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Volume 3
Edited by Sergio Salvatore Jaan Valsiner Joan Travers Simon Alessandro Gennaro


Idiographic Science as a Non-Existing Object: The Importance of the Reality of the Dynamic System
Sergio Salvatore and Jaan Valsiner

Section I - Theoretical issues 2 Theoretical and empirical statements in psychology

Sven Hroar Klempe


Commentary 3 Theory strikes back: performativity and the messy empirical in human sciences
Nikita A. Kharlamov


Section II - Education as sense-making 4 The reflexive training setting as a model for working on the meanings that shape students view of their role. A case study on psychology freshmen
Claudia Venuleo and Marco Guidi


5 Why become a Shrink? Psychology studies as an extension of Self

Katrin Kullasepp


Commentaries 6 The reflexive training setting and the trajectory equifinality model: investigating psychic function in a socio-cultural light
Francesca G. M. Gastaldi, Claudio Longobardi, Tiziana Pasta, Erica Sclavo


7 Meaning systems. Their practical implications due to a recursive function between action and thought
Michele Cesaro, Ruggero Ruggieri, Nadia Pecoraro


Section III: Microgenesis of developmental trajectories 8 A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants
Lilian Patricia Rodriquez B.


9 This breathing house, whose doors go squeak, go bang or make no noise at all: towards a theory of mind
Joan Travers Simon


Commentary 10 On the idiographic approach in the context of developmental psychology

Franca Tani and Rosapia Lauro-Grotto


Section IV: Memories and narratives in context 11 Remembering apparent behavior. A study of narrative mediation
Brady Wagoner


12 The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory: being an ordinary man within the experience of dictatorship in Argentina
Lucas Bietti


Commentaries 13 The business of unfinished business: reflections on co-construction of meanings in research encounters
Mariann Mrtsin


14 The narrative mediation on historical remembering

Mario Carretero and Cesar Lpez Rodrguez


Sergio Salvatore* and Jaan Valsiner**

Psychology is a science of non-existing objects1. All our psychological processes thinking, feeling, having personality, motivation or self-esteemare themselves constructions of the human minds and products of the social history of these minds. They are useful fictionstools that allow us to assume any conceptual position we desire to look at the phenomena of our interest. We started building a conceptual system of the science based on the analysis of singular eventsidiographic sciencein our introduction to the first volume of our Yearbook (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2009), following the lead of Gordon Allport (1962, 1966) and Peter Molenaar (2004). The task wasand isformidable, since both the common language connotations of the term and the prevailing credo of inductive accumulation of evidence in the contemporary social sciences create confusions on the way of understanding a very simple claim in the case of self-organizing open systems2 each individual system is unique, and such uniqueness is due to general laws that make it possible. Generality in uniqueness is not a contradiction in termsbut the basic operating principle in all nature, psyche, and society.

* Universit del Salento - Italy. ** Clark University - USA. 1 For the history of the coverage of non-existing objects in psychology, see Meinong (1899, 1902) and Smith (1988). The development of the theory of assumptions in the 1880-1900s (see Russell, 1904) has been a major tradition forgotten by subsequent psychology (Lindenfeld, 1972) but maintained in the realm of philosophy (Albertazzi, Jacquette & Poli, 2001; Bozzi, 1996; Schubert Kalsi, 1978). This act of disciplinary forgetting of a major tradition in psychology seems to have occurred through the whole distancing of history making in the psychology of the 20th century from the traditions emanating from Franz Brentano. 2 Systems that exist due to their exchange relationships with their environments, elaborated through and in the terms of their own inner organization. Thereby the self-organizing open systems are capable of reproducing and developing their own organization (Maturana & Varela, 1980).

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Singularity at large: Idiography in science

The term idiographic is not easy to handle. It is loaded with a connotative value that makes it as charming and seductive in discussions as it is hard to use as the bedrock for a scientific enterprise. Yet this is the destiny of any scientific concept the more the power of its extension, the weaker its intension. The extension is guided by social interestsand their corresponding discursive practices. Hence the basic concepts in the social sciences may be more easily vulnerable to such death of science by extension than the specific terminologies of the ideologically neutral hard sciences. Intellectually minded caf or pub goers in Paris, Vienna, Dublin or London seem less likely to spend their chatting time discussing gravity or gene mutations than the general ideas of love, justice, or freedom. Furthermore, there may be some irrational fear of accepting the uniqueness of all developing systemsfor the thinker about such impermanent things as the transient moment of here-and-now or my inability to ever experience the world the same way as my mother, father, child, or even my twin siblingmay create uncomfortable loneliness of the self. Non-belonging is a difficult personal life stand in contrast to its opposite of the striving for sameness with another as is indicated by the discourses of any kinds of identity. The search for identityin life and in setting the research goals for social scientists3may be an indicator of efforts to avoid or overcome its oppositenon-identity. Despite these conceptual hurdles, the new tradition of idiographic science has found its place among its peers. The continuation of this Yearbook is a testimony to that success in the fight for survival. Furthermore, the use of that term has developed to a new stage. Idiographic science has finished its work as an umbrella term, encompassing heterogeneous meanings that were crowded together under its polysemic appeal. The time for declarations that idiographic science is beautiful because of its richness of empirical evidence, continuity of developmental trajectories, closeness to the basic issues of being humanis over. The axiom of the singular nature of all phenomena is firmly in placeand the question of how to derive general knowledge from single specimens is on the agenda. This creates a major epistemological problem for psychology wheresince the 1930s (see Toomela, 2007, 2008, 2009) the social acceptance of the axiom of knowledge based on inductive generalization from accumulation of specimens has been the rule. Our idiographic science rejects that axiom, and builds a new epistemological stance (e.g., Valsiner & Sato, 2006on Historically Structured Sampling) rather than entering into a battle with the axiomatic acceptance of the truth value of accumulation. Battles around axioms are similar to those of Borodino in 1812whoever claims to win those may actually be losing themsimilarly to Napoleon being driven out from Russia not by the win but by the miseries of the Russian winter and the deteriorating social order of his troops.

3 Consider the promotion of research fields of gender identity, or European identity in major research foundations in North America and Europe.

Ideographic science as a non-existing object

We need to treat axioms in science not as identity objectsto which allegiance is repeatedly pledged--but as relevant semiotic resources that provide shared codes for grounding the sense of identity of the community of scientist for further inquiry. Axioms are starting positionsnot end states4of scientific inquiry. Thus, as for any scientific concept, a clear-cut definition of idiographic cannot be considered as a preliminary condition for thinking and debate. Rather, it is the product of the scientific enterprise that at the same time it motivates. Moreover, as a product that, being constantly subject to the homogenizing force of the dynamics of membership, it is never fully stabilized, thus requires systematically re-thinking. In this sense all science is a paradox. It needs and strives to define its concepts, to put them away from the contingence of time and subjectivity, in order to transform them into clear, distinct and stable ideal entities. Scientific concepts are non-existing objects that operate as tools for understanding all the existing ones. At the same time, this asymptotic task cannot but be performed by communities of human beings. Scientific communities do not escape from the fate of being systems thatin their operations as social organisms-- feed its members with meaning and identity objects in order to gain commitment claims from the community members. And in this scientific identity market all kinds of fuzzy semiotic devices are made ready for the use as flags of membership (Mutusov, 2008). Science in its social organization is a deeply irrational activity in which cultures of science (Knorr Cetina, 1999) vary between disciplines, and can selectively enable or block our understanding of the phenomena at different time periods.

Idiography in action: Centrality of generalization

As James Lamiell (1998) has stressed, in our times the term idiographic is meant differently from how it was used by Windelband and Dilthey in their disputes of the 1880s-1890s on the generalizing potential of the social sciences (Windelband, 1998). In contemporary psychology the nomothetic-idiographic dichotomy is meant in adversarial termsas identity markers of camps rather than conceptual contrasts. The making of such identity markers happens through the semiotic act of hyper-generalization (Valsiner, 2007; Cabell & Valsiner, 2010) that transforms an axiom (i.e. general belief from which inquiry startsyet one that can be doubted, and replaced by another) into an identity base (where the axiom is no longer doubtable, nor replaceable). This process often involves the social constructions of schoolswhere the original axioms of the thinker who sets up the perspective (e.g., Piaget, Vygotsky, Freud) are turned into identification bases by their followers. In shortthe end of the productivity of the ideas of Freud, Piaget, or Vygotsky is the proliferation of communities of

4 In contrast to religious systems where the non-doubtable axioms are turned into the goal for identity processes. Thus, for a social scientist to claim repeatedly I am a (real) scientist is a statement reflecting a quasi-religious affiliating process rather than a starting point for scientific inquiry.

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Freudians, Piagetians or Vygotskians who set up their intra-disciplinary community organizations with their social inclusion/exclusion rules. One such (meta) communities in psychology is the church of the true science. Contemporary psychology has progressively identified itself with the image of a nomothetic science. In so doing, though, it has elaborated or better to said enacted - a reductionist interpretation of the nomothetic idea. Nomotheticity has been meant as the statement of the ergodicity of the psychological phenomena that is, as the assumption according to which the individuals variability of the psychological dimensions is structurally identical within a given population, therefore subjected to only stochastic marginal variation that can be efficaciously contrasted and even cancelled by means of appropriate procedures of sampling and data analysis (Molenaar & Valsiner, 2009 ; Salvatore & Valsiner, 2009). In this way, psychology has produced a split between the individualistic ontology, defining the object/aim of investigation - the transcendental human being and the socio-typical methodology, defining the conceptual machine generative of the data: the population. This population-centeredness of psychology has allowed the triumph of empiricism. Populations are conglomerates5. Unlike the embodied human being, populations are time and space unconstrained conceptual machines, whose boundaries are very volatile. Populations are the inherent product of generalization: every time one defines a property, one is implicitly construing a collection of the objects which are clustered by that property. It is presumed that such property as quality is present in each and every member ascribed to the given populationin contrast to other populations. In terms of the presumed quantity of the property, the individual members of the class (population) are allowed to vary as long as the quality is set as permanent. The step to consider this collection a population is easy to perform - sometimes as result of negotiation, often as the hypostatized gift of the researchers preferred or societys prescribed ideology. And thus psychology is populated by an infinite set of possible populations students, tourists, soccer supporters-- as well males, females, homosexuals, extrovert people, field dependent people, managers, and the like. In sum, for the sake of producing data the reference to the concept of population makes the affair enormously easyto select a criterion, consider it an essence present in each and every member of the populationthen proceed to study a sample from the population with a preset knowledge that the posited property is in each of themeven if barely visible through the procedure created (e.g. a test). If the test fails to show that quality, a better test can be devised (until the property is discovered). This nature of such artifacts of inductive generalization provide the basis for critique of contemporary psychology for its pseudo-empiricism (Smedslund, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1995)pretending to prove empirically what is already presumed in the conceptual framework of the researchers. Thanks to this conceptual machine psychologists have bypassed the very difficult and never completely and definitively solved methodological issue of modeling and inter-

5 As Loevinger (1965, p. 147) has pointed out: The term population implies that in principle one can catalog, or display, or index all possible members, even though the population is infinite and the catalog cannot be completed (our emphasis)


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preting intra-individual (temporal) variability - which entails the relation between the individual and its context. This methodological challenge has been reduced to the less critical technical task of elaborating procedures of data analysis enabling the researcher to put the context aside. This is done by assuming that the unit of analysis is the individual him/herselfwho separates the context from him/herself directly in the act of responding to a particular probe6. There has been a historical shift in this transformation. The social practice of methodology has lost its conceptual status, i.e. to be the theoretical bridging between general theory and the procedures of data construction. Contemporary psychology conceives of methodology in technical terms: as a repertoire of procedures of quantification, measurement and data analysis. And in so doing, it legitimates its empiricism (Matusov, 2008; Toomela, 2007, 2008, 2009) pretending as if the findings produced by the studies had an inherent and self-evident theoretical meaning. In sum, the population-ization- of psychology7 has paved the way for the system of mass production of data of which contemporary psychology consists. The interpretation of nomotheticity in terms of ergodicity has allowed the empiricist turn of psychology; yet it does not necessarily entail and lead to such a turn. Nevertheless, nomothetic has been before reduced to ergodicity and through this first process of generalization it has been transformed into a field of significance that attracts in its orbit everything that is associated with it, regardless of the nature of this association. And thus a black hole-sign has been created nomothetic standing for infinite things: empiricism, quantification, measurement, individualism, Americanization, realism, positivism, descriptivism, and the like - as if these things were systematic and stable properties of a unique state of affairs. Such nomotheticityas an identity blurb-- has condemned the opposite label to the same destiny: to be meant as the contrary of its opponent as equivalent to not-nomothetic therefore meaning different-to- mainstream-psychology, whatcontrasts with-the-psychology-we-dislike. And thus it has been made ready to be used as vexillum of the resistance to empiricist - individualistic, positivistic, quantitative and the like-istic derived from mainstream contemporary psychology.

Idiography as a model of generalization

The affective salience of the label idiography is not something extraneous to the scientific realm, if we recognize that the scientific realm is made by communities of

6 The act of asking general questions that get unitary answers how happy are you with your life?I am moderately happy (overlooking day-to-day or moment-to-moment variations) and treating the answer as if it is an approximate estimate of a true state makes the respondent to eliminate the temporal context in the very act of first response. 7 We invent this admittedly inelegant term to stress the corresponding lack of beauty in the usual trust in large numbers (usually starting from the magic number 30 for sample sizes) and the belief in general knowledge arising from the sample-to-population generalization


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human beings. The point is to go beyond it, understanding and elaborating it, rather than merely refusing, in the perspective of a specific and sufficiently constrained understanding of the notion. In moving in this perspective, we cannot simply retrieve the original meaning, because as obvious the scientific scenario we deal with is very different from that of Windelband. Therefore, we need to re-invent the term, in accordance with the present and above all the future of psychology we are interested in. For this reason, we think that, even if it were possible, we do not need an axiomatic definition stating what one must think of idiography, closing the issue once and forever. More realistic and useful would be a basic elaboration, grounding and triggering further debate and understanding. On the other hand, the Yearbook of Idiographic Science has been thought as a tool and a lever of such a collective enterprise. We propose to conceive of idiography as the methodological approach that entails: An ontological assumption concerning the object of knowledge An epistemological constraint consequent to the ontological statement A methodological strategy fitting the epistemological constraint
The ontological assumption

We assume that the phenomena that psychological science takes as its objects of investigation are contingent upon the context. We consider this an ontological assumption because it concerns the inherent nature of the objectin this case self-organizing open systems-- and it is given as a premise. Let us consider an object as the target of psychological investigation e.g. emotion, the psychotherapy process, the construction of the identity, child development and so forth (henceforth: PO, psychological object). Any particular local exemplar of the psychological object (po) manifests itself in terms of a given manifest content (Bpo), consisting of a set of diachronic and synchronic combinations of an infinite set of phenomena as those occur (Opo) 8. Bpo is the instantiation of a given modality of functioning of the given exemplar (Fpo). For instance, imagine the psychotherapy process as a possible PO: one given exemplar of psychotherapy can be accounted for in terms of many events and characteristics (Opo) e.g. the patients and therapist speech, bodily movements, the physical characteristics of the room, and so forth - whose combination provides one of the possible representation of what happened to that psychotherapy process (Bpo), in its turn interpretable as the expression of the way such a given case of psychotherapy functions (Fpo). In accordance with this terminology, asserting the contextual contingence of the PO means that for any po, Opo is field dependent-- Opo in a given instant tx results from

8 Actually, there is no PO as a general class of exemplars; rather, we meet only occurrences whose combination we interpret in terms of exemplars of psychological object thanks to a super-ordered theory that orients our observation.


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the local combination of the infinite set of occurrences Opo constituting the field in the time tx-1 - i.e. constituting Bpo( x-1), in its turn resulting from the condition of the field on the instant tx-2 [Bpo( x-1)] . In brief, po is systemic and dynamic (Lauro-Grotto et al 2009; Salvatore et al, 2009). In the case of a systemic and dynamic object, F is not linearly instantiated by discrete occurrences. Rather, Fpo defines the set of conditions according to which a given combination of occurrences constituting the content of psychological object (Bpo ) works as a field eliciting another combination as the most probable to follow. In other terms, Fpo concerns the dynamic of the field, not the content of the singular occurrences (see Figure 1). For instance, according to a dialogic model of sensemaking, any utterance and any thought is endowed with an inherent valence of responsiveness and addressivity (Linell, 2009). Well, this Fpo can help us to understand why a given combination of signs e.g. the use of the first plural person, the reference to a shared frame and so forth - produced by a participant within a communicational exchange has elicited a given set of further occurrences e.g. the other participants attunement of the syntactic mode, the reducing of the interpersonal distance and so forth. Yet, this Fpo tells us nothing of the specific content of any occurrence taken singularly. Figure 1. Not field dependent vs field phenomenon


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The field-mediated linkage between Fpo and Opo has a consequence for the sake of our discussion. It entails that there is not an invariant relationship between a given set of occurrences (Opo) - however large it may be - and Fpo. In fact, insofar as one assumes that Fpo concerns the combination of all the infinite occurrences sustaining the field - , one has to conclude that the meaning of any subset of occurrences depends on what relations it keeps with the whole. Changing the whole, the meaning of any occurrences also changes. In other words, take the field defined by the infinite set of occurrences (o1, o2, o3, . o). Moreover, assume that the F of this field consist of a simple rule: the meaning of any singular occurrence is given by its position in the sequence. Consider now the subset ((o11, o12, o13, . 0100)): according to F, the meaning of this subset is given by the portion of ranking |11-100|. Well, image now another field, being similar to the former but not identical - say (o9, o10, o11, . o). In this case the meaning of the same subset of occurrences (((o11, o12, o31, . o512) is changed in |3-92|, even if their phenomenological content has not changed. Finally, imagine another field (s1, s2, s3, . s)-- very different from the previous--yet functioning according to the same F. In this case we will have that the subset of occurrences ((s11, s12, s13, . s100)) will have a similar meaning to ((o11, o12, o13, . 0100)), regardless of its descriptive diversity. In brief, the assumption of the systemic and dynamic nature of the psychological object leads one to conclude that psychological science can not consider the finite set of occurrences as having an invariant linkage with the modality of functioning of the object. Rather, one has to conclude that - according to the global state of the field - the same occurrence can be the expression of different functioning as well as different occurrences can be associated with the same functioning. Figure 2 shows this tenet. The same occurrence (e.g. x2) has a different meaning i.e. it is the expression of a different functioning (Psychological process and ) according to which combination it enters (with x1 or x3). In a complementary way, the same functioning (say Psychological process ) can be instantiated by different combination of occurrences (x2, x3 as well as y1, y2, y3), in reason of the context (A vs B). In sum, any finite set of occurrences of any psychological object cannot be considered an index of the objects way of functioning.
Epistemological constraint

The last statement conveys a constraint at the epistemological level. According to it, one has to conclude that it is not possible to consider the identity of any finite set of occurrences between two exemplars of psychological object as a necessary and sufficient condition for assuming that those exemplars are equivalent and therefore are allowed to be included in the same class of PO. Henceforth we refer to this impossibility as the uniqueness of the exemplar of psychological object any psychological object may not be assimilated to a general class according to its phenomenological similarities (i.e. Opo) with the other exemplars of the class and consequently treated as being qualifying by the way of functioning of that general class of exemplars. This is the sense in which we conceive of po as unique. For instance, take a researcher interested of studying how people elaborate their own sense of identity in the context of a new community. Well, imagine that the re14

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searcher has found two or more individuals who share many features (nationality, gender, age, where they live, some psychological traits, attitudes and so forth). Despite the many characteristics the two individuals share, they cannot be considered equivalent, because of their shared characteristics will nonetheless be a finite and limited subset of the whole set of occurrences sustaining the field in which the dynamics of the phenomenon consists of. Consequently, the researcher may not pool the two individuals, treating them as equivalent members of the same general class of PO. Figure 2. Psychological Processes, phenomenical occurrences and context







Context A

Context B

Xn: Phenomenical occurrences

Psychological Psychological process process

The most evident consequence of the uniqueness of psychological objects is the necessity to renounce the population as the conceptual machine enabling the researcher to overcome or avoid, as the case may be - the issue of human intra-individual variability. This point has already been made (Molenaar & Valsiner, 2009; Salvatore & Valsiner, 2009) and thus need not be further addressed here. On the other hand, the issue of the population is only the tip of the iceberg of even deeper implications one has to draw from the idiographic constraint. Indeed, the uniqueness of psychological objects brings the more general issue of the logic of generalization into question. ClassicalAristotelian/Boolean logicdoes not fit this task in the case of open systems. Generalization is entailed in many dimensions of the construction of scientific knowledge, not only in the classification

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of individuals in term of membership of a population. The choice itself to define a given piece of world as the target of an activity of investigation consists of a process of generalization the researcher has to classify the piece of world as an exemplar of the psychological object whose study motivated the investigation. Moreover, the researcher will have to select some aspects of the chosen piece of world as pertinent to its interest. And clearly, this is a matter of generalization too. And again, the researcher will have to interpret such aspects in terms of some parameters being qualitative or quantitative , she will have to combine these parameters in a meaningful way, and attribute a meaning to the resulting combination, which, in turn, will be linked to the theoretical background of the community of reference. And it is evident that all these steps consist of operations of generalization. This interpretation of idiography that transforms uniqueness into irreducible incommensurability (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2009) has an appeal in psychology. According to it, psychological science does aim to construct general knowledge, since any po is the only member of the class of itself. If idiography meant that every phenomena is singular - in the sense that it reflects an own totally local idiosyncratic way of functioning, no scientific knowledge would be possible and the boundary between the study of the phenomenon and the phenomenon itself would have no sense. We reject this interpretation of idiography as it is the marker of the reactive attitude to mainstream psychology and its pretense to seek generalization despite the context rather than through it. Our perspective is that of idiographic science. Idiography does not mean no general knowledge but a different model of general knowledge. Different ways of generalizing. The fundamental point that psychological objects are unique does not mean that generalization is not possible. Rather, it entails that it is the inductive model of generalization that does not fit with the nature of psychological objects. Where for inductive model of generalization we intend the logic of categorization that assumes the occurrence as criterion of inclusion, and according to this criterion leads one to consider and treat the exemplar of a psychological process (po) ipso facto as a representative member of a general class (PO). One can depict this logic of inductive generalization through the making of a crisp set of homogeneous nature. It happens through the following steps: po1 shares relevant occurrences with other po (say poi, with i=2, 3,n), then po1 is identical to the poi (at least as it concerns what is relevant for the analysis of PO), then po1 belongs to the class PO of all the poi, then po1 is PO, then po1 functions as if it is PO-- and since its PO-ness (i.e. Fpo1=FPO), then one can study po1 as a representation of PO.

This scheme can work only if the classes entailed are closed to change and their quality PO remains stableand can thus be discovered through po1=PO. The epistemological constraint provided by idiography claims that equivalence of any po with PO is impossible. The middle stage-- po1 functions as if it is PO-- and since its PO-ness (i.e. Fpo1=FPO)is not possible.

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The methodological strategy

An alternative strategy entails abductive inference. Considering idiography as the negation of the possibility of generalization is symptomatic of how inductive generalization has been generalized to the point being considered the only model of categorization, that is of producing scientific knowledge. In the usual description of abduction it is C. S. Peirces statements: ... there are but three elementary kinds of reasoning. The first, which I call abduction (...) consists in examining a mass of facts and in allowing these facts to suggest a theory. In this way we gain new ideas; but there is no force in the reasoning. [...] The second kind of reasoning is deduction, or necessary reasoning. It is applicable only to an ideal state of things, or to a state of things in so far as it may conform to an ideal. It merely gives a new aspect to the premises. [] The third way of reasoning is induction, or experimental research [...] (A Letter to Calderoni, , Peirce, 1935, CP 8.209) It must be remembered that abduction, although it is very little hampered by logical rules, nevertheless is logical inference, asserting its conclusion only problematically or conjecturally. It is true, but nevertheless having a perfect definite logical form. [...] The form of inference, therefore, is this The surprising fact, C, is observed; But if A were true, C would be a matter of course. Hence, there is reason to suspect that A is true. (Harvard Lecture on Pragmatism, CP 5, 188-189, 1903) The abductive model of generalization has a relevant history in psychology and in human science (Eco, 1975; Pierce, 1935; Pizzaroso & Valsiner, 2009) as a potentially productive alternative to the inductive model. The abductive model of generalization assumes the functioning of the phenomenon (Fpo) as the criterion of classification. In the case of abductive logic, then, the researcher approaches the exemplar with the aim of discovering the rule modeling the functioning of the given exemplar (Fpo). Thus, the starting point of abduction is the same as for induction: the occurrences. Yet, unlike induction, abduction does not use the occurrence as the means to transform the local phenomenon in the representative member of a generalized class. Rather than to generalize to a class, abduction pursues a form of abstraction which consists in translating the occurrences into the language of the theorylooking what kind of rule (Fpo) would generate the observed outcome po. Note that such a model is local in its content, because it refers to the specific po under investigationmoving backwards from itthe unique exemplar under investigation a single caseto the underlying possible causal system of that exemplar9. This backward move is universal in its for-

9 In some of his works Peirce use the term retroduction for indicating abductive inference, since it consists of a backward movement from the effect (i.e. po) to its cause (i.e. Fpo)


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mat, since it is produced in terms of some theoretical language and on the basis of the set of general scientific rules of that language. It is thanks to these general rules that the occurrences are connected in an organic picture - Peirce speaks of reunification of the predicates - and in this way signifies the consequence of a given cause. In this sense, the abductive modeling of the occurrence can be seen as the semiotization of the experience of the phenomenon through the mediation of scientific language. Once elaborated, the model (Fpo)is used as a criterion of categorization: the modeled exemplar is projected in the class of exemplars that share a similar Fpo. In this mode, the knowledge of the single exemplar po can be generalized to the class of exemplar PO. Let us add some specifications Firstly, it is evident that it is not possible to fully model each exemplar because its manifest content (i.e. B) consists of the combination of an infinite set of occurrences while the process of investigation can take into account only a finite subset of it. Consequently, one could claim that the same constraint to use the occurrences as an index of the functioning of the exemplar should be addressed to our idea of modeling as well. In other terms, if, as our ontological assumption states, any finite set of occurrences of any psychological phenomenon cannot be considered an index of its way of functioning, then how it is possible to model it, given that such a model cannot but be performed from and through a finite subset of occurrences? Actually this objection would make sense if one intended the model as an exhaustive representation of the exemplar. On the contrary, if one assumes that the model is one of the possible forms of bringing the exemplar into the language of science, the objection is not pertinent. In other terms, for the purposes of definition, the model of the exemplar is the local model of the subset of occurrences conceived of as pertinent. Incidentally this is consistent with our interpretation of the model in terms of semiotization. A model is a sign, that is, something that stands for something else for somebody under some aspects (Pierce, 1935). Hence, accordingly, a model does not reproduce the exemplar in all aspects, rather, only in some; the one conceived of as pertinent by somebody. This leads to a second point. What is the criterion that makes a given aspect pertinent, that defines the selection of the occurrences? In the case of abductive generalization, it is the theoretical background of the researcher. In this sense, abduction is theorydriven. The theory works as the basis according to which the researcher will define the subset of occurrence pertinent for the aim of is/her conceptual enterprise i.e., the aspect of the exemplar worthy of being addressed. Abduction is theory driven from a complementary point of view too. Indeed, before selecting the occurrence of the exemplar interpreted as pertinent the researcher has to assume that a given piece of world (an event, a fact) is an exemplar of the psychological object she intends to address. For instance, imagine that one intends to study if and how psychotherapy is able to change how people think and feel. To do so, the researcher has obviously to identify a certain piece of world as a suited and valid exemplar of the psychological object psychotherapy. This means that she could have to decide if the intervention through Bachs flowers, Buddha meditation, Yoga, brief counseling provided by a teacher, as well as psychoanalysis or behavior therapy are exemplars of psychotherapy. Now, as said, this issue cannot be solved through referring to the phenomenological similarities between the exemplars. In that case, abductive generalization would be based ed on an inductive generalization. Rather, it is the

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theoretical background that defines what piece of world is allowed and worthy of being considered an exemplar of the target psychological object. On the other hand, one has not to confound this type of classification with a form of deductive categorization. The researcher does not derive the exemplar from an already defined general category of the psychological process i.e., given that this is what Psychotherapy means, then this is a good exemplar of psychotherapy. Rather, the theory orients the researcher to select exemplars as probably useful cases for the sake of the scientific enterprise. In other terms, the research creates a collection, that is, a category of scope encompassing the objects that are clustered according to a specific function/project (e.g. the project of studying psychotherapy). Only from the moment and under the condition that the model works, may the collection be considered a category. That is, only when the model of the investigated case of psychotherapy process fits the analysis of another case member of the collection (incidentally, this entails paying particular attention to the exploration of the borderline case), then the researcher can legitimately come to the conclusion that the collection can be actually conceived of as a general class that is, the model has elaborated general knowledge of Psychotherapy (i.e., the PO). In sum, the transformation of the collection into categories means that Fpo acquires the theoretical status of FPO . The last considerations leads us to highlight an interesting point. In abductive logic, theory and evidence are circularly boundwith an open-ended cycle. Abduction leads to the creation of new knowledgeresulting in new general rules10. As we have seen, abduction is theory guidedyet the theory is created on the basis of a single specimen through generalization. It creates theoretical novelty, since the general category PO is not given as a priori, rather it emerges as result of the process of construction. Moreover, it is worth noting that this new category is a theoretical abstract class. In other terms, it is not defined by the empirical similarities among the exemplars. Rather, it groups the exemplars according to the fact that they share a model that always from the point of view of the theory are equivalent. In this sense, abduction generalization entails the theoretical rather than empirical - construction of the psychological object

10 Moreover one can identify several types of emergence from the dynamics interactions between the evidence, the local modelling of them and the general theory mediating them. A first type is given by the discovering, that is, when the researcher has to elaborate ex nihilo a new general rule in order to model the local exemplar. A second type is given by the generalization of the already available general theory. This is the case in order to abductively understand the evidence, the researcher has to elaborate the theory, making it more abstract and general. For instance, the researcher could have been able to model a case of psychotherapy only after having considered the process of psychotherapy as a specific specimen of human communication and thereby using the general knowledge concerning the latter as the basis for modelling the case. A third type is extension. In this case, the analysis of the exemplar leads to make a widening of the domain of application of the general theory. Unlike generalization, in this case the theory does not change, but is applied to new phenomena. For instance, the research could have been able to model her analysis of innovation in work context in terms of a local model based on the Piagetian model of equilibrium between assimilation and accommodation. In this way this model is pushed toward a further enlargement of its boundaries of application. Finally, we have differentiation. In this case, the study of the exemplar highlights the limits of the present general theory to produce understanding leading to the development, further elaboration, and even the abandoning of the general theory, for the sake of promoting innovation.


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(Salvatore, 2006). Piaget (1968) offers an instructive example of this way of working, concerning the functioning of memory. () If one accepts our results concerning the operational development of thought, and if we thus admit the existence of a progressive structuring of the reality by means of operation gradually constructed one after another or on the basis of one another, then the most likely hypothesis is that the memory code itself depends on the subjects operations, and, that therefore this code is modified during development, and depends at any given moment on the subjects operational level. But how can such an hypothesis be justified? With B. Inhelder, we have used a simple approach in a series of investigations (), namely, to study memory after different intervals of retention: for example, immediate memory (after one hour), a week later, and finally after several months (usually six months). If during the interval, the code remains the same, then we would expect the memory to stay unchanged, or else, to deteriorate in quantity or quality, but it would seem impossible for memory to improve during an interval of several months. IF, on the other hand, the memory code depends on the subjects operational level, and improves with the progress of the operations, then we could expect, in certain simple cases, an improvement in memory, in the richness of its content and above all in its structure. In the experiments we conducted, the encoding has in no way been modified (the model is never presented again, neither during the interval, nor at the time of the evocation of the memory); so that if the decoding is better some months later, it must have taken on new significance, due to the progress in the subjects operational schemata. It would seem that there is only one possible interpretation of such improvement, namely, that the code itself has changed and improved in the meantime. Let us look first at a small experiment from this perspective. The children are shown an ordered configuration, that is 10 sticks, varying in size from about 9 to 15 centimeters, ordered from the biggest to the smallest () The children are asked to have a good look, so that they will be able to draw it later, A week later, without showing them the configuration again, they are asked to draw or to describe verbally () what we had shown them before. Six months later, without seeing the configuration, they were asked to do the same thing.() Now, after six months all the subjects from 3 to 8 years claimed that they remembered very wll what we had shown them. But interestingly enough, they generally did not give the same drawing or description [given after one week]. There was not one instance of deterioration in this experiment (); on the contrary, 74% of the subjects had a better recollection now than they had after one week. The progress did not take the form of bug leaps; we rarely saw a transition for a, or b to e. Usually we found an improvement from one level to the next; from equalities (a) [i.e. a certain number of stick remember, but all the same length e.g. ||||| ] to dichotomies (b) [i.e. a certain number of stick remember, differentiated in big and small e.e. ||II or |I|I], or from

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dichotomies to trichotomies (c) ) [i.e. a certain number of stick remember, differentiated in three size e.e. || II II], or from trichotomies to little series (d) [i.e. remembering of a group of four or five elements of the original series] (Piaget, 1968, p. 2-5) Piagets starting point is a basic general assumption i.e. the general rules stating the developmental nature of the cognitive structure. () If one accepts our results concerning the operational development of thought, and if we thus admit the existence of a progressive structuring of reality by means of operations gradually constructed one after another or on the basis of one another () (Piaget, 1968, p. 2) The idea of construction leads him to select a phenomenon to investigate the childs remembering - and to consider some occurrences of the phenomenon as pertinent the transformation of recall through the time. Moreover, always on the basis of the general theory, he defines the setting promoting the evidence i.e., the series of investigations. Finally, always on the basis of the general theory, he interprets the evidence in terms of a local model of causality- i.e. the ordered increasing of competence in remembering through time is due to the differentiation of the memory code. In sum, a po the evidence of the investigation is interpreted in terms of a local model (Fpo) the differentiation of the memory code on the basis of a general theory, whose development is the final end of the enterprise. In so doing, the po is now conceivable as the exemplar of a class of psychological object (PO) defined in terms of the theory the development of intelligence. Two further aspects are worth being highlighted. Firstly, this example shows that in abductive investigation, the evidence is not necessarily a matter of identifying the phenomena already given. General theory can also steer the researcher to produce evidence, provided that the criteria for organizing the research setting is able to produce the occurrences considered pertinent for the sake of the investigation. This means that the manipulation of the setting of the investigation is not an exclusive characteristic of nomothetic experiments, but may also occur for the sake of the abductive reasoning. Secondly, Piaget presents the investigation in terms of a rhetoric if then that leads one to think of his as an inductive way of proceeding. Actually, despite this rhetoric, one would be wrong to draw this conclusion. The inductive reasoning entails that the relation between the evidence and its meaning i.e., the local model - would already be available, a taken for granted assumption grounding the investigation11. On the strength of this, the researcher can generalize the local model to the other cases in the

11 For instance, in the case of quantitative investigation, data analysis is the way to define the local model of the evidence. The assumption grounding this kind of inferential passage between the evidence and the model is the reliability and validity of the procedure of data analysis to grasp the relations concerning the evidence. Generalization of this kind of results concerns the possibility to affirm that the model is representative of the entire population (with the alfa level of probability of error of false positive).


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world beyond the investigation. It is in this sense that Peirce speaks of induction as the formation of a habit. In other words, inductive generalization is an extensional kind of generalization it output is the conclusion that the local model concerning the evidence is valid for (i.e., it is generalizable to) other exemplars too. It is evident that the inferential procedure entailed in Piagets reasoning is not this kind of generalization. Rather it entails a generalization though abstraction. Indeed, the local model (i.e., developmental differentiation of the memory code) interpreting the evidence (i.e., the ordered increasing of the competence in remembering trough different progressive moments in time) cannot clearly be assumed as taken for granted and obvious. Rather, it is the result of a creative inferential process of interpretation mediated by the general theory - producing a conceptual backward jump from the effect to the cause12. This is so from a conceptual point of view, regardless of the fact that Piaget presents it in terms of a form of anticipated reasoning if.. then. Moreover, this production of local knowledge is mediated by the general theory, hence it stands logically before the construction of the local model. In sum, in the case of inductive generalization, evidence and local model are given uphill, in their assumed tight conceptual association and the production of knowledge consists of the possibility of generalizing such association, as a consequence of the accumulation of cases in which it is verified to be occurring. In the case of abductive generalization, likewise Piaget, the research conceptually starts with general knowledge and the evidence and the novelty it is asked to produce concerns the local model it elaborates. In this way the researcher will be able to subject the general theory to an endless work of rethinking.

Final Word: Idiographic generalization reconsidered

In the previous pages we have provided what we consider a basic interpretation of the idiographic tenet, with the aim and the wish to contribute to developing the discussion among psychologists and human scientists. In brief, according to our proposal idiography is the recognizing of the dynamic and systemic nature of psychological objects and therefore of their uniqueness (though not irreducible incommensurability). Such recognition does not entail renouncing generalization that is at the core of scientific knowledge but the exclusive priority of inductive generalization, in favor of the abductive model of generalization. In abductive methodology, theory and data are circularly connected and the construction of general knowledge is pursued through the model of the local phenomena. We want to highlight some implications of the idiographic methodology we have above briefly pictured.

12 Interestingly enough, note the conjectural and negative form used by Piaget to model the evidence through the general theory. It would seem that there is only one possible interpretation of such improvement, namely, that the code itself has changed and improved in the meantime.


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Firstly, the idiographic orientation is a methodological stanceit does not have a specific object of investigation. The idiographic approach can address any kind of psychological object, as contributions to this Yearbook and its predecessor (Salvatore et al, 2009) show. Secondly, we propose a mutually inclusive vision of the idiographic-nomothetic dichotomy (Valsiner, 2007). The two approaches are not in competition: idiography is the way to pursue generalized knowledge (see Salvatore & Valsiner, 2009)albeit through the means of the study of single specimens in their dynamic cointexts. Thirdly, the traditional Idiographic/nomothetic dichotomy does not concern any of the opposition characterizing the psychology debate (quantitative vs qualitative, emic vs ethic, hermeneutic vs positivist; individualism-collectivism, etc ). As the papers collected in the YIS (Salvatore et al, 2009; Salvatore et al, 2010a, 2010b) witness, one can follow an idiographic strategy of research by adopting both quantitative or qualitative methods of analysis. And one can adopt a hermeneutic intensive analysis of a single case and nevertheless to develop a study inconsistent with the idiographic assumptions we have proposed in this paper. Fourthly, there is the issue of the validation of idiographic studies. The idea of nomothetic study as the way to produce universal and valid knowledge is a myth. Because of this myth, psychological science has decreased, rather than increased, its ability to developing knowledge. And if one goes beyond the myth, it is evident that the model of psychological science based on induction is a self-referential process, a game were one finds what one looks for. Peirce conceptualizes it as acquiring a habit. Falsificationism is the fig leaf covering this game. How many articles are published that conclude with the acceptance of the null hypothesis? How many theories have been abandoned as a consequence of the results of an experiment? On the other hand, abduction has its own specific logic of validation that is inherently interwoven with the itself process of knowledge construction itself, that is, in the case of abduction, the validation of general knowledge is the possibility of continuing the process of construction. In fact, abduction works in terms of modeling a single case and generalizing it. Thus, this process can go on insofar as the model elaborated fits further cases analyzed - that is, it is consistent with the model emerging from the new case. If this consistence is not given, the researcher is compelled to revise the model and/or to revise the theoretical framework grounding it. And this is not as part of further operations aimed at legitimating a researchers previous work on knowledge construction, but as the only way to go on in such work. In our final analysis, moving the research from the logic of confirmation to the logic of the construction of the knowledge, abductive methodology transforms the dimension of validation from a ritual to a tool for psychological science.

Albertazzi, L., Jacquette, D., & Poli, R (Eds.) (2001). The school of Alexius Meinong. Aldershot: Ashgate.

