. Ritucharya (Season routine)
2. Dincharya (Day routine)
Ayurveda had recognized that a healthy
3. Ratricharya (Night routine)
lifestyle should lead to both physical and
Ritucharya means to follow a lifestyle in
14 Applied Psychology

accordance with the six seasons of a year. For neither be driven by greed nor be dominated by
example, during summer season, we should emotions of fear, anger, jealousy, guilt or worry.
take light food containing plenty of fluids, brisk Anasakti is a related concept. Detachment from
exercises should be avoided. Similarly, hatred or greed forms part of the thinking
Dincharya and Ratricharya specify that one process of a healthy lifestyle.
should eat and act according to the time of the
day. One should wake up early in the morning. Normality and Abnormality
‘Dawn drinking’ should be the first act after
waking. It refers to drinking of water kept
Abnormal is what is not normal; and normal
overnight. Dawn drinking ensures smooth refers to a behaviour that doesn’t violate the
excretion of body waste and is a remedy for
norm. My purpose in making this ambiguous
constipation (Parasher, 2000). This should be
and confusing statement is to show that there is
followed by the following routine :
no agreement regarding what is normal and
what is abnormal. Usually the definitions of
abnormality include the following concepts,
called the 4-Ds (Christensen et al., 2001) :
1. Deviance
2. Distress
3. Dysfunction
4. Dangerousness
Abnormal behaviour is deviant behaviour.
But deviant from what ? In what sense ? Albert
Einstein was abnormal in the sense that he was
too intelligent for humans. Pop queen Madonna
is deviant in the sense that she still performs in
provocative clothes at the age of fifty.

Ratricharya norms advise to take dinner 2-3 Hence, deviance itself isn’t a sufficient
hours before sleep. It also prescribes that people condition. Nor is distress. Distress is seen in
should engage in sexual intercourse only during abnormal behaviours like Post-Traumatic Stress
the night as a rest of few hours is necessary Disorder (PTSD) and panic attacks. Hence,
after sexual intercourse for the body muscles to distress is a good predictor of mental disorders,
come back to the relaxed state. especially prolonged distress. Abnormal
behaviour may also be dysfunctional in the
Vihara and Vichara : While Ahara and
sense that it interferes with the normal
Achara refer purely to the physical and
functioning of the individual. Finally, sometimes
physiological aspects, Vihara (recreation) refers
the abnormal are dangerous. Hence, if an
to psycho-physiological aspects and Vichara
individual is dangerous and she is capable of
(thinking) refers to mental aspects (Parasher,
an act without any provocation or intentionality,
2000). Vichara norms specify that one should
she may be suffering from insanity.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

From the above discussion, the only thing n Causal Factors in Mental
clear is that no clear boundary exists between Disorders
normality and abnormality. For functional usage,
usually psychologists use a classification of In this section, we will investigate into
mental disorders. The first modern classification various factors responsible for mental disorders
was proposed by German psychiatrist Emil like schizophrenia, delusional disorder, anxiety
Kraeplin (1883). Kraeplin had proposed that the and mood disorders. The factors are primarily
professional should identify symptoms (what of three types : biological, psychological and
the person complains of) and signs (indications socio-cultural factors. Many of the proposed
of abnormal function from behavioural causal factors have been proved beyond doubt
observation or otherwise), and finally establish while others are lacking in empirical validity
the problem’s onset and course (how the (for example, Freudian explanations of
disorder has developed). Together, these factors schizophrenia). We must respect the fact that
should be able to help the clinician to diagnose multiple factors act together to produce effects
the patient as suffering from a particular illness. like mental disorders. Hence, I attempt to
Kraeplin’s system of classification is no longer integrate various perspectives in explaining the
in use but it forms the basis of all modern causality of mental disorders.
classifications like World Health Organization’s
There are three types of causes of disorders:
International Classification of Disorders (ICD)
and the American Psychiatric Association’s 1. Predisposing factors or vulnerability factors
(APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of are factors that do not themselves lead to
Mental Disorders (DSM). The latest version of disorder but increase the vulnerability of the
APA’s manual, DSM-IV, is the most popular individual to the disorder. Biological
system of classification. dispositions, occurrences in childhood
(usually used by psychoanalysts to explain
The DSM-IV adopts a system of diagnosis
disorders) and personality factors are
that is multiaxial and proceeds by resolving all
important predisposing factors.
these axes :
2. Precipitating factors or stressors are the
• What are the symptoms ? (Axis I)
immediate conditions that trigger the
• Are there any abnormal functionings that
disorder. This includes cognitive factors,
the individual is predisposed to ? For
environmental stressors and socio-cultural
example, are there any personality disorders
or developmental disorders ? (Axis 2)
3. Reinforcing factors : Factors that reinforce
• Are there any relevant physical disorders ?
(Axis 3) an already occurred disorder; many
behaviourist explanations are reinforcing
• What is the intensity of stressors ? (Axis 4)
• What is the individual’s ability to adapt to
the stressors ? (Axis 5)
16 Applied Psychology

These factors can be represented as under : A third variety of schizophrenia– the

disorganized type– is characterized by
inappropriate affect (for instance laughing at a
tragic news or crying on hearing a joke), together
with incoherent speech and confused behaviour.
Many other schizophrenics can’t be put into
any of these categories and hence are classified
as undifferentiated type of schizophrenia.
Delusional disorders are psychotic problems
characterized by nonbizarre delusions (already
discussed) without other schizophrenic signs.
• Causal factors
We shall study various causal factors bearing
Schizophrenia and Delusional the fact that schizophrenia is multifactorial in
Disorders origin :
Disorders that pertain to loss of contact with Pre-disposing factors :
reality are called psychosis. Typically, the Many empirical evidences point towards a
psychotic people may have hallucinations (false
sensory perceptions) or delusions (false beliefs) genetic predisposition in schizophrenia. Twin
studies show that identical twins have higher
or both.
rate of concordance than fraternal twins in
Schizophrenia literally means “split mind”.
schizophrenia. Further, adoption studies show
It is a particular psychotic condition that fulfils
that the ego has more concordance with
certain criteria. Typically, schizophrenia suffer
biological parents than with adoptive parents.
from four types of delusions :
Usage of techniques such as PET and MRI
1. Delusion of grandeur : Belief that one is of
great importance. have revealed that many schizophrenics have
brain abnormalities; a general loss of neurons
2. Delusion of persecution : Delusion that one
in the cerebral cortex has been observed using
is the victim of enemy plots.
MRI. This may explain the symptoms of
3. Delusion of reference : Belief that the actions disordered attention and perception reported by
of others or world events are conspiracies patients, because such cognitive functions are
against her.
performed in the cerebral cortex.
4. Delusions of control : A belief that other
people are controlling one’s actions. The dopamine hypothesis states that the
cause for schizophrenia is an increase in activity
Delusions are most prominent among the of the dopamine system in the brain. People
paranoid-type schizophrenics. The catatonic diagnosed with schizophrenia seem to have
type schizophrenia, on the other hand, are more dopamine receptors on neurons than non-
characterized by immobility or repetitive schizophrenics. It has also been seen that
movements like echolalia (reception of words) injecting schizophrenics with drugs that
or echopraxia (repetition of observed behaviour).
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

increase dopamine activity in the brain increases coping that finally lead to schiphrenia.
their symptoms. However, the exact mechanism
Reinforcing Factors :
of dopamine activity is not known. The neurons
affected by excess dopamine secretions extend Once the label of schizophrenic is put on a
from the midbrain to limbic system and these patient, she faces social stigma. This stigma acts
play crucial function in linking perception with as a self-fulfilling prophecy in reinforcing
memory. May be dopamine-caused hyperactivity schizophrenia. In a study conducted in the
leads to a situation in which the brain can not 1970s, Rosenhan got eight normal people to
report hallucinations in different hospitals. All
relate sensory input with memory, nor can it
ignore the sensory input. were diagnosed as psychotic and admitted as
patients. After admission, they tried to behave
Precipitating factors normally but it became increasingly difficult for
Many stressors have been identified that them to do so due to the hospital staff’s self-
may precipitate the condition to lead to fulfilling prophecies. Their normal behaviour
schizophrenia. Freud believed that to escape was labelled as schizophrenic. For example, if a
from unbearable stress and conflict, the patient wrote a poem, the staff reported that
schizophrenic uses the defence mechanism of they engaged in writing behaviour! Finally,
regression, in which she retreats to an earlier they became bored, listless and apathetic (these
stage of psychosocial development. are the symptoms of schizophrenia!).
Some cognitive theorists reason that when
people develop a defect in the attentional
n Mood Disorders
mechanism that filters out irrelevant stimuli,
they are overwhelmed by external stimuli. There
Mood disorders are emotion-based disorders.
is a stimulus overload that leads to disorganized
There are two types of mood disorders : unipolar
thought pattern, hallucinations and delusions.
disorder and bipolar disorder. Unipolar disorder
The incidence of schizophrenia is five times or depression refers to an abnormal condition
as high in lowest socio-economic groups as in where the individual is in an intensely
the highest. Owing to this finding, it is reasoned depressed state, owing to which she cannot
that the higher level of stress that low-income function effectively.
people experience may leads to higher prevalence
Emotional symptoms of depression include
of schizophrenia.
sadness, anxiety, inability to enjoy and
Even the family is said to act as a source of hopelessness. Depression is primarily a disorder
precipitator (stressor). According to the double- of emotions or mood; but there are other types
bind hypothesis, the parents of schizophrenic of symptoms also. Some other symptoms can be
patients behave towards them in self-
summarized as :
contradictory ways (double-binds). For instance,
Motivational Symptoms
a mother may encourage an unemployed son
verbally but through non-verbal cues show that • Loss of Interest
she thinks he is a loser. Repeated exposure to • Lack of drive
these double-binds leads to abnormal ways of • Difficulty in taking any initiative
18 Applied Psychology

Cognitive Symptoms • Automatic thoughts: Persistent and automatic

• Negative cognitions about self, world thoughts that pop into the conscious
and future automatically and reminds the patient of her
• Incorrect attributions
• Automatic thoughts • Errors in thinking, manifested in many forms,
for example blaming oneself for bad weather.
Somatic Symptoms
The errors in thinking are a result of a
• Lack of energy
depressive attributional pattern, attributing
• Loss of appetite successes to factors external to self and blaming
• Sleep difficulties self for negative outcomes. Another cognitive
In bipolar disorders, depression alternates dynamic forwarded by Martin Seligman is
with periods of mania, an emotional state in learned helplessness. He conducted a study of
dogs in situations from where they couldn’t
which the individual is very excited and shows
behaviour that is quite opposite to depression. escape any negative consequences. Finally, the
dogs learned to be helpless i.e. didn’t escape the
In the manic state, the individual turns
megalomaniac. She has grandiose cognitions negative consequences even when given the
and doesn’t consider the negative consequences chance. It is reasoned on this basis that
depressed people believe bad events will occur
before acting on these grandiose plans. Speech
and there is nothing they could do to prevent
is often rapid, as if she has to say as many
these or cope with these events.
words as possible in the time allotted.
A problem with the cognitive approach is
Causal Factors in Depression : that it confuses cause and effect. Does depression
Therapists often differentiate between two lead to such negative thoughts or do the negative
kinds of unipolar disorders : reactive depressions thoughts lead to depression ? Cognitive theorists
which happens without any trigger. Owing to use incorrect cognitions to explain depression
this distinction, researchers are investigating whereas it may be that incorrect cognitions are
into various external and internal factors that the consequence of a depressive state. Secondly,
result in prolonged depression. While stressful they don’t say why some people become
events seem to trigger depression, internal depressive and other don’t. This difference,
factors like cognitions and neurochemicals also however, can be explained by genetic and
play a significant role. neurochemical factors.
Internal Factors : The most dominant view Neurological research has shown that
about depression is that of cognitive theorists. depression is associated with low levels of a
Aaron Beck (1976) argues that the emotional neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. There
state of depression is a product of incorrect is also evidence that another neurotransmitter,
cognitions. He has proposed a number of serotonin, may be low in quantity in the brain.
negative thoughts that the depressed have : This view is supported by the fact that drugs
that increase the level of norepinephrine (like
• Cognitive triad of depression : Interpreting
tricyclics) and serotonin (like prozac) act as
one’s self, experiences and future in a antidepressants. Taking these drugs can help
negative way. one out of depression.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

External Factors : It is generally agreed that • Causal factors in Bipolar disorders

an extremely stressful condition acts as the Genetic factors have been found to have
trigger (or precipitating factor) in depression. greater influence on bipolar disorder than
For instance, it has been seen that depression depression. It is also reasoned that
runs in families. A reason for that may be norepinephrine is low in depressed episodes,
genetic. But Hammen (1991) believes that an and higher than normal in manic episodes.
even greater factor is that children of depressed Lithium, which is considered the most effective
people often experience poor parenting and treatment for manic states, reduces
many stresses as they grow up. As a result, they norepinephrine activity in the brain. However,
may fail to develop a positive self-concept or the exact nature of mania and the exact role of
proper coping skills; this makes them quite neurochemicals in it hasn’t yet been known.
vulnerable to depression.
Once depression starts, it becomes a vicious n Anxiety Disorders
circle due to a self-reinforcing mechanism. This
mechanism is explained by behaviourists. They Sigmund Freud believed that there are three
reason that depressed people show decreased kinds of anxiety : moral, realistic and neurotic.
reward-seeking behaviour and avoid others. At some point of time, we all become anxious.
Owing to this, their social support decreases However, anxiety disorder is a form of neurotic
and others get alienated from them. This further anxiety wherein the frequency and intensity of
increases depression. This can be respresented anxiety responses are out of proportion to the
as under : situations that trigger them (Passer and Smith,
2007). Anxiety disorder manifests itself in many
forms like phobic disorder, generalized anxiety
disorder (GAD), panic disorder, Obsessive-
Compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-tramatic
stress disorder (PTSD). In this section, I seek to
discuss these disorders along with dominant
views about factors that cause these disorders :

• Phobic disorder
Phobias are strong and irrational fears of
certain objects or situations. People with phobia
realize that their fear is irrational, yet are
impotent in dealing with the fears. There are
many common phobias like agoraphobia (fear
of open spaces) and specific phobias like fear of
spiders, snakes and cats.
Two dominant views about phobia are that
Fig : Vicious cycle of depression. Adapted of behaviourist school and psychoanalyst
from Passer and Smith (2007, p. 551). school. As early as 1920, John B. Watson had
shown that fear can be conditioned. He and his
20 Applied Psychology

colleague classically conditioned a 11-month- Another major explanation is the Freudian

old infant called Little Albert to a white rat. one. In one of Freud’s most celebrated case
Later, Albert generalized his fear to fear of furry studies, a 5-year old boy Hans suddenly
white objects like rabbit or Santa Claus mask. developed a fear of horses. He was afraid that
Along with classical conditioning, observational a horse may bite him. Freud explained this
learning also leads to phobia. After watching a phobia in this way : the powerful horse
televised accident involving high-speed bikes, I represented Hans’s father and the fear of being
have become phobic about sitting in bikes. This bitten symbolized Hans’s unconscious fear of
is inspite of the fact that I know the chances of being castrated by his father for harbouring
accident are low when driven at average speed! sexual desires for his mother.
This may be because I experienced the traumatic
scene vicariously. Please note that the television
• Generalized Anxiety Disorder
event was seen by many but only I got the
phobia. It is perhaps because I am biologically (GAD)
predisposed towards such intense fear. GAD refers to a case where anxiety and
Once phobia is learned through classical worry are prolonged but are not focused on
conditioning or observational learning, people specific issue or occurrence. Rather, the anxiety
are motivated to avoid or escape any phobia is free-floating. Little is known about the
arousing situation. Avoidance and escape are causality of this disorder and most proposed
reinforced by a reduction of anxiety i.e., operant explanations are lacking in some respects.
conditioning reinforces phobia. According to Freud, when unacceptable
impulses (existing in the unconscious) try to
break through the defences, it leads to neurotic
anxiety. If the defences aren’t strong enough to
control the anxiety, it leads to prolonged anxiety
i.e. GAD. Social learning theorists have
suggested that GAD is learned by observing the
reactions of others by modeling. Cognitive
theorists believe that a definite thought pattern
characterized by pessimism and belief that
negative events are unpredictable lead to GAD.
Some biological explanations have also been
forwarded. It is suggested that some people are
genetically predisposed to have a sensitive
autonomic nervous system that overreacts to
perceived threat, creating unnnecessarily high
level of arousal. Over-reactivity of
neurotransmitters like GABA may also be
responsible for emotional responses that lead to
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

• Obsessive - Compulsive Disorder washing my hands every now and then, it

(OCD) reduces anxiety and so the behaviour is
Obsessions are repetitive and unwelcome
thoughts that intrude into consciousness.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviour or mental • Panic Disorder
exercises that a person feels compelled to Panic disorders are disorders wherein
perform. Ignoring obsessions or failing to perform anxiety occurs suddenly and unpredictably and
compulsions leads to anxiety, so much so that is much more intense than that of any other
performing compulsive acts seem to reduce anxiety disorder. Panic attacks usually happen
anxiety. suddenly and without any visible reason. Panic
It must be noted that obsessions and attacks often lead to agoraphobia (fear of public
compulsions aren’t disorders of anxiety but are places) because the victim often fears that she
ways of handling anxiety. For example, may get panic attacks in public places.
psychoanalysts believe that obsessions are Explanations of cognitive theorists have been
symbolically related to underlying impulses. by far most conclusive about panic disorder.
These unacceptable urges are too unacceptable David Barlow (2002) reasons that panic attacks
to be thought about, yet can’t be repressed into are triggered by exaggerated misinterpretations
the unconscious. Hence, they manifest of normal bodily arousal relating to heart
themselves in the form of obsessive thoughts. palpitations, dizziness and breathlessness.
For example, obsessive thoughts about dirt may Basically, the victims of panic attack
be symbolic of one’s dirty sexual impulses. catastrophize bodily sensations and magnify
Compulsive behaviour like washing hands the threat perceptions.
frequently is a way of controlling the impulses.
Cognitive theorists argue that we people • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
usually get repetitive but unwanted thoughts. PTSD is ‘an anxiety disorder arising as a
In case of patients of OCD, these thoughts delayed and protracted response after
cannot be controlled and the repetition becomes experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event
chronic. In an attempt to dispel these thoughts, involving actual or threatened death or serious
the OCD patient uses certain mental and injury to self of others. It is characterized by
behavioural strategies that lead to OCD. A intense fear, helplessness, or horror lasting more
physiological explanation has been suggested than four weeks, the traumatic event being
on the basis of findings that OCD patients have persistently re-experienced in the form of
low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. distressing recollections, recurrent dreams,
Once OCD occurs, it is reinforced by the sensations of reliving the experience,
obsessions and compulsions. Compulsive hallucinations, or flashbacks, intense distress
behaviour provides negative reinforcement by and physiological reactions in response to
reducing anxiety. For example, if I get obsessive anything reminiscent of the traumatic event’
about cleanliness, it arouses anxiety in me. (Oxford Dictionary of Psychology, 2006).
When I engage in compulsive behaviour i.e. Undoubtedly, the stressful event acts as the
22 Applied Psychology

precipitating factor in causing PTSD. The characteristics -

traumatic event can be rape, violence, combat 1. Dramatic/Impulsive Cluster : Antisocial,
situation, a natural disaster, or a serious Histrionic, Nareissistic, Borderline.
accident. Today, it is generally accepted that
2. Anxious/Fearful Cluster : Avoidant,
PTSD is natural – especially among children
Dependant, Obsessive-compulsive
and the old. However, the one question that
remains unanswered is : why do some people 3. Eccentric Cluster : Schizoid, Schizotypal,
develop PTSD while others who have Paranoid.
experienced the same situation don’t ? Some Among the personality disorders, the most
recent researches have shown that vulnerability dangerous to society is the antisocial personality
to PTSD develops in childhood when one is disorder. This has also received the maximum
exposed to violence or mental disorders. The research interests. Hence, I will discuss this
way one copes with stressors (coping style) and disorder, and its causal factors in detail.
personality type are also factors that affect the
vulnerability to PTSD.

Personality Disorders n Antisocial Personality Disorders

Also called psychopaths and sociopaths,
Personality disorders are inflexible and long- people with antisocial personality disorder seem
term patterns of behaviour and thinking that to lack any conscience, due to which they are
lead to maladaptive ways in which one relates capable of doing acts that are considered socially
to social environment. As per the DSM deviant and morally unacceptable. Some famous
definition, there are ten different types of examples are Charles Shobraj and Mithilesh
personality disorders. There are different Kumar Shrivastav, popularly called ‘Natwarlal’.
characteristics of these disorders but some Some typical characteristics of people with
common characteristics can be identified: antisocial personality disorders are:
1. Personality disorders differ from other 1. They have a very weak conscience, if at all
disorders discussed here in that these they have.
disorders begin in childhood and remain
2. They exhibit little anxiety and guilt.
relatively unchanged till late in life. There is
hardly any change in intensity or nature of 3. They are impulsive and can’t delay
the disorder. gratification. Hence, they have short-term
objectives and oriented towards getting
2. They have maladaptive ways of thinking,
feeling and behaving. pleasure.
4. They often appear very charming and
3. They have inappropriate emotional
innocent, and can effectively rationalize their
responses and impulse control.
inappropriate behaviour so that it appears
There are ten types of personality disorders, reasonable (Passer and Smith, 2007).
which are discussed in short in the following
5. They don’t learn from punishments. The
table. These ten types can be divided into three
clusters that capture commonalities of
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

threat of punishment doesn’t deter them Psychodynamic theorists argue that

from engaging in antisocial acts again and conscience develops when a superego develops.
again. This superego is the result of proper socialization
during childhood. The persons with antisocial
• Causal Factors personality disorder do not develop a well-
Biological Explanations : Both twin studies defined superego. Ego tries to balance the
and adoption studies have shown consistent demands of id and restraints of the superego.
results that point towards a genetic The demands of id dominate, resulting in
predisposition in antisocial personality disorder. impulsive and hedonic behaviour. Why could
But how can a lack of conscience be genetically the superego not develop properly? The
inherited? Some researchers argue that dominant explanation is : the psychic problems
psychopaths show a relative absence of anxiety of phallic stage (sexually desiring the parent of
and guilt. The disorder might be because of opposite sex) are resolved by identification
some dysfunction in brain structures that govern with parent of the same sex. But if the parent is
emotional arousal and anxiety responses. This not available for identification, or if the
results in a chronically underaroused state due psychological distance from the parent is too
to which (1) they don’t become anxious, or feel much, there are problems in developing a strong
guilty, (2) their avoidance learning is impaired
and they don’t learn from punishments and, (3)
Cognitive theorists argue that antisocial
the underarousal drives them to seek for
individuals consistently fail to anticipate the
pleasure and excitement. The drive is so much
long-term negative consequences of their
that they go for instant, hedonic gratification.
behaviour. Hence, incorrect cognitions and
beliefs are at the root of antisocial behaviour of
these people.
Social learning theorists argue that modeling
may play an important role. It has been found
that most psychopaths come from families where
parents exhibit a high degree of aggression.
Such parents may act as role models for
aggressive behaviour and to disregard social
norms. Deviant peers also can act as role models.
However, these role models most probably
contribute only to increase the vulnerability in
Behaviourist explanations are one of the
dominant explanations of antisocial behaviour.
These theorists argue that a conscience develops
when one learns fears and avoidance responses.
Psychological explanations :
24 Applied Psychology

I avoid stealing behaviour because I fear that it develops a tolerance towards the drug,
may lead to punishment. Such avoidance necessitating greater dose of the drug for the
learning is the basis of conscience. same effect.
Unfortunately, these individuals are incapable 2. Withdrawal : If the supply of drugs is
of conditioned fear responses and hence, don’t stopped, the body’s response (which had
develop a conscience. become accustomed to the drug) is such that
To prove this hypothesis, Adrian Paine and there is an extreme craning for the drug.
coworkers (1996) did a study in which male 3. Persons suffering from substance-abuse
participants at the age of 15 had been subjected disorders spend excess time on activities
to a classical conditioning procedure in which related to getting drugs and using drugs.
a soft tone was used as conditioned stimulus Due to this, their social, occupational and
and a loud, aversive tone as the unconditioned family life are neglected.
stimulus. Fear that was conditioned by this Further, substance abuse disorders are a
procedure was measured by the participants’ joint result of physiological dependence and
skin conductance. After 14 years, a follow-up psychological dependence. Physiological
study was done on the (now 29 years old) dependence refers to withdrawal symptoms i.e.
participants. It was found that those who had the excessive dependence of the body on drugs.
a criminal record in the follow-up study had Psychological dependence on the other hand,
shown poorer fear conditioning fourteen years refers to the strong craving for a drug because
back than had those with no criminal record. of its pleasurable effects.

n Substance-Abuse Disorders • Causal Factors

Drugs, no doubt, lead to physiological
Substance abuse refers to a maladaptive use
changes but drug-abuse disorder, as such, is a
of a drug, leading to impairment of functioning
combination of multiple factors. Let us study
or distress. Substance abuse disorder refers to
these in detail :
a class of mental disorders when the problem of
substance abuse becomes clinically significant. Biological causation : As you must have
There are 11 groups of substances that can lead read in the chapter on motivation in basic
to substance abuse disorder (SAD), as per DSM- psychology, the human body tries to maintain a
IV. This includes alcohol, amphetamines, homeostasis. There is a set point of hormones
caffeine, cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens, and neurotransmitters in human body. When
inhalants, nicotine, opiates, phencyclidine, you take drugs, the hormonal response and
sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics. neurotransmitter secretion change. But this is
Certain characteristic features of substance momentary. On regular use, however, the set
dependence are : point changes. Suppose the set point for a
neurotransmitter is X. Drug use increases the
1. Tolerance : Drugs are used because of the
desirable physiological response that they neurotransmitter secretion. To keep the set-point
provide. However, with regular use, the body at X, the body tries to decrease the normal
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

secretion of the neurotransmitter. This attempt the environment where usually the drug is
to restore balance is called compensating taken. The new environment can’t act as a cue
response of the body. Due to compensatory for stronger compensatory response. Hence, the
response, the use of the drug in the same body may not be able to tackle even the same
amount doesn’t lead to any extra pleasure. (The dose. This leads to death. You must have heard
pleasure comes when the level of about some celebrity or member of rock band die
neurotransmitter is more than X. But when of drug overdose. Actually it is not overdose but
regularly used, the level with drugs regular dose in unfamiliar environment.
automatically readjusts to X). This phenomenon
is basically tolerance. Due to tolerance, the
individual has to take greater dose to have the
same effect. This way, tolerance and
compensatory response become a vicious circle
and the individual has to increase the intake of
drugs everytime.

Now, what happens when drug intake is

suddenly stopped ? The present level of the
neurotransmitter (in our example) is X with
drug use. When drug use is stopped, the level
of neurotransmitter abruptly falls much below
the level X. Body’s set point needs time to
adjust. Owing to this, withdrawal symptoms
happen. The individual is in a distress because Fig. : Vicious circle of increasing dosage of
at such low levels of hormones and drug intake
neurotransmitters, she experiences extremely This is proved from a study by Shephard
negative emotions. Siegel (1984). Siegel interviewed heroin-addicts
who had experienced near-fatal overdoses. He
Role of Learning : The setting in which
drug is usually taken has a significant role to found that in most cases, they hadn’t taken a
play in drug use. By classical conditioning, the dose more than they normally do. Rather, they
had injected a regular amount in an unfamiliar
environmental stimuli are conditioned to
secretion of stronger compensatory responses.
Hence, a strong dose of drug can be handled by Other Explanations :
the body. This conditioning also explains why
The psychoanalytic approach assumes that
certain settings increase the craving for drugs
the main cause of addiction is an unconscious
for addicts and for rehabilitated individuals. need to entertain and to enact various kinds of
Now consider a case when the same dose of homosexual and perverse fantasies, while at the
drug is taken in an environment not similar to same time fearing social retribution for actually
trying out the fantasies. Since drug use is a
26 Applied Psychology

better substitute for masturbation to entertain incorrect. The addict may not be even aware of
these fantasies, the addicts prefer drugs to the core beliefs (e.g., “I am useless”). This
experience their perverse fantasies. triggers a system of addictive beliefs (imagined
Cognitivists explain substance-abuse benefits of substance use) and consequently
disorder in terms of certain core beliefs that are craning.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

• Psychoanalysis and

2 •

Psychodynamic theories
Cognitive therapies
Client-centred therapy
Behavioural therapies
• Indigeneous therapies :

Therapeutic •

Yoga and Meditation
Fostering Mental Health


n Psychoanalysis and mind to deal with. So children bury these in the

Psychodynamic Theories unconscious.
Tools of Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a form of insight therapy The goal of psychoanalysis is to help the
which comes from the works of Sigmund Freud. client uncover various unconscious, conflict
Psychoanalysis aims to give clients self- arousing memories. Since these memories are
knowledge (i.e. insight) into the contents of their
unconscious, even the client is not aware of
unconscious mind. Freud believed that there is this. Hence, the therapist has to use certain
a hidden reservoir in our minds that is filled tools to uncover these repressed thoughts. One
with primitive urges and desires, conflictual such tool is free association. In free association,
memories and repressed thoughts. Most forms clients are asked to relax on a couch and asked
of maladaptive behaviour are an expression of to freely express whatever thoughts and feelings
these unconscious processes expressed through come to their minds. The psychoanalyst doesn’t
defence mechanisms. sit facing the client; rather he/she sits out of
Freud developed his theory as a result of sight of the client so that the client’s thought
case studies of patients he met in the course of processes aren’t interrupted by his presence.
his private practice. He found that he could The client is encouraged to talk about anything
help these people by just getting them to recall that she wishes to. What the client speaks may
and relive the experiences that have been sound meaningless and haphazard. But the
repressed. Freud was particularly interested in meaningless and unrelated thoughts provide
finding significant childhood experiences symbolic cues to understand the contents of the
because he believed that traumatic experiences unconscious.
of the childhood are tough for the growing
28 Applied Psychology

Another important therapeutic tool used by had unconscious desires to have sex with her
psychoanalysts is dream analysis. Dreams are, brother-in-law; she had emotions and feelings
according to Freud, the royal road to the towards her brother-in-law and desired that her
unconscious. He believed that dreams are a sister would die so that she could possess her
mechanism of wish-fulfillment; dreams provide
sister’s husband for herself. Such amoral feelings
a channel to live out and experience one’s
create anxiety; in her case it was repressed into
hidden impulses and fantasies. Even in dreams,
the unconscious. Now during therapy, she has
such desires can produce considerable anxiety.
to face these feelings and thoughts. Finding
Yet, dreams don’t explicitly show unconscious
desires. Hence, dreams are symbolic of these feelings towards her brother-in-law anxiety
unconscious desires. The latent content of these provoking, she ‘transfers’ the feelings towards
dreams need to be analyzed and interpreted to the therapist. Whatever be the nature of original
understand the unconscious. feelings (love, hate or dependence), she transfers
these towards a substitute figure, who usually
Resistance and Transference is the therapist.
The patient shows certain unconsciously
Freud calls transference a turning point of
motivated behaviours in the course of psycho
psychoanalysis because the patient no longer is
analysis. One of these behaviours is resistance.
in denial of powerful emotional urges. These
In the course of therapy, the client has to relive
urges have been recovered from the unconscious.
her emotional conflicts and unconscious
The woman in our example may flirt with the
memories that produce anxiety. It is necessary
therapist, or seduce him to possess him
for getting insight that the client face such physically. Now the only job that remains is
conflictual emotions. During this process, the
interpretation of these feelings and thoughts in
client may show resistance, an attempt to
order to get insight.
subvert or hinder the therapy in order to avoid
facing the anxiety-provoking thoughts. For Other Psychodynamic Therapies
example, the client may state that she can’t Classical psychoanalysis is a very time-
come to the therapeutic session because of a consuming and costly process. It may take
common cold or headache. Even the client years for the analyst to uncover the hidden,
doesn’t know that she is resorting to these unconscious thoughts. Usually, the client is in
behaviours because of resistance. need of immediate help. Hence, modern
There are many types of resistance that the practitioners of psychodynamic therapy try to
client shows during therapy. Freud believed make the process brief and take an active role in
that a turning point in the therapy comes when the therapy. Rather than waiting for the client to
the client shows a type of resistance called get her own insight, these analysts provide their
transference. In transference, the client expresses own interpretations in early stages of the
thoughts and feelings towards the therapist therapeutic process. Also, rather than wait for
that are representative of feelings towards transference to occur, they encourage role playing
someone else. For example, suppose a woman in order to help the client experience her
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

unconscious motives. n Cognitive Therapies

One popular psychodynamic therapy is the
Cognitive psychologists believe that
interpersonal therapy, in which focus is almost
maladaptive behaviour is the result of irrational
exclusively on the client’s current relationship
beliefs and negative thoughts. Hence, mental
with significant others. This therapy is highly
health can be fostered by teaching people to
structured and usually takes 15 to 20 sessions. more accurately think about their goals and
The goal of this therapy is to resolve role behaviour. Cognitive therapies, typically try to
disputes and interpersonal issues such as restructure the client’s cognitions. But before
marital conflict, death of a closed one, a change dealing with that, let us analyze the cognitive
in relationships etc. point of view in detail.

Psychodynamic Therapy : The Cognitive Point of View

An evaluation There are many typical cognitive processes
and thinking patterns that are responsible for
Classical psychoanalysis has been heavily different types of disorders. Rosenhan and
criticized for a number of reasons, such as : Seligman (1989) divide these processes into two
1. It is relatively time-consuming and expensive. categories :
1. Short-term conscious cognitive processes.
2. It is based on a questionable approach to
human nature. This approach has no 2. Long-term and unconscious cognitive
scientific basis. processes.

3. It neglects the client’s immediate needs in its Short-term cognitive processes :

obsession with childhood and experiences Three primary short-term cognitive processes
of the remote past. which, if inaccurate, lead to mental disorders
4. There is an inadequate proof of its are expectations, appraisals and attributions.
effectiveness. Some studies conducted on the Expectations refer to the expectancy that a
effectiveness of psychoanalysis haven’t given behaviour would lead to a desirable outcome.
encouraging results (See Wallerstein, 1989). After Bandura (1977), we can in fact say that
there are two kinds of expectations a person can
Yet, many people who have undergone have : outcome expectations and efficacy
psychoanalysis have opined that the therapy expectations. Negative outcome and efficacy
helps them get an insight into their personality
expectations have been linked to phobias and
and provides them relief from inner conflict. anxiety (Lang, 1967). Individuals who are
Modern psychodynamic therapies have been anxious or phobic have incorrect cognitions in
found to be quite effective in relation to classical the sense that they expect something
psychophysics. For instance, interpersonal undesirable to happen.
therapy has been found to be effective for several Appraisals are evaluations about various
disorders, particularly depression.
events and behaviours of self. These self-
evaluations are not always obvious and
30 Applied Psychology

sometimes occur automatically. Beck (1964) has global attributions. If there is extreme cold, they
outlined many assumptions that predispose a blame themselves for it. If Barack Obama dies,
person to negative appraisals : they blame themselves for the bad news.
1. To be happy, I have to be successful.
Long-term Cognitive Processes :
2. To be happy, I must be accepted by others at
We people tend to have some core beliefs
all times.
based on hypothetical constructs. Ellis (1962)
3. My value as a person depends on how
argues that psychological disorders result when
others evaluate me.
these core beliefs are irrational. Usually, we are
Beck argues that when appraisals are based not conscious of these core beliefs; hence they
on these assumptions, they are bound to be are unconscious processes that affect our short-
negative, causing extreme sadness and term expectations, appraisals and attributions.
How do core beliefs lead to maladaptive
Attributions are our concept about why behaviour ? Ellis forwards the ABC Model to
things happen to us. For example, if a student explain this. He states that A is an activating
fails in the exam, whom does she blame for the event which is unpleasant and bothersome.
failure ? If she blames the teacher, it is an There are consequences in the form of negative
external attribution but if she blames herself it emotions. Most people believe that the emotional
is an internal attribution. There are three consequences (C) are a direct result of the event
dimensions of attributions : (A); however, there is an intermediate step
1. External-internal called B which represents the beliefs one holds
2. Stable-unstable about the event. Irrational beliefs in the second
3. Global-specific step (B) actually lead to such emotional
A stable cause is one that is maintained over consequences. For example, if a person is phobic
time. For example, if the student thinks that she to dogs, she thinks that she becomes anxious
will never be able to get good marks, she is (emotional consequence C) when she confronts
making a stable attribution; but if she believes a dog (event A). Actually, there are irrational
that not studying well for this exam led to beliefs (B) that are unconscious and lead to C.
failure, the attribution is unstable. Global
attributions are displayed across situations Rational-Emotive Therapy
whereas specific attributions are specific to a The rational-emotive therapy forwarded by
task. If the student thinks that she is a loser and Ellis is based on the idea that to change
she won’t be able to do anything in life because maladaptive behaviour, we need to change
she failed a psychology exam, it is global incorrect cognitions. Hence, while he explains
attribution. disorders using the ABC model, he proposes
Cognitive psychologists state that the that disorders can be treated using the ABCD
attribution style determines whether anyone is models where D stands for the process of
prone to certain disorders like depression. The disputing and changing B.
clinically deprived make internal, stable and
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

such thoughts and emotions. It is when the

client discovers the contradictions that she can
be said to have successfully gone through the
therapy. Beck believed that a successful client of
his therapy passes through four stages :
1. Become aware of what she is thinking
2. Recognize what thoughts are inaccurate
3. Substitute accurate for inaccurate judgments
4. Take feedback from the therapist to inform
her where her changes are correct

Fig. ABCD Model of Ellis. Adapted from

Passer and Smith (2007)
In rational-emotive therapy (RET), the
therapist acts as cross-examiner of irrational
beliefs of the client. The therapist is an active Cognitive Therapies :
part of the therapy, and aggressively confronts, An Evaluation
the client about her irrational beliefs. Ultimately, Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) has been
it is cognitive restructuring : the therapist found to be useful in reducing disorders such
introduces the client to commonly held irrational as test anxiety and speech anxiety quite
beliefs and then trains her by aggressive
effectively. Researchers have also found that
confrontation to change her irrational beliefs.
RET is quite effective for depressive disorders.
Beck’s Cognitive Therapy However, it seems to be most effective in helping
Although all forms of cognitive therapy generally healthy people to cope with everyday
concentrate on cognitive restructuring, not all stress and prevent them from developing clinical
treatments are as direct and confrontational as anxiety or depression.
rational-emotive therapy. In Aaron Beck’s Beck’s therapy seems to be extremely effective
cognitive therapy, the therapist is suggestive,
in alleviating many different kinds of disorders.
helping the client discover her own unique
Its effect in the case of depression is comparable
kinds of faulty beliefs, while the task of to drug treatment, and indeed often better.
identification of irrational belief is with the
Moreover, it has superior long-term benefits :
client. In a sense, the clients are made to act as relapse chances in the case of drug addiction
psychological detectives. Clients are asked to
are low in case of Beck’s therapy. Beck’s therapy
note their automatic thoughts and emotions in
a notebook and then write rational responses to has shown promising results in the treatment of
32 Applied Psychology

certain personality disorders and substance-

abuse disorders also.

n Client-Centred Therapy

Client-centred therapy is the most popular

humanistic therapy. Carl Rogers developed this
therapy in reaction to the psychoanalytic method
of treatment. He reasoned that in the therapy
process, most important element is the therapist-
client relationship. It is not the therapist, but the
client who ultimately holds the key to
psychological health and well-being. Hence,
therapy should be client-centred; the role of the
therapist is to provide a therapeutic environment
that fosters self-exploration and personal growth.

The Idea
Fig. : Degree of congruence between self
Before getting into the nature and
concept and experience; Adapted by Passer
assumptions of client-centred therapy, it is
and Smith (2007)
important to understand Rogers’ view of
abnormality. Rogers believed that most
psychological problems originate from The Therapy
incongruence between self-perceptions and Based on his research and experiences as a
experience. The self, according to him, refers to therapist, Rogers identified three attributes of a
an organized, consistent set of perceptions and therapist in client-centred therapy :
beliefs about oneself. Any experience which is 1. Unconditioned Positive Regard : We humans
inconsistent with our self-concept evokes anxiety. have an ingrained need for positive regard
Well-adjusted people respond to the anxiety (i.e., approval, love and companionship) of
adaptively by modifying the self-concept. But significant others in our life. But these
individuals with abnormality have rigid and significant others (father, mother, siblings,
inflexible self-concepts, owing to which they are friends etc.) attach conditions of worth when
less open to experiences and hence are giving positive regard, that is, you are
maladjusted. positively regarded only if you act and think
in certain ways. Such conditioned positive
regard becomes problematic when the ways
in which we are supposed to behave are
incongruent to our true inner feelings.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

Hence, Rogers argues that the therapist Client-Centred Therapy :

should show conditioned positive regard An Evaluation
therapy. The therapist should accept the Client-centred therapy has often been
client, without judgment or evaluation. The
criticized for the lack of any systematized model
therapist trusts that the client has the ability
of human behaviour. The way that Rogers
to work through her problems. This is also
believes a therapy should progress, some critics
the reason why the therapy is non-directive,
fear that even a layman can become the
that is, the therapist doesn’t offer advice or
guidance. therapist. That is exactly what Rogers believed!
The therapy is similar to the way a very close
2. Empathy is the willingness and ability to
take on the client’s perspective and view the friend of yours behaves with you. Yet, many
world from the client’s perspective. Not only skills are necessary to become a therapist in
this, the therapist communicates to the client Rogerian therapy. Not every stranger can behave
that he empathetically feels about her by with you the way your best friend does.
reflecting back to the client what the client Research on client-centred therapy, chiefly
says in their conversation. involving clients with mild problems, have
3. Genuineness is also an important attribute shown encouraging results (e.g., Rogers and
of the therapist. The therapist must be open Dymond, 1954). However, a later trial of this
enough to express her own feelings honestly, therapy by Rogers and his colleagues (1967)
whether the feelings are positive or negative. proved disapproving many concepts introduced
You may wonder how the therapist can by client-centred therapy (such as importance of
show unconditioned positive regard, still therapist empathy, human potential for self-
express negative feelings? This seems
direction, motivation to search for meaning in
contradictory, but is not necessarily so. It is life etc.) have deeply influenced contemporary
the skill of the therapist to accept the client
views on psychotherapy.
even while expressing displeasure with the
client’s behaviour. For example, the therapist
n Behaviour Therapies
may observe, “I feel frustrated that you did
not give the exams because I want things to Psychodynamic, humanistic and cognitive
work out for you”.
therapy all are based on the idea that disorders
Roger believed that these three attributes of are due to inner dynamics. Hence, all these
the therapist creates a climate in which the types of therapies focus on insight. Behaviour
client feels free to explore basic attitudes and
therapies are radically different, in that they
beliefs without fear of being rejected or judged.
believe that maladaptive behaviours aren’t
This climate facilitates the client’s innate
symptoms of inner disorder; rather they are the
potentialities to explore her feelings and strive
disorders; maladaptive behaviours are learnt
for personal growth.
very much the same way normal behaviours are
– on the principles of classical conditioning,
operant conditioning and modeling. Hence,
34 Applied Psychology

therapy should focus on changing these from a phobia). That means, dog is a CS that
maladaptive behaviours using the principles of elicits anxiety as a CR. If dog as a CS is paired
behavioural approach. with relaxation as CR, anxiety as a CR fails; all
Classical conditioning is one in which a because one can’t be anxious and relaxed at the
conditioned stimulus (CS) is paired with an same time.
unconditioned stimulus (UCS). Due to this, the A desensitization training typically passes
CS starts eliciting response (conditional response through four stages :
: CR) that is otherwise omitted in response to (a) Interview
the unconditioned stimulus. In therapies, this (b) Training in Relaxation
principles is used either to decondition (i.e.
(c) Construction of anxiety hierarchies
reverse maladaptive behaviours that result due (d) Desensitization proper
to classical conditioning) or to condition aversive
emotional response to some stimuli (for eg.
condition avoidance in response to stimuli such
alcohol for alcoholics, children for pedophiles ).
Most common classical conditioning approaches
are systematic desensitization, implosive
therapy and flooding, and aversion therapy.
Operant conditioning refers to conditioning a
behaviour that is emitted more often when
rewarded and less often when punished. Many
positive-reinforcement techniques and
punishment techniques are based on this.
Modeling is used in techniques like assertive
therapy and social skills training. Let us discuss
above mentioned therapies in greater detail : The therapy starts with an interview and a
1. Systematic Desensitization : few tests to assess the type of, and nature of
This is the most popular behavioural therapy anxiety. The prime purpose here is to determine
used in the treatment of phobias and other the sources of anxiety i.e. CS that lead to
anxiety-related disorders. Developed by Wolpe, anxiety. Then the client is trained in skills of
it uses a procedure called counter conditioning, in voluntary muscle relaxation. A stimulus hierarchy
which a new response incompatible with anxiety is then constructed, consisting of some 10 to 20
is conditioned to an anxiety arousing CS. The scenes that have a gradient from being low-
new response usually is relaxation. The logic is anxiety provoking stimulus to high-anxiety
that one can not be anxious and relaxed at the provoking stimulus. For example, suppose a
same time. For example, suppose an individual girl is afraid of frogs. Frogs are placed at
get anxious on approaching a dog (she suffers
different distances in every scene with even a
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

scene in which a frog is placed on the girl’s lap. the conditioned stimulus (frog) is no longer
After this starts the desensitization proper. The paired with the UCS, the real anxiety-causing
client has to move from the bottom of the stimulus.
hierarchy (low-anxiety producing stimuli) to Implosive therapy is based on an approach
the top (high-anxiety producing stimuli). In of extinction. In order for extinction to occur, it
every step, relaxation is taught to substitute uses the following strategies :
anxiety as a CR. As the relaxation becomes 1. Flooding of CS without UCS so that the
strong enough to counter anxiety at one stage, strength of conditioning decreases.
the client moves on to the next stage in the
2. Preventing the client from avoiding or
escaping the stimulus.
2. Implosive therapy and Flooding : Implosive therapy has been found to be quite
While systematic desensitization tries effective in the treatment of phobias and certain
counter-conditioning (i.e. conditioning an anxiety-related disorders. However, critics
incompatible CR to counter the original CR), remain concerned that initially, such flooding
there are other techniques that can uncondition leads to intense anxiety and fear in the clients.
the original CR. These techniques are based on Systematic desensitization is sometimes
the concept of extinction. If a CS is not paired preferred over implosive therapy, as it produces
with an UCS for a long time, it leads to extinction. far less anxiety for the client. However, implosive
therapy provides better results in briefer course
What happens in the case of phobias ?
of the therapy.
Usually, phobia happens due to conditioning of
the object of phobia (say a frog) with an 3. Aversion therapy :
unconditioned stimulus (UCS). After that, even
Suppose some pedophile offenders (child
in the absence of UCS, the CS (frog) leads to CR
molesters) are brought up to you and you are
(anxiety). Why doesn’t extinction take place ?
asked to rehabilitate them, what do you do ?
Because, the CR (anxiety) motives the individual
You know that if left without any supervision,
to avoid the frog. Avoidance leads to reduction
they may be dangerous to children in the society.
of fear and hence avoidance becomes an operant
So, the only solution is to treat them for their
conditioned response that is reinforced by a
sick, perverse desire for children.
reduction of fear.
Aversion therapy does exactly the opposite
Phobia = Classical conditioning + Operant
of what implosive therapy does. An undesirable,
noxious stimuli (UCS) is paired with something
= Fear of an object + Reinforcement of you want the individual to avoid (CS) so that
the fear by avoidance the CS also becomes a noxious stimuli. For
Avoidance behaviour is difficult to example, in case of pedophiles, show them
extinguish because one never gets to realize that pictures of children and condition it with electric
36 Applied Psychology

shock. Make an alcoholic drink alcohol while 5. Punishment :

injecting a mausea-arousing drug. The nausea Punishment is usually avoided as a therapy
is paired with alcohol and the individual avoids technique as it has potential negative side
drinking alcohol. effects. It can be used as a measure of last resort,
A major shortcoming of this therapy is that when less painful alternatives are not available.
the results of treatment often don’t get Even then, the consent of the patient or a
generalized from treatment conditions to the guardian (in case the patient is a minor or
real world. A reason for this may be expectancy mentally incompetent to give consent) is needed.
: the client understands that children she is Punishment has been found to be quite
sexually attracted to in real life don’t give shock effective in treating severely disturbed autistic
if molested. Hence, discrimination takes place children. Autistic children often indulge in
between the stimuli in treatment conditions and repetitive, self-destructive behaviour such as
real-life conditions. Some experts believe that if banging their head on sharp objects or tear
aversive therapy is part of a larger treatment pieces of flesh from their body. Lovaas (1977), a
program that makes use of multiple approaches, pioneer in the treatment of operant conditioning
it is more effective. techniques, had conducted a training in which
a severely disturbed girl (who banged her head
4. Token Economy :
against objects) was given electric shocks
This is based on the concepts of operant
everytime she indulged in self-destructive
conditioning. This training has been of immense
behaviour. In 15 shocks, her self-destructive
use in changing behaviours of hospitalized
behaviour was eliminated.
patients, specifically schizophrenic patients. A
token is paid to a patient for performance of 6. Modeling techniques
desired behaviour. This token can be used by In social skill training, clients learn new
the patient for a wide range of reinforcers, such skills by observing and imitating a model. This
as a private room, opportunity to watch a has been effectively used in inculcating social
movie, recreational facilities. Token economy skills among populations, ranging from those
has proved to be quite effective in treating even who fear to talk to girls, to delinquents who
the most challenging patients. In a study have to resist peer pressure to severely disturbed
spanning four years, Paul and Lentz (1977) schizophrenic patients.
studied severely disturbed schizophrenic Another modeling technique is the
patients. An experimental group was provided assertiveness training in which the client is asked
token economy while a control group wasn’t. It to try out new behaviour keeping a person who
was found that after the behavioural training is more assertive as role model. Role Model is
program about 98% of the experimental group
used in assertive therapy to develop such skills.
had been discharged from hospital. In contrast,
only 45% of the control group were discharged.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

n Indigenous Therapies experience tranquility. Can there be a better,

and cheaper technique to relaxation than these
All the therapies we have discussed till now traditional therapies? Not only the brain,
are based on theoretical constructs of psychology indigenous therapies also influence other
and medical science. However, there are certain physiological functions. The rate of metabolism
traditional exercises and practices that have lowers (as evidences from the fact that oxygen
therapeutic value. Some of the popular consumption decreases and carbon dioxide is
traditional therapies have been indigenously eliminated) and there is a decrease in blood
developed and used in eastern traditions, for lactate, a chemical that is related to stress.
instance yoga, meditation and reiki.
Indigenous therapies have been in use for Yoga
centuries in our tradition. Their therapeutic Yoga means union. It is based on the ancient
value has been documented in many documents. Indian philosophy of uniting the individual
For example, Patanjali had forwarded various spirit with universal spirit. Yoga is touted to be
constructs of Yoga. Since him, many students of a state of superconsciousness in our traditional
yoga have benefited from its therapeutic value. literature. In this section, we will concentrate on
The real interest for indigenous therapies in therapeutic applications of yoga.
scientific circles of psychology came when it Ramamurthi (1977) has studied yogis under
was found that meditation and yoga lead to states of relaxation, concentration and
certain physiological changes that foster mental meditation. He found changes in the brain
health and have the ability to help deal with which had a beneficial effect on the activity of
mental disorders. nervous system. These changes also affected the
way the heart, the lungs, the digestive system as
It has been found from electroencephalogram
(EEG) studies that numerous brain-waves exist, well as the endocrine system function. These
each wave active in a different state of physiological changes, contends Ramamurthi,
consciousness. Alpha waves are active when foster positive health.
the individual experiences tranquility. Beta An obvious utility of yoga is in tackling
waves are of high frequency and are active stress and fostering relaxation. Dr. Cabot-Zinn
when the individual undertakes cognitive tasks. of University of Massachussets had designed
It is usually accompanied by tension. Delta Stress Reduction and Relaxation Programme
waves and theta waves are active when the (SRRP) based on Hatha yoga around twenty
individual is asleep. EEG studies have shown years back. A slew of peer-reviewed journal
that meditation and yoga practitioners are able papers have verified the therapeutic usage of
to control their brain waves. Alpha waves this program, and other such programs based
noticeably increase during meditation. The on yoga.
implications of these findings are profound. It Relaxation is also linked to anxiety. A relaxed
means that meditation and yoga take you to a person can’t be anxious at the same time. Does
different state of consciousness where you it mean that yoga affects anxiety also ? Many
38 Applied Psychology

studies have shown that yoga is an effective from the world of stimuli (i.e., outside world) by
tool to reduce anxiety. For instance, after the using intense concentration. In the case of
disastrous tsunami struck South India in 2006, transcendental meditation (TM), subjects sit
many survivors suffered from Post Traumatic quietly in comfortable position with their eyes
Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dr. Gerbarg who teaches closed. They exclusively concentrate on the
psychiatry at New York Medical College, sound of a mantra, that they repeat to themselves
conducted a study on these victims in which silently. Participants are discouraged from
three groups were taken. One group of 60 thinking logically or concentrate on any specific
victims were given 4-day yoga training. Another idea; rather, the mind should be allowed to
group of 60 was given 4-day yoga and experience freely the thoughts elicited by the
counselling. A third group of 60 acted as control. mantra. During TM, the mind ‘transcends’
The researcher found that yoga had significant normal consciousness to arrive at a state of
effect on PTSD. Counselling didn’t seem to have nothingness.
as substantial effect as yoga as the results for EEG activity has shown that brain-wave
first two groups were similar. Other studies activity during meditation resemble that of a
have explored the therapeutic value of controlled drowsy state superficially. The difference lies in
breathing in yoga. I. Sharma and Agnihotri the fact that during meditation, one is not
(1982) had investigated the effect of controlled inattentive. Rather the attention is inwardly
breathing on 20 persons who were diagnosed directed. The decrease in body metabolism is
high on anxiety. After 4 weeks of practice there greater in meditation than in a drowsy state or
was definite reduction in anxiety in 10 out of deep sleep. Hence, Wallace (1970) is justified in
the 20 patients. calling meditation a unique “fourth state of
The benefits of Yoga in handling stress, consciousness”.
anxiety, depression and hypertension have been There are significant health changes due to
verified. But do you know that yoga helps treat TM. For example, Bharadwaj, Upadhyaya and
physiological disorders such as cancer, diabetes, Gaur (1979) have examined the effects of TM,
and heart diseases also ? Take, for instance, drugs and placebo on three groups of neurotic
Divakar’s (1982) study of diabetic patients. He patients. Their anxiety level was assessed before
found that in a majority of cases, there was a and after the treatments. The conclusion was
fall of blood sugar level among these patients that maximum reduction in total anxiety was in
after practising yoga for a specific period. the TM group followed by the drug treatment
Nagarathna and Nagendra (1981) have given group. Hence, TM seems to be more effective
similar reports. than drugs in case of anxiety. On top of that,
drugs like Prozac (used to treat anxiety) are
Transcendental Meditation costlier and have side-effects.
Almost all forms of meditation involve an TM also seems to change one’s personality.
attempt to direct the focus of attention away For instance, Schwartz and Coleman (1973)
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

observed that practitioners of meditation are acts as the knowledge of results (KR), important
less anxious and less neurotic when measured for operant learning.
by Eysenck’s Personality inventory. They are
also low on aggression.