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Allport, G. W. (1962). The general and the unique in psychological science. Journal of Personality, 30, 405-422. Allport, G. W. (1966). Traits revisited. American Psychologist, 21, 1-10. Bozzi, P. (1996). Higher-order objects. In L. Albertazzi, M. Libardi, & R. Poli (Eds.), The school of Franz Brentano (pp. 285-303). Dordrecht: Kluwer. Cabell K., & Valsiner, J. (2010, in press). Affective Hypergeneralization: Learning from Psychoanalysis. In S. Salvatore, & T. Zittoun (Eds.). Cultural Psychology and Psychoanalysis. Pathways to Synthesis Charlotte, NC: Info Age Publishing. Eco, U. (1975). A theory of semiotic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Knorr Cetina, K (1999). Epistemic cultures. New York: Cambridge University Press. Lamiell, J. T. (1998). Nomothetic and idiographic: contrasting Windelbands understanding with contemporary usage. Theory & Psychology, 8, 1, 23-38. Lauro-Grotto, R. P., Salvatore, S., Gennaro, A., & Gelo, O. (2009). The unbearable dynamicity of psychological processes: Highlights of the psychodynamic theories. In J. Valsiner, P. Molenaar, M. Lyra, & N. Chaudhary (Eds), Dynamics process methodology in the social and developmental sciences (pp. 1-30). New York: Springer. Lindenfeld, D. (1972). Meinong, the Wrzburg School, and the role of experience in thinkinga historical-critical approach. In R. Haller (Ed.), Jenseits von Sein und Nichtsein: Beitge zur Meinong-Forschung (pp. 117-125). Graz: Akademische Druck und Verlagsanstalt. Linell, P. (2009). Rethinking language, mind and world dialogically. Interactional and contextual theories of human sense-making. Charlotte NC: Information Age Publishing. Loevinger, J. (1965). Person and population as psychometric concepts. Psychological Review, 72,2, 143-155. Maturana, M. R., & Varela, J. F. (1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition. The Realization of the Living. Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel Publishing Company. Matusov, E. (2008). Applying a sociocultural approach to Vygotskian academia: our tsar isnt like yours and yours isnt like ours. Culture & Psychology, 14, 1, 5-35. Meinong, A. (1899). Ueber Gegesntnde hherer Ordnung und deren Verhltniss zur innere Wahrnehmung. Zeitschrift fr Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane, 21, 183-271. Meinong, A. (1902). Ueber Annahmen. Zeitschrift fr Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane, Ergnzungsband 2. Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth. Molenaar, P.C.M. (2004), A manifesto on psychology as idiographic science: Bringing the person back into scientific psychology, this time forever, Measurement: Interdisciplinary research and perspectives, 2, 201-218. Molenaar P. C. M., & Valsiner, J. (2009). How Generalization Works through the Single Case: A Simple Idiographic Process Analysis of an Individual Psychotherapy. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. Strout, & J. Clegg (Eds.), YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science-Volume 1 (pp. 23-38). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. First published 2005, in International Journal of Idiographic Science [On Line Journal], Article 1. Retrieved (September 20, 2008) at Peirce, C. S. (1935). Collected papers of Charles Sanders Peirce.. Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press.

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Pizarroso, N., & Valsiner, J. (2009). Why developmental psychology is not developmental: Moving towards abductive methodology. Paper presented at the Society of Research in Child Development, Denver, Co., April, 3. Piaget J. (1968). On the Development of Memory and Identity. Heinz Verner Lecture Series Volume II. Barre, MASS : The Barre Publishing Company and Clark University Press. Russell, B. (1904). Meinongs theory of complexes and assumptions. Mind, n.s., 13, 204-219; 336-354 and 509-524. Salvatore, S. (2006). Models of knowledge and psychological action. Rivista di Psicologia Clinica [On line Journal], 1 (2-3). Retrieved at Salvatore, S. & Valsiner, J. (2009), Idiographic Science on its Way: Towards Making Sense of Psychology. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. Strout, & J. Clegg (eds) YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science- Volume 1 (pp. 9-19), Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Salvatore, S., Valsiner, J., Travers, J., & Gennaro, A. (2010a) Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 2. Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Salvatore, S., Valsiner, J., Travers, J., & Gennaro, A. (2010b) Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3. Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Salvatore, S., Lauro-Grotto, R., Gennaro, A., & Gelo, O. (2009). Attempts to grasp the dynamicity of intersubjectivity. In J. Valsiner, P. C. M. Molenaar, M. C. D. P. Lyra, & N. Chaudhary (Eds.). Dynamic process methodology in the social and developmental sciences (pp. 171-190). New York: Springer. Schubert Kalsi, M.-L. (1978). Alexius Meinong on objects of higher order and Husserls phenomenology. The Hague: Martinus Njihoff. Smedslund, J. (1987). The epistemic status of inter-item correlations in Eysencks Personality Questionnaire. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 28, 42-55. Smedslund, J. (1988). What is measured by a psychological measure? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 29, 148-151. Smedslund, J. (1992). Are Frijdas Laws of Emotion empirical? Cognition & Emotion, 6(6), 435-456. Smedslund, J. (1995). Psychologic: common sense and the pseudoempirical. In J. A. Smith. R. Harr, and L. van Langenhove (Eds), Rethinking psychology (pp. 196206). London: Sage. Smith, B. (1988). Gestalt theory: An essay in philosophy. In B. Smith (Ed.), Foundations of Gestalt Theory (pp. 11-81). Mnchen: Philosophia Verlag. Toomela, A. (2007). Culture of science: Strange history of the methodological thinking in psychology. IPBS: Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science, 41(1), 6-20. Toomela, A. (2008). Variables in psychology: A critique of quantitative psychology. IPBS: Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science, 42(3), 245-265. Toomela, A. (2009). How methodology became a toolboxand how it escapes from that box. In J. Valsiner, P. Molenaar, M. Lyra and N. Chaudhary (Eds), Dynamic process methodology in the social and developmental sciences (pp. 45-66). New York: Springer Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in Minds and Societies: Foundations of Cultural Psychology.

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New Delhi: Sage. Valsiner, J. (2009). Baldwins quest: A universal logic of development. In J. W. Clegg (Ed.), The observation of human systems: Lessons from the history of anti-reductionistic empirical psychology (pp.45-82). New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. Valsiner, J., & Sato, T. (2006). Historically Structured Sampling (HSS): How can psychologys methodology become tuned in to the reality of the historical nature of cultural psychology? In J. Straub, D. Weidemann, C. Klbl & B. Zielke (Eds.), Pursuit of meaning (pp. 215-251). Bielefeld: transcript. Windelband, W. (1998). History and natural science. Theory & Psychology, 8(1), 5-22. [original speech in1894; German published version 1904].

Sergio Salvatore is Professor of Dynamic Psychology at the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy). His scientific interests encompass the psychodynamic theorization of mental processes, the theory and the analysis of psychological intervention in clinical, scholastic, organizational and social fields, psychotherapy research and the methodology of empirical analysis of socio-symbolic dynamics.Associate Editor of Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, Rivista Psicologia Clinica RPC Review of Clinic Psychology and Psicologia Scolastica. Address: Department of Educational, Psychological and Teaching Science, Via Stampacchia, 45, 73100 Lecce - e-mail: Jaan Valsiner is a cultural psychologist with a consistently developmental axiomatic base that is brought to analyses of any psychological or social phenomena. He is the founding editor (1995) of the Sage journal, Culture & Psychology. He is currently professor of psychology at the Department of Psychology, Clark University, USA, He has published many books, the most pertinent of which are The guided mind (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1998) and Culture in minds and societies (New Delhi: Sage, 2007). He has edited (with Kevin Connolly) the Handbook of Developmental Psychology (London: Sage, 2003) as well as the Cambridge Handbook of Socio-Cultural Psychology (2007, with Alberto Rosa). He is the Editor-in-Chief of Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Sciences (Springer, from 2007) and History and Theory of Psychology (from 2008, with Transaction Publishers). In 1995 he was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Prize in Germany for his interdisciplinary work on human development, and Senior Fulbright Lecturing Award in Brazil 1995-1997. He has been a visiting professor in Brazil, Japan, Australia, Estonia. Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. e-mail:




Sven Hroar Klempe*

A distinction between theoretical and empirical statements is often supposed to be easy to define. The author is questioning the differences from two fundamental perspectives. One is the historical, in which the very early modern empirical psychology from the 18th century thematized the problematic relation between sense-impressions and concepts. The other is the systematic perspective, which questions the extent to which empirical and observational terms exist at all. The author concludes that the empirical refers to a situation, which in principle is not adequately covered by terms. Nevertheless, the distinction is concluded to be fruitful, not at least for strategic reasons.

It is common to suppose a clear distinction between theoretical and empirical statements. The former are statements containing theoretical terms, whereas the latter are statements containing empirical terms. Theoretical terms, then are primarily understood as terms referring not to directly observable entities, like electron, gene, mind etc., whereas empirical or observational terms refer to the observable, like red, sticks, touches etc. (Putnam 1973 pp.111f ). Hence theoretical is about concepts, whereas empirical is about sense-impressions. Nevertheless, the problems with this distinction are almost inevitable. When we talk about something red, do we talk about the conceptualisation of redness or the sense-impression itself? The question becomes even more urgent if the person we are talking to is colour blind (cf. Hanson 1973). The point is that the theoretical and the empirical represent a very complicated dichotomy. On the one hand the two concepts are not that easy to separate in the sense that a term can refer to both the theoretical and the empirical aspects of it. On the

* NTNU, Trondheim - Norway.


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other hand, they are not that easy to combine either, because verbal terms are general, whereas a sense-impression is not. This creates a sort of insurmountable gap between the two aspects. This problem has been pursued by philosophers throughout history and must be said to constitute a severe problem in psychology today. One of the problems is connected to inadequacy in quantitative group methodology, whereas another is insufficiency in case studies. From this perspective, the distinction between nomothetic and idiographic sciences launched by Windelband in the late 19th century is strongly relevant to a discussion about empirical psychology. The neo-Kantian Windelband was very much influenced by the development of psychology and regarded psychology both as a pathway to understanding scientific knowledge, and as a science itself (Windelband 1873). The perspective of Windelband, however, was first of all to underline the nomothetic character of values in the humanities. Thus he had no intention of stating any primacy of natural sciences (Lamiell 1998, Schfer 1999). This was followed up by his students, who, among other things, focused on the limitations of knowledge acquired in natural sciences (Rickert 1902). In this sense, both Windelband and his successors were aware of the role of psychology in a discussion of nomothetic and idiographic sciences. Psychology was regarded as the subject that actualized the two perspectives on sciences. The nomothetic aspects were not restricted to natural laws, but also included values. Values are not empirically given, but are revealed through rhetorical forms in the use of language. In this paper I will not focus so much on the dichotomy between the nomothetic and the idiographic. I will pursue some other issues intimately related to this, and one of them is the relation between the general and the particular. The latter dichotomy may sometimes coincide with the former, but not always. On the other hand, the relation between the general and the particular is intimately related to the distinction between the theoretical and the empirical. This is especially true when it comes to psychology, and originally empirical psychology must be said to be the subject, in which the attempt at isolating sense data is thematized (Quine 1973, p. 159). Empirical psychology in the 18th century was more or less defined in these terms, in the sense that it was supposed to be the science of the specific sense impression (Wolff 1745/1998, p. 33). Consequently, to have an idea of how empirical psychology was conceptualised at that time will probably give some inputs to a systematic understanding of the relation between the empirical and the theoretical. The historical understanding will therefore represent a core issue in this paper. There is, however a double meaning of the term empirical psychology. To clarify the differences are of extreme importance in this context. On the one hand, empirical psychology represents a certain scientific position in modern psychology, but on the other hand, it was historically a part of metaphysics, and it was the part that introduced the modern perspective on scientific knowledge. It was by psychologia empirica that senseimpressions were legitimised as sources for knowledge, especially within the tradition of German idealism. As long as sense-impressions always refer to the particular, the discussion running at that time was about the relation between the general and the particular. On the other hand, there is a need to actualize these historical aspects by relating them to a systematic perspective. There is a long discussion about the relation between

Theoretical an empirical statements in psychology

theoretical and empirical statements and terms in science. There are, however, not so many disagreements about the form and content of the theoretical statements, in the sense that they have to be general in addition to some other requirements (Campbell 1973). This is also true for formalised versions of the theory. Thus, the challenge is to define the empirical. Several different formulations have been used to capture the empirical. One may talk about observational terms, protocol terms etc. The relation between the terms and their references are not as self-evident as it may seem in our everyday use of language. As has been said regarding the use of models: we are engaging in as-if thinking (Braithwaite 1973 p. 52), which is certainly true for the relation between the term and its reference, too. In this paper, therefore, I will relate the historical exposure to this discussion about the relation between the theoretical and the empirical, but also see this discussion in relation to some discursive aspects, which do not only involve logic, but also an Aristotelian perspective on rhetoric. Persuasion is an aspect of the production of knowledge in general. Many statements are not as selfevident as they may appear, and might be governed by rhetoric as well as logic.

An historical exposure
As an immediate understanding, knowledge is primarily associated with the general. This formed a point of departure when Descartes started his project about the systematic doubt at the beginning of the 17th century. He doubted the general validity of what he had learnt because it contrasted with many of his personal experiences: There is nothing at all that I formerly believed to be true of which it is impossible to doubt (Descartes 1975, p 83), and this included even God and his general goodness. This Cartesian systematisation of doubt represents at the same time the introduction to modernity, the realisation of the idea of the autonomy of man (Taylor 2007, Giddens 1991/1996). Despite the fact that Descartes is most famous for the role of the mind understood in a more or less Platonic sense, the solution he ended up with was something very specific, i.e., the I as a thinking entity. The modernity, in other words, is characterised by being critical to knowledge in general. It opens up for the individuals evaluative mind, which introduces subjectivity as a factor in acquiring knowledge. This is true for both idealists and empiricists. The interest in empirical research, therefore, was not restricted to the British empiricists. On the contrary, it became an important aspect of German idealism as well. Christian von Wolff, who must count as the most outstanding exponent of the German enlightenment, and more or less the successor to the founder of the German idealism, W. G. Leibniz, was the one to introduce empirical psychology as a topic within the framework of idealism. However his psychologia empirica from 1732 (Wolff 1738) was just one of six volumes in a series, which constituted the way metaphysics was ordered in German Enlightenment. Thus, metaphysics consisted of four parts: ontology, cosmology, psychology and natural theology, yet psychology was divided into empirical and rational. The order of the psychological parts underlined an acceptance of the Aristotelian perspective, which said that nothing appears in the intellect, which had not

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previously been in the senses. Even Leibniz additional phrase about the intellect as an exception, is an acceptance of this principle, on which very much of his monadology is based. Almost all the parts of metaphysics are about the general. The only exception is empirical psychology, which is about specific sense impressions. All the parts, and thus empirical psychology, are related to scientific thinking. That must be said to be in a double sense. All the volumes in Wolff s Metaphysics carry the subtitle Worked out in accordance with scientific methods (Methodo scientifica petractata, Wolff, 2005; Wolff, 1738), and they are themselves the collection of the premises for all science. In this perspective, one may say that if we have an understanding of the first sentences (the ontology), the order of the universe (cosmology), our faculty of understanding (rational psychology), our faculty of sensing (empirical psychology) and how Gods order is revealed in nature (natural theology), then we are very well prepared to do scientific explorations. Metaphysics constituted, in other words, scientific methodology of the 18th century. The notion that scientific knowledge could be based on a specific sense-impression represented a radical change. Leibniz doubted this possibility a lot. It is one thing to acquire knowledge through sensation; the extent to which such knowledge is scientifically valid is quite another issue. On the other hand, this combination of the specific and general had a lot of impact on North-European early science. The Swedish botanist Carl von Linn is a good example. The introductory part of his Systema Natur from 1735 must be said to represent a short-version of the four parts of metaphysics. Ontology is present through the classification system; cosmology by some governing principles in nature, which are said to mirror Gods order; and natural theology through a quotation from the Psalms 104:24, in which it is said: The earth is full of Thy riches (Frankelius, 2007, p. 100ff ). Empirical psychology is provided by what he calls the new method of private observations (p. 107), of which he says only few of them could count as reliable. Linn did not use the term empirical psychology, but his younger Norwegian colleague Johann Ernst Gunnerus did apply the term. He studied with Wolff in Halle for two years from 1742. He even wrote a one-volume thesis on metaphysics (Gunnerus 1757) in which empirical psychology was a considerable part. Rational psychology was reduced to a minimum. Thus specific observations were legitimised by empirical psychology, but the scientific method was in practice based on the general principles provided by the other three parts of metaphysics. Empirical psychology in the 18th century opened up, on the one hand, for a new scientific approach, which included singular observations, but it was also about the conditions for these private observations, which were the constraints given by human nature. Empirical psychology, in other words, must be said to be the field in which subjectivity was systematically introduced as a part of modernity. Psychology in the 18th century may even be defined in terms of this subjectivity. In that sense one could say psychology was primarily about the subjective impression of the outer and the inner world. Since there happens to be a considerable disparity between the outer world and the reflection about it, there was some confusion about how to handle empirical psychology. Kant was very explicit about this (Sturm, 2001). At the end of the Critic

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of Pure Reason, he discusses the role of metaphysics, in particular empirical psychology. He concludes that it does not belong to metaphysics at all, but that a fully developed anthropology was required before it could be taken out of metaphysics (Kant, 1781/1787, A849/B877). And that was exactly what Kant did. His anthropology was the very last thesis he published (Kant, 1798/2002), and he never acknowledged empirical psychology as a science (Sturm, 2001). Empirical psychology must have represented a severe challenge to the philosophy of the 18th century. Kants solution, however, was just to put it more or less aside and define psychology in terms of anthropology, and then place it beyond science. This was just one solution, which focused on passion, temper, different faculties and behaviour, which definitely had been core aspects of empirical psychology due to Wolff (Wolff, 1745/1998). Alexander Baumgarten, who succeeded Wolff, and who was the one Kant based his lectures in metaphysics on, drew quite another solution. He is primarily known as the founder of modern aesthetics, and a closer look at his two volumes in Aesthetics from 1750 and 1758 respectively (Baumgarten, 1750/2007, 1758/2007) shows a lot of convergence with some core aspects of empirical psychology as it was presented in his Metaphysics from 1739. In both theses sense experiences form the core issue, but he is also presenting faculties of imagination, judgement making, and even the faculty of writing poetry is depicted in his empirical psychology (Baumgarten, 1783/2004). Baumgartens solution to the challenges of empirical psychology, in other words, was to found modern aesthetics. This touches some fundamental aspects of empirical psychology. It is primarily about our notions of reality, and these notions are influenced by human nature with all its passions. Thus, pathology or abnormal psychology could also be treated in theses about empirical psychology (Gunnerus, 1757). Thus, the notions or ideas we are talking about are primarily consequences of the individuals physical and mental situation. This was the new discovery empirical psychology provided in the 18th century, and it had tremendous consequences. Baumgarten and Kant represented two very different strategies in their endeavour to meet empirical challenges. One may say that Kant won the battle, but the Baumgartian perspective on a close relationship between aesthetics and science survived via some scholars who defined aesthetics as a part of the German sciences (Zimmermann, 1858, Lotze, 1868). Anyway, the role of subjectivity must be said to represent the core issue, and this also forms the basis for the third direction in a subsequent development of empirical psychology. The Danish philosopher Sren Kierkegaard is definitely the most prominent exponent of this direction, and he referrs to experimental psychology in the subtitle of the Repetition from 1843 (Kierkegaard, 2009), but also in other places. There are no reasons to doubt that this was his contribution to a discussion on empirical psychology at that time. He knew Wolff s books very well. They had been an important basis for the intellectual discussions in the Kierkegaard family (Hannay, 2001, p. 36). The fourth direction or consequence of empirical psychology from the 18th century is of course the experimental psychology formulated by Wilhem Wundt (Smith, 2005). He summarised many aspects of all the directions referred to here, including the original. He wrote a book about Leibniz very late in his career, in which he gave him his appreciations (Wundt, 1917). Pure sensations form the core issue in what he calls

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psychical elements, as ideas are when it comes to psychical compounds (Wundt 1902). The aesthetical aspect was still an issue in the sense that some of the theses produced in the laboratory were in the field of experimental aesthetics (Wundt, 1983, p. 525). Subjectivity was also an important aspect of this research in the sense that physical means were used in the laboratory to examine their immediate character and their complete relation to the subject (Wundt, 1902, p. 11). Also, experimental psychology in the late 19th century was primarily about the relationship between the specific, in terms of the immediate subjective sense impression, and the general, in terms of revealing patterns in reactions. In other words, in experimental psychology of the 19th century, the dichotomy between the specific and the general was present at two levels: as the research object, because this was exactly what psychology was about, and as an issue in scientific methodology in general.

A systematic exposure
Psychology was introduced as an aspect of the methodological discussions evoked by the paradigmatic changes due to the rise of modernity. There are primarily two principles that cause this huge discussion, which is still running today. One is the Cartesian doubt and the other is the logical principle, which says that overall premises in syllogisms must be universal. The latter implies the impossibility of inferring from the particular to the general. The former must be said to be on at least two levels. One is the general doubt about everything, and the other is that something is more questionable than other. From this perspective, it is understandable that Leibniz was not so interested in empirical psychology. He says quite frankly that he doubts that experiments can provide any sort of scientific knowledge at all (Leibniz, 1985, p. 309). The reason for this, of course, is that experiments are focusing on the particular, whereas scientific knowledge is about the general. Precisely this statement tells us how radical and different Wolff was. By writing a big volume on empirical psychology, he brought very explicitly all attention to subjectivity. This was probably the reason why Kant rejected it as a basis for scientific knowledge. Especially because of the position Kant has had in the history of philosophy, the issues raised by empirical psychology from the 18th century have very much been put aside. One may say that phenomenology was the direction, which brought the issues back to the forefront again, although without solving all the problems connected to the relation between empirical and theory.
Some core terms

Very close to empirical and theory, are induction and deduction. Wundts first professorship was in inductive philosophy. This tells us that empirical psychology was intimately connected to inductive reasoning, but also that this form of inference was related to so many problems that they required a fully dedicated chair to be adequately

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taken care of. Inductive reasoning summarises very much the dream of modernity, i.e., to gain the ability to prescribe how nature and living creatures will act and behave in the future. Deduction, on the other hand mirrors very much the pre-modern perspective, which says that this earth has always been ruled by some certain principles, and still is. The one who brought confusion into this picture, however, was Karl Popper, who placed deduction within the framework of modernity. The terms mentioned are about methods. Hypothetic-deductive method is not the only approach to combine some pre-modern perspectives with modernity. The axiomatic method has also, to a very modest extent, been revitalized recently (Smedslund, 1988, Smedslund 1997, Valsiner, in press). It is important to point out that the axiomatic method was the method Aristotle advocated. One may say it had a dominating role in almost all sciences in the 18th century. After then it slightly loss its hegemonic position, and among the social sciences in the twentieth century, economics was almost the only subject which explicitly referred to axioms. This presentation, however, will argue that this is a very natural development, and that hypothetic-deductive method is almost the only strategy to balance the requirements of modernity and some premodern principles that still count as valid.
What is a theoretical statement?

All terms are more or less theoretical (Putnam, 1973). As Hegel once pointed out, terms stand in opposition to reality (Hegel, 1974) in the sense that the reference is something particular whereas the main characteristics of a term is that it expresses something general. Theory, however, is very much associated with explanation, which must be said to be a very valid association. An explanation is first of all to bring two different events, A and B, together in a conceptual unit. This implies a more or less explicit assertion of a sort of connection between A and B. Explanation must be said to be a general assertion, which produces a certain connection between two different events. The most basic theoretical connection therefore must be the connection asserted between the term and its reference. Hence it is hard to make a clear distinction between explanation and understanding (Toulmin, 1963), and terms are primarily connected to understanding. Some would say explanation and understanding stand in opposition to description (Strauss & Corbin, 1998, p. 19; Kvale, 1996 p. 127). If the former is connected to an assertion, the latter is not. There are, however, a lot of different uses of the term description. We may find descriptions in literature, in which the author just depicts the sunrise, for example. The words are used as a means for giving the reader a sense-impression, without involving much reflection around it. As far as the words themselves have the special sound quality to evoke the notion of a sunrise, then we may say the terms used in the description are first of all giving certain sense-impressions, and in that sense stand in opposition to a theoretical use of the same terms. If, on the other hand, the description just confirms that a sunrise appears, then it is hard to talk about a description. This will imply an assertion of a connection between the term and what actually happened, and must be regarded as an explanation and understanding of what happened.

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A third meaning of a description is connected to formalisations. This is a requirement in psychology on different levels. It is primarily related to generalisations, but may also occur in idiographic approaches (Molenaar & Valsiner ,2009; Salvatore, Tebaldi Poti 2009). One may talk about a mathematical description, which implies that the mathematical system is applied as a demonstration of something. There are primarily two aspects that are demonstrated through mathematical models: contiguity and exactness (cf. Leibniz, 1992 and Herbart, 1850). The system of numbers provides exactly these qualities. But if there is a distinction between the linguistic system and the references (cf. Saussure, 1974), there is a similar distinction between the mathematical system on the one hand and the linguistic system and the references on the other. This implies that the same consequences must be drawn when it comes to this relationship. There is an underlying assertion that there are some coincidences between the two systems and the events referred to (cf. Michell, 1999). Thus, it is probably contradictory to talk about mathematical descriptions because applying mathematics in science is first of all a thinking in analogies. To apply mathematics in science more or less implicitly presupposes a strong assertion of analogies between the mathematical system and the world. Theoretical statements, in other words, are the most fundamental aspect of a scientific approach. One may also conclude that the theoretical perspective is almost impossible to avoid. The reasons for this are many. The most obvious reason is that our idea of science is strongly associated with general knowledge. Another is that intentionality implies that a certain perspective influences general knowledge. A third reason is that a scientific discourse reflects a certain perspective. A fourth reason is that science necessarily requires a certain discourse. This means that theoretical statements are fundamental in all scientific approaches, whether qualitative or quantitative, nomothetic or idiographic. These approaches and categories do not question the role of the theory, but how to approach the empirical (Putnam, 1973, Hanson, 1973).
What is an empirical statement?

If terms are primarily theoretical, then it should sound like a contradiction to talk about empirical statements. According to Leibniz, only one solution to this contradiction exists. The empirical is about sense-impressions, and they are necessarily connected to a specific situation. Thus empirical statements and terms primarily depict this particularity. This coincides very much with the use of the terms in modern philosophy of science. This is also one of the oldest theories about language, namely that words must be said to be a substitute for the thing they refer to, which formed the basis for the nominalists position in the nominalist-realist discussion in medieval times. It is possible, therefore, to define empirical statements in the following terms: empirical statements are about the particular provided by the senses. In addition, one must say that sense-impressions were strongly connected to the term quality. Whether we are talking about British empiricists or German idealists, they all agreed on the fact that a sense-impression was necessarily connected to a certain quality. It must count as a point here, that the distinction between primary and

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secondary sense qualities are very much associated with the empiricist John Locke, despite the fact that others also claimed to make this distinction. As far as the primary sense qualities were like number, figure, extension solidity and motion, they referred to qualities of general validity, independent of the individual impressions. The secondary sense qualities, on the other hand, like colour, taste, smell and sound, are dependent upon the individuals subjective impression. Quality, in other words, is primarily connected to sensation. It is hard to think that the term quality should refer to something else when it is applied in qualitative research. If this is right, it is primarily qualitative research which immediate qualifies for being empirical. That is one important aspect. The other is the fact that even for the British empiricists, there was a point to highlight the general by focusing on the primary sense qualities. In other words, both idealists and empiricists had to face the challenges in making a connection between the general and the specific. Quantitative research, on the other hand, has to go deeper into the question of the empirical aspects. This form of research is primarily theoretical, and the only guarantee for the empirical aspects is the fact that data is compelled. That is why terms like adaptation rules, bridge principles, adaptation principles or corresponding principles are applied (Fllesdal & Walle, 1977, p. 76f ). The most fundamental challenge is to make a connection between the theoretical and the empirical, and these terms depict the strategy to make a bridge between a theory and the world. The criteria of reliability and validity are the primary content of these adaptation principles. They guarantee a connection between the theory and the data compelled. In research a compensatory strategy has to be mobilised for the fact that scientific discourses are primarily on a theoretical level. This is true for both qualitative and quantitative research. One may even say that a term cannot be empirical, but a situation can. The challenge is to make an adequate connection between the term and the situation. As far as language itself is able to provide this connection, one may talk about empirical terms. The situation is an event, which it is possible to sense. An empirical statement says something about this event in a manner that constitutes connections between the theory and this situation. On this basis, it is necessary to revise the definition of empirical statements presented above. They are not only statements restricted to saying something about a particular sense-impression. They are statements, which say something about the connection between the theoretical and empirical levels. This is the process of operationalisation. To what extent the operationalisation reflects the theoretical foundation should, of course, be handled in terms of the validation process, and in some cases there are some miss-matches here. The point is, however, that the huge gap, which exists between theoretical statements and empirical situations, is not taken seriously enough. Empirical statements, in other words, should be the statements which, on the one hand, make the gap explicit, and, on the other, present the devices for overcoming the gap. Empirical statements, therefore, are statements, which unite theory with an empirical situation. Empirical terms are terms applied in empirical statements.


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Deduction versus induction

In scientific reasoning, Aristotle is a core reference. This is natural in the sense that he was the one to introduce the most crucial terms for rational and scientific thinking in Western civilization. He also introduced deduction and induction in a way, which made them become the core terms in scientific thinking for many centuries. The Analytics of Aristotle is probably the most important scripture for scientific thinking, and they are of course very much referred to. What has not been referred so much to is the Rhetoric as relevant to scientific discourse. Nevertheless, Aristotle is discussing the same pair of terms in Rhetoric too, but from quite another perspective (cf. Kjrup, 1996, p. 221). The most fundamental question therefore, is the extent to which Rhetoric is relevant for a discussion about rationality in science. I will argue that it is, and that it will clear up a lot of misunderstandings if it is taken into account, especially in a discussion about induction and deduction. Three steps form the premises for bringing in rhetoric, and they are all taken from Aristotles Analytics. The first one is the assertion saying that the particular is associated with sensation (Aristotle Undated B, Book I, Part 13). The second is the assertion saying that the particulars cannot be objects of scientific knowledge (Aristotle Undated B, Book I, Part 18). Earlier, I referred to Leibniz who said this. Leibniz was raised in an Aristotelian tradition, and he simply reproduced Aristotles position in this matter. The third step is what Aristotle says about induction: Induction is impossible for those who have not sense-perception. For it is sense-perception alone which is adequate for grasping the particulars (Aristotle Undated B, Book I, part 18). Induction, in other words, is only connected to the particulars, and the particulars cannot be objects for scientific knowledge, and consequently one must say that inductions are not scientific. Aristotle, therefore, defines science, quite narrowly. It is first of all defined in terms of the self-evident. This is why logic became so important, and still is. In Western thinking, the self-evident has always represented an ideal, which is the reason for a claim of evidence-based knowledge for the practice in medicine and psychology today. There might be a mismatch here in the sense that something evident is not necessarily the same as something self-evident. If something is evident, it may refer to a situation, whereas the self-evident refers to a sort of reasoning. In such cases, the evident is about the particular, whereas the self-evident is connected to the general. Hence the challenge is of course again to make a connection between the specific and the general, and Aristotle refuses to let science include knowledge solely based on the particular. Does this mean that inductions do not provide any knowledge at all? According to Aristotle, knowledge about the particular is certainly a sort of knowledge, but it stands in opposition to other forms of knowledge. Aristotle presents a distinction between knowledge based on proofs, and knowledge based on apparent proofs (Aristotle Undated A, Book 1, Part 2). This is a distinction, which is first of all discussed in the Rhetoric, because it is intimately related to persuasion. We may be persuaded by proofs, but we may also be persuaded by arguments and conclusions that more or less sounds like a proof. The latter is what he called apparent proofs. There are two terms he uses to characterize apparent proofs, and those are enthymeme and induction. The former is what he calls a rhetorical syllogism, which

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means that it is this kind of arguments that primarily appear in speeches, in which the aim is to persuade. An enthymeme must be defined as an incomplete syllogism. This does not mean that an enthymeme is not valid or even false. It may be as true as a complete syllogism, but some propositions are not articulated: The enthymeme must consist of few propositions, fewer often than those which make up the normal syllogism. For if any of these propositions is a familiar fact, there is no need even to mention it; the hearer adds it himself. (Aristotle Undated A, Book 1, Part 2.) It is hard to say there is a sharp distinction between rhetorical and scientifically founded knowledge. Particularly after the entrance of modernity, the borderline has become even more diffuse. Hence an enthymeme may appear in scientific discourses as well as in speeches, and the Cartesian inference cogito ergo sum is a typical enthymeme. It presupposes that thinking includes existence, which is not an articulated premise in the inference. Aristotle regards induction as being closely related to the enthymeme. The reason is that induction must also be regarded as a kind of incomplete syllogism. In that sense it is less valid than an enthymeme because it presupposes something that does not exist, namely that the particular forms a valid basis for the general. The example is an induction (Aristotle Undated A, Book 1, Part 2), he says, and he adds: I call [] the example a rhetorical induction (loc. cit.). A rhetorical induction and a proof of propositions based on a certain number of similar cases are in principle the same. The former is discussed in the Rhetoric, whereas the latter is discussed in the Analytics. The borderline between scientific and rhetorical knowledge is not very strict (Kjrup, 1996), and the main point here, is just to state that rhetorical discourses may also produce valid knowledge. In rhetoric the enthymeme and induction are surprisingly interwoven into each other. There are a lot of reasons for bringing in Aristotles Rhetoric in a discussion of the theory of science. Persuasion is an aspect of the production of knowledge in general. The other is the fact that self-evident reasoning and proofs do not cover the scientific discourses of today. A third aspect is that Aristotles Rhetoric is highly relevant for psychology. The thesis about the soul does not take into account the emotions and affects, which have dominated psychology from the 18th century on. These aspects were treated in the Rhetoric, and they were regarded as two out of three core issues in the art of persuasion. These are to be able (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited (Aristotle Undated A, Book 1, Part 2). What is interesting though, is that Aristotle then regards rhetoric as partly belonging to the discourse of logical reasoning (dialectics), but partly belonging to ethics as well. In other words, modern scientific reasoning, too, is not only a question of being evident or not, but probably even more touches questions of values, i.e., of being ethical or not.
Methodological options

In psychology, methodological approaches must be said to be a core issue. The expectations one may have of a method may involve some fundamental problems. A

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method is sometimes regarded as a procedure, which generates reliable results more or less automatically, so that the results generated by a certain method are self-evident, so to speak. One of the tentative conclusions one may draw so far is that this cannot be true. In a strict sense, one may say that valid general knowledge is so strongly limited to the theoretical sphere that ordinary empirical research cannot be included. The selfevident is only a part of the theoretical and the gap between this and normal empirical science is so huge that it is hard to unite the two worlds. Hence a method in itself is not a guarantee for a reliable bridge between the two worlds. A method is more to be regarded as a compensational strategy for the fact that the theoretical and empirical are two very different and separate domains. A method mirrors both a perspective and a compensational strategy, and one has to consider what kind of compensational strategy would be preferable in a certain project. The axiomatic method is of special interest in this respect because it reveals very clearly the underlying perspectives and compensational strategies. Axioms are unquestionable first sentences, which form the basis of reasoning. First sentences are general, like the principle of contradiction, which says that something cannot be both true and not true. Although there are no reasons to doubt this principle in our modern, or even postmodern age, the transition from the general to the specific is still a challenge. From Aristotle to the Enlightenment, the use of axiomatic method was quite widespread and consistently followed inferences from the general to the specific. General validity, however, was very often guaranteed by natural theology. As long any coincidences between Biblical statements and nature could be traced, the basis for axioms were laid. Both natural theology and axiomatic method were referred to in the 18th century, whereas both seem to disappear during the 19th century. Axiomatic method, in other words, requires either religious belief or Aristotelian first sentences, or both. Natural theology represented a compensation for the fact that Biblical statements about nature were not self-evidently given. This guaranteed a necessary relation between the theoretical and the empirical. The axiomatic method is probably the most consistent methodological system based on deduction. That is probably the reason why it is most successfully applied in geometry. In social sciences, on the other hand, it is probably only in economy that we may find a general acceptance of axiomatic approaches today. Economy became a discipline at the universities in the beginning of the 18th century. One of Europes two first professorships in economy was established at the University of Halle in 1727 (Frankelius, 2007), the same place where Wolff developed modern empirical psychology. Empirical psychology had the same methodological position as natural theology, but a very different role all the same. Whereas natural theology, like ontology and cosmology, guaranteed the validity of general statements, empirical psychology legitimised observations of the singular. By this methodological toolbox the Swedish Carl von Linn and the Norwegian Johan Ernst Gunnerus were able to establish a basis for modern biology. Their methodological framework, however, was definitely the axiomatic method. The axiomatic method is therefore primarily legitimized by metaphysics, which guaranteed general statements. And this is exactly why Kant wanted to banish empirical psychology from metaphysics. Empirical psychology was about something quite different, namely the particular. Hence if axiomatic method is based

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on the general aspects of metaphysics, and empirical psychology has shaken itself free from the embrace of metaphysics, then it should be very hard to combine empirical psychology with axiomatic method today. The inductive method, on the other hand, is probably the one that mirrors the age of modernity. The problem, however, is that it is based on a logical fallacy, which makes it invalid from a logical point of view. This is a paradox Aristotle realised, which is why he also discussed inductions in relation to rhetoric and called the example the rhetorical induction. We definitely learn by trials and errors, especially in daily life. The craftsman learns from singular experiences, and there are more reasons for trusting an experienced craftsman than an inexperienced. Even when it comes to science, trials and errors may in practice be the only leading guide. In both cases, knowledge is acquired, and by introducing empirical psychology as a part of metaphysics in the 18th century, this form of acquiring knowledge was accepted at that time too. Today, there is a problem in the sense that much of the metaphysics from that time is more or less rejected. The requirements regarding logical reasoning and proofs, on the other hand, are still there. The introduction of statistical procedures must be seen in this perspective. They are nothing more than compensations for the insurmountable gap between the theoretical and empirical spheres. The physicist and philosopher Stephen Toulmin is one who focuses on this gap. He says that a natural law gives us only the form of a regularity, telling us by itself nothing about the phenomena it can be used to explain (Toulmin, 1953/1960 p. 101). In this sense, a law is more like a foresight or a recipe, and science is primarily about understanding (Toulmin, 1963). Seen from this perspective, rhetoric must be regarded as a central aspect of scientific discourse in the sense that it combines logical forms with examples as a means for obtaining understanding. The dilemma of modernity is obvious. On the one hand scientific knowledge is expected and preferably built on self-evident forms of reasoning. On the other hand, we do not have any self-evident understanding of the connections between the theoretical and the empirical spheres. This implies that in science, deductive and inductive reasoning belong to some very incommensurable worlds. The hypothetic-deductive method however is an attempt to solve this modern dilemma. On the one hand, it states that the general is a theoretical construction, and must be characterised as a more or less qualified conjecture (Popper, 1963/1972). There is, on the other hand, certainly an option to deduce from a theoretical construction as well as unquestionable first sentences. This implies that a self-evident logical system can still be kept as a part of reasoning, despite the fact that very many unquestionable sentences are refuted. This implies also that as long as deductive reasoning runs from the general to the singular, the empirical aspect is included in the same manner as in the axiomatic method. The two methods are quite similar in this respect. The difference is that axioms must be regarded as hypotheses (Popper, 1934/1980, p. 72). The most controversial aspect of Poppers theory of science is, of course, the criterion of falsification, but this is not the brightest part of his theory. What is even more interesting in this context is the logical basis for it. This is the validity of inferring from the general to the particular and the fallacy in inferring from the particular to the general. If this logical reasoning implies that just one example is sufficient to falsify a

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hypothesis, then one may say that the kernel of a hypothetic-deductive method is to state that just one example is sufficient to acquire knowledge. This event may come into conflict or confirm the hypothesis, but it is still something to build on in a process of acquiring scientific knowledge. Charles Sanders Peirce in particular demonstrated that an unlimited number of curves might be drawn through the actual points in an x/y-diagram. This implies that an endless number of hypotheses may explain the events. Hence Peirce pointed out the problems with falsification as a criterion even before falsification had been formulated by Popper (Skagestad, 1978). Infinity minus one is still infinity, and we are not closer to the truth after having refused one theory or even many. Despite all the problems associated with the criterion of falsification, the basic principle in a hypothetic-deductive method is still valid, namely that one example is sufficient to gain scientific knowledge. This knowledge however must be regarded as hypothetical as long as it is general.

One of the core points of this paper is, first of all, to state that the empirical is not a term, but a situation. When we talk about empirical terms and statements, we are referring to an as-if-situation, in which the terms aspire to grasp a certain situation. The situation is then translated into a certain discourse, which aims at depicting the situation as precisely as possible. Thus methodology is, first of all, about this compensational strategy applied in a situation where the researcher aims to overcome the gap between the terms and the situation by connecting them as tightly as possible. There is a broad spectre of compensational strategies, in the sense that they might be formal or verbal, quantitative or qualitative. The point is that for whatever chosen compensational strategy, it is in principle impossible to avoid the transitional process from the specific to the general. This is also true when it comes to qualitative research and case studies. This is exactly what has been thematized in empirical psychology since the 18th century, and must still be said to be the core issue in psychology today. Hence psychology is primarily about the relation between the immediate sense-impressions and the notions they generate, which could actually count as a definition of psychology. This implies a double sense of the empirical, which is actually still there in psychology. On the one hand the empirical refers to the sense-impression itself, but on the other hand it refers to the scientific status of a sense-impression. The former was the object of experimental psychology in the 19th century whereas the latter has been thematized in psychology since the age of the Enlightenment until today. This is about the methodological challenge in empirical research in general, but from a historical perspective, it was psychology that paved the way for observation as a legitimate approach for understanding nature. This implies that the dichotomisation of theoretical versus empirical statements is problematic to sustain because empirical statements must be also regarded as theoretical. The differences, therefore, are not a question of principle, but of strategy. When we talk about empirical statements, we use formulations that pretend to establish a

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close relation with a situation, whereas when we talk about theoretical statements, the formulations do not have the same pretensions. It is the same when it comes to nomothetic sciences, which pretend to present more general statements than what is pretended in idiographic sciences. But there is another aspect of these terms, which could have been revitalized. That is the aspect of ethical values, which Windelband focused on. If methodology is primarily a matter of strategy, then there is a need for some other principles, in which our knowledge is founded, and those principles are probably to be found in values.