Criticisms :
It seems that all forms of yoga don’t have the
same benefit on all people. This is the reason
why many studies on yoga have got
inconclusive results. If you conduct a test on
psychologically heterogenous population and
the results show that yoga has beneficial effect Fig : Mechanism of biofeedback
on some while no effect on others, it means that
yogic practice doesn’t benefit all people alike. To illustrate biofeedback, some specific
examples will be taken here. Here, I will borrow
In a review article, I. Sharma and Agnihotri
heavily from results of a study conducted by
(1982) make the revelation that yoga and TM
H. Mishra and S.K. Kiran Kumar (1993).
have side-effects also. There are possibilities of
subjects developing dissociative states, Secondary Sexual Impotence
depersonalization and derealization experiences.
Primary sexual impotence is one where penile
Anxiety may increase in some individuals due
erection does not happen. Biofeedback can not
to meditation because during meditation the
be used in this case as the individual can’t
individual gets to confront emotionally charged
make physiological changes (penile erection) on
material. These emotionally charged memories
may overwhelm the individual. Hence I. Sharma sexual arousal in any way. In secondary sexual
impotence, penile erection is present but the
and Agnihotri have warned against the
clients wouldn’t maintain it for sufficient period
indiscriminate use of yoga.
to have vaginal penetration and satisfactory
n Biofeedback intercourse. The feedback procedure in this case
typically follows the following steps :
Biofeedback is essentially a type of 1. Relaxation training
behavioural therapy. The development of 2. An electronic instrument is arranged to take
sensitive electronic equipments that could tell biofeedback. Plethysmograph is an
us about our physiological responses has instrument that records penile (erection)
enabled us to take feedback from our biological responses. It can be used to take biofeedback.
system. This feedback helps us to use operant
3. The client is presented with pictures of nude
learning procedures to voluntarily control our
females of his choice. He is asked to fantasize
physiological processes, such as heart rate,
and relive the sexual intercourse and sex
penile erection, blood pressure etc. Feedback
play when viewing the pictures. This he has
40 Applied Psychology

to do for a 45 minute session. The pictures release is recorded.

are regularly changed to avoid satiation. 4. The time interval between pressure formation
4. After 45 minutes, the results of and release becomes the bladder tension
plethysmograph are taken. The graph feedback. This is monitored in every trial.
between maintenance of penile volume and
In every trial, effort is made to lengthen the
duration of erection is provided to the client
interval of withholding pressure. A twice-a-day
for analysis, so that he could make informed
practice, once in the forenoon and once in the
attempts in the next session.
afternoon are recommended. Mishra and Kiran
Kumar (1993) had worked with a patient with
In the study by Misra and Kiran Kumar, it
enuresis. This patient had been suffering from
was found that plethysmographic feedback
the problem for the past 13 years. He had earlier
along with relaxation can improve penile
been treated with drugs, psychotherapy and
response in about 27 sessions. Relaxation is
behaviour therapy, but to no avail. He used to
important because it reduces any anxiety one
wet his bed daily at night one or two times. In
has doing the intercourse process. Anxiety
the biofeedback exercise, this enuretic patient
affects performance and penile volume. If you
took 272 days to achieve complete dry nights. It
are unable to consummate your conjugal life, I
is quite an encouraging result, given that other
recommend you try out biofeedback. Medications
treatments didn’t work in the past 13 years.
only provide temporary help.
Enuresis Biofeedback can be coupled with systematic
desensitization therapy in treating phobia. The
Enuresis is a disorder in which if you drink
biofeedback instrument used here is a
water beyond a satiation level, your bladder can
galvanometer that measures Galvanic Skin
not withstand the tension and wet your pants.
Response (GSR). Changes in GSR show the
In many cases of enuresis, the patient wets the
pattern of anxiety response to phobia-arousing
bed daily. It becomes tough to withstand the
stimuli. A biofeedback procedure to treat phobia
bladder pressure for even 2-3 minutes from the
can follow the following steps :
time of feeling the tension.
1. Construction of an anxiety hierarchy.
Biofeedback for enuresis typically follows
the following steps : 2. Client education, in which the client is
educated about how deflection in the
1. The patient drinks water beyond satiation
galvanometer indicates physiological
level. changes.
2. The time when bladder tension is felt is
3. Presentation of items from the anxiety
hierarchy for visualization. All this time the
3. The patient tries to withhold the pressure till
client monitors GSR changes through visual
maximum tension builds up and the releases
and auditory modalities.
the same. All this time, the time taken to
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

Chronic Anxiety and Tension interventions to foster mental health in children

In a series of pioneering studies on brain and then move on to certain general
wave activity, Dr. Kamiya found that conscious psychological interventions.
control of alpha waves is possible. Biofeedback
can be used to get feedback about alpha wave
Interventions to foster mental health in
activity and muscle tension, and then voluntarily
trying to change alpha wave activity. This
technique is also referred to as “electronic The most important aspect of fostering mental
yoga” because it seeks to do the same thing that health is to help the individual develop a
yoga and meditation do, making use of electronic correct frame of reference in childhood.
feedback of EEG and other instruments. This
use of biofeedback has been particularly helpful
1. Nutrition : Sufficient and healthy nutritious
in overcoming chronic anxiety and tension.
food is not only necessary for physical health
but also for mental health. Many studies on
Biofeedback : An Appraisal
deprived groups in India has shown that
As already seen, biofeedback is a modern malnutrition is linked with impaired
therapeutic tool. But what is its efficacy ? Some cognitive development, and with mental ill-
concerns regarding biofeedback are : health. Agarwal et al. (1987) have found
1. The effects of biofeedback procedures are from a large scale study on 6-8 years old
generally small.
rural children in Varanasi that severity of
2. Many of the effects of biofeedback procedures malnutrition is proportional to impairment
do not generalize to situations outside the of intelligence, verbal reasoning, short term
laboratory, where feedback devices are not memory and perceptual and spatial skills.
present. 2. Rich Environment : The human child is in
3. It is quite a costly method, involving costly need of a rich environment for stimulation of
electronic equipments for feedback. its mental faculties, in order to develop a
strong self-concept. Hence, schools should
n Fostering Mental Health try to provide an intellectual environment
rich in problem-solving tasks and logical
In most of the therapies we have discussed reasoning.
in this chapter, the focus has been on treating a
3. Realistic aspirations : Those with unrealistic
mental disorder. An alternative is to prevent the
goals often face frustration in life. They also
incidence of mental disorder. Hence, many
tend to develop a rigid self-concept. Often,
psychologists – especially community mental
failure is followed by incorrect attributions
health workers and school psychologists – are
and appraisals. For example, many students
now concentrating on attempts to foster mental
with poor mental health attribute success to
health. In this section, we will discuss certain
external factors and failure to internal factors.
42 Applied Psychology

Hence, there is a need to develop in children Some prominent situation-focused

realistic perceptions about what they can interventions are those that try to enhance inter
aim for and achieve. Correct training in personal relations in families, reduce stress
school prevents negative attributions of within organizations and provide social support
by developing a sense of connection to the
community at large. Many mental health
4. Core beliefs : Cognitive theorists believe problems develop, for instance, because of
that underlying most mental health problems improper family child rearing practice. Parents
are certain irrational core beliefs. The make conditioned positive regard and have
individual is not conscious of these core contradictory expectations from the child. This
beliefs; in deed, these beliefs often develop creates a double bind for the child and may lead
early in life and affect other cognitive to split mind (causal factor in schizophrenia) or
processes. Hence, an important strategy to depression.
foster mental health in children is to make Here we shall discuss a successful
interventions to change irrational core beliefs. community intervention programme to prevent
mental disorders and thereby to promote mental
General Intervention Strategies health. Raine and coworkers (2003) designed a
program to prevent the development of anti
The strategy used by psychological
social personality disorder in a high-risk slum
interventions to foster mental health is to reduce
environment in the inner-city. Children in the
the factors that increase vulnerability of mental age group 3-5 years were randomly assigned to
disorders. These factors, that can increase or an experimental group that was given an
decrease mental health, are of two types : intensive nutritional, physical exercise and
situational factors and personal factors. Hence, educational program. At the age of 17, the
interventions are also of two types : situation- children who were part of the experimental
focused interventions and competency-focused group had lower scores on measures of anti
interventions. social personality disorder than control group-
Competency-focused interventions are
concerned with the person factors in mental
health. Hence, these programs seek to increase
the competency of people i.e., increase personal
resources and coping skills. For instance, Rath
(1992) had studied the effect of verbal self-
instructional training and operant manipulation
of response and reward on children from tribal
families in Orissa. He found that both kind of
training were effective in remediation of
impulsive tempo in children. Many other studies
have reported that high self-efficacy treatment
helps to develop better stress coping skills.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

Lifestyle and Well Being physical well-being but also mental well-being.
Till now, we have been discussing various Mental health is more than just the absence
psychological interventions to foster better mental of mental disorders. Hence, the concept of
health. But there are certain measures that the subjective well-being is important here. An
individual can take (and should take) to foster individual who sees meaning in life, is motivated
mental health. We have discussed of lifestyle towards self-actualization, and finds satisfaction
and how a flawed lifestyle affects mental health has the utmost mental health. Perfect mental
in the chapter on psychological well being. A health is found in Anasakti. An anasakt individual
lifestyle model for perfect health proposed by is detached from material pleasures and hence
Parashar (2000) has also been included in the experiences a superconsciousness; a sense of
discussion. Healthy lifestyles lead to not only peace with life.
44 Applied Psychology

• Prevention

3 •

Role of Psychologists
– of the mentally challenged

– of the socially challenged

– of the physically challenged
• Substance abuse disorder
Rehabilitation • Rehabilitation of criminals
• Rehabilitation of victims of HIV/

Psychology •
Aging and Rehabilitation
• Juvenile Delinquency
• Rehabilitation of victims of violence

n Prevention Primary Prevention

PP includes a variety of strategies aimed at
The major focus of mental health efforts has reducing the possibility of disorders and
traditionally been restorative, that is, helping fostering good health. Psychologists involved in
people only after they develop disorders. A PP undertake epidemiological studies to obtain
more effective strategy is to try to provide support information about incidence and distribution of
and help at early stages, or better yet, to focus various maladaptive behaviours. Epidemi
on preventing psychological disorders. The ological studies provide information regarding
concept of prevention is based on this the incidence of maladaptive behaviours and
philosophy. Broadly, various strategies for diseases in various sections of the population.
prevention used in public health can be The results of these studies are used to define
categorised as: target groups – groups that have greater
Primary Prevention (PP) vulnerability for a disorder. For example, it has
Secondary Prevention (SP) been found that divorced people and elderly
Tertiary Prevention (TP) people living alone are at high risk for
delusional disorders. They become the target
PP refers to efforts aimed at reducing the
group for preventive intervention programmes
possibility of disorders and fostering positive
aimed at preventing delusional disorders.
health. Once disease or disorder develops, SR is
used as an emergency step to reduce the impact After this, psychologists study the factors
and spread of the disorder. TP seeks to reduce affecting the vulnerability of these groups. There
the long-term consequences of disorders. are two types of factors : Risk factors and protective
factors. Psychologists try to alter conditions that
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

contribute to disorders and establish conditions have seen in the chapter on disadvantaged
that foster well-being. Risk factors are those groups the consequence – both mental and
conditions that contribute to disorders, while physical – of prolonged deprivation from
protective factors are those that foster well- stimulation. PP seeks to provide adequate
being. For example, in the case of preventing stimulants to the growing child in the crucial,
spread of HIV/AIDS having sex with multiple formative stages.
partners is a risk factor while using condoms Also necessary for psycho-social health is
(doing safe sex) is a protective factor. that the person acquire an accurate frame of
Strategies used in prevention programmes reference; when an individual’s perceptions of
are numerous and varied. Yet, they can be the world are far from reality, she is more
studied under the following three heads : vulnerable to mental disorders. For instance, as
Kakar has pointed, socialization process in
(a) Biological measures of prevention
Indian families leaves an individual with a
A major reason for mental retardation is narcissistic self-concept (see chapter on
defect in the foetus due to genetic causes or due terrorism). Such identity distortion leads to
to teratogens (environmental agents that alter maladaptive development. Hence, primary
the genetic structure of the baby in the uterus). prevention measures should include
PP workers provide genetic counselling to couples interventions for correct socialization.
on the status of the foetus. If genetic defects can
Erik Erikson, among others, had stressed
be identified in advance, abortion may be
that development is a life-long process and we
considered an option.
face problems in every life-stage. Primary
Before the birth of the baby, PP workers Prevention looks into problems and crisis during
provide pre-natal care. After the birth, post-natal the whole life span. For example, parenthood,
care is provided for the healthy development of marriage, career choices etc are problems faced
infants. Special care is taken to ascertain that in adulthood. PP in these stages include
the baby gets necessary vaccines; that the infant guidance to parents and couples, and career
gets adequate nutritional inputs etc. counselling. Geriatric care is provided to people
Beyond childhood, PP also looks into factors at the age of retirement. These are some important
such as lifestyle that foster both physical and measures of PP throughout the life span.
mental well-being, and prevent mental disorders.
(c) Socio-cultural Measures
(b) Psychosocial Measures
In many cases, pathological social conditions
Optimal development and functioning of an lead to maladaptive behaviour. For example, it
individual depends on both maturational factors has been seen that most juvenile delinquents
(nature) and learning (nurture). Hence, learning belong to low socio-economic status (SES)
of physical, intellectual, emotional and social groups. Sometimes, individuals may be
competencies is a psychosocial process. To genetically pre-disposed for maladaptive
develop these competencies effectively, the behaviour, but precipitating factors (stressors)
individual needs to be exposed to sufficient are provided by social conditions. For example,
stimulants. Proper socialization in a rich a schizophrenic’s son faces social stigma due to
environment fosters psychosocial health. We the wrong belief that madness is genetic. The
46 Applied Psychology

social stigma acts as a stressor to increase the Secondary Prevention

chances of the son becoming schizophrenic. Secondary prevention emphasizes the early
PP entails the removal of above risk factors. detection and prompt treatment of disorders. It
Some popular PP strategies to prevent the is based on the philosophy that early detection
occurrence of socio-cultural problems (such as and intervention makes treatment easier. For
drug abuse, alcoholism, violence) are :
example, victims of violence show acute
1. Intervention for high-risk groups response like shock and denial. If not
2. Intervention for adolescents immediately treated, they show delayed
– Educational programs responses such as regression to an earlier
– Family-based programs psychosocial stage (for instance, anal stage or
– Peer group influence programs phallic stage) or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
3. Modeling and awareness through mass- (PTSD). Most contemporary psychologists agree
media that PTSD is a natural response to traumatic
events, yet the severity may be high if immediate
High risk groups include individuals who,
help is not provided.
owing to their social situation or nature of
Two popular modes of secondary prevention
work, are more vulnerable than others. For
are short-term crisis therapy and telephone hot line.
example, Female Sex Workers (FSW) and men
Now-a-days, even internet is being used as a
having sex with men (MSM) are especially
prone to HIV/AIDS. In India, NACO is means to get immediate therapeutic help from
promoting safe sex practices and regular medical experts. Taking the earlier example of victims of
violence, short-term crisis therapy includes
check-up of these groups.
debriefing sessions. If the number of victims are
Adolescence is a period of identity confusion.
too many, everyone may not be able to get help
In this stage, people are especially vulnerable to
drug abuse and unsafe sex. Hence, primary from counsellors. Here, telephone hotline or
internet may be used, for example, victims of
prevention includes educational programs to
terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir can be
educate them. Parents are also educated so that
connected to counsellors in Kerala !
they can recognize the symptoms of, say, drug
Some other secondary prevention approaches
abuse in teens. Owing to the important role
played by peer groups in adolescence, there is are called harm reduction approaches. After an
a pressure for conformity. Interventions such as individual starts engaging in a high-risk
behaviour, the attempt is to reduce the harmful
assertiveness training in schools help students
effects of that behaviour. For example, having
resist negative peer pressure.
sex with sex workers is a high risk behaviour.
Modelling is used through the medium of Primary prevention approach is to discourage
mass media or street dramas to foster positive
people from showing such behaviour. But when
attitude towards health and well-being; and to
people start engaging in this behaviour, the
develop negative attitudes towards drug abuse
secondary prevention strategy is to motivate
and anti-social behaviour.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

them to engage in safe sex. Similarly, drug form of aftercare. Aftercare programs smoothen
addicts are given new needle and syringe by the transition from institutional to community
secondary prevention workers. A major reason life and reduce the number of relapses. Halfway
for spread of AIDS is the use of infected syringe homes are health facilities managed by the
again and again by drug addicts. SP workers community where patients stay for a while after
provide new needle and syringe so that the leaving hospital. Here, community and family
addicts don’t get AIDS. play proactive roles to teach social skills for
readjustment to community.
Tertiary Prevention
The role of TP doesn’t end after the patient
Tertiary prevention involves efforts aimed at starts her normal life. Relapse can occur even
reducing the long-term impact of a disorder. now... relapse occurs when the treated patient
Two major modes of tertiary prevention (TP) faces high-risk situations. People with high
are: coping skills can resist relapse, but many can’t.
1. Providing therapeutic climate in mental For them, relapse prevention training and
hospitals, and regular follow-up sessions are necessary.
2. Aftercare
Traditionally, the focus of mental hospitals n Rehabilitation
has been treatment. It has, however, been found
that the hospital environment can influence the Rehabilitation refers to all attempts made at
patient’s mental health. Hence, TP looks at the training and retraining an individual (usually
hospital as a therapeutic community. This with some kind of disability) so as to enable the
approach, called milieu therapy, is based on individual achieve maximum possible functional
three general principles : capability. Due to various environmental and
1. Staff expectations are closely communicated personal factors, an individual may face a
to mentally challenged patients. situation of crisis, a disability or so to say
inability to properly integration with her social
2. Patients are encouraged to get involved in
daily decision-making of the hospital. environment. For example, an accident may
3. All patients form a small group. Group lead to physical disability. A physically disabled
cohesiveness gives patients support and a person is no longer the same person. If one has
sense of social efficacy; group pressure exerts lost a hand, she finds it tough to work in office
pressure on the patients to exercise control to the same capacity as she earlier could. She
over their behaviour (Carson et al., 1998). finds it tough to adjust to her daily lifestyle and
social life. But if she is trained, she can attain
Even after successful treatment in hospitals,
maximum skills that could be attained with one
readjustment in the community is difficult. Many
hand lost. Hence, the need for rehabilitation.
studies have shown that as much as 45% of
The role of rehabilitation, in a broad sense, is to
schizophrenic patients have relapsed. So what
restore status of an individual who has met with
is the solution ? TP provides a solution in the
a disabling crisis.
48 Applied Psychology

Rehabilitation is different from treatment in within the theoretical framework of

the sense that treatment is based on the medical psychological research. At the same time, she
model, while rehabilitation draws from many tailors her rehabilitation programme to the needs
social and physical sciences. If an individual of the specific client. Every client has problems
tries to commit suicide by taking person, the unique to him, which the psychologist has to
doctors try to save her life. They don’t enquire deal. Hence, she is both a scientist and artist.
into what caused suicidal behaviour and The role of psychologists vary as per the
whether the individual will be prone to suicide individual needs and problems of the client, yet
again! Similarly, in the case of a physical a general analysis of the role of psychologists
disability, doctors provide only surgical help. A can be made as under :
person who has lost a limb in an accident
naturally feels depressed, may lose subjective Mentally-Challenged Persons
efficacy, may feel powerless and helpless. These Mentally challenged persons are the ones
are serious problems; these psychological who have developed maladaptive behaviour
problems may infact be more serious than due to a complex interaction between
physical disability. You can easily lead a life of environmental stressors and genetic factors.
dignity without a limb. You may even get a Previously, the medical model was followed
good job. But if after your disability, you get self- in treating mentally challenged persons. As a
defeating, negative thoughts or perceive an external result, persons with mental disorder were
locus of control, these the doctors don’t cater to. institutionalized in mental hospitals. They were
On the other hand, rehabilitation workers look given drugs and medicines that supposedly
into all aspects of the individual’s problems : cured mental disorders. But lately, there has
physical, psychological and social. The ultimate been a movement for deinstitutionalization.
aim of rehabilitation is to bring about a proper Many recent researches have found that
person-environment (PE) fit. To put it without medicines and drugs have side-effects. Besides,
psychological jargon, the aim of rehabilitation they only provide temporary cure to any
is to reintegrate the individual to her community abnormal behaviour. Other studies have
and to ensure that she can perform to her maximum confirmed that a mental patient needs her family
ability possible. and friends the most for recovery, and
institutionalization simply cuts the patient from
n Role of Psychologists in her social support. Hence, rather than helping
Rehabilitation mental patients, institutionalization worsens
their condition. Hence, a focus on rehabilitation
The role of psychologists span over the three over treatment. Rehabilitation workers see
stages of rehabilitation : Assessment, individuals with disorders as “clients” rather
Intervention and Aftercare. Also, it needs to be than “patients”. Now let us turn our attention
emphasized that a rehabilitation psychologist towards the role of psychologists in
is both a scientist and an artist. She works rehabilitation of mentally challenged persons :
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

(a) Crisis Intervention (b) Assessment

Some psychological help may be needed The nature of problem varies from person to
immediately after a crisis. It is always not person. Hence, there is a need to assess the
necessary but may be necessary in certain cases, situation of the client, to understand his problem
such as, for the victims of a terrorist attack. The holistically. To do so, the psychologist makes
immediate response of victims of such traumatic various assessments, such as :
violence is shock and denial. If these are not 1. Study of client’s social history
dealt by a psychologist (usually the psychologist 2. Interviews and clinical observation
does a debriefing session to bring the victim out 3. Personality tests such as MMPI
of the state of shock) immediately, the victim 4. Projective tests (ex. TAT)
may experience severe PTSD or may go to a 5. Neurological examination using EEG,
state of deeper psychological regression. PET, and MRI scans
6. Neuropsychological tests measuring
cognitive, perceptual and motor abilities.
Let us take the hypothetical case of Hari to
understand the job of a rehabilitation
psychologist better. Hari is a student of electrical
engineering and has attempted to commit
suicide. The psychologist tries to understand
the client’s social history. She finds that Hari
was good at music and wanted to make a career
in it. However his parents forced him to study
electrical engineering. Since he did not have the
aptitude for it or interest in the subject, he
regularly failed in exams. Did it lead to
depression ? Did it hurt his self-esteem ?
To know the answers to these questions, the
psychologist interviews him and his family
members. She also makes use of clinical
observation method to check psychological
responses such as emotions, aggression, anxiety,
hallucinations or delusions. Clinical observation
refers to detailed observation of the client when
he/she is admitted in the hospital. This is
usually done through hospital staff or by video
Fig : Steps in prevention and scope of
To understand Hari’s self-concept, she tests
psychologist’s role Hari on personality tests like MMPI and Eysenck
50 Applied Psychology

Personality Inventory (EPI). Was Hari introvert? the route to treatment. However, psychologists
How good a friends’ circle did he have ? Was believe that therapy and counselling are better
he evasive ? or neurotic ? Many students who and more durable strategies of intervention. In
commit suicide often show introversion, social deed, the rehabilitation psychologist decides if
withdrawl and neuroticism. hospitalization is at all necessary. Many
What were the environmental stressors on schizophrenics, for instance, have been found
Hari? The psychologist also studies Hari’s peer to recover by use of cognitive behavioural
group, family relations and his relations with therapies, self-help and family intervention.
his professors to understand the social context; Next, the psychologist determines the nature
often social contexts are precipitating factors of mental disorder and the therapy best suited
for maladaptive behaviour. for the disorder. Generally, psychologists make
Lastly, could the suicide attempt be an a wise combination of many different therapies
instinctive behaviour due to some genetic or in their rehabilitation program (this is called
biological factor? The psychologist takes the eclectic approach). For example, cognitive
help of neurologists and neuropsychologists. therapy is best for dealing with depression, and
Neurologists use MRI, EEG and other such psychoanalytic approach is quite effective in
instruments. An electro-encephalogram (EEG) dealing with anxiety related problems. So a
can assess brainwave patterns; Magnetic combination may be needed for a military person
resonance imaging (MRI) can detect structural who has tested high on both.
anomalies in the central nervous system, In the case of brain disorders affecting
Position Emission Tomography (PET) Scan cognitive functions, the psychologist targets
throws light on brain activity. Neuro skills lost by brain dysfunction. She may develop
psychologists provide testing devices to measure compensatory strategies for the client; for
Hari’s cognitive, perceptual, and motor example, if a client faces memory problems, she
performance. may train him in using a laptop as a log book
After doing assessment, the psychologist to organize information. Social skill training
has the option of making a formal diagnosis on using behavioural techniques of positive
the basis of DSM-IV classification of disorders. reinforcement and modelling have been found
However, the psychologist tries to avoid formal to be quite effective in treating schizophrenia
classification as much as possible as such a and other mental disorders. Application of these
classification is associated with social stigma. simple learning principles leads to significant
DSM-IV classification becomes necessary when improvements in social functioning and in the
the client is so disturbed mentally that she has quality of life of patients suffering from disorders.
become a danger to society; or when the (d) Aftercare
condition is so severe that there is a need for
After intervention succeeds in developing
admitting the client in a mental hospital.
functional autonomy in a person with mental
(c) Intervention disorder, she is taught social skills so that she
The medical model advocated medication as can be adequately rehabilitated back to society.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

Aftercare happens in halfway homes. The client Socially Challenged Persons

released from mental hospital has a gradual Socially challenged individuals are those
return to the outside world through halfway who have become marginalized in society
homes. At the halfway home, the individual’s because of their inability to follow social norms.
interaction with family and peer groups is Juvenile delinquents, individuals involved in
increased. She is trained to develop functional criminal activities, drug addicts and alcoholics
skills for employment also. are examples of socially challenged persons.
Not just deviant behaviour, developmental
Physically Challenged Persons challenges in the life span also may lead to
Physical disability produces stressors that social challenges. For example, old age problems
are cumulative. These stressors lead to are certain problems that make the olderly
psychological ill-health. For instance, a person citizens socially challenged.
who loses a limb in an accident perceives an The role of psychologists in rehabilitation of
external locus of control. Her self-efficacy gets a socially challenged persons begins with early
beating and she may become depressed. Her detection of problems. Epidemiology is the study
emotional reactions may range from anxiety to of distribution of disorders in a given population.
learned helplessness. Also, status in family and Psychologists make epidemiological studies to
peer group decreases. This leads to a lowered
assess the distribution of social problems, and
self-concept. to find groups where incidence of social
A depressed person feeling learned challenges is high. The intervention technique
helplessness may not even try to adjust to her differs widely for different cases of social
new condition. Denial or avoidance are defensive challenges. However, it is generally agreed that
styles that may be used by the person. the social deviants are deviants because of lack
The psychologist uses various stress of proper small group. There may be other
management techniques to reduce the effect of causal factors also, but best intervention is
stressors. She can counsel the client in Rogerian provided by small groups. Hence, role of
therapy to increase her self-concept; cognitive community and family is paramount here. Many
approach is effective for anxiety and depression. field psychologists working in the area of
Techniques such as biofeedback have been used community welfare develop community-based
in novel ways to improve aspects of motor interventions to rehabilitate victims of substance
control. abuse disorder and alcoholism.
Not just therapy, the psychologist helps the The socially deviant individuals are deviants
client in many other ways. For instance, she because they don’t conform to social norms.
suggests adaptive technologies for the client They don’t conform to social norms because
and ergonomics for places the client frequently they are not properly socialized. Hence,
visits (for example, facilities in the toilet so that resocialization is seen as an effective strategy to
the client feels comfortable and is not reminded rehabilitate them. This, again, is most effectively
of her disability). done in small groups. Group therapy approaches
such as alcoholic anonymous (AA) has been
found to be effective. Psychologists are also
52 Applied Psychology

using innovative strategies to treat drug addicts, selectively don’t attend to such messages. Hence,
alcoholics, paedophiles etc. For example, a there is a need to educate parents too. Very few
picture of a child (conditioned stimulus) is parents are aware of the symptoms of substance
paired with shock to treat pedophiles. Nausea use. Hence, they can’t detect the high risk
producing drugs are mixed with alcohol in behaviours of their children. There is a need to
some therapies to condition an avoidance educate them through messages sent via mass
towards it. media.
Aftercare is the last stage of rehabilitation. The peer group has a significant role to play
Here also there is a high chance of relapse. We in influencing substance use behaviour. This is
will deal with rehabilitation of victims of because, peer groups have great influence on an
alcoholism, substance abuse disorder, juvenile individual during adolescence. There is always
delinquency etc. in greater detail in other the pressure to conform to group norms.
sections in this chapter. Assertiveness training, among other forms of
training, helps the individual to resist group
n Substance Abuse Disorder pressure.

Substance abuse disorder is a major problem Rehabilitation

being faced at various levels : society, family
Rehabilitation of substance abuse disorder
and the individual. Harmful for personal health, follows the following steps :
it is also dysfunctional to family and society.
Many drug-abusers resort to crime in order to 1. Assessment of dependency
2. Intervention and counselling
maintain their supply of drugs. Drug abuse is
also related to incidence of HIV/AIDS. Use of 3. Aftercare and relapse prevention
infected syringe for drug intake increases the
Assessment of dependency
risk of getting HIV/AIDS. Drug overdose kills.
Drug dependency has two broad dimensions
Hence, there is a need for prevention of drug
– physical dependency and psychological
abuse, and rehabilitation of victims of substance
dependency. With regular use of drugs, tolerance
abuse disorder.
level of the body towards the particular drugs
Prevention increases. Owing to this, the same amount of
drugs that previously gave the ‘kick’ doesn’t
The first step to preventive interventions is
identification of target groups. Teens are the show desired effects. The abuser starts taking
most vulnerable group of population when it more amount to keep up the ‘kick’ (See the
comes to substance abuse. Hence, awareness chapter on disorders). This leads to physical
dependency. Such is the dependency that disuse
programme must be directed towards teens.
These programs usually use ‘fear’ to induce a of the drug leads to withdrawal symptoms.
negative attitude towards substance abuse in Another form of dependency is
adolescents. However, it has been found that psychological. What is the ability (or efficacy) of
just appealing to teens is not enough. Teens the abuser to resist the use of drugs ? What
who get involved in high risk behaviour usually coping style does he use if drug supply is
stopped? What are the cognitions/beliefs behind
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

the craving for drugs? The answer to these 3. How have each of these drugs been used,
questions vary from individual to individual. did the abuser smoke, drink, snort, or directly
inject into the blood stream ? (Note that the
Those with high psychological dependence on
way a drug is taken into the body is
drugs believe that they can’t live without drugs.
important. When it comes to the effect of
They have low self-efficacy and an external drug taken, snorting is more effective and
locus of control. faster, than smoking; and injecting into blood
The rehabilitation worker has to assess both is more effective than snorting. A drug abuser
physical and psychological dependency. This who has acquired high tolerance due to
regular use steadily moves from smoking to
is because sometimes substance abuse is due to
physical dependency; in other cases due to snorting and finally to direct injection into
psychological dependency. In still other cases,
4. Age of pear se, and amount of the drug used.
both dependency interact to produce complex
5. Amount of drugs used in a day typically.
forms of the disorder. The goal of rehabilitation
is to counter both forms of dependency. 6. List all negative consequences of using
various drugs.
So, how do you assess extent of drug abuse?
Biological testing is used to check whether drug Intervention and Counselling
has been consumed. In biological testing, the The steps that rehabilitation of an individual
specific drug in a blood sample can be assessed. suffering from substance abuse disorder goes
But biological testing cannot assess (a) the through can be understood from the
duration of time since when drugs are being transtheoretical model. This model states that
consumed, (b) the amount and frequency of behavioural change proceeds through six steps
drug consumption, (c) the means of drug (Prochaska and Narcross, 1994) :
consumption (smoke or through nostries, or 1. Precontemplation: No intention to make
directly injected to blood) and (d) the extent of change.
dependence. Biological testing is, hence, useful
2. Contemplation: Contemplating a behavioural
as proof of drug abuse in courts, but of not change, but not actively doing it.
much use in assessment of substance abuse
3. Preparation: Making small changes.
4. Action : Actively following new behavioural
Therefore, the primary method of assessment
patterns to overcome the problem.
of substance abuse disorder is interview. The
diagnostic interview is conducted with the 5. Maintenance: Sustaining the change over
substance abuser, as well as family members time.
and close friends. In addition, information about 6. Relapse, and finally termination.
the disorder is obtained from self-report and The model states that these steps don’t follow
paper-and-pencil tests (Dodgen, 2004). The a linear path, rather they follow a rehabilitation
psychologist typically searches for the following path as follows :
information in a drug abuse assessment
(Dodgen, 2004) :
1. List of all drugs ever used
2. Age of first use of these drugs
54 Applied Psychology

8. Group therapy

Pharmacotherapy refers to the use of certain

medicinal drugs to treat addiction. For example,
methadone is a drug that gives effects similar to
substance abuse drugs, but is not as harmful.
Methadone can be used as a substitute to the
drugs taken by the patient in a rehabilitation
centre. This way the withdrawal symptoms
could be avoided during treatment. However,
pharmacotherapies only give temporary
solutions, not permanent rehabilitation. They
are effective in controlling withdrawal
symptoms in the patients; hence can be used for
temporary relief to the patient while a longer
rehabilitation program is underway.
The disease model of addiction argues that
addicted individuals are predisposed to drug
addiction (due to genetic, biological, or trait
factors). Hence, the individual is powerless on
the face of her addiction. Naturally, the treatment
considers the client as a ‘patient’. A behavioural
treatment strategy called ‘twelve step programs’
is used where the addict is forced to renounce
Fig : The transtheoretical model; Based on her former lifestyle. Though criticized by many
Prochaska and Narcross (1994). psychologists, this method does show immediate
A variety of intervention strategies are used results. Of course, relapse can be high if the
to reduce (or eliminate) the dependency on addict is not monitored regularly.
drugs – ranging from medical solutions to
Most popular and effective intervention
psychotherapies. These can be summarised as :
programs today include counselling. One
1. Pharmaco therapies effective approach to counselling is the client-
2. Disease model and 12-step process centred counselling, in which the therapist
3. Client-centred therapy shows (a) unconditioned positive regard, (b)
4. Psychoanalytic therapy empathy, and (c) genuineness to the client to
help her solve her own problems.
5. Cognitive therapy
6. Motivational interviewing The psychoanalytic approach to addiction
7. Behaviourist therapies assumes that the main cause of addiction is
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

unconscious need to entertain and to enact basically that of cognitive dissonance.

various kinds of homosexual and perverse It is acknowledged by most psychologists
fantasies, while at the same time fearing social that a supportive peer group helps better cope
rebuttal. Psychoanalysts argue that specific drugs with withdrawal symptoms. Hence, logically
facilitate specific fantasies. Drug use is a better group therapy is an effective intervention. In
substitute than masturbation to entertain group therapy, behaviours are modified through
homosexual and perverse fantasies. Though role playing, psychodrama, discussions etc.
this basic assumption is proved false empirically, Some behavioural techniques are quite effective
psycholoanalytic approach is still popular. in treating substance abuse disorder. A popular
behavioural technique is aversion therapy in
A cognitive model of addiction is forwarded
by Aaron Beck in his book ‘Cognitive Therapy which the drug is paired with an aversive
stimuli such as electric shock. When the client
of Substance Abuse’. This therapy is based on
is conditioned, her response (conditioned
the assumption that there are certain core beliefs
response, CR) to the drug is similar to that of
that the addict himself may not be aware of. For
her unpleasant response to the aversive stimuli.
example, an addict may believe that he is
A problem with this therapy is that though
useless, but is not consciously aware of his
successful in laboratory conditions, it doesn’t
belief. The core beliefs trigger a system of
guarantee behavioural change in real life. In
addictive beliefs. Addictive beliefs are
other words, the response learnt in laboratory
imaginated benefits of drug use. For example, if
doesn’t get transferred to real life situations. A
your core belief is that you are useless, addictive
client may reason that now that she is outside
beliefs like “drugs are fun”, “drugs help me
the institution, she won’t get shock if she tries
escape the world”, “I am not accountable to
drugs !
anyone if I use drugs” etc. are triggered, while
the individual is not consciously aware of the Aftercare and Relapse Prevention
core beliefs, he is consciously aware of addictive
As studied in the transtheoretical model,
beliefs. These addictive beliefs increase the
there is a high danger of relapse after the client
craving for drugs. Cognitive therapists try to
is released for reintegration into society. Whether
uncover underlying core beliefs and negative
the individual relapses or not depends on her
thoughts to solve the problem of substance coping skills. Martlett and Gordon (1985) have
forwarded the relapse prevention model. This
Motivational interviewing is a variation of model is represented in the figure. According to
client-centred therapy, whereby the therapist this model, relapse happens in two stages. In a
doesn’t confront the client with the problem. high risk situation, first lapse takes place (single
Rather, the therapist leads the client to her own occurrence of drug use), and then relapse (back
conclusion by asking questions that focus on to the situation before treatment). There are four
discrepancies between the current state and the psychological processes involved in lapse
individual’s ideal self-image. The mechanism is (Martlett and Gordon, 1985).
56 Applied Psychology

effect. After one or two lapses, the individual

gets negative thoughts, such as, “I couldn’t
abstain from using drugs ! I can never recover!
I can never recover ! I can not quit” This further
reduces the self-efficacy to resist use of drugs.
With lowered self-efficacy and rationalize that
one can never be free from drug dependence,
relapse becomes inevitable. Abstinence violation
effect is but a self-fulfilling prophecy about one’s
inability to resist drugs. Everytime the prophecy
gets fulfilled (by lapses), the belief gets
strengthened. Ultimately, the individual
It is the task of rehabilitation – workers help
the client deal with such relapse–provoking
situations. The individual needs to be trained in
proper coping responses. Secondly, regular
follow-ups must monitor her situation.

Fig. : Relapse mechanism. Adapted from Virtual Reality in Relapse Prevention

Martlett and Gordon (1985) How does one deal with relapse-provoking
1. Self-efficacy situations? One way is by training in
competencies to cope with the situation. These
2. Outcome efficacy days, psychologists are using virtual reality
3. Attribution of causality (VR) technology to provide an environment
4. Decision-making process wherein alcoholics and addicts can practise
Suppose I, as a rehabilitated addict, encounter how to say ‘no’ to drugs/alcohol in a realistic
a relapse-provoking situation (for instance, setting.
meeting a former addict peer). If I am offered Basically, the VR environments consist of
drugs, my efficacy determines whether I can certain cues and settings that a rehabilitated
resist it. The outcome expectancy of drugs use person might find challenging, such as a bar
also affects my decision. If I take the drug this with imbibing patrons; a rave party; or a dimly
one time, what rationale do I use to explain my lit room with drugs in a drawer. Provided the
lapse? If I use external attribution (“the peer VR environments are real enough, the
forced me”), I am confident that this is only one participants’ cravings are intensified. So now
occasion and won’t be repeated. But if I use the psychologist can develop coping skills in
internal attribution (“It is my fault ! I can never the client by training and retraining. And the
quit !”), the chances of relapse increases.
client can practise the coping skills till she can
The transition from a single lapse to relapse use them in real life.
is explained in terms of abstinence violation
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

Role of Social Agencies abuse. Some NGOs even use street plays in
In India, the management of drug addicts innovative ways to sensitize people about the
has traditionally been the responsibility of the issue.
family or the social group the addicts belong to Still other agencies are involved in
(Tamhankar et al., 2005). However, there has rehabilitation. For example, take the case of
been greater appreciation of the role of social ARPAN. ARPAN stands for “Association of
agencies of late due to the realization that drug Recovering Peer Action Network”, the word
addiction is a psycho-socio-medical problem means to present or to offer in dedication in
and needs to be tackled holistically. In contrast, Sanskrit. ARPAN works on the principle that
social agencies have played a significant role in for any recovering person, motivation and
the west since long. For instance, one of the guidance are the two major pre-requisites.
successful social agencies in the west is the Hence, the need for a peer group to motivate the
Alcoholic Anonymous (AA). AA makes use of patient to tolerate the withdrawal symptoms.
strategies like buddy system, group understanding Basically, drug abuse is the result of incorrect
of alcoholism and forgiveness for lapses to build socialization in a deviant peer group. Hence, a
self-worth and alleviating the feelings of isolation solution to this is resocialization in a functional
(Tamhankar et al., 2005). peer group.
The nature of work of social agencies in A few social agencies have come up that
India are broadly of three kinds : seek to provide a therapeutic community to
1. Research on extent of drug abuse in society rehabilitating drug abusers. For example, Kripa
and collecting epidemiological data Rehabilitation Centre (KRC) offers a non
2. Prevention of drug abuse discriminating supportive community living,
helping people to introspect and bring about
3. Rehabilitation
changes in their lifestyle. KRC’s model of
Organizations such as UN Office on Drugs therapeutic intervention is based on Yoga and
on Crime (UNODC) and Indian Council of T’aichi (indigenous therapies of the East) and
Medical Research (ICMR) are involved in seeks to bring about lifestyle changes and in
research on the extent and type of substance turn resolution of substance abuse. (Tamhankar
abuse disorders. Many reports of these agencies et al.m 2005). The impact of KRC’s holistic
are available on the internet. therapeutic intervention programme for de-
Then there are agencies (both NGOs and addiction has been empirically studied. Aparna
government sponsored agencies) that are Tamhankar and her coworkers (2005) studied
involved in primary prevention of substance the effect of KRC’s de-addiction programme on
abuse. They seek to educate targeted groups 40 employees of Bharat Petroleum Corporation
and improve the self-efficacy of members of Limited (BPCL). Of the 40 clients, 18 recovered
their target groups in resisting the temptation of completely from addiction and 80% remained
substance abuse. Some agencies are involved in sober for three months.
awareness generation about bad effects of drug
58 Applied Psychology

n Rehabilitation of Criminals need for rehabilitation.

There are many types of criminal behaviour. Problems of Convicts

In most cases of crime, criminal behaviour is Convicts are the persons who have shown
propelled by a host of social, economic, political criminal behaviour and have been punished by
and emotional factors. Most criminals are not a court of law with imprisonment of certain
born criminals, but have been led into crime due duration. There are many types of convicts –
to circumstances. rapists, thieves, gang lords, contract killers,
Most of the convicts who are jailed are first- murderers etc. Most of the criminals are
timers, i.e. they have shown criminal behaviour criminals by circumstance. Suppose you find
for the first time and have been jailed for that. that your wife is cheating on you and in a fit of
“They commit anti-social acts due to negative anger you kill her. You become a murderer, but
attitudes towards life, humanity and country you aren’t a murderer past redemption. You can
and that too, in a fit of some negative emotions still live a life of dignity and meaning, inspite
like anger, fear, hatred, passion, lust, greed and of the crime you have committed.
jealousy. The criminal act... can also be attributed There are certain problems faced by convicts
to their inability to tolerate injustice meted out in living a life of dignity and meaning. Some of
to them or their near and dear ones; frustration these are :
of some important psychobiological needs; 1. After a long period in the jail, when convicts
wrong attitudes towards life and others; wrong are released they find it hard to reintegrate
upbringing and treatment or unfortunate to society. One major problem is that of
circumstances of their life. Whatever be the finding a job. After staying for five years in
genesis or dynamics of their criminal acts they a jail, for example, an individual doesn’t
are always redeemable. If these youngsters are find his skills enough to get a job. If he has
helped to control and regulate their emotional two years of experience in an industry, he
reactions, rectify their attitudes towards others doesn’t fit the profile of any job. He doesn’t
and their psychophysical needs are taken care have the experience to get a job equivalent to
of, they can always be mended and brought his age. Neither does he get a job equivalent
back into the main stream” (Jain, 2004) to two years of experience because younger
The philosophy behind rehabilitation of people are preferred for the job. Secondly,
criminals is to bring them back into the main many things have changed during the period
stream. Not every criminal is redeemable. But he was in jail. For example, technological
the majority are. Most of the criminals who have changes are fast. A person in jail is not
committed grave offence have done it in a fit of abreast of these changes.
anger, or due to a wrong decision. In deed, 2. There is also the problem of reintegration
majority of the criminals are first timers. They with community when released. Usually
are convicted for one time crimes. But the people view an ex-convict with suspicion.
problem is that once convicted, they become There are widespread prejudices and social
social outcasts. All life, they live with the social stigma. It is not even sure if the returned
stigma of being convicted criminals. Hence the prisoner’s family will accept him. A few
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

convicts stay in jail for long periods (10-14 diverse personalities are put together, clash and
years) for one-time grave offences. 10-14 years violent acts are common. Frustration over all
is a huge time, and society, social norms and above factors leads to greater aggression.
values changes in that period. These convicts Recreational facilities are limited and go to
find it very tough to adjust. those who have better understanding with jail
3. The jail is like a total institution. It cuts you staff.
off from society altogether and new social Hence, we can easily see that the stressors in
norms (of the jail convicts community) jails are so many and so intense that they can
determine your behaviour. If you stay in overwhelm the individual convict. The convict
such a society for 8-10 years cut off from faces problems like depression, anxiety, anger,
mainstream society, it is really tough to delusions etc. Many convicts fell guilty about
adjust to mainstream society when released their acts and suffer from trauma related to the
from jail. act of violence.
4. There are certain grave problems faced by
convicts when in the jail itself. One major
challenge is to find meaning in life. The The interventions to rehabilitate criminals,
social stigma attached to crimes is so high made in the jail setting, are two-fold : one, to
that one does not have much hope of leading help them cope with environmental stressors,
a life of dignity. This instills a fatalistic help them develop their personality and help
attitude and learned helplessness in them. them to explore meaningful goals. Two, to help
The convicts have very low expectancy from them develop skills that would lead to smooth
the rest of their life. As a result, they are transition frol jail to society. Rehabilitation is an
demotivated from taking any initiative that attempt to train and refrain the convicts till they
may help them realize their potential thereby attain maximum functional ability. Both forms
increasing their subjective well-being. of interventions are important in contributing to
5. There are many environmental stressors that the goals of rehabilitation.
a convict has to deal with. They have non Various skills are imparted to convicts when
existent personal space. Most Indian jails are they are in jail, so that they find themselves
crowded and various psychological impact more potent when they leave the jail to join
of crowding are relevant in the case of society again. For example, many convicts study
Indian jails. The convicts have a restricted through distance education mode, and even get
sex life. Owing to this, many turn to degrees. IGNOU has its study centres inside
homosexuality. Often, newly convicted some major central jails of India (It has a study
adolescents are subjected to sexual centre in Tihar Jail). Jail authorities try to assess
harassment by senior homosexual convicts. the skills of various convicts and give them
This increases the risk of HIV/AIDS among suitable employment within the jail. There are
convicts. many such measures being undertaken in jails.
The social life in Indian jails is not conducive The role of psychologists in intervention is
to healthy development of the individual. Since most profound in attempts to change the
many criminals with diverse background and convicts’ attitude, personality, coping skills and
motivational pattern. We have already seen
60 Applied Psychology

how stressful jail life is. Further a voidness and considerable reduction in neurotic
meaninglessness is experienced in jails. Guilt predisposition, and feelings of hostility, and an
feeling, tensions over family relations, anxiety, enhancement in the sense of hope and well-
aggression, frustration over non-existent sexual life, being following Vipassana (Chandramani, Dhar
homosexual negative thoughts, depression etc. are and Verma, 1998).
recurring problems that obstruct the Other forms of meditation like transcendental
rehabilitation of criminals. To tackle with these meditation have also been proved to be effective
problems, interventions based on cognitive in reforming, and ultimately rehabilitating prison
behavioural therapy have been found to be inmates. Bunk (1979) has found positive effects
effective. of hatha yoga and mantra meditation on the
In the Indian setting, meditation-based psychological health and behaviour of
approaches have been hugely successful in incarcerated men. Preksha meditation based on
dealing with these problems. A most successful Buddhist philosophy, has also been found to
intervention programme is that of Vipassana give effective solutions for problems faced by
Meditation in Tihar Jail under Kiran Bedi’s jail inmates. In one study, Dr. Swatantra Jain
guidance (she was then the police commissioner (2004) of Kurukshetra University showed that
of Tihar jail). Namita Ranganathan and her when preksha meditation was conducted on 28
colleagues (2008) at Delhi University have adolescent convicts of Borstal Jail (in Hisar,
observed that Vipassana helps prison inmates Haryana) for 16 days, the inmates differed on
to attain peace of mind, deal with their emotions scores of attitudes, values, and personality
related to the crime that they have committed factors between pretest and posttest.
and reconstruct their identities. From their study
of Vipassana camps in Tihar Jail, they conclude Role of Social Agencies
that Vipassana meditation has a number of Social agencies have made their presence felt
psychological benefits. This includes : in recent years in the field of rehabilitation of
• Better emotional control. people with criminal behaviour. For example,
SRIJAN is a sister organization of the Art of
• Better anger management. Living foundation spear-headed by Sri Sri Ravi
• Developing a sense of hope for the future. Shankar himself. SRIJAN tries to solve various
• Confront feelings of remorse and guilt. problems of jail inmates, and the problems of
rehabilitation into mainstream society when the
• Deal more positively with life behind the
inmate is released from jail.
prison walls.
The India Vision Foundation was started
An interesting trend observed by when Dr. Kiran Bedi received the Ramon
Ranganathan and colleagues is that the
Magsaysay award. Dr. Bedi, the first lady IPS
meditation programme had more committed
officer, is also known for converting Tihar Jail
following in the age group of 20-30 years,
into a therapeutic jail. She had initiated many
particularly by those who had been implicated
for serious crimes like rape, murder and dowry rehabilitation programmes and India Vision
killing. Another study on impact of Vipassana Foundation (IVF) seeks to further these
on jail inmates has shown that there is programmes.
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

n Rehabilitation of Victims of multiple partners; men having sex with men

HIV/AIDS without using condoms; not practising safe sex
when having sex with more than one partner;
AIDS stands for Acquired immuno-deficiency using infected syringe; sharing of syringes when
syndrome. It is caused by a virus called Human injecting drugs into the blood.
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that attacks the Perhaps the most risky behaviour is unsafe
immune system, specifically the T-cells that are
sexual behaviour. Two concerns in this regard
crucial for fighting diseases. The disease spread
are :
through transmission of bodily fluid like blood,
serum etc from one individual to another. The 1. The risk of AIDS can be reduced substantially
prime means of spread of HIV virus is by sexual by the use of condoms, but people seem to be
contact and use of infected syringes. Another reluctant to use them.
means of spread of HIV virus is that of 2. Many people indulge in sexual behaviour
transmission of bodily fluid of a pregnant with multiple partners. In a study in USA
woman into her foetus, thus infecting the baby (Reinisch et al., 1988), it was found that 37%
in it. There is no cure for AIDS. Till date, the of husbands and 29% wives had at least one
most efficient treatment is Anti-Retroviral additional sexual partner besides their
Therapy (ART). ART helps to slow down the spouse/partner. Approximately one-third
progress of the disease, but can’t cure the men had sex with a prostitute.
individual of the infection. Hence, the primary Prevention programmes target the high-risk
concern of psychologists in the case of AIDS is groups, as well as provide information to general
prevention. The proverb ‘prevention is better population. These programmes are mostly of
than cure’ is most relevant in the case of AIDS. the following types :
In this section, we will study various strategies
1. Education programmes
for prevention of HIV/AIDS and once the disease
2. HIV/AIDS Awareness Programmes
is communicated to an individual, problems
faced by victims of AIDS and psychological 3. Community based intervention
rehabilitation to solve these problems. 4. Harm Reduction Programmes targeted
towards drug addicts.

Prevention 1. AIDS Education Programmes :

In the absence of a cure, the only means of Schools are an ideal venue to promote healthy
controlling the AIDS epidemic is by changing behaviour because they consist of young people
high-risk behaviours that transmit the virus. who could be prevented from picking risky
habits. School-based interventions are done
Hence, the challenge of AIDS is more of a
through sex education in general, and education
psychological problem than a medical one. regarding AIDS in particular. AIDS specific
High-risk behaviours include having sex with
educational programmes are based on various
62 Applied Psychology

theoretical models. For example, the cognitive perceived self-efficacy. Flora and Thoresen (1988)
models emphasize the role of attitudes, beliefs have a model AIDS prevention curricula based
and cognitions in preventing high-risk on social learning theory (Kool and Agrawal,
behaviours. The social learning theory, on the 2006). The table below shows some educational
other hand, stresses on modelling and increasing approaches their curricula is composed of :

Theoretical Educational Primary Secondary

approach approach approach approach
Cognitive/ Providing Regarding avoidance Regarding safer sex
emotional knowledge of certain behaviours practice
Self talk “I don’t have to have sex” “It is OK to use condoms”
Self efficacy Perceive ability to resist sex Perceived ability to use condoms

Behavioral Behavioral “Avoiding too much alcohol “I can talk to my partner to use
outcomes increases my control over condoms”
sex behavior”
Social skills Resisting peer pressure for sex Negotiating with partner for safe

Societal Social support Peer encouragement for Peer encouragement for safer sex
systems avoiding sex
Incentives Getting social rewards for Increased intimacy permitted if
avoiding sex partner agrees to limit sex
Vicarious Training older peers to Modeling of safer sex practices
demonstrate avoidance of sex

A Comparison to some Educational Approaches for Primary and Secondary

Prevention of AIDS among Adolescents (Source : Flora & Thoresen, 1988)

Though it is easy and more effective to apply of India believed that AIDS can be cured by
AIDS education programmes in the school bathing in Coca Cola. Though you may wonder
setting, these other settingsprogrammes
education like can be where the connection for such weird notions
introduced in
organizational adult education arise, the truth is that the awareness level about
training, AIDS awareness camps AIDS is very low. Owing to this, many people
etc. still indulge in unsafe sex.
Due to this very reason, the National AIDS
2. AIDS Awareness Programmes : Control Organization (NACO) invests heavily
Many risky behaviours are the result of lack
in creating awareness about AIDS. The mass
of awareness
in about AIDS. Long ago, I had read
a news article media – TV, radio and newspapers – is the
that sex workers in some part main medium of creating awareness regarding
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

AIDS. The question is how effective is mass assertive about safe sex when negotiating
media based awareness in preventing risky with partner, learning to say ‘no’ to unsafe
behaviour? In a landmark study over five years sex).
in Tanzania, Vaughan and his colleagues (2000) 4. Developing social support networks.
have demonstrated the effect of awareness
Another influential approach developed by
programmes aired on Radio Tanzania on Kelly is the Popular Opinion Leader (POL)
attitudes and behaviours of people. This study
approach. This intervention approach is based
is discussed in greater detail in the chapter on
on the philosophy that if a new behaviour is
mass media.
adopted by opinion leaders, they subsequently
Besides mass media, other mediums like
influence others to adopt the behaviour. For
street plays, community events, fairs etc. can be
example, visualize your village or your locality.
used to generate awareness about AIDS.
There are certain ‘leaders’ who are eloquent
3. Community based intervention : and have an opinion on every issue. They are
Community based interventions are made to often talkative and act as if they know all, from
reduce risky behaviours in a variety of political issues to scientific issues. Other people
populations, such as, adolescents, homosexuals, of the locality attentively listen to these ‘opinion
and urban women. Many intervention leaders’ and adopt their behaviour. The POL
programmes have been developed with varying approach (also called social diffusion model)
degree of success. Here, we will be discussing influences these opinion leaders to change their
risky behaviours. Behavioural changes in them
two programmes designed by Kelly and his
colleagues, that have been found to be quite spreads to other members by social diffusion i.e.
by the influence of opinion leaders, other
successful approaches.
The first is the behavioural skills approach members of the community also change their
developed to target small groups at high risk, behaviours.
like gay people, sex workers etc. The intervention In one study, Kelly et al. (1991) conducted a
survey among gay men in a city. After this, they
aims at developing some skills in the target
population so that they can resist the temptation introduced POL intervention on 43 popular
of high-risk behaviour. These skills are opinion leaders in gay bars. The opinion leaders
developed through : were trained in HIV-related risk education and
1. Risk education and sensitization (for e.g., skills to resist risky behaviours. They were
making them recognize the fact that they asked to endorse behavioural changes to their
peers. A post-intervention survey was conducted
are vulnerable to HIV).
among gay men in the city on comparing the
2. Self-management training (for e.g., keeping
postintervention and preintervention survey,
condoms in pocket, reducing alcohol Kelly and colleagues found that the proportion
consumption and drug use before sexual
of men engaged in unprotected and intercourse
behaviour. Drug use before sexual
decreases from 37% to 27%. This demonstrates
behaviour is associated with unsafe sex).
the efficacy of POL approach to intervention.
3. Sexual assertion training (for e.g., being
64 Applied Psychology

4. Harm Reduction Programmes : that when an individual receives a HIV positive

Harm reduction is a prevention strategy test report, she experiences a mixture of shock,
which does not seek to reduce risky behaviour; denial, guilt and fear, as well as dilemma over
rather seeks to reduce the harmful effects of the whether to disclose the illness to others (Ostrow
risky behaviour once the individual shows risky et al., 1989). This acute psychological response
behaviour. For example, HIV/AIDS is is followed by delayed responses such as
transmitted when two people share infected emotional distress, depression and anxiety.
syringes. Many drug addicts share syringes to Since there is no cure to the disease, the
inject drugs to the blood stream. This is a risky victim experiences a loss of control. Due to a
behaviour, and other prevention strategies try to lack of control over the disease, the victim may
stop this behaviour. But what if drug addicts experience learned helplessness and
continue to show the risky behaviour ? You try powerlessness. Due to learned helplessness, the
to reduce the harm. Needle and syringe individual tends not to take medical help or
programmes are aimed at providing new anti-retroviral therapy (ART). This further
syringes to drug addicts in return for already aggravates the problem of AIDS.
used syringes. This reduces the harm caused by Many victims demonstrate a fatalistic
the risky behaviour (injecting drugs into blood).
attitude. People with fatalistic attitude, we
Rehabilitation know, have high need for dependence and
don’t take any initiative. Due to this, the victims
Till now we have discussed the efforts to lose the motivation to fight AIDS and lead a
prevent HIV infection. But what if one gets normal life.
AIDS ? The belief of rehabilitation workers is
AIDS is also related to many cognitive
that there is life after AIDS also. Owing to recent
reactions. Due to the feeling of guilt, the victim
developments in ART, AIDS patients can now
may develop many negative thoughts and
live for years after getting AIDS. Hence, there is
beliefs. These negative thoughts and beliefs, in
a huge scope for leading a normal life after
turn, affect their self-concept. The victims develop
AIDs. Yet, it is not that easy. The AIDS victims
inferiority complex and a belief that nothing
face some psychological and social problems
can happen from now onwards. In deed, learned
that prevent them from leading normal lives.
helplessness, dependence etc are due to false
Rehabilitation aims at resolving these
beliefs that life ends after AIDS.
psychological, social and psychosocial issues.
Other psychological problems pertain to
Before looking into rehabilitation measures, let
sexuality and intimacy. Those tested HIV-
us first discuss these issues.
positive feel guilty over their previous sexual
behaviour. They start maintaining psychological
AIDS-related stressors
and social distance from their family members.
AIDS is associated with many stressors that Due to this, they don’t get the much needed
lead to psychological reactions. First, there is social support and caretaking. Secondly, they
the issue of facing the truth. It has been found lose intimate relations at a time of psychological
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

psychological problems is to talk about it to

others, and receive social support. But owing to
the stigma, victims don’t get social support.
Non-disclosure of information itself leads to
anxiety, lowered self-concept and continued
fear of getting ‘busted’ (as if the victim is a
criminal !) by society.