Aristotle (Undated A). Rhetoric, Translated by W. Rhys Roberts, The Internet Classics Archive, Aristotle (Undated B). Posterior Analytics, Translated by G. R. G. Mure, Provided by The Internet Classics Archive., Baumgarten, A.G (1750/2007). sthetik. Band 1. Lateinisch Deutsch, Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg Baumgarten, A.G (1758/2007). sthetik. Band 2. Lateinisch Deutsch, Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg Baumgarten, A.G (1783/2004). Metaphysik, Scheglmann, Jena Braithwaite, R.B. (1973). The Nature of Theoretical Concepts and the Role of Models in an Advanced Science, in Grandy, R.E. (Ed.) (1973). Theories and Observation in Science, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Campbell, N. (1973) Definition of a Theory, in Grandy, R.E. (Ed.) (1973). Theories and Observation in Science, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Descartes, R. (1975). A Discourse on Method. Meditations on the First Philosophy. Principles of Philosophy. Dent, London; Dutton, New York Frankelius, P. (2007) Linn i nytt ljus. Den frsta versttningen av Systema Naturae samt ny analys av Linns perspektiv. Liber, Malm Fllesdal, D. & L. Walle (1977). Argumentasjonsteori og vitenskapsfilosofi, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo, Bergen, Troms Giddens, A. (1991/1996). Modernitet og selvidentitet, Hans Reitzelz forlag Kbenhavn Grandy, R.E. (Ed.) (1973). Theories and Observation in Science, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Gunnerus, J.E. (1757). Institutiones metaphysicae scholis academicis, Hafniae Lipsiae Hannay, A. (2001) Kierkegaard. A Biography. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Hanson, N.R. (1973). Observation, in Grandy, R.E. (Ed.) (1973). Theories and Observation in Science, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Herbart, J.F. (1850). Sammtliche Werke. Fnfter Band. Schriften zur Psychologie. Erster Theil. Herausgegeben von G. Hartenstein, Verlag von Leopold Voss, Leipzig. Kant, I. (1781(A)/1787 (B)/1956/1971): Krtitik der reinen Vernunft, Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg (English quotations from the Norman Kemp Smith translation, Palgrave Macmillan)

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Kant, I. (1798/2002) Hva er mennesket? Antropologi i et pragmatisk perspektiv. Pax, Oslo Kierkegaard, S. (2009) Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs. Oxford University Press, oxford Kjrup, S. (1996). Menneskevidenskaberne. Problemer og traditioner i humanioras videnskbsteori, Roskilde universitetsforlag, Frederiksberg. Kvale, S. (1996). InterViews, Sage Publications, Thousand oaks, London, New Dehli Lamiell, J. (1998). Nomothetic and idiographic. Contrasting Windelbands Understanding with Contemporary Usage. Theory & Psychology, 8(1), 23-38 (1998) Leibniz, G. W. (1985). Neue Abhandlungen ber den menschlichen Verstand, Buch IIIIV. Leibniz Werke III/2. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt. Leibniz, G. W. (1985). Schriften zur Logik and zur philosophischen Grundlegung von Mathematik und Naturwissenschaft. Leibniz Werke IV. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt. Lotze, Hermann (1868): Geschichte der Wissenschaften in Deutschland. Neuere Zeit. Siebenter Band. Geschichte der Aesthetik in Deutschland. Litterarisch-artistische Anstalt der J. G. Gottaschen Buchhandlung Molenaar, P.C.M, & Valsiner, J. (2009). How generalization works through the single case: A simple idiogeaphic process analysis of an individual psychotherapy, in S., Salvatore, J., Valsiner, S., Strout-Yagodzynski, J. Clegg (Eds.). YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Vol 1 (pp. 23-38). Firera & Liuzzo Publishing, Rome. Michell, J. (1999). Measurement in Psychology. A Critical History of the Methodological Concept, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Popper, K.R. (1963/1972). Conjectures and Refutations. The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London and Henley. Popper, K. R. (1934/1980). The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Hutchinson, London, Melbourne , Sydney, Auckland, Johannesburg. Putnam, H. (1973). What theories are not, in Grandy, R.E. (1973). Theories and Observation in Science, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Quine, W.V.O. (1973). Posits and Reality, in Grandy, R.E. (1973). Theories and Observation in Science, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Rickert, H. (1902). Die Grenzen der naturwissenschaftlichen Begriffsbildung : eine logische Einleitung in die historischen Wissenschaften, J. C. B. Mohr, Tbingen. Salvatore, S., Tebaldi, C., S. Poti (2009). The Discursive Dynamic of Sense Making, in S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. Strout-Yagodzynski, & J. Clegg (Eds.). YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Vol. 1 (pp. 39-71), Firera & Liuzzo Publishing, Rome. Saussure, F.d. (1974). Course in General Linguistics, Owen, London Schfer, M. (1999). Nomothetic and Idiographic Methodology in Psychiatry A historical-philosophical analysis. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 3, December 1999, 265-274(10). Skagestad, P. (1978). Vitenskap og menneskebilde. Charles Peirce og amerikansk pragmatisme, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo, Bergen, Troms Smedslund, J. (1988). Psyco-logic, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Lonon, Paris, Tokyo Smedslund, J. (1997). The structure of psychological common sense. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah.

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Smith, R. (2005). The history of psychological categories, Stud. Hist. Phil. Biol. & Biomed. Sci. 36 (2005), 5594. Strauss, A. & J. Corbin (1998). Basics of Qualitative Research, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, London, New Dehli Sturm, T. (2001). Kant on Empirical Psychology: How not to investigate the Human Mind, in Watkins, E. (Ed.) (2001). Kant and the Sciences, Oxford University Press, Oxford Taylor, Ch. (2007): A Secular Age, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts Toomela, A. (2009). Methodology of Idiographic Science: Limits of Single-Case Studies and the Role of Typology. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J.B., Travers Simon & A. Gennaro (Eds.) YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science- Volume 2. (pp. 13-33). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Toulmin, S. (1953/1960). The Philosophy of Science. An Introdction. Harper & Row, New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London Toulmin, S. (1963). Foresight and Understanding. An Enquiry into the Aims of Science. Harper & Row, New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London Valsiner, J. (in press). Psychology in the Mirror: Looking for knowledge feeling in crises, in Valsiner, J. (in press, exp. 2011). Social Guidance of Science: Historical adventures of psychology, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, N.J. Windelband, W. (1873). Ueber die Gewissheit der Erkenntniss: eine psychologischerkenntnisstheoretische Studie, Henschel, Berlin. Wolff, C. (1738) Psychologia empirica, methodo scientifica pertractata, que ea, qu de anima humana indubia experienti fide constant, continentur et ad solidam univers philosophi practic ac theologi naturalis tractationem via sternitur. Editio nova priori emendatior, Frankfurt & Leipzig Wolff, C. (1745/1998). Psychologie ou trait sur lame. Contenant les Connoissances, que nous en donne lExprience. Christian Wolff Gesammelte Werke, Materialen und Dokumente, Band 46, Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim Wolff, C. (2005) Erste Philosophie oder Ontologie. Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg Wundt, W. (1902). Outlines of Psychology. Translation by Ch. H. Judd, Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig, London, New York. Wundt, W. (1917). Leibniz. Zu seinem zweiundhundertjhrigen Todestag 14. November 1916, Alfred Krner Verlag, Leipzig. Wundt, W. (1983). Ausgewhlte psychologische Schriften, Band II (1891-1913), Zentralantiquariat der Deutschen Demokratische Republik, Leipzig. Zimmermann, R. (1858): Geschichte der Aesthetik als Philosophischer Wissenschaft, Erster Historisch-Kritischer Theil, Wilhelm Braumller K.K. Hofbuchhndler, Wien



Nikita A. Kharlamov *

Hroar Klempe (2010) argues that there is an incommensurability between theoretical and empirical statements in psychology that is projected onto empirical situations. This statement is evaluated in a dynamic perspective from the standpoint of the performativity of science thesis. This holds that science by its nature is actively engaged in creating knowledge and reality. The author argues that this is precisely what happens in the empirical situations identified by Klempe. The performativity thesis is introduced by several observations of the functioning of science. Three main steps in the development of this thesis are outlined: science is quotidian, science is creating realities, creating realities is political. The author argues that instead of seeing incommensurability as a matter of resolution by principle, we should look at it as a matter of resolution in the process of routine doing science. The performativity thesis is then evaluated as a contribution to the development of idiographic science along two basic lines: as helping to understand the challenge of overcoming mainstream scientific consensus, and as helping to understand psychology as a technoscience and reveal the implications of this understanding. The author concludes with a proposal for idiographic science to be a modest adventure.

Banal Observations of Live Knowledge

I would like to start with three banal observations on how different phenomena are implicated in systems of knowledge, given in a sequence.

* Clark University - USA.


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Falling Rock
The first observation is of a falling rock. A rock falls off the edge of a cliff and hits the ground below. What does it mean to say that a rock has a certain acceleration, that is, a certain unit increase in its speed over a unit of time? Does it mean that acceleration is an intrinsic property of the rock? If soshould we admit that the rock is thinking, or at least, is able to observe its own positions in a certain system of coordinates and, on the basis of such observations, made at different moments in time, calculate its speeds and accelerations? For a modern physicist this question would probably be a laughable matter, or at best something that her colleagues in another building across campus spend their time on when they do philosophy. Physics moved away from routinely and seriously engaging with such questions more than three centuries ago1. This was a result of the separation of physics out of philosophy and its institutionalization as a discipline in its own right. It is not accidental that the Heisenberg principle had a much more profound influence on the self-image and worldview of philosophers than on those of physicists. We have to conclude then that the question is not really relevant for the practice of physics, but the only reasonable answer (unless we subscribe to some esoteric Gaia philosophy) would be that indeed, rocks do not think, it is we as physicists (or those who did physics in school) that ascribe notions such as acceleration to rocks. Consequently, there are many rocks out there thatby virtue of their irrelevance or inaccessibility to any observing humans who could perform the necessary computationsfall regardless of their accelerations as could be calculated in a Euclidean geometric system and put into a framework of Newtonian physics. But those rocks that end up framed into these remarkable systems of knowledge most certainly fall no differently than the unobserved ones.

Infected Dog
The second observation is of the lively and healthy middle-aged dog (belonging to the authors mother) suddenly becoming very weak and lethargic, refusing to eat or drink, and producing large amounts of bloody diarrhea. The dog is obviously suffering, like many dogs in the neighborhood. Many dogs that are stray dogs end up dying. In this instance, the existence of the dogs suffering is out of questionthe poor animal is in very visible physical pain and this pain is observable and recognizablenot only to humans but to the fellow dogs that inhabit the same house (the latter become agitated and avoid contact with the animal in distress). However, this particular dogs malady, albeit very similar to the malady afflicting those other dogs in the neighborhood, is

1 Postmodern attempts to re-engage natural sciences with such questions were partly responsible for the science wars of the 1990s (see Sokal, 2008, for a synthesis of critical responses to these attempts from the initiator of the Sokal Hoax).


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different in one crucial aspect. The dogs condition is identified by a veterinarianwho is promptly summoned by the animals owneras a severe gastrointestinal bacterial infectionthat is, an illness. Consequently, the dog is given an intravenous infusion of fluid (to make up for fluid lost in diarrhea), and huge doses of antibiotics (to destroy the germs deemed responsible for the dogs suffering) and immune system boosters (to enhance the bodys own defense mechanisms). The other animals (dogs and humans) in the house also get drugs to prevent their getting infected. The happy outcome (the sick dog recovers admirably after a week) in this case is a result of that particular dog becomingat one pointa very different dog from all the stray dogs that were infected by the epidemic, which in late 2000s halved the canine population in a northern Moscow neighborhood. The difference was that the dog was identified as having an illnesswhereas those other dogs were not identified as such and thus died, while all the humans in the neighborhoods kept minding their own businesses. In other words, while all these dogs were suffering, only a certain subset of those dogs (dogs that had owners who called in qualified professionals) was ill. In this context having an illness means the same as having an acceleration means for the rock in the previous observation. Dogs, apparently, dont know anything about germs or immune system boostersthey just suffer and sometimes die. But the same kind of suffering acquires a very different meaning when it is implicated in a system of knowledge.

Depressed Man
The third observation is of a person who feels depressed after losing a job, visits a local bookstore, and, after spending some time in the Psychology section, buys a selfhelp bookto subsequently read it. A short quiz identifies him as a person with an external locus of controlthat is, as being in a certain psychological condition, or having a certain psychological parameter. The book then explains that the notion of locus of control was introduced by the famous psychologist Julian Rotter, and that external locus of control means that the person attributes responsibility for all good and bad events and circumstances to forces outside himselfforces like slumping economy, nasty boss, unsupportive girlfriend, and sheer bad luck. The rest of the book is devoted to suggestions of taking a more proactive outlook, getting control of life, believing in oneself, and, among other things, developing an internal locus of control. In this case all grounds exist for identifying the person as a thinking entity who not only suffers but also (provided that he at least superficially believes in what the book says) thinks and therefore himself performs the operation of embedding himself in a certain networkin which notions such as locus of control and proactive outlook function in a web of connections to other stuff like the said book, Julian Rotter, and, for that matter, the discipline of psychology and the business of writing and selling self-help books. In this case suffering not only implies an external ascription of certain notions (as in the infected dog case) but also a dynamic change in the subject prompted by the subjects own activity of implicating himself in the knowledge system.


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Making Sense of the Banal Life of Knowledge

What is common in these three observations is that three different kinds of objects (the rock, the dog, the man) get involved in three different systems of knowledge. They get embedded in a network of stuff of various naturethings, notions, organizations, animals, professionals, and many othersand the connections and relations between them, which make knowledge possible in the living world2. What is fundamental for this commonality is that in all three cases knowledge is not something abstract and detached from the physical world, existing in a Platonic world of ideas or in a Popperian third world (Popper, 1979). Nor is it just something concrete and existing only in the here-and-now of functioning of human organisms. In all three examples knowledge is enactedit is dependent on performance of certain activities on the part of certain individuals, and on the embeddedness of these individuals in networks of things. What is all too often forgotten, knowledge cannot and does not exist apart from these enactments in networks. Neither accelerations of falling rocks nor canine gastrointestinal infections nor human loci of control can exist without falling rocks, suffering dogs, and humans answering Rotters questionnaires. On the contrary, they all exist in continuous and systematic enactment in epistemic networks, some of which include, in addition to everything else, the present Yearbook and polite email reminders to authors who shamelessly delay their contributions.

Enacting Knowledge in Empirical Situations

These observations3 allow me to focus on what Hroar Klempe (2010) calls empirical situations and on the core issue he raisesthe connection between the generaltheoretical knowledge (built on certain axiomatic foundations that permit some things to become self-evident), and the particularempirical world consisting of senseimpressions in all those multiplex situations in which we are immersed as psychologists, as scientists, and as ordinary living bodies full of red liquid and grey matter. What I will try to do is to take Klempes argument about incommensurability of the two worlds one step further and to see what it is that is going on4 in the domain of method and methodology. In other words, I will try to show that method and methodology are

2 The notion of network in this context comes from actor-network theory (ANT). See Latour, 2005, for an authoritative explication of ANT. 3 I made them on the basis of my personal experience and knowledge of the world, and thus, except for the Sokal reference, I intentionally omitted studies, references, and other paraphernalia of modern scientific knowledge. 4 It is to be recalled that this question is central for phenomenology. One of the most influential treatments of this question was that of Erving Goffman, whose Frame Analysis essentially opens with it (Goffman, 1974/1986, p.8). However, Goffman systematically understated the importance of non-knowledge components of what I here called epistemic networks.


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not static, abstract, and unproblematic domains (as they are often portrayed in journal articles), but the domains of dynamic and incessant work and accomplishment at provisionally resolving the incommensurability. In order to do this I will have to invoke the argument of performativity of science. This argument was developed in social studies of science, notably by John Law (Law, 2004; Law & Urry, 2004), in the past twenty five years and was famously applied to such kinds of things as Zimbabwe bush pump (de Laet & Mol, 2000), anemia in Africa and the Netherlands (Mol & Law, 1994), and Portuguese ships in the age of maritime colonization (Law, 1986). Recently it was also quite successfully applied to economic models of markets (Callon, 1998) and European social surveys (Law, 2009). My task will be to show how it also applies to psychology and what may for the sake of continuity and consistency be called psychological technology, as well as to identify how the performativity argument may contribute to the development of idiographic science.
Performativity of Science Thesis

The performativity argument was widely disseminated and several authoritative explications exist5. Therefore, for the convenience of the reader who may not have had a chance to encounter this line of thinking before, I will describe the core of the argument, loosely following the writings of John Law. The argument could be rendered in three steps. The first step is to admit that science is not separated from the world but forms a part of it. The second step is to admit that science not only represents the world out there but creates the world as well. The third step is to admit that the scientific contribution to the creation of the world is to a considerable extent a political enterprise. Let us look at the steps in this sequence. One important caveat along the way is that although in the present paper I mostly write about scientific knowledge and its becoming, the same argument is relevant for any knowledge. Indeed an important part of the performativity thesis is that the boundary between scientific knowledge and common-sense, or everyday, knowledge, and other kinds of knowledge, is far fuzzier than Karl Popper (1934/1959) maintained. I will return to this point in the final part of the paper, when discussing psychology as a technoscience.
Messy world of science in the making

It is surprising (though not so surprising if we consider the public relations benefit of this) how often science functions in overt denial of its own process and of the fact that the workings of production and producers of scientific knowledge are tedious and, to introduce John Laws (2004) notion, messy. All a scientist has to do to get a sense of the mess in question is to remember any of his or her own recent researchresearch

5 See Law, 2004, for a detailed treatment, as well as the aforementioned studies.


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before it got to the neat finalized form of something that is socially accepted as scientific knowledge. Before the journal prints an article there are peer reviews (with e-mails, electronic manuscript management systems, word processor failures). Before peer reviews there is the text production (more computer failures, as well as late night coffees). Before text production there is the crucial moment of figuring out the result (more late night coffees, as well as exhausting process at looking at SPSS outputs, fieldwork notes that look so much less coherent than one thought they were looking at the time of writing). Before there is the data collection (with participants coming late, digital voice recorders memory cards self-destructing together with interview recordings)all this is just a backward glimpse at some of the stages of knowledge being made into being, and it is what normally is confined to acknowledgements sections of articles and books. Even very detailed methods sections would stop well short of mentioning the actual particular research occurrences. I mean such occurrences as the voice recorder with the new interview recording getting lost because it fell out of the interviewers pocket in a crowded rush-hour subway. Or the fact that the crucial significance p < .001 on a statistical test, later reported in the article, was first observed at 3:47 AM on a Tuesday night by a researcher staying late in her office at the department. It is not surprising that we owe the recognition of this quotidian dimension of science to ethnographers of science who actually went into research labs and carefully recorded everything (and every thing) they saw. These records helped to partially dismantle the sacralized image of white-coated scientists working in spotless ivory towers, and to see the actual humans heatedly discussing interview schedules and test tube cleaning, and warming coffee in microwavesas well as test tubes and microwaves themselves.
Creating facts and worlds

However, it was only the first part of the story. Most people, in natural sciences as well as in human sciences, would not debate the existence of empty coffee cups and overfilled filing cabinets. What many would debate is the suggested implications. This is what gave Bruno Latour, whose work in a microbiology lab at the Salk Institute in San Diego resulted in one of the most well known laboratory ethnographies (Latour & Woolgar, 1979), most of his fame. Latour and his coauthor Steve Woolgar not only argued that science is quotidian. They also argued that science is productivethat is, it does not simply reveal, or discover, the reality out there, but to a large extent creates, or produces, the reality. Thus, what becomes a fact in the process of scientific discovery is also created, enacted into existence. Moreover, this and any subsequent enactment is embedded in a network of stuff (test samples, researchers, coffee pots, statistical test results, Institutional Review Boards and ethic codes) that John Law (2004) calls hinterland. And no enactment is possible outside a proper hinterland 6 . In a nutshell,

6 Therefore, what replicability means in this context is replication of a hinterlandcostly enterprise too, which is why so few studies get replicated when it does not come to matters of life and death or of massive profits.


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what Latour and his colleagues in social studies of science did was to take the old constructivist argument and to strengthen it with documentation of the actual process of science7 and to show how exactly scientific facts and knowledge get enacted in human activity 8 .
Power and politics of enacting knowledge

But, as the aforementioned dogs fate indicates, it is not just about knowledge. It is also about politics. The enactment of the dogs suffering as a bacterial gastrointestinal infection was possible only in a hinterland that included the terrified owner, the qualified veterinarian, cell phones, and so many other things that the poor stray dogs lacked. And thus many of the latter perished while the former was implicated in a system of knowledge and a corresponding hinterland of technology (intravenous needles, packs of antibiotics)and ultimately recovered (which was yet another fact that had to be established in the hinterland including the veterinarian). This is what Annemarie Mol (1999) called ontological politics. Reality, contra positivist philosophy, is not uniform and singular. There are many possible realities, and enactment of some realities, their making present, simultaneously makes other realities less salient, and thus contributes to their absence. This is what happened to phlogiston when Lavoisier was making a scientific revolution by discovering oxygen9. This is what happened to Lamarckian view of heredity after Mendels formative works in genetics while followers of Darwin were contributing to the emergence of scientific racism and eugenics (Degler, 1991). This is what could happen to the human mind if neuroscience succeeds in relegating consciousness and rationality to the status of secondary epiphenomena. What is political in the whole story is simply (and so complexly) that behind each reality stand real humans and real power relations. Thus, enacting one reality in place of another reality is a political act that has implications for many humans, groups, and powers. This is evident in the political implications of the invalidation of scientific evidence for racism, as well as in the current debate about the proposed inclusion of Aspergers syndrome, or disorder, into the broad category of autism-spectrum disorders

7 As distinguished from historical studies such as Ludwik Flecks study of syphilis (Fleck, 1935/1979). 8 This is very much what enraged the positivist critics of social studies of science such as Sokal, 2008, for whom scientific knowledge is generally independent of the process of its creation, and indeed, the process is rather seen as discovery. 9 Thomas Kuhn (1962/1996), using a different vocabulary, gives a fascinating historical outline of how properly configured hinterlands also enacted Lavoisier, and not Scheele and not even Priestley, as the scientist responsible for the overthrowing of phlogiston theory. In a way, Latour and other laboratory ethnographers give a certain answer to one of the central questions for Kuhnwhat happens in the period between the occurrence of the first anomalies and the settling in of the new paradigmonly they extend the argument to Kuhns normal science as well.


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in the forthcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard tool of mental health professionals and researchers in the United States and many other places10.
Metaphysics, Performativity, and the Processual Resolution of Incommensurability

To sum up, the main point of performativity thesis is that scientific knowledge is not, as Kantian metaphysics would prescribe, simply about distantiated observing and reporting on the state of affairs out there. Rather it is about performing a wide range of activities in hinterlands, networks of human and non-human stuff that create conditions for something to become knowledge, or to be created as such. Performativity implies that science is quotidian, scientific facts are enacted, and scientific knowledge is political11. This picture of science is very different from what Francis Bacon (1952, Bacon of New Atlantis even more than the Bacon of Novum Organum), Karl Popper (1934/1959), and even Thomas Kuhn (1962/1996) have envisaged. It does not automatically presuppose a totally skeptical view of scienceafter all, science and its applications in technology (widely understood) is oftentimes very successful,but what it certainly does is to undermine the ivory tower aspiration and to demand a considerable degree of modesty on the part of researchers and practitioners. And this kind of performance is precisely what happens when scientists of all walks of science perform the everyday resolutions of the incommensurability that Hroar Klempe (2010) writes about. In this respect I find particularly illuminating Klempes observation that the differences [between theoretical statements and nomothetic science on one hand, empirical statements and idiographic science on the other] are not a question of principle, but of strategy (Klempe, 2010, p.12). He suggests that this resolution is not a matter of a principle within methodology, but rather a matter of values. The performativity thesis helps see how this is achieved in practiceon a routine, provisional, day-to-day, here-and-now basis, by scientists who do not specialize in metascientific reflections but who have to accomplish their normal tasks of doing science. However, values in this perspective are not exclusively the gen-

10 One of the controversies is that many people living with Aspergers syndrome do not wish to be labeled as having autismas it could have many consequences ranging from feelings of stigmatization to relations with employers and insurance companies. The current edition, DSM-IV (APA, 2000), presents Autistic Disorder and Aspergers Disorder as separate disorders. See Sanders, 2009, for a review of issues in clinical differentiating of autism and Aspergers Disorder. 11 It is important to recognize that the politics in this context achieves meaning that would expand Michel Foucaults notion of governmentality (see Burchell, Gordon, & Miller, 1991) rather than follow a more conventional exposition of academic politics in the spirit of Pierre Bourdieu (1984/1988).


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eral values or grand metaphysical systems, but rather the low-key practical values and practical sense (Bourdieu, 1994/1998), often implicit and tacit, that guide scientists in choosing the particular resolutions they perform on the basis of habit as much as on the basis of scrutinizing reasoning and reflection. This is how I read Klempes argument that Empirical statements should be the statements, which on the one hand make the gap explicit, and on the other present the devices for how to overcome the gap. Empirical statements therefore are statements which unite theory with an empirical situation. (Klempe, 2010, p.8). Rom Harr observed that science is impossible without metaphysics and suggested that we must let our metaphysical presuppositions be explicit, examined and their consequences drawn out (2004, p.241). In the light of the performativity thesis this means that what Klempe terms the self-evident, his theoretical statements, is in fact the very metaphysics that organize certain hinterlands and assign the force of scientific credibility to the knowledge that is enacted in these hinterlands12. This is very much what Harr criticizes in mainstream psychology in North America (and, it should be added, in other places) as the behaviourist legacy mistaken ideas about the physical sciences as ideal types to emulate, together with a persistent positivistic empiricism that vitiates a great deal of expensive and time-consuming research (Harr, 2004, p.241). And this brings me to my final task of identifying the way the performativity thesis can be productively woven into idiographic science.

Toward Dynamic Idiographic Human Technosciences

Two major contributions of the performativity thesis to idiographic science can be discerned. The first is strategic, and it involves idiographic sciences advance toward the status of a recognized way of doing science. The second is substantive, and it involves the way science, and psychology in particular, views itself and its relation to the world out thereand how this relation might be integrated into science itself.

12 There is an important side-story to this: this means that science and scientific knowledge are localizedsituated in space and timeand this has important consequences for the limits of knowledge and its claims of credibility. The constraints of the commentary size do not permit me to engage in discussing this important feature of the performativity thesis. I refer the reader to the works of Thomas Gieryn (2006) and John Law and Annemarie Mol (2001) for differing treatments of the situatedness of science.


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Overcoming Pseudoempirical Consensus in Mainstream Human Sciences The first contribution would be to elucidate the nature of the challenge that two of the editors of this Yearbook identify when they develop the idea of idiographic science. Their critique of generalization on the basis of inferences from samples to populations (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2008) and their identification of the assumption of ergodicity as the core for the metacommunity of contemporary mainstream (again!) psychology (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2010) is essentially a critique of the commonly accepted metaphysics. The split between the individualistic ontology, defining the object/aim of the investigationthe transcendental human beingand the socio-typical methodology, defining the conceptual machine generative of the data: the population (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2010, p.3) lies at the core of the commonly accepted hinterland and its metaphysical basis that allow for a certain resolution of the incommensurability identified by Klempe. This hinterland is currently firmly established, but the indications of its crisis are abound. Thus, Mike Savage and Roger Burrows (2007) explicitly talk of the coming crisis of empirical sociologyborrowing the spirit of Alvin Gouldners (1970) critique of Western sociology but bringing it into the methodological domain. Even more important (and distressing) is what Mike Savage (2009) identifies as the descriptive assemblageaccumulation of massive amounts of empirical data coupled with capabilities of swift analysis (often with brute-force Monte-Carlo-styled techniques, without any theoretical aspirations). The challenge is to develop a new hinterland that will allow for enacting a different kind of science. In other words, performers of idiographic science will have to create new epistemic networks in human sciencesnetworks that will allow to enact a different kind of objects for science (and to get away from persons as members of populations) and avoid falling into the totalizing descriptiveness suggested by Savage and Burrows. This will mean enacting different persons. Hopefully these will not, by virtue of their being European American (Arnett, 2008) and/or enrolled in an undergraduate psychology course, come to represent humankind at large13. Hopefully these persons will not be taken in isolation from their social and cultural world or in the framework of membership in monolithic cultures and societies but as bearers of personal culture (Valsiner, 2007, p.60) in what Harr (2004, p.248) calls psychological symbiosis of humans and their dynamic social worlds. It will also entail getting away from the rigidity of disciplinary boundaries, particularly between psychology and sociology that have gone a long way away since Jean Piagets (1932/1997, p.348) denouncement of their antagonism. This is as much a task of knowing as a task of exercising ontological politics. To very loosely paraphrase the famous expression (the relevance of which is by no means

13 That is not to say that they dont deserve itit is to say that they deserve much more than just representing.


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accidental), idiographic scientists have so far been keen on explaining the nature of the dominance of empirical, positivist, deductive science. But their task is to change it (and this Yearbook is part of this process).
Psychology as Technoscience

The second contribution would be to fully acknowledge the performative nature of science itself and to understand that enacting particular kinds of humans by way of psychological (as well as sociological, etc.) knowledge means creating these kinds of humans while unavoidably and contingently making other kinds of humans absent. This should go hand in hand with acknowledging that psychology, like all other sciences, is a technoscience. That is, its practices are also technologies and the science of psychology is very much about inventing new kinds of humans, or reinventing humans and human nature. Psychology, perhaps more than any other human science, routinely engages in reinventing human nature: it makes unnatural those things in human personality and behavior that are considered to be negative. Take, for example, the way liberallyoriented developmental theories with notions like autonomy-supportive parenting became implicated in a hinterland of educational practices. Similarly, human sciences with psychology and biology at the forefront were responsible for dismantling biological and anthropological determinism in explanations of criminal behavior (and today neuroscience sometimes smuggles these back through the rear door). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that: after all, the Luddite point of view is not very popular and hence we normally do not condemn the invention of the radio (development of a technology) that followed the discovery of radio waves (emergence of a scientific fact). A more dangerous position would be to deny the performativity of human sciences and to assert the ivory tower representational positivist view that scientific knowledge is just a benign image of the world out there, and that all practical consequences of discovering and using knowledge are external to knowledge itself. As the history of the invention of the atomic and later hydrogen bomb, and the subsequent change in positions of Albert Einstein and Andrei Sakharov show, knowledge is very far from innocence. Social studies of science have revealed many fascinating things about physics, biochemistry, sociology and demographyand I would not doubt that many interesting discoveries could be made about the technoscience of psychology (such asfor startersthe creation of the hinterland of Julian Rotter, self-help books, and persons ready to think about their very own loci of control). This contribution is particularly important for cultural psychology (see also Footnote 12), because psychology apparently lags well behind other human sciences, notably sociology, which has long recognized the role of intellectuals, including scientists, in legislating and interpreting the social world (Bauman, 1987) in recognizing its own impact on the world and especially on the stuff it claims to be researching. Ethical guidelines that on the surface claim to deal with this impact, unfortunately, often act in exactly the opposite direction by underscoring the universalist nature of scientific ethicsethics of research with human subjectswhile limiting the considerations

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of impact to unidirectionally defined well-being of the participants with respect to responsibility of individual researchers and institutions, rather than to knowledge as a whole.

The Modest Adventure of Idiographic Science

Accepting the performativity thesis is not an easy task for a scientist. It is especially hard for those who feel critical about the extremities of postmodernist thinking. Indeed, the whole thesis was developed under the influence and as a part of the postmodernist movement. However, the time for postmodernist skepticism is over (Valsiner, 2009a, 2009b)the task now is to develop insights, ideas, and notions that come from postmodernist thinking and that are productive and fruitful for developing new kinds of science, while leaving the extremities in the roaring nineties. This means that the process of science should be seen as a constant processual resolution of incommensurability between the theoretical and the empirical. To an extent, this requires modesty on the part of the researcher: modesty that goes both ways, in limiting the aspirations for totalizing power under an uncritically accepted metaphysics (such as the mainstream pseudo-empiricism), and in limiting the political aspirations of scientists who would go far off in reinventing human nature and social behavior in ways they see fit14. Finally, it is important to recognize that methodology should have an explicit and centrally located emphasis reserved for the researcher, who intuitively experiences phenomena in connection with his or her axioms and constructs theories from ones personal standpoint (Valsiner, 2007, p.365). The resolution of incommensurability between the general and the particular, and the accomplishment of the critical task of generalization and creation of universally relevant (as opposed to universalizing and totalizing) theories, is impossible by way of an abstract, impersonal, once-and-for-all installation of a principle. Rather, it requires admitting that [s]cientists are not rational automata, but subjective, personally-involved human beings who have their subjective preferences and positions from which they look at the targets of their research and that scientific inquiry is a form of adventure (Simmel, 1959a) where the pleasure of finding out something new creates the intrinsic motivation that keeps human beings involved in practices rather distant from the so-called real-life (Valsiner, 2007, p.365). Idiographic science is a modest adventure this is its central quality and promise.

14 In this respect, I would not venture to call some strands of non-mainstream postpositivist human science, such as the qualitative research as seen and collected by Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (2005), very modest.


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American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., TR). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. Arnett, J. J. (2008). The neglected 95%: Why American psychology needs to become less American. American Psychologist, 63, 602-614. Bacon, F. (1952). Advancement of learning. Novum Organum. New Atlantis. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. Bauman, Z. (1987). Legislators and interpreters: On modernity, post-modernity and intellectuals. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Bourdieu, P. (1988). Homo Academicus (P. Collier, Trans.). Cambridge: Polity. (Original work published 1984) Bourdieu, P. (1998). Practical reason: On the theory of action. Stanford: Stanford University Press. (Original work published 1994). Burchell, G., Gordon, C., & Miller, P. (Eds.). (1991). The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality, with two lectures by and an interview with Michel Foucault. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Callon, M. (Ed.). (1998). The laws of the market. Oxford, England: Blackwell. de Laet, M., & Mol, A. (2000). The Zimbabwe bush pump: Mechanics of a fluid technology. Social Studies of Science, 30, 225-263. Degler, C. N. (1991). In search of human nature: The decline and revival of Darwinism in American social thought. New York: Oxford University Press. Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2005). The Sage handbook of qualitative research. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Fleck, L. (1979). Genesis and development of a scientific fact (F. Bradley & T. J. Trenn, Trans., T. J. Trenn & R. K. Merton, Eds.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1935) Gieryn, T. F. (2006). City as truth-spot: Laboratories and field-sites in urban studies. Social Studies of Science, 36, 5-38. Goffman, E. (1986). Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press. (Original work published 1974) Gouldner, A. W. (1970). The coming crisis of Western sociology. New York: Basic Books. Harr, R. (2004). The social construction of persons. In C. Lightfoot, C. Lalonde, & M. Chandler (Eds.), Changing conceptions of psychological life (pp. 241-250). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Klempe, H. (2010). Theoretical and empirical statements in psychology. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J. T. Simon, & A. Gennaro (Eds.), Yearbook of Idiographic Science: Vol. 3 (pp. 29-45). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Kuhn, T. S. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions. (3rd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1962) Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (1979). Laboratory life: The social construction of scientific facts. Beverly Hills: Sage. Law, J. (1986). On the methods of long distance control: Vessels, navigation and the

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Portuguese route to India. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? (pp. 234-263). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Law, J. (2004). After method: Mess in social science research. London: Routledge. Law, J. (2009). Seeing like a survey. Cultural Sociology, 3, 239-256. Law, J., & Mol, A. (2001). Situating technoscience: An inquiry into spatialities. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 19, 609-621. Law, J., & Urry, J. (2004). Enacting the social. Economy and Society, 33, 390-410. Mol, A. (1999). Ontological politics: A word and some questions. In J. Law & J. Hassard (Eds.), Actor network theory and after (pp. 74-89). Oxford, England: Blackwell. Mol, A., & Law, J. (1994). Regions, networks and fluids: Anaemia and social topology. Social Studies of Science, 24, 641-671. Piaget, J. (1997). The moral judgment of the child (M. Gabain, Trans.) New York: Free Press. (Original work published 1932) Popper, K. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. New York: Basic Books. (Original work published 1934) Popper, K. (1979). Objective knowledge: An evolutionary approach. (Rev. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Salvatore, S., & Valsiner, J. (2008). Idiographic science on its way: Towards making sense of psychology. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. Strout-Yagodzynski & J. Clegg (Eds.), Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Vol. 1 (pp. 9-19). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Salvatore, S., & Valsiner, J. (2010). Idiographic science as a non-existing object: The importance of the reality of the dynamic system. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J. T. Simon, & A. Gennaro (Eds.), Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Vol. 3 (pp. 7-26). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Sanders, J. L. (2009). Qualitative or quantitative differences between Aspergers Disorder and autism? Historical Considerations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 15601567. Savage, M. (2009). Contemporary sociology and the challenge of descriptive assemblage. European Journal of Social Theory, 12, 155-174. Savage, M., & Burrows, R. (2007). The coming crisis of empirical sociology. Sociology, 4, 885-899. Sokal, A. (2008). Beyond the hoax: Science, philosophy and culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in minds and societies: Foundations of cultural psychology. New Delhi: Sage. Valsiner, J. (2009a). Cultural psychology today: Innovations and oversights. Culture & Psychology, 15, 539. Valsiner, J. (2009b). Integrating psychology within the globalizing world: A Requiem to the post-modernist experiment with Wissenschaft. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 43, 1-21.


Theory strikes back: performativity and tehe messy empirical in human sciences

Nikita A. Kharlamov, Department of Psychology, Clark University, USA, and Center for Fundamental Sociology, National Research UniversityHigher School of Economics, Russian Federation. Nikita A. Kharlamov is working on the intersection of environmental psychology, sociology of everyday life, and postpositivist human geography, and is focusing his research on the everyday emergence of meaning in the urban environment. He is also working on the methodology of idiographic science (particularly on developing insights from actor-network theory influenced social studies of science and from nonrepresentational theory) and history of ideas in urban studies (particularly on the genesis, development, and metaphorical foundations of the concept of marginality, as well as on the reception of the legacy of the Chicago School of sociology in contemporary urban studies). Nikita holds a BA degree from Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia) and an MA degree from the University Of Manchester (UK), both in Sociology. He is now pursuing his PhD in the Social/Evolutionary/Cultural Psychology program at Clark University (Worcester, MA, USA), working with Dr. Jaan Valsiner. Nikita is an Associated Researcher at the Center for Fundamental Sociology at the National Research UniversityHigher School of Economics, Russian Federation, and is a member of the International Sociological Association (RC21: Sociology of Urban and Regional Development).Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Nikita A. Kharlamov, Department of Psychology, Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610. e-mail:



Claudia Venuleo* and Marco Guidi *

In the present study we underline the utility of the Reflexive Training Setting (RTS) in the bachelor degree in psychology. The RTS is an educational method aimed at promoting students self-awareness about their representations of the training experience. Furthermore, we present a survey on the meanings a group of freshmen enrolling in a Psychology degree ascribe to the students training role. We interpret these meanings as the result of the specific positioning the students assume in relation to the symbolizations shared in the wider social context they belong to, and as the interpretative keys through which the students represent their relationship with the University and the professional figure they wish to become. Our analysis is aimed at exploring whether, and in which directions, the students ways of interpreting their training experience will change, thanks to a specific workshop on the Reflexive Training Setting methodology designed to help students incorporate reflexivity in their training experience.

The meanings an actor attributes to his/her experience are usually taken for granted. In this sense, these meanings are the reality for the actor and affect the value of the events s/he deals with, the way of seeing these events, and the outcome of this process of knowledge.

* University of Salento - Italy .