Interventions for rehabilitation

A major component of intervention for
positive psychological adjustment is stress
reduction. We have already discussed various
stresses that affect the victim of HIV/AIDS, and
pose the danger of overwhelming her. Usually,
cognitive behavioural strategies are found to be
effective to help the individual develop coping
skills. Meditation and yoga are also important
stress-reduction techniques. Hence, intervention
Fig. : Dynamics of guilt feeling, relations programmes must include session of yoga and
with closed ones and psychological meditation.
consequences of AIDS victims Many specific intervention programmes have
been developed, based on therapeutic
Psychosocial consequences philosophies. For example, the Cognitive
Social stigma refers to prejudices against Behavioural Stress Management Programme
certain abnormalities. HIV/AIDS is associated (CBSM) developed by Antoni et al. (1991) has
with social stigmas. These stigmas vary from been proved to be an effective intervention
society to society and affect the individual programme to reduce psychological distress. It
victims in multiple ways. For example, in many is a 10-week group-based intervention
parts of India, it is believed that AIDS spreads programme and includes the following
through touch and contaminated water. Due to components :
these prejudiced beliefs, AIDS victims face social • Cognitive restructuring techniques
exclusion. In Ghana, the AIDS stigma is so • Techniques to build awareness about stress
strong that women are too secretive about it and and negative thoughts
don’t disclose their HIV positive status to • Coping skills training
anyone. Because they hide this truth, they don’t
• Interpersonal skills training
get access to treatment, and to financial and
• Relaxation and imagery techniques
emotional help (Mill, 2003; cf. Kool and
Agrawal, 2006). • Methods for enhancing social support
Social stigma itself is a psychological Please note that CBSM is a holistic
stressor. A major coping strategy to deal with programme that also addresses cognitive
66 Applied Psychology

problems of AIDS victims. AIDS victims often programmes are not always beneficial. The
have negative thoughts, false beliefs, fatalistic benefits of awareness programmes are more
attitude and suffer from learned helplessness. when the person can get the information in the
Cognitive restructuring helps the victim to privacy of his home, rather than in public
develop a meaning in life and substitute false places. Hence, Internet may be a more effective
beliefs with realistic beliefs about a future inspite
medium for AIDS awareness programmes.
of AIDS.
Role of Social Agencies
Removing AIDS Stigma
The nodal social agency sponsored by the
In order to rehabilitate an AIDS victim, we Central Government of India to fight the AIDS
need to provide her with a job and a status in epidemic is National AIDS Control Organization
the community. Unfortunately, AIDS victims (NACO). ‘NACO envisioned an India where
often lose their jobs and lose their membership every person living with HIV has access to
of the community (that is, face social exclusion) quality care and is treated with dignity. Effective
due to social stigma. Hence, there is a need to prevention, care and support for HIV/AIDS is
remove stigma attached to AIDS. So how do we possible in an environment where human rights
remove the stigma ? It is a problem of changing are respected and where those infected or
people’s attitudes and behaviours. One way to affected by HIV/AIDS live a life without stigma
change the attitudes and beliefs is through and discrimination’. (NACO, 2008).
popular opinion leaders (POL) on the lines of NACO organizes its own awareness
POL intervention approach discussed earlier. programs and prevention programs, and
But its efficacy is doubtful, given the stigma is provides facilities for ART and rehabilitation of
due to people’s fear of contacting the disease. AIDS victims. At the same time, it cooperates
Hence, they would prefer to be on the safe side with many NGOs that work in the field of AIDS
rather than change their attitude. prevention and rehabilitation. Among the many
Stigma is a prejudice. Prejudice is an attitude. NGOs working in this field, a few can be
Prejudice leads to discrimination. AIDS as a discussed here.
social stigma leads to discrimination. To reduce The AIDS Awareness Group (AAG) creates
stigma, awareness programmes should be
awareness about HIV/AIDS/Sexually
conducted. Awareness about the exact nature of transmitted infections in the jails, red light
AIDS should be created through mass media. areas, slums, schools, colleges etc. AAG has
Theatre and roadside drama are also mediums introduced awareness sessions and street plays
to propagate messages regarding AIDS. A cheap inside Tihar Jail (note that jail inmates are
and effective method used in many developing especially vulnerable to AIDS. Due to long
countries, like India, is the use of community duration of sexual deprivation, many engage in
theatre specialists (Kool and Agrawal, 2006). MSM (men having sex with men). Such
From a survey of some researches, Kool and homosexual behaviour is not socially
Agrawal (2006) conclude that awareness recognized. Nor are the prison inmates
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

encouraged to use condoms). Another social and exercises regularly, for example, doesn’t
agency called Action, Service and Hope for have many physical problems. Yet, some
Aids (ASHA) was established in 1998 in generalizations can be made regarding problems
Bangalore. It provides the following services : of aging, as under:

1. The AIDS helpline and telephone counseling 1. Physical disabilities : The deterioration of
physical health starts from the age of 40
service. years. In the middle ages, muscles become
2. Adolescent sexual health education in India. weaker and less flexible. By the age of 70,
3. Prevention of mother to child transmission bones become more brittle and hardened
of HIV infection. ligaments make muscular movements slower.
4. Awareness of urban slums. 2. Sexual decline : There is a decline in both
5. Capacity building. fertility and sexual drive in the old age. In
the case of women, fertility starts decreasing
Further details of these programmes are put right from the middle ages till menopause
up on the website happens at 50. Male fertility often persists
I-volunteers is an unique program, most of for the life time, but it also starts declining
whose volunteers are from the IT industry. They from middle ages. There are many
are trained in AIDS awareness, after which they psychological correlates of reduced sexuality.
reach out to people to spread the awareness Reduced sexuality causes alarm and anxiety
through power point presentations, street plays in many people. For some people, it is
and personal testimonies from HIV positive associated with lowered self-esteem.
people. 3. Stressful events: Many people in the old age
have experienced high stress events like the
death of loved ones. The death of a spouse is
n Aging and Rehabilitation
especially worrying, given that husband and
wife are said to form a close bond in old age.
A human being faces developmental
The bond of spouses also includes
challenges in every stage of life span. There are
challenges that the individual has to face in companionship. Since most old people are
childhood, in adolescence and in adulthood. retired, they find it tough to get companions
from younger age groups. Death of a spouse
No wonder then that there are challenges to
means no companion for most part of the
face in old age also. However, the challenges
faced in old age are quite different from that of
other stages. Many of the challenges in old age 4. Cognitive decline : Like other body parts,
are quite disabling and the individual may not the brain also declines in late adulthood.
be capable of recovering from these all by The aging brain reduces tissues at a very fast
herself. There are social disabilities, physical rate. In a longitudinal study, magnetic
disabilities and mental disabilities that resonance imaging (MRI) was used to
accompany the process of aging. measure the loss of brain tissues among
participants who were 59 to 85 years old
Not every individual needs help in old age.
(Resnick et al., 2003). The study analyzed the
A person who has maintained a healthy lifestyle
68 Applied Psychology

brain of participants over a 4 year period. 6. Social disability : People usually retire at
The researchers found that over the 4 year the age of 60-65 years. Even if they do not
period, the participants lost tissues at the retire , they don’t have the ability to perform
average rate of 5.4% per year. It was also upto the mark in jobs. Besides, it is not
found that the rate of loss of tissues was advisable to work in old age. No wonder, old
lower for healthy participants. people don’t have any source of income. A
Old age is also marked by a significant few people save money from an earlier age
reduction in memory abilities. Perceptual and hence have financial security. But most
speed, measured by reaction time in the of the old people are financially dependent
laboratory, declines in old age. Owing to on their children and significant others. They
this, the recall and recognition ability are also dependent on others for caretaking.
decreases. In the case of intelligence, it has The caregiver is usually a family member.
been observed that while fluid intelligence Hence, old people are excessively dependent
decreases, crystallized intelligence doesn’t on social support.
change significantly. But what if social support is not available ?
5. Cognitive impairment : Disorders of the Many people find it stressful to take care of
brain, such as dementia, occur with greater elderly parents. Still others consider the elderly
frequency in the old age. Dementia is an as a burden. An alternative is institutional
abnormal brain deterioration accompanied living in old age homes. Many studies, like that
by loss of cognitive abilities. Dementia of Anantharaman (1980) and K. Agarwal and
interferes with daily functioning in the Rastogi (1979), have found that institutionalized
individual. Senile dementia refers to subjects perceive more health problems, are less
dementia that begins after the age of 65. active and have higher alienation scores than
Dementia occurs mostly because of those living with their families. This may be
Alzheimer’s disease, but can occur due to because of the deplorable conditions of our old
other diseases like Parkinson’s disease, age homes. These old age homes are not well
Huntington’s disease etc. Dementia leads to maintained, don’t have adequate recreational
problems like : facilities, and their caretaking staff to old people
• Impaired memory ratio is very low.
• Poor judgment Rehabilitation
• Language problems
Above, we have discussed some problems
• Confusion and distress
that an aging individual may face. These
• Loss of ability to perform familiar tasks. problems are stressful and have the potential to
Over half of the people diagnosed with overwhelm the individual. Hence, there is a
senila dementia show a combination of need to rehabilitate the aged. Rehabilitation
depression, anxiety, disordered thinking and includes assessment and interventions.
paranoid reactions that resemble symptoms
of Schizophrenia (Passer and Smith, 2007, p. Assessment
432). When an elderly person shows unusual
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

behaviour or can’t perform her daily tasks are quite effective to rehabilitate persons with
properly, she is referred to a psychologist. Before dementia (Gatz et al., 1998). Cognitive training
making therapeutic interventions, the should also be imparted as it slows down
psychologist needs to know the nature of cognitive decline.
problems faced by the aged individual. The Some alternatives to CBT exist. For example,
prevalence of depression in older adults who brief psychodynamic psychotherapy (PDP) has
are chronically ill or physically disabled has as effective results as CBT in treating depression
been reported to be as high as 59% (Knight and in late life.
David, 2004). Symptoms of depression must be
carefully observed, and an assessment of the Family based interventions
nature of depression should be made. This is ‘Some of the most salient issues in
especially important because physicians often psychotherapy with older adults appear within
can’t detect depression in old people. the family context. Older adults often depend
Secondly, the psychologist also need to know on family members for both emotional and
about environmental factors that make the life instrumental support. In the event that these
of the aged more stressful. Has she suffered the family relationships become strained, disruption
death of a near one ? What is her relation with of support can ensue, resulting in distress for
her caregivers ? What are her interactions with older results. Exploration of older adults’ family
her family members ? histories and interpersonal techniques can often
Finally, insomnia is a major reason for inform the therapeutic process in such cases.
impaired daily functioning. Sleep disturbances (Knight and David, 2004).
are frequent in older adults. Hence, the The focus of intervention here is on
psychologist should also check if the older contextual factors that may cause stress to the
adult suffers from chronic sleep difficulties older adult. An effective intervention in this
(Knight and David, 2004). case is family therapy. Family therapy for older
adults is directed towards caregivers and family
Interventions members. We must understand that caregiving
An intervention program has to include a for older adults is also stressful, and caregivers
variety of therapies, given that older adults may at times face distress. Hence,
suffer from many different psychological psychoeducation and psychotherapy for
impairments. From an evaluation of literature caregivers is generally effective in reducing
on psychological treatments, Gatz and burden and depression, increasing subjective
colleagues (1998) recommend that efficacious well-being, and increasing caregiver mastery
interventions for older adults should include (Sorensen et al., cf. Knight and David, 2004).
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for sleep
disorders and cognitive treatments for clinical Old Age Homes
depression. CBT has also been found to have Another intervention strategy to change
good effects on older adults with generalized contextual factors is convert old age homes into
anxiety disorder (Wetherell et al., 2003). therapeutic communities. Old age homes in
Behavioural interventions and environmental India today are facing many problems : they are
modifications (based on conditioning principles) overcrowded, there are not sufficient recreational
70 Applied Psychology

facilities, caregiving staff strength is low etc. factors. Let us discuss some dominant causal
Such an environment affects the subjective well- factors :
being of residents of such old age homes. The
challenge here is to convert the old age home 1. Predisposition
into a therapeutic community, where older Some of the earlier theories on juvenile
adults get rich stimulation and some interesting delinquency considered it as the result of
work to keep them busy. Here, the role of predispositions : biological or genetic factor or
rehabilitation worker is important but more personality traits that predispose the individual
important is government policy and the to commit crime. Since it is a predisposition,
motivation of policymakers to help older adults these individuals show criminal behaviour even
lead a life of health and happiness. in childhood. These theories have largely been
discredited today. Some correlation between
mental disabilities and criminal behaviour in
n Juvenile Delinquency
children have been found, but this is neither a
cause in most cases of juvenile delinquency
Legally speaking, a discrimination is made
(JD), nor a dominant cause.
between criminal behaviour in adults and
Some personality traits that distinguish a JD
minors. Criminal behaviour shown by minors is
from a non-JD have, however, been identified.
called juvenile delinquency. The discrimination
From a literature survey of JD research in India,
is made on the basis of the rationale that
K. Sathyavathi informs us that delinquents show
juveniles are not competent enough to stand
higher scores on neuroticism, extraversion,
trial. They have lower maturity and decision
impulsivity, dominance, assertiveness, and
making skills. Hence, the treatment given to
autonomy. Shanmugam (1980) found from a
them is rehabilitation, not conviction.
detailed study that delinquents are low on
We all know that no one is a born criminal. intelligence, more creative, extraverted,
Most criminals are victims of circumstances. In
suggestible, and low in aspiration. His study
the case of adults, punishment is necessary
has been described in great detail in his book
because criminal behaviour is the result of a
‘Psychosocial Factors Underlying Juvenile
conscious and mature decision. But children Delinquency’ which is a rich source of literature
are unable to take such decisions. Further, it is
easier to mend the ways of juvenile delinquents
than adult delinquents. Hence the need for 2. Family Factors
rehabilitation. Most scholars are unanimous about one
dominant causal factor in juvenile delinquency
Causal factors in Juvenile Delinquency : socialization. Two primary mediums of
Many causal factors have been identified, socialization are family and peer group, and
that cause juveniles to commit delinquent acts. both are involved in causing a juvenile to go
Many theoretical traditions also exist to explain delinquent.
delinquent behaviour in children. It may be Family provides the context that motivates a
stated that none of the theories can explain all juvenile to show delinquent behaviour.
incidences of juvenile delinquency. In deed, According to the theory of parent-child
most acts of delinquency involve a multiplicy of
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

relationship, how a child’s psyche develops are not the same as mainstream culture. Rather,
depends on the parents’ parenting style. Many these groups develop their own norms and
studies have given evidence that rejecting values. Hence, subcultures develop. Many
attitudes of parents, broken homes, lack of subcultures develop in slums of various cities.
cohesion between parents etc are responsible In many subcultures, crime and violence are
for unsatisfactory parent-child relationship and justified, sometimes even glorified. A person
increase the vulnerability of delinquent acts. who commits a big criminal act is appreciated
and made the hero. If you were a member of
3. Delinquent peer groups
such delinquent subculture, you would be
Peer groups always have immense influence motivated to commit criminal acts not for
in the decisions that an adolescent makes. material benefits but to get praise and
When an individual is rejected by parents, she appreciation in the group. In one study, K.S.
feels insecure in the family as a small group. As Shukla (1977) had observed that a large number
a result, her attachment to the peer group of adolescent JDs in his study were slum
increases; with increased attachment, influence dwellers. Many came from families with low
of the peer group is also high. Many delinquent parental income and impersonal interpersonal
acts of children like drug abuse, pick pocketing, relations among family members. These
alcholism etc are the result of being influenced adolescents felt a loss of status in mainstream
by a delinquent peer group.
society and compensated it by achieving a
4. Socio-Economic Status status in delinquent subcultures.
An unusually high proportion of juvenile A third factor linking low SES groups to JD
delinquents arise from lower socio-economic is stress. Children from low SES groups have
status (SES) background. Many psychological intense stressors : deprivation, hunger,
reasons interact to create conditions of environmental stressors, crowding, health
delinquency in lower SES groups. One reason is stressors etc. Some children use delinquency as
that children and adolescents in lower SES a coping strategy to cope with these stressors.
groups have higher frustration because of According to the theory of escapade, the many
conditions of disadvantage and deprivation. stressors in the life of a child from deprived
Greater frustration leads to greater aggression, groups lead to intense anxiety. Some life
and hence delinquent behaviour. A. K. Tandon situations become emotionally intolerable. To
and his colleagues (Tandon, Bajpai, Tandon escape from such anxiety, they resort to
and Shukla, 1978) compared aggressive and delinquent behaviour. This theory partly
explains the behaviour of children who show
non-aggressive delinquent groups in one study.
It was found that aggressive delinquents came compulsive delinquent behaviour. Some children
from low SES families, experienced parental steal because it is a compulsive impulse in
deprivation and showed greater hostility than them. This compulsive behaviour gets reinforced
by the fact that it reduces anxiety.
the non-aggressive group. This study validates
frustration-aggression as a causal factor. A fourth factor may be that the parents of
Another factor linking low SES to juvenile low SES group children show different
delinquency is the delinquent subculture. In behaviour from the parents of high SES group
low SES groups, the cultural values and norms children. Mukherjee (1979) studied parental
72 Applied Psychology

reaction to delinquent acts in three groups. JDs come from families where parents have also
Group I and II belonged to families in a slum shown criminal behaviour, while others model
area while Group III was from a posh residential their behaviour in line with their peer group.
area. JDs of all three groups had been Media has a deep influence on anti-social
apprehended by police for indulging in illegal behaviour in this regard. The influence of violent
acts. Mukherjee found that Group I delinquents behaviours in the media on children is a matter
were largely left to fend for themselves while of immense debate and research in psychology.
Group II delinquents threw their children out of These issues are discussed at great length in the
homes (if the crime was serious). In Group III, chapter on media psychology.
parents made all efforts possible to release their
children. An interesting conclusion from this Prevention
study is that various causal factors like To prevent delinquent behaviour in minors,
parenting style, peer group and SES don’t act we first need to identify delinquency prone
independently but are interwoven in a complex subjects. Many studies have shown that
manner. Low SES affects not only juvenile behavioural problems are the best predictors of
behaviour but also parental behaviour. Also, JD. Usually parents and teachers ignore these
one has greater contact with deviant peer groups behavioural problems, or punish children for
in low SES localities. showing such behaviours, misunderstanding
the behavioural problems for wilful disobedience
5. Psychoanalytic Perspectives
and arrogance.
Psychoanalysts believe that psychic energy
Another sign of future delinquency is truancy.
is released from the id. This energy is released
Truancy is marked as the beginning of delinquent
from the body by channelling it through various
behaviour. Truants use defence mechanisms of
activities. For example, the psychic energy
withdrawal, isolation and denial, and their
corresponding to sexual instincts (called libido)
families are characterized by disturbed parent-
is channelled and dissipated when an
child relationship (Pandey and Nagar, 1980).
adolescent masturbates. But when an adolescent
has been discouraged from masturbating, he Once identified, what kind of interventions
has a guilty feeling when masturbating. So he should be introduced for delinquency prone
doesn’t masturbate. As a result, the psychic students ? Since most of the problems are due to
energy gets build up in him. This makes his disturbed parent-child relationships,
behaviour unstable. The psychic energy may be interventions must aim at mending these
released slowly by small delinquent acts; relations. Schools should introduce parent-
alternately, if the boy suppresses the energy it teacher meetings so that parents are included in
bursts in one time and the adolescent shows the academic life of the student. When parents
extreme violent act. start taking interest in their children’s academics,
children don’t feel that their parents have a
6. Modelling rejecting attitude.
According to the Social Learning Theory, we Another prevention strategy is to provide
initiate what we see if we are vicariously counselling services in schools. Many children,
reinforced by the behaviour of role models. This especially adolescents, can’t cope with extreme
is true in the case of juvenile delinquents. Many emotion. Counselling services provide help to
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

children to cope with extreme stressors. Many- with children – largely victims of poverty,
a-times, counsellors detect behavioural problems runaways and those who are destitutes and
and disturbed relationship with family members have been abused. The Vatsalya-Foundation of
from their interaction with the student. They Bombay aims at rehabilitation of street children.
may call up the concerned parent and educate An oft mentioned organization in the context
the parent about the issue and how a change of of juvenile delinquency is Prayas. Prayas
child rearing practice can help the child. provides correctional guidance to juvenile
delinquents in New Delhi. It is known for the
effectiveness of its education and therapy
As already mentioned, delinquent behaviours
in children are due to incorrect socialization. So
There are many such other organizations in
then what should be the right strategy to
others parts of India. A Google Search and
rehabilitate them ? Resocialization. exploration of such organizations and their
Resocialization can happen in family, as well
activities is recommended to the student.
as in peer groups. Hence, psychologists advocate
two methods : group therapy and family
therapy. In group therapy, groups of juvenile n Victims of Violence
delinquents are brought together and trained in
behavioural skills, role taking, discussions etc. Violent events are high stress events. Though
In family therapy, the juvenile is retained in the the stress is of short duration, it is unpredictable,
family and the entire family undergoes therapy. and intense and the victim has no control over
Usually, after the JD is produced in a juvenile the event. Such traumatic stressful violence
court, she/he is sent to a correctional facility for includes rape, terror attacks, riots. The victims
a definite period. In that period, psychological are usually those present on the site of violence,
interventions in the form of role modelling, role and directly affected by the violent acts. But this
playing, psychodrama, behavioural is not necessarily the case. Terror trauma has
modifications, client-centred therapy etc. should been noted in people who have just heard a
be introduced. Unfortunately, the correctional bomb blast. What is important is that while the
facilities in India are usually not well actual violent event is of very short duration,
maintained. Neither are sufficient funds the traumatic experience is so stressful that
available, nor is the rehabilitation staff that there are psychological consequences.
skillful. In a longitudinal study by NGO Swanchetan
between 2000-2008 among victims of rape, it
Role of Social Agencies was found that at least 12% victims of sexual
A number of NGOs are involved in assault did not share their trauma with anybody
prevention of juvenile delinquency and the for 10 years or more. About 70% feared that the
rehabilitation of delinquents. A few of these offender would return to hurt them again.
agencies and their activities can be discussed Around 70% pretended to be alright to avoid
here. NANBAN is a social agency that works talking on the subject. About 65% of the victims
among street children of Madurai with the aim had different symptoms of PTSD even 6 months
of their integration with the mainstream. after the occurrence. And roughly the same
Butterflies is a Delhi-based NGO that deals percentage stated that they had suicidal thoughts
74 Applied Psychology

intermittently for 2 years. The findings of this his military peer group reduces. In general,
study reveal the long term psychological impacts asking for psychological help is a taboo in
of violence. Indian society. Further, victims of violation of
Today, it is generally agreed among modesty can’t ask for psychological help because
psychologists that Post Traumatic Stress they have a high need to maintain privacy.
Disorder (PTSD) is a natural response to violence. They need to maintain privacy because the
Of course there are resilient individuals, but the violation of modesty (including rape) is itself
victims of violence are usually common people. associated with stigma towards the woman.
Hence, PTSD is a natural psychological reaction Yet, there are symptoms of trauma that family
to violence. There are other psychological members and counsellors can identify. Some of
reactions that a victim may suffer from. An these are :
immediate response to the act of violence is 1. Victims get frightening dreams at night.
shock accompanied by denial of the occurrence 2. They develop an intense fear of some places.
of the event. These are acute psychological For example, a victim of rape may develop a
responses to acts of violence. But if the violence fear of travelling alone, or of lonely, dark
persists for long, the victim may jump back to places. Victims of terrorist attacks develop a
an earlier pychosocial stage (called regression) fear of crowded places, market places and
as a defense mechanism to cope with the temples. I was in Delhi when the multiple
stressors. This is called psychological bomb blast took place in September, 2008. A
infantilism. friend of mind had seen the attack at
Besides PTSD, shock and denial, there are Connaught Place (CP). He developed fear of
other possible psychological consequences. open space where bombs can be planted !
Women victims of rape and riots experience a Surprisingly, not only him, many other people
reduction in self-concept and self-esteem. Some who did not directly experience the terrorist
victims of terrorist attacks may even go into attacks also developed a fear of crowded
depression. Generalized anxiety may be the places.
result of intense fear that the event may occur 3. The violent event is so traumatic that the
images seep into memory and become a part
Assessment of the unconscious. The victim compulsively
and automatically recalls these images again
To provide help, we need to first identify
and again. As a result, the victim relives the
victims of violence who suffer from severe
traumatic experience many times over. Family
psychological problems. As evident from the
members usually don’t detect this symptom
study by NGO Swanchetan, many rape victims
because victims try to avoid talking on the
don’t disclose their inner trauma even for ten
years and more. Similarly, soldiers in the military subject. But professional counsellors talk to
the client on the subject, showing
suffering from PTSD don’t usually seek
unconditioned positive regard and
psychological help themselves because it is
genuineness. By this, the victim gets the
associated with a stigma in their peer group. A
confidence to talk out about the images that
soldier asking for psychological help is perceived
she compulsively visualizes.
not to be strong-willed and hence his status in
Psychology Applied to Human Problems

Once the counsellor detects the existence of Rehabilitation

PTSD or other psychological problems in the After the counsellors have assessed the extent
victim, the counsellor studies the type and of psychological reactions in the victim, the next
extent of psychological reactions through step is rehabilitation. Psychologists agree that
interviews or paper-and-pencil tests. the best way to deal with a traumatic event is to
talk about it with family members. Family
Secondary Prevention
members should encourage the victim to talk
The long-term effects of traumatic events can about her emotional reactions, her feelings.
be countered by giving immediate crisis Besides this, family members must ensure that
assistance. Immediate crisis assistance given to the victim doesn’t get exposed to events that
victims of violence is also called secondary remind her of the violent event. For example, TV
prevention. The prime aim of immediate crisis news reporting about terrorist attacks must not
assistance is to help the victim cope with the be shown to the victim.
shock and traumatic images. For this, debriefing The rehabilitation process of victims
exercises are conduced in the hospital (where experiencing extreme psychological and
the patient is admitted), or even near the site of emotional reactions includes certain therapeutic
the violence. If an experienced psychologist is interventions. Yoga and Meditation have been
not available for debriefing, the victim can be found to be effective in dealing with PTSD.
connected to one through telephone hotline. Meditation relaxes the body and proves effective
Another job of secondary prevention is to in dealing with emotional reactions.
prevent the victim from recalling the experience The counselling process is very important in
again and again. More the number of times you this case. Counselling is important because the
recall a traumatic event, deeper the images of victim usually avoids talking on the subject.
the event goes down. Unfortunately, victims of The counsellor shows compassion and empathy
violence have to give evidence to law to establish trust with the client. When the
enforcement agencies. Owing to this, they have counsellor states (as an expert) that what the
to narrate the whole event again and again to client goes through is natural, it increases the
police, to media persons and in court. On an confidence of the client. She opens up and
pours out her grief in the counselling sessions.
average, a rape victim has to narrate her
This helps in cathartic release.
experience six times. That is why many feminists
demand that the first testimony taken by the The worst kind of experience after the
violence is reliving the violent act. Everytime the
police in the hospital should be done in the
victim relieves the experience, she experiences
presence of a magistrate.
similar strong psychological responses. To treat
A major concern with terrorist attacks in this, psychologists use imagery. The concept is
India these days is that attacks are becoming to condition the images of the violent act with
very frequent. Yet, there is no policy to provide relaxation. The victim is asked to visualize
secondary prevention to victims of terrorist moderately traumatic events. Such visualization
attacks. Those who are injured are taken to is accompanied by high arousal and anxiety.
hospitals. All others receive no psychiatric or The victim is trained to relax her body everytime
psychological help. she visualizes the images. One can’t be aroused
and relaxed at the same time. Hence, the
76 Applied Psychology

visualization triggers a somatic relaxation need for social agencies.

response that prevents the psychological Social agencies provide counselling to
response. This process happens in steps till the victims of violence in strict privacy. We have
time the victim is able to relax while reliving the
already discussed a research finding of NGO
entire violent incident.
Swanchetan. This NGO provides therapeutic
In the assessment, if the psychologist finds
assistance to victims of rape and sexual assault
that the victim suffer from loss of control, feeling
in strict privacy. Owing to the privacy clause,
of impotence, negative thoughts, depression etc.,
many women who have suppressed their trauma
she may recommend cognitive therapy for the
client. Cognitive restructuring of false beliefs for years have come forward to discuss their
like “I could not help it ! I am powerless”, “I problems. Another service, popular in USA and
can’t do anything about it”, helps the client to now being picked up by some NGOs in India,
make a realistic appraisal of the violent event. is to provide sexual assault online hotline. This
is a form of cyber therapy that uses a secure and
Role of Social Agencies anonymous instant-messaging type format to
The role of social agencies is uniquely establish communication between victims and
important for the rehabilitation of victims of trained crisis support volunteers.
violence. The victims of rape and sexual assault
Of the many organizations involved in
can’t get regular treatment in public hospitals
rehabilitation of victims of violence, a name that
because of the high need for privacy. PTSD
stands out is Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
patients usually don’t themselves ask for
This is an international agency with an active
psychological help because of the stigma
presence in India also. MSF provides relief to
attached, or because of lack of awareness of
victims of violent incidences like terrorist attack,
help available. In some troubled locations such
bomb blast, war etc. MSF has a strong presence
as Jammu and Kashmir, the number of patients
in Jammu and Kashmir, given that people of the
of terror trauma led PTSD are so large that they
state have been experiencing violent sets of a
don’t get enough psychiatric help. Hence, the
chronic nature for the last 20 years.
Psychology Applied to Human Resource Development

Psychology Applied
to Human Resource
4. Educational Psychology

5. Work Psychology and Organizational Behaviour

6. Sports Psychology

7. Military Psychology
78 Applied Psychology

• Psychological principles underlying

effective teaching-learning process

4 •

Learning styles
Retarded students and their
Learning Disabilities
• Gifted students and their training
• Vocational Guidance

Education •

Career Counselling vs. Vocational
Training for improving academic
Psychology •

Training for improving memory
Use of psychological tests in
Educational Institutions
• Value Education and Personality

n Psychological Principles under Besides above, educational psychology

lying effective teaching-learning derives from other fields of psychology, like :
process 4. Motivation
5. Memory
The teaching-learning process aims to bring 6. Conditioning
about major cognitive and behavioural changes
in the learner: as such there are many 1. Piaget’s Theory and Learning Process
psychological theories a teacher can borrow
Piaget’s theory states that the human infant
from to make the process more effective. The
develops cognitive skills in four stages. In the
many theories for children’s education are
first stage, called the sensorimotor stage, the
subsumed under three orientations used in
infant forms a schemata by assimilation of new
information from the surrounding and
Orientation Prototype accommodation (i.e. modifying already formed
impressions in the light of new evidence). These
1. Individual difference Sternberg’s theory of
two processes together are called equilibration.
Orientation Intelligence
The most essential lesson from Piaget’s theory
2. Developmental Piagetian theory of
is that the child actively interacts with her
Orientation Cognitive
environment to form mental representations of
the outside world. Hence, Piaget’s argument
3. Social context Vygotsky’s theory was that children need to construct their
Orientation understanding of the world rather than accept
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

it from others. Both assimilation and they can emit the same behaviour.
acculturation are active processes and can not Vygotsky had argued that competence of a
be achieved in a traditional classroom situation child is the maximum limit that it could perform
where information was delivered didactically. with help from the context. The difference
Hence, Piaget makes a strong case for replacing between its competence and actual present
didactic learning by discovery learning. The performance is called Zone of Proximal
role of the teacher is to facilitate learning Development.
situations in which children can find things for
themselves and thereby construct their
understanding. By facilitating learning
situations, the teacher creates disequilibrium in
the cognition. This disequilibrium should
motivate the child to discover and learn.

Environment C = Competence
P = Present Performance
ZPD = Zone of Proximal Development
= C–P

ZPD represents the potential that can be

realized in a child by giving appropriate
environmental stimulation. Hence, Vygotsky’s
conceptualization of the teaching-learning
process is that of an interaction between the
2. Vygotsky’s Theory and the Learning Process learner and an adult instructor. The difference
between what a child can understand on her
Like Piaget, Vygotsky also saw the child as
own and what it can potentially understand
an active agent of her own learning, but he
through interaction with others is the ZPD.
emphasized on the extent to which learning is
Vygotsky’s theory is influential in the sense
mediated by the child’s context. Mediation is a
key concept of Vygotsky’s social construction that it puts the teacher at the centre of the
teaching-learning process. This theory, no
theory, referring collectively to the ways in
wonder, forms a core component of present
which culture interacts with cognitive
researches on teaching-learning effectiveness.
development. Children absorb knowledge about
how to behave in certain situations by observing 3. Intelligence and Learning
other people. Through a process called Neural development in a human child is
internalization, they imagine themselves doing somewhat plastic. The neural connections in
the same and when a similar situation arrives, which electrical activity is frequent becomes
80 Applied Psychology

stronger and larger. These neurons begin to students’ multiple senses? The issue of
expand, allowing an increasing specialization motivating students is discussed in another
of functions of these areas. The electrical activity section of this chapter. Special measures to
is more frequent in areas which are related to motivate students from deprived group
specific kind of environmental interaction. background are discussed in the chapter on
Hence, cognitive skills that are practised a lot disadvantage and deprivation.
become sharp.
5. Conditioning
Regarding intelligence, it has been found
that intelligence is modular i.e. there is no Educational psychology was dominated by
single general factor of intelligence; there are behaviourist principles in its early days. Though
multiple centres of intelligence in the brain and greater emphasis is given to cognitive school of
there are multiple abilities that together are psychology today, behaviourist principles are
called intelligence. Further, intelligence includes no doubt valuable. Conditioning principles are
creativity and pragmatism. The information very useful in teaching students with learning
processing theories of intelligence claim that disabilities and retardation. Chaining and
shaping are especially useful for these students.
increasing experience of the world allows more
efficient information processing, allowing greater Regular feedback and reinforcement of good
development of intelligence. Hence, intelligence performance by rewards are some lessons from
isn’t just inherent but can be developed in every behaviourist school of psychology. However,
child to an optimal level. there are some cautions. It has been found that
Intelligence theories lend to the field of extrinsic rewards tend to demotivate intrinsically
education the concept of individual difference in motivated students as rewards act as
students. The teacher needs to understand that justifications for their effort and decreases their
some students are, to take an example, better in motivation. Some warnings about use of
punishment are also sounded out. Punishment
mathematics than others. These students can
prepare maths better than others. The teacher to change behaviour is discouraged by
has to take care of the individual differences in behaviourists as punishment doesn’t teach what
needs of students when teaching. to do. It only tells the student what not to do.

4. Motivation 6. Memory
A major goal of the teaching-learning process The rich research conducted by cognitive
is to motivate students towards academic psychologists has resulted in greater insight
achievement. Hence, the teacher has to use into how information is encoded and stored.
various techniques (for instance, goal setting) to Many techniques to improve memory have been
keep students motivated. Students also need to forwarded by psychologists for the benefit of
be motivated to listen to a lecture : how to make teachers. For example, information that is
a lecture more interesting? Crack jokes? Give encoded in multiple modalities (visual, verbal
periodic breaks? Or teach through various etc.) are better memorized. Many such principles
mediums in order to catch the attention of are discussed in another section of this chapter.
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

n Learning Styles
“Styles” describe relatively stable personal
preferences on how information processing is
undertaken. For example, a mechanic who
checks a car for problems has a style of his in
how he goes about doing his work. Learning
styles refer to all the systems of classifying
individual differences in learning. There are
individual differences in students regarding
how they learn; how they prefer to process
information given to them. I am very
uncomfortable to study from teachers’ notes.
Back in my days in IIT Kharagpur, I used to He had reasoned that any student lies on the
frequently go to the library to study from original above two-dimensional space. I will discuss
books. On the other hand, many of my friends various learning styles but before that let me
used to note my professors’ lecture notes. Some discuss other scholars’ conceptualizations on
were more comfortable in writing in point form learning styles. Entwistle (2000) has given a
in the exams; others were more graphic and distinction between deep processing style and
used many diagrams to explain their answers. shallow processing style. Going a step forward,
Hence, there are individual differences in how Schmeck (1988) had distinguished between three
students learn and express their learnt styles on this dimension : deep, shallow and
information. Learning styles include cognitive elaborate. There are a myriad other
styles (preferred manner of information process conceptualizations. In a review of literature,
ing in any student) and learning strategies.
Sternberg (Sternberg and Zheng, 2001) recently
observed that most proposed learning styles
Literature Survey
deal with one or the other pole of the following
From a literature survey, it is evident that
dimensions :
there are many conflicting conceptualizations
1. Analytic-Wholist
of learning styles without any theoretical
framework to connect them. Scholars have 2. Concrete-Abstract
proposed a variety of learning styles, many of 3. Verbal-Visual processing
these often similar but different names make Let us discuss in detail some of the important
them more confusing to use. Let us discuss a dimensions of learning styles :
few conceptualizations of learning styles. Kolb
(1984) had made an influential early 1. Assimilators-Accommodators
classification of various learning styles into two Based on Piaggetian theory, this dimension
dimensions : was forwarded by Kolb (1984). According to
him, assimilators process information abstractly
1. Convergent-Divergent thinkers
while accommodators can perceive information
2. Assimilators-Accommodators
concretely (other dimensions proposed by various
82 Applied Psychology

scholars like abstract-concrete and active- students on IQ, she basically measures ability
reflexive are similar to this). Hence, for convergent thinking. Divergent thinking, on
accommodators process new information by the other hand, can be measured by tests of
activities such as discussion and creativity.
experimentation. Assimilators tend to
3. Reflection-Impulsivity
manipulate information internally rather than
externally. Hence, they can make better use of This dimension was first identified by
situations like lectures to learn. psychologist Jerome Kagan in 1958. Reflection
Back in my undergraduate days, I could or reflectivity is the tendency to consider and
easily conceptualize how electricity is generated deliberate over alternate solutions to a problem.
in generators from lectures and books. This was The impulsive learner is spontaneous and has
a tendency to respond without much
because I was an assimilator. On the other
hand, some of my friends never got an interest deliberation. As a result, the reflective student
in lectures. They only understood principles of takes more time but comes out with correct
electrical engineering in the laboratory. A few of answers. The impulsive student gives quick
reply but the frequency of errors is high. This
them were bugged by the fact : how electricity
flows in the wire even when we can’t see it ? ! dimension is similar to another, called Sensory-
This confusion stayed on with them even after intuitive style. Learners at the sensory end of the
they got their graduation degree ! These students continuum prefer to rely on evidence of their
senses in solving problems, whereas those at
are extreme accommodators. They need concrete
information to feel a topic and learn it. the intuitive end rely more on speculation,
hunches and imagination.
2. Convergence-Divergence
4. Visual-Verbal Learners
This is a cognitive learning style
characterized by two modes of thinking. At one Some learners better understand and
extreme is convergent thinking, characterized memorize information received through visual
by a tendency to focus on a unique solution to mode while others do it better with information
a problem. The student following this style received through verbal mode. Visual learners
usually tries to bring about a synthesis of tend to understand and remember information
information. The student follows certain formal better when in the form of diagrams, pictures
and films. Verbal learners are more comfortable
rules and bases her problem solving on
previously learnt knowledge and skills. At the with lectures and discussions.
opposite extreme is divergent thinking. The 5. Deep and Shallow Learners
divergent thinker produces a variety of novel
This dimension is derived from the levels of
ideas and tries to solve even conventional
processing theory forwarded by Craik and
problems using these divergent set of ideas.
Lockhard in 1972. Entwistle applied the concept
Divergent thinkers prefer, and perform better at,
to educational psychology. The learning style
open-ended questions that do not have a unique
shallow or surface learning involves relying on
solution. The concept of divergence-convergence
single sources of information and learning key
is borrowed from Guilford who introduced the
points by rote. Learners adopting a surface
concept in 1946. When a teacher measures
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

strategy limit what they study and learn to the practicals and experiments. They can’t
strict requirement of the syllabus. Deep learning, internalize lectures as efficiently as
by contrast, is characterized by the motivation assimilators.
to understand the topics at as deep level as 2. A holist (hypothesis-led) strategy may result
possible. in smart answers but may be wrong at times.
At the time when I started preparations for The Serialist learner (data-led) is meticulous
Civil Service Examinations I found that some but slow. The teacher needs to adjust her
students rely almost exclusively on coaching teaching speed to both.
institute notes. These students were appalled 3. Visual learners can be better taught with the
on seeing a thick textbook and were against help of graphs, presentations, PPT slides
reading anything new. These students are and movies. Verbal learners, on the other
shallow processors and would do better with hand, should be encouraged through lectures
coaching and tutions. On the other hand, many and discussions.
others would go to the library and read new 4. Deep learning should be encouraged among
books on the topic, irrespective of whether they all students with the help of appropriate
are that relevant to the syllabus. These are deep motivators such as varied sources of study
processors and can do self study. Their answers and teaching through varied stimuli.
reflect a richness of content and maturity.
Learning styles have also been linked to
Utility of Learning Styles motivation. According to Entwistle (2000),
Psychologists have devised various learning styles are a combination of intention (or
inventories to measure learning styles and to motivation) and processes. The teacher benefits
understand a learner’s cognitive styles, strategies from understanding the student’s ‘processes’ as
and approaches to learning. For example, well as ‘motivators’. Students are self-regulated
Schmeck (1988) has devised an inventory to when the material taught conforms to their
distinguish between deep processing style and style.
elaborate processing style. But the question is,
why do teachers need to understand learning n Retarded Students and Their
styles ? Of what use it is to them ? Training
The teaching-learning environment is a
system. In any system, there needs to be a fit Because of many genetic, biological and
between the sub-systems. This system is no environmental influences on intelligence, no
exception. So as to achieve a good fit between two individuals are alike. There are students at
the two sub-systems, the teacher should both ends of the intelligence distribution with
understand the strategies, styles and approaches unusual mental abilities. Those at the lower end
that the student prefers over alternative styles. are the ones labelled as mentally retarded or
This helps the teacher to teach students in their cognitively retarded. A note of warning at this
preferred style. Some implications of use of point is that intelligence itself is a debatable
learning styles are : issue among psychologists even after decades
1. Accommodators need to be taught by of research; hence it is incorrect to call anyone
84 Applied Psychology

mentally retarded. Differently-abled is a more before doing so, let us look at some theoretical
accurate term than mentally retarded because foundations regarding conceptualization of
IQ is not a measure of all types of intelligences. mental retardation.
Even in the case of severe retardation, many
individuals have been found to be exceptionally Theoretical Foundation
talented (for example, the idiots savants) in a Traditional explanations of disabilities were
grounded in superstitious belief systems, and
few abilities.
many retarded individuals were abandoned or
The focus of the section will be on
identification, training and rehabilitation of the exterminated. By the 1800s, these explanations
gave way to certain quasi-experimental
mentally handicapped. The concept behind
explanations. The year 1801 was a landmark in
training mentally retarded students is to provide
the history of training and education of mentally
them with a support system that can help them
retarded; it is in this year that Itard undertook
lead a life of dignity and worth. It has been seen
to train and educate Victor, the wild child of
that early intervention helps all types of retarded
Aveyron. Victor was discovered by three hunters
students. Most members of this group are only in 1799 in the forests of Aveyron in France.
mildly retarded (IQ : 50–70) and given
Most likely abandoned at an early age, he grew
appropriate social and educational support, are up isolated from human contact and stayed
capable of functioning adequately in mainstream naked in the wild. At about the age of 12, he
society, holding jobs and raising families. was discovered and several medical experts
Training strategies for retarded students are concluded that the boy was mentally deficient.
multi-pronged, multi-dimensional and Itard disagreed, noting that it took intelligence
necessarily tailor-made for the individual. Here, to survive in the wild; his contention was that
the psychologist needs to be both a scientist and special education and care would enable the
an artist. Training disabled kids is both a child to develop functional skills.
science and an an art. It is a science because it Itard provided sense training to Victor with
works within the frame of theoretical special emphasis on communicational and
developments in psychology. It is an art because problem-solving skills. Itard didn’t seem to be
training has to depend on the trainer’s ability to very successful but a student of his, Edward
innovate and be creative in training the student. Seguin, devoted his entire life to training

Various issues dealt by the trainee are : retarded students. He developed procedures for
working with the mentally challenged within
1. Identification and Assessment of abilities
an educational framework.
and disabilities.
Since these days, the medical model of
2. Deciding on Least Restrictive Environment explaining retardation had been quite popular.
3. Training for disabilities The medical model advocated that disabilities
(a) Learning disabilities originate within the child and are manifestations
(b) Social disabilities of underlying biological problems. This faulty
(c) Behavioural disabilities view led to incorrect training strategies such as
4. Rehabilitation institutionalization. A major problem with
institutionalization was that the retarded
We will discuss these issues in detail. But
couldn’t get much needed family support, nor
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

could they develop social skills. These people student’s educational needs are fulfilled by
were often labelled as retarded whereas only few special education in the classroom. Overtime, if
of them are severely retarded. The mildly the term concludes that the student hasn’t made
retarded, who constitute a majority, can lead a any progress with the intervention, the child is
normal life with some special education. For referred formally for special education.
them, institutionalization worsened the problem. Once identified, the mentally disabled
The good news is, there has been a transition student needs to be provided with specialized
from medical model to socio-cultural and training. But before training, the trainer needs to
ecological approaches. These contemporary assess the student and find out her strengths
approaches attribute the causality of disability and weaknesses. The most popular tool of
to the transaction between the demands of the assessment is the standardized IQ test. A problem
environment and the behaviour of the with this test is that it just gives the extent of
individual. Also, many psychologists today disability, not the nature of disability. There are
contend that most educational disabilities are many who are labelled retarded but are
primarily social construction. If suppose you exceptionally good in, say, mathematical ability
test some students of a town school on IQ and or musical talent. Also, IQ test scores greatly
find that students scoring under 75 have mental vary from culture to culture and even between
retardation. You now take the IQ test to a school sub-culture. If a school has students from
in a tribal locals on the periphery of the town. mainstream culture and from various sub-
There, you find that most students fare low on cultural groups (e.g. lower castes) the ones from
IQ. The fact is that there are so many sub sub-cultural groups may score low on IQ.
cultures in the same place that an objective IQ A more appropriate test is the criterion-
measurement is not possible. Many disabilities referenced assessment. It consists of a hierarchy of
are social constructions (i.e. how society defines tests across several domains, including social
ability). skills, communication skills, academic skills
and maladaptive behaviour. This assessment
Identification and Assessment helps the trainer to assess which intelligences
Psychologists usually label those children the student can master better.
as mentally retarded who get following scores
on IQ tests : Least Restrictive Environment
IQ Label There are many disadvantages of
50 – 70 Mild institutionalization, that is, sending retarded
35 – 50 Moderate children to special schools with residential
facility. Some of these are :
20 – 35 Severe
1. The child is cut-off from her family. Family
below 20 Profound support is not available.
Typically, the process of identification starts 2. The child is unable to learn social skills that
with a teacher referral. Before giving the referral, would help her later when she is
a team of teachers and school administrators rehabilitated. The scope of integraton with
make a pre-referral intervention in which the society is lost.
86 Applied Psychology

3. Institutionalization is always attached with If the trainer assesses that the student can
social stigma. make it with regular classroom, it is the best
4. When mentally retarded students don’t get environment. This usually is the case with
to interact with normal students, normal mildly retarded students. Some special
students don’t grow up as humans sensitive assistance or extra classes for the student may
to the needs of the retarded. Whereas, if they be undertaken. This environment is the most
are in the same school, it has been found that inclusive one; hence, training retarded students
normal students are less prejudiced and in the classroom is also called inclusion. If the
more ready to help... this infact increases trainer finds that the retard needs more care, the
their sense of empathy. next option is resource room. Here, the student
Institutionalization, in fact, is not necessary is a member of the regular mainstream school
for mildly and moderately challenged students; but spends a few hours everyday in a special
rather, institutionalization harms them by class under a special education teacher. If the
attaching a social stigma. The ideal environment trainer doesn’t find this sufficient, the retard is
for any student is the one with her non-disabled taken out of regular class and put exclusively in
peers in a normal school. However, there is a
a special class consisting solely of children
trade-off between educational setting and with mental retardation. These special classes
personalized assistance. Hence, based on have smaller student-to-teacher ratio and usually
assessment results, the trainer decides on a include some paraprofessionals. If the trainer
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) in which
find that a student’s condition is improving,
the student has to be trained. LRE is the
she could put the student back in regular class.
educational setting that is closest to the regular
This is called mainstreaming.
educational setting that can still meet the
student’s individual needs. Hence, the trainer For the severely retarded, it is very tough to
has to choose from a continuum of services place them in regular schools because of the
depicted in the diagram below : individualized assessment and training that
they require. Special school is recommended,
though the trainer tries to let the student stay
with her family. But if the functional retardation
is high, the trainer may recommend a residential
facility for the child. This is the most restrictive
environment and should be an option of the last
resort for the benefit of the retarded student.

Training Needs
The needs of mildly, moderately, severely
and profoundly retarded students are quite
different. For the moderately retarded, training
should include functional skills development
by focusing on motor integration, language

Fig. : Continuum of Services by LRE

Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

skills and perceptual and motor skills. The to written instruction) or across individuals
ultimate aim must be to give them special (e.g. from trainer to parents). Hence, the trainer
training leading to practical help in their day- must teach across settings, stimuli and
to-day life. individuals to ensure that responses learnt
Arun Sen (2000) of the department of under one condition are not replicated in other
Psychology at Delhi University reasons that conditions. (Singer-Dudek, 2004).
more Day Care Centres need to be opened to Motivational problem is the most challenging
train moderately and severely retarded students. of all problems. Most retarded students have a
Day care centres are less difficult to institute low attention span and low motivational drive.
and less costly to maintain; also, the family ties Hence, the teacher should maintain an optimal
are not severed in training in day care centres. pace of instruction and must ensure that the
In the ultimate analysis, the needs of no two student has pre-requisite skills to perform the
students with mental retardation are the same. task. Prabhu and Prabhu have emphasized the
Every student poses novel problems for the need for spaced learning and overlearning in
trainer. Yet, these skill-retarded problems can be an acceptable environment with sympathy,
grouped as : warmth and understanding. Regular feedback
• Learning skills and proper reinforcement (both verbal and
material) should be provided.
• Social skills
The teacher also can take the help of
• Behavioural skills
developments in Information Technology (IT) to
(a) Learning Skills Training teach the differently abled. Deepalaya, an NGO,
The first task of the trainer is to figure out the recently launched an IDU computer centre to
help cater to children with special needs.
abilities of the student. These students are often
expert in certain abilities while they are severely Officials at Deepalaya have found that learning
deficit in other areas. The major problems in computer skills can be stimulating and funny.
learning are the student’s lack of generalization, Those who have been trained by Deepalaya
motivational problems and unusual styles. have developed a new sense of self-confidence
and their attitude towards life has become
To understand which learning style is best
increasingly positive. “The audio-visual medium
for the retarded student, the trainer should
is a great way to reach/teach children as it
provide instruction through multiple modes.
helps in better understanding and
For example, some are visual learners and other
comprehension as well as retention” says
learn better kinesthetically. Also, these students
Sashwati Banerjee, executive director of Sesame
have impaired short term memory ability and
Workshop India. (Times of India, 21-07-2008)
lower attention span. Teaching them from
multiple modes helps to use all their senses to (b) Social Skills
encode information.
When mentally retarded students are placed
Lack of generalization is yet another problem
with their normal peers, they face certain
commonly faced. The disabled student may be
problems in adaptation. Many often have
unable to generalize across settings (e.g. from
difficulties in understanding the rules of
school to home), stimuli (e.g. verbal instruction
88 Applied Psychology

conversation even though they have sufficient reinforcement techniques to teach the child
communication skills. They also have difficulty appropriate behaviour.
in understanding the feelings and emotions of Training for Rehabilitation
others. Here the trainer can use techniques such
The philosophy underlying rehabilitation of
as vicarious reinforcement and observational
mentally retarded children is to help them
learning to teach appropriate social skills.
adapt to the community and lead a life of
(c) Behavioural Problems dignity. Kirk (1962) has given certain guidelines
Behavioural problems are most common about how to train the mentally retarded for
among mildly retarded children. The problems rehabilitation :
are usually not because of the retard per se but (a) Social competence should be developed so
because of incorrect reinforcement by parents that the retardees can get along with other
and peers. Behavioural deviance ranges from people. This can be done by conditioning
assaultive behaviour to extreme withdrawal. them in numerous social experiences.
Some retarded children engage in bizarre (b) Occupational competence should be
behaviour like stereotypy (repeating an activity developed through vocational guidance and
again and again, common in autism), self-talk training. This would help them participate
and self-injurious behaviour. in work and earn their own living.
We know that all behaviours are emitted (c) Autonomy can be developed in them by
because of reinforcement. Such behaviours may teaching them emotional skills.
be emitted because of inability to communicate (d) They should develop habits of health and
or attempt to gain attention or escape an aversive sanitation.
task. Stereotype, for instance, is emitted because
the behaviour itself is reinforcing (by sensory It is very tough to rehabilitate the profoundly
stimulation). Some other behaviours are retarded individuals (IQ below 25). They have
reinforced by the attention the behaviour draws. intellectual capacity of a child of 2–4 years age.
The challenge for the trainer here is manyfold. Rehabilitation aims to help them look after
Parents don’t have an understanding of themselves. Luckily, they constitute only 5% of
behaviourist theories and hence misinterpret total population of the mentally retarded. For
the behaviour as willful disobedience. Instead the moderately and severely retarded children,
of looking for environmental variables to certain skills have been identified. Sen (2000)
behaviours, they attribute the behaviour to the argues that they can be trained in simple
child’s personality. repetitive jobs under personal supervision. They
can be made productive and rehabilitated. Those
The trainer needs to work with parents and
with mild retardation (IQ : 50-75) are capable of
teachers to modify these behavioural deviances.
receiving special education and can learn semi
Functional behaviour assessment is used to
identify the antecedents for unusual behaviour skilled jobs of a routine nature.
and remove them. The trainer also teaches
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

n Learning Disabilities and punish them. Punishment often can lead to

behavioural problems and depression.
Learning disability refers to a disorder in
one or more of the basic psychological processes Assessment
involved in oral expression, listening Assessment is necessary because it helps to
comprehension, written expresson, basic reading make an estimation of extent of disability and
skills, mathematical calculation and nature of disability. Various popular assessment
mathematical reasoning. However, the disability tests are Standardized Achievement Test,
is not learning disability (LD) if the cause of informal reading inventories, and curriculum-
disorder is mental retardation or emotional based assessment. Since the underlying
disturbance. problems are cognitive, tests of reaction time are
All the major disorders that lead to LD can also found effective in identification of LD.
Specifically, the Das-Naglieri Cognitive
be broadly categorized into two disabilities :
Assessment System (CAS) based on PASS model
1. Reading disability or Dyslexia.
can be used to assess students’ learning
2. Arithmetic disability
Dyslexia involves difficulties in phonological
processing. Dyslexic students can not make out Selection of Environment
the relation between letters and sound. They Going by the logic of least restrictive
have poor decoding abilities, difficulties in environment, learning disabled students ought
spoken language and poor reading to be accommodated in the regular classroom.
comprehension. Students with arithmetic This is because of the long-term benefits in
disability usually have problems in visuospatial development of social skills in them. However,
processing and in short-term and long-term
special education in the form of evening classes
memory. They face immense difficulty in solving
or sunday classes also help. The point is,
even simple mathematical problems. accommodation by peers and teachers in schools
The specific problems associated with and special training programmes like
learning disabilities are generally life long, perceptual-motor training complement each
though many of the problems can be attenuated other in mainstreaming of the learning disabled.
by instruction and accommodation (Instruction
refers to special instruction techniques; Interventions
accommodation refers to certain adjustment in Interventions for learning disabilities
normal classes to facilitate learning by the LDs). students include school based interventions
Students with dyslexia can learn to read and and special education and training facilities.
can become functional readers. Similarly those Some of these strategies are :
with problems in mathematical reasoning can Special Education and Training
be given special mentoring to do so. However, (a) Psycholinguistic training
early detection and intervention is necessary. (b) Perceptual motor training
As seen in the Hindi movie Taare Zameen Par, if
(c) Behavioural modification
students with LD aren’t detected at an early
(d) PREP
stage, the parents may misunderstand them
90 Applied Psychology

School based interventions difficulties, consideration should be given to

(a) Effective instruction by teacher not reducing grades because of spelling errors.
(b) Direct instruction Students with arithmatic disability should be
allowed to use calculators.
(c) Peer tutoring
Engelman and Becker, two researchers based
Special Education & Training in University of Oregon, had developed a
Many popular techniques to train students technique called Direct Instruction to teach LD
with LD exist with varying degrees of empirical students. Basically, they had married
backing. For example, the perceptual motor behavioural modification techniques with
training works on the principle that children classroom instruction to get very positive results.
with learning disability have problem in sensory Programs based on Direct Instruction provide
integration as in difficulty to plan and execute explicit, step-by-step guidance for teachers,
motor acts, disorder in form and space strategies for correcting student errors, and
perception etc. The idea is that direct sensory systematic practice with many different
motor training can mitigate the disorder. examples.
Behavioural modification makes use of Peer tutoring has been found to be quite an
principles of behavioural school. A behavioural effective intervention for treating learning
analysis is made, then the behaviours that are disability. In peer tutoring, students work with
subject to change are defined, modification each other in a one-to-one setting and they
routine is followed and finally behavioural alternately take the role of teacher and pupil.
changes are analyzed. PREP, on the other hand,
Case Study : The case of Sanjeev
is a cognitive tefhnique. PREP stands for PASS
Reading Enhancement Program and it is based To understand learning disability further,
on Das and Naglieri’s PASS Model. It is a we will now turn to a specific case narrated by
remedy curriculum designed to improve Kate Currawala (President of Maharashtra
planning, attention and information processing Dyslexia Association) in Education Times (Times
strategies that underlie reading. A similar of India, 06-10-2008). Is remedial education
curriculum has been developed to help students necessary for students with dyslexia ? Dyslexia
with arithmatic difficulty. affects the normal functioning of the sensory-
motor circuits in the brain, with an adverse
School-based Interventions impact on memory, reading, writing, processing
Effective instruction by teachers can go a of information and motor co-ordination. The
long way in helping LDs tide over their fact that the LD child has to struggle with
problems. The teacher should actively interact ordinary, daily tasks has devastating impact on
with students and provide regular feedback. her self-esteem and confidence. Currawala
Overlearning can helps. Remedial techniques argues that a good remedial intervention
can be introduced to facilitate the learning programme addresses academic, motor and
process of LD students. For example, students psychological difficulties and establishes
with dyslexia can be encouraged to use tape adequate coping skills.
recorders for projects; because of spelling Take the case of Sanjeev who took
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

professional help from Kate Currawala as a of not only the school psychologist and special
nine-year old. Although Sanjeev had already educators but also teachers and parents of the
repeated a year, Sanjeev lagged behind his child.
classmates in almost every subject. Underlying
his poor reading and writing skills were deficits
in the visual and auditory processing ... ‘Sanjeev n Gifted Students and Their
was quiet and withdrawn, easily stressed out Training
when faced with even a simple task and ready
to give up without much effort. His parents Students who have high general mental
were reluctant to try remedial education because abilities or artistic skills are called gifted
the thrice-a-week regime would leave less time students. These students are deviants in the
for homework and tuitions’. sense that they differ from normal students in a
classroom and need special guidance. Just like
But eventually, his parents opted for special
learning disabled and mentally retarded
education. The special educator gave Sanjeev
students, gifted students are exceptional. While
multi-sensory language instruction to improve
mentally retarded students are at one extreme of
his reading and spelling. Through a cognitive
the learning curve, gifted students are at the
enhancement programme, the special education
other extreme.
worked on his visual, auditory attention and
organisation skills. The cognitive enhancement Defining Gifted
programme included a series of graded puzzles
There is not much agreement regarding test
and activities that built the necessary skills
instruments and assessment procedures to detect
without putting him through stressful academic
and label a student as gifted. Lewis Terman
work. The educator used innovative techniques
(1925), the developer of Stanford-Binet scale,
also; to tackle Sanjeev’s impulsivity and low
found from a longitudinal study of twelve year
threshold for frustration, he was made to play
old children that those with IQs above 135 can
ludo, snakes and ladders and card games.
be called gifted. Although his views haven’t
Gradually, ‘as he began to enjoy the tasks and
been unanimously accepted, there is some
feel more confident of his skills, the youngster
agreement that those lying two standard
actually began to look forward to his remedial
deviations above the mean score of 100 are
session... within a few months, his academic
gifted. In his books ‘The Schoolwide Enrichment
skills also noticeably improved.’ Model’, Renzulli has observed that giftedness
Remedial education holds importance shouldn’t be confused with success. People
because the special educators work on basic who have achieved recognition as gifted possess
skills, which form the foundation for reading a well defined set of three interlocking cluster of
and writing. traits. These three clusters of traits are :
Conclusion 1. Mental abilities
Learning Disabled students have the ability 2. Ability for creative problem solving
to grow up and become academic achievers, if 3. Motivation and dedication
they are provided the requisite support system Hence, in contemporary research the stress
at an early stage. This support system consists is not on IQ score (which itself is quite subjective
92 Applied Psychology

and gives culture-based scores) but on common Gifted children often ask many thought
traits of gifted children. According to Usha provoking questions in the class. As the
Pandit, an educational consultant with teacher get frustrated that she doesn’t know
Mindsprings, some common traits of a gifted the answer to the question, she may also
child are : think that the student is showing willful
1. Thinking, imagination, learning, leadership. disobedience. Often, the prime focus of the
2. Potential to perform in at least the top 5% teacher is to complete the syllabus; hence she
areas of ability. is not responsive to the intellectual needs of
the child. Rather, her discouraging remarks
3. Good at handling abstract and complex ideas.
may act as a punishment to the student.
4. Boundless curiosity.
2. Discipline : Many schools work on the
5. Sophisticated sense of humour.
principle of discipline. Precocious students
6. Ask interesting, difficult or unexpected are quite talkative and imaginative.
questions. Discipline doesn’t suit them as discipline
7. Skeptical, critical, evaluative and quick to expects similar behaviour from every child.
spot inconsistencies. When they break the discipline, (which they
(Times of India, 22.09.2008). do since they are this way) they are punished.
Punishment tells them what behaviour not
Do They Need Training ?
to emit but not what behaviour to emit. This
As pointed out by Renzulli, not every gifted often leaves them frustrated.
child becomes successful but every gifted child Though I don’t claim to be gifted, I used to
has potential to become successful. Giftedness
face immense problems in my schooldays
is related to mental ability but success is related
to many other factors such as motivation and because the teachers couldn’t tolerate my
dedication, contextual stimulation to help them curious questions. One teacher had made a
realize their potential and proper guidance. rule that I shouldn’t open my mouth in her
class. And whenever I did (which happened
Terman’s research had established as far quite spontaneously), I was punished ! Most
back as 1925 that early grade advancement,
of my traumatic schooldays I have spent
acceleration and motivation in childhood helps
standing on the bench or kneeling down
gifted students to better realize their potential.
outside the class. Think what kind of impact
Hollingworth (1926), among others, has shown
that kind of treatment has on a child’s self-
that gifted students face motivational and
esteem ! The child never realizes where he
attitudinal problems in regular grade-level
went wrong, because his behaviour isn’t
reinforced; just punished. He has a list of
In the light of above discussion, I will now DON’Ts but no DOs. And discipline
turn to the problems faced by gifted children at frustrates the giftedness in him.
family and school. This will help us understand Teaching
3. method : Gifted students demand
what their training needs are. Some major
problems faced by gifted children are : different teaching methods. Highly gifted
students learn not only faster than others but
1. Curiosity : The gifted children are curious. also differently. Standard teaching methods
While this is a plus, it also creates problems.
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

try to simplify complex subjects; gifted maturity.

students thrive on complexity. Hence, these 6. Social Problems : Gifted children are
students often get frustrated with the teaching
skeptical, critical, evaluative and quick to
method. Some even drop out of the school
spot incosistencies. Because of their superior
because they don’t find the school sufficiently
skills, sometimes they become arrogant. Most
gifted children have problems in adjusting to
Rote memorization is a standard learning
their social context. They are usually not
method in school. But gifted students are popular in their peer groups; and they don’t
conceptually driven. If they are expected to
find their peers in the peer group interesting.
do rote mugging, they can’t do it. As a result,
it is possible that they will be academic
underachievers. Interventions for Gifted Students
4. Comfort : Once parents and teachers find The first step of intervention is assessment.
out that a child is gifted, their expectations The assessment doesn’t simply mean taking an
from her are high. They put unusual pressure
IQ test. This is because, many gifted students
on the child to perform. This makes the child
feel uncomfortable. When I was in fifth grade, are immensely talented in one area of intelligence
I used to write good poems. When my parents and quite average in others. Hence, the task of
realized that I have a talent in composing assessment is to evaluate the exact nature of
poems, they pressurized me to write more. I giftedness.
was asked to sing in front of every guest who Further, the school psychologist has to select
visited our house. My parents considered me
a suitable educational setting for the gifted
a trophy to be boasted about. Even some
teachers patronized me to compose poems students’ needs. The strategy should be to find
for them. Ultimately, I became so frustrated the least restrictive environment subject to the
that I stopped writing poems. And you missed condition that the child is intellectually satisfied.
the opportunity of living in the times of a The continuum of services for least restrictive
great poet ! Hence, the comfort level of a
environment (LRE) for gifted students is :
gifted child has to be high. Parents and
teachers need to understand this before
pressurizing her with expectations.
5. Multiple Ages : A 5-year old child may
read like a 9-year old, play chess like a 10-
year old and talk to toys like a 2-year old.
Because the child lives many ages
simultaneously, parents and teachers
sometimes misunderstand them for being too
arrogant, too mature or too childish. They
don’t understand how to train a child whose
various skills attain various degree of
94 Applied Psychology

Regular classrooms treat all students with Career Theories

the same spirit of egalitarianism. This may bore Many psychologists have been involved in
and demotivate the gifted students. Hence, need theorizing various aspects of career choice made
for special classes to hone her intellectual by individuals. Here, we will discuss three
abilities. important strands of research on careers. These
The next stage is special skill development. strands aren’t contradictory but complementary;
Earlier, a general and homogeneous curriculum they cater to different aspects of career
was given to all gifted students. Today, counselling.
specialized programs focus on specific talents.
For example, a child with exceptional talent in Frank Parson’s Decision-Making
art can be made to participate in an after-school Factors
art class. A student who is precocious in The fundamental notion that has driven
mathematics can be included in a mathematics career counselling for the last one century has
club. Nowadays, summer camps have become been Frank Parson’s contention that there are
quite popular among parents of gifted children. three broad decision-making factors in making
a career choice. Parsons (1909), who is
Conclusion : considered the father of career development
The task of training gifted children is as psychology, was of the view that three factors
challenging as the task of training mentally should be considered by an individual before
retarded children is. Our world doesn’t taking a decision :
accommodate differences that easily; both gifted 1. Clear understanding of oneself, including
and retarded face a problem in proper person- one’s attitudes, abilities, interests and
environment fit. limitations.
2. Understanding the requirements of the job
and job profile (often referred to as knowledge
n Career Counselling
of the world of work).
Counselling is face-to-face interaction 3. Understanding of the relation between above
performed by individuals with specialized two factors.
training in the field to assist people in having
Donald Super’s Theory of Vocational
a clear understanding of themselves. Career Development
counselling is based on the philosophy that a
satisfying and self-actualizing work life across Super’s influential theory brought to the
the lifespan is essential for one to realize her field of career counselling the idea that career
potential and lead a healthy and meaningful counselling is a lifelong process. Career itself
life. Career counsellors help clients to : gets defined and redefined across the lifespan
of an individual. Hence career counselling needs
• Make career choices and adjustments
to help the individual in adapting to work life
• Deal with mid-career crisis and transitions
and in undergoing major transitions across the
• Optimize work life across the life span lifespan. Super (1957, 1965) had divided the
vocational life cycle into five stages and many
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

sub-stages. Let us discuss the major stages of (RIASEC)

his vocational development cycle : R – Realistic
1. Exploration Stage (15-24 years) refers to the I – Investigative
time when most adults try to make a A – Artistic
transition from study life to work life. Most S – Social
youths explore various fields to decide upon
E – Enterprising
a preferred career. Even when committed to
C – Conventional
a career option, the individual is only
tentatively committed. If the first experience
is not rewarding, the individual may shift to
another. After graduation, for example, I had
joined Tata Steel and had plans to make a
career in electrical engineering. Later,
however, I decided to go for Civil Services.
2. Establishment Stage (25-44 years) starts
when vocational exploration ends and the
individual is now ready to make a career in
an occupational area. While the job is stable, He arranged these personality types on a
the individual is oriented towards learning hexagon. Distance on the hexagon gets translated
new skills and garnering a variety of into psychological distance. Hence, R-type is
experiences relevant to the work. closer to I-type and C-type but most different
3. Maintenance Stage (45-60 years) begins from S-type.
around the mid-40s age. The opportunities Holland’s theory has been extremely useful
for career advancement are now fewer and because it makes the job of career counsellor
the major worry of the individual is to retain methodological. Use some interest inventories
her achieved status rather than improve it. and attitude tests to assess the client and find
what vocational personality type she is.
4. Decline stage begins at the age of 60-65
years. People in this stage prepare to leave Secondly, study the world of work and divide
various jobs into six categories. Third step is to
the workplace as retirement is closer.
make a proper person-environment fit i.e., match
the personality type with the job profile where
Holland’s Theory of Vocational the client will be best fit to work in. This theory
Personality Types has also been checked across cultures; validated
Holland’s theory is the most widely used in some while falsified in other cultures.
and researched person-environment fit model of Holland’s theory has been found valid among
career counselling. This theory reasons that participants of a study conducted by Leong and
people search for environments that best fit his colleagues (1998) in India.
their personalities and will derive most
satisfaction in finding this fit. He had
categorized people’s personalities into six types
96 Applied Psychology

Stage Approximate Key Events and Transitions

Growth stage 0–14 A period of general physical and mental
Prevocational substage 0–3 No interest in or concern with vocations
Fantasy substage 4–10 Fantasy is basis for vocational thinking
Interest suhstage 11–12 Vocational thought is based on individual’s
likes and dislikes
Capacity substage 13–14 Ability becomes the basis for vocational
Exploration stage 15–24 General exploration of work
Tentative substage 15–17 Needs, interests, capacities, values and
opportunities become bases for tentative
occupational decisions
Transition substage 18–21 Reality increasingly becomes a basis for
vocational thought and action
Trial substage 22–24 First trial job is entered after the individual
has made an initial vocational commitment
Establishment stage 25–44 The individual seeks to enter a permanent
Trial substage 25–30 A period of some occupationsl change due to
unsatisfactory choices
Stabilization substage 31–44 A period of stable work in a given
occupational field
Maintenance stage 45–65 Continuation in one’s chosen occupation

Decline stage 65+ Adaptation to leaving work force

Deceleration substage 65–70 Period of declining vocational activity
Retirement substage 71+ A cessation of vocational activity

Table : Super’s stages of Vocational development. Adapted from Zaccaria (1970)

Career Counselling in Practice requirements of the job : this is the second pre
Career Counselling is both an arts and a requisite of decision-making according to
science. The career counsellor has to provide Parsons). Hence, she counsellor is a scientist. At
objective information such as results of interest the same time, she has to help the client make
inventory (so that client can understand herself subjective decisions based on above objective
: this is the first pre-requisite of decision-making information and other subjective information that
according to Parsons’ theory) and world of the counsellor gets while discussing the issue
work information (so that client understands with the client. Hence, she is an artist !
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

It must be understood that career counsellor 3. He finds that I am a generalist. I rank above
is no more than a facilitator, a catalyst. She average on multiple intelligences but not
should not direct the client and let her take her excellent on any one. He finds my preferences
own decision. This is because we are from the results of interest inventories. We
intrinsically motivated to identify and realize talk about how much my abilities match the
our potential. The counsellor’s duty is to provide preferred career option I am interested in.
us genuine, sincere vision and objective facts. It Note that I am the one who takes the decision,
is the client who has to find the best career path he just provides non-directive guidance.
for herself.

n Vocational Guidance
School and college students pursue classes
with the hope of getting some job after
graduation. They attend classes to enhance
their skills in some specialized areas; however,
the knowledge gained from academics falls
short of the skills necessary to obtain and
uphold a gratifying job. Due to this, many
graduates do not get jobs; of others who do,
about two-third are those who got the job by
chance or took the only job available to them. As
a result, they aren’t usually content with their
job. The high unemployment and under
employment rate, as well as high drop-out rates
in our educational system and job placement
suggests that mere academic orientation is not
Figure: Various sources of information in career
sufficient in education. Vocational guidance is
counselling and career decision choice a solution to this problem. Vocational guidance
Let me illustrate this with an example. seeks to guide students, throughout the student
Suppose I go to a career counsellor to assess my life, in learning skills that are pre-requisite for
career options. I am interested in civil services getting a good job and performing successfully
but am not sure. The counsellor puts me through in the job. Basically, it seeks to facilitate the
the following steps : transition from school to work. Still, it is not
1. He tests me on Campbell interest inventory limited to the final year of graduation. Vocational
and Multiple aptitude tests to know my guidance is provided right from kindergarten.
interests and aptitudes.
Vocational Development Theory
2. He gets me information regarding the world
of work of a civil servant, what it needs to be This theory is the basis of vocational guidance
programmes provided in schools and colleges.
a civil servant etc.
This theory states that people’s idea about
98 Applied Psychology

vocations changes in stages from childhood to of a healthy self-concept and a proper frame of
adolescence. The two stages and six sub-stages reference are necessary pre-requisites for future
that this theory talks about are : skill development. Level 2 guidance is given in
1. Growth stage high schools. The goal of level 2 is to maintain
1.1 Fantasy sub-stage (0-10 years) and encourage career exploration and to assist
1.2 Interest sub-stage (11-12 years) students in formulating tentative career goals.
1.3 Capacity sub-stage (13-14 years) The guidance team conducts various tests to
2. Exploration stage understand students’ interests and abilities.
2.1 Tentative sub-stage Level 3 guidance is provided during under-
2.2 Transition sub-stage graduation period. A variety of assessment tools
2.3 Trial sub-stage are utilized by the counsellor; interviews and
In the growth stage, children only form observation are also used to understand the
images of various vocations and try them out by student. Two prime objectives of this level are :
imagination. In the fantasy sub-stage, students 1. Determine the training needed to attain post
use their imagination to take on different career graduate education or job placement.
roles. For example, I had aspired to be a doctor, 2. Determine the skills an individual needs to
an engineer, a scientist and a professor variously
make a successful transition from school to
when I was a kid. In the next sub-stage, they
consider various areas of interest. Finally, they
become aware of career demands in the capacity Nowadays, many professional courses are
sub-stage. The identification of alternatives to offered to undergraduate students in various
choose from hasn’t yet occurred. universities. This is done to increase their skills
Real exploration of various vocations starts for placement in appropriate jobs. For example,
in the exploration stage. When considering Delhi University provides courses in computers,
various career options, adolescents first choose animation, journalism, marketing and
a tentative career goal in the tentative substage. communication so as to improve students’
When the youth works towards aspiring the vocational skills. Yet, this is not sufficient.
career goal, she is in transition sub-stage. Once Vocational guidance should start from primary
a career goal has been met (by placement or job school.
offer), the youth takes on the job on a trial basis
in the trial substage.
n Career Counselling Versus
Strategies of Vocational Guidance Vocational Guidance
Vocational guidance programs are generally
Career counselling and vocational guidance
composed of three levels of assessment. Level 1 have similar subject matter, yet are different
assessments are conducted during the concepts. In fact, career counsellors are much
elementary school years. The trainers focus on different from vocational guides in the way they
the child’s understanding of self, interpersonal practice and in their strategy and goals. Career
skills and decision-making skills. Development counselling believes that for a healthy life and
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

to realize optimal potentialities of self, the communication two way. If the teacher decides
individual must have the appropriate career to follow the ‘direct transmission approach’,
over the life-span. she can use the following strategies to improve
Vocational guidance on the other hand, is academic achievement :
concerned with the transition from student life • Achievement depends on the extent to which
to job life. So as to smoothen the transition, it the teacher structures learning. This can be
seeks to train students in skills that will help done through outlines, organization charts
the student in properly adjusting to job demands and summaries.
after she joins her job.
• Practice, it is said, makes a man perfect.
The aim of career counselling is to help the
Practicing newly taught skills regularly
individual lead a satisfied career life and gain
improves achievement. Overlearning of some
actualization from her career. It is about making key concepts also helps in better academic
the right choice so as to ascertain a proper
person-work fit. The aim of vocational guidance
is to reduce underemployment and high dropout • Teacher quizzing and questioning improves
rates among freshers in industry. student learning. The teacher should ask
clear questions and give the student time to
n Training for improving formulate answers. The teacher should also
Academic Achievement promote divergent thinking and multiple
ways of approaching the same question.
There is a stark difference between learning • Feedback improves academic achievement.
and performance. While learning is a relatively Feedback in the form of praise or assertion
permanent change in behaviour and knowledge helps the students know when they are
base, performance is the efficiency in completing
a task. Tests of academic achievement (like
• Making students work together cooperatively
CBSE, ICSE exams) measure performance. The
teacher’s role is to impart learning as well as to in class work and homework usually
motivate the students for academic achievement. improves achievement.
Training for academic achievement includes The direct transmission approach has the
classroom teaching strategies, and motivation teacher as the centre of the focus. On the other
and training to improve memory. hand, constructivist training has minimal
interference by teachers. The constructivist
Classroom Teaching Strategies
approach is based on Piaget’s ideas. The student
There are broadly two teaching styles to
is left in environments and situations that are
choose from : Direction transmission approach
rich in discovery opportunities; students discover
and Constructivist training approach. In direct
concepts for themselves. The role of the teacher
transmission, the teacher decides what needs to
be discussed and learnt. She makes the teaching is limited to answering questions that may be
process more interactive by giving feedback to asked by the students while they attempt a task.
students and by making the teacher-student Kohlberg and Mayer (1972) had contrasted
100 Applied Psychology

direct transmission and constructivist views of Motivating for Academic Achievement

instruction. They point out that constructivist Students need to be adequately motivated for
approach is superior in learning and academic learning if their aim is to improve their
achievement. However, there are certain achievement. Some strategies that can be used
shortcomings of this approach : to keep students motivated are :
1. The teachers need to be extremely talented so 1. Rewarding Achievement : Behaviourists
as to answer any question asked to them by believe that to get a favourable behaviour,
the students. the teacher should reinforce it with a reward.
However, it is not that simple ! When an
2. Discovery learning is a slow process and the
intrinsically motivated student is given an
student may take any direction to learn. explicit reward, the student’s future intrinsic
Hence, there is no definite framework or
motivation decreases. This phenomena is
target. called over-justification effect, whereby the
3. Sometimes the students may make incorrect student justifies her behaviour by extrinsic
discoveries. For example, discovering a long rewards. For example, suppose a child writes
solution for a problem will induce them to good poems. Suppose his poem-writing
solve similar problem in same way. fetches him various gifts in functions. As
long as the gifts keep coming, its fine. But
To reduce these short-comings, yet to retain
when the gifts stop coming, the child in fact
the advantage of constructivist approach,
is less motivated to write poems.
another approach called guided discovery is
An alternative effective form of reinforcement
used. In guided discovery, the teacher poses
is praise. Praise works best when (a) the
some questions (i.e. guides) when the students
teacher makes clear what was praiseworthy,
start performing a task. The questions are (b) is sincere and genuine in praising the
included to direct the students to discover in a
student, and (c) praises only for desirable
specific way. Such guided discovery teaching is student behaviour.
also called Scaffolding. Like the scaffolding of
2. Mastery goal orientation : As has been
a building, the teacher supports when needed, discussed in Dweck’s theory (see chapter on
with the scaffolding reduced as the child’s sports psychology), mastery goal orientation
mental processes, which are under construction, helps the student to strive for the best from
are increasingly able to handle the task. himself. On the other hand, ego-goal
Which of these is the best training strategy to orientation means that the student always
improve academic achievement ? Most compares himself with others in the class.
contemporary researchers believe that a His motivation may be due to a need for
combination of instruction learning and success or a fear of failure (“I will study
discovery learning is the best teaching strategy because if I fail, the whole class will laugh at
me”). In ego-orientation, the student can’t get
for higher student achievement.
the most out of himself... he doesn’t
realize his potential but realize as much as
needed to be successful relative to others.
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

Hence, the teacher should promote mastery It must be warned at this point that teachers’
goals. How to promote mastery goals ? By expectancy is a double-edged sword. Many
promoting intrinsic motivation to achieve studies among deprived group children in
mastery in any skill. To promote intrinsic India have shown that teachers have high
motivation, the teacher should : expectations from upper caste students and
(a) Give some degree of autonomy to the very low expectations from lower caste
student in trying any task. students. This affected the academic
(b) Improve the perceived competence of the achievement of these students. Hence,
student by increasing her self-efficacy removing teacher prejudices and training
and confidence. teachers to be expectant from students is a
step towards improving academic
(c) Show affection, emotional attachment
achievement of students.
and relatedness to the student.
5. Co-operative Learning : Co-operative
3. Encouraging Moderate Risk Taking : Many
learning refers to any instructional process
students are afraid to take risks because of
where small groups of children are formed to
fear of failure. Teachers should promote
maximize each student’s learning. Also
moderate risk taking behaviour in students
called peer tutoring, this technique has become
as risk taking is related to achievement. You
popular of late because of the strong empirical
may ask how? Take the case of a child who
evidence backing it as an effective strategy to
refuses to try to write fearing that because of
improve academic performance. Many
her bad writing style she would write
miserably. If she doesn’t even write, how studies conducted on the lines of Sherif’s
cave experiment have shown that cooperative
will she improve her writing skills? I
learning has positive effects on student
remember, many of my friends in school
performance. A major reason attributed for
didn’t practice essays fearing that what they
its success is that both learner and teacher
write might be miserable. As a result, they
are of similar ability and so better appreciate
couldn’t improve and fared poorly in exams.
the difficulties faced by each other in
4. Pygmalion Effect : In a classic study by learning.
Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968), a test was
6. Increasing Self-Concept and Self-Efficacy :
administered in a classroom and the teachers
A student is high in self-efficacy if he
were informed that few students were
succeeds once in a while. Otherwise, he may
exceptional. Actually they were not. However,
not be adequately motivated and worse, may
their academic achievement improved
suffer from learned helplessness. Learned
dramatically in a later test. The researchers
helplessness is a situation in which the
concluded that this was because of teachers’
student has no expectancy i.e. he believes
behaviour towards these students. Teachers
that whatever his efforts be, he couldn’t
had increased their expectancy (expectations)
perform. The student develops a fatalistic
from these students. Pygmalion effect throws
light on the fact that teachers’ expectation attitude towards exams. The lesson for the
teacher here is to provide lectures that are
can potently be used to improve academic
challenging but not so much as to overwhelm
102 Applied Psychology

the student. are organized hierarchically. Hence,

Self-efficacy can also be increased by hierarchical organization of new information
by the teacher helps in better understanding
modelling, i.e. by introducing role models
who the students recognize with. For of new concepts. For example, suppose the
example, the teacher can reason that a student students of a motions picture school are
of a senior batch was average in studies but asked to memorize various movies in which
finally performed very well in board exams Shahrukh Khan has acted. The teacher can
because of his hard work. Role models help organize all information hierarchically to
help in better memorization.
in vicarious reinforcement and motivate
students to strive for academic achievement.
Locus of control is another major factor in
motivating students towards achievement.
Students with external locus of control
attribute failure to themselves and success to
situational factors. Such attribution errors
are the result of incorrect self-concept.
Jayakanthan, for example, has found a
significant positive relationship between self-
concept and academic achievement. Hence,
self-concept should be developed through
personality development programmes. This
is especially important when teaching
2. Imagery : Information that is received by
students from deprived group backgrounds.
the short-term memory can be encoded in
two forms: in visuo-spatial form and in
n Training for improving Memory verbal-symbolic form. Both ways of encoding
are inter-related and it is easier to recall
Teachers are often concerned about how to information that is stored as both images
present information so that the information is
and concepts. In fact, the dual-code
adequately processed and retrieved by the hypothesis states that concrete sentences are
students. Here, they can borrow from the rich more likely to be stored as images, while
subject-matter of cognitive psychology. In this abstract sentences are coded only verbally.
section, we will discuss various psychological
principles underlying good memory, how they The lesson for teachers is that to make
learning more effective and to improve
can be applied in educational settings and their
memory, both verbal lectures and visual
merits and demerits. Some important presentations (through diagrams, maps, PPT
psychological principles underlying memory
presentations etc) are necessary.
enhancement are :
3. Mnemonics : Mnemonic refers to any
1. Concepts: Most of the information that is
technique that can be used to aid memory.
retrieved by the brain are stored in the form
Most popular mnemonic strategies can be
of concepts and categories. These concepts
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

represented as POLKA. the five stages :

POLKA stands for : (a) P – Preview
P – Peg words (b) Q – Question

O – Organization (c) R – Read

(d) S – Self-recitation
L – Loci
(e) T – Test
K – Keywords
5. Other techniques : Many DOs and DON’Ts
A – Acronym, Acrostic about improving memory are derived from
In the method of loci, one visualizes to-be- various psychological theories. For example,
recalled items on familiar landmarks. For proactive interference occurs when
example, the student can visualize a list of information learnt earlier interferes with
words by linking the words to landmarks information learnt lately and affects memory
that she encounters when coming to school, of recently learnt memory. To avoid
such as school bus, school peon, teachers, interference, the student should sleep
black board etc. In pegword, you are required immediately after studying. Overlearning has
to associate new words to a list of words you been found to be effective on the logic that
already know. The difference between loci more you learn an item, stronger the neural
and pegwords is that loci is association connections of that item stored in memory
between items and images; the second is and become stronger the neural connections,
association between items and items. faster and easier the retrieval.
In the key word method, an interactive
bridge is formed between the sound of a Drawbacks of memory techniques
word and a familiar word. For example, the Specific memory enhancing techniques like
Hindi word ‘Murkh’ means “idiot” and mnemonics and PQRST techniques ultimately
sounds like “molar”. This way “molar” can depend on the motivation of the student to use
be linked to the word “idiot”. In acronym, these techniques. Further, no one technique or
you use the first letter of a word as a cue to method applies for all students. Which technique
recall. For example, POLKA stands for the effectively improves memory of a student
mnemonics discussed here. In aerostic, on depends on the student’s learning style. A
the other hand, you use the first letters of a solution to the problem is that the teacher
phrase as a cue to recall. For example, “Pappu should use multiple techniques at the same time
observed Laloo kissing Aunty” is an acrostic to improve memory. But this doesn’t seem very
that represents the same information that practical as the focus of teaching may shift to
POLKA represents. memorizing !
4. Method of PQRST : PQRST technique is a Finally, many of the techniques discussed
technique to help students in studying their here are heavily student-centric. The teacher’s
textbooks and remembering better. Developed intervention is limited in how a student reads a
by Thomas and Robinson, this technique textbook. He may or may not use the PQRST
states that retrieval of information read is technique, for instance, when studying, even
more when you study a book by following after repeated encouragement from the teacher.
104 Applied Psychology

n Use of Psychological Tests in that Piaget attributes to specific stages of

Educational Institutions cognitive development are examined. For
example, whether the child can show
No two students are alike. The fact that cognitive abilities of seriation, conservation
individual differences in students exist etc. Dynamic testing, on the other hand, is
necessitates the use of psychological tests for based on Vygotsky’s concept of Zone of
better understanding of the individual child. Proximal Development. The test is conducted
The idea is to understand the student, her in two phases. In the first phase (also called
abilities, interests and personality etc. The many interaction phase), an adult familiarizes the
tests that are conducted in schools are oriented child with a task, gives hints about how the
towards one of the three central orientations of taste could be completed and motivates the
psychology : child. In the second phase, actual testing
1. Individual differences orientation takes place in which the child’s performance
is checked. Basically, dynamic testing tests
2. Developmental orientation
the competence of students i.e. their ability to
3. Social context orientation
perform with support from teachers.
Let us now discuss various psychological
Some tests measure the reaction time of
instruments that are popular in educational
students. These tests are based on the
institutions, and their utility. There are tests to
assumption that being intelligent involves
measure : being able to process information quickly.
1. Cognitive development Many studies (for instance, Mohan and Jain,
2. Development backwardness 1983) have shown that speed can be taken as
3. Interests and vocational leanings an index of intelligence. Reaction time
4. School Achievement measures many cognitive faculties such as
5. Students’ Social environments Short Term Memory, iconic memory etc.
6. Child Pathology Anima Sen and Arun Sen, the most prolific
researchers in the area of mental retardation
in India have successfully used tests based
1. Cognitive development : on reaction time to assess mental retardation.
The oldest test of cognitive development is
2. Development backwardness :
the Stanford-Binet Scale that defines IQ as
comparison between a student and what is Not all students pass through Piaget’s stages
considered normal at the age. Today, the at the same age. It is necessary to test the
most popular scales for measuring cognitive students with developmental backwardness
development are Wechsler Preschool and so as to decide on any remedial education
Primary Scales of Intelligence (WPPSI) and for them. Many psychological tests are
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children specifically designed for this purpose. For
(WISC). example, the Denver Developmental Scale is
used to screen any deviance in normal
There are many alternatives to IQ testing in
development of children. Many other tests
order to assess cognitive development. In
have been devised to test backwardness in
Piagetian task testing, certain phenomena
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

language development, moral development student on nine different abilities.

etc. 5. Students’ Social environments :
3. Interests and vocational leanings : Students are deeply affected by their peer
Students study with the ultimate expectation groups. Students tend to nominate peers
of landing a job that would suit their interests with whom they would like to play. Due to
and vocational leanings. Career decisions this dynamics, there are three types of
are tough to take and many-a-times the children in school : popular, unpopular and
student is not sure what to do. These days, neglected. School relationship instruments,
schools take the service of vocational such as Moes’s Social Climate Scale, try to
psychologists to help the students assess the social status of a student in school
understand their interests and preferences. peer groups and throw light on peer group
Some major interest inventories used in influence on the student. For example, if a
schools are the Strong Interest Inventory student is found to be a loner, teacher
(SII), Kuder Occupational Interest Survey intervention can be suggested to make him
(KOIS), Campbell Interest and Skill Survey more acceptable in student circles.
(CISS) etc. The Self-Directed Search (SDS) More than peer group, the family affects a
and the UNIACT Interest Inventory are two student’s psyche. Hence, several
tests based on Holland’s Six RIASEC questionnaires have been devised to measure
dimensions. The utility of these tests have parental styles : authoritative, authoritarian,
been extensively supported by empirical rejecting or laissez-faire. These questionnaires
research. Many studies have confirmed that help the school psychologist understand
interest inventories effectively differentiate family factors behind any maladaptive
and predict important career behaviours. behaviour of the student; and give
These tests are useful to decide which field suggestions to parents, if needed. School
to specialize in, which elective subjects to psychologists also use psychological tests to
take and what vocational skills to develop measure the school environment, that is,
for job placement. how the school environment fosters well-
4. School Achievement : being, achievement motivation and
confidence in pupils.
To get an admission into higher studies in
western countries, one has to give the Student 6. Child Pathology :
Achievement Test (SAT). SATs are useful in Childhood pathology can be measured by
placing children in various educational level.
Acherbach’s Child Behaviour Checklist
In India, we have entrance examinations for (CBCL). Beck’s depression scales have been
various engineering colleges and medical remodelled for children and named Kovacs’s
colleges; these examinations test students questionnaire. It allows us to identify clinical
less on achievement and more on ability. cases of depression in children. The Attention
Ability tests are predictive tests that predict Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a
performance in the future. Standard tests to test to measure lack of attention and
measure ability also exist. For example, the impulsivity among children in the age group
Differential Aptitude Test (DAT) measures a 4-18 years.
106 Applied Psychology

n Value Education and Personality 2. Cultural values

Development 3. Personal values
Universal values are highest order values;
Value refers to a mode of conduct (means) or they relate to sensitivity for humanity, love,
end state that is personally preferable to an brotherhood, compassion and empathy. These
alternate mode of conduct. Hence, values affect need to be developed in children so that they
our behaviour by defining goals (end state) and can grow up to become responsible citizens and
means to attain the goals. Values form a basic
humane creatures.
part of our personality structure and hence
Cultural values are the values that are
develop very early in life. Unlike attitudes, it is
influenced by family and significant others. For
very tough to change values... they are much
example, in Indian society, a caste hierarchy
more permanent, once formed. Hence, there is a
need to foster proper values in children. Value exists. A.K. Singh has found that caste and
religious identity become prominent in Indian
education refers to training children in proper
values at school for healthy personality children at an early stage. Due to this some,
development. cultural values (ex. “I am superior to Hari
What are proper values, and why is it because I am Brahmin and he is Vaishya”) get
necessary to foster these in schools ? There are socialized into the child’s psyche. This is
three types of values : dangerous. Hence, there is a need to teach
proper cultural values in schools.
1. Universal values
The values that one learns in one’s family
are specific to his/her sub-culture (Brahmin
sub-culture, Muslim sub-culture, deprived
groups sub-culture etc). These are not conducive
for social integration. Hence, the need for value
education in schools.
Personal values are those which affect an
individual’s motivation and striving for success.
Basically, this is the most important category of
values for personality development. What is
your level of motivation? What motivates you?
Entrepreneurship? Fame? Self-actualization?
Success? Money? Altruism?
Value education in schools can follow several
strategies. A few strategies are :
1. Development of Collectivistic Values :
In western society, the individual is viewed
as distinct from the collective. The “self” is
clearly differentiated from society. Hence,
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

there is a need for sensitizing the individual Hence, removal of prejudical values is a part
towards society. Fortunately, Indians have a of value education. Equal status contact in
collective orientation. Hence, our cultural schools should be enabled... this can be done
values promote sensitivity towards society. by admitting students from various
The self (“atman”) is part of the whole background. Superordinate goals should be
(“Brahman”). Schools need to reinforce these set by clubbing together students from varied
values. Specifically, a sensitivity towards social backgrounds in group projects. The
diversity of Indian society needs to be jigsaw puzzle is a good example of how
instilled in children. values towards diversity can be fostered (see
2. Reflexive thinking : chapter on social integration).

Rational, logical thinking is essential for 4. Personality development :

proper personality development. Independent Personality heavily depends on the parenting
thinking helps the child develop into a logical style of parents. If parents show a rigid
person. This frees him from the dogmas of parenting style, characterized by rejection of
society and helps him in taking proper the child and neglect, the child may develop
judgments and decisions. authoritarian personality. This, and other
Reflexive thinking can be fostered in children personality problems arising out of child
by promoting creativity, encouraging rearing practices, can be ameliorated in school
initiatives by children, assisting in rational education. However, it depends heavily on
decision-making etc. Unfortunately, many the kind of relationship the teacher develops
teachers don’t encourage creativity. The prime with a child. If the teacher shows
aim of most teachers is to strictly follow the unconditioned positive regard to the child,
curriculum; hence they discourage children and is warm and affectionate, he/she can
from taking initiatives. Proper guidance by greatly influence the future course of the
school is essential at this stage. child’s life.
3. Removal of Prejudices : Problem here is that Indian schools have a
very high student-to-teacher ratio, due to
Values are more permanent than attitudes.
which teachers can’t give personal attention
Hence, an incorrect attitude can be changed
to each student. Hence, a student counsellor
but an incorrect value can’t be. As pointed
or school psychologist must be appointed to
out by scholars like A.K. Singh, most Indian
look after the welfare of students who show
children get a caste identity and religious
extremes of behaviour (like withdrawal,
identity very early in life (refer the chapter on
depression etc.) (The movie “Taara Zameen
prejudices and social integration). Parents
Par” depicts one such case where
promote prejudices against other castes and
religions, which get embedded in the value interpersonal relation between a teacher and
system. This leads to a rigid and a learning-disabled child helps the child not
only overcome his dyslexia problems but
authoritarian attitude (negative) towards
other communities. also his lost confidence!)
108 Applied Psychology

• Personnel Selection
• Training & Human Resource

5 •

• Sensitivity training
Use of Psychological tests in Industry
Theories of Work Motivation
Work And •

Transformational leadership
Organizational •

Participatory Management
Managerial Effectiveness
Psychology •

Stress and its management
Consumer Psychology
• Ergonomics
• Power & Politics in Organizations

1. Job Analysis
n Personnel Selection
Job analysis is an activity that enables the
Recruitment of personnel is an activity work psychologist to define the job specifications.
whereby candidates who would best match a It includes a combination of methods : existing
task, the team at the workplace and the employees who work on the particular task can
organization are selected by the company for be interviewed. Observation of the job gives
employment. In this, the work psychologists insight into behaviours that are expected of the
and HR personnel use certain selection criteria prospective employee; Biodata of existing and
to predict the future performance of a candidate former employees who have worked on similar
on the job. Hence, it is a process in which jobs can be of help in getting an idea about
predictive validity of the selection criteria what should be the background of a candidate
determines to what extent selection has been for the job. For example, a company has found
successful. Various outcomes of the validity of that students from IIT Kharagpur are much
selection criteria are : more efficient than that of IIT Kanpur in doing
a specific job. It may be because of the excellent
laboratory facilities in IIT Kharagpur but this
the HR personnel infer from study of biodata of
existing employees.
Also, work psychologists study the amount
of group activity that the task involves. If the
task needs to be performed by a team, the
interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence
need to be assessed also.
Furnham (1997) believes that a job analysis
The aim of a work psychologist is to maximise should provide details of the minimum
“correct selection” and minimize “wrong professional knowledge that would be
selection” (or “false alarm”). Recruitment acceptable for the task, the basic skills needed
typically follows the following steps : to perform the task and the ideal personality
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

traits that the prospective candidate must have n Human Resource Development
to fit into the job.
and Training
These three items can be referred to as :
1. Knowledge Simply stated, human resource development
2. Skills refers to a focus on increasing the skills and
3. Attitudes resources of humans – in this context employees.
Human Resource Development (HRD) today is
2. Selection of Criteria an important philosophy of organizations
There is no absolute method of scan out because of the simple reason that in these
wrong selection and zero in on the deserving changing times organizations have to
candidates. Based on job analysis, a decision continually upgrade their human resources
criteria is drawn; this criteria specifies what (skills, knowledges etc. of employees) to meet
challenges of changing times. Intrinsic here is
knowledge, skills and attitude should be
minimally present in the right candidate. also the philosophy that better human resources
means better resources at the disposal of the
3. Selection of Instrument
Pareek (1991) defines HRD as – ‘a new
After deciding on the cut-off of knowledge,
systematic approach to proactively deal with
skills and attitude, now the task is to measure
issues related to individual employees and
these three properties in an individual. For this,
teams, organizations and a movement to develop
a variety of instruments like application blanks,
organizational capability to manage change
psychometric tests, interview and aptitude test
and challenge’. HRD includes training of
are used. All these are discussed in detail in the
employees but doesn’t exclusively consist of
next section and the student is suggested to
training. Training of employees no doubt
read the tests in the light of present discussion.
contributes to human resource development,
A major challenge in selection of instruments but training is a one-time activity (during
is that some instruments (such as interview) are recruitment and from time to time), but HRD
very subjective. These tests have low validity. encompasses a vast array of systems that lead
to enhancement of human resources.
4. Recruitment proper : In this context, it is appropriate to understand
Candidates are invited to apply for the vacant HRD as a matrix so as to understand the range
post through application blanks. The application of HRD. HRD is a continuous process and it
blanks ask for biodata, a reference and academic encompasses many human units and systems.
grades. Biodata throws light on the skill-set of Pareek (1991) has referred to six human units as
the candidate; references on her personality and the foci of HRD :
attitude; and academic grades help assess her 1. Individual employee
2. Role
After an initial screening based on the 3. Dyad
application blanks, candidates are called and
4. Teams
selection instruments are operated on them.
5. Inter-teams
Their performance is assessed and final decision
is taken before intimating the results to them. 6. Organization
He has also identified six HRD systems of
activities :
110 Applied Psychology

1. Appraisal system is not just employees but also other human

2. Career system units like teams and dyads. Further, he talks
3. Training system about six systems that influence the human
units (also six in number). Hence, he presents a
4. Work system
“HRD Matrix” a 6 × 6 matrix of six human
5. Cultural system
units cut through by six systems. This HRD
6. Self-renewal system matrix can be represented as in the figure. The
These two axes together form a 6 × 6 HRD definition presents us with a framework within
matrix. In this section, we will discuss training which we can assess HRD in India. Let us now
and career systems in detail. Other systems proceed to this exercise.
have been covered in other sections of this
chapter. For example, appraisal system is
discussed when discussing psychological tests
for employee appraisal, work system is dealt
with in power, leadership and ergonomics

HRD In India
Human Resource Development (HRD) is an
all-encompassing concept. While it can be
narrowly defined as efforts to improve the skill
sets of employees, a more broad definition
includes all efforts to optimize human units
and processes. Given the fact that HRD is a
concept with such wide connotations, obviously
cross-cultural variations would exist in the
The Human Units
interpretation of HRD. Hence, a need to situate
HRD in Indian context. In this section, we will 1. The Individual Employees
deal with the concept of HRD as understood in The individual employee is the most basic
India, and look into an appraisal of HR unit of an organization. No wonder, it also is a
development in practice in India. For this key unit of emphasis of HRD. The development
purpose, I have referred to an excellent essay,
of individual employees typically has three
HRD in India : Prospect and Retrospect written important elements : self-management,
by Prof. Udai Pareek back in 1991. I have
competence building and advancement.
shamelessly summarized the theorization of Competence building refers to the development
HRD and appraisal of HRD in practice in of professional skills in the individual. Self-
Indian organization as discussed by Prof. Pareek management refers to the development of skills
in this essay. that would enable the individual to manage her
Prof. Pareek basically adheres to a very emotions, to set realistic goals, analyze one’s
broad definition of HRD. The centre of his focus own performance etc. Advancement refers to
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

career prospects of the employee in increasing 3. The Dyad

age and experience, the employee develops new Prof. Pareek defines a dyadic group as an
competencies; hence the need for a career plan. employee and his supervisor. A dyadic group is
This also is the responsibility of the HRD. the basic building block in an organisational
structure; hence, Prof. Pareek stresses that the
2. The Role
Every employee has some status in the stronger the dyads, the stronger the organisation
will be. The role of HRD in building strong
company. She has this status with respect to dyads includes three elements :
other employees (superiors, colleagues,
subordinates etc.) who interact with her. Every • Trust
status is accompanied by certain expectations • Mutuality
regarding the role the employee has to perform. • Communication
These role expectancies define the role of the Trust between an employee and her boss
employee. This is an important human unit. If necessary for work to be smooth. At the same
the role is neglected by HR, or is not suitably time, mutuality (i.e. a helping relationship in
defined, the role becomes ambiguous. both members of a dyad help each other) between
Ambiguous roles are accompanied by high stress the employee and the supervisor strengthens
and lower performance. Hence, the need to the relationship in the dyad. Finally, to develop
develop roles. Three main aspects of strong dyads, effective communication between
development of roles with which HRD is the two employees should be built.
concerned are :
4. The Teams
• Optimum stress
Many dyads together form a team. For
• Autonomy
example, suppose a software company has got
• Linkages a consultancy assignment. The assignment is
We have seen in another section in this dealt by a project manager (PM). Under him,
chapter that too low stress or too high stress are there are two senior software workers (SSW)
detrimental for optimal performance. Hence, a and under each SSW, there are twenty junior
need to ensure that roles have optimal job workers (JW). So (PM →→→→→ SSW), (SSW →→→→→ JW) are
demand and average level of stress. Also, greater various dyads. But together, the PM’s team
autonomy should be provided in role works on a common goal. Hence, the dynamics
performance to those employees who want to of these groups need to be monitored by HR and
take initiatives. Autonomy should also be healthy team climate needs to be developed.
attached to those posts where role demands a The criteria that HRD should focus on,
creative nature of work. Thirdly, linkages according to Prof. Pareek, are cohesion and
between various roles should be build. This is resource utilization. Teams should be cohesive
important because the goals attached to
and should product synergy. Effective teams are
individual roles should converge and the those that are able to best pool together resources
individual employee should understand the at the disposal of individual employees and
role of her job in fulfilment of organisational utilize same.
112 Applied Psychology

5. The Inter-teams employee better, and dole out rewards in the

In many organizations, much of the resource form of bonuses. At the same time, appraisal
is wasted because of lack of coordination system provides a feedback to the employee
between various teams. The marketing team regarding her performance. There are three main
may, for instance, demand goods of a certain appraisal systems :
quality but the production team may be more (a) Performance appraisal
concerned about quantity, and may even be (b) Potential appraisal
ready to compromise with quality. Hence the
(c) Performance coaching or counselling
need to develop cooperation amongst various
groups in the organisation. Departments, Prof. Pareek observes that most Indian
organisations have focussed only on
divisions and functions should be targeted to
performance appraisal. However in the absence
develop cooperation towards fulfilment of
of other appraisal systems, performance
common organisational goals.
appraisal has been reduced to just a mechanical
6. The Organisation exercise. Potential appraisal, which is the
HRD activity with respect to the organisation appraisal of the employee’s potential to do new
as a whole should focus on (a) growth, (b) work, and counselling to develop good skills
impact and (c) self-renewal. Growth is the are other systems of appraisals which need to
perpetual motivation of any organisation. Any be implemented to complement performance
organisation that doesn’t grow becomes appraisal.
stagnant, and may decay. Hence a focus on 2. Career System
growth. But growth on accepted lines doesn’t
A major component of human resource
always proceed smoothly. Owing to fast changes,
development is career system. Work career is an
a need for self-renewal may be felt. The HRD
important part of adult life. The adult employee
must organize activities to brain storm on the
passes through several developmental phases
working of the organisation and how to better
within her job life. Hence, the need for a career
the standards. HRD also focuses on the impact
system to help the employee sail through
the organisation has on outside entities such as
developmental phases (For more details on
other organisations, customers etc.
developmental phases, refer to Super’s theory).
HRD Practices in India Three broad components of career systems
Now that I have discussed the six human are :
units, that are catered to by HRD. Let us now • Experiences
discuss various HRD practices in India. Prof. • Opportunities
Pareek provides a six-fold system classification • Career planning
of HRD practices in India which are discussed Experiences are most useful for an employee
as under : at an entry point. Experience is necessary for
1. Appraisal System employees to move up in the organization;
hence there is a need for HRD to make concerted
Appraisal of an employee’s performance (or
efforts to expose the employee to various types
potential) helps the HR to understand the
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

of work. These days, many Indian companies employee. By this, the employee gets someone of
are pursuing activities like on-the-job training her eye group, she can confide to. In National
and job rotation scheme to expose employees to Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT), where I am
varied experiences. presently undergoing training, one faculty
But so that an employee can prove herself, member is appointed as counsellor to eight
she needs ample opportunities. It is the role of trainees. The counsellor is always accessible to
the HRD to design an organization structure, so the trainees.
that an employee with ability has opportunities
4. Work Systems
to take more responsibilities as she matures.
Work systems is not covered by the
Career planning is involved in charting special
traditional, narrow definition of HRD. However,
career paths for individual employees.
Prof. Pareek strongly believes that HRD must
3. Training System deal with at least four aspects of work systems:
The training system is one of the most well • Task analysis
defined elements of HRD. Since HRD • Quality of working life
traditionally focuses on skill development, • Productivity
training is central to HRD. Unfortunately, ‘it is
being very inadequately treated in most • Role stress

organisations. Attention to identification of Task analysis refers to an analysis of the

training needs, preparation of a training strategy, psychological and physical traits needed for an
employee to perform a specific job. Task analysis
development of a training method (pedogogy),
curriculum designing (to meet specific needs), is hinged on the logic that maximum efficiency
evaluation, follow-up and post-training support, is achieved when a proper person-environment
fit (her, employee-work fit) happens. Productivity
are all important components of a good training
system. Although training is extensively used and role stress are two related topics. While
for human resource development and large productivity depends on employee motivation
budgets are spent on training, on the whole, (again how to motivate employee is decided by
HRD), role stress happens due to a variety of
training is not taken seriously’. (Pareek, 1991).
reasons discussed elsewhere in this chapter.
A career system which is fast gaining Finally the quality of work life affects both
popularity in Indian organizations is mentoring. employee motivation and role stress. Prof. Pareek
In mentoring, an entry level recruit is annoited
argues that in improving the quality of work
to a senior officer who guides the recruit in
life, factors like participative management,
matters of career, and also personal life. When
workplace democracy, autonomous work
I was in Tata Steel, I had been provided with a groups etc. have to be introduced. Other new
mentor who helped me with many issues that I
introductions in the field of work systems
couldn’t have confided with others. Prof. Pareek
include stress management, introducing quality
observes that this is based on the Indian guru-
circles etc.
shishya relationship. In many other
organizations, a buddy system is also used 5. Cultural Systems
where the mentor isn’t much older to the Prof. Pareek defines organisational culture
114 Applied Psychology

as ‘cumulative ways of thinking and behaving Development aims at maintaining profiles of

shaped by the values, attitudes, rituals, and organisational health, monitoring organisational
sanctions in an organization. Operationally, health, assisting sick departments, helping
development of culture would involve interested units and departments in self-renewal,
developing a strong corporate identity, conflict management, creation of strong teams,
development of important values, building and so on, and establishing processes that built
healthy traditions and developing consistent a climate to promote enabling capabilities in the
management practices.’ (1991) Cultural systems, organisation’. (Pareek, 1991)
which cater to the development of appropriate
Towards Conclusion
organisational culture, are the most neglected
part of HRD. HRD is a very contemporary and vibrant
field of activity. The student is recommended to
Many Indian companies have adopted
stay up-to-date with research scholarship on
organisational culture practices of Japanese
this topic in various journals. As of now, the
companies and have benefited from it. However,
prime debate is whether to evolve HRD
it must be kept in mind that an organisational
according to the Indian culture, or to adopt
culture that suits organisations of a country is
successful forms of organisational practices from
different from that of culture of organisations
abroad ? Most researchers say, from their
elsewhere. There is a need to study in greater
depth the organisational culture that would experience, that elements of our own culture
should be explained, but good practices of other
best suit Indian organisational climate.
cultures should also be promptly experimented
Some recommendations for development of with.
culture, mentioned in Prof. Pareek’s paper, are:
• Development of strong corporate identity.
• Developing important values and ethics.
The theoretical skills that a student learns in
• Building healthy traditions and practice, her university aren’t of significant use in the
such as induction programmes, promotions,
industry. Even if an employee can be directly
exit policy, retirement policy etc. inducted for skilled job, she may not perform
• A robust communication system, whereby optimally. Hence, the need for post-recruitment
employees placed variously in the company
training. Besides this training, the need for
hierarchy can communicate with each other. training arises everytime a new technology is
6. Self Renewal Systems introduced or when the employee is given new
responsibilities. In case some employees rise to
An organisation should be concerned with
managerial positions, their task becomes more
both growth and its health. As it faces new
challenges with changing times, there is a need of a challenge in managing their subordinates.
Hence, the need for managerial training. Finally,
to renew the organisational focus. Hence, a
major job of HRD professionals is organisational the HRD philosophy is that HRD is a continuous
process and the employee’s skills need to be
development (OD). The focus of OD is ‘on updated from time to time, keeping it in line
developing process competency to increase
with changing times.
organisational effectiveness. Organisation
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

The role of occupational psychologists is to tasks and departments. First, the training
examine the needs of the employee, of the designer needs to examine the organizational
organization, and of the task, decide upon the goals (present) and its vision (future) and decide
most appropriate training programmes, drawing upon the best way to achieve the goals and
from the rich psychological knowledge, and visions. For example, if an organization plans
taking feedback from the employee. In this to computerize all its processes, then what are
context, the system approach to designing a the needs of the organization ? What kind of
skill sets in its employees will help the
training programme can be studied :
organization in meeting its goal ? Evidently, the
employees have to be made computer-literate.
Training Needs Analysis Then, the training designer needs to prepare
a task analysis. Task analysis is a study of
Conducting training on ad hoc basis or skills, materials, knowledge and tools etc. that
purely for short-term goals is myopic; it needs to employees would need to do the task efficiently.
be well organized and planned. Hence, the In task analysis, the overview of what the
occupational psychologist makes a training training program is going to consist of is built.
needs analysis, consisting : Person analysis, on the other hand, refers to
• Organizational analysis matching of skills of individual employees to
• Task analysis the needs of the job. If at anytime, it is found
• Person analysis that her skills are deficient in optimally
There are certain superordinate goals of the performing the work, further training is
organization, irrespective of the goals of various suggested.
116 Applied Psychology

Psychological factors in Training efficient. But when the task involves low
organization, part training method is more
Before we proceed to study various training efficient. Most work psychologists try to combine
programs designed by psychologists in both these methods to reach at an optimal
industries, it is necessary to understand certain learning strategy.
basic psychological principles underlying
training. Transfer of Training : This refers to the
extent that the skills learnt during training are
Actual Practice : For learning to be most transferred to the actual job. The transfer of
effective, trainees must be actively involved in training can be both positive or negative. In
the learning process rather than just passively positive transfer, the training helps in improving
receive information. For instance, if I watch a the performance of the employee at work. On
video of someone operating a truck, I can’t put the other hand, negative transfer happens when
it into practice by driving a truck. The training the skills one learns interfere with her work.
program needs to provide the trainee with
There are many factors on which transfer of
ample opportunities to learn herself. Class
training depends. Some of these are :
lectures, videos and manuals would definitely
make you a better learner but you can’t learn as a) If there is a close correspondence between
long as you haven’t experienced the job first the behaviours and attitudes taught in
hand. training and the behaviours and attitudes at
work, then positive transfer happens.
Massed and Distributed Practice : Certain
tasks are learnt more readily when the trainee is b) If there is little similarity between training
trained on a few relatively long practice sessions environment and work environment, then
(massed learning). Other tasks require a larger negative transfer takes place.
number of relatively short practice sessions for c) Negative transfer occurs when older skills
better learning (distributed learning). Most conflict with newer skills. If the older skills
studies have shown that in general, distributed are conflictual, interference between pro
learning results in better learning. In a meta active memory and retroactive memory takes
analysis of 63 studies, it was found that for jobs place. Hence, some strategies to unlearn old
demanding relatively simple tasks, distributed skills must be employed before new skills are
practice with short rest period is more effective. imparted.
But for more complex tasks, longer rest periods d) Older workers, particularly those over 50
was more effective. In both cases, distributed years of age find it difficult to transfer
practice was more effective (Donoran and training. Borteous (1997) opines that older
Radaserich, 1999). workers have problems adopting to new
Whole and Part learning : Should a task be technology.
learnt by breaking it into parts or should it be Above factors should be kept in mind when
learnt as a whole ? Research work has concluded designing training. Now-a-days, computer
that not one of these is the best strategy in all simulation and virtual reality are popular for
conditions. It is seen that when the task is of training. Here, the psychologist tries to simulate
high organization, whole task learning is more real work conditions and behaviours in virtual
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

world. In one study, 58 aviation cadets of out of their regular work to train trainees.
Israel’s air force were required to begin flight This can be expensive in the long run by
training. Some of these were first trained for 10 affecting productivity.
hours in a computer game that simulated the 2. On certain jobs, giving an untrained
kind of activities a pilot would perform in the employee access to hazardous machinery
cockpit of an actual fighter plane. It turned out may pose a safety risk not only to the trainee
but also to other employees.
that those who got the simulation training
3. Usually, the trainers are current workers.
performed better than those who didn’t when
They may be experts in their job, but not
the real flight training started (Gopher, Well necessarily good trainers. Performing a job
and Barakot, 1994). and teaching the job to another are different
Feedback : Feedback, or the “knowledge of tasks.
results” indicates to the trainees their level of
progress. Feedback helps the trainee in correcting Vestibule Training :
and changing any inappropriate behaviour that
As seen, on-the-job training isn’t always
she has learnt during the training otherwise,
advantageous and may sometimes hamper
she would keep practicing the inappropriate
normal functioning of other employees. Hence,
behaviour. Also, feedback helps maintain the
a simulated workspace can be established at a
motivation to perform.
separate training facility. This is called vestibule
training. Vestibule training makes use of
Training Methods equipments similar to those existing in actual
workplace but relies on skilled instructors to
On-the job training : train new workers. Here, trainees are under no
pressure to perform; they have the scope to
This training takes places on the job where make errors and learn from errors. Yet, vestibule
the trainee is supposed to be posted later. It training has certain disadvantages :
happens under the supervision of an
experienced operator who has been operating 1. It is costly to maintain a separate facility
with dedicated teaching staff.
the machine. Some advantages of this training
method are : 2. There are chances of negative transfer of
training. Often, obsolete equipments that are
1. It is cheap. No separate training facility or
retired from the production floor are used in
training staff are needed.
vestibule training. This may lead to negative
2. The transfer of training is positive. The job transfer of training.
performance in training situation will carry
over to actual work situation because both
are the same situation !
Computer Aided Instruction (CAI)
3. The motivation to learn is high because the CAI is based on Skinner’s concept of
training situation is relevant to the trainee. programmed learning. The software acts as the
instructor and provides the trainee with a task
4. Feedback is immediate and visible as good
that depends on her performance in the previous
performance shows.
task. CAI has many advantages over traditional
However, there are certain concerns training methods :
regarding on-the-job training, like :
1. Trainees are actively involved in the learning
1. Workers and supervisors have to take time process.
118 Applied Psychology