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In the case of the training provided in a bachelor degree, the meanings orient the ways the students talk about their own experience as well as the ways they organize their relationship with the objects (activities, roles, rules, tools, contents and tasks) of the academic context. Let us refer to some key fragments of a written text produced by a student enrolling in a bachelor degree in psychology1. The student writes: It is fundamental, for the student, to study with a strong motivation and with an ongoing curiosity towards the subjects of the different courses. (...) The student in psychology will first of all get the basic training offered by the first year of study, and then, after acquiring a good preparation in most of the subjects, s/he will address his/her vocation. Being a student in psychology therefore means having a good knowledge of psychological subjects and also medical and biological ones. (...) To be enrolled in the first year of this bachelor degree is the first goal of a long path I have to face. This is why I really want to get my degree as soon as possible and, afterwards, I am aware I will be facing years of apprenticeship, that will lead me to serve the profession I like the most In this fragment, a direct and ready-made connection between the commitment to studies and professional competence is suggested. In this passage, the student is revealing the connection s/he assumes between his/her personal commitment and the product of the learning process. That is, the greater the personal commitment to study, the better the results. Taking this connection for granted will probably sustain, for instance, his/her taking part in lessons, his/her reading all the texts recommended by the teacher in preparation for an exam, and so forth. At the same time, such a premise will lead those activities that the student does not represent in terms of studying to be considered marginal. For instance, activities designed to raise student satisfaction with specific aspects of the academic experience or aimed at increasing students social life (such as theater laboratories or sport activities, and so on). In short, we claim that meanings orient the students practices. It is worth underlining that we do not regard the meanings the actors use to shape reality either as ready-made elements of knowledge, or as individual constructions. In any training activity, instructors and students influence each other in the meaningmaking process, concurring in defining the why, the how and the what that has been acted out in the activity they share (Venuleo, Salvatore, Mossi et al., 2008). This element is highlighted, in the following Figures 1 and 2, by the two-way double-line arrows. To give an example, if a teacher begins a lesson by declaring: Today I will explain the concept of transfer without any further specification such as how this construct is connected with previously discussed concepts or the relevance of this concept to

1 In the following, we will explicitly specify the circumstances (aims, moments of production, modalities) of this written text production.


Thr reflexive traiming setting

clinical practice s/he is not only giving the students information, but is also suggesting a specific positioning of the kind: the usefulness of the concept I am going to present is taken for granted. Insofar as the students respond by taking down notes, they help to generate the instituted character of the procedure, as if it were a routine with a ready-made sense. This is what happens in the traditional training setting (See Fig. 1). Figure 1. Traditional taken for granted setting

Trai ne r me aning m ode ls

Stu den ts me aning m ode ls

Anyway, the recognition of the pragmatic value of meanings and the idea that these meanings orient and shape professional socialization suggests that the ability to exercise reflexivity on these meaning is essential for training. Our conception of reflexivity focuses on the dialectic between taken-for-granted knowledge and subjectivity. According to any constructivist approach, perceiving a stimulus (an individual, a task, a certain kind of activity) does not occur before attributing a meaning to it: the perception of the stimulus is rather mediated by the meaning attributed to it. This means that two people dealing with the same field of experience will be able to perceive different objects insofar as and as a result of their reference to different systems of meaning. In this perspective, reflexivity can be depicted as the competence to acknowledge the binding role of subjectivity in the construction of knowledge about the world, and this implies inquiring into the complex expectations, aims, selfinterest and social requirements which play a part in selecting and organizing the point of view from which the experience is interpreted (White & Stancombe, 2003)2. The value of this reflexive competence has been underlined in order to sustain the competence of an individual, a group or a collective to adapt to new environments: broadly speaking of a meaning-making system (inter alia: Schn, 1987; Parker, 1992; Fook, 1999; Simpson, Large & OBrien, 2004; Brown, 2006; DCruz, Gillingham &

2 This conception of reflexivity is recognized as a central competence, especially in relation to the uncertainty and/or the unpredictability of the situations one deals with (Parton & OByrne, 2000) in the field of mental health services (Role, 1998; Rolf, 1997), in the psychiatric field (Ballon & Skinner, 2008) and in the clinical-psychology training program (Sheikh, Milne & Macgregor, 2007). The reflexive practitioner has to be aware of the ways s/he contributes to making sense of the practice situations, that is, to defining the ways (the what, the how and the why) of his/her work (Taylor & White, 2000).


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Melendez, 2007). From this perspective, too, one can guess the relevance of promoting such a competence in psychological training: in fact, if the meanings guide the way people act in the social world, psychology configures itself as a science of meaningmaking, that is a science dealing with the forms and symbolic products through which the actors construct their experience of the world (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2006). This means that, in the case of psychological training, the competence to inquire into the ways people generate their knowledge of the world and to gain awareness about ones own meanings of the world, is the main competence that students of psychology have to achieve. We use the name Reflexive Training Setting (RTS) for a specific training model that considers the meanings by which the students interpret their academic experiences as the very subject of the training, thus a setting where the students might recognize their own role in the symbolic construction and development of the meanings of their present role as students and their future professional identity.

The Reflexive Training Setting

(...) the ultimate goal of this workshop was that of reflecting upon ourselves , on our choice and on the meaning of being a psychology student.. Though short, this path was not easy at all, as it compelled us to revise and reassess our ideas in a critical manner (...) I had an earlier moment of crisis, mostly connected to the fact that I was entering a completely unknown world that was therefore full of pitfalls. . Now, at the end of this orientation workshop, I can firmly state that I am more untroubled and self-confident than I was before the beginning of this workshop, and that I will undertake this course of study with the awareness and the proper commitment to achieve my goals as well as possible ; and even if it requires some huge cost of me, with the due constancy and patience I am sure I will succeed. This is a fragment of a written text produced by a student enrolling in a bachelors degree in psychology at the end of a workshop based on Reflexive Training Setting (RTS). Here, the student focuses his/her attention on the process of reflecting upon ones own meanings, and recognizes that this process is very useful in sustaining his/her commitment in his/her goals in relation to the new experience. The activation of a reflexive competence is the basic product of an RTS. The instructor actuates his/her own reflexive function (see Fig. 2a), in order to focus on, and to promote in the trainees, in the here-and-now of the training experience, the same ability to activate a reflexive function (see Fig. 2b)3.

3 In order to exemplify the difference between RTS and a traditional training setting, let us think of the ways a teacher could interact with the silence of a student. In the traditional setting, silence can be considered an expected behavior if the teacher is explaining the subject, and a deviation from the expected role if the


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Figure 2. The Reflexive Training Setting



Trai ne r me aning m ode ls

Stu den ts me aning mode ls

Trai ne r me aning mode ls

Stu den t me aning mode ls

In the RTS perspective, any discursive and behavioral act is regarded as a sign conveying many (potentially infinite) meanings and, as such, is to be questioned: what does the production of that sign mean for that student in the here-and-now of the situation and in relation with the other signs that the other participants have expressed up to now? The reflexive competence concerns a self-inquiring approach to ones own way of gaining and constructing knowledge. Thus, RTS is not grounded on the anticipatory idea of what the students have to become, or of which contents they should enact through their discursive or behavioral acts. The change of the models by which the students relate to their experience is involved in the conception of the reflexive model, since any reflexive activity generates a transformation in meanings. Nevertheless, we do not conceive reflexive work as being addressed to a specific change or aim to pursue . From this perspective, RTS also differs from all the models anchored to a learning from errors logic, aimed at finding solutions, or learning what actions one has to perform in the future, in order to avoid further problems. In point of fact , RTS stresses the uniqueness of the experience and the awareness on ones own contribution in shaping the shared reality in the contingence of a situation, not the acquisition of general knowledge schemes good for any situation. It should be noticed that, insofar as the training function is that of helping the students to acquire a reflexive approach to the meanings they use, RTS also works as an enacted model of what the psychology profession could be, marked by the adoption of a reflexive positioning operating as a basic regulator of the role. In this sense: the instructor does not speak of Psychology; s/he rather performs a psychologi-

teacher is asking the students questions on a certain subject (i.e. a sign of the student lack of ability or, on a different and more general level, a way of rejecting the system of activity and its rules). Whatever it could be, the meaning of the students silence is mostly taken for granted and evaluated according to the teachers normative model. In contrast, in the RTS perspective, silence (as well as other elements of the meaningmaking process) is examined.


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cal function, promoting a reflexive position on the meanings of the discursive and behavioral acts the students enact in the here and now of the training. In so doing, s/he suggests that being a student in Psychology entails, from the beginning, an active and constructive position; insofar as the instructor allows different points of view (of the students taking part in the Reflexive setting) to emerge, s/he also suggests that the users subjectivity, expectations and aims play a primary role in the construction of the meaning of the (training) experience and in the achievement of the conditions for ones own development; the instructor supports the students (and, in so doing, s/he suggests the value) in recognizing the underlying meanings they share in their discursive exchange and in analysing the taken- for-granted meanings carried out by their discursive positioning.
How to promote Reflexivity

The awareness of the constructive and, at the same time, binding role of ones own and others subjectivity in the construction of knowledge can be promoted if the training setting is conceived as a process generating, rather than transmitting, objects (competencies, representational contents, expectations, purposes ...)4. The generative property of RTS has to be understood as the function of the meanings the students are enacting and making relevant through their discursive exchanges in the course of (the interpretation of ) their experience. Insofar as a basic aim of RTS is to promote the analysis of the ways the meanings contribute to shape the experience, RTS feeds on both the differences and the similarities among the participants, in the positioning they assume in regard to the shared activity. As such, we claim that it is the intersubjective whole shaping the RTS that allows the subjectivity of the single participants to emerge: from this point of view, a group device is necessary for the purpose of promoting reflexivity. Reflexivity itself is thus a social product: it is carried on through the social exchange and, at the same time, its objects meanings are intersubjectively constructed5.

4 Here , we might recall the distinction between exploitation of existing knowledge vs. exploration put forward by J. March (1991). Exploration is learning what is not yet. It is creation of new knowledge (see: Engestrm, 2004). 5 From another complementary point of view, we can refer to the usefulness of a group/collective device recalling the Vygotskian notions of inter-psychological functions and of Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1978) and more in general a conception of knowledge as an intersubjective and situated process, underlining that the competences primarily emerge as distributed between people and afterwards are internalized and mastered by individuals (Cole, 1985). Although under different forms, the psychological and the educational literatures show a great many references and authors in this direction. Just to give a few examples, let us refer to the devices involved in the Learning by Expanding methodology (Engestrm, 1991), which puts great emphasis on the horizontal and dialogical character of learning, or in the concept of Third Space suggested by Guttierez, Baquedano Lopez. & Alvarez (2001), conceiving learning as a multi-


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How RTS is implemented

On the operative level, RTS entails the carrying out of a workshop organized in a group setting in which the students can express, recognize and then hopefully elaborate the meanings underlying their decision to be a psychology student. During the workshop sessions, the students are encouraged by the instructors to consider as objects of reflection their view of what it is useful to say during the encounters and what their aims might be, and the underlying cultural assumptions about what it means to be a university student, what it means to be a student in a specific degree course, what is expected of a student or an instructor/trainer, why, and so on. There are no predefined questions orienting what the instructor will say or ask the participants of the group. His/her didactic function is the analysis of the meanings that the participants are sharing and constructing together. Let us look to the following excerpt of a workshop session: Instructor: What are your expectations about this workshop? Student A: I think you are going to help us to understand if we are making the right choice, that is if the psychology degree is the right course for us Instructor: What do you mean by right choice? Student B: Well, in my opinion, following ones own passions means doing the right thing Instructor: Then, are you saying that here I will judge if yours are real passions? Student A: I dont agree. Passion is important but is not enough Its possible that Im not going to become a psychologist Student C: In my view, it depends on your will power. If you want to become a psychologist, you can make this wish come true! Student D: I am ready to study very hard to be a model student Student A: It doesnt matter for me to be a model student... What is important is what I will do with what I learn; Student B: I would like to learn to understand what people think Student C: and in so doing to help them Instructor: Are you, then, saying that listening and understanding people is a way to help? and also to make the right choice? Student A: Oh yes, I think so Instructor: So you think that working as a psychologist means judging people, that is evaluating the validity of their feelings Student E: I dont think soat least, that is not what we are doing here In the example, the instructor presses for the students different points of view to emerge. In so doing, s/he is also promoting a specific positioning in regards the issue

voiced formation. In all these perspectives, training is regarded as a discursive field in which the alternative discourses of teachers and students interact to produce new meanings.


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of what making the right choice means, therefore suggesting also that the speakers subjectivity is involved in the construction of such a definition. The reflexive activity promoted by the instructor within the RTS might unfold in very different fields of experience: the relationship among the participants, the relationship with the instructor, the symbolization of the academic context and the students general social context , as well as any other area of the reality the actors (students and instructor) are participating in and that the students are making relevant through their discursive positioning6.

A set of reflexive workshops addressed to the freshmen of a Psychological Sciences and Techniques bachelor degree of the University of Salento (Italy) was activated before the beginning of the courses. All of the instructors were PhD psychologists, PhD students in Clinical Psychology or experienced psychologists. Preliminary seminars and encounters of supervision carried out by a clinical psychologist preceded and continued throughout the process. Our case study aimed to explore the ways the students talk about their being students in psychology before and after the reflexive activity done in the workshop, in order to analyze what kind of transformation occurred in the students symbolizations of their function.
The model of analysis

According to our standpoint, the students symbolization of their role can be analyzed in terms of two different levels of analysis: a semantic level and a super-ordered and generalized level. By the semantic level we are referring to the representational contents through which the students interpret their relationship with the University and with the professional figure they wish to become. Previous work on Social Representations has focused on the heterogeneity of the meanings that different social groups construct about the same object (inter alia: Moscovici, 1976-2008; Lorenzi-Cioldi, 1996; Binde 2005). On the second level, we suggest using the term semiotic field to mean the shared super-ordered frame of the different representational contents conveyed by the actors, symbolizing the context of experience as a whole (Salvatore & Venuleo, 2009)7. The

6 For instance, one might observe that, in the extract, the implicit conception of the professional figure the students are imagining is questioned by the instructor, either making explicit the image the students have of the instructors role (see the utterance: Then, are you saying that here I will judge if yours are real passions?), or the image of the psychologist (see the utterance: So you think that working as a psychologist means judging people, that is evaluating the validity of their feelings?). 7 We recall the perspectives the underline that, insofar as signs are polysemic, people need a shared superordered frame of meaning to communicate, allowing them to regulate their subsequent interpretative ope-


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semiotic field symbolizes the experience in terms of generalized, homogenizing classes of affective meaning8. From such a perspective, even if subjects a, b and c represent the academic context as a place of duties and obligations, while subjects d, e and f represent the same environment as a place of competition and reciprocal aggression in which one has to defend oneself and resist external forces, all these students share, despite the strong differences between their contents, a more general symbolization of the university as a context of enmity9. Furthermore, we suppose that other students, i.e. subjects g, h and i, experience the same university as a place of socialization, and subjects l, m and n as a place where one can cultivate ones passions and personal interests. In this case, a more general symbolization of the university as a context of friendliness correlates all the students g to n, differentiating them from subjects a to f. But, in any case, on a further and more general level, all of the students appear to shape a unique global symbolization organized in the form of a dialectic between enmity and friendliness. In short, we claim that the semiotic field can be intended as formed by different dimensions of generalized meaning, each one describing a certain dialectic between two opposing patterns of symbolization of the experience. Each generalized meaning dimension configures a field in which two sets of signs are bound together in the same general field which is thus organized by and in terms of an oppositional structure10. From our standpoint, the notion of opposite patterns linked together in the same field is basic: it means that when in a context a meaning is activated (for instance the meaning of good) a complementary and opposite (bad) field is automatically solicited (even if not made relevant ), thus an overall field of oppositional (good/bad) sets of meaning is formed . We suggest calling these generalized meaning dimensions Latent Dimensions of Sense (LDS), where the connotation of latent is intended to point out

rations on the signs (Salvatore & Freda, submitted), and selecting one (or only a few) of the infinite possible communication values that could be given to the act of producing the sign. 8 Here, we are referring to the perspective according to which the process of meaning-making reflects the salience of affective symbolization dynamics, based on the minds unconscious way of being (conceptualized according to a semiotic and dialogic standpoint), that shapes the experience of encountering the world in terms of generalized, homogenizing, totalizing classes of meaning (Venuleo & Salvatore, 2009). 9 Different studies highlight that different representations can be understood in the light of a shared superordered semiotic frame For instance, Lorenzi-Cioldis (1996) study refers to the different representations of Androgyny produced by male and female students to two main general dimensions of meanings. Mossi & Salvatore (submitted) have shown that , despite different images of the School, the students of two different cohorts of the same population of students of an Italian High School share the same two fundamental semiotic dialectics. 10 The studies of Turvey and colleagues (1969, 1970) can be interpreted as consistent with this way of modeling the categorization. They show that the mind carries out a kind of categorization that is the expression of a symbolic space generated by a few basic latent dimensions of the affective class of meanings in an oppositional relationship: good vs. bad; powerful vs. powerless; active vs. passive (Cf. Salvatore & Freda, submitted). We owe to this conception that is furthermore expressed in the psychoanalytic literature (see, for instance, the good/bad schema proposed by Klein, 1967) the huge literature on the Semantic Differential technique (see, inter alia, Osgood, Suci & Tannenbaum, 1957).


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that these dimensions are not immediately evident and are not directly expressed by the actors, but are produced by the intertwining of meanings throughout the discursive acts produced within a given population. Indeed, LDS should be understood as the by-product of the communicational exchange itself. Any social exchange contributes to the reproduction, unawares, of this latent and oppositional pattern of meanings: sometimes strengthening one of the set of meanings, sometimes weakening it in the course of the interaction. From such a perspective, a circular linkage can be identified among discourses, representational contents and Latent Dimensions of Sense: on the one hand, the representational contents are the contingent expressions of the overall meanings made cogent in the generalized semiotic field generated by the LDS, and conveyed by the discourses. On the other hand, the semiotic field generated by LDS is not a ready-made fact; rather, it is itself a general representation produced by the discourses. These work as the signifier carrying the affective dimensions of sense, thus making them reproducible over time (Venuleo, Salvatore, Mossi & al., 2008).
The nature of the change produced by RTS

RTS is aimed at promoting reflexivity on the forms of symbolization carried on within a particular context. As observed before, RTS does not imply a specific, normative expected final condition to pursue for instance, the commitment to the asymmetric (not-reciprocal, vertical and unbalanced), rather than symmetric (reciprocal, horizontal and familiar) symbolization of the training relationship with the instructor. Its scope is rather a methodological one: the promotion of a specific kind of thinking we call reflexivity. On the other hand, however, reflexivity entails a change in the meanings used by the actors. In other words , RTS has not a normative model of meaning to pursue namely, the students have to think X yet it is aimed at promoting a kind of process reflexivity in action resulting in a change of the meanings though this cannot be foreseen in its specific content at the beginning. In order to clarify this point, we need to be more specific. Insofar as LDS are conceived as generalized structures of meanings, they do not concern a single domain of experience, but pervade any aspect of the actors experience11. From this perspective, we suggest that RTS presents itself as a further context in which LDS are necessarily expressed and reproduced by the participants12.

11 If an actor tends to organize and shape the meanings of the relationships in terms of symmetric vs. asymmetric bonds, s/he will probably use this dialectic to organize both his/her family relationships (for instance, the meanings associated to the action of laying the table for dinner could be felt either as a sign of symmetric collaboration with the others, or of an asymmetric submission to the others will), as well as his/her relationship with his/her group of friends, and also, at the university, the relationships with the administrative offices, with other students and with the trainees, in the setting of a traditional lesson as well as during a workshop grounded on a RTS model. 12 In this sense, the LDS have to be considered as meaning structures that, almost stably, tend to inertially


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On the other hand, insofar as its specificity is to promote a reflexive function on the meanings conveyed by the discourses, RTS solicits a different organization of the meanings by which the students interpret their experience, that is, it makes certain meanings more relevant and others less relevant. For instance, an asymmetric meaning sub-pattern could emerge as a powerful organizer of an RTS workshop. This could make the students expect the trainees to explain what they have to do and how, thus adopting a passive position towards the workshop. As such, this kind of expectations about the vertical relationship with the instructor, and the workshop in general, could be recognized and then become one of the objects of reflection for the participants. In this sense, through a reflexive process, the RTS could potentially weaken the effect of the asymmetric sub-pattern during the workshop. We thus assume that the change promoted by the RTS concerns the strengthening (or weakening) of the sets of generalized meanings making up the LDS. . On the other hand, given that the LDS regulate sensemaking, the change in the LDS results in a change in the way sensemaking works. And in its turn this leads to a qualitative and quantitative modification in how contents/topics are used in discourses. In this perspective, one can map the change in LDS in terms of the different ways people talk about their experience. We use the term transition for the transformation of the semiotic field resulting from the changes of the organization of the LDS (that is, the strengthening or weakening of one LDS compared to others). To clarify: if at the beginning of the reflexive workshop the students may preferentially prefigure an activity in terms of a very tiring and useless symbolization, the reflexive work could make the semiotic connotation of tiring lose ground compared to its opposite pleasant connotation, and, on another level, could insist on reducing the feelings of uselessness of that activity , thus allowing the students to discover its usefulness. Insofar as it is a generalized structure of meaning, the pleasant-tiring LDS will continue to shape the meaning of the experience but, when the relevance of a set of meaning is reduced , the discursive use of certain words changes too (patterns of words related to the tiring set of meanings are weakened in their use; the pattern of words related to the pleasant set are increased).
Goals of the study

The conceptualisation of the mutual relationship between Students symbolization and the discourses above, suggests that in order to explore the change RTS could bring to the meanings students attribute to their being a student in psychology, we need to identify:

reproduce themselves in a certain context over time and not to change, at least in a short period of time (Cf. Mossi & Salvatore, submitted), unless, in very specific conditions, they are subjected to a massive contextual change (such as a sudden critical event) or by the adoption of reflexive work specifically designed to change these forms (as might happen in a therapeutic process).


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a) the LDS emerging by the discourses; b) the relationship between the discourses and the sets of meaning composing the LDS, before and after the workshop sessions.

Our method of analyses of LDS is aimed at identifying (dis)similarities in the subjects ways of using signs in order to connote their experience. This method is grounded on the general assumption that the meanings are shaped in terms of lexical variability. Accordingly, words like head, teacher and father might, for instance, contribute to the construction of the symbolic meaning of authority if, and only if, these words are used in the same way, that is associated with the same pool of other words, like, for instance order, punishment, power. Otherwise, the word father might help to depict a different meaning, like protection or warmth, if it is used together with other words like home and care13. In this sense, a meaning can be intended as the distribution of the probability value associated with a pattern of co-occurrences of signs; in other words, a meaning emerges from the analysis as the probability that certain signs are used together, while other signs are absent. In order to depict the LDS, our method is aimed at detecting the ways the words combine with each other (that is, co-occur) within utterances, somewhat independently of the referentiality (thematic focus) of the sentence (Lebart, Salem & Berry, 1998; see also Salvatore, Grasso & Tancredi, 2005). Referring to the previous example, let us consider the pattern of co-occurrence distribution highlighted throughout a text: (a) high rate of co-presence of the words head, power and punishment in several segments of the discourse; (b) low rate of occurrence of each of the same words alone; (c) presence of a high rate of other combinations of words (for instance, warmth, home and care) in the segments of text where head, power and punishment are absent. Such a distribution could be interpreted on a symbolic level in terms of a meaning field shaped by an oppositional pattern dealing with an authority vs. protection dialectic. Accordingly, when the pattern composed of the signs head, power and punishment is made relevant, the oppositional pattern composed of the signs warmth, home and care is not; this means that when the generalized authority meaning is used, the oppositional protection meaning is not cogent, and vice versa.

13 A similar criterion of co-occurrence is entailed in the Semantic Differential technique (Osgood, Suci & Tannenbaum, 1957) and can be also equated to the free-association principle (Guidi & Salvatore, in press).


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Interpretative criteria for LDS, discourses and their relationship

In order to interpret the empirical data given by the words co-occurring within the sentences throughout the text, we have to take into account two main points: First: any word is a polysemic sign, that is, any word itself has a potentially infinite power of signification14 that is reduced through the combination with other signs. From this standpoint, in order to interpret the LDS, we do not have to consider the meanings of the single sign (since, from a theoretical standpoint, its meanings could be infinite) but the meanings emerging throughout their complex aggregation. Second, it is worth taking into account that each LDS has to be regarded as an overall field in which the activation/salience of a set of meaning [A]15 comes together with the deactivation/making irrelevant of the complementary set [B]. This means that on an interpretative level, we have to analyze either the ways the signs group with each other, or the ways they oppose each other, that is to interpret what is the connotative effect resulting either from their reciprocal combination or from their mutual exclusion. To clarify, this step consists of understanding: 1. the common meaning emerging in one sub-pattern of signs, for instance from the combination of the words cinema, discotheque, journey and joy; 2. the meaning emerging in the other sub-pattern organized, for instance, by the association between words like task, deadline, effort and tiredness; 3. what is not common between the two groups of objects. In this case, we might refer to the objects of the first group as the class of Leisure time Experience and to the objects of the second group as the class of Experience in performing a duty; 4. the common ground of the difference between the two sub-patterns of signs; for instance, we might relate both Leisure time Experience and Duty Experience to the super-ordered class of Models of relationship with the context Finally, it is possible to interpret the discourses in the light of the relationships entertained with the LDS. In order to clarify this point, one can consider that, on a geometrical level, a LDS can be depicted in terms of a vector axis characterized by the contribution of each word considered in the analysis. Since the discourses are composed of sentences sharing a certain number of words, their association with the LDS

14 For instance, the word head could be referred both to refer to the upper/anterior part of the body of men and animals, to the container of the brain or, in a metaphoric sense, to a leader. Moreover, one may use the term head speaking of a friend to say that he is an |authoritative person| or |a beloved leader|, and so on. 15 The use of square parenthesis marks reference to a generalized field of signs, and not to one discrete object as opposed to another object.


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can be illustrated by a quantitative parameter16 describing the amount of co-occurring words that the discourses (or certain parts of the discourses) and the LDS have in common: the higher the parameter, the higher the strength of the linkage between them. In other words , the more an aspect contributes to a given part of text, the greater the association between that portion of text and an LDS, which also means the more the representativeness of that part of text for that latent dimension and, vice versa, the salience of the same LDS in shaping the meaning of that given portion of text.
Model of analysis

Although a reflexive training model might produce systematic results, its impact/ outcome is not invariant, rather it is contingent to the uniqueness of the meaningmaking process unfolded by a specific social micro-system. From this perspective, in order to analyze the impact of the RTS, an idiographic approach has been employed. In our terms, this consists of identifying a specific group as the unit of analysis. It is worth specifying that reference to the group is not to be merely regarded as reference to an aggregate of individuals, nor as to a state of overlapping individual subjectivities. In our case, in fact, the group has to be conceptualized as the intersubjective joint activity system defining the individuals contributions and their coordination, and therefore allowing the parts (discursive and behavioural positioning enacted by single students) within the whole that organize them to be observed and understood (Matusov, 1996; 2007)17. Our study concerns a particular group, composed of 16 students, who participated in the workshop sessions on a non-occasional basis (that is, they were present in at least 3 of the 4 scheduled sessions)18.

16 In the present case, as it will be illustrated below, this parameter corresponds to a variable differentiating the texts produced in the beginning and at the end of the workshop experience. 17 As Matusov (1996) suggests, the concept of joint activity allows us to adopt a notion of intersubjectivity that appreciates both similarities and differences among the participants engaged in a given shared activity. From this point of view, the concept appears to be coherent with the aim of our case study which is not that of examining whether all the participants hold the same vision of their joint activity in terms of what and how to act but if a specific intersubjective reflexive exchange was able to generate new meanings and positioning by the students within the shared semiotic field. 18 In the choice of the group, a few criteria (both statistical and methodological) were to be identified in order to guarantee enough variability in the two productions (previous and final one) of the written texts and to preserve the reliability and validity of the statistical analyses. For that, we decided to consider those groups in which we could identify the presence of a relevant number of written texts in the previous and in the final moments of production. To select a group we, thus, fixed the minimum threshold to the mean number of written texts produced in each group in both the moments of production.


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Texts used as data

A open-ended written task was adopted for the purpose of this study. Students were asked to write, before and after a workshop based on the RTS model, an essay relating to the following stimulus: Being a student in psychology19. This stimulus was chosen as it was considered a meaningful object and a generalized and global significant of the academic experience. As such, we saw it as a stimulus that could prompt the upsurge of symbolic generalized meanings about ones own role . The students were asked to write their texts at home, and to send them to a dedicated e-mail address. In the selected group, we were able to collect 17 written texts: 12 of which written before the beginning of the workshop and 5 afterwards (See Table 1)20. Table 1. Dataset description
Texts present in the corpus Elementary Contexts Tokens in the text Lexical Forms in the text Lemmas in the text Lemmas used in the analysis 17 118 5179 1622 1193 144

One could note that, even if the production of the written texts was presented as compulsory to the student, we collected most of them in the earlier phase, and a much lower number in the second one. In our view, the significance of this discrepancy can be clarified in the light of the different positioning that the students took towards the reflexive activity carried out in the workshop. Many elements could be connected to the non-production of the written texts: i.e., rejecting the compulsory duty conveyed by the task (for instance, solicited by a counter-dependent motivation) or the critical attitude adopted towards the workshop or, even, the paradoxical result of the reflexive work activated, which, pushing the stu-

19 As Purdie, Douglas, and Hattie (1996) observed, this open-ended data collection method is very useful to investigate the meanings that a certain group of individuals give to the phenomena in which they engage. 20 The written texts were deliberately requested in an anonymous form. As such, we cannot exclude that part of the ones produced after the workshop are not produced by those students that prepared them in the beginning. Nevertheless, we think that this element could not deeply affect our general findings. As a matter of fact, the analyses focus on the identification of those shared symbolic structures emerging in the small group examined. This means that they do not significantly depend on the eventually different producers of the two sub-corpus of written texts.


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dents to think about their own choice of enrolling in the course, might have led many of them to definitely leave the course21. We thus claim that, even if it can be interpreted in potentially infinite ways, the non-production, as well as the production, is connected to the process activated in the workshop sessions. This interpretative model seems all the more plausible if we take into account that this fact is common to all of the workshop groups, thus it is somehow systematic in the whole organization of the program.
Procedure of analysis

The data was analyzed according to a two-step procedure: First, in order to achieve the purpose of identifying the LDS emerging throughout the text, our method has adopted a statistical multidimensional technique of analysis to the whole body of written texts collected: Lexical Correspondences Analysis (LCA). Broadly speaking, LCA breaks up the whole lexical variability (that is, the distribution of the lemmas22 in the text) into discrete units, namely the factorial dimensions, corresponding to the associative pattern assumed by a set of lemmas and, hence, to a degree of lexical variability. The logical and operative steps of the analysis of the lexical variability can be summed up as follows: 1. firstly, the text under analysis is transformed in a digital presence/absence matrix; to do that, the text is firstly broken up into segments (namely Context Units, or CU), each one fairly corresponding to one sentence or a small chunk of all of the phrases composing the text (Salvatore, Tebaldi & Pot, 2009). Each sentence/ chunk, then, represents a row of the matrix. 2. All of the lemmas obtained by the process of lemmatisation represent the columns of the matrix. Each cell of the matrix might then assume one of the two levels of a binary code: 1 for presence of the given lemma in the chosen sentence/chunk, 0 for its absence. In this way, the matrix obtained represents the distribution of the occurrences of the lemmas throughout the text; for instance, if in the cell ijth there is 1, this means that in the sentence i-th the lemma j-th is present. On the contrary, a 0 in the cell shows the absence of the given lemma. 3. Afterwards, LCA is applied to the sentences x lemmas matrix. The factors identified by the LCA procedure represent the dimensions synthesizing the lexical vari-

21 To underline this point, we should notice that of the 1004 freshmen taking part in the workshops, about 800 actually enrolled in the degree course, while 1/5 of the students did not decide to enrol. 22 It should be noticed that LCA does not apply to the single lexical forms of the text but to the lemmas obtained by a lemmatization procedure. Lemmas are the labels indicating the lexical forms/classes a word refers to, regardless of its syntactic form (Pottier, 1974). For instance, the lexical forms go, goes went will be transformed, as in a common dictionary, in the single lemma: to go. The lemmatisation therefore helps to greatly reduce the lexical variability of the text, thus allowing a more functional application of the procedures of analysis.


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ability into which the text is broken up and re-organized. Generally speaking, each factorial dimension can be seen as a meaning component active within the text; each component identifying a structure of opposite sub-patterns of sign co-occurrences: what we defined above in terms of LDS. LCA allows us to identify a very large number of factors all of which explain a decreasing amount of inertia23. We decided to consider the first two dimensions as they correspond to the more salient LDS identified throughout the written texts. According to the Benzcri recalculation formula24, we found that the first two main dimensions accounted for nearly one third of the total inertia expressed 25. In accordance with the limits of the rate of inertia usually obtained in a text analysis, we considered this result acceptable. 4. In geometric terms, the n factorial dimensions define a space of n dimensions. We thus interpret each dimension of the factorial space produced by LCA as an axial component shaping the overall meaning generated by the text examined. Second, in order to analyze the positioning of the previous and final written texts in the semiotic space, and thus to highlight similarities or differences among the different discursive forms enacted by the students in the former and latter production, we used the time of production of the written texts as a supplementary variable. We have thus codified the written texts in relation to their time of production (WT1 = first production; WT2 = second production), in order to check the effects of the workshops on the students ways of talking about their being a student of, thus on the meanings conveyed by the discourses. The dichotomous variable was then codified as illustrative, which means as a variable which does not affect the LCA at the moment of the factor extraction procedure, but can be used later, as a criterion of comparison, to highlight the relationships occurring between the different levels of the variable and the factorial dimensions identified.

23 For instance the T-LAB_PRO 6.1 software (Lancia, 2004), through which we conducted the procedure of analysis, can consider a matrix of the maximum width of 500 columns (i.e. lemmas) and consequently identify up to 499 different factorial dimensions. 24 The sentences x lemmas matrix, on which LCA is applied, configures itself as a sparse matrix, that is a matrix primarily populated with zeros (Stoer & Bulirsch, 2002). This kind of matrix is nearly physiological when one considers textual data: conceptually speaking, in fact, the great majority of the sentences of a text would not deal with all of the words of the text itself and, as such, with the very same words. On the contrary, despite a typical redundancy occurring in the text, different sentences would be composed of different words. As such, the resulting sentences x lemmas matrix would mostly present a high number of absence of a word (indicated by a zero) in correspondence with all of the sentences of the text. The degree of inertia associated to each factorial dimension will thus be very low (maximum 3-4%). To overcome this critical point, Benzcris optimistic formula (Benzcri, 1979) allows the initial inertia rate to be corrected, giving a better estimation of the variability explained by each eigenvalue. 25 The first dimension accounts for 16,17% of the inertia, and the second for 13,73%: in the whole, these two factors account for the 29,9% of the total inertia.


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Latent Dimensions of Sense (LDS) of the written texts

Let us first of all look at the semiotic field organized by the two main factors extracted by the Lexical Correspondence Analysis. First dimension. Models of relating to the context: taking part vs. being cared for As shown in Figure 3, the first dimension (the horizontal X-axis of Fig. 3) organizes two opposing ways the students tend to interpret their presence in the context. Taking part: Left polarity shows a pattern of co-occurring words which mainly refers to the space-temporal dimensions and activities (degree course, encounter, group, time, year, future26), roles (student), tools (technique), contents (psychology, science, psychological, scientific), tasks (to allow), expectations (idea, to expect, to acquire) that are entailed in the participation in the training. This leads us to interpret this polarity as a marker of a positioning of the kind: Being in the context means taking part in a system of activities. Being cared for: Conversely, on the right side, the pattern of co-occurring words mainly refers to emotional elements (passion, need), subjects (child, subjects, person) and requests (demand) to be accepted (answer), actions necessary to fulfil requests and needs, like to decide, to help, to find or to undertake. Additionally, the combination of the word child with that of grown up (or of great27) leads to interpret the polarity as a marker of a generalized meaning concerned with being cared by a grown-up person or, as a mirror image, of taking care of someone who trusts in the grown-up other. In this sense, such a polarity suggests a general symbolic positioning of the kind: To be in context means being cared for . We may thus regard the affective scenario emerging within the first dimension as the expression of two opposing ways of symbolizing relating to a context (that of the course of study the students are going to attend and, more in general, that of the professional practice they imagine they will perform in the future) in terms of the dialectic between a triadic and a dyadic model. In the case of the Taking part polarity, the triadic model recalls the idea of something it might be a task, a role, an activity, an idea mediating the actors relationship and commitment with the context. In the other case the Being cared for polarity the experience forms in terms of a dyadic (subject-object) model, in which the other is not the one who supports and sustains the involvement of the subject towards the object; rather s/he is the object satisfying or frustrating the basic need for taking care of the other person or of being cared for by the

26 Here, and in the following, we are using the italic form for the words associated with the factorial dimensions described. 27 The Italian language has one word (Grande) to express both the adjective great (and also big, large, tall) and the noun grown-up. Whatever it is, in both cases the association of the word child with the other (be it: grown-up or great) conveys the idea of a child/adult or of a small/large association.


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other; it is, thus, the binary model of the person-world relationship that construes the sense of the experience (cf. Zittoun, Gillespie, Cornish, et. al, 2007). Figure 3. The semiotic field
Anch orage to Psychol ogy

Activity Taking part

Relationsh ip Being Cared

Anch orage to the Training

Second dimension. Experience of the Degree Course: Anchorage to the Training vs. Anchorage to Psychology The second factor (the vertical Y-axis of Fig. 3), organizes the ways the students symbolize their experience of the higher education context. Anchorage to the Training: the pattern of words co-occurring in the bottom polarity refers to the activities (lesson, meeting, test), the functions (i.e. to see, to reflect, to face, to start up), and the scenery (course, university, academy, day, time), dimensions that, in the whole picture, suggest anchorage to the academic environment and to the activities that being a student entails. Anchorage to Psychology: in the upper polarity, general aims like to understand, to discover, to find, to intervene and to give back, co-occur with words referring to elements (i.e. need, problem, desire, behaviour, mental problems) and potential clients (such as children, society, individuals, humans) that are generically assumed to be psychologyreliant. Therefore the axis highlights a symbolic field in which on the one hand (bottom side), the activities the students take part in , within the academic environment, play a central role as the organizer of the experience; in this sense the meaning of being a

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psychology student is primarily anchored to the meaning of being a student tout court (more than a psychology student ) and as such, a student involved in specific training processes. On the other hand (upper polarity), it is the general goals ascribed to psychology and to the idea of who the psychologist is, or what function s/he performs, that gives sense to the experience of being a student of .
Positioning of the previous and final written texts production within the semiotic field

Figure 4 shows the relationship among the earlier production of written texts realized before the participation in the workshop and the final one carried out at the end of the workshop. This relationship is expressed in terms of the reciprocal positioning of the two production moments28 within the factorial space hence, in terms of their association with the symbolic dimensions expressed in terms of their closeness to/distance from the factorial axes polarities. For this purpose, it might be useful to remember that the higher the coordinate of a variable on a given factorial dimension, the closer its positioning to one of the polarities of the axis, and, consequently, the stronger its association with that dimension; furthermore, the closer the positioning between two variables on a given factorial sector , the higher their similarity on the symbolic level (see, infra, the paragraph Procedure of analysis). As the figure 4 shows, before and after written texts are located in opposite areas of the semiotic field. We can observe that the first written texts production (WT1) sets itself in the right-upper quadrant of the factorial space, organized by the intersection of the polarities Be cared for as a model of relating to the context and Anchorage to Psychology as the organizer of the Degree Course. On the contrary, the second production (WT2) is located in the bottom-left quadrant, organized by the intersection of the polarities Taking part and Anchorage to the Training. A significant and meaningful shift of perspective, highlighted by the written texts, appears to concern the movement along the vertical dimension. While the texts produced by the students before the workshop experience mainly refer to the general goal and function ascribed to Psychology, after the workshop the students are mainly thinking of their training as an experience anchored to specific activities and functions that the participation in the academic environment leads the students to perform. The general shift of perspective in the two moments of production also reflects a movement along the horizontal axis. This second movement underlines that, before the workshop, the students models of relating to the context place the objects satisfying or frustrating the basic emotional need of being cared for, in the foreground. By contrast, at the end of the workshop, specific training activities mediate the meaning of the actors relationship and commitment to the context.

28 Expressed as the positioning in the factorial space of the two modalities (WT1 and WT2) of the variable Moment of production.


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Figure 4. Positioning of the Students AIs within the semiotic field

Anch orage to Psychol ogy

AI 4


Taking part Activity

Relationsh ip Being Cared

AI 1


AI 3

Anch orage to the Training

The analysis of the positioning assumed by the written texts produced before and after the workshop in relation to the semiotic field, shows a shift in the students symbolisation of the academic experience. The first written texts production (WT1) shows the positioning on a symbolic area reflecting the experience of being a psychology student in a bachelor degree in terms of anchorage to psychology in the sense of a scientific system of knowledge and a practice of professional help addressed to taking care of others needs. After the workshop, this connotation of the students experience and participation in a specific academic environment loses its strength: in the second written texts production (WT2) the participants appear to mainly organize their experience in terms of anchorage to the training activities related to being a student in psychology and to the functions and aims that these activities involve. We are incline to interpret these findings as follows: the proposed Reflexive Training Setting worked as a reflexive practice making some meanings relevant compared to others and, as such, made the students change the ways they talk about being students in Psychology. The use of different words and sentences, identified at the end of the workshop, could be interpreted as the learning of a different dialect to use when talking about ones own experience. This new dialect can be conceived both as a product and a source of a process generating new meanings.