2. Trainees can work through the software at gain experience in decision making, team play,
their own pace. role taking (one members is made the leader of
3. The feedback is immediate. a team. As the leader, she is the boss), and
techniques to better handle stress. I recommend
4. It is just like a private tutor; since the CAI
to you a tele-series called “The Apprentice” to
software provides individualized instruction.
have a peep into how business games are
5. CAI can be used with any number of played. This series is hosted by the millionaire
employees at any time, without any concern
Donald Trump.
for trainers’ availability.
Role Playing
Net-based training
Net-based training is a form of distance In this training, management trainees are
education where training courses are available asked to act out a particular role, ‘displaying
at a central server on the net. It has all the whatever behaviours they believe are
advantages of CAI; at the same time it is 20% to appropriate in a given situation, they act out
35% lower in cost to traditional classroom these situations in front of a group of trainees
instruction (Schultz and Schultz, 2002). and instructors, who offer comments on their
performance’. (Schultz and Schultz, 2002). Role
Behaviour Modification : playing ‘enables trainees to understand the
Positive reinforcement can be used in many views of subordinates and acquaints them with
situations in the workplace to change behaviour. the role they will be expected to play as
Usually, the work psychologist makes an managers. It provides practical experience as
assessment called performance audit to well as feedback from other trainees and
determine the behaviours that can be modified instructor’. (Ibid, P. 177).
for more efficient job performance. Then the
employee is rewarded for displaying the desired Diversity Training
behaviours. Punishment isn’t used to modify Ethnic and caste prejudice and sexual
behaviour because it only tells what behaviour discrimination that are prevalent in society
not to follow. It doesn’t speak of the appropriate often get reflected in interpersonal relations in
behaviours to follow. the organization. Diversity management, to
Business Games reduce ethnic prejudices and sexual
discrimination, is a prerogative of an
Business games try to simulate a complex organization. Hence, the need for diversity
organizational situation. The aim of business training. The aim of diversity training is to
games is to develop problem solving and
make the employee take up the perspective of a
decision making skills in managers. Usually, minority community individual or of a woman;
the trainees are divided into two teams. Both how they must be feeling on being discriminated
teams are given some hypothetical situation against. This is done through lectures, videos,
and certain problems and they have to compete role playing, sensitivity training and
in better solving the problem. Business games confrontational exercises etc.
have been found to help management trainees
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

Career Development and Planning posts, there is another skill that becomes more
important than software skills : it is the human
Today, organizations recognize that it is
software skills. Here I am referring to good
their responsibility to provide employees with
interpersonal skills.
opportunities for personal growth and
development. Basically, there are three distinct Interpersonal skills become necessary for a
career stages in the life (between 20 years to 60 manager as he/she has to take on the perspective
years) of an employee : of others and has to relate with others in a more
meaningful way. Hence, the need for training to
1. Establishment stage
improve skills in group setting. Sensitivity
2. Maintenance stage training is one such attempt to provide human
3. Decline stage software skills. It helps a participant to
understand why others do whatever they do.
These stages have been dealt in detail in the
section on career counselling in the chapter on Sensitivity training is an outgrowth of
Educational Psychology. The growth needs of research efforts of Kurt Lewin and his colleagues.
an employee in all these stages are different and They were concerned about the dangers of
need to be met by the organization for proper autocratic leadership hence tried to identify the
HRD. For example, the establishment stage skills needed by a leader to be ‘sensitive’ to
group needs.
employee is concerned about learning more and
varied skills. Hence, she must get opportunities Sensitivity training is a process-oriented
to train, to attend university workshops and to programme and focusses on certain goals, like:
go on study leave for higher studies. The
1. Making participants more aware of the
employee in maintenance stage needs to fulfill
emotion of themselves and others in the
her self-actualization needs and the company
group; and increase their sensitivity towards
should give her greater job control to do so. In
others’ emotions.
the decline stage, the employee can provide
counselling service to the employee to cope with 2. The ultimate aim of the training is to have
various stressors; put in place a good exit intense experiences leading to life changing
policy so that retirement process becomes insights.
hasslefree. 3. In sensitivity training, participants also
attempt to perceive and learn from the
Sensitivity Training consequences of their actions.
Whenever we talk about training, the first
The base philosophy of sensitivity training
thing that comes to mind is an exercise to
has been ably articulated by Kurt Back :
improve professional skills to work on some
“Sensitivity training started with the discovery
machine. One needs technical skills to work in
that intense, emotional interaction with strangers
a factory; computer software skills (proficiency
was possible. It was looked at, in its early days,
in software languages, debugging, trouble
as a mechanism to help reintegrate the individual
shooting etc) to work for a software company
man into the whole society through group
etc. But as one moves higher up the
development. It was caught up in the basic
organizational ladder and takes up managerial
120 Applied Psychology

conflict of America at mid-century : the question understand the other participants’ point of view
of extreme freedom, release of human potential and accept it. Finally, the participants together
or rigid organization in the techniques developed explore the relevance of the experience in terms
for large combines”. Today, sensitivity training of situations and problems in the organization.
is generally accepted as an effective means to
reduce racial discrimination and sexual Evaluation
harrassment in the workplace; so also to reduce
Sensitivity training is quite popular in
conflict among managers.
organizational and school setting. However,
Sensitivity Training Procedure there are quite a few debates on the utility of
Sensitivity training consists of 8-10 people. sensitivity training. Roy, for instance, has
Most of the participants are managers from questioned the utility of T-group programs
different organizations. They don’t know each because these programs are based on western
other; nor are they formally introduced to each research and reality. Will they fit into the
other when they are brought together. There is organizational reality in India ?
no agenda and no leader to tell them what to Some researchers are concerned by reports
do. The trainer sits with them without revealing that individuals who have participated in T-
her identity. She pretends to be one of them, groups have serious emotional breakdown and
from some organization. need psychiatric case. Some others have pointed
In the beginning, there is no formal agenda. out that sensitivity groups invade the privacy of
The ‘ice-breaking’ phase starts when people start an individual; hence are not rightfully within
speaking to each other and try to get to know the domain of organizations.
each other. Variations of Sensitivity Training
The trainer, who is sitting among them, There are several variations of sensitivity
intentionally brings in some topic of a training. Some of the important ones are T-
controversial nature for discussion. For instance, group training and transactional analysis (T.A.).
topics like : reservation for scheduled castes in The goal of T-group is to give the trainee an
private sector, sexual harassment, recruitment understanding of why she acts towards other
of muslims and discrimination faced by them people the way she does and why other people
etc. A debate starts which turns into a heated act the way they do. This fosters an
argument leading to accusations and understanding of others and helps managers to
misunderstanding. Some participants become better manage relationships. Further, there are
uncomfortable and want to leave. This phase is three types of T-group : stranger groups
known as ‘emotional storming’ session. (participants are strangers and have come to the
At this point, the trainer becomes open and training from different organizations), family
expresses her feelings in a minimally evaluative groups (participants belong to the same
way. This serves to provide feedback to department and know each other quite well)
participants. In the next phase, interpersonal and cousin groups (where participants belong
relationship develop and members are able to to different departments of the same
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

Transactional analysis is a theory of experience is maximum.

personality and also a form of psychopathology
The marathon encounter group has been
developed by Canadian psychoanalyst Eric
called a “pressure cooker” because of the
Berne. A form of sensitivity training is based on
emotional tensions that gets built up. Also, like
transactional analysis (T.A.). The basic
a pressure cooker it is capable of compressing
philosophy is that three ego states coexist within
the amount of time required for the training to
the same personality :
be effective (Coleman, 1969).
1. The child
2. The adult
Learning in Sensitivity Groups
3. The parent Till now, we have only been running around
the bush, discussing what the objectives of
T.A. through sensitivity training seeks to
sensitivity training are; what is the procedure
improve interpersonal relations by adjusting
used in various formats etc. But how does
the balance between these ego stages.
learning happen in sensitivity training ? To
understand this, we move to the source
Encounter Groups inspiration Kurt Lewin. Lewin had stated that
Many psychologists consider encounter any kind of change in the learner moves through
groups as a type of sensitivity-training groups. three stages :
Yet many others do not because of difference in Unfreezing →→→→→ Moving →→→→→ Freezing
rationale, goals and methods. In general,
For the desired new learning to occur, we
encounter groups put a greater emphasis on
need to unfreeze the individual. This can be
individual growth than on group interaction.
done by generating certain amount of tension or
Encounter group training aims at helping
anxiety. Anxiety is aroused due to the nature of
participants gain insight into particular social
face-to-face encounter where one’s personal
and personal problems and learn to cope with
feelings get expressed. Also, defence
them mere effectively.
mechanisms get weakened and this created
The flexibility of encounter groups is more anxiety. Anxiety is good because it helps the
than that of T-groups. Hence, many formats of individual get loose from her preconceived
encounter groups have evolved. One format notions and habitual ways of reacting. This
deserving special mention here is the marathon unfreezing helps because only then one can
format. In the marathon format, members meet ‘move’ (i.e., learn new attitudes and feelings).
one weekend and keep discussing without even The second stage (moving) occurs because in all
breaking for sleep. The logic behind using the forms of sensitivity training the individual, is
marathon format is that the “opening up” given feedback about her behaviour by other
process (i.e., the expression and exploration of members of the group. At the end of this process,
personally meaningful feelings) is hastened by the new learning is freezed and the individual
such intense contact. Also, inhibitions are carries over the skills in human relation
lowered due to fatigue. Finally, since now they management outside the training.
are separated from the outside environment for
a long period of time, the influence of group
122 Applied Psychology

n Psychological tests in the may take a structured or unstructured form.

industry Unstructured interviews are similar to an
informal chat. There is no fixed procedure or
aim of the interview. Rather, the candidate is
Psychological tests are used in organizations
selected by a hit-and-miss approach. The
in every stage of manpower planning.
Psychologist tests are expectations of employees, reliability and validity of such interviews are
their perceptions, attitudes and value orientation. questionable. Herriot (1989) is of the view
These tests can be studied in terms of various that unstructured interviews are prone to sex
industrial functions, as : bias as the interviewers are often male and
are more likely to engage in comfortable chat
1. Recruitment tests
with male candidates. Hence, many
2. Performance Appraisal employers prefer a structured interview
3. Integrity tests where set of questions are asked to all
candidates in a particular order. It is a sort
4. Tests to assess employee attitudes and
motivation. of verbal psychometric test with quite
satisfactory validity.
Recruitment Test : 3. Work Sample tests are used to measure
As already mentioned, recruitment is based knowledge and skills. Knowledge can be
on knowledge, skills and attitudes of the measured by a simple quiz test. Skills can be
candidate. To measure these, certain instruments measured by asking the candidate to provide
used are : a work sample. For example, a web designer
1. Biodata : The concept behind study of biodata may be asked to design a website; a software
is to list the environmental factors commonly programmer may be asked to write a program.
found in successful and unsuccessful These are relatively easy to measure and
candidates. Based on these, weighted have good face and predictive validity.
application forms are constructed. These Some aptitude tests are used on freshers,
forms are filled by candidates and submitted since they are fresh from college and don’t
to the HR of the company; based on the have any industrial skill. Aptitude tests try
application blanks (candidate’s background to predict the candidate’s aptitude for some
– academic, extra-curricular etc.) initial specific job. The skills could be developed
screening is done. This assessment can be later by training.
discriminative at times. For example, a HR
manager with casteist attitude may 4. Psychometric testing and assessment :
unconsciously screen out the biodata of a Intelligence tests are used to assess an
candidate from lower caste background. In individual’s underlying ability to solve
another situation, suppose no woman has problems and adapt effectively to their
ever worked in the shop floor of a environment. There are two major types of
manufacturing firm. That doesn’t mean intelligence tests :
women mustn’t be considered for the job. – Group tests Ex. Block test
2. Interview : Interview is an approach to – One-to-One test Ex. WAIS.
know the candidate first-hand. Interview employee
In selection, usually group tests
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

are preferred because they are cheap and that these can be matched against the demand
easy to administer viz-a-viz, one-to-one of the job. Two popular personality tests used in
testing. However, group tests have low recruitment are Eysenck Personality Inventory
predictive validity. These tests are also and Cattell’s 16-factor test. Eysenck’s
culture specific i.e. a test specifically personality inventory, for example, throws light
designed to test individuals of mainstream on whether a candidate is emotionally stable or
cultures isn’t sensitive to minority sub neurotic. Also, whether a candidate is introvert
cultures. Also, there is the risk of test or extrovert. Extroverts are sociable, outgoing,
sophistication (the more tests of a particular impulsive, like taking risks and it is difficult to
kind that an individual does, the faster her condition them. Introvert are quiet, cautious,
performance becomes. Many coaching have a high level of anxiety and are easy to
institutes, for example, help students practice condition. This helps the employer assess
for intelligence tests). whether the candidate is good for the job or not.
Attitude of the candidate is important. In There are many criticisms about personality
any job, the social skills of an individual affects tests, and psychometric tests in general. Eysenck
his and his work group’s performance. Some (1998) stated that intelligence tests have
ways to test attitude are : ‘generated more heat than light’ meaning that
1. Reference 2. Group discussion such tests create more controversy than provide
3. Projective tests.
It is often argued that psychometric tests
Employers already ask for references but
lack validity and reliability because it is easy to
references can be misleading at times. Group cheat. Intelligent candidates can give answers
discussion displays an individual’s that they feel are appropriate, rather than telling
interpersonal skills, so also her emotional the truth. However, if a test is well-designed
intelligence. However, many participants of a and includes a lie scale (i.e. including statements
group discussion can’t participate because of
that can’t just be true to check test-taker’s
their communication problems or because of honesty), many contend that this kind of
other candidates’ dominance over the cheating can be avoided. For example, ‘I have
discussion. never been late in life’ is so unprobable that it
Projective tests, such as the Thematic is a lie.
Apperception Test (TAT) are another way to Personality tests have the underlying
assess attitude. TAT consists of 30 pictures and assumption that personality characteristics are
drawing of two or more individuals in a range
stable. However, certain studies have shown
of ambiguous social setting. The person being the influence of situational factors. For example,
tested is asked to make a story on the pictures. Jessup and Jessup (1971) correlated scores on
In the story, she projects her attitude. Projective Eysenck’s personality inventory and pilot
tests are highly subjective and rely heavily on training in Royal Air Force (RAF) in UK. It was
the skills of the tester. This subjectivity leads to found that pilots with low extraversion score
problems of reliability. Work psychologists need initially showed high extraversion after
to be sufficiently trained to use these tests. successful completion of training.
Personality tests are used by the employer to
get a picture of the candidate’s basic traits so
124 Applied Psychology

Performance Appraisal representative of the employee’s performance

Most organizations carry out formal on that dimension. Research on the BARS
evaluations of employees’ job performance, method suggests that these scales provide more
called performance appraisal. This appraisal is accurate ratings of employee behaviour than to
used to : traditionally anchored rating scales.’ (McIntire
• Distribute performance-based bonus and Miller, 1999, P. 541).
• Decide on promotions As in every psychological test, rating tests
• Decide on termination of employment. also are liable to errors. Leniency error occurs
For instance, Mckinsey grades every when the rater rates every employee liberally.
employee on a scale of 5. The employee who Severity error occurs when all employees are
scores 2 or less in three consecutive years is rated below what they deserve. Central tendency
asked to leave the company. There are broadly error occurs when the rater tends to give average
two types of performance appraisal : Ranking rating to all employees. A halo effect is one in
tests and Rating tests. which the rater’s judgement on one dimension
Ranking tests are used to rank employees (which is usually very high) tends to make the
according to their performance relative to other rater judge the employee similarly on other
employees in the division. Problem with this dimensions. These errors occur because raters
test taking method is that an employee who have to make subjective decisions while
performs satisfactorily may be ranked as “poor” quantifying job performance of the employee.
in relation to others. Many scholars and With increasing job transparency, 360°
management consultants are of the opinion that feedback is being used in rating employees.
this testing pattern has potential to lower Here, the employee is rated by her boss, peers,
employee morale. subordinates and customers as well as by
Rating tests are preferred over ranking tests herself. This reduces the risk of rating errors.
as here managers are asked to rate the employee
on a scale rather than relative to others. The
Integrity Tests
most popular method to rate employee
performance uses graphic rating scale. A sample With economic pressure to become more
of this scale is : efficient, employers today have become more
concerned about issues of employee theft. In
Q. Which face reminds you of the employee ?
recent times, many thefts have come to light in
the BPO industry in India. Fitzgerald (2003)
notes from a study in Canada, that employee
theft is responsible for 33% of theft from retail
stores. He contends that integrity of employees
must be tested during recruitment and after
Two other tests are Behaviourally Anchored major thefts. Assessment for integrity tests can
Rating Scale (BARS) and the Behavioural be by physiological measures or pencil-and-
Checklist. paper tests.
In BARS, ‘the rater chooses the voting The polygraph, or the lie detector test, is the
category by choosing the behaviour that is most most popular physiological measure. The
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

machine generates a number of graphs of skin to measure work motivation. For instance,
resistance, heart rate and respiration. It is Kanungo has developed a popular test to
assumed that if the person taking the test lies, measure job satisfaction and job involvement.
it leads to different responses. Paper and pencil
tests are based on projective methods. It must be
n Theories of Work Motivation
reiterated that both tests have low reliability in
detecting lies. Polygraph users may make the
Behind every goal-directed behaviour, there
“othello error” i.e. take signs of distress (which is motivation. More the motivation to achieve
are manifested as emotional arousal in the certain goals, more the chances are that the
polygraph) as proof of dishonesty. A meta individual will show purposive behaviour. More
analysis of integrity tests in 1993 by Ones, the purposive behaviour of employees to strive
Viswesvaran and Schmidt has yielded for task goals and organizational vision, better
encouraging results. the efficiency and output of the organization.
Employers don’t miss this simple and direct
link between organizational effectiveness and
Tests to Assess Employee employee motivation.
Attitude and Motivation The challenge here is to determine what
constitutes motivation ? How to motivate
An employer needs to know employee employees towards organizational goals ?
attitude and perception on a range of issues Traditionally, it was believed that employee
from time to time. For example, if a steel company behaviour should be controlled by rewards and
wants to go for a major restructuring, it must punishments. This view was a behaviourist
first assess workers’ attitudes, lest they decide view and has since been contested by many
content theories (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
to oppose it under trade unions.
and Herzberg’s two factor theory) and process
Likert’s attitude scale and social distance theories (like Vroom’s expectancy model). We
scale can be used to assess employee attitude. will start the discussion of this section with
Fitzgerald believes that psychological tests can Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is a
humanistic approach as opposed to the
shed light on prevalence of sexual harassment
behaviouristic approach predominant at the
and gender discrimination in the workplace.
This kind of assessment is, in fact, part of
employer’s moral duty to manage diversity.
Motivating employees is an important role of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
HR. To motivate employees to work towards Maslow’s hierarchy of needs wasn’t
organizational goals, the HR must be aware of specifically designed for work motivation.
employer attitudes and beliefs, their expectations Rather, it was a general theory that became
from the organization etc. For example, if immensely popular in managerial circles. This
employees are motivated more by perks and theory states that a hierarchy of needs exists.
services like hospital facility, education for The fulfilment of needs of one stage (lower) in
the hierarchy only leads to a concern for the
children etc, it will be fruitless to give them
needs of the next stage (higher). Unless the
more money. Psychologists have devised tests needs of a stage are fulfilled, the employee
126 Applied Psychology

doesn’t strive for the needs of the next stage. Once physiological and safety needs are
met, social needs of the individual become
important. Need for affiliation and need to be
rooted in a social group are important
motivators. It can be pointed here that Elton
Mayo had observed that there are informal
social groups in organizations. He found many
employees following social group norms rather
than managerial incentive. This may be because
when earlier needs are fulfilled, social needs
become stronger.
These three needs, lower down in the
pyramid are deficiency needs. Next, Maslow
discussed certain needs that were path-breaking
in HR Management of the time.

• Esteem Needs, Growth Needs and

Self-Actualization Needs
• Physiological needs, safety needs and Esteem needs refer to the desire for personal
social needs achievement and recognition for work done.
This is associated with the need for self-respect
At the base of the pyramid, lie the
and status. Esteem needs are not affected by the
physiological needs of hunger, thirst and sex.
pay (unless pay is a symbol of status), rather by
Non-fulfilment of these needs lead to
the degree of autonomy and responsibility that
physiological deprivation and an intense
is provided to the employee.
motivation to fulfil these needs. However, once
these needs are met, it ceases to be a motivation. Next come the growth needs which need not
If it is not met, the individual ignores other be essential but provide opportunities for
needs but when it is met, the individual’s needs personal growth and self-actualization. Growth
move on to the next stage : safety needs. needs include cognitive needs (the need to
know; the curiosity to express the environment)
Safety needs refer to the need to ensure that
and aesthetic needs (the need to appreciate
one is safe from physical and psychological
beauty and art). The implication of these needs
threats. An environment which is predictable
is that creative expression can be intrinsically
and where the individual perceives some degree
satisfying. Those who are unable to meet these
of control fulfils this need. It must be noted here
needs at work try to fulfil these needs in leisure
that the point at which one becomes content
time. The lesson for management here is that by
with safety is quite subjective. An adolescent
facilitating the fulfilment of growth needs, it can
staying in a slum, for instance, has very low
harness the creativity of employees.
safety needs. On the other hand, an old woman
living alone has more safety needs. Self-actualization needs, the most
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

controversial of Maslow’s needs, is at the top of hierarchy as it exists in individualistic,

the pyramid. Humanistic theorists believe that western cultures. For instance, in collectivistic
given the chance, human being is intrinsically traditions of the East, social needs are
motivated to realize her full potential i.e. to preferably met before safety need. Also, the
actualize her self. Maslow argues that not concept of actualization is different in different
everyone is fortunate enough to strive for self- cultures. In India, the satisfied man strives
actualization. Only those whose earlier needs for spiritual unity of Atman (self) with
are met seem to strive for actualization. Brahman (universe). This is actualization in
Indian context.
Herzberg’s Two-factor theory
Herzberg had conducted a study on work
Maslow hierarchy had become very popular motivation of 200 accountants and engineers
in business circles ever since Maslow proposed employed in firms in Pennsylvania, USA in
it. However, Maslow didn’t back up his theory 1950. From his study, he found that the factors
with any research. Other research into his involved in producing job satisfaction are
hierarchy have shown some lacunae in the different from the factors that produce job
theory. Some concerns are : dissatisfaction,

• The claim that without fulfilment of lower Maslow made the distinction between higher
needs, the individual doesn’t strive for needs and lower order needs, that is, growth needs
place higher up in the hierarchy has been and deficiency needs. Herzberg opines that
proved wrong in many cases. For instance, these needs are not two ends of a continuum.
people have been found to compose poetry Rather, factors which remove dissatisfaction
in concentration camps ! are called hygiene needs; they don’t provide
motivation. Hence, he talks about two issues :
• The hierarchy projects needs as if they are
objective. How much of physiological needs 1. Satisfaction vs. non-satisfaction
are enough ? How much safety would satisfy 2. Dissatisfaction vs. non-dissatisfaction
the individual so as to enable him to move
up ? It is quite subjective and depends on the Please also note that Herzberg’s hygiene
perception of the individual. The individual’s needs (i.e. factors affecting job context) are related
cognitive processes have been ignored in to extrinsic motivators (pay, job security,
drawing this theory. working conditions, company policies etc)
whereas motivator needs are related to intrinsic
• Though immensely popular, its application motivators (curiosity, need for status, need for
value is extremely low. How does one self-fulfilment etc.)
measure self-actualization ? Rather, how do
we detect self-actualization ? It is too Herzberg’s theory has deep implications for
subjective concept to be used in practice. management. It states that factors like salary
don’t motivate employees. Salary is necessary
• Finally, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is but not sufficient condition for motivated
culture-biased. It represents the need behaviour. Hence, the need for job enrichment/
128 Applied Psychology

Secondly, all dissatisfiers need to be removed. Katz (1978) has suggested that job satisfaction
Just paying salary won’t work. The concept of isn’t an objective construct as Herzberg wants
worker welfare is important here because us to believe. Rather, it varies throughout work
without basic hygiene factors, the employee life. Katz interviewed 3,085 employees working
stays dissatisfied. in the public sector and private sector in USA.
He found a relationship between job satisfaction
Herzberg’s theory has deep implications for and length of time in employment and that it
management. It states that factors like salary changed over time. In deed, what individuals
don’t motivate employees. Salary is necessary want out of a job can vary with age, sex, social
but not sufficient condition for motivated group and individual expectations.
behaviour. Hence, the need for job enrichment. In spite of these criticisms, it can not be
Secondly, all dissatisfiers need to be removed. denied that Herzberg contributed substantially
Just paying salary won’t work. The concept of to understanding work motivation. He extended
worker welfare is important here because Maslow’s need-hierarchy and made it more
without basic hygiene factors, the employee applicable to organizational settings. Also, his
stays dissatisfied. concept of job content factors helped managers
An Appraisal to go for job enrichment.
Herzberg’s theory was based on interviews
with a sample of 200 male engineers and Vroom’s Expectancy Theory
accountants of firms of Pennsylvania. It is
Expectancy theory marks a departure from
dangerous to generalize the theory to other
the content theories of work motivation.
situations. This theory has been challenged by
Expectancy theories are cognitive theories in the
many scholars, one prominent among being
sense that they focus on the employee’s need
Victor Vroom. Vroom (1984) claimed that the
perception. Secondly, these theories are process-
two-factor theory was only one of the conclusion
oriented. Two dominant expectancy theories to
that could have been reached from the study
be discussed here are Vroom’s theory and
conducted by Herzberg. It is also possible that
Porter and Lawler’s development on Vroom’s
Herzberg made the fundamental attribution error
when conducting his study i.e. in his method,
Herzberg probably attributed good results to his Vroom was inspired by the cognitive theories
theory and bad results (that were contradictory of Lewin and Tolman; and so believed that
to his hypothesis) to situational factors ! human behaviour is the result of active
Landy (1985) suggests that in the two factor interaction between individual characteristics
(personality traits, needs, attitudes and values)
theory, Herzberg defines satisfaction and
and perceived environment (such as job
dissatisfaction the way people think about it in
requirement, role clarity, supervisor’s style and
western countries. If that is so, it doesn’t have
work culture). To use Lewin’s famous formula,
cross-cultural validity. Satisfaction depends on
B = f (P, E) where B = Work Behaviour
people’s perception, which in turn depends on
the culture one belongs to Swalapurkar has P = Employee
found that for Indian middle class, factors like Characteristics
salary and job security act as motivators. E = Work situational
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

Vroom, in 1964, forwarded his theory in won’t get bonus without performing. Negative
which he reasoned that motivation is the result instrumentality means that the performance may
of three different kinds of cognitions : infact hamper the attainment of reward. Suppose
a worker wants healthy benefits (reward) but
1. Expectancy : The belief that one’s effort will
will lose it if he gets transferred to another
result in performance.
department, the instrumentality is negative.
2. Instrumentality : The belief that the
performance will be rewarded. Also important here is the value that Hari
attaches to the rewards. If Hari doesn’t value
3. Value : The perceived value of the rewards health insurance or already has one, his value
to the employee. (v2) is low for reward 2. If he fears that his better
This theory can be explained with the help performance will increase his work load, the
of an example. Suppose Hari is a worker in a value v3 (corresponding to reward 3 i.e. greater
power plant. Before doing a task, he thinks responsibility) may be negative. Many workers
whether his efforts will lead to performance. If in a steel company I worked in feared that if
he doesn’t have the skills to perform the role or they did something in front of the manager, they
the organization doesn’t give him sufficient may be called again to do the work !
autonomy, his expectancy (εεεεε) is low. Hence, Hari’s perception that performance
(P) will be rewarded (R) is :

[P →→→→→ R] = IkVk

Hari’s belief that an effort will lead to the

said performance is Ej. There may be many
efforts and many different performances. Hence,
this particular performance is called Ej. Hence,
Hari’s expectancy here is :

Expectancy = Ej × IkVk

His total expectancy from different work

But if his expectancy (εεεεε) is high, he now challenged is :
reasons : why should I perform ? With I get
Expectancy total = Ej × ( IkVk)
rewarded ? How instrumental is my performance
in getting rewards ? Suppose for the kind of Vroom’s expectancy theory has important
performance, the company policy states that implications for the industry. Some major
Hari will get bonus (reward 1), health insurance implications are :
(reward 2) and greater work responsibility 1. Motivation is not directly linked to job
(reward 3). The instrumentality for each outcome performance. The causal link isn’t direct.
varies from +1 to –1. +1 means that the Rather, there are personality factors, skills,
performance is necessary and sufficient abilities and values that affect job
condition for the reward. For example, Hari performance.
130 Applied Psychology

2. The individual needs to be given ample

opportunities to carry out the job. She won’t Porter and Lawler Theory
put an effort if she lacks ability or if there is
Porter and Lawler (1968) have expanded
no organizational support. Clarity of role
and reinterpreted the expectancy theory of
also affects the expectancy that an effort will
Vroom. This model is represented in the diagram
lead to a performance.
below :
3. It is not the instrumentality of the outcome in
getting rewards but the perceived Porter and Lawler have made some important
additions to expectancy theory, as seen in the
instrumentality that matters. Hence, the
diagram. Some of these are :
company policy needs to be clear and there
ought to be transparency in performance • The fact that performance depends on
appraisal. abilities, traits, role perceptions and
organizational support have been made
4. Before rewarding an employee, the HR must
explicit. Role perceptions refers to the clarity of
ascertain what value the employee attaches job description and the extent to which
to the reward. The value that one attaches to employees know how to direct their efforts
a reward is based on her personality traits,
towards effective performance. Many-a-times,
attitudes and cognitions. Hence, the HR
due to ambiguous role descriptions many
must conduct attitude tests to assess employees don’t realize where their efforts
employees’ reward preferences before
would lead to best performance.
rewarding them.
• This model argues that performance leads to
both extrinsic and intrinsic outcomes. While
extrinsic rewards depend on other factors
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

like valence (i.e. value of the reward to the particular reward. These models don’t borrow
employee) and equity perception, the relation
from the concept of need to determine what
between performance and intrinsic rewards rewards are valued and why. The theory has
is direct.
concentrated on the process to such an extent
• This theory also tries to incorporate Adam’s that it ignores the content i.e. the needs of
(1965) equity model. It states that the extent employees.
to which extrinsic rewards will lead to
satisfaction depends upon the perceived
equity of rewards i.e. the extent to which the Adam’s Equity Theory
output to effort ratio of the employee is equal
to that of others. Adam’s equity theory is based on the social
comparison theory. Equity theory argues that
An Appraisal people tend to compare their contribution to
work and benefits with others in the
The cognitive nature of expectancy theory organization. Basically, the employee selects
‘does a good job of capturing the essence of some referants to whom she compares her output
energy expenditure ..... A manager can to input ratio. The person is motivated by the
perceived fairness of benefits received for certain
understand and apply the principles embodied
amount of work. The state of equity is reached
in each of the components of the model.
when :
Instrumentalitics make sense. The manager can
use this principle to lay out clearly for
subordinates the relationships among outcomes
(e.g. promotions yield salary increases, four
unexcused absences result in a suspension of Please note that the outcomes and inputs
one day). Similarly, the manager can increase mentioned above are perceived outcomes and
inputs, not objective ones. Inequity happens
reward probabilities by systematically
rewarding good performance’. (Landy, 1985, P. when either of the two following conditions
occur :
336-337). Vroom’s theory has provided many
insights into work behaviour, as discussed Person's Outcomes Other's Outcomes
earlier. However, the expectancy model has Input Input
some lacunae, like :
• Expectancy theories, of Vroom and of Porter Person's Outcome Other's Outcome
and Lawler, are normative models. These Input Input
models assume that people use rational
cognitive processes, carefully calculating
expectancy, valence and instrumentalities.
Many people aren’t this rational and don’t
measure their outputs and inputs to make
• The theory pays little attention to explaining
why an individual values or doesn’t value a
132 Applied Psychology

4. Change the referant, and in the worst case. factors determine the extent to which equity
5. Leave the organization. principle can explain employee satisfaction.

For example, if an individual perceives that For instance, Murphy-Berman and his
her outcome-to-input ratio is more than others, colleagues (1989) found that Indians preferred
she feels that she receives more reward than she reward disbursement more on the basis of
deserves. Hence, to reduce the inequity she may employee need than on the basis of merit. This
work harder (increase input) or changes her is a trend opposite to that of Western countries.
perception (“I deserve the money I get because It might be because of our collectivistic values of
I am smarter than other employees”). On the protecting the weak and the needy; or may be
other hand, if her reward-to-input ratio is because the workers who were studied adhered
perceived to be less than others, she may try to to socialistic ideology of rewarding to each
improve her output, reduce her input (“Hari according to his needs.
gets the same bonus for working only four
hours why should I work for six hours ?”) or
change perceptions (“Hari does smart work.
Hence, he is more efficient”). If still unsatisfied, Leadership is the ability to influence the
the employee may leave the organization for activities of a person or a group of persons
another. towards the attainment of certain goal or goals.
In the organizational context, it is sometimes
An Appraisal
used interchangeably with management, though
Equity theory beautifully combines the notion significant differences exist. In the section on
of cognitive dissonance with social exchange to power and politics, we have discussed that
forward a guideline to managers about doing there are three types of influence processes :
distributive justice to employees. Another 1. Compliance
implication is that procedural justice is also
2. Internalization
important. It is not equitable distribution of
rewards in ratio of inputs that affects employee 3. Identification
motivation but the perception of it. Hence, the Manager is an employee who has been
procedure arrived at when making an appraisal given formal authority of the organization.
has to be transparent. The subordinates must be Hence, he can influence his subordinates by
aware of the rules you use in calculating compliance. Whereas a leader influences by
rewards for their work. internalization and identification also. Hence, a
manager may or may not be a leader. For
While the theory makes strong intuitive example, when I used to work in a steel plant,
sense, research on the theory has revealed mixed I was given the post “Manager, Electrical
results. Indian researchers have found that Maintenance”. I had influence on the workers
Adam’s theory has cross-cultural validity but in the sense that if I order, they are bound to do
needs to be suitably modified. Socio-cultural my work. But was I a leader then ? I was new
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

to the place, young and had no practical dimensions :

experience. The experienced foremen couldn’t 1. Consideration
internalize the fact that I could handle my job,
2. Initiating structure
let alone identify with me. Hence, a manager
Consideration (i.e. relationship-oriented)
may or may not be a good leader. Alternatively,
an outside consultant who doesn’t have any behaviours reflect the extent to which a leader
formal authority may become a leader because is concerned for subordinates’ well-being. A
the employees have internalized the fact that leader high on consideration is friendly and
the consultant is an expert in steel processing. approachable; he has a good rapport and two-
way communication with his subordinates.
What is leadership ? What is the most
Initiating structure (i.e. task-oriented) behaviours
effective form of leadership ? We shall now
reflect the leader’s concern in getting jobs done
discuss various models proposed to explain
and making the organizational structure work
leadership and then move on to a typology of
at optimal efficiency.
various leadership styles.
The two dimensions are independent of
each other i.e. a leader high on consideration
Models of Leadership can also be high on initiating structure. Any
leader’s behaviour lies in the following grid :
Trait Models
Some of the earliest researchers of leadership
believed that leadership is a disposition i.e.
there are certain personality traits and personal
characteristics of leaders. These researchers tried
to uncover some traits and abilities that could
determine how good a leader one can become.
However, their studies haven’t been able to give Even though both trait and behavioural
any conclusive results, and they have been models focus on personal attributes of the leader,
largely discredited. Today, it is generally they are different. Trait models propose that
recognized that no one is a born leader. leadership is a predisposition whereas
behavioural models show that leadership can
be cultivated.
Behavioural Models
When researchers became discouraged by Situational Models
the trait models, they started focusing their Both the models discussed above are
attention on what leaders do in their job. The universalistic approaches i.e. attempts to find
main concern of behavioural models was to leadership-attributes that are valid across
identify dimensions of leadership behaviour.
situations. Starting from the 1960s, situational
One dominant model was forwarded by models became popular. Also called the
researchers at Ohio state university. These contingency models, these state that the most
researchers managed to isolate two major
134 Applied Psychology

appropriate style of leadership depends on the Another popular model is the path-goal
situation in which the leader works. As the model developed by House (1971). It is based
situation varies, leadership requirements also on the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy. It
vary. states that employees will tend to live upto the
The least preferred coworker (LPC) expectations that leaders have of them. That is
contingency model introduced by Fiedler (1967) why the more effective leaders are those who set
argued that when selecting leaders, a person’s up the work environment in such a way that
leadership style should be matched with the employees can attain goals set by the leader and
situations. There are three situations variables find the experience satisfying.
one should consider before matching : The normative decision model forwarded
1. Leader-member relationship by Vroom and Yelton (1973) states that there are
2. Task structure i.e. the extent to which three decision making styles :
procedures have been established for 1. Autocratic
performing the task
2. Consultative, in which leader takes decisions
3. Position power i.e. control of resources such
but consults followers.
as money or information.
3. Group decision is the decision taken by
Hersey and Blanchard (1977) had proposed
the now popular life cycle model in which they
There is no right or wrong approach which
identified four leadership styles – telling, selling,
participating and delegating. The model approach to take depends on :
reasoned that ‘maturity’ of the followers is the 1. Quality of decision required and
key factors on which the appropriate leadership 2. Extent to which it is important for other
style for the situation will depend. Hence, new members of group to accept the decision
employees with low maturity will be best suited taken.
for telling style (which means high on task- Of the recent situational models of leadership,
orientation and low on relationship orientation) I consider the tri-dimensional leadership theory
whereas for most mature employee delegating
relevant here. Yuki (2003) who forwarded this
style is the best.
theory opines that leadership behaviour can be
described in three broad categories :
1. Task oriented where the leader is primarily
oriented towards efficiency and reliability.
2. Relations oriented where the leader is most
effective in managing human resources.
3. Change oriented where the leader is most
effective in innovation and adaptation to the
This theory reasons that effective leaders
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

integrate above behaviours in a way that is hence employee has less freedom in task
consistent with the situation. implementation. The leader and follower are
psychologically distant. This style is best suited
when the followers are unskilled. For example,
Leadership styles a contractor can be directive autocrat when
dealing with his labourers. Ganguli is of the
There have been many conceptualizations of opinion that Indian workers prefer to be directed
leadership styles, most of these concentrating
and work better with autocratic styled leaders.
on two axes with autocratic and democratic
styles on extreme ends of first axis and 2. Permissive Autocrats :
permissive style and directive style on other The leader makes decisions but gives
ends of the second axis. These can be represented considerable autonomy to followers in carrying
as under : out tasks. This style of leadership is quite suited
for the military; leaders take decisions but cadets
have considerable autonomy in execution.
3. Directive Democrats :
The leader consults his followers in taking
decisions, however, he takes an active interest
in work implementation. This is quite suitable
when followers are technically sound and highly
skilled. Participatory management is
conceptually an offshoot of this style.
4. Permissive Democrats :
Not only decision making is participatory,
employees have considerable autonomy. This is
the case in organizations with matrix structure
rather than in bureaucratic organizations. This
is most suited when employees are quite mature
and self-motivated. An extreme version of this is
Laissez faire.

As seen in the situational models discussed

• Transformational Leadership
earlier, none of the styles mentioned in the two
dimensions is the appropriate style. The best Transformational leaders exert considerable
style of the above depends on the organizational influence over the followers by proposing an
context and nature of followers. Let us discuss inspiring vision. They describe in clear, emotion-
the above four styles, along with few others : provoking manner, an image of what the group
5. Laissez faire style can become. Not only a vision, they also provide
a route for attaining the vision. They have high
6. Transformational leadership
confidence level, high degree of concern for
1. Directive autocrats : followers and good communication skills. While
These leaders take their own decisions. “transactional leaders” are those skilled in day-
Communication is downward and directive, to-day transactions in the workplace,
136 Applied Psychology

transformational leaders help the organization should not only be able to provide a vision, but
through change. In deed, transformational must also show a path to attain the visionary
leaders often come to prominence in times of goals and must be able to articulate the vision
intense change and lead the organization during to her followers. Hence, she has an ideology
transformations. that she uses to articulate his vision.
The reason why transformational leadership
2. Charisma :
is at the centre of focus is that such leaders are
Charismatic leadership was first recognized
visionaries, innovative and can help revitalize by Max Weber as a concept explaining how
any organization in tune with changing time.
certain leaders can influence followers by
Take, for example, the case of Steve Jobs. He
emotional attachment. Charismatic leaders, by
himself isn’t much of an innovator but his
virtue of their personalities and interpersonal
motivations of vision has helped Apple Inc to skills, are capable of exerting an extraordinary
revitalize its position in world market by coming influence on followers without resorting to
with new cutting-edge products like iMac, iPod formal authority. House (1977), who had
and iPhone. Also, Conger and Kanungo (1998) constructed an ideal-type of charisma, believes
have argued that transformational leadership that subordinates try to identify with a
in essence is proactive, entrepreneurial and charismatic leader and internalize her values.
change-oriented; hence it is best suited to meet
the needs of change in a developing country 3. Consideration :
like India. Hence, the importance of The behavioural model discussed in last
transformational leadership is evident. Let us section talk about two dimensions of
now discuss some major characteristics of behavioural orientations of leaders :
transformational leadership, as noted by Bass consideration and initiating structure.
(1985) : Transformational leaders are high on both
dimensions. They are high on consideration
1. Vision
because they act as mentors to their followers,
2. Charisma give preference to two-way, face-to-face
3. Consideration of emotional needs of communication and give due regard to training
employees and human resource development. They are
high on initiating structure because they are
4. Intellectual stimulation.
skilled at getting jobs done and in making the
1. Vision : organization work at optimal efficiency.
As the name suggests, transformational
4. Intellectual Stimulation :
leaders seek to transform the organization in
the face of competition, new technologies and Since transformational leaders seek to
other external challenges. To be able to transform, transform the organization, they are potent
enough to show subordinates new ways of
a leader needs vision. Vision is the ability to be
sensitive to changes in organization’s looking at old problems; they emphasize on
environment, the ability to perceive a future rationality and nurture an organizational
advantageous position to which the organization climate of intellectual stimulation. For example,
must move to progress. A transformational leader Ganesh and Joshi (1985) analyzed scientist
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

Vikram Sarabhai’s transformational leadership

style in institution building. They found that
Sarabhai had used multiple strategies like
networking, trusting and caring in institution-
building at Indian Space Research Organization
Fig. : Continuum of leadership styles
Leadership style in India
A major area of interest of organizational The Nurturant-task Leadership Style
psychologists in India is : What is the optimal Based on the Indian situation and nature of
From the situational models,
style suited to Indian
we knowsituations?
that the workers in India, J.B.P. Sinha has proposed the
Nurturant-task leadership style (NTL style). But
appropriate leadership style varies from before getting into defining it, let us learn some
situation to situation. Hence, we need to salient points about work situation in India :
understand both work situation and follower • Work is not intrinsically valued in India,
qualities before concluding on the leadership and there exists a culture of ‘aaram’ i.e. rest
style most suited to Indian conditions. and relaxation without any scope for hard
At this stage, a small literature survey can be work. Indians perform work as a favour to
done. Pestonjee (1973) reported greater others. The logic stated for this is that work
satisfaction among Indian workers under is believed to exhaust the individual by
draining out her energy which she believes
democratic supervision. Many other studies have
verified this. Problem is, many other studies to be precious and limited. Hence, she prefers
have found contradictory trends. Many studies to expend it only in return for some favour.
have found that autocratic style is best suited • Indians have a high sense of insecurity. Due
for Indian workers. Ganguli for example, has to this sense of insecurity, they work for
observed that many Indians like to be directed accummulation of more money, position and
and work best under autocratic leaders. Why status. Hence, Indians have a high need for
this anomaly in research findings ? What power.
conclusion can you draw from these findings? • We Indians have lived within the ethos of
caste system for a long time. The superior-
Prof. J.B.P. Sinha concluded that the
subordinate kind of relationship of the caste
contradictory research findings reflect the way
leadership styles were defined by various system has had a pervasive effect on our
collective unconscious. Hence, we can’t be
researchers. He argues that Indian researchers
autonomous. We don’t have the maturity for
saw autocratic and democratic styles as
self-motivated behaviour. That is why we
dichotomies rather than two ends of a prefer bureaucratic hierarchies over other
continuum. He has postulated that somewhere
forms of organizations.
on the continuum lies a leadership style most
• Indians are collectivistic and search for
suitable to Indian conditions. personalized relationships.
138 Applied Psychology

Prof. J.B.P. Sinha concluded from above self-directed and creative at work if they are
factors that Indian workers have high given greater control over their work. Argyris,
dependency. Hence, the leader has to be for instance, has argued that as individuals
directive and set definite tasks (i.e. be task- mature from infant end of personality continuum
oriented). At the same time, Indian workers to adult end, they desire more freedom and
participation. By letting them mature, we can
have high need for personalized relationships.
improve their performance but if we keep strict
Hence, the leader must be nurturant. A few
controls, we tend to resist their maturity. Hence,
characteristics of the task-nurturant style the need for participatory management.
proposed by him for Indian conditions are :
Participatory management is a managerial
1. It is more task-oriented than employee- style that seeks to provide two-way
oriented. The leader should maintain strict communication and involvement of sub
discipline and should have structured ordinates in decision making process. It is one
expectations from subordinates. among many managerial styles and is not
2. The leader prefers a two-way communication necessarily the best in all situations. However,
to address Indian ethos and cultural values in certain situations, it is the most efficient form
that promote dependancy. The leader should of management. So when is participatory
nurture the employees so as to make them management the most efficient form of
feel more secure and less anxious. management ? It has been observed that an
optimal level of participation is good for a
Participative Management company depending on its organizational
The management style in most traditional climate and employee profile. For instance,
organizations was directive in nature. These workers in India have high dependence needs,
organizations had centralized, bureaucratic wants to be directed and lack team orientation.
decision-making structure, superior-subordinate For them, participatory management may not be
hierarchy and strict supervision of work. the appropriate style. However, in case of BPO
McGregor (1961) observes that this kind of companies and silicon companies like Infosys,
management was followed on the basis of Wipro and Google, employees are well educated
assumptions that the average man dislikes and and experts in their work. If conducive work
avoids work and is passive, lazy and indolent environment prevails, participatory management
in nature. The management believed that can be introduced in these companies. A few
employees are solely motivated by extrinsic pre-requisites for participatory management are:
rewards and need to be controlled by 1. The participant should have the ability –
management using a carrot-and-stick policy. intelligence and knowledge – to participate.
Hence, there was strict supervision of work. (of course, autocratic style is more preferable
McGregor goes on to argue that work is as for unskilled labourers !).
satisfying and natural for people as play. 2. Participation is most suitable for companies
However, play is internally controlled by the where many emerging decision situations
individual while work in directive managerial arise.
firms is externally controlled by the manager. 3. Potential benefits of participation should be
As a result, the work which should come more than the costs (in terms of time).
naturally to people becomes unnatural. 4. The subject of participation must be relevant
Participative Management is based on the to the employee : otherwise she perceives it
philosophy that workers are of various degrees as another work load !
of expertise and maturity. Mature workers are
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

• Advantages of Participatory output of its employees.

Management 4. Acceptance of Responsibility :
If the pre-requisites are fulfilled, it is strongly Participation encourages people to accept
recommended to go for participatory responsibility in their group’s activities.
management. This is because of the following Participation is a social process by which
advantages of participation of workers in people become self-involved in the
management : organization. They become responsible
1. Fulfilment of needs : employee-citizens rather than machine-like
performers. As an employee begins to accept
Participatory management fulfils many responsibility for group activities, she
essential needs of the employee. For example,
becomes more receptive to team work, because
better two-way communication provides a
she sees in it a means to fulfil group goals.
sense of security to the employee.
Participation leads to greater job control This responsibility that workers can take up
which, in turn, fulfils their self-esteem needs. is helpful to the organization in times of
emergency. For example, managers in many
Freedom at work place motivates employees
to fulfil their potential for self-actualization. manufacturing companies (take, for example,
All this leads to higher job satisfaction and Tata Steel where I worked) are recent
lower attrition. Employees’ creative graduates. Their knowledge of shop-floor
activity is limited; their theoretical knowhow
contribution helps the organization to
innovate and come out with new and more often doesn’t match with praticality.
efficient work routines. Involvement of junior employees in decision
making process helps in better management
2. Employee Health : of the concern. It leads to better performance,
According to the job control – job decision lesser breakdowns and faster trouble
model of Karesek (discussed in the section shooting.
on stress), stressful jobs are those where job
5. Other Benefits of Participatory
demand is high but job control is low. On the
other hand, if job control is high the job isn’t
as stressful. Stress is a dangerous Participatory management makes any
psychological and physiological condition decision to change easier. In many industries,
that not only affects employee health but the decisions taken are top-down. Workers
also their performance at the work-place. feel that their interests haven’t been amply
Participation is an effective way to increase considered before making any major change.
the resources at the disposal of the employee Often they resort to strikes, trade union
to help her cope with work-related stressors. militantism and in worse situation
vandalism. Participation of skilled workers
3. Ego Involvement : in taking decisions goes a long way in better
Participation implies mental and emotional acceptance of change.
involvement rather than mere muscular Secondly, organizational power increases
activity. It is due to this reason that employees with participative management. Contrary to
start contributing extra in terms of creative common perceptions, power in organizations
work and better performance. For example, is not a zero sum game. The autocratic view
employees at Google India are encouraged to of management is that power is a fixed
participate in product design strategy related quantity, so someone must lose what another
decisions. Many of its products are creative gains. The view of participatory management
140 Applied Psychology

is that power can be increased without taking company ? Secondly, how effectively does he
it from someone else. In participatory monitor the information flow in the
management, the employee’s power increases organization ? His task also includes
because she gets to influence the decision dissemination of information. As the
making process. At the same time, the decision-making authority, he decides on the
manager’s power over the employee increases resource-allocation to various departments
because now the employee is personally and tasks, and represents the organization
responsible for execution of the decision ! during negotiations.
Besides above, there are other benefits like 2. Learning behaviours : This includes the
better communication (due to cooperation and willingness and motivation to work and
consultation through the organizational learn with changing times and across
hierarchy). cultural differences. It also includes the
capacity to take ready feedback and to learn
from workplace experiences.
Managerial Effectiveness
3. Resilience is the ability to manage stressful
Research on managerial effectiveness seeks situations, and yet be resilient in the face of
to find out variables (person and environmental) immense pressure.
that have links to effective managerial behaviour. 4. Finally, business knowledge, that is, a hold
Some research findings have linked managerial over concepts of how to conduct business
effectiveness to role behaviours (Mintzberg, affects managerial effectiveness.
1973), coping with pressure and adversity,
integrity (Kaplan, 1997), and knowledge of the Some studies have tried to link basic traits
job (Kotter, 1988). Gregson, Morrison and Black like personality to managerial effectiveness but
(1998) have identified five characteristics of the research findings have been largely
successful global leaders : inconclusive.
1. Context specific knowledge and skills
2. Inquisitiveness
3. Personal character, including integrity
4. Duality i.e. the ability to manage both
uncertainty and tension and
5. Savvy (business savvy) Stress refers to a psycho-physiological state
that results when certain features of an
Some factors involved in effective managerial individual’s environment attack or impinge on
behaviour can be discussed in detail : that person; these features create an actual or
1. Role Performance : An essential measure of perceived imbalance between demand and
managerial effectiveness is the way capability to adjust stress is dealt in detail in
managerial roles are performed. What are the chapter on health psychology.
these roles ? Mintzberg has concluded that In this section, we will deal with certain
managers carry out tens different roles which issues related to stress in the workplace.
are highly inter-dependent. These can be Organizational stress is not necessarily negative.
grouped as : interpersonal, informational
In deed, stress has both positive consequences
and decisional roles. What is the manager’s
his bossrelation
and with
his subordinates?
clients of the (eustress) and negative consequences (strain).
Relation between stress and performance is
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

curvilinear. Hence, for any individual, the effect to discuss here are :
of stress can be represented as : 1. Physical stressors
2. Task stressors
3. Role stressors
4. Interpersonal stressors

1. Physical stressors refer to aversive physical

working conditions, or strenuous work
environments. This includes poor ergonomics
in the workplace. The condition is even
worse in, say, industrial construction and
steel making industry. There is high noise,
heat, dirty working climate etc to handle.
The exact nature of stress on an individual Such physical conditions lead to chronically
and its impact on her depends on many aroused state and finally, exhaustion in the
mediating factors. But before that, let us discuss individual employee.
the causes of job stress i.e. stressors at the job 2. Task-related job stressors include a wide
range of job content and job context factors
like work overload, time pressure, lack of
control over work (as it happens under
directive style of leader) and poor career
opportunities. Lack of control (and decision
making power) leads to extreme stress,
especially when work demand is high.
Factors like job insecurity create anxiety about
future job loss while poor career opportunities
lead to frustration. Even when new
technologies are introduced, it leads to job
stress as one has to learn new skills. An
acquaintance of mine in a software company
once observed that software technologies
change every year and they have to
consistently upgrade their skills. If you are
an expert in Java, if is of not much use in
another platform (say C#) that has just been
Causes of Job Stress developed. This poses greater stress
especially for aged employees.
Job stress may be due to demands within the
work environment or by non-work demands. 3. Role Stressors in the workplace are primarily
The four major categories of job stressors I seek of two types : (a) Role conflict and (b) Role
142 Applied Psychology

ambiguity. most often for women’ (Encyclopedia of

Applied Psychology, Vol. 2, 2004, P. 468).
Role conflict emerges in the organization
due to the dynamics of role expectations Non-work stressors like marital and family
from the employee and her ability at role problems can also lead to stress at the job
performance. Interrole conflict occurs when
the expectations of different roles (e.g. the
role of an employee and a mother) are in Models of Job Stress
cnflict. Intrarole conflict occurs when the Broadly, there are three kinds of models of
role expectations of different people (ex. of
job stress : 1. Interactional model, 2. Moderator
the boss and of a colleague) are in conflict
models and 3. Transactional models. Early
with each other and other Person-role conflict
models of job stress were interactional models
happens when one’s personal beliefs and
i.e. were focussed on the cause of job stress
values are in conflict with the role that she (stimulus) and its impact (response). Most of
is expected to perform (for example, if a sales these models postulated that the more
manager believes that client shouldn’t be demanding the stressor, the greater the chance
cheated but his organization asks him to use that it would lead to strain. Later, researchers
some devious tactics to increase sales). A.K. realized that stressor-strain relationship may be
Srivastava (1985) conducted a study using moderated by other factors like age, gender and
standardized psychometric tools on a group individual differences. Both the models had
of 400 first-line supervisors (technical). He their limitations. Though both tried to explain
assessed the supervisors’ role stress, need the relation between stressors and their
achievement and job anxiety. From ANOVA consequences (strain), both ignored the stress
he found that role conflict and role ambiguity process.
have a significant effect on anxiety pertaining Transactional models were then developed
to job life. to understand the stress process i.e. how stress
4. Interpersonal stressors pertain to stress due develops and proceeds, rather than just the
to leadership styles, organizational politics, consequences. These models often used the idea
discrimination at the workplace, sexual of fit. Stress happens due to failure of a proper
harassment and abrasive personalities. ‘The person-environment fit. Due to misfit between
two most stressful leadership styles for
people at work are rigid, autocratic environmental demands and individual’s
leadership behaviours and laissez-faire, or perceived capacity to meet these, stress response
very passive leadership behaviours. Abrasive develops. This concept of fit helped these
personalities can be the source of intense researchers explain job stress as a process.
interpersonal stress and emotional pain on Now, let us look at some specific theories
the job. Organizational politics is a source of that will be of use to us in understanding this
job stress, with some research showing that chapter in depth.
it has a great adverse impact on women than
men. Poor diversity management leads to job • The Person-Environment fit theory (P-E fit
theory) assumes that stress occurs because of
stress for the minority worker who feels there
are unequal workplace barriers to success. incongruity between person and her
Sexual harassment is a major job stressor, environment. This incongruity can be
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

between demands of the environment and such factors. Some other work features have
the abilities and competencies of the a curvilinear relationship on employee well-
being, just like Vitamin D (Excess of Vitamin
individual, or between the needs of the person
and supplies from the environment. D may cause skin cancer). Examples are job
autonomy, social support and skill
• The Job demand-Job control model states utilization.
that there are two basic dimensions of work
place factors – job demand and job control.
Job demands are the workload demands put
on the individual, while job decision latitude
refers to the employer’s ability to take
decisions and hence be in control of the
work. Karasek (1979) combined the two
dimensions to arrive at a 2-by-2 matrix, that
can be represented as :

Consequences of Job Stress

Job stress can lead to both positive
consequences (eustress) or negative
consequences (strain). An extreme form of
negative consequence is burnout. The exact
nature of stress depends on many mediating
factors (to be discussed next) and the intensity
of stressors. Eustress or healthy stress leads to
better performance and even health benefits like
cardiovascular efficiency that one gets from
aerobic fitness.

This theory proposes that stressors’ impact Strain, on the other hand, leads to both
is most severe when job control is low and psychological and physical ill-health. It leads to
job demand is high. greater absenteeism and lower performance
output. Burnout is a special form of strain.
• The Vitamin model was proposed by Warr Maslah (1982) has used a three-dimensional
(1987) to specify the relationship between vices to define burnout. The three primary
stressors and employee health and well- elements of burnout, according to him are :
being. Drawing an analogy with vitamins,
he assumes that there are two types of work 1. Emotional exhaustion
characteristics. 2. Depersonalization and
Some features of work have a linear effect 3. Lack of personal accomplishment
upto a level, after which the effect becomes
constant; just like the effect of Vitamin-C on The employee suffering burnout is
body. For example, salary, safety etc. are
emotionally exhausted and doesn’t have any
144 Applied Psychology

emotional energy to manage a stressful Maes, 1999).

encounter. Then the individual starts seeing 2. Social Support and Work Group Factors :
herself as an object and treats herself in a House (1981) has reasoned that social
detached way. This is depersonification. Finally, support is the resource provided by others
there is a lack of personal accomplishments i.e. (peers) in terms of emotional, informational
a tendency to devalue performance in negative and instrumental support. Support enhances
ways. needs directly by satiating needs for affiliation,
approval and security. It also enhances self-
esteem needs of the individual employee.
Secondly, social support reduces inter
Mediating Factors personal tensions. One of the major stressors
at work place is social stressors that can be
As already pointed out, stress doesn’t always reduced by a conducive social environment.
lead to strain and when it does, there are many A recent meta-analysis by Viswesvaran and
mediating factors that decide on the effect of his colleagues (1999) has shown that social
stress. These mediating factors are alternately support is negatively related to strain.
called resources. Resources refer to the
conditions within the workplace and to Work group factors like group cohesion and
individual characteristics that can be used by team climate also play a significant role in
reducing the effects of stress. Small groups
the individual to cope with stress. Some
important mediating factors are : provide psychological safety and collective
efficacy that buffer the negative effects of
Work conditions stressors. Indeed, strong evidence exists that
1. Control at work individuals who work in teams experience
better well-being than those who work alone
2. Social support and work group factors
(Carter and West, 1999).
Individual characteristics 3. Coping styles : When facing stressful
1. Coping styles demands from environment, individuals
make certain cognitive and behavioural efforts
2. Self-esteem and self-efficacy
to manage them. These efforts are called
3. Personality traits coping strategies. According to Lazarus and
1. Control at work : Control at work refers to Folkman (1994), coping refers to the
an employee’s opportunity to influence one’s ‘constantly changing cognitive and
work behaviour in relation to work goals. behavioural efforts to manage specific
Many studies have been conducted within external and/or internal demands that are
the framework of Karasek’s (1979) job appraised as taxing or exceeding the
demand-job control model. It has been found resources of the person (p. 141). Important
that individuals in high strain jobs often styles are :
suffer from cardiovascular illness (high strain (a) Problem-focused coping
jobs are those in which job demand is high (b) Emotion-focused coping
but control is low). In a qualitative review of (c) Avoidance coping
empirical studies on job demand-job control Empirical studies have concluded that
model, it was found that individuals in problem-focused coping lead to better health
high-strain jobs show the lowest scores in while avoidance and emotion-focused styles
psychological well-being (Van Der Doef and
lead to poorer well-being. Sharma and
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

Acharya (1991) studied role stress and coping life, she tends to exert more direct action
behaviour among electrical engineers. They against stressors. Daniels and Gupy (1990)
conclusively found that engineers who had conducted a longitudinal study in which
utilized avoidance coping compared to those they found a positive effect of an internal
who used approach coping (i.e. a style in locus of control on well-being of workers.
which one directly approaches the problem) 5. Personality factors : An individual’s
had higher job anxiety. personality has significant influence on her
4. Self-efficacy and Locus of Control : Self- ability to withstand stress. Introverts tend to
efficacy has been found to mediate between withdraw from interpersonal relations that
stress and its consequences. Self-efficacy is produce stress (i.e. show avoidance coping
the individual’s belief that she is competent style) and by avoiding communication make
enough to face a challenging work. Self- interaction and problem solving more
efficacy increases one’s confidence and she difficult. Personality of an individual affects
makes a more positive cognitive appraisal of the way she appraises a specific situation as
a stressful situation than another person stressful and also her response to the
who is low on self-efficacy. perceived stressor. Considerable research has
A similar concept is that of locus of control. been conducted on the differences of type A
personality and type B personality in their
Individuals with internal locus of control see
coping response. Type A people are
themselves as able to control their lives.
When one feels that she is in control of her characterized by impatience, competitive
146 Applied Psychology

spirit, restlessness and aggression. The reason why leading cognitive theorists like Ellis
dominant hypothesis is that type-A and Lazarus believe that controlling cognitions
personality has negative effect on stress is the most powerful means to control stress.
coping. However, the relation between
personality type and strain is still debatable. Ellis (1962) believes that a relatively small
number of irrational core belief lie at the root of
Michael Frese observes that while type-A
maladaptive negative emotions. Due to these
behaviour shows enhanced stress in one
core beliefs, we become more vulnerable,
study, it shows attenuated stress in another.
emotionally, to stressors than otherwise.
Other research results also have been
Cognitive restructuring is a technique to
systematically detect, challenge and replace these
core irrational beliefs. Ellis’ RET is an important
and popular therapy under cognitive
Stress Management restructuring techniques.
In view of the negative impacts of stress on An alterlate approach is Self-instructional
employees and the organization at large, it training. Mandelbaum (1965) reasoned that if
becomes necessary to take some stress people can learn to talk to themselves, they can
intervention measures, both at the organizational change their cognitions in order to perceive
and individual level. Best way to reduce stress stressors differently. This would help them to
is the removal of stressors. But that isn’t always better cope with stress. In self-instructional
practicable. Hence, psychologists have devised training (SIT), the therapist prepares different
therapies to help the client manage cognitive self-instructions for the client to use at four
appraisals and physiological responses. critical stages of the stressful episode :
To attack stress, we need to attack at every 1. Preparing for the stressor
mechanism involved in stress. These are
2. Confronting the stressor
represented in the figure. Also, we need to
discuss various changes that can be brought 3. Dealing with the feeling of being
about at the organizational and individual levels overwhelmed
to increase resources and reduce stressors. 4. Appraising coping efforts after the stressful
situation (i.e. evaluation for future feedback).
1. Stress Management Programs
Let us take the example of the software
Some stress management programs I intend engineer who has to submit a project in two
to analyze here are : days. She can ‘prepare for the stressor’ by
• Cognitive Appraisal Management reasoning that if she remains focused, she can
Ex. Cognitive restructuring complete it. “Worrying won’t help ........... rather
using RET it will decrease my performance”.
Self-instructional training of “I will do my best and not worry”.
Confronting the stressor entails a different
• Physiological response management set of instructions like : “As long as I am cool,
Ex. Somatic relaxation training I am in control of the situation”.
Meditating and Yoga
When coping with the feeling of being
overwhelmed, she may instruct herself : “Take
a deep breath. Relax and Slow things down”;
Cognitive appraisal plays a central role in
“Focus !”.
determining how we perceive stress. This is the
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

In the last stage, the software engineer would She found that yoga has superior effect than
appraise the situation and how she coped with counselling in reducing stress.
it. It helps her to get feedback for better coping
The scientific basis of meditating and yoga
next time.
comes from the fact that these techniques
Stress management training also includes consciously control alpha waves in brain. These
training people to control their physiological ααααα waves are related to feeling of tranquility and
responses in stressful situations. Two popular hence prevent chronic stress and tension.
techniques are : Both somatic relaxation training and
1. Somatic relaxation training cognitive relaxation (yoga etc.) are potent tools
to manage stress. While somatic relaxation is
2. Cognitive relaxation via meditation,
more potent in managing an unpredictable
yoga etc.
stressor, meditation is more potent in controlling
Somatic relaxation training works on the chronic stressors.
principle that a person can’t be aroused and
relaxed at the same time. In this training, people 2. Stressor Reduction :
pair tension release with a trigger word by
classical conditioning. A major goal of stress management programs
is to educate employees and employers about
Step 1 : Tense various muscles of the body.
various sources of stressors. Once individuals
Step 2 : Mentally say the trigger word know about a source of stress, they can try to
(ex. “Relax”) and relax your muscles. use problem solving techniques to alleviate it.
After this conditioning exercise, whenever For example, once aware that large noise is
causing negative affect and physiological
the person feels stressed out, he can mentally
say the trigger word (“Relax”). Due to arousal, the employees can wear ear plugs
conditioning, physiological relaxation will take when in factory. Ergonomics can be used to
place. reduce stressors. For example, what is the optimal
assembly line speed to match the worker’s
Meditation and Yoga are approaches to relax ability ? Finding it out and using ergonomics
the mind rather than the body only. Evidence can reduce physical stressors.
exists that meditation also leads to physiological
changes in blood pressure and heart beat. There 3. Increase in resources
are many techniques of meditation ..... in one, Resources at the disposal of the individual
the person sits quietly in a comfortable position employee, like job control, can be increased so
with eyes closed and mentally concentrates on as to reduce stressors. Participation in decision
the word “Om” with each exhalation. making and training to impart skills and
The Stress Reduction and Relaxation increase competence are appropriate resource
Program (SRRP) was designed by Dr. Cabot addition steps. Training reduces strain because
Zinn of University of Massachussets, on the it helps the employee work smarter, not harder.
Training increases the Person-Environment (P-
lines of Hatha Yoga. It is a popular program in
E) fit by increasing competence of employees to
organizations in managing stress. Yoga has
also been found to show therapeutic value in deal with work environment.
dealing with PTSD. Recently, a professor of Increasing two-way communication is an
Psychiatry at New York Medical College, Dr. important resource increase step. This is because
Gerberg, demonstrated the effect of yoga on even if employees aren’t given significant job
PTSD suffering tsunami sufferers of Tamil Nadu. control, better two-way communication helps
148 Applied Psychology

employees voice their problems. This is better as 1. Power dynamics

it helps the employees and management both to 2. Bases of power
directly approach (i.e. problem-focused coping)
the stressors. An additional resource, according 3. Sources of power
to Frese (1999), is social support. Social support 4. Politics and political tactics
can be increased by forming small groups for
team work and management training.
Power Dynamics
4. Lifestyle changes Power leads to change in behaviour, but
Changes in lifestyle of employees (healthy what are the psychological processes underlying
diet, low alcohol and tobacco consumption, the change of behaviour ?
physical exercise and playing sports etc.) help
Power is the ability to influence the behaviour
in enhancing well-being and reducing stress.
Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle is haphazard of others. Hence, power is a potential while
and doesn’t follow any disciplined routine. A influence is the actual application of power.
diary study by Sonnentag has revealed that How power is applied by leaders over followers
work-related activities performed in leisure time is an area of concern of social psychologists.
have a negative impact on a person’s well- According to Kelman (1958), there are three
being. Other studies have also confirmed that a
proper work-leisure balance is part of a healthy types of influence processes :
lifestyle. Taking note of this, many Indian 1. Compliance
companies have started building gyms near 2. Internalization
work-place. Infosys Bangalore, for example, has 3. Identification
a state-of-the-art gym in its work campus. In Compliance is a surface change in behaviour.
many companies the staircase is made salient
Owing to coercion (“carrots and stick”). It is
so that employees take the stair case (rather
than lift) to work. Such relatively small amount based on legitimate power. Compliance,
of daily physical exercise (such as walking to however, doesn’t lead to any change in the
work and walking stairs) have an enormously target individual’s attitude owing to this, the
positive effect on handling stress. influence persists only when the behaviour is
under surveillance. Internalization on the other
hand, means subjective acceptance of leader’s
power by follower. As a result, the follower’s
Power refers to a psychological force at the
attitude changes. While compliance lasts only
disposal of one person that can influence the
as long as the employee is under surveillance,
behaviour of another. Politics in an
an internalized follower continues the behaviour
organizational context refers to activities of an
even without surveillance.
individual or group to obtain, enlarge and use
power. It must be understood that in Identification is based on the actor’s
charisma. The followers imitate her behaviour
interpersonal relations, power is not a static
and attitudes to gain her approval. Identification
quantity. It is dynamic. Various processes that
happens when employees’ need for acceptance
are involved in power in organizations can be
and self-esteem are fulfilled by leader’s close
studied as :
rapport with followers.
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

role model, I will try to imitate him and do what

she asks me to do.
Expert power is the ability of an individual
to perform a task no one else can. For example,
design engineers have more power than software
engineers in a company because design
engineers are few and have domain expertise. If
a person is an expert on an issue, followers
internalize the fact that she is an expert and
Bases and sources of Power follow her suggestions.
To understand the bases of power, we will Informational power leads to cognitive
discuss the taxonomy forwarded by French and changes in the subject (on whom power is
Raven (1959) : applied), leading to internalization.
1. Reward The sources of power can be broadly grouped
2. Coercion as :

3. Legitimacy 1. Position power

4. Reference 2. Personal power

5. Expertise Position power is based on formal position

in the organization while personal power on
6. Information
the inter-personal rapport between agent and
Reward and Coercion are based on subject. Various influence processes, bases of
behaviourist notions of reinforcement and power and sources of power and their relation
punishment to influence behaviour. These two can be represented as under :
bases only lead to behavioural changes without
any change in the underlying attitudes and
values. Even the behavioural change is subject
to continued surveillance. An individual
possesses legitimate power when she derives
the power from the charter of the company.
Compliance, internalization and identification
– all three are involved in legitimate power. The
director of a firm can use power on subordinates
by compliance or internalization (“The director
has asked as to do it !”). Also, employees
identify with her. Fig. : Relationship of sources and bases
of power and influence types. Adopted from
Referant power is based on followers’
Encyclopaedia of Applied Psychology, Vol-3
identification with the agent. If my boss is my
(2004, P. 93)
150 Applied Psychology

3. Coalitions :
Politics This is a common political tactic in many
Organizational power enables an employee organizations. Coalitions are often built around
to influence the decision-making process. Hence, a trade-off. I support you on an issue of interest
every employee yearns for more power. Politics of yours, in return you support me on an issue
refers to all activities undertaken by the employee of interest of mine. Coalitions can be both
to gain power. A few strategies for playing internal and external. Coalitions can be built at
politics are discussed below : various levels in the organization, so also with
external entities like customers and officers of
1. Increasing indispensability :
financial institutions from which the company
Power comes from indispensability. One of gets its capital.
the prime tactic is to increase indispensability.
Coalitions are dynamic in nature as they are
This can be done by increasing centrality or
made and broken easily depending on
increasing expert knowledge. An individual
environmental conditions. Hence, there is a
can increase her centrality by deliberately
need for coalition management. Co-option is an
accepting responsibilities that bring her into
important strategy for coalition management. It
contact with many functions or with many
managers. She then can increase the dependence allows one sub-unit to overcome the opposition
of a second sub-unit by involving it in decision
of others on her.
making. For example, giving an opponent an
Specialized organizational skills that are important managerial role makes him a part of
indispensable for the organization can lend
the coalition.
immense power. When I was working in a steel
4. Manipulating the decision-making process:
company as a new recruit, certain employees
never disclosed their technical skills to me, lest Politics refers to all activities motivated
I understand how things work and trouble- towards gaining power. Power is the ability to
shoot during problems. This way they take all influence organizational decisions. One of the
credit for troubleshooting work. political tactics is to control the decision making
process itself. This can be done by controlling
2. Mentoring :
the agenda or bringing in an outside expert.
By developing good rapport with a powerful
Typically, managers and coalitions try to control
manager, it is possible to rise up the
various business committees. By this, they can
organizational ladder with him. This is
control the agenda that has to be tabled in a
beneficial to the top managers also. Top meeting on a given day. Alternatively, the
managers often act as mentors to aspiring lower manager can bring in an outside expert who
level managers as planning for succession is an subscribes to his view.
important political tactic. The protege gains
The outside expert is supposed to be neutral
power by attaching to the top manager as
and an expert on the issue. This lends a
protege. The top manager consolidates his power
by grooming him for succession. legitimacy to the manager’s position. In many
cases, the outside expert is not neutral at all and
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

has due knowledge of the coalition’s views. fighting over resources allocation and making
5. Devious Tactics : decisions rather than implementing decisions.
Devious political tactics are those that are An organization reaps the benefits of politics
morally difficult to defend. A few devious tactics based on the assumption that power flows to
often used in organizations are : those who can contribute to the organization
most. Suppose that the top management becomes
• Divide and rule
entrenched and is able to defend its power and
• Backstabbing property against its opponents. Even if the
• Preventing the opposing faction from performance suffers, the top management has
attending the key meetings or gatherings institutionalized power by occupying all
Divide and rule is practised by playing two important roles in decision making committees.
rival factions against each other. To do this, the In such a case, flow of power to the deserving
manager/coalition spreads rumours or will be choked.
encourages competition between the two factions. Hence, politics in organizations has both
As opponents stay divided and weak, the positives and negatives. To reap the benefits
coalition consolidates its power. Backstabbing accruing from the political process, the
happens when an employee X attempts to have organization must maintain a balance of power
a pleasant relation with employee Y, all this between various coalitions and stakeholders.
time planning Y’s demise. Whether power and politics benefit or harm an
organization is a function of the balance of
Costs and Benefits of
power between organizational groups.
Organizational Politics
Organizational politics is an integral and Power and Politics in Indian
inevitable part of the organization. Due to a Organisations
hierarchy with few people at the top, the control As in other aspects of organisational culture,
of scarce resources like promotions and budgets cross-cultural variations exist in power relations
becomes inevitable. It does not mean that politics and politics in organisations. Hence, we should
is evil. Politics has the following positive investigate into the nature of power play in
functions towards organizational effectiveness : Indian context. Luckily a detailed study has
1. It can improve the choices and decisions that been made by Sinha. Sinha has also drawn
upon many other research studies to come to
an organization makes.
the following tentative conclusions about power
2. An organization that confers power on those
relationships in Indian organisations (discussed
who help it the most can take advantage of
political process to improve managerial in Dwivedi, 1995) :

effectiveness. 1. Unwarranted power conflict is widespread

in Indian organisations. Many managers
However, excess of politics can turn out to
have false apprehensions that others are
be dysfunctional. Politics can promote conflict; conspiring against them. Such premature
excessive politics will mean more time spent on
impressions lead to reactive application of
152 Applied Psychology

power. Many employees are suspicious that social structure (based on the hierarchy of
other employee may be upto some mischief. castes) creates a tendency to prefer hierarchy.
Such as back stabbing, reporting negatively In most organisations in India, a bureaucratic
to higher authority etc. Mutual suspicions set up is in place, where an employee looks
develop ultimately leading to power up to her supervisors for guidance and
conflicts. patronage, and provides the same to her
2. Personal linkages of caste and kin groups subordinates.
make the power relations very complex. A 4. An accommodative-manipulative game of
manager, who has ‘contacts’ in the politics is widely prevalent in several Indian
government or politics, can draw upon thse organisations. In this game, the strategy of a
external agents to play politics in the player (i.e. an employee) is to enhance her
organisation. It is very rampant in public own power base and erode the power base of
sector units. Even a peon, or an attendant those employees who are a threat to her
can play politics if she is from a caste many influence in the organisation. However, all
local ministers are from; or if she has a this manipulation is accommodative, that is,
relative in a strong position in the employees indulge in this game without
bureaucracy. Even in the private sector, many resorting to any open conflict.
people try to be in the good books of IRS
5. The lesser the power differential (difference
officers, so that they could use their contacts between perceived power) between two
to enhance their status inside the employees, the greater is the politics they
organisation ! play to dominate each other, at times leading
3. Authority system is the preferred form of to open conflict.
distribution of power and privileges in Indian
organisations. Indian workers and executives
prefer a hierarchical order of power. This
may be because, reasons Sinha, the Indian
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

Consumer Psychology

Consumer Psycho
logy is the study of
psychological pro
cesses underlying the
acquisition, consum
ption and disposition
of goods, services, and
ideas. In this section, I
seek to introduce you
to consumer
psychology. One way
to do this is to discuss
the consumer buying
process. Five major
areas of study in
consumer psychology P×E=B
are environmental P = Personal factors
factors, information E = Environmental factors
reception, memory
systems, person factors B = Behaviour
and decision making.
Fig : A model of Consumer behaviour. Based on Mowen (1989)
These can be
represented as a model
shown below. Each of the factors are discussed On a different note, the consumer situation
next. in which consumer takes her decision also
makes a difference. If you frequently visit
1. Environmental factors : shopping malls, you already know that the
There are many external stimuli that intent ambience and appearance has an impact on
to influence consumer behaviour. Some of these behaviour. You can easily get a cold drink at Rs.
are marketing appeals, economic factors and 10/- but still many prefer to take their cold
feedback of the outcomes of previous purchases. drink in big restaurants after paying a hundred
Marketing appeals include various bucks for it ! The social situation also has a
advertisements, product packaging and sales major impact on consumer behaviour. Social
messages. Indeed, marketers are involved in a conformity in buying behaviour has been
great deal of research before designing these observed. In one study, Venkatesan (1966) asked
messages. They are involved in marketing a consumer to select a business suit. Even
research to find out customer preferences, and though all suits were identical, the individual
also what internal factors of the customer may preferred the garment preferred by other
induce her to buy a product. members of his group. This study was modelled
on the lines of the Asch (1956) conformity
154 Applied Psychology

study. Once, I had purchased a pink T-shirt will be centrally processing it. For this, the ad
even though I knew pink isn’t the colour of must have significant information regarding the
guys. This was because all my friends told me coaching. Yet, there are many students who
that it looked good on me ! develop an attitude towards the coaching by
just seeing the photographs of successful
The ultimate goal of the consumer also
determines her behaviour. For example, if I students who endorse the coaching institute.
want to purchase a product to gift it, my These students basically do peripheral
behaviour is much different than that if I processing.
purchase a product for myself. People who are Both voluntary and involuntary attention
self-conscious about their looks are quite are active cognitive processes. However, it has
concerned about the brand of clothes they been found that the consumer can learn without
purchase. I often purchase shoes from the active information processing, by a process
neighbourhood shoe vendor. But a friend of called low-involvement learning. Krugman
mine always gets Nike stuff (he has a girlfriend!). (1965) observes that consumer defences are
lowered when messages are learnt by low-
2. Information Reception : involvement. Hence, messages are received
This aspect of the consumption process deals relatively uncritically and the consumer may
with the field of attention and perception. What later be prompted to buy products without any
are the factors that determine whether a customer well-thought reason. This concept is called
exposes herself to an ad ? If she does so, how subliminal perception when the message
much of the information she attends to ? If she received is too weak to be consciously perceived.
attends to the information, how does she process Consumer psychologists have also
it ? contributed in developing tools for assessment
Human attention is discriminate and of information reception. For example, tools
selective. This poses a problem for advertisers to have been developed to measure pupil dilation
convey their message. It has been found that and eye movements to estimate attention, that
there are two types of attention – voluntary and the consumer pays to a message. These tools
involuntary. have multiple usages in developing ads. For
Voluntary attention allocates mental effort to example, if I want to place an ad in a newspaper,
goals and plans. The processing of information which part of the ad will the consumer focus
in this channel is central processing and leads to on? Consumer psychologists have developed
a long-term cognitive attitude change. Those elaborate eye-tracking devices to identify the
who want their advertisements to be voluntarily features of an ad that capture a consumer’s
processed make their message relevant to these attention.
goals and plans so as to draw voluntary
3. Memory System :
attention. Involuntary attention, on the other
hand, leads to peripheral processing of The consumer is bombarded with hundreds
information. Some strategies to exploit this of messages everyday, most of which reach
channel of attention are novelty in advertisement short-term memory and vanish. Only a few
theme, loud music and making celebrities reach the long-term memory. Consumer
endorse it. To illustrate the two types of attention, psychologists are particularly interested in
let us take the hypothetical case of an advertiser learning how consumers place information
who has to advertise about a coaching institute received about a product into long-term memory.
for civil service entrance preparation. This issue The consumer is bombarded with hundreds of
is of relevance to the target population; so they messages everyday about products. Some of the
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

messages are attended to and then stored, while There was an attempt to embed various symbols
others are ignored and never placed into long- appealing to consumers’ unconscious motives
term memory. Consumer psychologists have in TV and print ads. Today it has fallen into
come out with some interesting findings. For disrepute. Today, a popular activity among
instance, Sawyer (1974) has found that repeated personality researchers is trying to predict liking
messages have a greater likelihood of being and preferences for certain products. This is
encoded. Other studies have shown that context called psychographics. The philosophy behind
acts as a cue in retrieval of information; hence psychographics is that self-concept often
changes in context affects the ability of people translates into a person’s lifestyle. Understanding
to retrieve information. Hence, advertisers should lifestyle preferences helps in better targeting
try to use trademark logo and brand names as products towards consumers.
reduced cues to remind the consumer of the ‘An example of psychographics may be
whole product. Finally, images have been found found in a study by Sadalla and Burroughs
to have better storage. Hence, images should (1981). These researchers investigated the eating
preferably be used in advertisements and are
preferences of individuals and how these
superior to text advertisements. preferences related to their opinions, interests,
and activities. They classified food into five
4. Individual Person Factors :
categories – vegetarian, gourmet, health, fast
When taking decisions about which product and synthetic. (Synthetic food are high-
to purchase, the consumer often refers to her technology items like processed becon, instant
long-term memory. She tries to make rational eggs, instant breakfast drinks, and highly
cost-benefit analysis before making a choice. processed cheese snacks). They then identified
However, man is an irrational creature. Hence, individuals whose food preferences could be
the final judgement that is taken is subjective. In classified as fallin into one of the five categories.
the subjective judgement, many other factors These same individuals then rated themselves
matter, like the consumer’s personality, beliefs, on a variety of characteristics. In addition,
motives, and attitudes. For example, I won’t another group of subjects described what they
attend to a banner on costly clothes if I don’t thought vegetarians, gourmets, high techers,
have the attitude towards that i.e. if I believe and so on would like. The results were
unbranded clothes that come cheap will satisfy surprising. The way people rated themselves
my needs. was in close agreement with the way others
Similarly, there are many motivating factors rated them. Vegetarians were seen as non
that seek to motivate the consumer. Do you have competitive, sexual and liking crafts and folk
these motivators on your ad ? Some major social dancing. Gourmets were perceived as using
motives are need for achievement, for affiliation, drugs, living alone, and liberal. Their hobbies
and for power. Take the hypothetical case of a were glamour sports and gambling .....’
cold-drink maker who wants to motivate the (Mowen, 1989).
youth to purchase it. What should his ad be
like? Most commercials of cold-drinks show Psychographic information can be extremely
groups of individuals having fun; this is because useful for marketers to design their ad. Suppose
their target market (the youth) are most motivated I want to design an ad for vegetarian food
by the need for affiliation.
consumers, now I know what their values and
At one time, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory lifestyle preferences are. I could easily use these
was very popular with consumer psychologists. in deciding on the theme of my advertisement.
156 Applied Psychology

5. Consumer Decision Making : have handled earlier. External search involved

This is the final step underlying any looking in newspaper classifieds, talking to
consumer behaviour. The process that consumer friends and visiting the showroom. I may check
decision-making takes can be represented as for the phones on the internet or take referral
under : opinions of my friends. After I have some
alternatives to choose from (say iPhone, Nokia,
Motorola, Samsung etc.), I will evaluate them
based on subjective probability and weightages.
I give to various attributes. Here, my personal
attitude and preferences determine the weight I
give to any specific feature

Suppose I want a mobile with very good

sound and music quality, then the weightage I
give to the second row in above box will be
high. Suppose now that the quality of sound of
A dissatisfaction occurs when the consumer’s mobile-2 is high; so W22 will be highest.
actual state and desired state are not the same.
After the evaluation, I calculate the sum of
This dissatisfaction can in fact be created by weightages for all three mobiles and purchase
repeatedly persuading to the consumer that the one with largest weight. It must be reiterated
actual state lacks something. In deed, some now that we often do not do such rational
companies create demand for their products ! calculations, rather use heuristics to decide
For instance, if I get a cathartic fixation on a upon a choice.
cell-phone. I visualize myself in a desired state
At times, we don’t even make a choice. If you
where I have the ultra-hitech phone.
have gone shopping with your mother, you
Comparison of the two states leads to
must have seen that she suddenly finds a
dissatisfaction (tension) which drives me to
product that she likes so much that she
need recognition. Once I recognize my need, I
immediately purchases it without comparing it
search for information. There are two types of
with other such products. Even when one is
search processes : internal search in which I
loyal to a brand, she doesn’t make rational
search my long-term memory for products that
calculations before purchasing that specific
may solve my problem. I may try to recall
advertisements, or the mobiles of friends that I
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

Product design is the crucial stage of

Ergonomics is the branch of organizational developing a product and selling it to the
psychology concerned with fitting jobs to people consumer. Ergonomists are involved in design
rather than people to jobs. The basic principle of any product (from a mere sewing machine to
behind ergonomics is that both operator and sophisticated racing cars) that demands expert
machines are sub-systems of one single system. help to make machines user-friendly.
Since both operator and machine work towards
a single goal (i.e. getting the job done) and they Workspace is the organization of a
have to do it in co-ordination, they constitute a workstation for an individual worker. When the
single system. workspaces of an entire group or organization
With rising complication of computing are combined, it is called workplace. Workspace
technology and machine design, it is seen that design looks into issues prevailing in making
machines become unfriendly for operators to the workstation of an employee more
handle. This may lead to reduced performance, comfortable.
stress, errors in operation and accidents.
Workplace design, on the other hand, looks
The scope of Ergonomics into issues of all employees’ interactions. For
Ergonomists design jobs, work places and example, when organizations try to reduce their
equipments to maximize performance, and to bureaucratic structure, they desire to have a
minimize accidents, fatigue and energy workplace where communication and
expenditure. As such, the scope of ergonomics approachability are easier. Ergonomists
is very vast. If you make certain changes in your recommend to them open offices. Open offices
study table to make it more convenient for you means to eliminate private chambers. Groups of
to study, it is ergonomics. At the same time, if a desks in one large area, divided by temporary
manufacturer designs a car, the steps she takes partitions make an open office. Each employee’s
to ensure driver’s comfort are part of ergonomics. space in the open office is called a cubicle. Her
Human factor engineering is a part of comfort inside the cubicle is determined by
ergonomics, but not necessarily all of
workspace design.
ergonomics. Human Factor Engineering (HFE)
is based on the man-machine system. But Ergonomics is not based on any general
ergonomics is also concerned with comfort of principle. Ergonomists borrow from basic
the employee in the workplace, and of all principles of psychology and certain engineering
employees. Focussing on the organization, the disciplines, but as such ergonomic design varies
scope of ergonomics includes : from situation to situation. Due to this,
1. Product design ergonomists require large amount of data. Many
psychologists involved in ergonomic research
2. Workspace design
provide these data through manuals and journal
3. Workplace design
4. Research
158 Applied Psychology

• Psychological Principles underlying 1. Attention

Ergonomics Various attentional principles that must be
Ergonomists see the work environment as a kept while designing an ergonomic task are
single man-machine system consisting of two psychophysics, attentional resource limits and
information-processing sub-systems : man and processing. Attention refers to human ability to
machine. Ergonomists focus their attention on focus information processing on selective events
making the man-machine interface more user- over a specific period of time. Psychophysics
friendly. This system can be represented as tells us about the stimuli that fall between the
under : absolute thresholds of human sensation. This
principle is useful in ergonomics. For example,
it is very difficult to detect changes in a plane
travelling through fog (for the pilot). The concept
of difference threshold is used to design sensors
that amplify signals by certain ratio.
Signal detection theory tells us that attention
is affected by both external and internal factors.
USS Vincennes struck down a passenger plane
fearing that it is an Iranian fighter aircraft. It
committed such mistake because the
commander’s decision criterion was low. Also,
people have a limit on the nature of vigilance
tasks they can perform. During World War-2,
radar operators missed some rare but critical
Figure : Man-machine system messages on radar screen. It was because
sustained vigilance by humans has limitations.
A variety of psychological principles are
Radars and other such machines need to be
used to engineer user-friendly machines. What
built taking care of this limitation.
needs to be understood here is that application
varies from one case to another. Let us, however, Attention makes use of some resources, the
discuss certain general principles. amount of which is more or less constant and
limited. The stimuli (data, pictures, graphs etc.)
that an employee has to attend to mustn’t lead
to mental overload of the operator. Many
instruments have been designed by engineering
psychologists to measure mental workloads and
attentional resources, such as the Subjective
Workload Assessment Technique (SWAT) and
NASA Task Load Index (Nasa TLI).
Attention can be both automatic and
controlled. Automatic processing doesn’t involve
Fig. : Psychological variables in ergonomics any effort, nor does it eat up much attentional
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

resources. Certain tasks can be performed by to the supporting aid and gets various graphs
automatic processing after training. Training and analysis
helps in automating and routinizing some Decision Support System (DSS) contains
functions : this is taken into consideration decision procedures for managers. There are
when designing machines. thirty seven variables in a power-plant
automation system. Decision to be taken depends
2. Perception
on all these variables. This makes the number of
It is understood that both external stimuli
possibilities to decide from more than a
and prior experience are used by perceptual
thousand. DSS provides guidelines to operators
schema to interpret the world. Illusions and
about what might have gone wrong. Without
hallucinations also occur because of top-down DSS, the operator has to base his decision on
processing of information. This human limitation
heuristics (based on past experiences) and
(a strength otherwise) poses a big challenge in memory recall.
designing displays. During World War-2, for
example, many planes crashed because the 4. Control/Motoric
altimeters were faulty and planes flying at low Compatibility is one of the most important
attitude couldn’t make out figure-ground factors to be considered in system design. This
relations properly. is especially significant in stressful conditions
where learned habits breakdown and cause
3. Cognitions
errors in action. Technological development is
A group of ergonomists study how the continuously challenging the user friendliness
operator can be aided in decision-making. This
of control. For example, lever is giving way to
becomes essential because today the amount of
switch, switch to keyboard, keyboard to mouse
information available in real-time is huge. For
and mouse to touch-screen. Ergonomists are
example, an operator sitting in the control room
involved in cutting-edge research in speech and
of a power plant has to go through numerous
automated image processing input.
data. These data come in real-time and he has
to refer to present and past data to make out the Another major challenge for ergonomists is
problem and decide a corrective step. Due to the modelling of sensori motoric regulation of
limitations of working memory capacity, he operators in flight and driving tasks. Tracking
may fail or use biased heuristics. Two popular experiments are a class of research conducted
support aids provided by ergonomists to help in this direction.
the operator deal with this problem are : 5. Anthropometrics and Population
• Knowledge-based supporting Aid Stereotypes
• Decision Support System The study of man’s physical configuration
A knowledge-based supporting aid is a is called anthropometrics. Body dimensions are
technical entity for information-processing that important since the operator must fit the
gives certain conclusions to the user. For workspace in such a manner that he will be
instance, if I am a mechanical engineer and I comfortable and will be able to utilize all the
went to trouble shoot problems in boiler of a displays and control on-the-job. Take, for
power plant, I can feed data of past three days example, the construction of a seat in a heavy
160 Applied Psychology

truck. To make the driver comfortable, various proportion of a given population, that is
factors have to be optimal : statistically predominant. It can also mean any
• Body measurement way of behaving that is predominant in the
• Reaction time population. Ergonomists use these preferences
of the majority to design their products. For
• Noise factor example, to design the driver seat, I would first
But then, there is a problem here. We can’t
take data on height of various drivers, draw up
design trucks individually for drivers of all size. a stereotype (i.e. height range in which majority
Hence, manufacturers use population of drivers fall) and design seats that will be
stereotypes. Population stereotypes are a
optimal to them.
particular option that is chosen by a large
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development


n Sport Psychology n Psychological Interventions

Sport Psychology refers to the scientific study A variety of psychological interventions are
of human behaviour and experience in sport. recommended to enhance the performance of
Sport psychology has two sub-units : it includes sportspersons in both individual and team
the researcher who studies sportsmen and their games. First, we would look at certain
behaviours; and the sport psychologists who interventions common to most games, then go
use the knowledge base of researchers to make on to discuss certain psychological factors that
psychological interventions in improving the specifically affect team games and how these
performance of sportsmen. can be remedied.
What is the need for a sports psychologist ?
1. Arousal
Coaches and trainers focus almost exclusively
on left brain activities including game plans, The Yerkes-Dodson law states that an
strategy and technique, speed, agility etc. Right inverted U relation exists between arousal and
brain activities include balance, emotions, music performance i.e. an overaroused or
and visualization, all of which can enhance underaroused individual can’t perform her
performance but these are often neglected by
optimal best. Oxendine (1970) has verified this
athletes. The job of a sport psychologist at the law in the case of many sports. Sports coaches
individual level is to develop and enhance aren’t adapt at explaining what the optimal
skills based on right brain activities. At the level of arousal is. An over-aroused
group level, the psychologist examines various
sportsperson has lower concentration and
psychological factors operating at group level to
inferior focus. Over-arousal also can lead to
assist in enhancing performance of sportsmen
anger and aggression while playing. So how to
in team games.
ensure optimal level of arousal ?
162 Applied Psychology

Oxendine (1979) observes that the amount of 2. Imagery

arousal necessary for optimal arousal is
William Arthur Ward had once opined : “If
dependent on the nature of the skill involved in
you can imagine it you can achieve it. If you can
the game. Games which need complex skills
dream if you can become it.” He was basically
need a lower level of arousal, because arousal
stating how powerful a tool imagery is. Imagery
interferes with cognitive activities such as
is a cognitive process in which one uses her
concentration, fine muscle movement and
mind to create an experience that is similar to
coordination. For example, playing golf need
a physical event. Karlene Sugarman, author of
great amount of concentration and calculation.
the book ‘Winning the Mental Way’ observes
Hence, it is not good for a person playing golf
that the body cannot distinguish between
to be over-aroused. Similarly, in the case of
something that is really happening, and
shooting, sharp perceptual skills and attention
something that an individual visualizes. Hence,
are necessary. On the other hand, higher level of
the mind can be used to :
arousal benefits games that require less complex
• Recall past performances that were good
skills but more strength and endurance.
and practise them in the mind.
• Correct technical errors committed
High Putting in in Tackling previously
Golf Volleyball in Football • Put oneself in various situations and
f ce
visualize how to tackle the situation.
o na
yt Mental practice, it has been found, is quite
i rm
al helpful. When you practice executing a skill in
Qu fro
e you head, it becomes a conditioned response.
When a skill becomes a conditioned response, it
comes to you instinctively when you are in the
Low field.
Low High
Level of Arousal The sport psychologist teaches the
sportsperson how to use all her senses in
The sport psychologist usually first imagery. First, the sportsperson is trained in
determines what level of arousal is good for a external imagery, by showing videos of past
particular sports. Then the psychologist trains events. The sportsperson is made to spot her
the sportsperson to maintain that level of errors and visualize the correct response in that
arousal. Usually, a relaxation technique is learnt condition. Then the sport psychologist trains
by the sportsperson. The psychologist conditions her in internal imagery, by asking her to
(by classical conditioning) a trigger word to the visualize certain situations and what her
relaxation. Whenever the sportsperson thinks response would be to such situations.
about the trigger word, she becomes relaxed. In
3. The 4C
the real sports, if she gets over-aroused at any
time, she says the trigger word to herself, and Concentration, Confidence, Control and
immediately she becomes relaxed. Her state of Commitment are the 4C’s that psychologists
extreme arousal is moderated.
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

consider the main mental qualities important concentration shifts from the task to the cause of
for successful performance in most sports. anger and performance deteriorates. Due to
Concentration is the mental ability to decreased performance, confidence on self is
maintain focus. If the sportsperson is distracted, reduced which leads to more anger! Anger
her energy can’t be channelized in the right becomes a vicious cycle which over-arouses the
direction and hence reduced performance. player and makes her lose her concentration.
Hence, psychologists train sportspersons in Another such emotion that hampers
concentration. Different sports require different concentration and confidence is anxiety. Anxity
kind of concentration. Some require sustained can be physical anxiety (sweating, nausea etc)
concentration (e.g., cycling, tennis, squash), other of mental (worry, negative thoughts etc.) or
require short bursts of concentration (e.g., both. To tackle anxiety, sports psychologists
cricket, shooting, golf) while still other games train the sportspersons in relaxation. For anger,
like sprinting and skiing require intense certain anger management techniques are used.
concentration. Self-instructional therapy is quite popular
The psychologist identifies what kind of among sports psychologists as a means for
concentration is needed in a particular sport. anger management.
Then she identifies common distractions like Commitment refers to how focussed and
anxiety, mistakes, negative thoughts, fatigue motivated the sportsperson is towards her
and weather. The sportsperson is then trained ultimate goal. There are many hassles that a
on controlling and handling these stressors. sportsperson has to face in day-to-day life. In
Confidence is the result of a comparison the face of this, keeping up one’s morale and
that a sportsperson makes between her ability commitment is a challenge. To enhance and
and goal. Self-confidence results when the sustain the sportsperson’s commitment level,
individual thinks that she has the ability to the psychologists usually use goal-setting
achieve the goal. Under-confidence results when techniques which will be discussed next.
she thinks she can’t do it. Over-confidence
4. Motivation
results when the individual is complacent and
isn’t putting the extra effort to win. While Motivation drives behaviour towards a goal.
under-confidence and over-confidence are both Here, the goal is to win the game and/or to
harmful, self-confidence should be inculcated excel in performance. Before discussing various
in the sportsperson. To improve self-confidence, techniques used by sports psychologists, let us
the sports psychologists often use mental understand first the nature of motivation of
imagery to help the sportsperson visualize athletes. According to the Achievement Goal
previous good performances, imagine various Theory of Dweck (1986), there are broadly two
scenarios and how one could cope with them. orientations of the individual playing a game :
Control in the 4C refers to emotional control. mastery orientation and ego orientation. In
Two emotions that the athlete feels tough to mastery orientation, the focus is on personnel :
giving maximum effort to realize your full
tackle are anger and anxiety. When a
potential. Those with mastery orientation are
sportsperson becomes angry, the cause of anger
often becomes the focus of attention. The instrinsically motivated. They don’t compete
164 Applied Psychology

with other but with themselves. They always keeps up her motivation and commitment. She
strive to get their best from their potential. Ego strives for mastery, without bothering for what
orientation, on the other hand, implies that the others’ performance is. In the ego-approach
athlete seeks to perform better than others. She style, the goal is to be better than others, and
compares herself with others when setting her stay there if you don’t face any more challenges.
target. In the ego-approach style, there is
You don’t try to realize your full potential.
competitive orientation. One want to be better
Sports psychologists recommend that while
than others. In the ego-avoidance style, there is
training off-field, one must be motivated by
a fear of failure. One fears that she may be
mastery goals but once you are in the real game,
negatively evaluated by the audience if she
doesn’t perform upto the mark and this you should be motivated by ego-approach goal.
motivates her to perform. Ego-avoidance goals are dangerous and should
be avoided.
Many psychologists have observed that goal-
Motivated Behaviour setting improves performance. The sports
psychologist helps the sportsperson to set
Individual Differences Situational SMART goals. SMART stands for :
of Sportspersons Factors
S – Specific
M – Measurable
Achievement Goal Parents A – Action-oriented
Orientation Teachers
Coaches R – Realistic
Fan Support T – Time-bound
Mastery Ego
The goal should be specific and realistic. It
ought to be challenging, but not that challenging
Ego-Approach Ego-Avoidance as to overwhelm the sports trainee. The goals
should be measurable and continued feedback
Fig : Basis of Achievement Goal theory should be provided by the coach and sports
psychologist. Often, chaining and shaping
So which of these styles is the best ? techniques are used to teach trainee
Obviously, the ego avoidance style is not good. sportspersons complex motor skills.
It leads to a fear of failure. When fear of failure
motivates one to perform, she can’t give her n Psychological Interventions in
best. Rather, the sportsperson suffers from Team Sports
anxiety and lack of focus.
Mastery goals are better than ego-approach There are, broadly, two types of sports :
goals. This is because when one is motivated by interactive and co-active. In interactive sports
mastery goals, she enjoys doing her work. This like football and hockey, overall performance
depends on interpersonal dynamics of the
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

sportsmen. In co-active sports, like swimming 2. Social cohesion

and golf individual performance doesn’t depend Task cohesion refers to the degree to which
on others’ performance. Cricket is a hybrid group members work together and are committed
wherein the batsman’s behaviour is coactive to achieve common goals, such as winning the
but the fielding team’s behaviour is interactive. match.
There are many psychological factors involved Social cohesion is the degree to which group
in interactive sports, and demand psychological members share personal rapport and goodwill
interventions to enhance group performance. with each other. Both forms of cohesion are
Some of these are : important to build effective teams.
1. Social loafing When dealing with the issue of cohesion, the
2. Group cohesion sports psychologist first takes direct assessment,
3. Co-ordination factors as given by the players, to determine the amount
Steiner (1972) observes that a good team is of cohesiveness in the team. Then she takes
more than a group of skilled players. If members certain steps like :
don’t work together, in coordination, then : • Conduct periodic team meetings
Actual Productivity = Potential Productivity • Build mutual respect among members
– Losses due to faulty group processes. and try to remove any prejudice or
Social Loafing refers to a phenomenon misunderstanding among the members.
wherein individual performance decreases when • Develop effective two-way communication
the individual finds herself in a group. between players.
According to Woods (1998), social loafing is Coordination factors refer to the degree to
essentially the result of decrease in motivation. which each player’s skills are meshed together
This may happen due to reduction in sense of with others’ skills in the team. This has to be a
responsibility. Woods, therefore, believes that central feature in sports training in interactive
sports coaches and psychologists should sports. Hence, training time should include
monitor and give feedback on performance to practice in, for example, passing a football
each individual and to the group rather than among players, timing and pattern of players’
only to the group. movements when scoring a goal or when taking
Cohesion is the psychological process that a penalty corner (Gross, 2005).
transforms a collection of individuals into a
group. Degree of cohesion, of course, varies n Rehabilitation of Injured
from group to group. Technically, cohesion can Athletics
be defined as the total field of forces which act
on members to remain in a particular group. In A major challenge for the sports psychologist
sports, there are two major types of cohesion : is to rehabilitate injured athletes. It has been
1. Task cohesion found that injured athletes commonly experience
tension, depression, anger and other forms of
166 Applied Psychology

emotional distress (Leddy et al., 1994). Hence, a A major shortcoming of stage models was
lot of research is now being done on the that they failed to account for individual
rehabilitation of injured athletes. differences in response to athletic injury. Hence,
Many models have been established to many researchers started building models based
explain psychological responses to sport injury. on cognitive appraisal of injury. According to
Initially, stage models were very popular. one such model (proposed by Brewer, 1994),
According to Kiibler-Ross’s (1969) stage model, injured athletes’ personal factors and situational
injured athletes with terminal illness go through factors influence their responses to injury.
five stages : Psychological interventions in the case of
1. Denial injured sportspersons are varied and various

2. Anger techniques are suitable for various conditions.

Some techniques have been found to be effective
3. Bargaining
are :
4. Depression
• Counselling, which includes active listening,
5. Acceptance
exploring coping strategies and challenging
Another stage model, presented by Hardy negative beliefs etc.
(1990), states that emotional reaction after injury
• Cognitive interventions, including positive
has two phases :
self-thought, rational reasoning etc.
1. A reactive phase
• Cognitive-behavioural interventions, such
2. An adaptive phase as self-monitoring of distress, self-talk to
The reactive phase includes shock and manage pain and anxiety etc.
negative emotions such as depression, anger • Relaxation therapy, including stress
and denial. The adaptive phase includes positive reduction training yoga and meditation (Naoi
emotions such as confidence and hope. and Ostrow, 2008).
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development


n Mental Health of Soldiers

One major job of military psychologists is to using various psychological assessment tools;
promote psychological well-being among the design and implement various intervention
soldiers and other employees in the military. programmes; provide counselling to soldiers
This is increasingly becoming a challenge given who are in need of it; and to rehabilitate retired
that cases of suicide, fractricidal murder and and handicapped soldiers who usually show
depression are on the rise. Also, the job strong signs of depression and anxiety.
description of the military has broadened owing
to the fact that they are asked to do any kind of Mental Health Problems
job, including building bridges after Tsunami
The effect of stress depends on two factors :
and keeping peace when riots erupt. Their job the environment and the person. Environmental
description today isn’t restricted to just protecting stresses are, no doubt, intense, unpredictable,
the border. chronic and uncontrollable for military
The military environment is ‘characterized personnel. But individual vulnerability to
by jobs with high stress, low autonomy, little
stressors also determines who gets mental health
personal control over workplace, long working
problems and who doesn’t. Qualities like
hours, and/or deployment in combat-related or resilience and military hardiness in individuals
in internal security duties in insurging corrected help them to better cope with stress.
areas that entails chronic exposure to potentially
But once stress affects an individual’s well-
traumatic events’ (Sharma & Sharma, 2008). being, how does it get manifested ? Sagar
The psychological effects of such stressors Sharma and Monica Sharma (2008) argue that
are multi-dimensional. The role of military there are three stress-induced vital signs critical
psychologist here is to recognize the to an individual’s well-being. These are :
psychological vital signs in military domain,
168 Applied Psychology

it may lead to violence and fratricidal murder.

The number of cases of suicide and fratricidal
murder (killing one’s collegue or superior) in
the army is on the rise. A major reason for this
Genetic Disposition Psychological is intense anger, coupled with anxiety and
Developmental History Health depression.
Substance Abuse Problems
Job Rank
Now that we know that anxiety, anger and
depression are three symptoms of underlying
psychological ill-health, the next job is to assess
Stressors and monitor these signs in soldiers. Sagar
Sharma and Monica Sharma (2008) argue that
Work overload
the way physicians routinely measure pulse
Low job control
Unpredictable combat rate, blood pressure and body temperature, the
situation same way military psychologists should measure
Perceived injustice in anxiety, anger and depression in soldiers
Superior vs. Subordinate regularly. Hence, their emphasis is more on
Conflict resolution early detection so that remedial counselling and
intervention strategies can be used to mitigate
Fig. : Factors affecting psychological the mental problems.
health in military The most widely used psychological tests to
assess and monitor these three vital signs are :
1. State – Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)
1. Anxiety 2. State – Trait Anger Expression Inventory
2. Anger (STAXI)
3. Depression 3. State – Trait Depression Scale (STDS)
Individuals high on these key indicators The STAI measures State Anxiety (S-
suffer from many mental health problems like Anxiety) and Trait-Anxiety (T-Anxiety). T-
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Anxiety refers to ‘relatively stable individual
Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder differences between people in the tendency to
(PTSD) and Depression. perceive stressful situations as more or less
Military personnel are more vulnerable to dangerous or threatening’ while S-Anxiety refers
anxiety related disorders than civilians owing to ’Psychophysiological emotional state that
to the greater probability of encountering consists of subjective feelings of tension,
traumatic and life-threatening events. Military apprehension, nervousness and worry, and
personnel are the most vulnerable to PTSD. activation (arousal) of the autonomic nervous
Anxiety and depression, in general, lead to system’ (Sharma & Sharma, 2008).
impaired quality of life and put immense To put it simply, T-Anxiety measures to
psychological burden on those affected. what extent an individual is generally anxious.
Anger is another vital sign that is of concern S-Anxiety on the other hand, measures the level
to the psychologist. When an individual directs of anxiety at the present time.
his anger towards himself, he may try to commit In responding to the S-Anxiety items, subjects
suicide. When he directs his anger towards respond to how they feel at the very moment the
persons perceived by him as unfair and unjust,
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

test is conducted. T-Anxiety items check to what at the moment (State-depression or S-Dep). A
extent the subject is generally anxious. A representative Sample has been provided by
representative sample is (Sagar & Sagar, 2008): Sharma & Sharma (2008) :
S-Anxiety present : I feel tense; I am S-Dep present : feel miserable, sad,
worried gloomy
S-Anxiety absent : I feel relaxed; I feel S-Dep absent : feel safe, enthusiastic,
secure peaceful
T-Anxiety present : I worry too much over T-Dep present : feeling low and
something that hopeless
doesn’t matter; I feel T-Dep absent : Generally feeling
nervous and restless. strong, hopeful about
T-Anxiety absent : I am content; I am future.
pleased. These three inventories (STAI, STAXI and
The State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory STDS) have been found to have good reliability
(STAXI) measures state-anger (S-Anger) and in assessing and monitoring the prevalence of
trait-anger (T-Anger). S-Anger is an emotional anger, anxiety and depression in the military.
state marked by subjective feelings of anger, Following Spielberger and Sharma (1976), the
varying in intensity from mild annoyance to cross-cultural adaptations of these tests have
intense fury. T-Anger refers to individual been done by many scholars. Many translated
difference in the disposition to experience anger. versions of these tests are now used in various
You must have observed that some people in countries.
your college are quite short-tempered, while
others are as cool as ice, even when provoked. Intervention
This difference in disposition is measured by T- What should be the approach to treat those
Anger. who are assessed high on anger, anxiety and
In the S-Anger scale, items are like the one depression on the various scales discussed
given below. above ? You may state that counselling is a
“How do you feel now ?” possible route, or psychotherapy. However,
(a) I feel angry Sagar Sharma and Monica Sharma reason that
working with people on an individual basis
(b) I am furious should be an exemption. This approach carries
(c) I feel irritated the risk of stigmatization. Hence, they have
(d) I am cool suggested some other measures :
On the other hand, the items of T-Anger are • Post-trauma rehabilitation : Once a soldier
like. is assessed to have PTSD or any other
“How frequently do you feel angry ?” anxiety disorder or depression, he should be
(a) Almost never removed from combat duty and put in ‘rest
and recoup’ camps. They should be put at
(b) Sometimes
good physical comfort and their families
(c) Often should join them in these non-conflict
(d) Almost always transfer assignments.
Similarly, the State-Trait Depression Scale • Trauma Event Management (TEM) : TEM
(STDS) measures predisposition to depression is an alternative to complete medicalization
(trait-depression or T-Dep) and actual depression and hospitalization. Here, a team of trained
170 Applied Psychology

medical officers and behavioural health regarding how they could deal with their
professionals provide therapeutic and subordinates; deterrents and sanctions must
medical assistance. be aimed at officers who seek to harass
• Buddy debriefing : It has been found that cadets.
talk is the best and most effective remedy of • Finally, certain measures like a feedback
trauma. Psychologists recommend talking to system, a prompt grievance redressal system,
peers about the traumatic event as an effective team building, fair conflict resolution, clear
way of dealing with trauma. and accessible communication channels,
• Self-care strategies : The concept behind enforcement of a buddy system in each
self-care is to empower soldiers to themselves battalion or company, and sound
cope with stressors and emotional distress. performance appraisal system etc. help in
Usually, a team of professionals prepare a stress reduction in the military.
self-care guide for mental health in simple Psychological tests in Military
language and includes guidance regarding n
relaxation exercises, yoga, meditation, healthy
lifestyles and social networking etc. The job profile of defence personnel is
substantially different from that of normal jobs.
Besides above direct intervention strategies,
These are high-risk jobs making substantial
military psychologists also recommend certain
demand on the physiological and psychological
preventive intervention strategies. These
resources of the personnel. Hence, an important
strategies often aim at reducing the stressors
preoccupation of psychologists in defence is to
that soldiers experience. Hence, these strategies
evaluate the psychological fitness of present
investigate the sources of stressors that could be
and prospective defence personnel.
handled by intervention and better
Psychologists device psychological tests for use
organizational practices : Some of the strategies
in selection, training and counselling. Also,
recommended by Sharma & Sharma (2008) are:
tests are devised to be used in recruitment to
• Military training must include more specialized operations such as Border Security
psychological training programme, like Force (BSF), Black Cat Commandoes, Special
hardiness training. Protection Force, Submarine staff and even in
• Mental problems are the result of person- policing in Jammu and Kashmir and in states of
environment misfit. One strategy is to the North-East.
restructure the organizational work The job of defence personnel today is so vast
environment. and diversified that specialized tests have to be
Military Command and the Specialists can designed to select personnel for specific tasks.
sit together to discuss about various ways in Let us now study in greater detail how
which to restructure the rigid, disciplinary psychological tests are devised and used in
hierarchy of the military to better meet the military.
demands of soldiers and officers.
• A job in defence is a job with low job control • Selection
and high job demand. By Karasek’s Model Psychological tests are used in the
(see the section on stress), this itself creates
recruitment of soldiers and officers, as well as
high stress. The leadership style of officers
in selection of soldiers for special-purpose
in the military is predominantly autocratic
with low freedom for subordinates. A clear missions. All these have different criteria for
set of guidelines must be given to officers selection; and the psychological attributes
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

demanded of a candidate vary. Yet, there are a selection criteria. On what criteria should
certain basic psychological attributes that are candidates be selected ? Put in another way,
desired of all personnel. what are the attributes that a prospective soldier
In the recruitment process, there are two should have ? A group of psychologists in
stages (Swedfeld and Steel, 2000) : U.S.A. have examined a wide array of attributes
1. Screening-out and and identified 30 individual attributes that
predict effective on-the-job performance of
2. Screening-in
soldiers in U.S. Army Special Forces. These can
In the screening-out stage, the central concern be broadly grouped into four categories :
is the assessment of psychological and emotional
stability. Is the cadidate free from 1. Cognitive attributes include judgement and
decision making, planning, adaptability,
psychopathology ? Even if he is, what are the
creativity and specific cognitive skills, such
chances that he will develop these is future ?
as auditory, mechanical, spatial, math and
What is his vulnerability for various mental
perceptual speed and accuracy.
problems ? The screening-out stage can
effectively make use of standard psychological 2. Communication attributes include reading
tools such as MMPI-2, pencil and paper test and writing ability, language ability and
and intelligence tests. This stage’s main purpose verbal and non-verbal communication
is to decrease the risk of “false alarm” (i.e. abilities.
decrease the risk of selecting a candidate with 3. Interpersonal, Motivational and Character
psychological vulnerability that would make Attributes include diplomacy, cultural
him unsuitable for the job). adaptibility, maturity or emotional stability,
For the screening-in stage, specialized tests autonomy, team playership, dependability,
are designed. In India, these tests are developed initiative, perseverance, moral courage,
by Defence Institute of Psychological Research motivating others, and supervising.
(DIPR). The design follows the following steps: 4. Physical attributes include swimming,
flexibility and balance, strength and
1. Job Analysis
2. Criteria Selection
(Kilcullum et al., 1999).
3. Instrument Selection
The next step is selection of an instrument or
The job analysis varies when selection is for
a range of instruments to measure candidates
specialized posts. But for simple recruitment at
for these criteria. Sometimes new tests are
entry level, there are certain common features of designed, while at other times standard tests
the job. A military job is one ‘with high stress,
can be used. For instance, McDonald et al.
low autonomy, little personal control over
(1990) had studied US Naval Special Force
workplace, long working hours, and/or
deployment in combat-related or in internal using a standard test that measures the five
traits of the Big Five Personality Factors. They
security duties in insurgency wrecked areas
found that successful candidates are more
that entail chronic exposure to potentially
sociable (i.e. high on extraversion), emotionally
traumatizing events’ (Sharma & Sharma, 2008).
stable, likeable (i.e. high on Agreeableness) than
After job analysis, the next task is to design unsuccessful candidates. Hence, standard tests
172 Applied Psychology

also can be used to assess certain criteria. 2. The effectiveness of simulation games and
For selection into high-risk and specialized virtual reality in improving various cognitive
work groups, specific psychological tests are skills for real-life situations can be assessed.
needed. For example, the Special Protection 3. Sometimes, training simulates real-life combat
Force (SPF) is a group that provides security to conditions. Tests help assess the
Very Important Persons (VIPs) including the psychological response of soldiers in such
President of India, the Prime Minister and conditions.
former Prime Ministers and their family. In this
task, high amount of attentional resources and • Counselling
vigilance is required. The members of SPF need
to have exceptional vigilance, more than that in The defence personnel face high-stress and
normal defence jobs. This is because a single hence are especially vulnerable to various
miss of stimuli can lead to loss of life of a VIP. mental problems like PTSD, personality
The commandos who are assigned this job are disorders, depression etc. (discussed earlier in
tested on this attribute. Concepts of Signal detail). The challenge to the defence psychologist
Detection Theory (SDT), psychophysics and is to detect the incidence of these disorders and
ROC-curves are used to design tests to select provide immediate counselling before the
personnel for such specialized tasks. condition aggravates. The need for counselling
among personnel is assessed by a variety of
inventories, some of which are discussed in an
• Training earlier section in this chapter.
Psychological tests are used in training of
cadets also. Usually these are ability tests and n Human factor Engineering in
achievement tests. In a typical training Defence
programme, a test is conducted before the training
begins (Pre-test) and another after the completion Many complicated machines are used in
of training (Post-test). The difference between defence. There are hi-tech tanks, planes, fighter
the two test results show the skill improvement planes, radars, submarines etc. These machines
of the soldier. This becomes very important in have very high degree of sophistication and are
defence because the equipments are very costly supposed to perform critical tasks. However,
to operate. Hence, cadets are trained on these machines aren’t autonomous. They are
simulators or in inferior-quality equipments. operated by human operators. Hence, the
Tests help assess the transfer of training that is machines aren’t supposed to perform, but the
supposed to happen between training and real human-machine system needs to be optimized.
conditions. There are also other utilities of tests We need to understand that human cognitive
in training : and motor abilities have limitations. The best
1. If the difference between pre-test and post- man-machine system is one where human factors
test is low generally for soldiers, it may are considered before designing the machine.
mean that the training programme need to be Human factor Engineering is a branch of
updated. study that seeks to establish a man-machine fit
Psychology applied to Human Resource Development

by including the constraints of human factors the trigger, it may be tough to use the rifle in
when engineering the machine (i.e. when face-to-face action at the border ?
designing). The need for human factor 2. Modern military equipments are very
engineering (HFE) in defence arose for the first complex and costly. Inappropriate man-
time during World War 2. Prior to the war, machine integration could lead to death.
many sophisticated machines were developed Even small errors could be fatal. Also, in
by engineers; these engineers lacked any modern warfare, the scope of errors should
knowledge of how human factor (cognitive be low as the enemy machines are pretty
response, emotional response, perceptual skills hitech and operator friendly! Hence, the H.F.
etc.) vary in combat situation. Hence, they didn’t Engineer has to walk a tight rope.
consider these factors in designing machines. 3. Conducting research and getting data for
As a result, many accidents occurred during HFE is tougher in case of military than
World War 2. During the war, a pilot was otherwise. Usually, these data are considered
required to take split-second readings of confidential; hence countries don’t share their
instruments, make rapid decisions and then research findings. Researchers at Defence
react fast to control the machine. In deed, the Institute of Psychological Research (DIFR)
engineers never cared to measure the operator’s are “Indian” researchers and prefer not to
reaction time. They did not understand that the share their findings with other countries.
operator was a human and there were limits on Same is the case with other countries.
his/her cognitive and motor abilities.
Secondly, the research to be conducted to
Some of the basic principles of HFE have know various cognitive and motor responses
been discussed under ‘Ergonomics’ in the to a specific design can’t be approved in the
chapter on Organizational Psychology. However, design of another machine. The data collected
the challenges of HFE in defence are different are very specific data.
from that of normal organizational or work While the challenges are more, the advantages
settings. Some of these challenges are :– of HFE in defence are great many.
1. H.F. Engineer has to take special care of Some of these are that HFE
combat environment. The human response
1. Makes equipments easier to operate.
(emotional and psychological) in real combat
situation is different from that in normal 2. Increases reliability and reduces errors.
situations. For instance, it may be very 3. Reduces possibility of accidents.
comfortable to use a complex gun. But how 4. Reduces amount of training required.
does a man-rifle system perform in the 5. Reduces the stress on operators and
tension of combat ? How do psychological contributes to their well-being.
and physiological changes in the soldier 6. Reduces the number of personnel to do the
affect the performance ? Is the rifle well- job; also, those with lower aptitude could be
designed to accommodate such changes in
employed to operate machines.
the man ? If a rifle needs lot of force to pull
174 Applied Psychology
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