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On the one hand, such learning reflects a transition, that is a shift occurring within the discourses through the two sets of meaning composing the main LDS taken into account before and after the workshop. On the other hand, the signs made more relevant (the new dialect), which reflect this transition, may underlie new ways of symbolizing the training experience and the role of the participants.. To clarify this second point, let us consider an example: if in the beginning of the experience the students started to call the instructor by his/her surname, and at the end by his/her first name (that is, they changed the way they name him/her), this element is not sufficient, in itself, to enable the teacher to be considered a friend (that is, to be symbolized in a different way); nonetheless, the use of the first name could make a specific representational content more cogent than others. As such, this new content could make it easier to develop a form of symbolization of the teaching-learning relationship in terms of a symmetrical, friendly relationship, rather than merely in asymmetrical terms. In short, according to our thesis, the new dialect the students learn thanks to the reflexive work, does not only reflect but also help to sustain the students in the use of different signs (discourses, representational contents) to think about their own experience of being a psychology student. In turn, these new signs might operate as the signifiers carrying new potential ways of symbolising the training and the academic context. In our case study, the reflexive activity enacted by the workshop was found to solicit new discourses which were able to allow an elaboration of the initial, inevitably nave29 references to the psychologist, in favour of the development of a stronger commitment to the meanings and goals one attributes to the activities in which one is involved. On the other hand, we cannot exclude that these findings might be interpreted in a different way. In regard to this point, it is worth noticing that as observed above (see the Text used as data section) the number of written texts produced after the workshop is lower than that of the written texts produced before. We may thus suppose that the texts written afterwards were produced by students who did not participate continuously in the sessions. Nevertheless, we have already observed that most of the students attending the selected group were present in at least three of the four scheduled sessions of the workshop. We thus claim that it is very reasonable to consider the findings emerging from the final written text production of our study to be strictly connected to the reflexive work carried out with the workshop. Another plausible observation might concern the relatively small number of the second written texts on which we have evaluated the transition. On this point, it must be stressed that our study is aimed at verifying, both from a qualitative and a quantita-

29 As a matter of fact, in the very beginning of their academic experience the students share the same generic representations that lay people show about psychology. In other words, their representation of psychology is, by definition, commonsensical, just as their request to be trained in psychology is basically grounded on the same commonplace that it produces (Cf. Kullasepp, 2006; Salvatore & Valsiner, 2006).


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tive point of view, the effects of reflexive work on a group of people sharing the same training experience; in this sense, it is not the number of students achieving a potential and specific change that is relevant but the very possibility of enabling a different positioning within the semiotic field, thanks to the reflexive work on meaning. From this perspective we are inclined to interpret the hypothetical (re)production of the very same idea by the student, as having a different meaning at the beginning or at the end of the workshop. Before the experience, it could be more connected with the fulfilment of a required duty or, in any case, with some dimension that could not be said with certainty to be connected with the specific process carried out by the workshop. After the workshop experience, what is gleaned from the written texts has to be strictly understood as related to the intersubjective experience the student has taken part in. From this perspective, the non-production of the second written text, too, can be interpreted as connected to the reflexive work entailed in the workshop. For instance, in the light of the results obtained, we hypothesize that before the beginning of their academic experience, the students were mostly anticipating (that is, expecting) the production of the texts with a thought of the kind: doing this task means being seen as a student to take care of . In this sense, undertaking the production of the requested written text (that is, to fulfilling the teachers demand), becomes (is made equal to) the idea of being symbolized by the teachers as a valid and efficient student. Since the RTS is aimed at soliciting the students to reflect on the meanings they ascribe to the activities they are involved in, we claim that one of the main outcomes of the training process could have been the evaluation of the usefulness rather than the uselessness of the production of the written text itself. If so, even if paradoxically, the competence to reflect on the meanings enacted by the students could have led most of the student to choose not to produce the second written text. More in general, from this perspective, the non-production, as well as the production, of the written texts might be regarded as an act connected to an interpretative frame that shifts the relevance from whether or not the text was written, towards the methodological aim of RTS and the methodological competence it promotes.. However, this hypothesis does not rule out that the non-production might be linked to other experiences (for instance, the simultaneous admission to another bachelor degree) that might have led the student not to comply with the request to produce the final text.

The aim of the study was twofold. First, to present a specific training model, the Reflexive Training Setting (RTS), highlighting the centrality of the meaning-making through which students interpret and construct their training environment and their own role, relate to the objects of their systems of activity and create new forms of knowledge. Promoting the awareness and the handling of the symbolizations of ones own role by reflecting upon the meanings expressed by the discursive acts the students are expressing in the here and now of the training situation is the main goal of RTS.

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Second, to present and discuss a case study through which we intended to analyze the impact of a reflexive training device addressed to the freshmen of a bachelor degree in psychology. We suggested that the students symbolization of their own function can be analyzed in terms of the generalized Latent Dimension of Sense (LDS), shaping the shared semiotic field responsible for generating the students ways of talking about being psychology students. We suggested that the transformation of the Latent Dimensions of Sense is not the specific aim of an RTS model, which is rather that of promoting reflexivity on the shared forms of symbolization; nonetheless, we claimed that some kind of change is entailed in the concept of reflexivity, too. In this sense, we hypothesized that the RTS solicits a different organization of the meanings by which the students interpret their own experience, giving more relevance to certain meanings and less to others. The process of reflection itself becomes a change in the discourses conveying the representational contents, thanks to a transformation that occurs in the relevance acquired by certain sets of meanings connected to the LDS. These are then responsible for shaping the discourses the students produce about their experience. This is what we have called transition. Our method allowed us to depict the semiotic field shaped by the LDS as well as to compare the positioning of the written texts produced by the students, before and after the reflexive workshop, in response to the stimulus Being a student in Psychology. Even if the specific outcomes we obtained must refer to the specific group we selected for the analysis (that is, they have to be strictly connected to the contingency of the intersubjective meaning-making process activated within that specific micro-system of activities), our findings encourage the hypothesis that a transition was produced thanks to the reflexive work promoted in the workshop. In the group selected, the comparison between the positioning of the production of the written texts associated to the two different points in time (at the beginning, and at the end of the workshop) underline two different transitions. The first one concerns the shift from an anchoring to the psychological system, as the organizer of ones experience of being a student in psychology, to a complementary, and opposing, model that anchors the meaning of ones experience of the context to the training activities and the functions that being a student in a bachelor degree in psychology implies. A second transition concerns the shift from a being-cared for-oriented model of relating to the context towards a taking-part-oriented one. Thus, we claim that in the ongoing process of the workshop, the students progressively assumed a position of strong commitment to the training and to the tasks of their own student role. We are aware that the current level of advancement of our data analysis does not allow us to exclude that our results might be the expression of other latent or unexplored factors closely related to the specific characteristics of the case being analyzed (i.e. they may be connected to the specific instructors leadership style, to the different previous training experiences of the participants or, for instance, to the fact that these students were going to attend a psychology degree course and were in some way predisposed to reflexive work). Aware of the fact that paying attention to the locality is not the same as limiting oneself to a local knowledge (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2009), we believe that other studies on other specific groups should be performed in the future,

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in order to produce more generalizable knowledge. It could be useful, for instance, to analyze the changes occurring in relation to the role and function of the instructor, as well as the impact of the activation of similar reflexive devices among the students of other bachelor degrees. Another no less important point must be highlighted in relation to the specific training model we have presented. As a psychological training model, the RTS is not confined to the specific device we have described in this paper. In the present case, the workshop was specifically addressed to the analysis and enhancement of the discourses produced by the freshmen of a psychology degree. Nonetheless, the model suggests many other different operative applications. To give just one example, one just needs to think of the usefulness of a reflexive device based on RTS addressed to students in the second or third year of the bachelor degree, not only to the freshmen, in order to support the analysis of the meanings by which they are construing and developing their academic activities (i.e. the meanings that orient their choice of the training activities they take part in as well as their evaluation, the criteria they consider in evaluating their competence, and so on). In relation to the specific psychological training, we finally claim that gaining a reflexive competence aimed at reflecting on the meanings through which one construes ones experience is a possible way of defining the mental setting of any psychological intervention. From this perspective, the reflexive activity not only represents a tool but also a specific outcome of the training of future psychologists: the competence to recognize the cultural assumptions that ground the construction of any function, role and activity, in order to lighten the weight of binding taken-for-granted assumptions and thus to open new semiotic opportunities for the students development.

We would like to thank Prof. Sergio Salvatore for his constructive feedback and precious contributions to our reflection about this work. Furthermore, we would like to thank the psychologists who conducted the group sessions of the workshops that allowed us to collect the data of the present study: Nicoletta Aloia, Alessandro Gennaro, Andrea Auletta, Luigia Campa, Barbara Colucci, Sofia De Leo, Antonio DellAnna, , Emauele Gerardi, Francesca Giordano, Francesco Gravilli, Rossano Grassi, Sonia Melgiovanni, Salvatore Nuzzo, Cosetta Olive, Monica Scotto Di Carlo.

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Brown, J. C. (2006). Reflexivity in the research process: psychoanalytic observations. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 9(3), 181-197. Cole, M. (1985). The zone of proximal development: Where culture and cognition create each other. In J. Wertsch (Ed.), Culture, communication, and cognition (pp. 146-161). New York: Cambridge University Press. DCruz, H., Gillingham, P., & Melendez, S. (2007). Reflexivity: A Concept and its Meanings for Practitioners Working with Children and Families. Critical Social Work, 8(1), 1-18. Engestrm, Y. (1991). Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Y. Engestrm, R. Miettinen, & R-L. Punamaki (Eds). Perspectives on Activity theory (pp. 19-38). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Engestrm, Y. (2004). New forms of learning in co-configuration work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16(1/2), 11-21 Fook, J. (1999). Critical reflectivity in education and practice. In B. Pease and J. Fook (Eds.), Transforming Social Work Practice: Postmodern Critical Perspectives (pp. 195208). St. Leonards, Australia: Allen and Unwin. Guidi, M., & Salvatore, S. (in press). Parents images of their Childrens School System. In G. Marsico, K. Komatsu, A. Iannaccone (Eds.) Crossing Boundaries. Intercontextual Dynamics between Family and School. Charlotte N.C.: Information Age Publication. Guttierez, K. D., Baquedano Lopez. P., & Alvarez, H. (2001). Literacy as Hybridity. Moving Beyond Bilinguism in Urban Classroom. In M. De La Luz Reyes, & J. J. Halcn (Eds.). The Best for our children. Critical perspectives on Literacy for Latino Students (pp. 122-141). New York and London: Teachers College Press. Klein, M. (1967). Contribution to psychoanalysis, 1921-1945. New York: Mac GrawHill. Kullasepp, K. (2006). Identity Construction of Psychology Students: Professional Role in the Making. European Journal of School Psychology. Special issue. The making of a Psychologist: a school for life in the profession, 4(2), 249-280. Lancia, F. (2004). Strumenti per lAnalisi dei Testi. Introduzione alluso di T-LAB [Tools for Text Analysis. Introduction to the use of T-LAB]. Milano: Franco Angeli. Lebart, L., Salem, A., & Berry, L. (1998) Exploring Textual Data. Kluwer: Dordrecht. Lorenzi-Cioldi, F. (1996). Psychological Androgyny: a concept in search of lesser substance. Towards the understanding of the transformation of a social representation. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 26, 137-155. March, J.G. (1991). Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science, 2, 71-87. Matusov, E. (1996). Intersubjectivity without agreement. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 3 (1), 25-45. Matusov, E. (2007). In Search of `the Appropriate Unit of Analysis for Sociocultural Research. Culture & Psychology, 13(3), 307-333. Moscovici, S. (2008). Psychoanalysis: Its Image and Its Public. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. (originally published in 1971 and 1976). Mossi, P. G., & Salvatore, S. (submitted). Psychological transition from meaning to sense. Osgood, C. E., Suci, G. J., & Tannenbaum, T. H. (1957). The Measurement of Mean92

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ing. Urbana IL: University of Illinois Press. Parker, I. (1992). Discourse dynamics. Critical analysis for social and individual psychology. London and New York: Routledge. Parton, N., & OByrne, P. (2000). Constructive Social Work: Towards a New Practice, Basingstoke: MacMillan. Pottier, B. (1974). Linguistique gnrale, thorie et description [General Linguistic, theory and description]. Paris: Klincksieck. Purdie, N., Douglas, G., & Hattie, J. (1996). Student conceptions of learning and their use of self-regulated learning strategies: A cross-cultural comparison. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(1), 87100. Role, G. (1998). Beyond expertise: Reflective and reflexive nursing practice. In C. Johns, & D. Freshwater, (Eds.). Transforming nursing through reflective practice. (pp. 13-26). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Rolf, G. (1997). Beyond expertise: theory, practice and the reflexive practitioner. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 6, 9397. Salvatore, S., & Freda, M.F. (submitted). The role of the unconscious in communication. Outlines for a comprehensive model of sensemaking. Paper submitted to New Ideas in Psychology. Salvatore, S., Grasso, M., & Tancredi, F. (2005). A methodology of process analysis: Discourse Flows Reader. A pilot study. 2nd Joint Society for Psychotherapy Research UK and European Chapter Conference. 2-5 March. Losanna. Salvatore, S., Tebaldi, C., & Pot, S. (2009). The Discursive Dynamic of Sensemaking. International Journal of Idiographic Science, In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. StroutYagodzynski, & J. Clegg (Eds.), YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Volume 1 (pp. 39-71). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Salvatore, S., & Valsiner, J. (2006). Am I really a Psychologist?. Making sense of a super-human social role. European Journal of School Psychology. Special Issue: The making of a Psychologist: a school for life in the profession, 4(2), 127-149. Salvatore, S., & Valsiner, J. (2009). Idiographic science on its way: towards making sense of psychology. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. Strout-Yagodzynski, & J. Clegg (Eds.), YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science- Volume 1 (pp. 10-19). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Salvatore S., & Venuleo C. (2009). The unconscious as source of sense: A psychodynamic approach to meaning. In B. Wagoner (Ed.) Symbolic Transformations: The mind in movement through culture and society (pp. 59-74). London: Routledge. Sheikh, A. I., Milne, D. L, & Macgregor, B. V. (2007). A model of personal professional development in the systematic training of clinical psychologists. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 14 (4), 278-287. Schn, D. A. (1987). Educating the Reflective Practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Simpson, B., Large B., & OBrien, M. (2004). Bridging difference through dialogue: a constructivist perspective. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 17, 45-59. Stoer, J. & Bulirsch, R. (2002). Introduction to Numerical Analysis (3rd ed.). Berlin/ New York: Springer-Verlag. Taylor, C., & White, S. (2000). Practicing Reflexivity in Health and Welfare: making knowledge. Buckingham: Open University Press. Turvey, M. T., Fertig, J., & Kravetz, S. (1969). Connotative Classification and Proac93

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Claudia Venuleo is Researcher in Clinical Psychology at the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy). At present she teaches Clinical Psychology and Technique of the Psychological Interview at the Psychological Sciences and Techniques Degree Course at the same University. She is Professor at the school of specialization in Psychodynamic and Socio-constructivist Psychotherapy PPSISCO (Lecce, Italy). Her clinical and research interests regard the role of meaning-making in the clinical psychology intervention, addressed to individuals, social and cultural groups, and the community, within a socio-constructivist and psychodynamic perspective. In particular her studies concern aspects related to the training in psychology and to the construction of professional identity. On these issues she has published about forty scientific papers in national and international journals. Address: Department of Education, Psychology and Teaching Science, Via Stampacchia, 45, 73100 Lecce - e-mail: Marco Guidi is PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy); he is a clinical psychologist and specialist in group-analytic psychotherapy. At present he has a teaching contract in Psychodynamic Models of intervention and in Developmental Psychology at the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy). He is professor at the school of Specialization in Group Psychotherapy ITER (Rome, Italy). His main interests regards the epistemological aspects related to the training and clinical intervention in scholastic, organisational and social fields. Address: Department of Education, Psychology and Teaching Science, Via Stampacchia, 45, 73100 Lecce - e-mail:



Katrin Kullasepp *

How do psychology students enter into the professional role of a psychologist during their university studies? The process of identity construction is viewed in this paper as a socio-cultural process in the course of which unique self-understanding is built by means of semiotically mediated cultural materials. The semiotic approach to the process of becoming brings into focus the role of signs used to regulate ones development of the self through the professional role. Based on a series of longitudinal qualitative case studies, it is demonstrated that the creation of identity entails images of personal transfer strategies, the differentiation of parts of the self system {I-as-myself<>I-aspsychologist}, and the omnipresence of ambivalence. Visualize a typical situation in a young persons life. Lets imagine that a youngster is in between more or less attractive choices concerning future profession. What kind of thoughts can run across his/her mind? Is it for me? Can I cope with the studies, It is tempting to know more about X. His/her friends reactions to a decision to continue studies and their recommendations might be: Dont you want to earn anything? Perfect, then I have a personal great specialist whom I can turn to when I need help. But how many of those, who become involved in this decision making process, emphasize or acknowledge that studies can affect someone more deeply than just vis--vis his/her baggage of knowledge and the improvement of skills needed in professional settings? Do professionals-to-be even understand themselves that the next three or four years of their lives have the potential to influence their individuality more profoundly through the transformation of the Self itself - the core of any kind of activity to be performed by a person? In other terms do they wonder that choosing to study psychology and digging into the discipline may become the sources for the emergence of new meanings and relations with themselves and the world in which they live? Indeed, the aim of this paper is to take a look at the processes that, figuratively
* Tallin University - Estonia.


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speaking, turn the impersonal academic language of an educational institution into emotionally loaded personal inner speech. Here we assume that professional training is not merely a process acquiring specialized knowledge, but feeds into changes in ones self-understanding. Studies of professional identity often focus on recordings of the outcomes of the developmental process, e.g. values, belonging to social groups, competencies, instead of studying the process the most important attribute of changing systems of achieving the outcomes. Observing how an identity is shaped by the settings of social expectations and in the conditions of institutional regulation prescribed by the curriculum, it is possible to come to a more specific understanding of the nature of professional identity. To chart out the multifaceted construction of identity, the dynamics of development during the course of a psychology degree in the baccalaureate program will be introduced. Formation of Self is made explicit in this work by focusing on social guidance and by taking a microgenetic look at the dynamics at the intra-psychological level.

Through culture into the Self: the impersonal turns into personal
A well known Estonian proverb states - tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. Modifications to this idea can be probably found in different versions of this folklore. Approaching this proposition creatively and extending it to the theme of identity construction, we can find in it hints at a socio-cultural perspective that emphasizes the significance of social surroundings in developmental changes. Friends, therefore, can symbolize channels that mediate influences of shared inter-subjectivity and create the frame that allows-prohibits-recommends-burnishes ones attempts to reflect inner dispositions in relation to the world. In the present case, the process of becoming a professional can be initiated by friends who suggest that a young person studies psychology because you always keep secrets and never insult anyone and thereafter react on the basis of personal understanding about psychologists: You should do X, because you are psychologist. Thus, an unimportant episode in a young persons life like a compliment or a comment, may actually play a significant role in ones becoming involved in professional education and supply us with fruitful information about the mechanism of identity formation. So, which part do the others and the Self itself play in the construction of identity? According to the socio-cultural perspective, personal and social worlds are interdependent in their development. Dialogical relations, established between persons and their social surroundings, stand for creation of changes in both. Through constructive internalization and externalization processes (Valsiner, 2001) these systems mutually design each others faces. The exchange of materials between two domains - the intrapsychological world and the external environment - and the new synthesis of these materials, leads to effects at individual level of psychological functioning which carry prints of cultural influences as evidences of ones personal socio-cultural history. Thus, human beings permanent becoming oneself is interwoven with their surroundings that make ones psychological functioning inherently dependent upon external conditions.

Why become a Shrink? Psychology studies asa an extension of self

Humans movement across their life-course occurs under the guidance of social institutions which orchestrate the developmental trajectories (e.g. enrolment in university, marriage) of every person who passes through certain points in their socialization process. Socio-cultural contexts here resemble frames which give a shape to a persons experiences. For instance, the involvement of educational institution leads to the standardization of thinking (e.g. curricula circumscribes topics that belong to psychology as a discipline, thus, shapes understanding about psychology, socially constructed roles have an impact on behaviour (e.g. expectations How can you do so? You are a psychologist!), social norms assign interpretation (I can not do X anymore, because I am a parent now) etc. Moreover, the social context has an impact on how people feel about themselves and how they define themselves in relation to the external world, thus, to how they coordinate meaning making process (e.g. When a client does X and I dont know how to react, I feel helpless, but if my friend did X, I would be very angry with him). Obviously the difference in the roles projected onto the otherclient in contrast to friendcreates a difference in the ways in which the person feels towards the designated social other (who is the same personwho perhaps does not know that at this moment s/he is a client, and another momenta friend). In terms of the Trajectory Equifinality Model (TEM Sato, Yasuda, Kido, Arakawa, Mizoguchi & Valsiner, 2007), which stresses that the same state may be reached from different initial conditions in the course of time and that individual developmental trajectories of open systems may converge at equifinality points, we can expect changes of identity construction to take place during university studies. In the sense of socio-cultural context, university studies can be viewed as a movement of young people into a, for them, new environment of social representations that, according to Moscovici (1963), provide the code for naming and classifying aspects of the world enabling individuals to orient themselves within their surroundings. Through constructive processes of internalization-externalization these socially constructed representations turn into personal meanings and contribute to the creation of personal culture. In this way, the social and the personal become interwoven in their development. At the individual level it leads to the creation of culture-inclusive selves (Valsiner, 2007) and allows one to expect the appearance of similar tendencies among professionals-to-be as a mark of a shared developmental context. For example, we can find evidence about the overlap of the contents of students representations about psychologists that indicate to the shared socio-cultural environment what to expect from a psychologist. There is a general tendency toward higher expectations projected upon a psychologist (whatever psychologist happens to mean for the projecting outsider) (Kullasepp, 2008). Still, regardless of the inclination toward the homology of students personal cultures, every psychology student in my study reported an image of psychologists imparted information about the creation of distinctiveness from the personal cultures of others.

The intra-personal dialogue about the uniqueness

As a persons psychological functioning is organized by social institutions, individual personal cultures remain inter-individually distinctive. Every individual is unique,

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even if individuals are socialized under the same conditions and pass through the same passage points (Sato et al., 2007). In the case of psychology students, these passage points can be structurally necessary locations in the field of professional development that influence the cohort of students at the same time. For instance, the enrolment at university, writing research papers, practice. According to TEM (Sato et al., 2007), the changes that will take place can be similar, but never the same. Selected cases in this study were supposed to reflect the range of variations in the ways in which specific adaptations to concrete conditions exist. It seems that we can refer to certain immunity against the impact of suggestions at the social level. Such hindrance decreases the power of social representations to influence trajectories of ever-continuing becoming. For instance, two psychology students are listening to the same lecturer giving examples about how to behave under circumstances X when acting professionally. On the bases of these examples, both students create personal meanings about who is a psychologist, although their actual depictions vary. Later they have an argument. One of them claims that what they learned is important because becoming psychologist entails developing certain personal features (let it be tolerance toward different values). The other disagrees, saying that a psychologist is also a human being and doesnt have to like people who are not the same as him/herself . This example draws attention from the person-context constructive dialogue to the processes at a personal (intra-psychological) level that form a filter for incoming social messages and stand for the creation of heterogeneity among the members of a society. Identities are not singular entities that operate in isolation. Consequently, to investigate the complexity of the development of Self, one has to recognise its co-constructed nature. In parallel with external formative influences upon construction of Self, intra-psychological processes should also be taken into consideration. To investigate intra-psychological dynamics, we employed the dialogical self (DS) model (Hermans, 2001) in our study. This model divides holistic self into sub-parts and views self structure as consisting of various I Positions that, being supplied with voices, can enter into dialogue with one another. The existence of different I Positions provides a plurality of perspectives within the Self. In this multi-voiced system, new voices emerge over time that refer to the appearance of a new I position (e.g. I as psychologist). It can, for instance, be due to any kind of experience reading a book, an accidental compliment etc. - that makes certain identities desirable. This discovery takes a form of voice and brings the future into the present in the sense that it adds a new perspective to surroundings and self. The latter new perspective to self - Me as a psychologist in the future can acquire, therefore, a guiding role in organizing psychological functioning in addition to influencing emotional-cognitive-behavioural reactions that feed forward into further meaning making processes. Thus, the emergence of new positions is linked with new possible directions through life-course trajectories. According to the DS perspective, the human mind is conceived of as imaginative (Hermans, 2001), which, in turn, is considered a crucial feature of development that leads to changes in Self (Simo & Valsiner, 2006). In terms of DS, an imaginative mind enables individuals to act in terms as...if they were somebody else. Such a distancing from itself (e.g. acting as if I were psychologist) is guaranteed by the hierarchical regulatory system of meanings (Valsiner, 2007). Due to the use of semiotic devices one can free oneself from the restrictions of a (never ending) present, construct images about

Why become a Shrink? Psychology studies asa an extension of self

what happened in past and what will/should/should not take place in the future. Semiotic mediation enables one to take Others perspectives and construct as...if realities, including the making new meanings of oneself. From a semiotic starting point (Lotman, 1990), professions can be viewed as signs; abstracted meaning complexes that regulate persons. Such signs semiotic entities guide ones becoming a professional in the course of studying psychology, because they offer semiotically mediated cultural material for the construction of idiosyncratic self-understanding (Vygotsky, 1987).

In our research, developmental changes of intra-psychological dynamics are discussed from an idiographic perspective. In keeping with this perspective, identity as a psychological process exists in a unique version, the mechanism of which can be studied by mapping intra-individual changes in time (Molenaar, 2004; Molenaar & Valsiner, 2009. The present longitudinal research pursued the study of students professional identity construction by concentrating on intra-psychological changes over a period of three years. Consistent with this framework, we expected to chart out divergent interindividually entrance paths into the professional role of a psychologist on the basis of which we could open a discussion about the more universal features of becoming a professional (e.g. intra-psychological mechanism of professional identity construction)

Participation in the longitudinal study was voluntary. Participants were the full cohort of psychology students who started their studies in the same year (n= 23 -- 2 male, 21 female), 13 of whom finished the 45- month long follow-up. Figure 1 provides the timeline for the longitudinal contact points throughout the four years and specifies the mixed-method strategies used in data collection. Figure 1. Longitudinal study timeline: phases of data collection
I year II year III year IV year

Phase 1
9th month of studies; Students filled out questionnaires and were interviewed

Phase 2
19th month of studies; Students filled out questionnaires and were interviewed

Phase 3
33rd month of studies; students filled out questionnaires

Phase 4
45th month after the start of studies and 12 months after obtaining the Bachelor degree; partecipants provided essay type answers to follow-up questions


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Interviews were conducted to elicit information regarding students understanding about what a psychologist is, the dynamics in interpersonal relations after students enrolment at a university, about perceived differences in behaviour and thinking. All participants filled out open-ended questionnaires three times during the three-year period in order to elicit information about how studying psychology influenced their lives, about possibilities to perceive the new formative aspect of self at the time of socializing, about events that make studying psychology un/pleasant for them, and, finally, about other peoples attitude toward them as psychology students. Questionnaires contained theme completion tasks (Double Direction Theme Completion; DDTC) vignettes modelled according to traditional sentence completion task (Symonds, 1947). Rating scales were added to the questionnaire in second year of study to chart the dynamics in students understanding about the differences and similarities between psychologists and non-psychologists. The particular statements that were to be rated were constructed on the basis of the data collected from participants in the previous year. (For example: psychologist should-- more than other people-- be tolerant. Minimum point in scale: absolutely disagree, maximum: absolutely agree). Students wrote two essays in phases 1 and 4 of their studies. Essays were intended to reveal information about the reasons for preferring to study psychology, the dynamics in informal relations due to this decision, about the perceived influence of studying psychology on the students personal lives and on their activity in professional settings after graduating from their baccalaureate studies.

Re-creation of the personal culture

In this longitudinal study, it was assumed that continually forming representations as depictions about psychologists and understanding what psychology and the future profession as a psychologist entails, plays a role in students developmental movement by setting up directions. Thus, to understand the entry into the professional role of a psychologist, attention was shifted to representations and their changes across the years. First, we found evidence of the continued construction of images about psychologists after the persons movement into the environment of new institutional representations. Comparing data collected during different phases of the inquiry, we were able to identify the dynamics in the content of representation (Kullasepp, 2006a; 2008). The results reveal that students everyday representations about psychologists, created before academic year started, were transformed by the end of the first year of studies. Qualitative changes and greater differentiation may be detected. Thus, the skills of a clinical psychologist were presented (e.g. the psychologist listens, tries to understand and does not give advice rathers/he helps you to find it). Frequently, interaction skills (e.g. listening, self-expression), personal features (e.g. empathy, tolerance) as well as a specific way of looking at things (e.g. broader worldview, they see another side of things) were mentioned.

Why become a Shrink? Psychology studies asa an extension of self

Table 1. Some examples of understanding the meaning of being a psychologist

Understanding about psychologists: 9 months into the B.A. program Student 1: I didnt know anything about psychologist (now) I think that a psychologist is the person who is interested in reasons for peoples behaviour, they want to analyze, explain reasons, direct people to the right way Understanding about psychologists: 3rd year into B.A. program

Student 1: One thing is clearer now - if you study psychology it doesnt mean that you become a psychologist. Psychologists are as a rule more tolerant. They dont make small problems big in life. They have a higher threshold of stress resistance, and they are more patient. Their ability to express empathy is better, as are their ability to analyze and listen. Student 2: I didnt expect psychology to be such Student 2: A psychologist does not help people, a broad field... Everything positive, comparing but teaches them and guides people to help themwhat I thought at the beginning - everything selves/ S/he should have better interacting and has changed into a positive picture. Psycholo- listening skills. gists have a different worldview, personal understanding about things, that is more unique Student 3: I was prejudiced before, but now I look at psychologists as ordinary people, I thought that they know how to interpret every movement you do, and who you are. Psychologists must in any case be trustabworthy, others could be (viks olla). Student 3: Most psychologists dont read minds and are not arrogant, but are very nice people. (Psychologists) do not blame hurriedly [rutakalt], it pays you back. Carefulness, honesty, continuity (characterizes psychologists). Without honesty, it is not possible to live; lies come out. These (lies) come out to bring you peace back again. Student 4: The ability to analyze is particularly developed. They also see a different side of things. Good psychologists should have information about different fields

Student 4: I didnt think about who psychologists are it just interested me. I dont know what the basis for my decision was [to start studying] I didnt think about that

Student 5: I dont know.. I am sure that a Student 5: Psychologists should have better lispsychologist doesnt only have to work in a clinic tening and self-expression skills. Their interacting as a counsellor, or in a schoolI dont know. skills should be very good. Their advice should be useful and practical. They should orientate in different subject fields. Student 6: I dont knowcompared to what I thought before, it has changed a little bit I dont know how it has changed Student 6: They are tolerant, accepting, have a broad worldview (silmaring). I think that after studying psychology , people should have better interaction skills than others, and be better at analyzing themselves and different life situations.


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Professional roles in the service of designing the Self

I dont know what psychology is, but I feel that it is something for me could be the general conclusion made on the basis of students reports. It should be mentioned that students knowledge about their future profession was quite limited at the outset of their studies (see selected answers in Table 1, left column). They admitted to knowing little close to nothing - about the subject. Their awareness grew in parallel with the flow of academic courses, which was expected to occur. It was quite intriguing to find out about the distinctive backgrounds for decisions that will affect ones future deeply. Especially in regard to the answers like I was prejudiced before, I didnt think about who psychologists are. Despite negative opinions (prejudices vis--vis psychologists), a person decides to become one of these people toward whom s/he has a negative view. One would expect a person to try to achieve a positive identity by avoiding directions that can culminate with a negative image of Self. Another report states that designing future directions of professional development can be done without the profound analysis of who it is I become, or wish to become. As it seems, in that particular case it was not a case. Both reports describe how professional development can be planned and offer interesting material for further studies on educational choices. I suppose that in a society which highlights rationalism, in planning the future we expect that one knows why one is doing what one is doing and what it is what one is doing. If someone tells us: I do not know exactly what it is what I am planning to study and, actually, I am suspicious about that profession, yet the person decides to study anyway, we would think that this person is not rational enough. In sum, the general tendency of participants reports raises the next question: how can we explain the movement of young people toward studying psychology? From essays and interviews, we got a glimpse of the various reasons why students study psychology. The most frequent responses indicated were the wish to support other people, to know more about the reasons for human behaviour, some participants wanted to solve personal problems and some claimed an interest in psychology because they had studied it at school. I would like to point that, considering their level of knowledge about psychology and their reported reasons for choosing to study it, their motivation to become a psychologist seems to be connected to the students personal lives, rooted in personal issues rather than in an elaborated overview of psychology in general. Studying psychology can be viewed as an instrument to achieve personal purposes. Of course, it does not exclude certain knowledge reflected in representations about psychologists. Yet, we can also flirt with an idea that the decision was made with the eyes half closed in the sense that students became aware of psychology and the profession only AFTER starting to study. It seems that the students were rather driven, for various reasons, by the feeling that psychology is something for me, and that this led to an intentional extension of Self by the entering into a professional role. In the students answers, we can find hints that identity construction follows the principle of continuity. That is, the identity process tends to re-create an organization of self that consists of the features of the former. What does this mean? Selecting a profession, insofar as it is not a forced choice, makes certain tendencies of Self visible (e.g. helpfulness behind the wish to help people). The feeling that something fits me is re102

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flected in my selection/preferences. I do X, because I like X describes decision making in which the part because I like X can be viewed as a semiotically reflected aspect of Self. If it is so, we can conceive of identity of as something that operates as a compass in a multifaceted world. The idea, with which we can link conjectures about the regulative part of feeling, is presented in the model of affective generalization (Valsiner, 2001). This model proceeds from assumption that humans construct regulatory semiotic hierarchical regulatory systems. One characteristic of the levels of semiotic mediation of this hierarchical system is increasing generalisation. That is, the verbal encodability of semiotically mediated affect states diminishes at higher levels (Valsiner, 1998). Thus, students can be driven toward a profession by affects and the profession will be chosen, because it feels to be a right direction. As we see, in that case, profound knowledge about the discipline itself is not the case at all. The fact that you like something does not presuppose that you know why you do it, but it drives you toward the object of desire. Moreover, it can be difficult for a person, if not possible, to analyse the content of that feeling due to the fact that s/he can not name what kind of feeling s/he is experiencing (but it does not mean that s/he can not experience it).I just like it, I dont know why. I feel that psychology is something for me. I like it. In other words, affective fields regulate ones becoming by guiding persons toward X direction and in this way they are involved in the creation of the future Self. If our aim is to understand who these youngsters are, who claim an interest in psychology, then we should pose the following question - what it is that guides them towards psychology? (By the term psychology, we mean here their personal viewpsychology as they understand it.) From that point of view, we can conceive of studies and professional roles as possibilities for the Self to extend in the desired direction: if I see or wish to see myself as helpful I choose psychology, if I want to heal myself (become different) I choose psychology. Thus, professional roles are used for personal development. And in so doing, identities reflect back upon a socio-cultural level in the idiosyncratic performance of role. It brings out different versions of becoming a psychologist and the role of a psychologist.

New meanings under constructions

Besides transformed representations about psychologists evidenced in the students reports, the data refers to the dynamics of an individuals holistic picture of the Self on its way to becoming a psychologist. It should be mentioned that during the inquiry, each student narrated his/her self-reflection on becoming a psychologist and answers were interpreted as marks about emerging new aspects of self due to studying psychology and the future profession. On the basis of the data collected, movement into the new social position as a psychology student proceeds through the construction of a professional identity reflected in the students new ways of relating with him/herself, others, events and developmental changes. During the Bachelors programme, a differentiation of the parts of the following self-systems - interpreted in this study as formation of I Position due to the

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

professional role were noted: 1. I as myself (time 1) <> I as myself (time 2) 2. I as myself <>I as psychologist 3. I<>Other 1. I as myself (time 1) <> I as myself (time2) : I am not who I used to be Psychology students transition to the new position of psychology student was accompanied by their motivation and readiness to become different. They reported intentions to change their way of thinking, their behaviour and personality traits In many cases it was explicitly linked with the wish to fit better with the professional role. Examples: I have become more tolerant, more courageous. I would say that life is easier now. I know better how to take the opinion of others into consideration. I express my thoughts and feelings more often. I understand better the human psyche, and based on that [knowledge] I am better at evaluating human relations and behaviour. (Now) I take a position of accepting everything, as long as they stay within reasonable limits. I feel that my worldview is broader and I see reasons behind events, its easier to understand others and find explanations. I think that, now, I understand better who I am and why I do what I do, or at least list the reasons I am now better at listening to people, I try to understand people and their problems, to analyze them. General tendencies among reported changes concerned the improved ability to understand (hidden) reasons of human behaviour, an improvement in interactions skills as well as an inclination towards analyzing oneself and others more. A tendency to expand pro-socially appeared students experienced changes to personal characteristics such as tolerance and empathy. Additionally, they also reported a readiness to transform these personal characteristics, e.g. My resistance to stress is lowI should change it. In sum, new self-understanding is emerging. I as myself<>I as psychologist: I should know what to say, because I am a psychologist According to the data, the construction of a professional identity leads to the appearance of certain features in how one relates to events and was viewed in our study as a mark of a psychologists voice, bringing an additional perspective to an inner dialogue. In accordance with students personal expectations and the expectations which others had of them, which proceeded from representations about psychologists, emotional-cognitive responses during interpersonal interactions revealed self-regulation (see below I must behave differently, I try to look sophisticated).

Why become a Shrink? Psychology studies asa an extension of self

Examples: My friends have said that, in the long run, they want me to counsel them, but I think that they are joking. But surely they expect a higher level of understanding - they say You are a psychologistYou keep secrets and I do [keep secrets] [Does it influence you somehow?] Now, yes, when expectations are higheryou want to maintain expectations For sure, expectations are higherI must behave differently Others ask me What do you think? because they know Im studying psychology, and then I try to look sophisticated, to adopt a different perspective to theirs, and then I feel smart and proud I dont label people stupid so easily (anymore)maybe s/he is ill or something It seems that professional studies, at first glance a neutral activity of processinganalyzing-memorizing institutional knowledge, appear to be more intimately interwoven with different layers of Self affecting meaning making in general. Yesterdays stupid becomes ill people today and situations acquire a new meaning that leads to attempts to look smart. Other peoples new attitudes towards the students find mellow soil and turn into the emergence of new aspects of Self. I<>Other: They see life in black and white Becoming is the process of differentiation during which distinctiveness from external Others emerges. One of the possibilities that makes this process explicit is to apply a semiotic approach that enables it through observing meaning making and semiotic marking. The use of semiotic devices regulates experiences in our life-space and organizes psychological functioning. We categorize and name aspects of the world, including ourselves. Knowledge about myself - I am a psychologist thus different from non-psychologist - establishes relations to Others and supplies us with the base from which our reactions, and meaning making, proceed. For instance, the data revealed that students differentiated themselves from Others (non-psychologists) on the basis of their skills and knowledge. The statement that others worldview is more black and white (than psychologists/ than mine) was also frequently used. (Why expect that, lets say, historians as non-psychologists, develop a narrower worldview?). I feel that I have studied psychology when I am surrounded by people who are not psychologists, because it makes me feel that I am different to them at that level
Sign as an organizer

Regardless of the fact that students encountered difficulties when describing psychologists and their future profession, changes, especially intentional ones, can refer to

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

their picture of psychologists and to possible future developmental directions. It was expected that changes of identity are rooted in an image of psychologists - their future self I as professional. The case of S., becoming a psychologist illuminates general tendencies identified among students as they entered the role of a being a psychologist. In this example, we can observe a signs functional aspect and the involvement of semiotic marking (e.g. I am psychologist) in psychological functioning across years. Image based development (Case of S.) As a first year student (BSc program) S. explained: I dont have a clear picture yet who a psychologist is, but A psychologist must put his soul in the work. If you want to become psychologist then you must be devoted to that, not just to learning what is in books, but I feel that not all psychology students study with such passion. I have it [passion]. [To improve professional competencies] --For next year I am planning not just to learn, but also to understand, so I can use this knowledge in the futureI also want to improve my verbal expression skills After the 2nd year of studies, S. reported:
Many of students have the problem that they are afraid to perform, but they shouldnt should they..? I also had that problem before. When we have classes, for example, and some of us have to report in front of the class what we have discussed, then they all push me to do that. OK, I can do itfor myself[while] psychologist must have performance.

In answer to the question of what could make the student a good future psychologist, S. answered: I know how to listen to people. I feel so much empathy inside me and when I listen to people then I feel into it, I dont only hear them, but I think together with them. I hope that once I graduate then I can express myself better, now I am not good enough at expressing my thoughts. Empathy is probably the most important feature (when working professionally as a psychologist). My resistance to stress is low,I have to change it. Actually I am afraid that I am too empathic...Psychologists must love their work, they must give themselves fully, because the well-being of others depends on that. They must be more interested in the patient than in her/himself After the 3rd year of studies (the final year of the BSc program), the student works as an educator:
When I work, I can improve my performance skills and my skills of verbal self106

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expressionPsychologists must adhere to the rule of confidentiality. Actually not only when doing work, but also in their private lives, because people tend not to separate people from their job, but see them as one unity. So, otherwise it will ruin the image of all psychologists and diminish their trustworthiness

In the 4th year of studies (as a student in a masters program, where he specializes in clinical psychology, and wishes to become counsellor): When I was 1st year student I thought that all psychologists were great specialists, here [during university studies] I realized that it is not true. A counsellor should be tolerant, and not press his/her own views on others. Like yesterday, I had a visitor, a friend of one of my friends, who started to claim that smoking cannabis, as s/he does, is actually harmless I said that there is no reason why we should argue, we just have different opinionsLater I wanted to counter this persons views, but I didnt, I thought that in the future I might have patients like this one I cannot press my views upon people. I also hold myself back, when people talk, and try not to interrupt them. To the question who are not good as counsellors? S answered: Those who keep on talking and it is impossible to say something in-between, those who are guided by emotions. This example sheds light on different aspects of the becoming a psychologist process that enable one to take a closer look at the movement into the role via identity construction. Highlighting the role of sign - semiotic entity the case of S. explicates the involvement of semiotic devices in re-organizing psychological functioning. Table 2 provides a summary of links between understandings about psychologists (a sign) and regulations proceeding therefrom. On the basis of these data, we can view the representation psychologist as a symbolic source that pulls ones developmental movement toward the desired level. This is accomplished through semiotic regulators, used to overcome boundaries between what is and what should be. The semiotic marking of oneself me as a psychologist, leads here to the use of moral imperatives (must, should) in educational activities and in informal relations, as well as to the development of behavioural personal transfer strategies (e.g. studies with passion, keeping herself back). Characteristic of case S. as well as of other students expectations regarding professional roles was that such expectations extended to spheres of personal (here not-academic and not-professional) life and coordinated reactions in informal relations. The recurring topic of the improvement of self-expression skills in case S. brings out continuity in the becoming process in which we can see the re-creation of Self through its maintenance. Thus, we can observe how the old feeds forward into the emergence of the new that will carry forward prints of personal history, of the past. In sum, this case revealed that studies extend beyond the mere acquisition of professional knowledge and they do so by compelling the Self to undergo changes by

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borrowing cultural material in order to establish a new relationship with oneself and surroundings. Table 2. Pull forward sign in action
Sign --Psychologist-Regulators

Work related devoted to work q S studies with passion must love their work must give themselves fully they must be more interested in the patient than in themselves Skills related has skills to perform skills to express her/himself verbally has listening skills does not press his/her own views on others q S. efforts to improve skills of verbal self expression across 4 years [in classroom, working as educator] q I can not press my views upon people. I also hold myself back, when people talk, and try not to interrupt them

Personal characteristics is empathic is not professionally successful when has too much sympathy towards the patients q S is concerned about stress resistance a counsellor is tolerant is stress resistant must not be guided by emotions Interweavement follow rule of confidentiality at work and must be trustworthy in private life

The dialogue about an identity

Controversies in the Self as possibilities

The use of semiotic devices when construing realities in which humans live, enables them to create meanings out of events that surround them, including meanings about oneself, all the time. Yet, in certain situations (e.g. person in social role), this ambiguity is translated into ambivalence, and two different directions for creating a subjective reality appear more dominantly. The inherently ambivalent conditions of

Why become a Shrink? Psychology studies asa an extension of self

being a psychologist are well illustrated by the case of S. above. It is assumed in this work that ambivalence, which marks the co-presence of differently orientated process in one whole (Abbey & Valsiner, 2004), belongs to the developmental mechanism of identity because it brings additional possible direction to the ontogenesis of Self and functions, thereby, as a developmental force. The situation in which ambivalence appears depends partly on the socio-cultural context that addresses suggestions about the proper way of being X (e.g. psychologist, parent, friend) and on the person, who internalizes such messages, him/herself. The sources of ambivalence, along with the tension that it evokes, can, for example, be inter/intra-individual conflicts resulting from an incongruence between the contents of internalized social messages and existing personal meanings, or from inter-personal confrontations issuing from externalized You should message to I should feelings and thought. As data from our longitudinal study indicate, young peoples movement from one social position to another evokes changes in their expectations regarding their role as a psychologist. Life is more complicated now. Sometimes I just want people to forget what I study. They give hints likeSay something, you are a psychologist orHow can you say/behave so, you are psychologist ?! One of my friends had a very serious problem. Then I felt that I had to do something...I felt inside me two different parts/sidesI tried to analyze this situation like a psychologist, but still, he is my friendand then I fell into a panic Becoming a psychologist is a sign for others, who respond on the basis of personal representations about psychologists. This kind of semiotic marking in informal relations creates the psychological-emotional context for the construction of new I Positions and potential applications of the I Position I as psychologist. As a result of ambivalent conditions, one can develop toward a new vision of psychologist through making meaning of own self as I am psychologist. In so doing, one establishes temporary relations with others and events: As a psychologist, I accept different values, I am not upset when I disagree. But not in everyday life, then I dont have to tolerate that).
The interlude of I Positions in the constant flow of experiences

Becoming a psychologist means to act under contradicting circumstances. Being faced with ones own expectation and those of others, a person is guided in different directions. As a psychologist in the future one should be/do in present moment X, Y, Z which is inconsistent with the sub-system of Self - I as myself in present moment. To investigate the role of praxis for psychology students, a new inquiry was conducted in 2008. The participants were 3rd year psychology students (7 students), who filled out questionnaires before and after a one-month long praxis. Three of them were also interviewed after the praxis. Collected data allowed one to anticipate conflicting condi109

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tions regarding a psychologists professional work and his or her formal relations with clients/patients. Example of Case of R. A 3rd year psychology student R., who did praxis in a mental hospital and interviewed patients, was questioned two months before and one month after the praxis. The student was asked to explain the answer s/he had given in the Double Direction Theme Completion (cfr. Method section) (Different values: When a person whose values differ greatly from that of the psychologists comes to a session, then s/he feels __ because __ ). Before praxis R. answered: a psychologist feels languorous, because theoretically speaking anyones values should not influence counselling, counselling should be value free, but yet, as a human being, one wants to express ones opinion and it is not pleasant when you have to speak against your own views After praxis R. answered: a psychologist feels helpless because it is very difficult to change or modify value systems. To the question, why R. thinks so, R. explained: I had client who looked like X (description follows) and I did not like that patient, I dont like people with this kind of attitude --- R. was talking about the patient whos dress code reflected particular attitudes and valuesI couldnt take them (patients) as pleasant. Some of them were really scary, as they had beaten animals and women. I tried to think that it was a mentally ill person, but still, it was not an excuse. In terms of the dialogical self model, the cases of S. and R. illustrate fluctuation between different I Positions I-Me as myself <> I-Me as a psychologist under ambivalent conditions. Both positions, the voices of which grew louder in the situation of person-in-role, can acquire temporary dominance over each other during the process of fluctuation. Whereby the temporary dominance of one I Position influences self-understanding at that moment in time and makes the person relate to situations-eventsoneself in a changed way. During the approaching episode to the actual task, we can identify sequences of the domination of I Positions (see Figure 2. below) that bring out a re-organization of self and demonstrate students coping with person-professional ambivalence.


Why become a Shrink? Psychology studies asa an extension of self

Figure 2. Feed forward loop in interlude of I Positions

B ut yet


This example leads to the theme of the coordination of two inherently inconsistent systems {(I)-ME}-as myself and {(I)-ME}-as-psychologist. We can observe how the use of a moral implication (should not), feeding forward into feelings, generates tension-loaded conditions for the person in the role. The personal perspective in this example reveals that reason for non-adjustment to the frame of a professional psychologist for person R. tended to be negative attitudes towards certain types of people. From Rs report we can find that attempts to take control over the feeling dislike - in this situation, were not successful. It was the feeling of dislike, as we saw, that guided Rs reactions in professional settings. Displayed sequences of domination also show how different positions make a person relate to situations-events-themselves: as a psychologist one tries to see a patient as a mentally disturbed person. The motivation for this approach appears as the result of the transfer to the professional role. In real life, it does not seem to be the source of tension - as a person, one does not have to like people, and it is OK. Additionally, case R. brought out the involvement of feelings in professional settings and revealed the presence of negatively directed tension that also characterises findings from our longitudinal study domination of negatively oriented feelings was identified in answers to DDTC items across 3 years. Among these data we can also observe studnets use of moral imperatives when adopting a professional approach to an issue. Most commonly used were regulators like must, should, should not, obliged. Yet, these semiotic regulators did not reduce the tensions to which they were applied. Acting as a professional psychologist means to act under conditions that lead to the use of semiotic devices that are expected to regulate ones psychological functioning (I tried to think that s/he is a mentally ill person) in order to meet professional expectations. It seems, that following professional prescriptions can be complicated and create a tension that needs to be resolved. The process of becoming a psychologist also can turn into an emotionally difficult situation due to informal relations. Confrontations with others, their commentaries and expectations form an emotionally loaded developmental frame. The source of pressure can be the person him/herself. A person constructs an image of psychologists that sets up a developmental task, itself demanding changes in ones personal characteristics and in ones an approaching to ones surroundings. The becoming that started from the feeling I like psychology turns into demand - I must like people whom I dislike.

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Becoming professional, which, in the present case means becoming a psychologist, entails far more than merely attending classes and experiencing satisfaction from some new knowledge. This is the time of re-creating the Self through the dialogue with a culturally organized environment that guides students toward new worldviews and affects their self-understanding. New emerging aspects are co-constructed in many senses. They are shaped not only within the environment of an educational institution, but are also the target of semiotic marking in informal relations that, in turn, become a free-life playground giving students opportunities for free practice while offering possibilities to apply a professional approach. Young peoples movement into the position of psychology students is the meaningful event the new role creates conditions that allow and sometimes demand that students feel and define themselves anew. It is not only the baggage of knowledge that changes during the course of their studies. Students personal culture, the basis of their worldviews, undergoes transformations. The development of a professional identity is the process in which the significant position belongs to semiotically mediated cultural material. As our data illustrate, culturally constructed signs give ideas for the potential trajectories of further identity development. In our case, psychologist the pull-forward sign - led the Self to develop, in most cases in a pro-social fashion. It also turned out to be the source of feelings in developmental movement, frequently negatively orientated tension, because it guided the students towards the inherently ambivalent conditions of being a psychologist. We can say that there are no psychologists, only people who perform in congruence with expectations and who cope with the tension that arises under these conditions. In other words, students socialize themselves through the encounters with different features of a socially set up role. As we can expect, there are N ways of becoming a psychologist.

I am grateful to the Archimedes Foundation for supporting my travels to Salento University in Italy and my participation at the Biennial Conference of The International Society of Theoretical Psychology 2009 in Nanjing. The feedback from colleagues from Salento University and from students, who participated in our seminar in Arpil 2009, is gratefully acknowledged. I am also thankful to the Institute of Psychology of Tallinn University for their support and flexibility in teaching schedules. And of course, my gratitude goes to the best supervisor ever - to Prof. Jaan Valsiner.

Abbey, E., Valsiner, J. (2004). Emergence of meaning through ambivalence. FQS: Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung, 6(1) Art.23. Available at http://www.qualitative112

Why become a Shrink? Psychology studies asa an extension of self Hermans, H. (2001). The dialogical self: Toward a theory of personal and cultural Positioning. Culture and Psychology, 7(3), 243-281. Kullasepp, K (2006). Identity construction of psychology students: Professional role in the making. European Journal of School Psychology, 4(2) 249-280. Kullasepp, K (2007). Affective guidance of sexual identity: the intra-psychological level in the service of culture. IPBS: Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science, 41(34), 272-284. Kullasepp, K (2008). Are you like this or just behave this way? International Journal of Dialogical Science, 2(1), 69-92. Kullasepp, K. (2008).Dialogical becoming. Professional identity construction of psychology students. Tallinn University Lotman, Y. M. (1990). Universe of the mind: A semiotic theory of culture. Bloomigton: Indiana University Press. Molenaar, P.C.M. (2004), A manifesto on psychology as idiographic science: Bringing the person back into scientific psychology, this time forever, Measurement: Interdisciplinary research and perspectives, 2, 201-218. Molenaar, P. C. M., & Valsiner, J. (2009). How generalization works through the single case: A simple idiographic process analysis of an individual psychotherapy case. in S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. Strout-Yagodzinsky and J. Clegg (Eds.),YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Vol. 1 (pp. 23-38). Rome: Fireira & Liuzzo Publishing Group. Moscovici, S. (1963). Attitudes and opinions. Annual Review of Psychology, 14, 231260 Sato, T., Yasuda, Y, Kido, A., Arakawa,. A, Mizoguchi, H, & Valsiner, J. (2007). Sampling Reconsidered: Personal histories-in-the-making as cultural constructions. In J. Valsiner & A. Rosa (Eds), Cambridge Handbook of socio-cultural psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press Simo, L. M., & Valsiner, J. (Eds.) (2006). Otherness in Question: Labyrinths of the self. Greenwich, Ct.: Information Age Publishers. Symonds. P. M. (1947). The sentence completion task as a projective technique. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 42(3), 320-329. Valsiner, J. (2001). Comparative study of human cultural development. Madrid: Fundacin Infancia y Aprendizaje Valsiner, J. (1998). The development of the concept of development: Historical and epistemological perspectives. In W. Damon, & R. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology. 5th edition. Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (pp. 189-232). New York: Wiley Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in minds and societies. New Delhi: Sage. Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Thought and language. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press.


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Katrin Kullasepp is currently associate professor of the general psychology in the Institute of Psychology at Tallinn University, giving courses in Overview of Psychology, Psychology of Social Skills and Interpersonal Communication. She is a member of the Union of Estonian Psychologists.



Francesca G. M. Gastaldi *, Claudio Longobardi *, Tiziana Pasta *, Erica Sclavo *

Our considerations stem from the constructivist and socio-cultural approaches: particular attention is given to the processes of socio-symbolic mediation of personal and social practices. Here, these dynamics are considered with particular reference to the analysis proposed by two methodological and epistemological models: the Reflexive Training Setting (RTS) and Trajectory Equifinality Model (TEM). The processes of symbolic mediation and the processes of semiotic elaboration are considered in relation to the reflexive aspects of intrapsychic dynamics, and to the directional aspects orienting the sensemaking dynamics. The two models, which provide university students with possibilities for increasing their processes of semiotic sensemaking, are compared with their fundamental characteristics -described as intersections between the two-, in aspects that are both epistemological and methodological. The following considerations stem from the constructivist and socio-cultural approaches: particular attention is thus given to the processes of socio-symbolic mediation of personal and social practices. In the Vygotskian definition of semiotic mediation (Vygotsky, 1978), the role assigned to the dynamics of co-construction of meanings is central. Here, these dynamics are considered as rooted in and connected to the more all-encompassing processes of interpretation and reflexivity that individuals bring to bear every day on the symbolic dimensions of the real (Carli & Salvatore, 2001; Valsiner, 2000, 2001, 2008). The resulting sensemaking is, at the same time, organized both as aspect of these underlying processes and as a product of them, in a continual poietic signification of the real.

* University of Turin - Italy.


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These practices, which are a constant part of processes of semiotic negotiation, are also at work in the specific contexts of training. In this view, actors develop shared representations for the objects of knowledge, experiences, the environment, and their personal future expectations. These representations are emotionally moved (Salvatore, 2004) inasmuch as they concern the definition of the action and its meaning, and are produced through collective processes of symbolization. These processes express the affective and unconscious substrate of the minds functioning, and are also formed in relation to the subjects specific positioning in the social and organizational context (Harr & Gillet, 1994; Kullasepp, 2006). It is thus the discursive practices, in specific contexts of activity, that permit the dynamics of affective symbolization to come into being and to manifest themselves (Fornari, 1983; Matte Blanco, 1975; Salvatore, Freda, Ligorio, Iannaccone, Rubino, Scotto di Carlo & Bastianoni, 2003; Salvatore, Mannarini & Rubino, 2004). The surrounding environment can in this way be symbolized (or in other words, emotionally categorized) by the subject precisely within the dynamics of co-construction of shared meanings; being able to generalize these meanings is based in turn on the emotional connotation (Carli, 1987; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Salvatore, 2004). These sensemaking dynamics take place in such everyday contexts as training systems, an example of which is the university system. University environments in particular, as they are semiotic structures capable of orienting symbolization processes, become potential symbolic spaces in which subjects can reflect on the construction of their own identity, both personal and professional (Venza, 2008; Venuleo, Guidi, Mossi & Salvatore, 2009). As Venuleo and Guidi (2010) note, it is necessary to acknowledge a binding role to subjectivity in the processes of constructing a knowledge of the world: by investigating the objectives, the interests, the attributions produced, it becomes possible to explore the stance students take with regard to the symbolization processes that are specific to their social setting (White & Stancombe, 2003). The meanings thus generated govern the practices both discursive and behavioral of the student, orienting action on the basis of the meaning assigned to it: conduct, in other words, is based on the meanings with which the subject represents the object of knowledge in each case. Meanings can thus be said to have an intrinsic pragmatic value (Peirce, 1979; Searle, 1995): the object is known, represented and signified, not because it is, but because it makes it possible to do. Objects (as contents of knowledge and hence related to cultural instruments) cannot be identified as a priori essences that can be universally defined: it is the action they trigger that determines the definition. A stance of this kind (which, as should be pointed out, is fully consistent with the conceptions promoted by the Soviet historico-cultural schools) leads to two important consequences of both a logical and epistemological nature. First, the action of defining cannot be separated even on a conceptual level from the dimension of the activity: that which does defines, organizes and condenses that which is, and vice versa. The operations made possible by using the object (or the instrument), in the concrete surrounding environment, are what define the nature of the object. This nature can be regarded as operative and factive: essentially, active and pragmatic. Second, a knowledge of the meaning, thus rooted and situated with respect to the actions performed by the subject, makes it possible to con118

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sider the process of knowledge in subjective and constructive terms: here, the cognitive process does not attempt to investigate properties that are considered objective, but to construct meanings ex facto, namely, from the concrete situations of activity. In this connection, the Reflexive Training Setting provides an effective means for expressing the reflexive processes at work in signic elaborations. Among the various clarifications that have been proposed, that which defines the construct of reflexivity (Lislie, 2000; Montesarchio & Venuleo, 2006), in terms of a strict dialectic between the dimensions of knowledge and of subjectivity has assumed particular importance. This outlook underscores how the consequences of a professional action derive from the relationship that has developed between the symbolic space and the action that has taken place in it (Carli, Paniccia, 2003; Kaneklin & Scaratti, 1998; Montesarchio & Venuleo, 2009; Venza, 2008). As was found in the study conducted by Venuleo and Guidi (2010) the RTS is an effective setting in which the meanings assigned by university students to their future profession as psychologists can be elaborated and manifested. In this way, the RTS becomes an educational method of enormous potential, fostering the creation of a symbolic space where an understanding of ones own representations can reach maturity. A tool of this kind, in fact, is of basic importance, not only in training, but also on the professional level, placing training processes within broader processes of adaptation and transition to the new symbolic contexts to which the student belongs. Developing reflexive capacity is essential for individuals who are called upon to exercise a profession that of the psychologist especially which demands a high level of skill in recognizing and distinguishing between ones own representations and those of others. The RTS, which the Authors call a self-inquiring approach, also enables the subjects to place their acts discursive and behavioral in a semiotic context marked by plural symbolic references which differ from person to person as well as from experience to experience. They thus move within a space laden with polysemia in a constant state of becoming, producing a change in reflexivity itself which is to be understood with reference both to the intrapsychic aspects of personal transitions, and to the dynamics of sensemaking that take place on an interpsychic level. Defining the reflexive process, in fact, makes it possible to recognize diversity and change as categories that provide structure for growth dynamics. The reflexive action that the subject exercises on herself gives rise to an internal movement generated by the production of sense: the sensemaking which the subject reaches reflexively, gives shape at each moment to new-Selves, in a constant state of becoming and change. Rather, we could say that these new-Selves partial, in the process of formation, and never fully defined and definitive arise both from movements that are solipsistic in nature (even though they are stimulated and enhanced by precise interpersonal devices), and by the network of heteroproduced influences (i.e., by cultural and interpersonal circumstances). The subject may have different types of interaction with the system of these influences, which can range from a complete receptivity towards the contextual aspects, to an interchange whereby the subject strives to change the outside circumstances. In this type of interaction, the reflexive process directs its significations outwards, affecting the cultural and interpersonal forms of which the subject is a part. And not only: the multiplicity of meanings present in the

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reflexive process coexists with the act of defining meanings: the subject, in reflecting and elaborating new forms of sense for his identity, changes his positioning in intraand interpsychic semantic space. The risk which is to some extent paradoxical is that the plurality of sense options can lead the process of signification to the dissolution of ones own identity. In a process that is in a continual state of becoming such as the reflexive process, the subject could find herself though at times unconsciously in the position of having to choose between one, none and a hundred thousand sensemakings. There is also the risk that some of the chosen options will contradict each other. Kullasepp (2010) refers to this potential risk in her work, where she proposes the construct of the imaginative mind to stress the intrinsic polysemia of the Self. The plurality of voices that orchestrate the system of Self-referring meanings may then be manifested through great creative potential or, conversely, in a fundamental doubt regarding the positioning of the Self, always in a state of becoming, in semantic space which is likewise in constant change. Applying these considerations to the processes of constructing professional identity, we can also stress that construction of the latter by future psychologists is of particular importance when identity is considered in terms of a semiotically mediated socio-cultural process: in this sense, as Kullasepp emphasizes, the understanding of self is made possible by the use of semiotically mediated instruments and meanings. Here, the influence of Vygotsky is even more apparent: from a semiotic viewpoint, the professions are themselves to be seen as signs. The psychologists profession could thus be defined with reference to the cultural signs and materials available to it and for which it is an intermediary, and on which personal processes of self understanding are based. In this light, Kullasepp establishes several conceptions that characterize the semiotic and socio-cultural approach, which can be summarized as follows: the interior conceptions that the subject elaborates in order to understand the real are constantly mediated by an intersubjective framework that governs and defines the various interpretative options constructed by the subjects. In this sense, the interpersonal aspects are again, as Venuleo and Guidi (2010) put it, in intimate connection with the intrapsychic dimension. It follows that the personal and social dimensions are expressed in a close mutual interdependence, in a continuous dialogical exchange between people and the social environment: an exchange that follows a constant dynamic in which moments of internalization alternate with moments of externalization of socializing semiotic materials (Valsiner, 2001). The modes of mental functioning are to be seen in accordance with our Vygotskian premises as deeply dependent on the circumstances outside the subject. In this connection, Kullasepp (2010) returns to the concept of social representations (Moscovici, 1963) in order to clarify the function performed by the university system: a training context capable of offering precise codes of reference to describe and define the fundamental characteristics of the social environment. The university system provides the set of social representations whereby subjects can be integrated (orienting themselves effectively) in their environment which in this case is a training environment. Cultural dynamics work precisely at this level, enabling subjects belonging to the same socio-cultural environments to develop shared tendencies. The appearance of common symbolic orientations in contexts characterized by similar training and working aims provides the basis for another important model, the

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TEM, or Trajectory Equifinality Model (Sato et al., 2007). According to this model, it is possible to reach the same forms of symbolization starting from different initial positions, and vice versa: in other words, personal development paths (referred to here as development trajectories) can converge on common orientations of meaning (or equifinality points). The uniqueness of each subject, and of the growth paths she takes, can be clearly influenced by overlappinging social representations: mental functioning is in this sense mediated and governed by the system of interpersonal activities of which the individual is a part. Each subject, even given his individuality, shares the same life circumstances and the same points of passage with those who, with him, belong to the same socio-cultural environment. Essentially, the same life situation makes for experience in common, namely, the meaning assigned to life events. Here, in any case, to say that experience is in common means that it is similar, not identical. Accordingly, sharing adjacent development trajectories do not rule out variations from the common axis of symbolizing experience: the TEM model assumes that changes can take place in similar directions of development, but not that developmental trends will be absolutely identical. The force with which social representations exert their influence, however, can be reduced by a variety of possible obstacles (e.g., by the dissimilarity with which the process takes place on an individual level). Consequently, mediation of social representations hinges on aspects of a personal nature, which contribute to modulating the effect of the influence that social symbolizations have on the subject. The influence exerted by contextual aspects is thus not one of direct causality, where specific social representations with particular pervasiveness correspond, in a non-sequential linear fashion, to specific subjective semiotic elaborations, which are necessarily consistent with the original social representations. Rather, it would be more correct to consider the interactions between social representations and personal processes of signification in terms of a complex system of reciprocal attractions. The degree of pervasive power on the one hand (the trajectories), and of receptive plasticity on the other (the subject), would thus depend on the complex balance of forces (by analogy, we could see these poles as centers of semiotic attraction) that arises between the elements in question. The symbolic contents conveyed on a social level can thus have a significant influence on the trajectories, providing subjects with essential tools for adapting to their context, without rigidly determining these directions of development. The personal sensemaking process, in fact, can diverge from the trajectory, which is never fixed and definite, but guides a sense flow, with respect to which subjective elaborations can be moved by thrusts that are centripetal (and thus directed towards a greater consistency with the trajectories) or centrifugal (where the deviations from the trajectory are clearer and more frequent). As applied in the Kullasepp (2010) study, the TEM model is an effective means for investigating the processes of constructing professional identity, in a dialogical approach to self understanding. The primary assumption, in fact, is that the different personal identities can never be placed in a strictly single dimension: on the contrary, each of them is developed through processes of interpersonal co-construction. From this standpoint, the development of Self follows a dialogical model (Hermans, 2001), which makes it possible to explain the dynamics of interpsychic signification. The multiplicity of different outlooks not only contributes on an interpsychic level to defin121

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ing and understanding ones own Self, but also sets up a sort of polyphonic interior dialog (cf. Bachtin, 1929), which over time produces new and ever-changing possibilities for expressing and signifying this Self. In this sense, Kullasepp qualifies the meaning of imaginative mind (Hermans, 2001), namely, one characterized by a complex system of meanings assigned to it. The subject can draw on and refer to these meanings, which are hierarchically organized, in the course of her development (Valsiner, 2007). Clear references to the dimension of temporality and change emerge from these considerations: the plurality of voices with which the world is signified continue to introduce new potential for change, in a constant and incessant state of becoming. The dynamics of symbolic production thus lead to the creation of specific directions of meaning, with respect to which the personal symbolizations can arrange themselves in varying degrees of compliance. In this way, we can postulate, as the basis for a dialogical model of the Self, a latent structure of meanings that continually produces new semiotic options with which the different parts of the polyphonic mind can be voiced. The system of meanings that structures the TEM thus synthesizes and groups the different possibilities of signification, referring specifically to those options that more than others reduce the expression of contrasts: accordingly, the equifinality of the trajectories is to be considered in close connection with the temporal dimension, which gives directionality to development processes and to the dynamics of symbolization at work in them. In the TEM model (by contrast with the RTS), we can thus underscore the greater importance given to the temporal dimension of signification processes: whereas the TEM centers on the similarities of development trajectories, what is essential to the RTS is the reference to the co-construction of a semiotic space, consisting of the different dimensions of symbolic signification. We could thus see the two methodological options as being anchored to specific working constructs, one the TEM centering more on aspects of a temporal nature, and the other RTS more specifically concerned with placing sensemaking within special dimensions defined in socio-cultural terms (hence the construct of semiotic space). From the methodological standpoint, the two proposed models (RTS and TEM) have the merit of making it possible to investigate semiotic processes that can be identified in their becoming, without the subjects necessarily being aware of them. For the RTS devices in particular, we are referring to the Latent Dimensions of Sense (Carli & Salvatore, 2001) originated by communicative exchanges that organize and define, from a methodological and epistemological point of view, the semiotic space in relation to the subjects discursive production. Operationally, the latent structures of sense thus make it possible to describe the personal and interpsychic processes of constructing meanings a posteriori, with an operation of discrimination and inference applied ex post to the subjects conversational productions. And not only: while in one case (RTS), the reflexive capacities organize the subjects potential, encouraging development and producing a new identity, in the other case (TEM), the options of change become the substantial focus of reflection. In the TEM model, moreover, the processes of semiotic mediation influence the subjects actions, governing the feeling with which individuals relate to their choices,

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although assigning meaning also orients action according to the reflexive RTS approach. By organizing reflexive dynamics, in fact, the processes of semiotic mediation precede and regulate the perception of ones own experiences, choices and expectations. It is interesting to reflect on the etymology of the word sense, given its polysemic value in nuancing the concept. The terms etymon (the Latin sensus, -i) embodies two orders of meaning: the first regards the faculty of feeling, perceiving, either with the senses or with the intellect, while the second relates to the possibility of describing a direction, a trajectory. An interpretation of this kind (suggested by the work of Venuleo and Guidi, 2010), enables us to synthesize the multiplicity of references contained in the models contemplated here. By considering sense as the capacity for understanding, either rationally or through the perceptions, as well as affectively, the processes of signification can be placed on a level above the classic Cartesian dualism: the process of signification can thus combine and synthesize the two dimensions of cogitans and extensa, at the same time making it possible to define representations as emotionally moved, felt, emotively charged and, simultaneously, characterized and guided by symbolic directions of reference. The actions of signifying and feeling can then be understood in the fullness of their polysemic connotations: the production of sense can, in fact, entail dense representations, dense in both cognitive and affective terms. Not only, but with regard to the models analyzed here, it can be noted that over and above the directionality implicit in the operation of signification (well rendered by the TEM model) it is possible to assess this operation with reference to the identification of the various semiotic components that give structure to ones personal and professional identity (the principle underlying the RTS). In both models, moreover, the reference to the category of change and transition is central: becoming substantiates the same interpersonal dynamics of sensemaking, and translates into potential for change at the intrapsychic level. Both models offer effective methodological choices for investigating the progressive development of the processes: in the case of the RTS, the model explores, from a spatial level, the change that subjects produce recursively in reflexive settings. The Latent Dimensions of Sense offer a valid operationalization of the internal dynamics of processes of symbolic co-construction. In the case of the TEM, the change is considered with explicit reference to intersubjective influences, which are central in the dynamics of semiotic mediation. In this case, the transformation is placed chiefly (but not exclusively) within a temporal dimension of development. Diversity, a category or set, both epistemological and methodological, distinguishes the plurality of voices that make up individual identities (plurality rendered with reference to the DS) as well as the processes of shared symbolization which lead to the definition of common development trajectories. In one case, semantic polyphony is thus described on a level we could call spatial or dimensional, and in the other case on a temporal and at the same time directional level of development. There are thus major conceptual similarities between the models proposed here, which we could describe as interesting intersections between the two, in aspects that are both epistemological and methodological. From the latter standpoint in particular, a comparison is in order between the working constructs of latent structures of sense applied in the RTS, and development trajectories applied in the TEM. Both, though

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taking different operational tacks, are dense moments of signification. The Latent Dimensions of Sense, on the one hand, make it possible to explore, ex facto, the sensemaking produced in the dynamics of co-construction of meanings. This sensemaking is taken in specific moments of the processes of elaboration, as germinal nucleuses of new signified objects, and is thus latent. Similarly, the development trajectories proposed by the TEM model order collectively shared directions of meanings that effectively account for the diversifications that semiotic elaborations undergo over time. In both cases, these constructs provide working environments for investigating sensemaking in the midst of its concrete and discontinuous emergence. Indeed, we could emphasize how these constructs enable us to see the hermeneutic nature of the signification process, which is carried out in different moments and semiotic dimensions each time, by specific subjects and in specific contexts. In this connection, it would be interesting to hypothesize the development of new working constructs in future studies which could synthesize and combine the intersections between the two models that we have just discussed. Specifically, we would also like to highlight the importance assigned to the role of the subjects in processes of semiotic mediation of the real: in accordance with Vygotskian thinking, symbolization in the two models is analyzed with reference to the interpersonal dimension of co-constructing meaning. In both models, in fact, methodological choices are applied that make it possible to analyze the dynamics involving contextual influences: in the RTS, by identifying the specific characteristics of the context, which provide subjects with ever-new possibilities for increasing their reflexive abilities; in the TEM, by outlining the role of social representations conveyed by the context (both of training and of work) in defining the direction of signification processes in the course of development. The characteristics of the two models can be viewed by analogy with the scientific concepts of rotation and revolution: two forms of motion that can contribute to explaining the intrinsic and constitutive aspects of the processes of sensemaking. The capacity for reflexivity, stimulated by devices of an interpsychic nature, enables the subject to elaborate a new sense-of-Self. This new sense-of-Self can be arrived at in response to the new semiotic productions made as a consequence of reflexive dynamics, when activated in a symbolic movement centering on the self (in this sense, a movement of rotation). The symbolic productions made in this way are also part of the new contributions that the subject can make towards collective sensemaking. In turn, the development trajectories establish the directional axes with respect to which individuals can position themselves: the trajectories, as we have indicated, orient but do not determine development, and define the range of possibilities in which the creation of sense is structured. Thus, these trajectories can provide the possible directions along which each individual can orient his processes of signification, in a movement we could call one of revolution. Specifically, each individual can be positioned on different points of the trajectory, placing himself relative to the specific Latent Dimensions of Sense that give it structure. The reciprocal organization of these movements that center on themselves (reflexive, or of rotation) and oriented relative to the trajectories (of revolution) can produce different outcomes, outcomes that have equifinality with the shared directions, or diverge from them. The sensemaking produced reflexively can thus move away from the shared orientations, giving rise to a

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plurality of semiotic options referring to self identity - a plurality that Kullasepp (2010) renders with the expression imaginative mind. These interesting points of intersection between the RTS and TEM models are also effectively rendered from an operational standpoint: the movement of signification centering on itself crosses and influences the development trajectories, here seen also as an organized system of Latent Dimensions of Sense, from which it is in turn influenced and oriented. The self-centering movement and the latent and shared dimension of sense jointly give shape to overlappings and intersections, in a constant state of becoming (from a temporal and dimensional standpoint, in accordance with the constructs illustrated earlier). The centrality of the interactions between the interpersonal and intrapsychic dimensions is thus effectively accounted for by the two models, each of which specifies how mental functions accomplish the continuous dynamics of symbolic co-construction. The pragmatic value of meaning is therefore, from the methodological standpoint, given particular attention, and this contributes to providing an efficient means of interpreting psychic function in a socio-cultural light.

Bachtin, M. (1929). Problems of Dostoevskys work. Leningrad: Priboj. Carli, R. (1987). Psicologia Clinica. [Clinical Psychology]. Torino: Utet Libreria. Carli, R., & Paniccia, R. M. (2003). Lanalisi della domanda. Teoria e tecnica dellintervento in psicologia clinica. [The analysis of the demand. Theory and technique of the intervention in clinical psychology]. Bologna: Il Mulino. Carli R., & Salvatore S. (2001). Limmagine dello psicologo. [The Image of the Psychologist]. Roma: Kappa Editore. Fornari, F. (1983). La lezione freudiana. [The Freudian Lesson]. Milano: Feltrinelli. Grasso M., & Salvatore S. (1997). Pensiero e decisionalit. Contributo alla critica della prospettiva individualista in psicologia. [Thought and Decision. A contribution to the criticism of the individualist perspective in psychology]. Milano: Franco Angeli. Harr, R., & Gillet, G. (1994). The Discursive Mind. London: Sage. Hermans, H. (2001). The dialogical self: Toward a theory of personal and cultural Positioning. Culture and Psychology, 7(3), 243-281. Kaneklin, C., & Scaratti, G. (Eds.) (1998). Formazione e Narrazione. [Training and Narration]. Milano: Raffaello Cortina. Kullasepp, K. (2006). Identity construction of psychology students: professional role in the making. European Journal of School Psychology. Special issue. The making of a psychologist: a school for life in the profession. 4(2), 249-280 Kullasepp, K. (2010). The psychological studies as an extention of the Self. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, Travers Simon, A. Gennaro, (Eds.), YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Volume 3 (pp. 95-114). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Lislie, A. M. (2000). All hail reflexivity. Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 2, 109129.

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Matte Blanco, I. (1975). The Unconscious as Infinite Sets: An Essay in Bi-Logic. London: Gerald Duckworth & Company. Montesarchio, G., & Venuleo, C. (2006). Constructing Psychotherapists Social Roles. European Journal of School Psychology, 4(2), 403-415. Montesarchio, G., & Venuleo, C. (2009) (Eds.). Colloquio Magistrale. La narrazione generativa [Magistral Conversation. The generative narration]. Milano: Franco Angeli. Moscovici, S. (1963). Attitudes and opinions. Annual Review of Psychology, 14, 231260. Peirce, C. S. (1979). Semiotica [Semiotics]. M. A. Bonfantini (Ed.). Torino: Einaudi. Salvatore, S. (2004). Inconscio e discorso. Inconscio come discorso. [The Unconscious and Discourse. The Unconscious as Discourse]. In B. Ligorio, (Ed.), Psicologie e culture. Contesti, identit ed interventi. [Psychologies and cultures. Contexts, identities and interventions]. Roma: Carlo Amore. Salvatore, S., Freda, M. F., Ligorio, B., Iannaccone, A., Rubino, F., Scotto di Carlo, M., & Bastianoni, P. (2003). Socioconstructivism and theory of the unconscious: a gaze over a research horizon. European Journal of School Psychology, 1 (1), 9-36. Salvatore, S., Mannarini, T. M., & Rubino, F. (2004). Le culture dei docenti della scuola italiana. Unindagine empirica. [Teachers cultures in Italian school. An empirical investigation]. Psicologia Scolastica, 3(1), 31-70. Sato, T., Yasuda, Y., Kido, A., Arakawa,. A., Mizoguchi, H., & Valsiner, J. (2007). Sampling Reconsidered: Personal histories-in-the-making as cultural constructions. In J. Valsiner & A. Rosa (Eds.), Handbook of socio-cultural psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press. Searle, J. R. (1995) The Construction of Social Reality. New York: Free Press. Valsiner, J. (2000). Culture and human development. London: Sage. Valsiner, J. (2001). Process Structure of Semiotic Mediation in Human Development. Human Development, 2/3(44), 84-97. Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in minds and societies. New Delhi: Sage. Valsiner, J. (2008). The social and the cultural: Where do they meet? In T. Sugiman, K.J. Gergen, W. Wagner, & Y. Yamada (Eds.). Meaning in action: Constructions, narratives, and representations. Tokyo: Springer. Venuleo, C, & Guidi, M. (2010). The impact of a reflexive training setting on academic Students Anticipatory Images of University, Identity and Profession in a Psychological Degree course. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J. Travers Simon, A. Gennaro (Eds.), YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3 (pp. 67-94). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Venuleo, C., Guidi, M., Mossi, P., & Salvatore, S. (2009). Listituzione generativa. Limpatto di un setting riflessivo sulle immagini anticipatorie di un corso di laurea in Psicologia. [The generative Institution. The impact of a reflexive setting on the anticipatory images of a degree course in Psychology]. Psicologia Scolastica [School Psychology], 8(2), 197-221. Venza, G. (Ed.) (2008). La qualit dellUniversit. Verso un approccio psicosociale. [The Quality of University. Toward a psychosocial approach]. Milano: Franco Angeli. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes.

The reflexive training setting and the trajectroy equifinality model

Cambridge (Mass) and London: Harvard University Press. White, S., & Stancombe, J. (2003). Clinical Judgement in the Health and Welfare Professions: Extending the Evidence Base. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Francesca Giovanna Maria Gastaldi at present has a teaching contract in Educational Psychology at the University of Turin (Italy). She has collaborated with the University of Neuchtel, CH. Address: Department of Psychology, Via Po, 14, 10123 Torino - e-mail: Claudio Longobardi is PhD in Psychodynamic Psychology and Assistant Professor on Developmental Psychology at the University of Turin (Italy). At present he teaches Developmental Psychopathology and Technical Observation on Child Behavior at the same University. His main interests regard typical and atypical developmental psychology in socio-constructivist and cultural psychology. Address: Department of Psychology, Via Po 14, 10123 Turin - e-mail:claudio.longobardi@ Tiziana Pasta is Research Assistant in Developmental Psychology and in Psychopathology at the University of Turin (Italy) and at the Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation. She has collaborated with the University of Salento about teacher cultures study, in a socio-cultural approach. Address: Department of Psychology, Via Po, 14, 10123 Torino - e-mail: Erica Sclavo at present has a teaching contract in Educational Psychology at the University of Turin (Italy). Address: Department of Psychology, Via Po, 14, 10123 Torino - e-mail:


Michele Cesaro *, Ruggero Ruggieri *, Nadia Pecoraro *

This paper focuses on the fundamental role of meanings. By taking into consideration several ideas proposed by Kullasepp (2010) and Venuleo & Guidi (2010), it highlights how meaning systems can have an operative implication on psychological science due to fact that they understand the cogent relationship between action and thought. Psychological change is therefore, seen as a semiotic process which is just as possible as an action is a reflective practice.