Psychology Applied
to Socio-Economic
8. Application of Psychology to disadvantaged
9. Psychological problems of social integration

10. Psychology of terrorism

11. Psychology of Gender
12. Application of Psychology to Environment
and Related fields
176 Applied Psychology

• The Concept

8 • Relative and Absolute Deprivation

• Prolonged Deprivation
Application of • Consequences of disadvantages and
deprivation : Social, Physical,
Psychology to Cultural and Economic
Disadvantaged Groups • Educating and motivating the
disadvantaged towards development

n Disadvantage and Deprivation deprived of all resources. A daughter of a

conservative, rich man is disadvantaged in
A (wo)man is the product of his (her) ‘nature’ education if her father doesn’t let her study. She
and ‘nurture’. The nature-nurture controversy – is relatively deprived with respect to her brother.
on the extent of influence of each in a (wo)man’s Yet, she is not absolutely deprived.
development – is a continuing one in Hence, disadvantage is the result of unequal
psychological literature. Yet, all agree that : access to resources – physical, cultural and
educational among others. Deprivation is a
Genes × Environment = Human Development
condition or a state of being that the
Genes usually set the the ‘limit’ to diadvantaged faces.
development. Environment determines the actual
development within this limit. For example, try n Relative & Absolute deprivation
as much as he does, a dog cannot fly. No
amount of practise or rich environmental Relative deprivation is a subjective concept;
stimulus can make a dog fly because flying is it implies that an individual or a group perceives
not genetically encoded in its genes. Yet, himself (themselves) relatively deprived in
environment determines a large part of relation to another individual (group).
development, i.e. a deprived environment can It was political scientists like Runcimann
lead to non-optimal development. and Gurr who found that when we perceive a
The resources at the disposal of human deprived state, we don’t perceive objective
society are limited, but the number of deprivation. Rather, it is our expectations that
individuals and their needs are not. Some are we use as an indicator. Egoistic relative
placed at an advantage to appropriate the deprivation is that felt by an individual,
resources; others less fortunate, are at a fraternalistic relative deprivation is felt by a
group with respect to another.
disadvantage. Disadvantage leads to
deprivation. Absolute deprivation, on the other hand, is
The disadvantaged need not always be an objective construct. As a result of
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

disadvantage, if an individual, a family or a may refer to absolute deprivation of nutrition, of

group is bereft of basic necessities for healthy health support, a rich and stimulating
living – food, rich natural surrounding, proper environment or deprivation of parental support
housing, nutrition, health facilities etc – the or many of these factors working together.
resultant deprivation is absolute deprivation. Prolonged deprivation is a significant concept
The differences between relative deprivation in psychology because prolonged deprivation
and absolute deprivation are :– in childhood can lead to numerous
1. Former is subjective experience while later is psychological impairments. The way prolonged
an objective condition. deprivation of vitamins - C can lead to Scurvy,
2. Absolute deprivation is the result of or that of vitamin - K can lead to Kwashiorkar
disadvantage. The same may or may not be (which is common in children from poor
the case with relative deprivation. A Hindu families), the same way prolonged deprivation
group may be relatively deprived if of stimuli can lead to psychological
reservations for Muslims are introduced; consequences.
while in fact according to Sachhar
Commission the muslim community as a
whole is at a disadvantage (is facing social Many studies have shown the effect of
exclusion) and hence is absolutely deprived prolonged deprivation of a rich environment on
of jobs and modern education. the development of an individual. For instance,
3. Logical consequences of the two are vastly Blackmore and Cooper (1970) conducted an
different. Relative deprivation leads to experiment in which some kittens were exposed
prejudices and in extreme cases conflict and to only stimuli that leads to perception of
violence. Absolute deprivation leads to horizontal objects; and some other kittens were
conditions discussed in this chapter. exposed to stimuli that leads to perception of
4. Relative deprivation may or may not be the vertical objects only. After sometime, they found
fallout of absolute deprivation. For example, that the kittens who were exposed only to
factory workers don’t feel relatively deprived horizontal images couldn’t detect vertical edges
of managers because they believe that and vice versa. This experiment demonstrates
managers deserve the pay they get on the that perception is plastic.
basis of merit. Yet, many workers feel In a way, not just perception but the whole
relatively deprived, form unions or resort to brain is plastic. The human infant has a very
working class militantism. Relative small brain in comparison to other animals.
deprivation, its occurrence and its prevalence This is because otherwise the infant brain
is a much more complex phenomena, than couldn’t fit into the mother’s womb. Even though
absolute deprivation which can be gauged the infant’s brain is small, it has nearly all the
by objective economic criteria. neurons that an adult brain has. It only doesn’t
have the neural connections i.e. links between
n Prolonged Deprivation various neurons. As the child actively
Prolonged deprivation refers to absolute experiences the world, various stimulations
deprivation for a prolonged period of time. It cause links to develop in neurons related to
those stimulations. For example, there are some
178 Applied Psychology

neural calls in the brain that specifically work and stay at the bottom of social hierarchy) is
in mathematical problems solving. If the child unable to compete with the son of a middle-
does many rich mathematical problems, the class individual, in competitive exams like IAS
connections of these cells become stronger. On and IIT Jee, is it because he has inferior ability
the other hand, if the child is deprived of a or because of some disadvantage ? His low
stimulating environment, connections don’t performance is due to a combination of
develop and the brain’s functionality related to disadvantage and deprivation. The fact that he
these cells is low. This plasticity of the brain is can’t get proper guidance or can’t afford
not life long. After some years, the brain becomes coaching puts him at a disadvantage. Even the
rigid and even a rich environment can’t help fact that his peers discourages him to prepare
develop these skills. Prolonged deprivation for IIT JEE (“You can’t make it. Rather than,
leads to such an effect. wasting time, join my Mechanic Shop!”) is a
Take the case of Genie. Genie was deprived disadvantage for him.
of language skills, among other stimuli, for 11 Secondly, his birth and upbringing has been
years before she was discovered. She could mostly in deprived environments (slums in
never learn proper language because her brain cities and shanty settlements away from the
had ceased to be plastic. Now, compare yourself village in rural areas.
with a child from a slum. It is evident that the
child has lived in a deprived environment for a
long time while in your case you have been fed
with a golden spoon. At every stage of cognitive
development, you have had teachers and parents
to provide you with a rich, stimulating
environment. When this wasn’t sufficient, you
joined some coaching classes to further hone
your mathematics skills. No wonder, the part of
the brain related to mathematical skills, for
instance, is well-developed in you. But what
about the slum kid who didn’t even get a
pollution-free environment ?
Prolonged deprivation and its effects –
cognitive, perceptual, intelligence-related,
motivational and personality-related – are the
Fig : Social Hierarchy of India and related
focus of psychological studies that are discussed
in this chapter. disadvantage
He hasn’t been exposed to rich environments
Disadvantage and Deprivation : (pre-school education, healthy play life,
nutritious food, training in intelligence behavior
in perspective etc) during “critical period” of his growth. This
If a student from Dalit background (erstwhile impairs his cognitive faculties and puts limits
untouchables who still have to do menial jobs on optimal development of abilities. Many-a
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

times, slum children are exposed to child sexual the classes at the top and bottom of the hierarchy
abuse, violence and drugs at an early stage. are genetically different in abilities.
Their language development is slow and To put it in very simple terms, human
stunted. No doubt, the slum kid can’t compete development is a product of environment and
with others in competitive exams. So, my friend, person.
if you have got admission into an IIT or AIIMS
∴∴∴∴∴ Human Development = Environment × Person.
or any other prestigious institute, it is not
because you deserve it; rather because your are If a class of citizens is at the bottom of the
lucky to be born in an affluent family and lucky hierarchy, it may be because of genetic factors
to be treated well by your parents (Genie was (different abilities) or because those at the bottom
born in an affluent family, yet was deprived of have deficient environment due to which they
basic stimulants till she was 13 because of a stay at the bottom.
mentally sick father !). For example, Prof. J. P. Das and his colleagues
Now the question is, why intervention ? (1970) have found that the performance of poor
Intervention is needed to teach the deprived Harizan students in intelligence tests was lower
group children because they are part of the than that of rich Brahmin students. A value-
human resource of the country. Their biased observer may argue that Brahmins are
deprivation and disadvantage is not only genetically more intelligent than Harijans. She
harmful to them, but also to the nation : it can’t may support her argument by stating that since
harness the best potential in its citizens ! The castes practice endogamy in marriage and inter-
issue has become even more pressing with 11th caste marriages are forbidden, the genetic pool
Planning Commission emphasizing that India’s of Brahmins is different from that of Harijans.
huge population is an asset – a demographic This argument is similar to the arguments made
divident. But if these students are not taught and in the west in relation to race : that white have
motivated to achieve, the demographic divident better intelligence than blacks.
will turn into “demographic disaster” and The white-black ‘difference’ has today been
largely discredited in scholarly circles. Same is
increase ratio of dependants (including those
youth with high dependence motivation) to that with the genetic hypothesis of caste. Many
of working population. studies have proved that Harijan children
brought up in advantaged situations perform as
n Deprivation : Nature or Nurture good as Brahmin children. G. Misra and B.
Tripathi (1980), for instance, found that high
A major issue that psychologists have looked
and low caste groups with similar experiential
into is whether deprivation is due to deficiency
background (i.e. similar environments)
in environment or difference between the
demonstrated almost similar levels of
deprived groups and non-deprived groups. The
performance on cognitive and intellectual tasks.
deficit argument is a nurture argument that
Om Prakash (1982) compared scores on Raven’s
states that, for instance, scheduled castes have
Progressive Matrices for different caste groups
deficient environmental stimuli; hence shows
and found that low caste children of literate
lower performance and are at the bottom of
parents actually scored higher than the children
hierarchy. The difference argument states that
of high caste literate parents.
180 Applied Psychology

Hence, it can be said that difference in consequences. Visible consequences are visible,
experiential background, rather than genetic but cannot be explain without understanding
difference, leads to deprivational effect. Even invisible consequences. This is because all sub
here, there are some anomalies. You must have system interact dynamically. Invisible
heard that diamonds are found in coal mine; consequences are causes for visible
that lily breeds in polluted water. These phrases consequences as well as effect of visible
mean that certain individuals from deprived consequences.
groups rise and perform exceptionally good. If
nature doesn’t matter and only ‘nurture’ (i.e.
experiential background) matters, how can we
explain this phenomena ? How can one
individual who has been deprived of
environmental stimulation at an early age rise
so high and no other can get out of the vicious
circle ?
To explain this phenomenon, Prof. J. P. Das
(1973) has proposed a modified threshold Hence, various, physical, social, cultural and
hypothesis. This hypothesis states that if we
economic consequences can be studied best by
recognize a threshold for intellectual ability,
psychologists. Visible consequences and
children above this threshold are hardly affected
psychological variables of deprived groups have
by disadvantageous conditions; children below
figure-ground relation i.e. these consequences
this threshold are, however, strongly affected.
stand on psychological variables.
This hypothesis reconciles nature with nurture.
Various visible consequences of disadvantage
It basically states that ability and deprivation
and deprivation can be dealt under the following
interact and jointly influence performance.
headings :
n Consequences of Disadvantage 1. Physical and mental health
& Deprivation 2. Socio-cultural consequences
3. Social Mobility issues
Any society can be visualized as a system 4. Economic consequences
with various sub-systemic elements inter-linked.
1. Physical and mental health
Disadvantage and deprivation create a situation
Disadvantage leads to deprivation from good
in which various physical, social, cultural, quality and appropriate quantity of nutritional
economic and psychological dimensions are
intake. This leads to malnutrition. Malnutrition
affected. Further, these systems affect each other
leads to stunted growth and also other
consequences. Malnutrition adversely affects
There are two types of consequences of
cognitive functioning and basic cognitive
deprivation : visible and invisible. Visible
processes, and increases the chances of poor
consequences include physical, social, cultural
health (Misra & Mohanty, 2000).
and economic consequences; invisible Many studies have shown that nutritional
consequences include psychological
intake is a function of Socio-Economic status
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

(SES), and malnutrition results in cognitive tolerance and access to supportive social
and health impairment. For example, Gupta et relationship. Experiences in lower social class
al. (1985) have reported lower growth standard lead to low self-esteem, intellectual rigidity,
for Slum Children. Dutta Banik (1982) has sense of fatalism and greater susceptibility to
found from a longitudinal study of children’s stress” which increase the vulnerability of
growth from birth to 14 years of age that height mental health problems (ibid, p. 125). As per the
and weight measures are related to SES. Also, Stress-vulnerability model of mental health,
nutritional status is positively correlated with Psychopathology = Stress × Vulnerability
general development of cognitive and motor
functions. For instance, Agarwal et al. (1987) Vulnerability is high because of intellectual
have found from a large scale study on 6-8 year rigidity, sense of fatalism and incorrect stress-
old rural children in Varanasi that severity of coping style. Stress is high because social
malnutrition is proportional to impairment of support is low, environmental stresses are high
intelligence, verbal reasoning, short term (for example, water and air pollution are high
memory, perceptual and spatial skills, fine motor in slums; crowding is high, due to which
coordination and schlosatic achievement. This personal space is low) and stress is chronic.
mechanism can be represented as : The nature of functional adaptation to socio-
cultural change also affects rate of
psychopathology. For instance, Sharma and his
colleagues (Sharma, Michael, Reddy and Gehlot,
1985) found that psychiatric morbidity among
slum dwellers of Jaipur was higher for distant
migrants than for those who migrated from
nearby. Evidently, adaptation stress was higher
for distant migrants. In another study (Misra et
al., 1996) the health status of two tribes from the
Chotanagpur plateau were studies :
1. Birhors, a nomadic tribe
2. Oraons, a sedentary tribe
It was found that Birhors had greater
Apart from physical health, deprivation also physical, psychological and psycho
impairs mental health. Prof. Giriswar Misra physiological problems than Oraons. Birhors
and Prof. Ajit K. Mohanty (2000) reason that are nomadics and hence have to adapt to
incidence of psychiatric disorders among the changing conditions often. Hence, functional
poor and the disadvantaged groups is much adaptation is a mediating factor between low
higher than advantaged groups. Mental health SES and Mental health problems.
problems are much more frequent among lower Greater emotional disturbance and neurotic
social classes in the class hierarchy. This is traits of restlessness have been observed among
perhaps because “the experience of growing up children from lower SES. Bhatia and his
in different social classes are related to colleagues (1989) had conducted a survey in
individual differences in coping styles, stress which they found that nail-biting was prevalent
182 Applied Psychology

in a relativey younger age (2-5 years) among came from families with low parental income
high SES children than among lower SES and impersonal interpersonal relation among
children. Nail-biting is prevalent among lower family members. Shukla concludes that these
SES children even at the age of 9-12 years. delinquents are insecure in the family and this
loss of status is compensated by achieving a
2. Socio-Cultural Consequences
status in a delinquent sub-culture. In these
The social norms, values, social climate and
delinquent sub-cultures, the norms are different
the built environment of a slum is not the same
from (often antagonistic from) the norms of
as that of a middle-class residential area. This
mainstream society. An individual member is
is because disadvantage and deprivation lead
appreciated for pick-pocketing or snatching,
to a fatalistic attitude and high need for
and respected in the group.
dependence. Owing to this, the need for
On an individual level, this culture of
achievement is low and hence social mobility is
poverty affects children’s personality also.
low. Without social mobility, members of a low
Mohan and her colleagues (1990) have found
SES group cannot get better pay and standard
that deprived children are high on neuroticism
of living.
and low on extraversion. Disadvantage has also
This reinforces the conditions of
been causally related to alienation, withdrawal,
disadvantage. For example, if a dalit labourer’s
autism and other antisocial and anti-psychotic
son studies hard and becomes an IAS officer, he
traits (Helode and Kapai, 1986). Such personality
can rise above the conditions of disadvantage.
traits reinforce the culture of poverty and are
However, if by socialization he internalizes the
resistant to change.
belief that he can not become an IAS officer, his
Above dynamics can be represented as
expectancy is low and hence he doesn’t study.
In one study, Saraswati and Dutta (1990)
analyzed the children and adolescent girls
growing up in rural poverty and urban slums.
They found that children are socialized to non
competitive coping styles, narrow goals, and
acceptance of destiny.
As a result of above vicious circle, a culture
of poverty develops. Frustration due to perpetual
low SES condition makes many youths deviant.
These youths form peer groups with delinquent
sub-cultures. A. K. Tandon and his associates
(1978) have tried to classify deliquents into
aggressive and non-aggressive deliquents. They
found that aggressive delinquents came from
low income families, experienced parental
deprivation and showed greater hostility as
compared to non-aggressive group. K. S. Shukla Fig : Dynamics of socio-cultural
(1977) has observed that a large number of consequences of deprivation
juvenile delinquents are slum dwellers. These
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

3. Social Mobility her cognitive development. In fact, it has been

Social Mobility refers to the movement of found that (Misra & Tripathi, 1980)
individuals and groups between different
positions in a system of social stratification. In 1CC ∝∝∝∝
the present context, my concern is : how many i.e., Cognitive Competence (CC) is inversely
individuals from low SES achieve higher proportional to degree of deprivation.
Not many,
income and Why
higher? social
It is known
status in
a generation?
inspite of a Second factor influencing social mobility is
academic achievement. It has been found that
culture of poverty, equal access to education disadvantaged students prefer dependent and
can lead to social mobility. Education is the non-participatory learning style while
most potent tool of mobility. So much so that advantaged students prefer independent and
some believe universal education will lead to an participatory learning style (B.P. Verma and
egalitarian society. However, the link between Sheikh, 1992). Besides learning styles, poor
education and social mobility is not direct. It is school achievement of deprived students is also
mediated by three factors : related to cognitive readiness, home environment
1. Cognitive development of the child and social climate. Hence, Misra and Mohanty
2. Academic achievement observe that “poor or slow cognitive
3. Linguistic skills development affects general task performance
The Psychological contention is that even if as well as academic achievement and motivation
equal opportunities are available for education
which are associated with prospects of
(including similar quality of education, similar economic and social mobility”.
school infrastructure etc.) students from lower Another area of concern is linguistic skills of
SES are at a disadvantage. the disadvantaged. I have studied in an English
Many studies have proved that lower SES
medium school right from childhood. Hence, I
students have impaired cognitive development. had a mastery in the language. Now, take the
Prof. J. P. Das and his colleagues (1970) hypothetical case of Hari, a student from a
compared the performance of Harijan and Bhubaneswar slum. He talks in Oriya in his
Brahmin children on certain intelligence tests house; and goes to an Oriya school. After
and found that poor Harijan children had schooling, when he joins graduation, he finds
lower scores. Differences in perceptual skills, that there is an absolute hegemony of English.
such as depth perception and perceptual A. K. Mohanty and M. Mohanty (1985) have
differentiation between deprived and non- seen that the duality of official language (english)
deprived groups have been observed (J. P. Das and home language (oriya) leads to linguistic
and Sinha, 1975). Why is this so ? Deprived handicaps for low social classes. Other studies
groups have lower cognitive development have found similar results from other linguistic
because cognitive processes are experientially regions.
shaped and, therefore, lower stimulation in a
child’s experiential world would interfere with
184 Applied Psychology

for dependence (Dm) and low on achievement

Above dynamics can be represented as : motivation (Am) and extension motivation (Em).
Prof. J.B.P. Sinha has found that in scarce
resource conditions, deprived groups show
hoarding behaviour rather than sharing
behaviour. This shows that they have lower Em.
Giriswar Misra (1982) has observed that
deprived groups are lower on Am than non-
deprived groups. No wonder, the economic
development among deprived groups is lower.
It has also been seen that deprived groups
have lower expectancies. Prof. Durganand Sinha
(1969) found that villagers from less developed
villages showed either unrealistic aspirations,
or very low levels of achievement. Rath, A.S.
Fig : Social Deprivation and Mobility
Dash and U.N. Dash (1979) have also found
4. Economic Consequences : that the occupational aspirations of scheduled
Economic disadvantage leads to poverty. castes and scheduled tribe children are low.
Poverty leads to deprivation and deprivation The nexus between economic consequences
breeds poverty by a vicious circle popularly of deprivation (poverty) and motivational
called ‘culture of poverty’. Economic factors are patterns and expectancies can be represented as
cause for poverty and the effect of poverty. under (based on Pareek, 1970) :
Lower economic status leads to disadvantage.
But how does disadvantage and deprivation
lead to poverty as an economic consequences ?
Pareek (1970) presents a model wherein there
are two mediating factors :
1. Expectancy
2. Motivation
This model has been discussed in page the
chapter on Community Psychology. Basically,
Pareek states that economic development
depends on three factors : A.K. Singh (1983) aptly observes that the
culture of social disadvantage inculcates the
D = Am × Em – Dm psychology of a puppet characterized by
Poverty gets reinforced because of the unique helplessness, self-pity, apathy, pessimism and
motivational patterns among the deprived
groups. Deprived groups are high on the need
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

n Educating and Motivating the Home environment : Parental support

disadvantaged directly affects academic interest and academic
achievement. In a series of studies, A.K. Singh
The most potent instrument for developing and his colleagues (A.K. Singh, 1983; A.K. Singh
the conditions of the disadvantaged is by social and Jaiswal, 1981) have shown that parental
mobility, and social mobility can best be possible support compensates for the adverse effects of
through academic achievement and low SES. Ironically, the home factors are not
entrepreneurship. Motivating the usually strong in low SES families. Many come
disadvantaged towards entrepreneurial from families with parental psychopathology,
development has been separately covered in the family conflict, broken homes, harsh and
chapter on economic psychology. In this section, inconsistent parenting etc. Parents usually do
the focus is on early interventions to educate not stress on academic achievement because
and motivate disadvantaged children for they themselves have low expectancies; they are
Because achievement. Why early intervention?
intervention, are rooted high on need for dependence and pass on this
attitude to their children.
in the assumptiopn that human development is Teacher expectations : Pygmalion effect
critically shaped by the experiential base refers to a self-fulfilling prophery whereby
received by a person. The interventions generally people tend to behave the way others expect
aim at strengthening and equipping individuals them to behave. The first major experiment
from disadvantaged and deprived backgrounds demonstrating pygmalion effect in children was
with skills and competencies necessary for by Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968), and it was in
effective functioning in the society”. But before the school setting. The researchers applied a
discussion on interventions to educate and standard Ice test to children in an elementary
motivate the disadvantaged, it is necessary for school at the beginning of the academic year;
us to understand the problems faced by the 20% of the children were selected at random
disadvantaged. and the researchers told the teachers that these
20% have scored high on Ice tests and hence
have unusual intellectual abilities. When the
Educational problems of disadvantaged children were retested at the end of the academic
children year, these children showed massive gains in
Many studies have focussed the impact of Ice, relative to other children, Rosenthal and
socio-economic disadvantage on academic Jacobson, concluded that this was because of
achievement. The academic achievement of subtle effects of the teachers’ expectations. As
deprived group children are generally lower in this study, unfavourable teacher expectations
than that of children from advantaged groups, can lead to lowered academic achievement.
due to a variety of reasons including home This is exactly what happens in the case of
environment, parental support, school climate, deprived group children. For instance, Rath,
teacher expectancy and self-efficacy etc. Some of A.S. Dash and U.N. Dash (1979) found that
the research findings on this issue are : maximum number of Brahmin students and
186 Applied Psychology

minimum number of Scheduled caste students disadvantaged and advantaged groups and
were labelled by teachers as good in studies. found that they were in the form of a broom
Teacher expectations, further, exactly reflected stick. They were narrow at lower grades but
in school achievements of Brahmin and became wider in favour of advantaged students
Scheduled Caste students. Problem is, social in later grates. This can be represented as :
class and caste significantly influence teacher
expectations about student success. This may
be because of deep-ingrained stereotypes or
prejudices of the teacher. Even in the face of
information which prove teachers wrong, such
as success of low caste students whom teachers
expected to perform poorly, teacher expectations
are maintained (R. Sharma, 1985). This is
because teachers attribute the success not to the
child but to chance or faulty tests. Low caste
students internalize these patterns of attribution
of teachers and develop an external locus of
School climate : School climate has a direct
Learning Deficiencies : As has already been
influence on the academic achievement of
discussed, disadvantage and deprivation are
students. Rath (1976) has noted that hostile
accompanied by lower cognitive and intellectual
climate of the school compel socially
development . For example, children suffering
disadvantaged children to drop out of school.
from prolonged deprivation are found to suffer
On the other hand, supportive school c limate
from deficiencies in cognitive abilities (Misra,
is conducive for the development of positive
1987) higher mental tasks requiring language
self-concept, high need for achievement, realistic
skills (D. Sinha, 1982) and in general levels of
intelligence, perceptual abilities and spatial level of aspirations and low degree of fear of
failure (Pandey & R. C. Tripathi, 1982).
skills. This is manifested in learning disabilities.
The peer group is a singularly important
An interesting trend seen is that differences
factor affecting academic achievement. Pande
in cognitive factors between students belonging
(1980), for instance, found that lack of peer
to the socially advantaged and socially
support is responsible for the irregular
disadvantaged sections is not large in lower
attendence of Scheduled Caste students in
grades. This may be because prolonged
school. Another issue is the role of peer groups
deprivation shows effects in later grades.
in schools with mixed groups of students. It has
Research results confirm that the differences
been found that clubbing together deprived and
between the two groups become progressively privileged children in the same school leads to
larger with each grade in the school. For
lower academic success for deprived children
instance, A.K. Singh (1983) drew the academic
than if they study in ordinary schools with all
achievement curves of the socially
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

peers from similar background (D. Sinha, 1982). background, counselling etc. Change in
This may be because they are probably curriculum is essential because children from
discriminated for their deficiency which further deprived groups usually belong to a culture
retards their learning process (J. B. P. Sinha, much different to the culture of mainstream
1990). Further, having homogeneous peer groups societies. The curriculum should reflect their
is better as it lends the student security and cultural outlook and world view. More
warmth; the negative effects of self-fulfilling emphasis should be given to teaching subjects
prophecies are also low. that have functional significance for them.
Language : Annamalai (1987) has observed Support in the form of counselling and
guidance are important. Liddo and Khan
that many of the educational problems of lower-
class children may be due to differences between (1990) have demonstrated that counselling
home language dialect and school language. A. of bright underachievers from rural
K. Mohanty and M. Mohanty (1985) studied background leads to self-understanding, self-
students from disadvantaged groups of Orissa acceptance and enhanced academic
and found that the duality of school language performance.
(English) and home language (Oriya) leads to Going a step further, A. K. Singh (1983)
linguistic handicaps. This problem is especially argues that since the deprived children lack
acute in the case of tribal students; tribals have parental competence and parental support
their own dialect distinct from English as well relevant to their schooling, the school should
as regional languages (Oriya, Hindi, Tamil etc.). function as a substitute for family and friends.
When they are made to attend English medium He, therefore, advocates “Ashram type”
or Oriya medium or Hindi medium schools, schools. Perhaps residential schools with
they start off with a disadvantage ! good infrastructure may salvage the deprived
group students from the unfavourable
Now that we are aware of the various
problems faced by disadvantaged groups in conditions of their families.
education, we can move on to strategies to Pre-school education has been strongly
educate and motivate the disadvantaged. These recommended for deprived group students.
can be dealt under the following headings : The logic is that when joining schools, the
1. Psychologists’ suggestions for structure deprived group students are already at a
change disadvantage with respect to advantaged
group students. This is because of the rich
2. Psychological interventions
experiential base students from advantaged
3. Community-based intervention groups get. In a study in Orissa, Jachirck
4. Strategies to motivate children in school. and Chatterjee (1989) have reported that
preschool education has significant effect on
1. Structural changes : Structural changes in
cognitive abilities of children.
the school climate include changes in
curriculum, training of teachers and 2. Psychological interventions : Psychological
appointment of teachers from similar interventions are based on the assumption
188 Applied Psychology

that human development is critically training course. Rath has suggested that
dependent on the experiential base of the learning deficiencies can be overcome using
person. Hence, major psychological intervention programs based on :
interventions have looked into compensatory 1. Perceptual training
mechanisms for lack of experimental base of
2. Behaviour modification
deprived group students. Few major
3. Form-discrimination and
interventions are :–
(a) Family interventions 4. Reinforcement processes.

(b) A few other techniques recommended by

School-based interventions
various scholars are :
(c) Cognitive interventions
5. Verbal self-instructional training
Family based interventions aim at increasing
6. Operant manipulation of response and
the expectancies of parents and motivate them
to develop attitude conducive to child education.
Ananda Lakshmy (1990) has observed that an 7. Self-efficacy treatment
intervention programme is most likely to succeed 8. Brainstorming
if mother is involved in the programme. Thus 9. Hypothetical problem solving
intervention programmes should aim at
Rath (1952) had studied the effect of verbal
educating mothers on the importance of
self-instructional training and operant
stimulating play activities. Mothers should also
manipulation of response and reward on
be trained in skills that would enable them to
children from low SES tribal families and daily
offer a stimulating environment for their
labourers in Orissa. He found that both kinds of
children. training were effective in remediation of
Similarly, interventions in the school setting impulsive tempo in children.
should focus on creating a rich experiential Singh (1983) reported that high self-efficacy
base for students. Sandeep and Pushpa (1981)
treatment also improves the intellectual abilities
propose that efforts for developing curriculum,
of disadvantaged group children. Lastly, Verma
teacher training, modification of school
& Verma (1994) used techniques like
organization and innovations in teaching
brainstrorming, generation of alternatives, and
methods for disadvantaged students must be
hypothetical problems solving for a period of 16
coordinated by school psychologists.
weeks to successfully increase the problem
Many studies have shown the efficacy of
solving performance of deprived children.
cognitive interventions in developing the
cognitive skills of the disadvantaged. Rath 3. Community-based Interventions :
(1982) argues that though there are manifest Community-based interventions are based
learning disabilities, the children from the on the philosophy that community
deprived groups are not deficient in basic participation is most effective way to provide
neurocognitive functions, hence manifest alternative educational and vocational
training opportunities to the disadvantaged.
learning disabilities disappear after a short
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

In recent years, many NGOs and social outs and lack of interest in studies. Hence,
agencies have got involved in educating and an exercise in building a need hierarchy may
motivating the disadvantaged towards be undertaken. I propose the following
development. A few notable organizations hierarchy :
are (Misra & Mohanty) :–
1. Alripu, New Delhi
2. Eklavya, Bhopal
3. Gyan-Prabodhini, Maharashtra
4. NANBAN,Madurai
5. Butterflies, Delhi
6. BOSCO, Cochin
Alripu is an education provider that adopts
a non-pedagogic approach by allowing
learners to program at their own pace.
Eklavya, on the other hand, works in
association with the formal education system.
Its attempt is to bring about changes in
formal school education. Gyan-Prabodhini
extends opportunities for all-round
development of youth from deprived groups.
It promotes leadership qualities, motivation
and vocational training among the youth.
NANBAN, BOSCO and Butterflies are
organizations involved in rehabilitation of
street children, destitutes and working
children. In their effort to integrate these
children to the mainstream, they undertake
vocational training and practical education Some general strategies to motivate students
for these children. PRACHITI trains youth towards academic achievement are
from slum background for social work. mentioned in the chapter on Education
4. Strategies to motivate the disadvantaged in Psychology. Specific strategies to motivate
school : Before investigating various the disadvantaged group children are
strategies to motivate the disadvantaged to essential because the needs and orientations
join schools, it is necessary for us to of these students are quite different. Certain
understand the needs of the student. Indian specific strategies are:
schools are marked by large absentees, drop-
190 Applied Psychology

Increasing Self-efficacy : Most students goals must be action-oriented i.e. goals must
from deprived groups show a pattern of be regarding means, not ends. For instance,
attribution in which they attribute success to suppose you set a goal for disadvantaged
external factors and failure to themselves. group learners to get A grade in any subject
(Sinha). This motivational pattern can be it is outcome-oriented goal. If the student is
changed only by increasing their self-efficacy. unable to get A-grade, she attributes the
To increase self-efficacy, role models can be failure to herself and her motivation
introduced for vicarious reinforcement. An decreases. On the other hand, if you set a
goal that she should learn certain chapters it
individual similar to the children who has
achieved much in life can act as role model. is action-oriented.
Sometimes, local leaders and teachers The goals set should be difficult but realistic,
themselves can act as role models. Verbal i.e., must be of moderate difficulty. Easy
goals may frustrate the learner and too
persuasion also is a potent method to
increase self-efficacy. The messages we get difficult goal may discourage her from
striving for it.
from others that affirm our abilities strengthen
our efficacy beliefs. Finally, to keep the goalsetting program on
track, it is important to define a time frame
Systematic Goal Setting : Setting challenging within which to reach at the goal.
yet achievable goals increases the motivation
towards academic success. The children from AM, EM & DM : Pareek (1970) has
deprived groups aren’t motivated by long- identified three factors that affect the
term rewards, rather by instant gratification. motivation towards development :
For them, goal-setting in a systematic manner – Achievement Motivation (AM)
increases competence. Five guidelines for – Extension Motivation (EM)
goal-setting can be summarized as SMART – Dependence Motivation (DM)
(Paner and Smith, 2007).
He states that economic development is a
S – Specific function of these motivations ( = AM × EM
M – Measurable – DM). He identifies these as three factors
A – Action-oriented behind the poverty of deprived groups. Hence,
R – Realistic we should inculcate AM & EM and
discourage DM in schools. AM can be
T – Time-based
increased on the lines of the Kakinada Study
The first step is to set a specific goal,
(McClelland & Winter, 1969). P. Mehta (1976)
Ambiguous goals frustrate the student.
has developed an intervention program in
Secondly, the progress towards the goal must
the educational setting on the lines of the
be measurable and the student needs to be
Kakinada setting. This can be used to improve
provided feedback on a regular basis.
AM among disadvantaged children. EM
Feedback acts as a reinforcement that the
refers to extension motivation, i.e., motivation
student is progressing towards the goal. The
to co-operate with others in a social setting
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

towards a goal. EM can be increased by when the hopelessness, powerlessness,

devising programs on the lines of Robbers’ fatalistic attitudes and fear of failure of family
cave experiment of Sherif (Pareek, 1970). The members are internalized. Dependence
jigsaw technique developed by Aronson and motivation can best be countered by
his coworkers (1978) and other cooperative education during which fear of failure and
learning programs can be used to increase lack of initiative can be replaced by realistic
EM. Johnson (2000) observes that these aspirations. Prof. Pareek (1970) suggests that
programs lead to an increase in self-esteem dependence motivation can be decreased
and academic achievement and decrease in effectively by use of sensitivity training
prejudices. wherein children experiment with new
High need for dependence (DM) develops in patterns of behaviour and develop
children during the socialization period interdependence in place of dependence.
192 Applied Psychology

9 •

Social Integration : The concept

Nature and Manifestation of


• Causal factors of social conflicts and


• Dimensions of social conflict and

Psychology of •
prejudice : caste, religion, language

Psychological strategies for handling

conflict and prejudice
Social Integration • Measures to achieve Social
& Prejudice

Psychological Problems of Social Integration

Why social integration? Because social

n Social Integration : The Concept
tensions, prejudices and conflicts are social
Indian society is a multi-cultural, multi problems. They are dysfunctional to the society
ethnic one in which people are divided on the and dangerous to the people and society at
large. How social integration? By creating a
basis of religion, caste, creed, tribe, ethnicity,
race and other myriad parochial lines. In such common consciousness, a common we-feeling
societies, not all groups have equal access to among members of the community : what our
resources. This leads to a conflict of interest. constitution calls fraternity.
However, this conflict of interest is not just How can this common identity and common
economic in nature. There are social, structural consciousness lead to social integration?
and psychological variables involved in such Basically, an individual has many identities at
inter-group tensions. the same time. I am an Oriya by language, an
Social integration refers to an attempt made Aryan by race, an agnostic by religion, a Hindu
to reduce social tensions and create a common by culture, a Khandayat by caste, a Kshatriya by
identity among members of a society about Varna and a male by gender. I have numerous
being part of the society. If you seek to create a identities, but not all my identities are active in
common identity among members of a nation, it social interaction. There is only one manifest
identity at one time. For example, when the
is known as national integration.
Assamese people mobilized against Bengali
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

people in Assam, one group (the Assamese Group Formation, Favouritism and
group) was formed on the basis of linguistic
identity against another group (the Bengali
group). But later, when the Assamese people The concept of social integration can’t be
agitated against illegal Bangladeshi migrants to appreciated properly without understanding
Assam, their manifest identity was ‘Indian’ what happens when social integration fails. As
versus ‘alien’. I have already marked, an individual’s group is
The aim of social integration is to make a based on her manifest identity. What if the
common manifest identity among diverse
manifest identity of a small group of people is
sections of population. You may be Oriya, Tamil,
being “Oriya” rather than being “Indian” ? A
Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Hindu, Muslim,
Christian, Munda, Ahir, Brahmin, Meena etc., small group of Oriya chaurinists develop. Each
but if a ‘WHO AM I ?’ test (basically this test member has favourable attitude towards other
has a list of twenty blanks. You have to write Oriyas, but not to other non-Oriya Indians. This
how you define yourself in the order of group looks at others as an out-group.
importance of your various identities) is
As a group favouritism develops (due to
administered, and you put “Indian” before other
identities, it is an indication of social integration. psychological factors discussed later in this
For example, suppose one writes : chapter) contact with out-group decreases.
1. I am Smarak Swain Prejudices about out-group become strong. This
2. I am son of Mayadhar Swain small group influences other Oriya people, so
3. I am a bureaucrat tax collector that the group becomes strong and looks at
4. I am an Indian other communities with disdain. Rumours and
5. I am an Oriya false attributions like “Bihari immigrants are
6. I am a resident of Bhubaneswar spoiling our economy”, “Marwaris are
7. I am a Hindu dominating our business”, “Bengalis are selfish
. and mean” become deeply ingrained beliefs.
. The next step of inter-group tension, if not
20. I am ...... controlled, is escalation to conflict and violence.
Poor Bihari immigrants or Marwari businessman
In this, we see that the individual’s “Indian” may be targeted in this hypothetical case. Once
identity is stronger than his “Oriya” identity. If conflict breaks out, the manifest identity becomes
a majority of people of a nation have their stronger. For example, the Sikh community
nationality (“Indian” here) as their manifest always seemed to be a group within the larger
identity, a we-feeling develops. While
Hindu community. The events of 1970s and
boundaries of language, caste, race, religion etc.
still exist, they don’t create social tensions. 1980s led to a strong identity among Sikhs
about being a separate religion.
194 Applied Psychology

Collective attitudes, i.e., similar predispositions

of disfavour in many people, turn out to be
“group prejudices” that usually affect one or
the other aspect of intergroup relations in a
society. The social psychological problem of
group prejudices arises when many people
have similar predispositions regarding an out-
group’ (ibid, p.7)

Nature of Prejudices
Prejudice is a type of attitude. Hence, it has
all the three components of attitudes :
• The cognitive component of prejudice is
stereotype. Stereotypes are exaggerated beliefs
about a group based on irrational
attributions. Basically, we humans
continuously make pre-judgments in the light
of insufficient evidence. Suppose you stay in
n Nature and Manifestation of a hostel and find that the Bengali student in
Prejudice that hostel stay untidy, you make a judgment
that “all Bengalis are untidy”. Basically, you
‘Prejudice is an attitude (usually negative) generalize few instances without sufficient
towards the members of some group, based evidence. This leads to stereotypes.
solely on their membership in that group .......’ • The affective component refers to a deep
– Baron and Bryne (1991) feeling of hostility towards a group. This
An attitude is a consistent manner of thinking includes racism, casteism and sexism. This
and feeling about people, groups, objects and component is strong in an individual if such
events. An attitude ‘towards a socially significant emotional hostility has been imbibed from
parents and family. The cognitive component
material is called a social attitude. Social
attitudes are individual attitudes directed can be changed relatively easily by showing
towards social objects’. (Venkatasubrahmanyan, that members of a group don’t conform to
1973, p.6) Prejudices are negative social attitudes. stereotypes, but it is tough to change affective
But mind it, just as attitude, prejudice is an components.
individual level phenomenon. Then how does • Behavioural component of prejudice is
prejudice manifest in groups? prejudice in action. Emotional hostility
Venkatasubrahmanyan (1973) explains that (effective component) provides motivation to
when individual attitudes become strongly inter- act against a group. Stereotypes function to
conditioned by collective contacts they become justify negative emotions towards the out-
highly standardized and uniform within the group. Finally, the action (behavioural
group. They become collective attitudes. component) towards a group determines the
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

manifestation of prejudices. Allport (1954) politically motivated, but many participants

proposes that the manifestation of prejudices actually have negative feelings against north
in behaviour towards an out-group varies Indians.
from minor to major forms. He has talked 5. Extermination means to drive a group of
about five stages in the continuum from people out of the country or kingdom due to
minor behavioural discrimination to major prejudices and hostility. Thankfully, this case
ones : is not applicable to India owing to a rule of
1. Antilocution : This refers to hostile talk, law enforced on the basis of the constitution.
verbal denigration, jokes etc. Antilocution
was widely practised among upper castes in The nature and manifestation of prejudices
relation to lower castes in traditional India. between in-group and out-groups will be made
more clear in subsequent sections when we
2. Avoidance : Keeping a distance from
study various theories of prejudices and social
members of a group, but not actively inflicting
harm. This was widely practised against the
untouchable castes in India. In deed, that
form of avoidance was institutionalized. It n Causal Factors of Social
was believed that untouchables are ‘polluted’ Conflicts and Prejudices
and should be stayed away from. Another
instance I can give from personal experience. Social conflicts are a product of multiple
I frequent a locality for good food. This causes. These causes are also varied : there are
locality has a majority of Muslim residents. political, social, economic and psychological
Surprisingly, many of my friends I invited causes. In this section, we will investigate certain
there have been uncomfortable about going causal factors of social conflicts from a socio-
there. They just want to avoid the locality ! psychological perspective. You must bear in
3. Discrimination : This refers to actively and mind, all through, the difference between conflict
explicitly expressing one’s attitude in conduct
and prejudice. Prejudice is both the cause and
towards a group. Many Punjabi landlords of effect of conflict. Yet prejudice is neither
Rajinder Nagar in Delhi have severe necessary nor sufficient condition for conflict.
prejudices against Biharis. When Bihari
In this section, we will concentrate on theories
students come to Rajinder Nagar to prepare
and perspectives behind both social prejudice
for civil services, they find it tough to get
and social conflict.
rooms on rent because of discrimination! (It
Broadly, these theories are of two types:
is also possible that I am prejudiced that
Punjabi landlords are prejudiced against theories that search for causality in the
Bihar students. This example is not based on individual personality and those that search for
empirical evidences) the causes in group dynamics. The first set of
4. Physical attack includes all types of theories is dominated by psychoanalysts like
communal riots, violence against dalits, Adorno, Kakkar and Dollard. However, these
nativism etc. Take the case of anti-North theories have increasingly come under criticism.
Indian violence in Mumbai. Of course, it is
196 Applied Psychology

Personality factors is not able to integrate her good and bad selves,
Social phenomena like riots, caste conflicts she feels anxiety whenever her bad self surfaces.
and tribal agitation are inter-group in nature. Kakar states that to increase her feeling of
But is it possible that there are some basic traits well-being, the narcissistic personality
that predispose the members of these groups to suppresses the bad self into the unconscious.
indulge in some acts ? She is good and her group is good. She places
her group at the centre of the universe and
Adorno and his colleagues set out to find an
answer to this question in Nazi Germany in the projects the bad self on others. The object of
1940s. They used techniques like interviews (to projection can be a caste, ethnic or religious
find out political views and childhood community.
experiences) and projective tests like the thematic Why does a person become narcissistic?
apperception test (TAT) designed to reveal Kakar explains that in the process of
unconscious attitudes about the minority Jewish socialization, often parents nurture narcissism
group. Adorno and his colleagues (1950) in children. You tell me, have your parents ever
concluded that some children are subjected to told you that partition of India in 1947 happened
harsh and authoritarian parenting style in because of communal politics. No. They say
childhood. While these children consciously Jinnah was solely responsible for partition.
have very high opinion of their father, they are Have your parents ever told you Hindus have
hostile towards their fathers unconsciously. killed members of minority community in riots,
Unable to resolve the conscious adulation and and that it was bad? Most parents are either
unconscious hostility, they project their hostility neutral or sympathetic to rightist terror
onto minority groups. Hence the authoritarian organizations that kill innocent women and
personality refers to people who are rigid and children in the name of Hindutva. This
inflexible, and are intolerant to ambiguity. They reinforces the perception in Hindu children that
submit to authority (a result of conscious “Hindus are good”. While the fact that Hindu
adulation to father authority right from rioters have done dastardly acts (like rape
childhood) and are hostile to people of lower pregnant women, burn children to death) is not
status. focussed on, we and our significant others
highlight the fact that innocent people died in
Sudhir Kakar (1990) has proposed another
terrorist attacks (and we attribute the terrorists
dimension of the psychoanalytic tradition.
to a “bad group”: Muslims of India).
While considering ethnic violence in India, he
My point here is, both Hindu group and
observed that group identities fulfil some
psychological functions. Basically, the human Muslim group (and for that matter other groups)
psyche has both a “good self” and a “bad self”. have “good” and “bad” characters. In every
group there are people with extremist views
A psychologically healthy person successfully
integrates her good and bad selves. (If you are and extreme ideologies, so also people with
one of those people who introspects, are aware rational, modern attitudes. But during
of your shortcomings and are ready to accept socialization, we are taught that ours is a good
group. Hence we project the bad characteristics
that you are wrong when reasoned to logically,
it means you have a well integrated self). If one onto other groups. Not only parents, group
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

myths also nurture narcissism. For example, the Shortcomings of these theories
political struggle between Rana Pratap and Today, the psychoanalytic school doesn’t
Emperor Akbar was a political struggle after all, find many adherents. Its most objectionable
between the greeds of political elites. But when proposition is that it considers the individual
any one narrates the story myths are narrated : as the cause of group prejudices. During
not the political struggle but the struggle between conflicts, even the most rational persons show
a “Hindu Rana” and an “imperial Muslim group favouritism. Does it mean that all the
ruler” is narrated to children. members of that group have gone through harsh
and authoritarian parenting style ? No !
Further, the authoritarian personality
explains aggression by a majority group member
towards a minority group member; not the other
way round. For instance, take the case of Sikh
terrorism. The Hindu-Sikh tension first arose in
1970s. Before that, there was not much hostility
between Hindus and Sikhs. Does it mean in this
specific generation majority of Sikh youth had
harsh and incorrect child rearing ? Why did the
minority Sikh group develop hostility towards
the majority Hindus.
According to Nimmi Hutnik (2004), group
Fig : Psychic characteristics of a narcissistic dynamics is much more important than
personality personality in explaining ethnocentrism and
Kakar reasons that ‘Hindus are regularly prejudices. Still, it was important for us to study
possessed by Muslim bhutas and these Muslim these theory because they explain individual
bhutas are considered the strongest, vilest, most differences in prejudice and conflict within a
group. Now, we will turn our attention to the
alien, demonic projections of the unconscious
Hindu mind. The Muslim demon is the frustration-aggression theory that finds causality
traditional container of Hindu conflicts over in environmental factors (rather than the person
aggressive impulses. While under its influence, or group), yet follows the psychoanalytic school
a Hindu may well transgress deeply held taboos in explaining its theory.
regarding violence. (see Hutnik, 2004). Basically,
2. Frustration-Aggression Theory
the bad self that is suppressed into the
unconscious is a ‘demon’ that threatens to come The frustration-aggression hypothesis of
to the conscious. Not able to accept a demon Dollard et al. (1939) suggests that frustration
within himself, the Hindu uses defence always produces aggression. Frustration is a
mechanisms to make it a Muslim demon, a necessary and sufficient condition for
‘Muslim bhuta’. aggression. If a society is economically poor,
people will be frustrated due to the hardships of
poverty and there will be an escalation of
198 Applied Psychology

prejudices. Environmental factors like poverty of relative deprivation. High caste people are
produce frustration. Frustration produces much more prosperous than OBC/SC/ST
aggression. Aggression may be dissipated by groups statistically. Yet they feel relatively
catharsis (for instance, playing sports is a deprived when greater reservations are given to
channel to dissipate aggression energy) or it other groups. When the government introduced
may be displaced. By displacement, the 33% reservation for OBCs in educational
frustration is directed not towards the real institutions in 2004-05, there were widespread
source of frustration but against a weaker, protests. This was inspite of Dr. Manmohan
inferior target. Singh’s assurance that the number of seats for
Though the theory has many shortcomings, general category won’t be reduced; only extra
it is quite relevant to the conditions in India. To seats will be added. During the agitation, many
test the relevance of this theory in India, Shukla ideological and emotionally toned articles and
(1988) studied 240 college girls of Bodh Gaya. speeches had created feelings of hostility
She found that upper-caste girls had greater (affective component of prejudice) between
tendency to find a scapegoat for frustrations general and reserved category students.
than lower caste girls. This validates the theory’s This theory also explains conflicts and social
stand that majority groups (here upper caste) tensions in Hindu-Muslim, Hindu-Sikh, ethnic
displace their frustration on weaker targets. majority-tribal and linguistic relation. Tripathi
Scapegoats are weaker and inferior people who and Srivastava (1981), for example, found that
aren’t the cause for frustration but bear the among Muslims feelings of relative deprivation
blame. in terms of political freedom, job opportunities
etc are associated with more hostile attitudes
3. Theory of Relative Deprivation towards Hindus. Those Muslims who were low
Political scientists like Gurr (1970) and on relative deprivation showed lesser hostile
Runciman (1966) have found that when we attitudes.
perceive a deprived state, we don’t perceive
objective deprivation. Rather, it is our 4. Realistic Group Conflict Theory
expectations that we use as indicator. Hence, People have their own group as the centre of
they conclude that the sense of deprivation is their lives and rate other groups with reference
subjective. This relative deprivation may be a to their group. This tendency of individuals is
result of prejudice and also a cause for prejudice. called ethnocentrism. Hence, there is a need to
There are two types of relative deprivation : study the dynamics of inter-group relations. A
1. Egoistic relative deprivation, based on landmark in the study of inter-group relations
comparison of self with other individuals. is the realistic group conflict theory.
2. Fraternalistic relative deprivation based on In the now famous Robber’s cave experiment,
comparison of in-group with other groups. Sherif and his coworkers (1961) took 22 white,
middle-aged, protestant children to a summer
Fraternalistic relative deprivation explains
camp. They were divided into two groups : the
various caste and religious tension in India.
Eagles and the Rattlers. In the first stage, each
The pro-reservation and anti-reservation
group had to work on some task that needed
agitations by various caste groups are because
cooperation within the group. Sherif observed
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

that very soon, a group identity developed in two groups. He found in-group preferences
both groups. In the second stage, the two groups even in these groups.
were exposed to each other. A sports tournament He explains that an individual always tries
was organized between the two groups. This to maintain a positive self-image. This self-
led to considerable inter-group tension. Rattlers image has two components :
stereotyped all Rattlers as brave, tough and 1. Personal identity 2. Group identity
friendly, and all Eagles as sneaky and stinker.
To have a better self-image, people try to
Reverse was true for Eagles. The tension
maintain a better group identity. For a better
precipitated into open conflict even before the group identity, we are motivated to view our
tournament started and the Rattlers’ flag was group as positively as possible. Hence, we
burned. A fight ensued and the camp counsellors highlight its differences from other groups and
had to intervene to stop the fight.
undermine the similarities.
Sherif concluded that inter-group conflict
arises as a result of a conflict of interests.
Competition is a sufficient condition for hostility or
conflict. Sherif’s study has been validated by
many other studies. Many sociological studies
in India have found that riots take place in
those cities where Muslims are relatively
prosperous. In general, we can state that the
relation between two groups vary from
cooperation to competition on a continuum.
More the competition, more is the inter-group
tension and more is the prejudice against the
This theory was a landmark in studies of
prejudice when it was proposed: it stressed that
the causality of prejudice and conflict lies in
inter-group relations, not interpersonal relations.
However, this theory has also been challenged
by many later scholars.