In order to clarify what this commentary deals with, it is worth taking into consideration several ideas put forward by Kullasepp (2010) as well as Venuleo & Guidi (2010). Both authors propose how an undergraduate degree course in psychology can be a semiotic activator capable of changing the representation that students have of themselves as well as their being psychology students and, therefore, their future professional role. From this perspective, a degree course in psychology can be considered much more than a system of acquiring knowledge. On the contrary, it, on the one hand, represents a part of an interesting research area, with it grouping together the representations related to certain aspects of the workings of the professional system. While, on the other, it is a system of cultural mediation through which it is possible to discover a new reality that is different from the original starting point.

* University of Salerno - Italy.


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Although dealing with a similar subject, the studies are structured differently due to having diverse aims. In Venuleo & Guidi (2010), a great deal of attention is given to the use of a tool known as Semiotic Reflective Training Setting (RTS). In contrast, Kullasepp (2010) shows how cultural materials semantically mediate professional identity in order to process the resolution of ambivalence between the parts of the self-system (I as Myself <> I as Psychologist). However, in addition to sharing an identical paradigmatic set-up, which is based on a social constructivist and ideographic approach, they also share the value and centrality that the meaning systems have for psychological science. According to the aforementioned authors, the meaning system that individuals use, is substantially: 1. a way in which reality is constructed, therefore identity (Kullasepp, 2010) or behaviour (Venuleo & Guidi, 2010); 2. a culturally defined, inter-subjective structure. Thus, its nature is inherently dialogical in the sense that it is nurtured by and based on a relational system which is expressed through stories, actions and behaviours that are always in relation to other stories, other actions and other behaviours; 3. a dynamic structure, which is variable due to an active dialogue process. This, therefore, implies that the meaning system can be subject to change. The last point is extremely important, because on the one hand, it is the criterion upon which the two studies verify their hypotheses. While, on the other, verification makes it possible to identify the complexity of meaning systems as well as their dynamics. An attempt has been made to highlight this very complexity in order to draw attention to the complementary aspects of the two studies, which may seem to be distant and very different if their common element (psychology students) is removed. On the contrary, from our point of view, they show in some way the means through which change can take place in meaning systems and therefore reality.

Meaning systems and their psychological importance

The main aim of this work is not to enter into the merits of the theoretical models upon which the studies are based. However, it is worth noting the different forms that the meaning systems in the two studies have as well as their relative dynamic semiotics. They raise an issue, even if not directly related to the aforementioned studies: how does change occur? In other words, how can new meaning systems be realised? Which law starts this change? How is the semiotic process validated? In order to answer these questions, it is necessary to discuss several parts of the studies upon which this commentary is based.


Meaning systems

The meanings of the Self as a dimension

For example, in Kullasepp (2010), meaning systems are systematically organised over the years of an undergraduate degree course and associated within a dimension of the Self, in a dimension of identity which detects the signs and controls systems through which this change occurs. The Self in this change process is not considered individually, but rather within a social dialectic, where there is an active semiotic process. The university experience is, therefore, a particular condition in which the student mediates between what are the expectations of his socio-cultural context, in relation to a group of peers and his family set-up, and more general in the current social norms which also include the future profession for which the student has enrolled in the course. The result of this change is achieved by solving a series of ambiguities which reduce the distance between the idea that students have of themselves, of their being students and how they should behave in relation to the new stimuli to which they are now subjected to. The resolution of the ambiguity due to the pressure of the various symbolic tools makes it possible to acquire, less imaginary and always more concrete, their future professional role.
The meanings of which guidance behaviour system

On the contrary, in Venuleo & Guidi (2010), the meaning of being a psychology student is not related to the Self, but rather to mental objects. In other words, anticipatory images related to being students, the institution of the university, as well as the psychological profession. In this sense, these meanings are seen as an expression of a position that people take in relation to their socio-cultural context. Therefore, these same meanings are a mapping system of the university training context that can guide and define the actions of the students. Consequently, meanings are something upon which the university experience takes shape. They also define the limitations as well as potential impact they have on the educational commitment of the students. From this point of view, for Venuleo & Guidi (2010), the elaboration of meanings as well as their recognition is a fundamental system through which students can access a greater understanding and awareness of their being psychology students. RTS therefore, represents a useful tool in developing a reflective practice that partly constitutes a competency of the psychological profession, and partly makes it possible to reflect on student training. The change of meaning, result of being processed, allows the authors to give RTS a semiotic function.

The semiotic process between action and

Accordingly, dealing with the aforementioned issues and in synthesis, the semiotic process is now a process of reducing the distance between different parts of the Self

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(I as Myself <> I as Psychologist), it is now a reflective practice. It is obvious that the theoretical diversity of the objectives as well as the methodologies makes it impractical to compare the semiotic change processes. However, in our opinion, a useful contribution in this direction is the Shn model (1983). It is well known that Shn (1983) significantly contributed to the study of organizational change, by developing innovative capacities and organizational learning. His studies criticise the principles of technical rationality of positivist inspiration as well as the distance of academic models from professional practices. In this sense, he recognizes within professional practices, the ability to validate theoretical models. Shn (1983) does not address meaning systems, at least not directly and explicitly. However, he does analyze the process of cognitive reconstruction actived by problem solving, which implies a way of attributing meaning to reality. His model has had a major impact on both professional training as well as organizational intervention. For Shn (1983), learning is the result of actions and reflection on the basis of their coexistence, co-presence and mutual penetrability. Accordingly, thought does neither necessarily precede nor follow the action. Therefore, change, learning and knowledge development is something that can be activated by: reflection-in-action (during action vs. knowledge through action).This is a form of tacit knowledge that develops know-how which is not linked to any previous form of thought. In some cases, it implies forms of thought while performing the action, as in the case of jazz musicians who collectively reflect on and create their individual contributions, developing them during the same process; reflective conversation with the situation. It is a form of knowledge which develops through a series of questions and answers about the situation to be addressed due to the fact that the context within which it is operating, resists the implementation of that action; reflective practice. These are thought processes on the way to behave, therefore on the mind-set, the way to act and think as well as present oneself in situations.

With the term critical incident, Schn refers to the sense of surprise, confusion and disorientation that the context in which we are in does not support the action that we would normally have carried out. Therefore, the event is a critical enabler of the processes of change and learning. It is not a traumatic event in itself, but rather a simple social situation where we feel a sense of dissonance with respect to the behaviour that we would normally have. In our opinion, by using the Schn model to interpret the semiotic process, the studies by Kullasepp (2010) and Venuleo & Guidi (2010) appear to be complementary in identifying the semiotic process. In fact, it is possible that enrolment in an undergraduate degree and its attendance may represent a kind of critical incident, as it is able through its forms and contents (lectures, exams, regulations, procedures, relationships with peers, with teachers, etc.) to activate a disconfirmation system about our own meaning system of reality, and subsequently, the action to be taken within it. Therefore, from this perspective, the identification of meaning systems by Kullasepp can be seen as the cultural mediations through the penetrability of action and

Meaning systems

thought (reflection in action and reflection on the situation). Psychology students, in fact, perform actions: attend lectures and seminars, study, take exams, socialize with other students, have working relationships with teachers and secretaries. All these actions as highlighted by the Schn model are not without meaning. On the contrary, they can always create cognitive and emotional imbalance in which the subject has to provide an answer. Moreover, the practice of psychotherapy has shown that change may not always be started through a process of self-awareness. In some cases, a breaking context is necessary, guided by specific professional practice, in which the action generates an experiential-symbolic activation, acting on emotional and latent dimensions, related to the action, capable of generating an emotional change which can unconsciously modify behaviour and only later, on the basis of a reflective practice, generate thought (Baldascini, 2002, Berne, 1971, Byng-Hall, 1995, Bowen 1979, Bowlby, 1969; BoszormenyiNagy, Spark, 1988; Nardone, 2000; Whitaker, 1990; Whitaker & Bumberry, 1989). Contrastingly, the work of Venuleo & Guidi identify the activation of a real reflective practice on the meaning mechanisms of reality, which have not only been put in place through the university experience but are also in it. In fact, they elaborate meaning systems, that activate a suspension process through the development of a thought about it, on the meanings of which it is carrier. Consequently, a process that can be defined as an increase in decision-making is activated, as the links between actions and objectives are redefined through the change of both the actions as well as the objectives (Salvatore & Scotto di Carlo, 2005).

On the basis of what has been previously discussed, several final considerations on meaning systems and the semiotic processes connected to them can be made. In fact, it should be considered as the result of a complex configuration, i.e. construction of a precise symbolic order made through significant actions and multiple operations, and not least of a reflexive nature which is never static. The semiotic process, therefore, seems to be dialogic, not only in its subject but also its dynamics. The setting of routine in crisis, also known as the undermining of their own meaning system of reality in terms of its poor adaptability to represent the context and thus provide useful information on how to act, is something that always refers to a situation in a story, a specific narrative, as highlighted by the studies presented in this commentary. However, there is a new element that distinguishes the semiotic process and gives additional insights into the development of future studies: its practical implication. Therefore, on the basis of this consideration, meaning systems are neither impartial nor neutral. On the contrary, they seem to be tied to forms of intentionality that allow the players to position themselves within the context in which they operate, causing a statement about their interests, ideas of the world as well as their identity. At the same time, due to the recursion highlighted between action and thought,

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meanings in addition to guiding behaviour, are reproduced through action and therefore made real. In this sense, meaning systems are performative given their ability to make to their very existence socially acceptable. (Salvatore et al., 2009). Therefore, meaning systems always maintain a practical implication which is now reflected in the carrying out of a reflective practice, now through the action. Regardless of how the practical implication is and supported (action, thought, communication, etc.), it is associated to a dimension of discovery that is based on the definition of utility functions of the meaning systems. In other words, the dialogic nature and dynamics of the meaning system is its reason for being within a functional dimension in which the behaviour and/or actions are supported in contexts within which actors operate, thereby respecting a principle of adaptability.

Badascini, L. (2002). Legami terapeutici [Therapeuthic links]. Milano: Franco Angeli. Berne, E. (1971). Analisi Transazionale. [Transactional Analysis] . Roma: Astrolabio. Boszormenyi-Nagy, I., Spark, G. M. (1973). Invisible Loyalties. Reciprocity in intergenerational family therapy, Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc. Berne, E. (1961). Transactional analysis in psychotherapy: A systematic individual and social psychiatry. New York: Grove Press. Bowen, M. (Eds.). (1980). Dalla famiglia allindividuo. La differenziazione del s nel sistema familiare. [From family to the person. The differentiation of self in family siystems]. Roma: Astrolabio-Ubaldini. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. New York: Basic Books. Byng-Hall, J. (1995). Rewriting family scripts. The Guilford Press, 1995. Kullasepp, K. (2010). Why become a shrink? Psychology studies as extension of the Self. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J.B. Simon Travers, & A. Gennaro (Eds.). YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science (pp.95-114). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Nardone G.; (2000). Psicosoluzioni. [Psicosolutions] Milano: Rizzoli, Salvatore, S., Forges, G., Poti, S., Ruggeri, R. (2009). Mainstream economics and sense-making. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 43:158-177 Salvatore, S., Scotto Di Carlo, M. (2005). Lintervento psicologico per la scuola [Psychological intervention in schools]. Roma: Edizioni Carlo Amore, Fiera Publishing Group Shn, D (1983). The reflective pratictioner. How professionale think in action. London: Temple Smith Venuleo, C. & Guidi, M. (2010). The Reflexive Training Setting as a model for working on the meanings that shape students view of their role. A case study on psychology freshmen. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J.B. Simon Travers, & A. Gennaro (Eds.). YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science (pp. 67-94). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Withaker, C. (Eds). (1989). Midnight Musings of a family therapist. New York: W.W. Norton & Company .

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Withaker, C., Bumberry, W.M. (1988). Dancing with the family: a symbolic-experiential approach. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Michele Cesaro Associate Professor of Development Psychology and Transactional psychotherapist. He currently Lectures Dynamic Psychology and Work and Organization Psychology at the University of Salerno. His research interests concern adolescent and youth issues and the culture and individual aspects during the students performance at University. He is also the Rectors delegate for disabled at the University of Salerno and Lectures on Interuniversity School of Teaching Specialization. Ruggero Ruggeri Assistant Professor, he earned a PhD in Community Psychology and Training Education Models. He currently Lectures Dynamic Psychology at the University of Salerno. His research interests concern the passing of the baton in family-run businesses, mobbing, economic psychology and methodology of the psychology intervention. He is also a Management Consultant and Clinical Psychology. Nadia Pecoraro is a PhD Student in Psychology and Systemic Relational psychotherapist. Her research interest concern the family cultures, risk and resource factors involved in the process of generational transition and new form of family (adoptive family, family with children in foster care). She is also Tutors students at Department of Educational Science-University of Salerno- and Family Counsellor.




Rodriguez B. Lilian Patricia *

The case study method is a powerful tool through which we can understand and deepen our look into the nature of the phenomenon of infant development. In this article I present a single-case study featuring an infant moving towards the mastery of the inductive generalization processes in playing with objects between 9 and 12 months of age, I used an idiographic analysis to describe how this cognitive tool emerges in the action context. The cognitive richness that the infant creates is demonstrated throughout as is the variability in the infants repertories. Development is a complex process because a great number of qualitative and quantitative components interact in order to make the emergence of new forms possible (Lewis, 2000; Molenaar & Valsiner 2009; Thelen & Smith, 1994, 1998; van Geert, 1998, van Geert & van Dijk, 2002). The developmental process is dynamic because its nature is non-stationary, changing in time. Developmental psychology should direct its efforts towards the search for methods that allows one to capture of change (Molenaar, et al., 2002; van Geert & van Dijk, 2002). This study is dedicated to the ontogeny of inductive generalization. Inductive generalization plays an indubitable role, and can be considered as part of a stellar moment in development, as it constitutes one of the main cognitive tools children use to identify what objects are, the class or category they belong to and the uses of functions they meet. This knowledge enables them to organize reality (Mandler, 1996, 2004; Mandler & McDonough, 1998). The topic of inductive generalization has been addressed from different perspectives, namely: epistemological, methodological (Gilliron, 1985; Popper, 1972) and psychological (Mandler, 2004; Mandler & McDonough, 1998). The case I am about to introduce adopts a psychological perspective on the development of the infant.

* Universidad de la Sabana - Colombia.


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From this perspective, inductive generalization is a cognitive tool whereby children use their knowledge and experiences to study new objects and situations that share common proprieties (Mandler & McDonough, 1998).

The idiographic approach

Among the various research strategies in the sciences, two perspectives seem to have permeated the debate and investigations in developmental Psychology: the nomothetic and idiographic. From the nomothetic viewpoint, and based on samples, researchers have conducted experiments on infants developmental acquisitions in an effort to arrive at generalizations which may be transferred to the larger population. Such explorations have focused on issues related to the following questions: what type of abilities does a child have? What changes are related to age? How long does it take until a child ascends to a new stage? What are the most objective measurements to account for the development? From this staged and lineal perspective, a set of results are generalized to the imaginary unit called population. On the other hand, the idiographic perspective can contribute to our understanding of the phenomenon of development, as it allows for in-depth study of the processes of development. The questions raised from this perspective are: how does novelty emerge? What paths does the child travel along when constructing knowledge? Which mechanisms make change possible? What these questions pursue is to deepen a cognitive phenomenon like inductive generalization. The present case study follows an idiographic perspective, and is interested in describing, understanding and explaining how inductive generalization emerges in one female infant. Three concepts guided this study: first, the conceptualization of development, understood as a complex and dynamic process that is produced in time in many forms and different levels of organization (Lewis, 2000; Molenaar & Valsiner 2009; Thelen & Smith, 1994, 1998; Valsiner, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009; van Geert, 1998, van Geert & van Dijk, 2002). Traditionally, inductive generalization has been studied by means of cross-sectional studies directed towards identifying the presence or lack of it during a certain age (Mandler & McDonough, 1998). To do this, the aforementioned authors used experimental situations with a group of 40 children. Among their results, they found that inductive generalization is present as early as 14 months (Mandler, 1996, 2004; Mandler & McDonough, 1998). Mandlers accumulated empirical data from various generations transform into a support to formulate a theory regarding concept formation that, undoubtedly, constitutes an important contribution to the advancement of psychology as a discipline. However, this group of studies, in spite of their value, did not address other questions, namely: How does inductive generalization emerge in infants across time? Which trajectories do infants follow and how do they follow them? What is the nature of this cognitive development (hierarchic, accumulative lineal or dynamic) and what are the implications of this nature on the study of cognition? These questions have as a background the emergence of the phenomenon of development, which is the third con140

A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants

cept that I subscribe to in this case study. The emergence is a principle to understand change in the systems of development. Lewis defines emergence as the appearance of new forms or properties through the becoming of processes intrinsic to the system itself (Lewis, 2000, p.38). Defining it as the spontaneous and coherent emergence of behaviours, he abandons the idea that in the subject everything is preset or genetically codified. Thus, an emphasis is made on the idea that the interaction of biological and genetic features, experiences and real-time situations generate the conditions for the rise of a particular way of behaving given a certain domain (De la Rosa, Rodrguez & Ossa, 2009). Studying the emergence of novelty implies two aspects. On the one hand, I need to find out about how new ways of thinking and applying ones understanding regarding the use of objects develop in the mind of the child. On the other hand, I must acknowledge that the study of emergence involves the succession of moments of development across time. The micro longitudinal method that allows one to capture moments of change, stability and transitions in development, enables one to seek the emergence of the phenomenon according to different time scales, e.g. seconds, minutes, days and months. (Fogel 1990; Karmiloff-Smith, 1993, 1994; Lavelli et al., 2005; Lyra, 1999; Lyra, & Souza, 2003; Pascual-Leone & Johnson, 2004; Sigler, 1995, 2006).
The value of case analysis on the study of intra-individual variability

The focus of the study is on the processes through which every child participates in his/her own development when faced with a problem solving situation that demands the use of many of his/her cognitive tools. The constructions every child builds and the variability in his/her performances from task to task, and from day to day, transforms his or her cognitive and motor systems. From this perspective, Each person is unique in all respects-- genetically, physiologically and psychologically. Moreover, each person follows his/her own unique path in life in that s/he matures, develops, learns, adapts, behaves and experiences in idiosyncratic ways. Yet, at the same time, within the range of inter-individual and intra-individual (temporal) variability, generic processes of life organization are in operation. It can be said that these generic processes make the high variability possible. As the livelihood of all species depends upon their flexibility of adaptation to ever-unpredictable conditions of the environment, it is not surprising that variability is the name of the game in biological and psychological research. (Molenaar & Valsiner, 2009, p. 23). As a consequence, I want to analyze the ways by which any one infantbe s/he selected from our sample of 10 or somebody elses of 1000 builds up inductively generalized knowledge of the ordinary properties of objects accordingly to her dynamics, times and resources. This study was completed along the lines of the best of Piagets heritance-- for understanding and explaining boys and girls development, he

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did not need to use big samples. Piaget made rigorous observations, rich descriptions and analyses of products based on the study of his own children (Piaget, 1970). He left us a legacy of a solid theory of cognitive development that sustains through time. In the last years, many researchers in psychology have directed their efforts towards idiographic practice based on case studies (Lyra, 1999; Lyra & Souza, 2003; Salvatore, Valsiner, Strout-Yagodzinski & Clegg 2009); Valsiner, 2009; Sato & Valsiner 2007; Toomela, 2010). Developmental researchers are designing methods to capture change and analyze variability (Combariza & Puche-Navarro, 2009; Fischer & Bidell, 2006; Guevara, 2007; Hollenstein & Lewis 2006; Molenaar & Valsiner, 2009; PucheNavarro, 2009; Rodriguez, 2009a; van Geert, 2003; van Geert & van Dijk, 2002 ; van Dijk & van Geert, 2007) Interest in idiographic practice appears as a response to the traditional approach that focused on understanding developmental change in a distorted way. For example, differences in the development of one subject (intra-individual variabilitydifferences with oneself over time) were perceived as a worrying measurement error that needed to be corrected. Statistically traditional methods, like the analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multivariate analysis were used but, given their linear nature, flatten and simplify the changing nature of development and probably mask the functioning and complexity of the phenomenon (Valsiner, 2004, 2006, 2009; van Dijk & van Geert, 2007; van Geert, 1998, 2003; van Geert & van Dijk, 2002). Such a sad picture has remained in place for many years. At the beginning of this article, I stated that development is a dynamic and complex process, a system under constant transformation. Taking this conception of mind as a system as the starting point, its transformations are studied over a specified period of time (Sato et al., 2007), which is particularly useful, because it enables a detailed follow-up of some moments of development. This implies, then, recognizing the singularity of each child, his/her history, processes, actions and cognitive richness shown when he/she faces problem solving situations. In these situations, the child must achieve a goal; there are no correct or incorrect actions, there are forms of comprehension that the child constructs across time in order to face a situation that constitutes a challenge which needs to be solved.

Methodological Aspects
Micro-longitudinal investigation grants us an intensive intra-subject follow-up. The present investigation was carried out for two months and 10 days on a group of 10 infants. For the purposes of this article, in the study of inductive generalization (Rodriguez, 2009a) three kinds of profiles were identified, namely, three different trajectories by which children transit when performing inductive generalizations. Here I present only one case belonging to the type I have called irregular or changing profile. The study of inductive generalization as a process demands a micro-longitudinal follow-up. One infant participated in this research, her name was Marcela. The follow-up began when the baby was 9 months 20 days old and finished when she was

A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants

11-months 20 days -old (2 months 10 days of follow-up in total) with observations every 10 days in the house of the child. The infant lives in the district of Aguablanca in Cali, Colombia. The Aguablanca district is a zone of varied poverty, located on the south east of Cali. Inhabitants here are mostly from African descent, arriving from different towns and the countryside of the Western Pacific region of Colombia.
Situation and objects

Children use various cognitive tools (inference, planning, experimentation) when facing a situation (Puche-Navarro, 2005, 2009). I designed a problem solving situation the objective of making visible the way the child uses inductive generalization which is a form of inference used when facing situations based on the use of daily objects. The wheelbarrow is an object the inhabitants of Aguablanca (Cali- Colombia) use on a daily basis for transporting goods like fish, wood, etc. The objects shown to the children are made of wood and correspond to small replicas of real life objects. Besides the wheelbarrow, our situation also features the following items: a house, a straight road, a car, furniture: a table and chair, fruits: an apple and an orange. In this situation the child observes the functional uses of a car by looking at the demonstration made by the experimenter. The child must identify the four functional uses of a wheelbarrow: ability to be a container to put objects in able to carry fruits objects, to move and being pushed towards the house Figure 1, 2 and 3. Objects used in the situation

Real wheelbarrow used in the House and road made to scale district of Aguablanca. with a truck and furniture used in the demonstration.

House and road made to scale with wheelbarrow and fruits used in the Transfer phase.

Procedure. This situation consisted of three parts: a) demonstration of the functional uses of an object (a toy car): the experimenter moves the car to the front; then, setting two small pieces of furniture (table, chair) into the wheelbarrows container, drives the wheelbarrow over a road, towards the house, finally introducing everything into it. b) Familiarization with an object (car): The experimenter gives the car to the girl in order to allow her to explore it. After this phase is finished, the experimenter takes the car, the furniture and the house away from her. c) Transfer phase: The experimenter introduces the new object wheelbarrow, while saying to the child: now

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you have to put these fruits here (pointing to the wheelbarrow) and then You have to take the wheelbarrow with the fruits through this road (pointing to the road) to the house (pointing to the house). This is the moment in which the generalization takes place. The child must use her knowledge and experience about the use of the cars and extend it to the wheelbarrow.

The longitudinal course: Examples from the data

The wheelbarrow situation was conducted at the girls home. The study was executed over a period of 2 months, and 10 days. In total, seven meetings took place, with each session lasting five minutes long. The more relevant sessions that illustrate how inductive generalization emerges are: 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7. Figure 4. 1st observation, age 9 months 20 days, demonstrating the functional proprieties of the car.1

Session 1 - Figure 4 - Description: The experimenter is sitting on the floor, and the child is by her side. The experimenter puts the car on the floor and says: Marcela, look, this is the car that goes rumm. The experimenter moves the car to the front, and while on the motion she says: rumm, rum. The girl observes the actions of the experimenter. Next, the experimenter gives the car to Marcela, who takes it and places it on her lap; then, putting a hand on top of it, she looks the experimenter in the face, who says: Yes, Marcela, take it; its yours. Marcela keeps staring at the experimenter, and then she turns her head, looks around and hands over the car to the experimenter.

1 In agreement with Colombian legislation and the ethical procedure that regulate the Psychology exercise, the following pictures are presented exclusively for research purposes and under the written authorization of the parents.


A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants

The experimenter then takes the car and says: Look, Marcela, what I am going to do; I put the chair inside the car and now I put the table (the experimenter takes the chair and the table and places them inside the cars container) and says: now the car is going to go to the house, rumm, rum. The girl leans her body to the front and watches. Next, the experimenter unloads the furniture from the car and places them in front of Marcela. She takes the car, and then rests it on her lap, turns it around in the air and looks at the experimenter. She says: Yes, Marcela, this is a rurrm, rurrm. Marcela keeps her stare on the experimenter; then, taking the car to the floor, she turns it upside down and devotes herself to rolling the wheels, producing sounds while she does so. Interpretation: In this session I began by creating a space of intersubjective encounter, were child-experimenter and objects took part. This is the first trial of mutual acceptance. The experimenter begins the process of presenting the functional uses of the car. The demonstration goes along with verbalizations and simulations of sound (the sound of the car). On the other hand, the girl gets involved, and shows it by means of: Focusing her attention on the actions the experimenter is performing, Establishing visual contact with the experimenter two times during the session. The third way of participation is by exploration of the car. She looks for a position that allows her to explore part of the object, the wheels, and then applies a known scheme: roll the wheels. Studying the object is recognizing the set of schemata that can be applied to it (Pascual-Leone, 1991, 1997, 2008).

The action of rolling the wheels means that she has identified that the object has parts and so her interest shifts to understanding the functioning of one of them. In following observations, well observe whether Marcela is able to integrate (the parts) and assume the object as a whole. As a whole, this inter-subjective encounter has been permeated by gazes, gestures, questions, affirmations and actions. Figure 5. 2nd Observation used of wheelbarrow (Carreta)age 10 months


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Session 2Figure 5 Description: Marcela takes the wheelbarrow, looks at it, smiles at it and says: Ahhh. Then she turns to look at the experimenter, who says: Marcela, what do you think this is? Maybe its a brrr, rum?. The girl looks at the experimenter and then to the wheelbarrow; next she takes the wheelbarrow, lifting it and turning it until its in a vertical position, and rests it on her belly. With a hand she holds the wheelbarrow while with the other one she touches the wheels until she manages to make them roll. The experimenter says: Very good these are the wheels of the wheelbarrow, Marcela looks at the experimenter and keeps rolling the wheels, Interpretation: In this session I see that new elements emerge and that they help to cultivate this intersubjective space. The girl takes the wheelbarrow and her action comes accompanied by two meaningful communicative signals: the smile towards the object and her verbalization ahhh. These manifestations are indicators of recognizing the object; perhaps she smiles because there is a hypothesis on her mind: I know what can be done with this object and she supports herself using the experimenters gaze. The researcher responds using as a resource the question What do you think this is?, at the same time delivering a linguistic clue: maybe its a brrr, rum?.The child answers by looking at the experimenter and exploring the wheelbarrow. In the exploration of the wheelbarrow, Marcela finally focuses her attention on one part of the object: the wheels. In order to better study the wheelbarrow, she looks for another position, namely the vertical position. With one hand she holds (the object) and with the other, she rolls the wheels. These actions indicate that shes applying the knowledge that she has about whats to be done with the wheels of the car (a part of the object wheelbarrow) and thus, she rolls the wheels. Finally, it is very interesting to note that the explorations that Marcela performs on the object are generally accompanied by inquiries of affirmation or negation. When the girl discovers that the wheels roll, she looks at the experimenter who confirms: yes, they are wheels, and they move. The girl responds with an action and keeps on studying the movement of the wheels. Shes trying to understand the functioning of a part of the object. Both boys and girls, after discovering a propriety (of an object), persists on its study in order to understand its nature (Pascual-Leone, 1991, 1997, 2008) Figure 6. 3nd observation-- using wheelbarrow (Carreta) Age: 10:10 months


A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants

Session 3Figure 6Description: The experimenter puts the wheelbarrow on the floor and says: Look Marcela, this is the wheelbarrow; what do I do with it? The girl takes the wheelbarrow, turns it (upside-down) over the container, drags it and observes it. Then she changes the position of the wheelbarrow, turning it so the wheels are touching the floor, and moves it. She looks at the wheelbarrow and then at the experimenter. The experimenter then says: Yes, very good Marcela. This wheelbarrow is able to move. The girl says: ta, ta, ta and keeps on moving the wheelbarrow. Suddenly she stops, looking at the experimenter, lifting the wheelbarrow and then offering it to the experimenter, who says: brumm brumm?. The girl makes a whisper: Uhhh. Next, Marcela takes one of the shoes and bites it while she looks at the experimenter, who says: the shoe is to be placed over here (pointing to the wooden box). Marcela smiles at the experimenter who smiles back. Then Marcela moves closer to the experimenter, extends her hand, and caresses the experimenters face. The experimenter smiles, both girl and experimenter smile. Immediately the experimenter takes the other shoe and places it into the wheelbarrow, saying: Yes, the shoe is to be placed here. Again, they both look at each other and smile. Interpretation: In this session I see that the experimenter begins the interaction by making a question: What do I do with it? The question is a linguistic key referred to the use of the objects. Marcela answers with her action, takes the wheelbarrow, drags it and then studies the movement of shifting. After that, she seeks a new position and finds a way of rolling the wheelbarrow. The steady gaze on the experimenter while she rolls the wheelbarrow means a need of confirming Im doing it ok; signals that the experimenter interprets and answers accordingly: Yes, very good Marcela; this wheelbarrow moves this sentence encourages the girl to endure on her task of studying other possible uses of the wheelbarrow. The actions of Marcela shows that the emergence of the discovery of the functional use is not random, but a product of a refined study that implied establishing relations between the following aspects: shape of the wheels, its movement, and the position to make the wheelbarrow roll. Its very significant when she finds the functional use of the object and then shows it through a considerable period of time. This new discovery comes along with verbalizations. Immediately she stops her actions and offers the wheelbarrow to the experimenter, but giving the wheelbarrow away is a way of expressing: I did it. Now its your turn. Children know that adults know, and thats why they make these requests (Moro & Rodriguez, 2008, p.222). Marcela makes an invitation to the experimenter, who intervenes with a question: its a brumm? She answers positively saying: Aj I also see the ironies of development: Marcela has discovered the propriety of rolling but, when she encounters a shoe, she bites it; this means that she is applying an old scheme. This illustrates the fact that development is not linear. Children apply known schemes, adapting them and discovering new things and can return to initial processes. One of the events that illustrate another way of interaction is the girl coming near and caressing the experimenters face. These expressions that child and experimenter share turn into expressions of empathy and mutual acceptation they are signals of the emotional kind, the ones that fortify their relationship and are part of the communica147

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tive process (Perinat & Sadurni, 1993). It can be said that this is a way of establishing a much deeper level of contact. From a psychologically objective point of view, contact is a banned practice, as objective psychology has always encouraged detachment between subject who researches and object researched. This case is a very good example to show how this taboo breaks, because when addressing a phenomenon from an idiographic perspective, the interest shifts to understanding the situations inherent to the person and not establishing limits or distances between objects and subjects in order to preserve objectiveness. The previous statement is even truer when working with infants, as then there is a need to acknowledge the fact that we are dealing with a human relationship where there is an exchange of knowledge, experiences, actions, words and emotions. Figure 7. 5 th observation Resolving the task Age: 11:00 months

Session 5 - Figure 7 - Description: Marcela takes the fruits, looks at the experimenter and smiles at her. The experimenter asks her: what do I do with these fruits? The girl bends forward and gets closer to the experimenter who shows her one of the fruits and says: what do I do with these fruits?. Marcela observes and both smile. Next the experimenter points to the wheelbarrows box and says: Marcela, the fruits are meant to be placed here. The girl introduces her finger into the box of the wheelbarrow and says: ta? The experimenter says: yes, the fruits are meant to be placed here inside the wheelbarrow. The girl takes the fruit and puts it inside the box of the wheelbarrow, and then removes it. The Experimenter: Marcela, the fruits are to be placed here (pointing to the wheelbarrow), and I have to take the wheelbarrow through this road towards the house (pointing to the road and the house). Marcela observes the wheelbarrow and taking it, introduces it inside the house; then she looks at the experimenter, smiles, stands up and leaves. Interpretation: In this session, new reorganizations emerge. The fruits have a meaningful role as mediators of the interaction. These have always been present in previous observations. However, Marcela always focused her attention and interest mainly on the wheelbarrow. At the beginning of the session the experimenter asks: What do I do with this? and Marcela answers with an action, taking the fruits and showing them

A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants

to the experimenter. In the last two sessions Ive seen that Marcela makes adjustments, she makes a series of changes: she offers or shows the objects, her actions suggest a shift in her role, going from spectator to main character (Sadurni, 1993) and her actions elicit a greater trade of stares, words and smiles between girl and experimenter. In our own words, a system reorganized in this fashion allows the emergence of new forms of relationship and of understanding the use of objects. A very interesting element appears: the act of pointing. Marcela points to the wheelbarrows box and her actions are accompanied with a question: ta?. The experimenter gives an affirmative answer. However, Marcela takes her time to study the relationship container-contained, doing so by means of coordinating three schemes: pointing, introducing fruit and taking out fruit. In this final moment of the session I see that the girl exhibits understanding of the objective of the task. She moves the wheelbarrow towards the house and then introduces it into it. But even then she doesnt put all the objects of the task together. She smiles when she places the wheelbarrow and looks at the experimenter. This is a way of showing her action is concluded. She also verbalizes yaa, possibly requesting confirmation. Figure 8. 7th observation Resolving task Age: 11:20 months

Session 7 - Figure 8 - Description: Marcela takes the fruit and bites it. Next she places it on the box of the wheelbarrow and looks at the experimenter. She says: put the fruits in the wheelbarrow (pointing to the fruits and the wheelbarrow) and take the wheelbarrow through this road (pointing to the road) towards the house (pointing to the house). Marcela looks at her and smiles. She takes the fruits and introduces them inside the wheelbarrow and moves it towards the house, introducing the wheelbarrow inside. The experimenter says: very good! and applauds. Marcela looks at her and they both smile. Interpretation: In the first part of the session, Marcela applies the scheme biting. This scheme is facilitated by the shape of the fruits (because they actually resemble fruits). The girl bites in order to explore the object; the question she is probably

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pondering is: is this a fruit? and answers herself by biting. She doesnt stop there, however; the verbal intervention of the experimenter is a signal interpreted by the girl as a cue to keep on solving the task. I am witness to a dialectical synthesis (PascualLeone, 1991; Pascual-Leone & Johnson, 2004). A primitive scheme (biting) strives to stay, but on the other hand, the scheme put inside of emerges; in this dialectical synthesis, the girl inhibits the scheme biting that no longer works in this situation. In the final part of the session I see that Marcela solves the situation. That is, she manages to produce an inductive generalization. The solution is not a product of chance; she needed to establish relations between the wheelbarrow, the fruits, and the house. In these relations can be seen the coordination of three schemes: put inside of, rolling and take to a place. (Ehrenfels, 1988) From a Gestalt perspective, she had to integrate the parts as a whole. But in this integration there are not only the objects of the task, but also the experimenters actions, verbalizations and gestures. On the other hand, it is also important to mention the interaction that took place close to the final part of the session. In the situation there are three mixed things, namely: the gaze, the action and the verbalization. The experimenter finishes the session with a round of applauses, to which Marcela answers by smiling, and thus participating in her performance celebration.

Summary of the case: Emergence of cognitive patterns

The micro-longitudinal follow-up that Ive carried out allowed us to understand how the very first instance of inductive generalization emerges in a baby. First, I ll say that the mind of Marcela behaves as an open system; there is interaction between levels that allows the emergence of new forms of knowledge regarding the functional uses of objects. Inductive generalization is not a product of the sum of relations and schemes. The emergence of this ability has implied the ability to integrate the parts with the whole. In other words, Marcela had to integrate the objects in the situation, its functional use, the goal of the task, its interpretations and interactions with the experimenter and retake the experiences she previously had with other persons regarding the use of objects. In this scenario of inductive generalization there is a participation of biological (maturation), psychological (representation), socio-cultural and experiential (praxis) aspects, as well as interactions with the experimenter and interactions with her family that constantly teach her the functions of objects. As I know theoretically, development is not linear. Marcela used old knowledge she already has on objects, carries out new coordinations, discovers the use of objects and in some moments, she returns to her old ways. I am talking here about a strong dynamic that flows between the old forms, new forms and the emergence of new forms. In the same fashion, the understanding of a task takes different directionsthere is no trace of a rigid linearity. Only by means of a micro longitudinal idiographic study is it possible to identify the non-lineal nature of inductive generalization. In sessions one and two the girl accepts the invitation to participate in an interac150

A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants

tional situation with the experimenter. Her acceptance is visible throughout her actions with the object. The wheelbarrow raises her interest and she explores the parts integrating the object (rolling wheels). But cognition and emotion do not walk separate paths; the steady gaze on the experimenter, her shy smile and some verbalizations are indicators of emotional manifestations that go together with exploration. This is a first form of relation that is specially meant towards the object. Session three is particularly meaningful. Marcela experiments with different forms of making the wheelbarrow roll. First she drags it over its box, and then she changes positions, placing it over its wheels and discovering the functional use of rolling. The discovery of this functional use is not random, as it involved the establishment of relations between the shape of the wheels and the position to make the wheelbarrow roll. The girl carries out integration between a part of the object and its functional use. In the same way, I see that her actions comes accompanied by emotional manifestations like mumbling, looking, smiling, offering, caressing. The novelty is that these are directed towards the experimenter. Sessions four and five show new reorganizations of the cognitive and emotional system of the girl. Since session three, I began by perceiving a much more protagonist and independent role. Marcela takes her time in order to study the object; she introduces and takes out the fruits. Her actions show us a partial understanding of the task: she has identified the object, which is to take the fruits to the house, but doesnt integrate between wheelbarrow, fruits and house. Finally, in the last session the child establishes a relation between the objects of the task (wheelbarrow-fruits-house); that is, she integrates the functional use of objects and solves the task. Her actions once again are accompanied by smiles, steady gazes in order to ask for confirmation and verbalizations. Finally, the most important thing is to acknowledge that the process of inductive generalization takes place within an environment mediated by human relations which involve a communicative trade-off of actions and emotions. In this sense, it is assumed that the processes of creating meaning through the use of objects is not an individual creation but a process of intersubjective construction, where child, researcher and object are involved (Rodriguez, 2006; Moro & Rodriguez 2008). In this paper I focused on the relationship the child established with these objects, leaving the social relationship with the adult as a secondary focus.