5. Social Identity and Categorization

In reaction to Sherif’s contention that
competition leads to inter-group conflict and
prejudice, many scholars, notably Tajfel (1981)
argued that group favouritism comes naturally
to groups. Tajfel found that mere categorization
of subjects into two groups is sufficient to
produce group favouritism. Tajfel used random
Fig : Social identity dynamics
toss of a coin to separate some participants into
200 Applied Psychology

The social identity theory essentially implies small argument etc.) and escalate to large-scale
that the stereotypes that one holds about one’s violence. This theory provides a causal factor
own group should be significantly more behind escalation of conflict.
favourable than those of the outgroup. Indian
researches have validates this point. For instance,
Hussain (1984) found that both Hindus and
Muslims evaluated the ingroup significantly
higher on affiliation and the outgroup was
evaluated higher on aggression. Khan (1988)
found that Hindus have negative, derogatory
images of Muslims regarding their physical
appearance. Muslims, on the other hand,
perceived Hindus as money spinners who
charged high interest rates, and were dishonest,
jealous and unreliable.

6. Norm Violation Theory

We hear many news about how a trivial
event like killing of a cow by a Muslim leads to
riots; playing music near a mosque leads to
violence etc. How can such large-scale conflict
result from something so trivial ? Fig : Norm Violation mechanism
de Ridder and Tripathi (1992) have
forwarded the norm violation theory (NVT) to 7. Role of child rearing
explain this. What happens when a member of Psychologists widely acknowledge the fact
one group (say Muslims) violates the norms of that ethnic identities are a major cause for
another group (say Hindus) ? According to this prejudices, and that ethnic identities develop
theory, violation of norms of group B by group during the process of socialization. Major factors
A results in group B attributing malevolent that play crucial role during socialization are
intent to group A’s behaviour. This, in turn, parenting style, attitudes and prejudices of
provokes a negative reaction from group B parents, community one belongs to etc.
towards group A. This negative reaction of For instance, Hassan (1983) had divided
group B violates the norms of group A. Group
parents into four categories and compared the
A believes that group B did it intentionally, development of prejudice in children of these
with malevolence. When the situation escalates, four groups of parents. The four categories are:
violent group behaviour results. (a) Prejudiced parents
This theory is important because it helps us (b) Prejudiced father and unprejudiced mother
understand that conflict happens in stages.
(c) Prejudiced mother and unprejudiced father
Intergroup conflicts usually start with very trivial
(d) Unprejudiced parents
issues (like a fight between two students, or a
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

Hassan found that children of prejudiced in communal riots in India. For instance,
parents showed the highest degree of prejudice, Engineer (1984) suggests that some features
while those of the fourth category showed least. common to riots are :
A.K. Singh (1985) has found that religious • A section of Muslims is economically well
identity (i.e. ethnocentrism) develops very early off and appear to be potential economic
in childhood. He compared four religious groups competitors to Hindus.
(Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians) and • Core issues are economic or political, ignited
found that majority of children from all these by some trivial incidence.
religions learn to show a preference for one’s
• Riots are preplanned rather than
own religion as early as 4-5 years of age.
spontaneous. Hence, economic motives rather
Some general findings with regard to than emotionality is the major reason behind
development of ethnocentrism and prejudice in riots.
children are :
Increasingly, the riots taking place in recent
(a) Prejudice increases with age (Vyas, 1973). times are characterized by loot, plunder and
(b) Religious identity and prejudice are inter destruction of property. These indicate the
related and religious identity develops earlier. economic motive behind the conflicts. A.K. Singh
(1988) makes an interesting observation that the
(c) Different types of prejudices emerge at
jealousy that leads to conflict is itself irrational.
different age levels. There is a sequence in A few members of the Muslim community or
the development of different types of Dalit community become prosperous, and they
prejudices : first sex prejudice, followed by are perceived as the symbols of the community.
caste, religious and class prejudice in that In objective terms, the community as a whole
order (N. Sharma, 1978). may be economically backward, but the envious
(d) Religious identity and ethnocentrism keep perceive all members as equally prosperous.
increasing till 8-9 years of age and become
9. Leadership as a factor
stable after that age. Hence, prejudices
Many sociologists and political scientists
‘harden’ after one reaches 8-9 years of age
(A.K. Singh, 1985). have highlighted the role of political elites in
the instigation and spread of riots. They argue
(e) Many studies have found that ethnic
that political elites themselves are pretty secular
identities and prejudices are stronger in
but mobilize people on narrow parochial lines
minority communities. Hence, it can be to meet their narrow political interests.
concluded that minority status strengthens
Psychologists explain this as: ‘At moments
ethnic identity.
of societal crisis otherwise mature and
psychologically healthy individuals may
8. Economic Factors
temporarily come to feel overwhelmed and in
We have already concluded from Sherif’s
need of a strong and self-assured leader’ (Post,
realistic group conflict theory that competition, 2004, P. 196). Post calls these leaders as “hate
including economic competition, leads to
mongering” leaders who fulfil their personal
conflict. Economic competition is a strong factor
ambitions by harnessing the need for followers
202 Applied Psychology

to follow a leader. The follower tries to identify phases : caste in traditional India, caste in
the leader with a father-figure who will relieve British India and caste in free India.
her of all dilemma and keep off crisis. Especially
in the case of India with a huge proportion of 1. Caste in Traditional India
people suffering from poverty and hardship, In traditional India, various castes (jatis)
people are highly vulnerable to the influence of were arranged in the form of a hierarchy. The
such a leaders. hierarchy was exploitative in the sense that
there was a strict division of labour between
n Dimensions of Social Conflict various castes. Member of one caste can not
and Prejudice perform the job sanctioned to another caste. For
example, a member of washerman caste was
prohibited from becoming a blacksmith, which
Of the many social conflicts that plague
Indian society there are four particularly salient only a member of blacksmith caste could become.
dimensions: caste conflict, religious conflict, No prizes to guess which castes performed the
linguistic conflict and class conflict. Basically neat and valuable jobs. The Brahmin castes and
caste, religion and language form strong units Kshatriya castes were sanctioned to perform
of identity of Indians. Hence, groups are often various tasks that were considered desirable.
formed on the basis of these. Class conflict is The upper castes also had greater control over
not based on membership of any parochial land, production and capital.
group; rather it is an expression of tension Was there caste conflict in traditional India?
between various economic classes in an Many instances of conflict between Brahmin
industrial economy. With the growth of castes and Kshatriya castes for supremacy are
industries in India, a sizeable working class known. But what about conflict between upper
and many trade unions have been formed. castes and lower castes ? Secondly, was there
Prejudice and conflict in the context of class is any caste prejudice in traditional society ?
also of our interest, given the fact that good Surprisingly, many scholars used to believe that
class relations is crucial for peace in an there was none. This is not true. Caste system
industrialized society. has always been an exploitative system where
lower castes have been discriminated against.
Caste Especially the untouchable castes were subject
In a way, caste has been the most persistent to many discriminations : they couldn’t touch
form of social relations in India for centuries. anything used by upper castes, they couldn’t
Many changes have occurred in India, but caste use any public amenities (like ponds, schools
is able to resist any attempt to eliminate it. Even etc.), couldn’t own property etc. Now, how can
today, caste forms an important ethnic identity there be discrimination without prejudice ?
for any Indian. On the other hand, though caste Discrimination is the behavioural component of
hasn’t gone extinct (as predicted by many prejudice.
scholars), it has changed its character with Yes, there was prejudice in traditional society
changing times. If we need to study conflict and but it was institutionalized prejudice. There was a
prejudices in caste, we should study it in three
widespread belief that various Varnas (there are
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

four varnas into which all jatis can be just labourers, the washermen, barber, artisans,
categorized : Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, temple priests etc worked for the landlord with
Shudra) have come out of various parts of the assurance of a share of the produce. The
Brahma’s body. Brahmins have come out of Jajmani System provided a job security to all
Brahma’s brain, so are the purest and most Kulin castes; hence cooperation, not competition.
supreme. Shudra castes have originated from
Brahma’s feets, so are least pure. In addition, 2. Caste in British India
the untouchable castes are polluted. This notion In colonial period, the cooperation of castes
of purity and pollution on which the whole slowly changed into competition. First, the
caste system was based in traditional Indian Britishers introduced private property and
society is itself a prejudice. If you think that you capitalist form of farming. In capitalist farming,
are pure or that some other person is polluted, landlords hired and fired free labour at will.
you are simply prejudiced. This led to breakdown of jajmani system. The
The caste system is a classic case of how special relation shared by Jajmans and Kulins
prejudices are institutionalized into general broke.
values; are passed from one generation to Secondly, British rule opened up new
another by socialization, and lead to widespread opportunities. Many non-traditional job
inter-group discriminatioin. If there was so much opportunities came the way of caste people :
prejudice and discrimination, next question is jobs in army, in modern industries and modern
why did it not lead to caste conflict? Many legal profession were opened to all castes.
sociologists have explained that inter-caste Though upper castes benefited most from these
relations were mired by cooperation and conflict. occupations, many lower caste members also
Caste tensions always existed, but didn’t escalate benefited; and became prosperous. These,
into revolt by lower castes ? Why? Because of economically prosperous lower caste members
cooperation. If you remember Sherif’s realistic desired for a higher status in society.
groups conflict theory, you know that conflict is From above two points, we can make two
result of competition. Competition and conclusion : (1) cooperation of jajmani system
cooperation are at either ends of a continuum. was turning into competition : competition for
Conflict among upper and lower castes was modern jobs, and competition for agricultural
low because of cooperation between these castes. land, (2) economically prosperous sections of
The Jajmani System is a system of economic lower castes wanted higher caste status. To get
exchange which existed in traditional society higher caste status, many of these lower castes
between various castes. In this system, Kulin started emulating the customs of upper castes
castes (lower castes) used to work for Jajman and demanded higher caste status. For example,
castes (land owning castes) in return for an suppose the Noniya caste (belonging to Shudra
assured income. Jajmani System fostered inter Varna) wants to get Kshatriya status. It starts
dependence and cooperation. The landlord emulating the customs, rituals and manners of
couldn’t till his land without agricultural various Kshatriya castes. The Noniya caste also
labourers – The labourers couldn’t earn a justifies that it is a Kshatriya caste using some
livelihood without working for landlords. Not mythology to explain why it is so. This
204 Applied Psychology

phenomenon is called Sanskritization. deep-rooted prejudices against Brahmins.

Sanskritization was first discovered by eminent Outside Tamil Nadu, the most vociferous
sociologist M. N. Srinivas. political activist was B. R. Ambedkar. He was
Why is Sanskritization significant for us in instrumental in formation of a ‘dalit identity’.
a psychological study of conflict ? Because it However, he was not that successful in
shows that lower castes considered the upper mobilizing dalits for political action.
castes as a reference group. If you emulate
Shahrukh Khan, evidently Shahrukh Khan is 3. Caste in Contemporary India
your role model. You want to gain all the While discussing Sanskritizatioin, I
popularity and fan base of Shahrukh Khan. It is mentioned how lower castes had a negative
because you consider the identity of a superstar self-image during colonial period. This has
as more positive than yours. Exactly the same changed remarkably in post-independence era.
was the situation of lower castes which were Thanks to various social and political
sanskritizing. They were emulating the upper movements (prominent being dalit Panther
castes and claiming upper caste status as they movement, Bahujan Samaj Party: BSP), caste
considered the upper caste identity more awareness has increased in dalit castes. Today,
favourable, and positive than their own identity. the Dalits assert their Dalit identity. They no
This is validated by many research findings. longer see the upper castes as a reference group;
For example, Paranjpe (1970) has found that nor do they try to sanskritize. Rather, today
Harijans had a negative self-image while there is a horizontal solidarity in most castes.
Brahmins had the most positive self-image. Today, the prejudices based on religion (that
Similarly, Majeed and Ghosh (1981) found that some castes are purer because they came out of
the scheduled castes displayed a strong negative some parts of Brahma) are becoming irrelevant.
social identity in relation to upper castes. But castes are not dying. Rather, caste identity
What was the nature of caste conflict in is becoming stronger. There is competition
colonial period? Many sociologists have between various castes during election to grab
reported that attempts of lower castes to political power. This competition has made
sanskritize were met with resistance by upper caste a pressure group.
castes. This period also saw many peasant Besides competition for political power, there
movements (by lower caste peasants) against is also competition for economic resources. Caste
upper caste landlords. Many of these movements conflict between upper and lower castes are
were violent. Political conflict between upper more frequent in villages where some lower
castes and lower castes also became prominent. caste members have become prosperous.
In Tamil Nadu, a strong anti-Brahmin Now, let us look into certain patterns in
movement emerged under the leadership of inter-caste prejudice observed in contemporary
Periyar. This movement was instrumental in
India :
creating strong feelings of hostility against
1. Though caste conflicts have always been
Brahmins. In Periyar’s ideology, the Brahmins
between the top and bottom strata, there
were ‘alien Aryans’ who were exploiting the
have been increasingly greater number of
Dravidian non-Brahmins. This also created
conflict between middle castes (OBCs) and
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

Harijans (M. P. Singh, 1979). and Muslims in India has been empirically
2. The earlier ambivalence of identity among tested and well documented. For example,
lower castes, reflected in Sanskritization and Mohsin (1984) studied ethnocentricity and ethnic
religious conversion has been replaced by an prejudice among Hindu and Muslim
aggressive assertion of Dalit identity (M. P. undergraduate and postgraduate students of
Singh, 1979). Patna and Utkal universities. He found strong
3. Caste identity and prejudices develop in ethnic prejudices in both Hindus and Muslims.
children by 4-6 years of age. For instance, He also makes an interesting observation that
Tiwari and Misra (1980) investigated some the prejudiced attitudes of Hindus and Muslims
primary school students in Faridabad city. towards each other have become a part of the
The students were quizzed about their caste social norms as these prejudices are shared by
name, their knowledge of different castes, the most members of respective communities.
caste of their best friends, and the caste of Prejudices between the two communities have
students they find unpleasant. It was found practically become so widespread in respective
that 75% of children between 4-6 years of age communities that one wonders how could such
were able to give their own caste names. prejudice develop and get reinforced! Let us
Also, majority of students sought friendship look at a few psychologically relevant causal
within their own castes, and avoided making factors :
friends from other castes.
1. History
4. Studies have found that upper castes are
False beliefs are an important cognitive
more prejudiced than lower castes, while
component of prejudice. And false beliefs are
other studies have found that lower caste
picked up by an individual from false readings
members are more prejudiced. I believe that
in history. Communal writers of history often
generalization is dangerous. Inter-caste
prejudice varies from place to place give a communal colour to political battles in
depending on historical events, persistent history. The battles between Akbar and Rana
Pratap, or between Aurangzeb and Shivaji are
conflicts, feeling of being discriminated
shown as battles between Hindus and Muslims.
against etc.
Hero-myths are created by projecting Rana
Religion Pratap, Shivaji and Guru Govind Singh as
saviours of Hinduism, and likes of Akbar and
The problem of prejudice and conflict is not Aurangzeb as villains. While its true that
as severe in any other case as it is in the case Aurangzeb was a religious fanatic, Akbar was
of religion. One of the major challenges to social one of the greatest secular rulers. It is never
integration in India is the challenge of pointed out that Muslims fought for Rana Pratap
communalism and fundamentalism. Of the and Shivaji, while Hindus fought for Akbar and
many factors behind communal riots, one that Aurangzeb. Ultimately, these were political
is especially prominent is prejudice and mutual struggles. These hero-myths help ideologues to
suspicion between two major religious groups justify their ideology (A. K. Singh, 1988). False
of India : Hindus and Muslims. beliefs about history create strong hostility
The widespread prejudice between Hindus towards the out-group.
206 Applied Psychology

2. Fear Psychosis of Babri Masjid being demolished has seeped

One important factor that generates and into the collective unconscious of the Muslims
reinforces prejudice is fear. Muslims fear of psyche. When provided appropriate cues, such
being assimilated by Hinduism like Buddhism images surface in the consciousness and severely
and Jainism. Their minority status itself creates affect the judgments of people.
fear in their minds. Frequent riots further 5. Economic Motives
reinforce the fears. Fear is nothing but an Many scholars have identified underlying
emotion. Such negative emotions further
economic motives behind the ideological
strengthen prejudices.
posturing of various parties involved in a riot.
Hindus, on the other hand, fear that they
It is argued that when a few muslims become
may become a minority in India. This fear is
prosperous, it triggers irrational jealousy and
fuelled by statistics that Muslim population
envy among Hindus. This jealousy fuels
increases at a greater rate than Hindu
prejudice. Based on a number of case studies,
population. The true explanation for this is that Engineer (1984) has identified certain common
Muslims are relatively poorer economically than
characteristic features of riots, like :
Hindus. Hence, fertility rate among Muslims is
higher. Yet, the rate is not as high as to turn (a) Riots occur in towns where the proportion of
Hindus into a minority anytime in future. The Muslims is more than 30%.
fear is, at best, irrational. (b) A section of Muslims is economically well-
off and appear to compete with Hindus.
3. Relative deprivation
(c) Core issues are economic or political, triggered
As discussed in an earlier section in by some trivial incident.
thischapter, you feel relatively deprived when (d) Riots are preplanned rather than
you compare yourself with a reference group
and perceive the reference group as
From these conclusions, we may deduce that
economically better off than you. Muslims often
while prejudice plays a role in religious conflict,
compare their present status with (a) their past
human motives also play a significant role.
history as rulers, (b) Muslims in Islamic nations,
Now we turn our attention to some trends in
and (c) with the Hindu community. Empirical
prejudice seen in Indian research. Some
studies have also demonstrated that Muslims
conclusions drawn from various studies of
who feel highly relatively deprived in relation
intergroup prejudice in India are :
to other groups have more negative outgroups
attitudes than Muslims who do not (Tripathi 1. Muslims are more prejudices than Christians,
and Srivastava, 1980). who in turn are more prejudiced than
Hindus. (Enayatullah, 1984). It seems that
4. Memories of Past injustices minority status strengthens group identity
It is a fact that partition was overwhelmingly and ethnocentrism.
supported by Muslims. And memory of the 2. Prejudice is negatively correlated to religious
partition of India still lingers in the collective information(Hassan, 1981). Lesser the
unconscious of Hindu psyche. The partition is religious information more is the prejudice.
perceived as an injustice. Similarly, the images
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

3. Personality variables like authoritarianism (following Telugu, Tamil, Kannada etc.) had to
are more powerful correlates of prejudice learn an alien language. This was not acceptable,
than religious affiliation, caste status or rural- and southern states vociferously opposed the
urban origin (Hassan, 1981). imposition of Hindi on them.
4. Religious prejudice is related to socialization Though Hindi wasn’t imposed and English
within one’s group. Both religious identity remained the official language, there was
and prejudice develops early in childhood widespread suspicion and fear among Tamils
because parents and significant others pass regarding Hindi. Such prejudice has led to
on their prejudices to the child. This problem antilocution and avoidance of Hindi-speaking
is cyclic because religious prejudices have population in towns of Tamil Nadu. In the
become a social norm. False beliefs about 1960s and early 1970s, the prejudice about
outgroup get inherited by the child. Hindu domination was so high that names
written in Hindi in public places, railway
Language stations and post offices were erased in Tamil
Social interaction between various linguistic Nadu. In mid 1960s, there was even a clamour
groups are marred by stereotypes like “Bengalis fo secession.
are clannish”, “Marwaris are anaricious”, Empirical studies have also validated this
“Andhras are crude” and “Tamils are cunning” supposed antipathy towards Hindi among non-
(Venkatasubrahmanyan, 1973). In my Hindi speaking population. For example, Sarma
graduation days (I used to study in a college in (1964) studied Tamil-speaking and Telugu-
Kharagpur, West Bengal), we used to have very speaking students in some colleges in Madras
negative feelings about Bengalis. Most students city by using a variant of Bogardus Social
in campus believed that Bengalis are narcissists, Distance Scale. The researcher’s aim was to find
saw their culture as the best and themselves the out the social distance an individual would
centre of the world. Such stereotypes students maintain with various linguistic groups. Sarma
surprisingly tend to generalize about all Bengalis, found that Hindi-speaking group was put at
irrespective of individual differences. the bottom of the preferential order (i.e., students
Linguistic prejudices won’t be a social wanted to maintain maximum social distance
problem, however, if only such stereotypes are from them). Tamil students placed the Hindi-
held about people following a language. They group at 9th spot while Telugu students placed
become a social problem when language them at the 10th (last) spot. This type of prejudice
becomes the basis of discriminatory treatment. exists not just between southerners and Hindi
The root cause of conflictual inter-group but between any two groups based on language.
relations based on language lies in historical For example, Rath and Das (1957) studied the
events. Hence, we need to discuss these in attitudes of caste Hindu Oriyas towards
short. Bengalis, Biharis, Andhras, Punjabis, Adivasis
In the course of preparation of Indian and Harijans. It was found that the subjects
Constitution, it was envisioned that Hindi chose favourable traits for Oriyas, while
should become the Lingua Indica in the course choosing a large number of derogatory attributes
of time. This implied that southern states for out-groups.
208 Applied Psychology

Why do prejudices develop based on However, a sensitization can be brought

language ? Since the formation of linguistic among citizens about being part of a society.
states in 1950s, group identity of people The aim here is to reduce prejudice and conflicts
following various languages have strengthened. by better understanding of members of out-
By Tajfel’s Social Identity theory, it can be stated groups in an individual.
that when group identity is strong, group What do the theories of prejudice and conflict
favouritism develops. Since all of us keep making tell us ? Before discussing the psychological
pre-judgments in the face of incomplete evidence, theories, first let us discuss the economic and
we develop stereotypes about linguistic out- political ones. Many economists believe that
groups. reduction of poverty and equal access over
resources can reduce prejudice. This looks easy
Another major reason is political. Language
theoretically, but practically not immediately
is often intrinsically related to one’s unique
possible. Besides, it is not objective deprivation
culture and people easily become sentimental
of resources but subjective expectations that
about their language. This is harnessed by
lead to competition and conflict. Political
political leaders to create prejudices about other
approaches advocate the obliteration of
languages. For example, the Shiv Sena movement
boundaries. Conflict develops on the basis of
and later Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have language. So impose a single homogeneous
used the “Marathi Manoos” as a tool for political religion/language, on the whole country. This
mobilization. Discrimination and violence can happen in a totalitarian form of government.
against Hindi-speaking immigrants have been For example, the Chinese government is
lately observed owing to mobilization by political contemplating a policy to give names to babies
leaders. so that their ethnic identity is not evident from
their names. Such a policy can’t be implemented
in liberal democratic countries like India.
n Psychological Strategies for Besides, the Chinese government hasn’t been
very successful. The forced assimilation of ethnic
Handling Conflict and Prejudice
minorities into the majority Hun is facing violent
resistance from Tibetans and Muslim minorities.
Society in India is a multi-cultural, multi
Psychological theories have an advantage in
ethnic one in which people are divided on the
that they provide insights into inter-group and
basis of religion, caste, creed, tribe, ethnicity,
race and many other factors. Realistically interpersonal relations that can be used to
speaking, it is not possible to obliterate the lines develop interventions at school, organization
of caste, tribe or religion. Comparing with the and community levels to reduce prejudice and
American society, we can observe that theirs is conflict. Let us evaluate various psychological
a “melting pot” where a single language theories in the light of present discussion. The
(English) and a single culture (Pop culture ?) is psychoanalytic school puts excess emphasis on
followed throughout a large country. That can’t child rearing practices (CRP). Prejudice can be
be the case with India. reduced by following appropriate CRP. But
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

how far is it practical? We can’t force parents to panchayati, gram sabha or other civil society
show a definite parenting style. However groups to introduce interventions). However,
theories like the realistic group conflict theory the best target groups for short-term and small-
provide good directions for interventions. The scale interventions are young children. Their
theory makes it very clear that removing socialization process is underway and they still
competition and replacing it with superordinate haven’t formed rigid attitudes. Following A. K.
goals and cooperation reduces hostility. We all Singh (1985), we know that children form a
remember how the Kargil conflict in 1998 complete ethnocentric identity by 4-5 years of
between India and Pakistan united all Indians age, and their prejudices become rigid after 8-9
into a we-group. At that time, defence of India years of age. Hence, intervention should work
was our superordinate goal. best in primary schools. A few major intervention
The social identity theory of Tejfel states that strategies are:
group favouritism is natural and inevitable.
1. Contact
However, if boundaries between groups can be
Contact has been advocated by Allport (1954)
made more blurred or flexible, then group
as a means to reduce stereotypes. The logic is
membership is no longer a central part of social
that contact helps in reality testing. As a result
identity. our negative attitudes, stereotypes and false
Psychologists have drawn inspiration from beliefs get falsified.
the game theory in devising strategies to reduce
conflict. In the prisoners’ dilemma experiment,
various parties tried to find out a possible win-
win approach. Conflicts are based on the logic
of win-lose. One party has to win and the other
has to lose. But psychologists assert that by
negotiation, a possible solution to conflict can
be found out which is a win-win solution.
Now let us move on to specific intervention
strategies to prevent, reduce and resolve
prejudices and conflicts. Numerous studies have demonstrated the
effectiveness of contact in preventing prejudices.
Interventions However, contact as an intervention strategy
Before going into the question of ‘how ?’ in can fail if some conditions are not there. For
intervention, we need to tackle ‘who ?’. It is not example, the upper castes and lower castes
possible to introduce interventions for whole have been in contact from time immemorial
societies. Interventions can be produced in an (except the untouchable castes). Then why
organization (for example, diversity training), couldn’t a Brahmin realize that there was
or in the local community (for example, use of nothing special in him which is absent in other
castes ? Hence, the need to fulfil the conditions
210 Applied Psychology

for contact to succeed. These are : in great majority. In other regions, they are
1. Contact should be equal status contact. conspicuous in their absence. When the state
governments announce new housing projects,
2. No competition but cooperation and pursuit
they should keep some percentage reserved
of common (superordinate) goals.
for various ethnic minority communities. In
3. Intervention should monitor and increase
a single housing society, there is opportunity
the frequency, duration and meaningfulness
for healthy contact. Also people get to see
of interaction between members of various
each other’s habits and customs and better
appreciate others’ cultures. This reduces
4. Institutional support from government
employers and teachers is necessary. Contact
• Civil Societies must be promoted in cities.
fails if these agents are not enthusiastic.
Political scientist Ashutosh Varshney (2003)
The contact between higher castes and lower
studied some cities that were equally prone
castes for generations failed because the contact
to riots. He found that some cities
wasn’t equal status contact. Upper castes
experienced far more riots than other. Why ?
believed that they originated from some superior
On comparison, he found that riots are low
part of Brahma’s body and so had higher
in cities with strong civil society groups
status. Their higher status affected their
because they act as contacts between various
interaction. Another major factor is the
communities. Here, institutional support from
frequency, duration, and meaningfulness of government to promote civil society is
contact. I have observed that many students
from North-East India come to study in Delhi
University. But they stay in their groups and
2. Superordinate Goals
their interaction with others is minimal and Setting of superordinate goals has shown
limited to academics. This doesn’t reduce positive results as an intervention strategy in
prejudice, rather may increase prejudices. schools. Aronson and his coworkers’(1992)
Strategies based on above philosophies are : jigsaw method is an example. They provided
• Diversity should be promoted in schools some problems for children in schools to work
and colleges. Teachers should be trained to on. However, to solve the problems, special
give tasks that encourage cooperation among skills of each student of the group needs to be
students. Greater premium must be given to applied. A student may be good at reading but
members of minority community, lower caste not good at writing precise. Another may be
students, children of single parents, children good at summarizing. So give them a task
where each one uses her special skill towards
from different regions etc during admission
fulfilment of superordinate goals. When the
to nursery classes.
students participating in the activity are from
• Common residential areas for members of
diverse background, prejudices reduce.
various communities must be encouraged. In
In organizations, diversity management
all the cities that I have been to, there are
strategies should include business games that
certain areas (ghettos ?) where Muslims live
create superordinate goals. Similarly,
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

panchayats should be composed of women who belong to a group according to one

members and members from SC and ST categorization simultaneously belong to another
background. Community activities should group according to a second categorization’.
include these members. Cooperation fosters (Hutnik, 2004). For example, groups are formed
understanding. by categorization. So an Oriya may categorize
all people into two categories – Oriya and non-
3. Categorization techniques Oriya. This is a dichotomous categorization. In
Group conflict and group prejudices develop crossed categorization, you create another
because of categorization of people into groups. dichotomous categorization, say, Indian and
Hence, a logical strategy is to restructure mental non-Indian. Now, the individual doesn’t form
representations regarding categorization. There two groups but four :
are three main strategies to tackle categorization: • Oriya, Indian
1. Recategorization • Oriya, Non-Indian
2. Decategorization • Non-Oriya, Indian
3. Cross-categorization • Non-Oriya, Non-Indian
Recategorization seeks to develop a common Earlier, a categorization into Oriya and non-
identity (for example, “Indian”), rather than
Oriya made all non-Oriyas as out-group. After
many distinct identities. The existence of a crossed- categorization, non-Oriya Indians aren’t
shared identity decreases the salience of an out-group ! Hence, the negative stereotypes
differences between two groups and highlights against non-Oriya Indians, if any, aren’t strong
the commonalities. In decategorization, enough.
interventions try to eliminate group
The effectiveness of cross-categorization has
categorizations. Group prejudices develop when
been demonstrated empirically in Indian
we start believing that all members of a group
conditions. Indeed, one of the earliest studies on
are similar. So train the students to understand
this was done in India. Sridhara (1984) studied
that individual differences exist. This is called
the attitudes of monolingual (Kannada only)
individuation. Train people to perceive an
and bilingual (Kannada and Tamil) children
individual as a unique person rather than
between the ages of 8 and 10 years. He found
member of a group.
that bilingual children perceived fewer
Problem with recategorization in India is differences between Kannada and Tamil people.
that ethnic differences are significant and salient. In another study, Ghosh and Huq (1985) studied
Factors like caste and religion are important prejudices of Bengali Hindu and Bengali Muslim
parts of the self-concept of a person. subjects in India and Bangladesh. This study is
Decategorization can be effective in Indian significant because here language was crossed
context but needs lot of training resources. A with religion. The conclusions were also
strategy which has been found to be especially encouraging. Inter group differentiation was
fruitful in Indian context is cross-categorization. found to be low.
‘Crossed categorization refers to the crossing
of one dichotomous categorization (A/B), by a
second one (X/Y). This means that some people
212 Applied Psychology

Especially prejudices are conditioned by parents

and peer groups during socialization. A
technique to handle such conditioning is self-
counterconditioning, which primarily involves
role-play. Some suggestions to teachers to use
role-play to reduce prejudice have been given by
Venkatasubrahmanyan (1973) :
(a) Ask students to collect information that
highlights merits of people against whom
students have developed prejudices. For
example, if a Hindu student believes that all
muslims are violent, ask her to collect
information about sayings of Prophet
Mohammad on peace, on the discourses of
Sufi Saints etc. The teacher’s praise acts as
an operant counter condition to reduce
Fig. : Mental representation of Crossed-
Similarly, the student may be asked to do a
project on the merits she has observed in an
4. Propaganda out-group. Often, we are prejudices against
Hassan (1981) observes that when a person tribals because we don’t understand their
faces with a dilemma of choosing one of her culture. A study of their culture for a project
several dilemmas, she chooses the identity which work or presentation helps her to better
has greater social respectability. Indians have understand the culture of out-groups.
plural identities, and in interpersonal and (b) Students can be made to play the role of an
intergroup relations, people can ‘switch’ out-group member in a psycho-drama
identities. Naturally, making the ‘Indian depicting the outgroup members favourably.
identity’ the strongest identity helps. This can For example, a Brahmin prejudiced against
be done by propaganda, and by value education Harijans may be asked to play the role of a
in schools. ‘Unity in diversity’ was a motto I Harijan who has been discriminated against.
learnt in school and it has strongly influenced Such exercises helps a student to take on the
my psyche. I respect the pluralities in Indian perspective of others.
society, even while being proud of being an (c) Books and literature highlighting the merits
Oriya agnostic ! School curriculum should be of the outgroup should be made available in
drawn keeping this in mind... that plural the library and should be incorporated in
identities must be respected but Indian identity school curriculum.
must be strengthened. (d) Students can be made to participate in group
discussions and competitions where they
5. Self-Counterconditioning indirectly do role-play by arguing in favour
Many attitudes form by conditioning. of an outgroup. For example, why do you
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

think tribal people lead a more happy life We need to account for individual differences in
than more civilized ones ? How is their developing prejudice. The authoritarian
dormitory culture better than ours ? What personality is more vulnerable to join right
about their egalitarianism and honesty ? wing extremist organizations like Bajrang Dal,
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and
6. Modelling Influence
Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI),
One often tries to imitate the actions and than others. Some interventions can target youths
feelings of a role model. ‘Gandhians’ are a who are influenced by right-wing ideologies.
group of people who follow the ideals of Gandhi. One strategy of targeted intervention that has
Such is the power of modelling. No wonder, it received good support is the personal value
is considered an effective strategy to reduce confrontation technique.
prejudice and conflicts. Venkatasubrahmanyan
In this technique, cognitive dissonance is
(1973) has suggested certain strategies to be brought about by showing the discrepancy
used by teachers in schools to reduce between their attitudes. For example, a radical
prejudice: individual who considers himself a nationalist,
(a) Some students are very popular and and is prejudiced against minorities, can be
influential in school. Such students often reasoned that a nationalist stands for his nation.
become house leaders or captains in certain The spirit of the nation is the Constitution of
activities. They are role models for other India. The Constitution stands for equality,
students. The teacher can make such popular freedom and human rights. Then how can he
student leaders play the role of an out-group commit human rights violation against the
member in a favourable light. When the minorities? When the attention of authoritarians
student leader is rewarded for playing such is drawn towards the incongruity between their
roles or doing good deeds (by sympolic personal values, their attitudes tend to improve.
rewards like praise or medals), other students
get vicarious reinforcement.
n Measures to Achieve Social
(b) Punishment of role models is also a strategy.
If a prejudiced role model is rebuked and
ashamed for her prejudiced views, students Reduction of prejudice and conflict is
get discouraged from expressing their anti-
necessary but not sufficient condition for social
feelings. integration or national integration. Of course,
(c) Teachers are themselves role models for categorization techniques and equal status
students, and their behaviours and views contact foster social integration. But in this
affect students. Hence, the teachers should section, we will try to understand dynamics of
be trained to express favourable attitudes relationship between the majority group and
towards outgroups. ethnic minorities.
In any society, there is a majority group
7. Personal Value Confrontation Technique
(Hindu people/Hindi speaking people/non-
Psychological theorists, we have seen, stress
tribals) and many ethnic minorities (Muslims/
on personality factors in prejudice and conflict.
Tamils/Tribals). What should be the right policy
214 Applied Psychology

towards minorities ? Broadly, there are four Marginalization is a problem faced by many
styles to cope with minority status : tribals. Whenever a new heavy industry is set
1. Assimilation : Assimilatory style refers to up in tribal areas, they are displaced. Further,
completely accepting the majority culture (A) the influx of non-tribals to work in the industries
while giving up one’s original culture, i.e. leads to cultural distortion of tribal cultures
A + B = A. (which have evolved in isolation). Hence, the
2. Integration : It refers to a style wherein tribals stand marginalized.
positive qualities of both cultures are sought. I explained these terms because you need to
The two cultures (majority and minority) understand social integration in the right
interact to produce a composite culture. context. The best strategy to bring about social
3. Separation : Here, the two cultures co-exist integration is to respect diversity and cherish
in a society but do not interact. The commonalities between various groups. The Sri
interaction is only superficial. Lankan Government did not respect diversity
and imposed Lankan dialect on Tamils. This
4. Marginalization : In this situation, the
minority community doesn’t interact with snowballed into a civil war ! India, on the other
hand, respected its linguistic diversity. States
the majority. At the same time, it is
marginalized from access to resources to were formed on linguistic lines and Hindi was
made only a nominal national language. This
such an extent that it can not maintain its
led to integration !
own culture.
Hence, important principles of social
Let me give some examples to explain the
integration are :
four concepts above. You must have met some
people who say that Hindi is the national • Respect diversity. Do not try to assimilate
language and must be enforced throughout the minorities. Rather stress unity in diversity.
country. They are assimilationists. They want to Respect the plural identities but make the
impose their culture (language is a part of Indian identity the strongest of all identities.
culture) on non-Hindi speaking population. • Encourage cultural interaction and
Separation is widely visible in Indian cities understanding.
between Hindus and Muslims. Due to mutual • Respect the political and economic rights of
suspicion and prejudice, Hindus stay in Hindu minorities, such as tribals. Ascertain equity
localities and Muslims stay in Muslim localities. and fairness in resource allocation to various
Their contact and interaction is superficial. It is communities. Establishing industries by
said that the rich language Urdu was formed displacing tribals gives job benefits to
when Persian met Sanskritic languages. There engineers and technicians who will work in
have been great many cultural interaction those industries, not the tribals. On another
between Hindus and Muslims in history. But note, the extremely low representation of
today owing to prejudices and fear of riots, they Muslims in government jobs need to be
remain separated. looked into.
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

10 • Terror Profiling and its

• The terror organization
Psychology of • Solution to the problem of

Terrorism • Victims of Terrorism

n Psychology of Terrorism combatants of large groups, for avowed political

goals” (Kallen, 1979, p.9). Hence, while
Terrorism has been a subject of intense study secessionism is a goal, terrorism is a means to
in the field of psychology. Yet, there is no a goal.
consensus about what constitutes terrorism. In this chapter, we will look into certain
Terrorism, simply put, is any act of violence misconceptions in psychological literature
against innocent, unarmed civilian. Hence, it regarding the terrorist and go on to study the
can include : real nature of terrorist organizations and various
• State sponsored terrorism (Ex. Nazi terror) group and individual factors involved therein.

• Majority terrorism (Ex. riots)

Who is a Terrorist ?
• Minority terrorism (Ex. bomb blasts, suicide
attacks) In the beginning, psychological studies of
terrorism tried to draw up a “psychological
• Terrorism supported by external agencies
profile” of terrorists i.e. a common personality
The focus of psychological study is the disposition that explains all terrorist acts.
terrorist organization, its members and its group Psychologists reasoned that if a person can
dynamics. But before we get into it, we should commit such ghastly acts (killing women and
differentiate between terrorism and secessionism. children) without any moral bearing, then he
Please note that my focus here is the kind of must be mentally ill. Further, it was reasoned
terrorism in India sponsored by external that terrorists are poor, illiterate and brain
agencies – like Naxalite terror, separatism washed; that they come from narcissistic families.
movements of North-East, Punjab issue, Huji However, various terrorist attacks have
and LeT among other organizations. In this consistently revealed that many terrorists come
perspective, terrorism refers to “the use or threat from normal families, have stable jobs and a
of violence, by small groups against non- happy, married life. Recently, Mumbai Police
216 Applied Psychology

caught some terrorists who used to work in Yale university psychologist, showed that
high-profile software companies and had six- obedience to authority relieves many people of
figure pay ! moral responsibility, thus making them more
The mental illness explanation has been likely to behave cruelly towards others. Milgram
discredited today. Most modern day terrorists recruited subjects through advertisements in a
are highly literate and are mentally healthy. local newspaper for a “Study in Memory”. He
That is the reason why they easily get mixed up instructed the participants to quiz an individual
in crowds. Hence, Nimmi Hutnik(2004) reasons (his accomplice) on a task of memory. If the
that the search for a “terrorist personality” has individual gives wrong answers, the participant
been somewhat useless. This is because, she should give him/her electric shocks. The shocks
argues, ‘terrorism is essentially a group were not real but the accomplice acted as if he
phenomenon. Terrorist organization are not just suffered from shock. Milgram found that many
aggregates of separate individuals; they are participants easily applied high shocks for
groups that exact stringent conformity, hold a minor errors in memory recall!
common set of norms and values, offer lucrative ‘Milgram’s study clearly demonstrates that,
rewards, and mete out heavy punishments’. It under certain circumstances, the tendency to
can be confidently concluded, that terrorists obey an authority figure is very strong, even
represent a psychologically heterogenous when causing harm to an innocent person. This
population. Various factors, including may explain why terrorists who sacrifice
psychopathology, are responsible for terrorism; themselves through suicide bombs are
but no single factor alone is necessary or vulnerable to the command of those perceived
sufficient for terrorism. as authority figures in a terrorist cell. The
masterminds of terror operations may have
Terrorists are ordinary people. How can significantly social authority and influence over
ordinary people perform such deeds ?
their followers, and often a simple request is all
If terrorists are ordinary people, a second that is necessary for a terrorist act’ (Zillmer,
question is : how can ordinary people do such 2006).
acts ? It is tough for us to believe when we read
In another experiment, Philip Zimbardo
news reports that software engineers or students (1972) asked a group of ordinary college
might have conducted acts of violence. Many
students to spend time in a simulated prison.
find it so unbelievable that they accuse the Some were randomly given the duty of guards
police of fabricating innocents as terrorists ! and were given uniforms. They were instructed
That ordinary people can perform evil deeds to enforce certain rules. The remainder became
under the right circumstances has been prisoners, were locked in cells and were asked
validated by two classic studies of social to wear humiliating outfits. Zimbardo observed
psychology: Milgram (1974) and Zimbardo that after some time, the simulation became very
(1972). real, as guards became cruel and devised
These two studies show that even if an degrading routines. From this study, we know
individual views an activity as morally wrong, that once someone is assimilated into a terror
he may indulge in it. Stanley Milgram (1974), a cell, it becomes easy to take on the role of a
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

The Terrorist Organization they rigidly follow an ideology based on some

The research literature regarding psychology interpretation of Marxism finding that reality is
of terrorism is small in quantity; there have been more imperfect than the ‘communist utopia’
practically no study on terrorism in Indian promised by Marx, many of these students join
psychological studies. This may be because of Maxalite movements. Same is the case with
the fact that terrorists are elusive figures. many radicalized Islamic students. They have a
Psychologists don’t usually have access to terror fundamentalist belief in a utopia that can be
organizations. Yet, some studies on imprisoned achieved only by jehad with non-believers (those
terrorists have helped us to understand some who don’t believe in their faith).
basics regarding the terror groups. Here, I seek Typically, terrorist movements have two types
to focus on the terrorist organization than the of members :
terrorist because, as contended earlier, terrorism 1. Proactive
is a group phenomena. The dynamics of these 2. Reactive
organizations can be studied as under :
Let me explain this with the example of
1. Recruitment naxalite movement. Proactive members are the
2. Group Dynamics leaders, who set the ideology of the movement;
3. Motivational processes it has been found that they use hi-tech laptops
4. Decision making in their operations against various state police
forces! Reactive members are the followers,
5. Attrition and rebellion
mostly drawn from lower castes and tribals
1. Recruitment dissatisfied with government’s high-handedness.
Although terror recruits come from a Individuals from low socio-economic status
psychologically heterogenous background, there (SES) groups often feel relatively deprived.
are a few conditions that motivate an individual Specifically the unemployed youth feel
to join a terrorist group. Zillmer(2006) argues marginalized. Many sociological studies have
that there are some pre-requisites that lead an shown that Muslim youth in India feel frustrated
individual towards terrorism. from mainstream due to their lower SES.
Many studies conducted on terrorists in jails
of Israel and USA have revealed that terrorists
are frustrated and disillusioned with society.
There may be many reasons for disillusionment
...many well-educated, intellectual students resort
to terrorism. Zillmer explains that these studens
have a rigid ideal. When faced with reality, they
get frustrated. For example, who join naxalite
movements ? Many members of naxalite forces
are rural peasants and tribals, but many city- Now, why would these frustrated individuals
based educated students participated in it. join a terrorist group? These frustrated youths
These students have a rigid view of the world; are alienated from society. They don’t have a
strong status in mainstream groups. For them,
218 Applied Psychology

the terrorist organization becomes a peer group. 4. Decision Making

In the group, their social esteem is high. In In terrorist organizations, members move
India, many peer groups of unemployed youths towards greater extremes of behaviour and
from ethnic minority communities feel alienated ideology. Why the extremism ? This tendency is
from mainstream due to various socio-economic called risky shift phenomenon. Group think
reasons. These groups are picked by terror cells takes place due to various reasons represented
of external agencies like ISI and Harkat-e- in the following diagram :
Mujahideen (HeM) that give their life a meaning.

2. Group Dynamics
The terror network of an organization may
be vast, but various terror cells are small groups
where intense, face-to-face interaction happens.
This results in strong group solidarity. Due to
group solidarity, group identity becomes more
important than self identity. The individual’s
personal attitudes become irrelevant, he is ready
for self-sacrifice for group cause. This partly
explains suicide bombings ?

3. Motivational Processes
The terrorist organization fulfils various
needs of the individual. Group goal provides a
meaning to the life of individuals alienated
All the above factors are satisfied by a terror
from society. In a literature survey, Hutnik(2004) group. The leader is often radical and
has observed that beyond material rewards
authoritarian; the group operates covertly and
(terrorism is a major employer in Pakistan !)
is often isolated. Further, group cohesiveness
there are emotional, social and cognitive rewards
ensures that members self-censor any opposition
they have to decisions taken. Due to this,
• Common hatred of a common enemy is a decision taken tend to be extremist in nature.
strongly shared emotional need. Even a non-terrorist group with common anti-
• The group acts as a substitute for family and national ideology may become terrorist group
fulfils need for love and affection. because of risky shift.
• The individual’s sense of self righteousness
5. Attrition and Rebellion
fulfils cognitive needs and enhances self-
esteem. The terrorist organization is an organization
which doesn’t have an exit policy for its
• Media attention serves as an important
employees! There are strong group norms
reinforcement for need for power.
against any form of rebellion. Post(2007) argues
that if anyone leaves, it is upsetting to others.
Also, defection can set a trend. Hence, those
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

who leave the organization are pursued by their develop a rigid personality when they grow up.
former companions. This makes the effort of They consciously love and respect their parents
government to induce them to surrender and but unconsciously are hostile to them. They
rehabilitate more challenging. project the unconscious hostility as hatred
towards weaker sections. Hence, they are
Personality Dynamics
intolerant to ambiguity and show excessive
Today there is a consensus among scholars conformity and submission to authority.
that terrorism can be best understood by group
factors rather than individual factors. Yet, the
personality pathology thesis is still adhered to by
a few scholars. Presently, the most fashionable
versions of this thesis are neo-Freudian theories
– specifically the contributions of Post (1984).
Though this thesis may not be completely
correct, it may be able to answer a few questions.
Takeare the hypothetical
more vulnerable to condition
becoming terrorists?
of two

individuals in same situation. One joins a terror

organization and another doesn’t. Why? This
thesis suitably explains the differences.
The essence of neo-Freudian explanations is
that narcissistic wounds at an early age splits
the self into two parts :
(a) A grandiose “me” and
(b) A hated and devalued “not me”.
Fig : Pictorial Representation of Split Psyche
The second self is projected onto specific
outside targets, which are blamed and hence
n Solution to the Problem of
become scapegoats. A modification to this thesis
was made by Post. Post identified two types of Terrorism
inner dynamics : “Nationalist-Separatist”
There are three major kinds of terrorism
terrorists are loyal to their parents, who reject
affecting the Indian nation : majority terrorism,
the government, they carry out terror mission to
minority terrorism and externally-sponsored
take revenge from the government which
terrorism. Majority terrorism includes ethnic
wounded their parents. The “anarchic-
ideologues” are disloyal to their parents, who and communal conflicts; these are mostly
political problems and can be resolved by
are identified with the state.
political will. What about minority terrorism ?
An alternate explanation is in terms of Few active minority terrorist groups are SIMI,
Adorno’s authoritarian personality (Adorno et
Indian Mujahideen, Nationalist Socialist Council
al., 1950). Due to punitive child rearing practices
of Nagaland (NSCN), United Liberation Front
and authoritarian parenting style, children
of Assam (ULFA) etc. Right wing political forces
220 Applied Psychology

are extremely critical of these groups; they understanding between two groups (here, the
advocate summary ban on these organizations state and terrorist groups). Negotiations have
and also repressive laws like Prevention of been effectively used in co-option of many
Terrorism Act (POTA). How far are these terrorist groups. For instance, many terror
effective? From a psychological perspective, groups in North-East India that demanded
rather than reduce terrorism, repressive laws freedom and a separate state have given up
can aggravate terrorism. their terrorist methods after negotiations. The
Tough terror laws work on the principle of Bodo Autonomous Council as a solution to the
theory of deterrence. This theory presupposes that Bodoland problem is an illustration. Negotiation
the perpetrator will carry out a rational cost with terror source countries like Pakistan and
benefit analysis before engaging in the terror Bangladesh are also yielding slow but positive
act: if the costs (severe punishments) outweigh results.
the benefits (gain from crime), the terrorist will Why does negotiation succeed ? It succeeds
resist. This is based on normative models of because it helps reduce the prejudices of two
decision making. This deterrence model however sides, and subsequently fosters understanding.
fails to stop terrorist acts because these are The hatred of terrorist organizations and the
crimes of passion or ideology. “Suicide activities of terror funding countries are a result
bombers”, or Jehadis do not make rational of prejudices about the Indian state. For example,
calculations before carrying out attacks. The many neighbouring countries perceive India as
theory of deterrence simply fails to understand a huge country that can be a security threat
human irrationality. anytime in the future.

Confrontation vs. Negotiation 2. Controlling Majority Terrorism :

Applying the norm-violation theory of A major reason for minority terrorism in
deRidder and Tripathi (1997), it can be said that India is majority terrorism in the form of riots.
if group-A (Police) break the norms of group-B Majority terrorism acts create a fear psychosis,
(terrorist organization) by repression and that is, insecurity and hopelessness among
brutality, group-B would be hurt and further be minority groups. Some individuals from these
motivated to break the norms of group-A, by groups have psychic wounds which they project
causing law and order problems (For the theory on the Indian state. In line with the norm
in detail, see the chapter on prejudices and violation theory, it can be said that :
social integration). Hence, confrontation is not a
long-term solution. Terrorists would keep
rebouncing; worse, they would use more
innovative means to attack and create terror if
repression is used. Hence, POTA is a not a
solution. So, what are the strategies that can be
used to remove terrorism ?

1. Negotiation :
Negotiation is the best tool to increase
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

It is tough to suppress minority terrorism, Proactive terrorists are those who have a
which is covert. But majority terrorism is often misplaced sense of righteousness and rigid
politically motivated and can be stopped by ideologies. They become leaders, mobilizing
police reforms and appropriate delivery of justice people on the lines of their ideology. Reactive
system. terrorists, on the other hand, turn to terrorism to
avenge for some perceived harm done by society.
3. Value Education : They are usually the followers and commit the
A very effective intervention is school ground-zero terror acts. For the proactive
education of peace and non-violence; and terrorists, a preventive step is not to let them
inculcation of a sense of nationhood. National become terrorists. Usually, these ideologues first
integration can be best achieved by inculcating become members of some ideological
values regarding useful citizenship and organization before moving over to terrorism.
tolerance. When they are members of such ideological
It has been seen that of late many terrorists organizations (such as SIMI, RSS, VHP, CPI
caught are young, college going students. They youth wings etc), they can be targeted by
are basically fished young by ideologues and showing the discrepancy between their basic belief
brain-washed. Hence, training in reflexive in compassion and humanity and their prejudiced
thinking and sensitization to community are useful attitude towards the state or society.
means to combat terrorism. For the reactive terrorists, a preventive step
Intervention strategy in high schools and is: those individuals who have been orphaned
colleges must concentrate on inculcating realistic by riots, or have suffered due to some violent
ideals. Many terror recruits are disillusioned acts can be targeted for rehabilitation. The aim
youths. These educated youths usually have here is to heal for rehabilitation. The aim here is
unrealistic and rigid ideologies, as a result of to heal past wounds and to reintegrate to
which they feel disillusioned, when faced with mainstream society. Inability on our part to do
reality. For instance, main leaders of the naxalite this marginalizes them and they find solace in
terror attacks are educated students who hold being part of a terror group, and targeting their
the Marxian vision of a ‘utopia’, however psychic wounds towards the government.
impractical it may be. Their acceptance of
Marxist ideology is rigid and their goals are 5. GRIT :
unrealistic. Setting of realistic ideals and a Osgood’s(1962) theory of Graduated and
pragmatic world-view by teachers of social Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension Reduction
sciences is necessary. (GRIT) states that if a nation makes some
unambiguous peaceful gestures, the adversary
4. Targeted interventions : is likely to reciprocate. This is the logic behind
All members of a terrorist group don’t have goodwill gestures like unilateral ceasefire by
similar personality; there is no “terrorist Indian army in Kashmir valley every year during
personality”. However, terrorists can be broadly Ramzan. A problem with this approach is that
divided as : the adversary in modern Islamic terrorism is
(a) Proactive faceless; how can one negotiate GRIT with
(b) Reactive them?
222 Applied Psychology

6. Psychoanalytic methods : 7. Rehabilitation:

Psychoanalysts believe that the cause for Many recruits of terrorist organizations
terrorist activities can be attributed to the happen to be juveniles who are the product of
individual terrorist’s personality. This makes it broken homes or deprived environments.
nearly impossible to apply this method to remove Juveniles with broken homes or with no home
terrorism. Insight therapy can be done on a at all seek for a small group and strongly
captured terrorist to rehabilitate him, but not on identify with their small group. According to
an individual prone to join a terrorist group. Tajfel’s social identity theory (see chapter on
Celebrated psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar, prejudices), it is natural to boost the positives of
however, gives some suggestions (Times of India, one’s own small group. If this small group (i.e.
02-10-2008). He states that violence is justified peer group) is picked up by a terror network, the
by our community and hence internalized by individual naturally accepts terrorism, and finds
us. He states that two qualities that we encourage some justification. Hence, there is a need to
in our children also encourage violence : rehabilitate juveniles facing social problems in
1. Moral idealism childhood.

2. High self-esteem
Idealism is dangerous because ‘it is
n Victims of Terror
inevitably accompanied by the belief that the
(Source : “Terror Anxiety cases up by 50% :
end justifies the means. If you are fighting for
Psychiatrist” in Times of India, 07-10-2008).
God, for the oppressed or for your religious
community, then what matters is the outcome, Terror attacks are unpredictable events that
not the process’. Hence, you don’t hesitate to lead to acute stress. The victim – whether
injured or not – has low control over the event
take to terrorism.
and experiences low self-efficacy. The victim
Kakar forwards a long-term strategy to deal
relives the experience again and again in her
with violence. In the long term, ‘we need to
head even after the blast. Even if a victim has
focus our educational efforts on emphasizing just heard the blast, it can lead to post-traumatic
the value of compassion, of which fairness and
stress disorder (PTSD). Old persons and children
tolerance are important constituents, .....
are especially the victims for whom
compassion is as national as violence we now
psychological problems are high. The very
know from experiments using brain imaging
thought of another attack creates a sense of
that watching the suffering of someone who
uncertainty and helplessness. Nightmares, fear
appears to be a victim of violence, activates a
of market places, loss of appetite and reclusive
similar “pain network” in our brains ....’. Hence,
behaviour are some symptoms that the
educational institutions should focus on means
individual suffers from terror trauma.
rather than ends in giving moral education.
From Kakar, we learn that morality can be Some of the symptoms can be systematically
presented as :
harmful as it justifies ends. Further, moral
idealism leads to a rigidity of opinion that • Bad dreams
legitimizes any means (including terror) to reach • Hearing blasts even when there is no blast
at goals.
Psychology Applied to Socio-Economic Problems

• Loss of appetite the trauma persists or aggravates. Family

• Disturbed sleep members must ensure that the individual is not
• Reclusive behaviour overwhelmed by the environment and must be
made to feel secure.
• Conflict with family and friends

To cope with terror trauma, five steps are Generalized Anxiety

suggested : Till a few years ago, trauma was limited to
1. Talk. Voicing fears and listening to others’ the affected. But now the impact of terror images
fears helps in release of internal panic. have seeped into the general public’s
2. Be vigilant of surroundings. This helps subconscious, reasons Dr. Avdesh Sharma. For
control the sense of helplessness. instance, in a recent event, many died because
3. Maintain routine, especially with children of stampede in a temple. The stampede happened
and adults. because of a rumour that bombs were planted in
4. Limit exposure to repeated news and the temple, leading to panic in the crowd. This
discussions of violence. shows the generalized fear psychosis that
5. Consult a psychologist, but only if symptoms people are going through due to terrorist attacks.
persist or aggravate.
Note : More angles are discussed under the
Expert reason that in terror trauma, family
heading ‘rehabilitation of victims of violence’ in
support is more important than professional
help. Professional help must be sought only if the chapter on rehabilitation psychology.
224 Applied Psychology

11 • Issues of Discrimination

Psychology of • Glass-Ceiling
• Diversity management
• Women in Indian Society

n Issues of Discrimination which together can be represented as under :

Prejudice is an extreme attitude, often External

negative. Discrimination is the behavioural Internal
component of prejudice, the cognitive component
being stereotype and the affective component
manifesting itself in sexism. Allport (1954)
proposed that the behavioural component of
prejudice varies from minor to major forms of
discrimination. He has talked about five stages
in the continuum from minor behavioural
discrimination to major ones : Minor
1. Antilocution : Hostile talk, verbal denigration,
sexist jokes etc.
2. Avoidance : Keeping a distance, but not Overt
actively inflicting harm.
3. Discrimination : Exclusion from education
and work etc. I will discuss issues of discrimination in
4. Physical attack : Violence against women. terms of above three axes.
5. Extermination, which isn’t applicable in case
of gender discrimination. Overt and Subtle Discrimination
The issues of gender discrimination are multi Sexist events exist on a continuum that
dimensional. Though Allport’s classification range from subtle to blatant. Blatant, or overt
provides a guideline, it is not enough to explain sex discrimination has been defined by
the whole