In this article I conducted a micro-genetic analysis in order to identity some of the moments of the emergence of inductive generalization. I succeeded in identifying the emergence trajectories, the processes the infant performs and the dynamic, non-lineal nature of these developmental processes. If I had worked with a larger sample, methodologically, I would have had to use traditional statistical techniques. That would have masked the richness and complexity of the process. The single-case focus allowed us to deepen our detailed understanding of the developmental process. It would have been

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different if instead of a case analysis I had extracted an average of the actions of the 10 children. The latter would have completely missed the richness of the phenomena. Thanks to the micro-longitudinal follow-up it was possible to identify new ways in which the mind of the infant organizes itself in order to produce the emergence of new forms of knowledge. Inductive generalization is not a product of chance nor the sum of actions, schemes or relations, but a process of construction, resulting from the interaction between diverse elements (biological, psychological, cultural and experiential) forming the system. The mind of the infant self-organizes these elements. As a consequence, self-organization would be the mechanism that enables re-organization and change within open systems (Lewis, 2000; Lyra, 1993; Lyra & Souza, 2003; Rodriguez, 2009b; Thelen & Smith, 1994, 1998; Valsiner, 2002, 2007, 2006 2009; van Geert & van Dijk, 2002). On the other hand, the data shows that during the emergence of inductive generalization there is a dynamic that flows among old, current and new forms As Combariza and Puche-Navarro claims, the understanding of a task takes different paths, evidencing the presence of continuities and discontinuities in the processes related to the development and the functioning, which throws overboard the idea of a strict linearity (Combariza & Puche-Navarro, 2009, p. 116). Phenomenological uniqueness should be studied and understood on their own terms. Each unique case can be compared with multiple other cases to identify a type of profile or common pattern that accounts for the different paths taken by the subject him/herself (intra-personal variability) or indeed by other subjects (inter-individual variability) during the course of their development. Because of this, it is relevant to analyze the cases from a theory formulated as a function of the observation of the cases and move towards the search for types of cases, which is what Toomela and others have suggested. (Molenaar & Valsiner,2009; Salvatore, Valsiner, Strout-Yagodzinski & Clegg 2009; Sato et al., 2007; Toomela, 2010; Valsiner, 2009). Undoubtedly in idiographic science each case contributes to the construction of a theoretical, methodological and empirical corpus based on the studied realities. The task at least with regard to the psychology of development is to make sense of case studies, to integrate them with existing knowledge and from there to move forward towards new understandings and explanations which account for the dynamic and changing nature of development, in order to recover the course of psychology. However, questions are raised for future investigations. One of these has to do with the possibility of carrying out studies that allow us to make ever more visible the relations between micro, meso and macro genetic levels (Valsiner, 2007). In order to do so, its convenient to use the notion of historicity as central for psychology (Sato et al., 2007). Historicity entails carrying out investigations that allow the integral construction of the processes. This implies analyzing how different aspects of life participate in the construction of the psychological development of an infant. Is important to acknowledge the role the family plays in the development of an infant (Rodrguez, 2009b), particularly in teaching the use of objects: adults introduce the world to the children (Rodriguez, 2006). The use of objects can be analyzed as a phenomenon from

A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants

the foreground-background perspective analyzing the phenomenon from the figure/ ground perspectivewell known to psychology from Gestalt movement (Ehrenfels, 1988). What I mean here is the analysis of the phenomenon from the figure/ground perspective. That is, the figure is the inductive generalization or any other psychological process. But this figure belongs to a background, and as such, its valid to ask the different paths a family uses to introduce the child to the use of objects. This would imply analyzing sequences of events that take place within families, their resources, milestones, rituals, their practices, used semiotics mediators and the relations between different elements of the system all these interactions and situations that occur conform the trajectories of life, and are all connected to a childs development (Zittoun, 2008) thus making the emergence of new forms possible.

This work has been supported by Colciencias (Colombian National Science Foundation) and la Universidad de la Sabana with a Ph.D. scholarship grant. The work was completed as a part of the first Ph.D. dissertation in psychology in Colombia at Universidad de Valle in 2009. I would like to express my gratitude to Professors Jaan Valsiner and Sergio Salvatore for their constructive criticism of earlier drafts of this paper. The preparation of this paper was supported by the project PSI-38-2010 Univ. Sabana.

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vas. Tesis de maestra no publicada. Universidad del Valle. Cali. Hollenstein, T. & Lewis, M. (2006). A state space analysis of emotion and flexibility in parentchild interactions. Emotion, 6, 663669. Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1993). Beyond Piagets epistemic subject: Inhelders microgenetic study of the psychological subject. Archives de Psychologie, 61, 247-252. Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1994). Ms All de la Modularidad. Madrid: Alianza Editorial. Lavelli, M., Pantoja, A., Hsu, H., Messinger, D., & Fogel, A. (2005). Using microgenetic designs to study change processes. In D. M. Teti (Ed.), Handbook of research methods in developmental science (pp. 40-65). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Lewis, M. D. (2000). The promise of dynamic systems approaches for an integrated account of human development. Child Development, 71(1), 36-43. Lyra, M. (1999). Desenvolvimento de um sistema de relaes historicamente construdo: contribuies da comunicao no incio da vida. Psicologia, Reflexo e Crtica, 5(4), 477-89. Lyra, M., & Souza, M. (2003). Dynamics of dialogue and emergence of self in early communication. In I. Josephs (Ed.), Dialogicality in development. Vol. 5. Advances in child development culturally structured environments (pp. 51-68), Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. Mandler, J. (1996). Preverbal representation and language. In P. Bloom, M.Peterson, L. Nadel., & M. Garrett(Eds.), Language and space. Cambridge: MIT. Mandler, J. (2004). The Foundations of Mind. New York: Oxford University Press. Mandler, J. M., & McDonough, L. (1998). Studies in inductive inference in infancy. Cognitive Psychology, 37, 60-96. Molenaar, P., & Valsiner, J. (2009). How generalization works through the single case: A simple idiographic process analysis of an individual psychotherapy. International Journal of Idiographic Science. (Reprinted in S. Salvatore et al. (2009). Yearbook of idiographic science Volume1. Rome: Fireira & Liuzzo Group Moro, C. & Rodrguez, C. (2008). Production of signs and meaning-making processes in triadic interaction at prelinguistic level. The case of ostensions. In R. Diriwchter & E. Abbey (Eds.), Innovating genesis: The constructive mind in action (pp. 205-225). NC: InfoAge. Pascual-Leone, J. (1991). The psychological unit and its role in task analysis: A reinterpretation of object permanence. In M. Chandler & M. Chapman (Eds.), Criteria for competence. controversies in the conceptualization and assessment of childrens abilities (pp. 153-187). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Pascual-Leone, J. (1997). Las pedagogas constructivistas y el anlisis de tareas. Ponencia presentada en el 1er Encuentro Internacional y 4to Encuentro Nacional de Pedagogas Constructivistas, Pedagogas Activas y Desarrollo Humano, Manizales, Colombia. Pascual-Leone, J. (2008). Entrevista con Pascual-Leone, Laboratorio de psicologa York University. Octubre 10. Pascual-Leone, J. & Johnson, J. (2004). A dialectical constructivist view of developmental intelligence. In O. Wilhelm y R.W. Engle (Eds.) Handbook of understanding and measuring intelligence (pp. 177-201). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Perinat, A. & Sadurn, M. (1993). De la comunicacin antropoide a la comunicacin

A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive developments in infants

infantil. Las vas de emergencia del smbolo y del significado. In A. Perinat (Ed.) Comunicacin animal, comunicacin humana. Madrid: Siglo XX. Piaget, J. (1970). El Nacimiento de la Inteligencia. Madrid: Aguilar. Popper, K. (2005). Conocimiento Objetivo: Un Enfoque Evolucionista. Madrid: Tecnos. Puche-Navarro, R. (2005). Formacin de Herramientas Cientficas en el Nio Pequeo. Segunda edicin. Cali: Artes Grficas del Valle Editores. Puche-Navarro, R. (2009) Es la mente no lineal? Graficas del Valle Editores Rodrguez, C. (2006). Del Ritmo al Smbolo. Madrid: Horsori. Rodrguez, L. (2009a). Emergencia de la generalizacin inductiva en infantes. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Universidad del Valle, Cali. Rodrguez, L. (2009b). Commentary: Forms of Construction of Relationships and the Power of the Child. Culture and Psychology, 15(4). Sadurn, M. (1993). La ontognesis del significado. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Universidad Autnoma de Barcelona, Barcelona. Salvatore, S. Valsiner, J. Strout-Yagodzinsky S., & Clegg J. (Eds.) (2009).YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Volume 1. Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Sato, T. & Valsiner, J. (2007). Historically Structured Sampling (HSS): How can psychologys methodology become tuned in to the reality of the historical nature of cultural psychology? In J. Straub, D. Weidemann, C. Kolbl & B. Zielke. (Eds.), Pursuit of Meaning. Advances in Cultural and Cross-Cultural Psychology (pp. 215-251). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. Siegler, R. (1995). How does change occur: A microgenetic study of number conserva. tion. Cognitive Psychology, 25, 225-273 Siegler, R. (2006). Microgenetic analyses of learning. In W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Series Eds.) & D. Kuhn & R. S. Siegler (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 2. Cognition, perception, and language 6th ed. (pp. 464-510). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Thelen, E. & Smith, L. (1994). A Dynamic System Approach to Development of Cognition and Action. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Bradford Books. Thelen, E. & Smith, L. (1998). Dynamics systems theories. En R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theorical models of human development 5th ed. (pp. 563-634). New York: Wiley. Toomela, A. (2010). Methodology of Idiographic Science: Limits of Single-Case Studies and the Role of Typology. In S. Salvatore, J., Valsiner, J., Travers Simon, A., Gennaro (Eds) Yearbook of Idiographic Science, 2.(pp.13-33). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Valsiner, J. (2002). The concept of attractor: how dynamic systems theory deals with future. Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Dialogical Self, Ghent, Belgium. Valsiner, J. (2004). El desarrollo de las teoras del desarrollo: la Holliwoodizacin de la ciencia y su impacto. En Infancia y Aprendizaje, 27(2),1-14 Valsiner, J. (2006). Developmental epistemology and implications for methodology. In R. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology, Vol.1. 6th ed. New York: Wiley. Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in Minds and Societies. New Delhi: Sage. Valsiner, J. (2009). Posfacio: S, la mente es no lineal y Qu sigue? In Puche-Nav155

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arro, R. (Ed.), Es la mente no lineal? (pp. 142-145). Cali: Artes Grficas del Valle Editores. van Dijk, M. & van Geert, P. (2007) Wobbles, humps and sudden jumps: A case study of continuity, discontinuity and variability in early language development Infant and Child Development, 16, (pp. 7-33) van Geert, P. (1998). A dynamic systems model of basic developmental mechanisms: Piaget, Vygotsky and beyond. Psychological Review, 105(4), (pp. 634677). van Geert, P. (2003). Dynamic systems appropaches and modeling of developmental processes. In J. Valsiner and K. J. Conolly (Eds.), Handbook of developmental Psychology (pp. 640-672). London: Sage. van Geert, P., & van Dijk, M. (2002). Focus on variability: New tools to study intraindividual variability in developmental data. Infant Behavior and Development, 25, (pp. 340-374). Zittoun, T. (2009). Childrens uses of cultural objects in their life trajectories. In S.Salvatore, J., Valsiner, S., Strout-Yagodzynski, J., Clegg (Eds.) YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Volume 1 (pp. 361-370). Roma: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing.

Lilian Patricia Rodriguez B. is the Chief of the Area of Basic Psychological Processes at Universidad de la Sabana in Bogota. She was awarded the first ever Ph.D in psychology by a Colombian university in 2009 at the Center for Psychological Research, Cognition and Culture at Univalle University, Cali Colombia. Her research focuses mainly on cognitive child development in this field she has collaborative work in progress with York University (Canada), and she has been a visiting scholar at Clark University (USA). Address: Lilian Patricia Rodrguez, Universidad de la Sabana. Campus Universitario del Puente del Comn. Km 7, Autopista norte de Bogot. Cha, Cundinamarca, Colombia - e-mail:


Joan Travers Simon *

In this paper, based upon a longitudinal investigation of the domestic literacy development a trilingual child, my daughter, Pia, aged 3-9 years, I postulate, and critically review, a theory of mind which is both informed by recent findings in cultural psychology (e.g. Valsiner, 2008a,b) and located within a sociocultural approach to practice and mediated action (Wertsch, 1991). This interdisciplinary theoretical framework is complemented by diachronic and synchronic data analysis as a means of bringing to light potential variations between long-term and short-term development. It also stresses the importance of time as a complex variable in developmental issues in conjunction with a dialogical depiction of social agents and it underlines the proactive, as opposed to reactive, nature of social agents negotiating environmental cues at varying levels of consciousness. Whilst conceding that we have yet to fully grasp how the human mind works, I am nonetheless able to conclude that Pias writing development at home is both mindful and social. It is a knotty jungle of dynamic a3nd stable elements, whose complexity arises from the multitude of possible trajectories within and across each of the key areas of interaction: psyche, time, signs and environment. I argue for a reassessment of central notions regarding childrens learning and close the paper by proposing a number of implications such reassessment may have for educational practice.

In this paper, based on a trilingual child, my daughter, Pia, aged 3-9 years, I extend previous idiographic research into literacy development as situated cultural practice (e.g. Bursch 2006; Simon & Bursch, 2009). Drawing on recent observations in cultural psychology, my conceptual aim here is to postulate a theory of mind located with-

* University of Luxembourg.


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in a sociocultural approach to practice and mediated action (Wertsch, 1991), which foregrounds how flexible, equitable, implicit and holistic interactions characteristic of informal settings structure this particular childs learning. To recapitulate, briefly, Pia is a trilingual (English, French, German) child, who lives in Alsace, in the North East of France, with her Black-British mother-researcher, her German father (an engineer), and a sister who is seventeen months her senior. Initial research into how the environments of home and school shape this childs understandings and uses of writing was both quantitative, qualitative and comparative in nature. I exposed the funds of knowledge instanced in the wide scope of unsolicited texts Pia produced at home during the research period. I identified the developmental issues which will be elaborated in the current paper, and analysed the linguistic characteristics of her authoring. Pias domestic writing skills are, I demonstrate, in advance of curricular expectations and thus more indicative of her true level of competence. I argue, moreover, not only for the childs sensitivity towards writing and her skilful deployment it as situated cultural practice, but also that writing, and therefore literacy practice, provide as a means for exploring the Self. I conclude that the skills and strategies fostered at home prior to formal schooling are decisive in shaping a childs access - and success - with regard to reading and writing tasks within institutional settings; an observation, which, though confirmed by other studies (Czerniewska, 1992; Dyson, 2007), has unfortunately not made sufficient impact on classroom practice. In this paper, I draw upon current observations as upon the syntax of cultural psychology, notably upon the work of Jaan Valsiner (e.g. 2008a), paying attention to the extent to which biological analogies prevalent in their field, but equally echoed in psycholinguistic developmental research (e.g. Ferreiro, 2007), may successfully transfer to my data. The paper will be structured as follows. Having unpacked the title of the paper, I then go on to outline the conceptual and theoretical framework within which the analysis is set. As a next step, I present the data collected, expressing thereby critical reflections on my own methodology. I then present and conduct a detailed analysis of my model for the theory of mind. The analysis itself comprises three main sections. In the first section, I explain the individual components of the model from a longitudinal vantage, showing how cognitive and practical, how the mindful and social, bear upon development. The second level of analysis comprises a more detailed investigation of a single interaction, by means of which I reply to the critique of a snapshot look at development. The final level of analysis offers a critical appraisal, anchored in reflections relating to the representation of and inherent tensions regarding human development. The paper concludes with a recapitulation of the key findings, before outlining the potential significance of these for educational practice.

The breathing house: a metaphor for the mind

Metaphors, like similes, serve to expand meaning in tacit directions (Cornejo, 2007). The image of the toolbox is a popular one for depicting the strategies learners have recourse to. For me, however and in the meantime, the toolbox evokes a disorgan158

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ised, over-laden container, eyed with a groan every time we open the lid, for we know all too well that much of its contents should have been disposed of long ago. Ones house, I concede, may not necessarily be much tidier. For a theory of mind, however, the metaphor of the breathing house proves more compelling for a host of reasons: 1. represents the construction aspects of learning and development - which only stand if we build them 2. draws attention to the transformation of the mind as something active, alive, organic and even experiential 3. comprises recognizable zones within which specific, though not prescriptive, actions take place and which afford variegated opportunities for movement from one location to another (i.e. the various developmental spaces of the learner) 4. possesses a number of basic, identifiable attributes (i.e. whilst respecting the individual nature of learning, we may attempt to establish regularities between individual learners and across diverse learning scenarios) 5. squeak: certain activities appear gradually or seem defect (and will need oiling) 6. bang: certain activities are immediately apparent 7. no noise at all: implicit activities 8. more than one door may be opened at the same time and at different rates (multiple and simultaneous scopes of learning) 9. houses are built by a pool of expert craftsmen (i.e. interdisciplinary approach to learning) 10. houses are located within larger political macro social structures The metaphor, naturally, also has its limitations. Physically, we may only be in one room at a time, though we can, and do, leave traces of our passage throughout the house. Mental processes, by contrast, reside in numerous rooms simultaneously. They are at one and the same time dialogical, dialectical, polysemous and, as I shall later argue, even polychronic. Nor should we infer from the metaphor that the complex structure of Western houses - in comparison, say, to the less elaborate mud hut be taken as indicative of a culturally contingent hierarchy with regard to the development of mental skills. Although further reflection will no doubt alert one to additional limitations of the metaphor, there is a strong case, given its interactive poignancy, for privileging it over and above the more passive connotations of a toolbox, where we put items in and take them out, without any allusion to the presence or nature of activities within the toolbox itself.

Conceptual and theoretical framework

An interdisciplinary approach, drawing notably on cultural psychology and sociocultural theory, provides the heuristic, interpretive framework for my analysis. When they talk to each other, the criteria and methods specific to each discipline help us to refine our understandings, making us conscious of how crucial the precision of inter159

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pretive coordinates are. Moreover, by identifying the concepts and methods underpinning individual disciplines or paradigms, we may, via a compound framework such as the one I propose, locate and compensate for the lacunae related to each.
Cultural psychology

Whilst psychology in general, given its traditional experimental and nomothetic semantic/functional as opposed to semiotic bias (Venuelo, 2008), fails to access the very type of data required to provide satisfactory answers to distinctions between learning and development as basic psychological functions (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2008; Molenaar & Valsiner, 2008), or indeed to capture the radically contingent and infinitely pluralistic universe of human action (Garrison, 2004, p106; Valsiner, 2005, p9), cultural psychology, from an idiographic perspective, sets its focus on understanding and explaining the dynamism and regularity of individuals as active, dialogical speaking, and feeling - as opposed to merely thinking subjects (cf Bietti, 2010; Kullasepp, 2010; Tagaki, 2010). Drawing frequently on analogies from the biological world, it studies: The extraordinary nature of the most ordinary aspects of daily human living at any place on the planet. (Valsiner, 2007a, p18, cited in Madureira, 2008, p. 233) Psychology is the science of the prediction of the unpredictable, of the control of the uncontrollable, and of the detection of whatever behaviour may be taken to mean. (Valsiner, 2005, p. 9) The latter quote bears such striking resemblance to one by Bronfenbrenner as to possibly have been inspired by it: Much of developmental psychology, as it now exists, is the science of the strange behavior of children in strange situations with strange adults for the briefest possible periods of time (Bronfenbrenner, 1979:19, cited in van Lier, 2004:124) The syntax employed in the domain might at first appear foreign to researchers from other disciplines, such as myself, who have predominantly remained, and thus read, within the field of educational research from a sociocultural perspective1:

1 Action research, or kidwatching (Goodman& Martens 2007), conducted by Vivian Paley, for example, never speaks of systems, organisms temporal-spatial dimensions or refers to points in time as X+1, X+2, T1, T2, T3, yet beautifully, and convincingly, captures how, through situated and distributed cognition, both the childrens and her own emergent understandings, their wonderings and wanderings (Merriam, 1991, cited in Goodman & Martens, 2007, p79), mutually transform the elements of the learner+sign+environment triad.


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The inevitable task for the education agent is to find an opening in the selfregulatory network of the developing system so as to create arenas for possible impact. (Valsiner, 2008b, p134) Once the ear becomes acclimatised, however, it is then able to recognise wellknown terms such as pupil/learner/individual, teacher and subject/agent behind the unaccustomed ones of developing/cognitive system, education agent and social organism respectively. It learns to tolerate the description of writing as a semiotic system with similar, if not equal, ease as a more familiar, analogous view of writing as urban furniture. From this point on, many insights are to be gained. Cultural psychology underlines the temporal dimension to learning and development, thus to becoming as opposed to merely being, given our nature as intransitive, i.e. open, and as situated systems, that is, as cognitive systems whose development relies upon a permanent exchange with the specificities, or catalytic features, of their social environment. Unlike Unsworth (2001), who dismisses being as anachronistic, or Valsiner, for whom being is a useless momentary snapshot (Valsiner, 2008a, p2), I nonetheless regard attention to being as indispensable for an understanding of becoming, as I hope to demonstrate later in the paper.
Sociocultural theory

Central to a sociocultural perspective is the view of the individual not as a cognitive isolate but firmly anchored and actively engaged in situated practice by means of social and inherently political tools (Bakhtin 1986; Bourdieu 1991; Street, 2004), of both symbolic (e.g. language) and material nature (e.g. computers). As a precursor to evaluating the efficacy of situated practice, in which interactants either reproduce or challenge dominant ideologies, attention is paid to close descriptions of social contexts (Dyson, 2007; Kelly et al., 2001; Rogoff et al., 1998; Tharpe & Gallimore, 1998). Acknowledging the situated nature of agency and practice yields a fluid, heterogeneous, non-deterministic image of social agents interacting within and negotiating the scope the boundaries between and beyond their various psychological, semiotic and ecological environments (Bomer, 2003; Fairclough, 1989). This view, moreover, underscores political and critical aspects to learning in that it sets social action within relations of power which extend beyond the notion of resistance advocated within cultural psychology (e.g. Valsiner 2007). Such zoniferous portrayal of heterogeneous individuals as members of multiple, and simultaneous, social communities places emphasis on agency; on a sense of out there, as opposed to the more abstract, internally focused related concept of dialogism. By blending the positions advocated by cultural psychology and sociocultural theory, I effectuate a conceptual integration, which highlights the various aspects I consider germane to an investigation of learning and development. Both disciplines draw attention as much to the presence as to the differences in the reflexivity of indi161

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viduals engaging in social interaction, and thus away from the view of the agent as a passive learner. The strands of cultural psychology complement the picture by privileging a developmental dimension, which is less addressed by the sociocultural theory. Sociocultural theory, for its part, promotes a critical dimension to meaning-making, learning and social interaction that may often remain oblique from the psychological vantage. The boundaries between the various perspectives is necessarily fluid, so that, rather than being pidgeon-holed, a number of such perspectives may be simultaneously housed within diverse conceptual parameters (e.g. Ferreiro, 2007).

An ethnographic approach to data collection resulted in the gathering, and creation, of data. In this section, I give an account of ethnographic methods then go on to specify the primary and secondary sources of data collected at Pias home.
Ethnographic methods

Ethnography is a generic term for a set of research tools originating from anthropology and used as a means to understand and describe other cultures. Ethnographic methods, later adopted and adapted by sociology, were employed to describe and analyse others within Western society. The aim of ethnographic research is to get alongside, or close to the participants, to be taught by them and to thereby illuminate, acknowledge and ultimately understand the interactive processes between social agents and their symbolic worlds. Ethnographic studies aim to produce a cultural grammar, yielding as comprehensive a picture as possible of living man and our full-blooded facts (Malinowski, 1967). I choose to cast my statements in more modest a mould, admitting merely to wanting to understand something, for although ethnographic methods are lengthy, data-rich and well suited to unearthing the quality and complexities of social interaction which may remain uncommented upon by research conducted in a positivist ethos, I still consider it over-ambitious to claim to tell the whole truth, however wide the range of methods employed, and however deep we delve. Following the ethnographic tradition, I collected various types of data, on the strength of which I propound my theory and model of mind for learning in informal, domestic contexts.
Primary data

The term primary data refers to the unsolicited texts Pia had written at home between the ages of 3-9 years and which constitute my main research data. These texts form a corpus of approximately 800 items. They range beyond work produced on paper to encompass multimodal texts e.g. a self-made computer, sms texts and ephemeral texts written in sand or with beads or other tools, or at least such texts I

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was fortunate enough to have seen before they were washed, wiped or cleared away. For the large part, the items were brought to me by my daughter herself, with other items retrieved from various sites around the house: the washroom, bedroom, hallway, kitchen walls, doors, study, sometimes long after they had been produced, but always with Pias consent.
Secondary data

Primary data is complemented by the range of secondary data comprising conversational data, fieldnotes (FN) and a research diary (RD).
Conversational data

Observation of outcomes does not reveal the dynamic processes that enable and maintain such seemingly smooth running of the social organism. (Valsiner, 2008b, p135) An understanding of what Pias learning looks like and how it is done can be enhanced by also paying attention to what Pia is saying. To this end, data was gathered not only on the talk taking place during authoring events, but equally on talk around or behind individual writing-related events themselves. Given the spontaneous nature of much domestic interaction, which largely defies recording, and taking into account my inability to observe my daughter around the clock, it proved impossible, but also unnecessary, to supply transcripts of the interactions generating all the primary data. A selection of a/typical family interactional routines, mostly paraphrased and sometimes transcribed, would suffice to lend immediacy to the semiotic texts.
Fieldnotes & Research diary

More than just an unsystematic, motley means of data collection driven by mere hunches and whims, and in fact frequently cited from in ethnographic studies, fieldnotes (FN) allow discoveries in all areas identified as relevant to the overall research aims to be shared with the reader in a less conventional form. The Research diary (RD), like my fieldnotes (FN), may justly be regarded as piece of data in its own right. The central piece of data through which all other sources of information are networked, it provides direct access to the messy business of conducting research before this process is itself processed to become a coherent, conventional text. Research is a creative process, thus we do not only collect, but also generate data as much as understandings. Both fieldnotes and the research diary direct attention to our responsibility as the author of our understanding, and thus remind us that all knowledge, and the presentation thereof, is constructed in one form or another. These generated understandings, offer an essential pathway back through my reflective process, which I share in the following paragraphs.

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Assessing methodology

The critical reflections about my representation of mind which were generated by the analysis of the data naturally extended to my methodology in general, to its discourse and to how it positions both myself and my daughter. The current analysis of someone elses experiences which I interpret, get alongside, as it were, and re-present, or argue, in the hope of furthering general understanding of the actions and processes researched, is a choice; an edifice, not a fact. At a certain level, the truths are there, incontestably. Pias documents do exist. The conversations and interactants are indeed authentic, yet at another level I have had to reconstruct them, thereby imposing arbitrary boundaries to what is essentially an ongoing process. Rather than claim a truth, I advocate a constructed understanding of disabused knowledge (Robertson, 2004), which necessarily shapes, but has also limited, my understanding of the data.
On my role as a researcher

The task, when striving to disabuse knowledge, is to foreground the limits of ones methodology and paradigms. There is a discrepancy, I believe, between the fullblooded intentions of qualitative research and the somewhat bloodless convention of describing participants and their contributions as data. Likewise, I find the neutralizing rhetoric prevalent in psychological research in general, and even in studies in cultural psychology today, runs counter to the disciplines aim to put full-blooded Man, in a Malinowskian sense, back into the discipline: Psychology has re-written its history in ways that justify its lack of connection with basic human cultural phenomena the complex intentional forms of feeling, thinking and acting that characterize our everyday lives. Curiously, over psychologys formal history the basic reduction of human beings to be some special cases of salivating dogs or industriously lever-pushing rodents has passed as if that guaranteed the scientific status of the discipline. The hard data on rewarding or punishing humans with tokens of consumables food, money, etc. have led the way to our modern versions of explaining complexity by way of simple elementary effects of some variable. Active persons soul-searchers filled with curiosity who create, perform, and feel about theatre, poetry, music; who read novels, organize revolutions and political debates, and worry about cholesterol levels, diets, prices, and marriages are too soft for an objective study. (Valsiner, 2007, p. 254) Increasingly conscious of the ideological nature of language, I also became uncomfortable with my use of I. I, on the one hand, represents a conscious decision to make myself transparent rather than hiding behind formulations in the passive voice as though some neutral hand were at play. On the other, I provokes my growing sensitivity to voice and the lack of opportunity for Pia to say I, her perceptions always being filtered by my own understandings.

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On the child

Children have been conceptualized as a person in the making, an inconclusive process which continues in the adult, making it difficult for us to assure complete objectivity or the epistemological rupture granting us the right of way from the naive to the scientific (Mollo, 1975). The French word for child enfant sets off a series of reflections which are not automatic when we consider the term in English. Enfant originally means a person who cannot talk. Whilst a similar English term exists, infant refers to the earlier part of childhood, up to three years (Schaffer, 1996). The French enfant, however, covers the whole developmental period up to adolescence. If we blend the notion of a person-in-process with that of one who cannot speak, we easily slide into reflections on incompleteness and inability. These are etic, outside perspectives, which incite us to question the extent to which we exploit or counter invisibility/inaudibility vis--vis the child and her voice. In reflecting upon questions of voice, we return to the emic-etic, inside-outside debate. Attempts to redress potential imbalance, to accord Pia more voice, and indeed to make myself transparent as researcher-mother-learner-editor, however, have been undertaken in the paper, either via the use of direct citations of what Pia has to say (e.g. Bursch & Simon, 2009) or else via excerpts from fieldnotes or the research diary. Now it is time to illuminate what Pia appears to be doing as she learns to write at home.
Pathway through learning: a longitudinal perspective

Pias basic pathway through learning to write at home may be charted as follows: Diagram 1. Pathway through learning in informal contexts


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The model consists of three interdependent components; environmental (social and material) action/behaviour personal/intramental

Environmental cues or stimuli, which may be social and/or material in nature, trigger thought processes or insights in the learner, which may translate into action. Such thought processes take place in a cognitive corridor between adjacent actions. It is this thought process, often leading to what we call an A-ha effect, which opens the door, as it were, to the next developmental level, and thus drives Pias development forward. Thought processes, as we shall see, need not translate into positive volition, but may equally result in the decision not to perform a certain act, as when Pia decides that she does not need any help anymore, a decision that will manifest itself in her attempts to resist certain types of assistance. In keeping with a sociocultural perspective on learning, I have positioned the intermental level above the intramental one, despite my awareness of the fact that such a depiction, moving from the outside to the inside, may be contested. My intention is to underline the social nature of thought, which is stimulated by actions taking place in ones social environment. Later in the paper, I will elaborate upon the extent to which development may be conceived of as an outside - inside process, or indeed vice versa. The model aims to schematise not only the key stages of Pias developmental pathway with regard to learning to write at home, but it equally seeks to draw attention to the varying forms of autonomy and competence involved. I will go through and exemplify each stage in turn.

Mother: Where can you see writing in your house? Pia: In my Diddle book... one time Beate gave me some writing I stuck on the bedroom door with blu-tack... in my writing book... (FN#1, Pia: 6yrs 1m) Mother: Where can you see writing outside your house? Pia: On the street signs. I see numbers on the houses and once at school I saw writing with a pencil and there was a hole in the middle. (FN#2. Pia: 6yrs 1m) The impetus for learning must come from the learner, who must want to learn, either because of a natural human propensity to do so, or because of an interest in the material. (van Lier, 1996, p. 13) Interest in a phenomenon, in this case the A-ha in relation to writing, is aroused by the environment: Pia is sensitized. Now aware, sensitized, or what Piaget, van Lier recalls, would term vigilant (van Lier, 1996, p51), Pias genuine interest in her new

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discovery her A-ha! - leads to action. Pia is born into a signs-infested world (Valsiner 2008a) and she is not insensitive to this. Interest in a phenomenon is preceded by a heightened consciousness of that phenomenon: you cannot be interested in something you remain unaware of. Intuitive interest, or apprehension2, reacting to environmental cues, transforms to an analytical stance of comprehension which structures further, I propose, conscious, development (van Lier, 1996). Awareness coupled to volition translates into the thought: I want to know how to do that. This thought translates into the next level of action, which manifests itself as procedural play.
Procedural Play

In order to learn, a person must be active, and the activity must be partly familiar and partly new, so that attention can be focused on useful changes and knowledge can be increased (...) Learning takes place when the new is embedded in the familiar, so that risks and security are in balance. (Marry & Trevarthen, 1985, cited in van Lier, 1996, p171). New skills being based on previous competence (cf Rodriguez, 2010), Pias initial writing leans on her ability to draw, so that her writing often seems more like sketching. Still unaware of the rules of writing, Pia first pretends to write, or plays with the procedure of writing words, hence the term procedural play. Much writing related activity takes place before Pia is able to independently produce comprehensible texts. Such activity may involve the merger of script and drawing. Alternatively, they may entail stringing letters together or writing squiggly lines as a precursor to joined-up handwriting: Figure 1. Letter play, 4yrs 11m

2 The terms apprehension and comprehension may be seen to map onto what in cultural psychology is respectively termed the axis of identification (AI) and the axis of development (AD) (e.g. Salvatore & Valsiner, 2008, p14). Van Lier reminds us that, although the distinction has been discussed for centuries in philosophy and psychology, it remains marginal to language, and therefore literacy, learning theory (van Lier, 1996, p54)


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Figure 2. Writing, 5yrs 4m

Procedural play, together with vigilance leads Pia to the discovery that there are rules. This, in turn, triggers the next reflection: I need to learn the rules. It is time for Pia to seek help.
Assisted Acquisition

Many people can help; my family and friends. Not only teachers, you know! (Bursch & Simon, 2009, p. 39) During this phase of Pias writing development, autocatalytic processes become auto-allocatalytic ones: guided by oneself and by others, important others, acting as guiding lights (Padmore, 1994). The result is a proliferation in the number of collaborative writing activities, in which the whole family is sometimes involved. Initially, Pia might dictate texts for her sister or mother to write down. Later, Pia seeks help with her own handwriting, as in a bi-lingual letter to a classmate, Loc, begun in German, continued in French and written with the aid of her older sister, who dictates the

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spelling, although it is Pia herself who decides to use dotted lines to scaffold her own handwriting: Figure 3. Liebe Loc, 5yrs 4m

Dear Loic, I saw Keli on TV and it was super. You can win Batman with it. One might, with reason, ask why Pia scaffolds herself via dotted lines, when she has evidently progressed beyond the need of such scaffolding, as we see in Figure.2. Here, different activities conjoin. On the one hand, Pia is genuinely writing a letter to her friend, and seeks assistance in spelling, having understood the correlation between sound and symbol. On the other hand, she uses this authentic activity to reposition herself playfully as someone learning to write, using the dotted lines she has encountered in her writing exercise books. This collaborative phase is characterised by much talking as Pia negotiates the degree of help sought. Assistance is given, but conscious teaching is not the uppermost priority at home, where Pias interests and needs must jostle to find space alongside the many other activities that make up daily family life: I am busy at the computer. Papa brings the kids to bed. Pia rushes in and puts this on my table. I push it aside and continue working. Bringst du mich jetzt ins bett? Oui/non Or have I got 5 minnits? OUI/NON FOM Pia (will you tuck me in? Yes/No, or have I got 5 minutes? Yes/No. From Pia) NB answers are in French. The questions are in German or English. This text doesnt have the desired effect in that I do not read it straight away. By the time I read it and go upstairs, she is already asleep... (FN#3, Pia: 8yrs 5m)

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The above text is a testimony of Pias skills as a writer and social agent, who has progressed beyond the need for assistance and therefore seeks none: I dont need help anymore. From this point on, we can speak of her entering the phase of mastery.

Mastery is when learning becomes automized; progressively energy-efficient by means of heterogeneous practice (van Lier, 1996, p41). Once the rules or principles of writing gradually become internalised, collaborative activities, in particular those motivated by Pias need of assistance as opposed to situations in which she coconstructs as a competent peer, begin to peter out. Concomitantly, the volume of unassisted texts increases. Pia is as an active member of the literate community from the moment she uses writing and is able to produce texts which make sense to her. She masters writing to a degree which legitimizes and reinforces her status as a member of the literate community once she is able to interact with the conventional literate community via texts which also make sense to others. Significant is also the fact that her membership is acknowledged. Both her father (Figure.4) as well as her German teacher, Beate, (Figure.5) take the time to reply: Figure 4. Letter to papa, 6yrs 9m


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Dear Beate, today I am ill. I have done hard maths for you Dear Pia, thanks for your letter. You have done maths from Year 2! Well done! Come back soon! Beate. Figure 5. Letter to Beate, 6yrs 5m

In a sense, from this point on, Pia is already operating beyond her Zone of Proximal Development. In the letter to her father, self-editing gives evidence of Pias awareness of the difference between what she knows and what she does in the first instance. In her letter to her German teacher, we sense a confident author, not someone positioned as a novice in Year One, although literacy as life experience writing (Kitagawa & Kitagawa, 1987, cited in Moro, 1999, p172) is sometimes also fostered at schools3. Such confidence, willingness and readiness evokes a new image of the child author; not as a learner-apprentice, dependent upon others, but rather as a practitioner, using whichever level of skills is at her disposal in order to interact with the world and the people around her.

3 Compare Pias letter to Beate to an exchange in a First Grade Japanese class, in which the pupil wrote the following: I saw an earthworm the earthworm Suzuki grabbed the earthworm. The teacher replied: I understood this composition because I happened to be there and to see her face at the time of the event. But even if I did not, still I would want to read into it and to appreciate the mind of the child who wants to express herself through writing. The teachers reflective comments take on the quality of fieldnotes rather than speak directly to the child, yet demonstrate Seiskatsu Tsuzurikata: writing as social practice (Moro, 1999, p172)


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Pias first unassisted text is written in French: Figure 6a. Ho ho! 5yrs 11m

Figure 6b. Ho ho! 5yrs 11m


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This series of principled, that is to say, rule-governed texts, each consisting of 2-3 lines and each written in a different colour, is composed in a single writing session. Conventional spacing and spelling would be as follows: Ho ho, qui est est l? Ah, tu es l, Marie. Merci pour le joli cadeau dAlissia pour lanniversaire dAlissia (text a) Hi hi qui peut vivil hahahahaha oh! Tu me visiteras (text b) Toc toc toc, venez ici, cest toi! O est le cadeau? (text c) Ho ho ho, qui est l? Ah! Tu es l, Marie! Merci pour le joli cadeau (text d) Toc toc toc! Ho Ho! Qui est l? Ha ha! Tu es l, Vivianna. Merci (text e) Translated, these texts mean: Ho ho, whos there? Ah, you are there, Marie. Thanks for the lovely present for Alissias birthday (text a) Hi Hi who can (vivil is an invented word) hahahahaha, oh! Youll visit me (text b) Ding dong, come here, its you! Wheres the present? (text c) Ho ho ho, whos there? Ah, you are there, Marie. Thanks for the lovely present (text d) Ding dong! Ho ho, whos there? Ha ha! Its you, Vivianna. Thanks (text e) Pias understanding of the sound-sign correlation is made evident as she writes speech (Vygotsky, 1978): Table 1. Appropriating French spelling
Standard French Qui Est Merci Cadeau Venez Ici Pour Anniversaire Ah Pias French at this developmental stage Ci E Messi, mersi Kado vene Issi Puor Aniverser A

Authorship is reflective generation of text (Jackson, 1993, p67), hence we need to expose and understand such reflexivity for its capacity to indicate cognitive develop173

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ment in preference to focusing on polished end results (Kress, 1994; Valsiner, 2008b, p135). It is in this sense, too, that attention to being is an important reference for charting becoming, for reflexivity is best understood by analysing instances of it in the here-and-now. In the first text (Figure.6a), Pia begins to write on the right hand side of the page then continues on the left hand side. The directionality of words is correct and her use of colour guides the reader through the message. In the subsequent texts (Figure. 6b), she exhibits control over letter size and directionality, not only of the word, but of the page as a whole. Pia has appropriated the correct use of exclamation marks. We note, however, that she does not use question marks at the end of the questions: HO HO CI ELA A! TU E LA MARI Ho, ho whos there? Oh! You are there, Marie These Ho Ho texts differ to earlier texts exhibiting word as a concept, such as Liebe Loc, because the latter instantiates her sisters knowledge of word and not her own. Here, we see the first traces of Pias understanding of word, as shown by her spacing on the first page of her text (Figure. 6a) but less so for the rest (Figure. 6b). In these unassisted Ho Ho texts, Pia is not reproducing, but producing, thus she has progressed, in her opinion, beyond the need to always have a model. Her texts are meaningful, purpose-driven, rule-governed and embedded; Pias birthday in a months time explaining her heightened interest in presents and birthdays. Her texts are legible and, given the right contextual information and provided we are able to refocus to her cognitive level, comprehensible. She possesses all the information she needs in order to use writing in a transformative manner: I can apply the rules for new results. The next step in her development entails, therefore, diversification.

Principled competence leads to further diversification4. Once the rules or abstract concepts (C) have been internalised and reduced (R), they may be applied (A) to new situations: C R A1 A2 A3 etc

4 Development is said to entail over/hyper-production (Valsiner, 2008b). The idea is echoed in the view of childrens overuse of particular linguistic/semiotic formulations as surplus of meaning. I, however, do not regard diversification as overproduction, but see the child as producing as much as is necessary in order to consolidate his/her knowledge. See also Bruner (1999), who observes that children select pieces of information to attend to that fit their capacity limits and then work within those limits, hence, like all humans, they dislike banality and overload from the start.


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The childs thoughts to the above formula might read as follows: once Ive understood it (C), that is, the basic idea (R), then I can use it in lots of different ways (A1, A2, A3), try it out (Bursch, 2006). This is precisely what children do when they approach writing (Kress, 1997; Vygotsky, 1978).

Moving backwards and forwards and in spurts through development

Children will continue to use techniques from the past in order to understand and work out ways to live securely in the present (Paley, 1990, p. 142) Progression through the depicted developmental stages is, however, not always linear. The data has revealed that Pias writing development may entail recursive loops as Pia re-engages with a developmental stage she has long since mastered (see also Rodriguez, 2010). This is evidenced when Pia, now a confident author, teaches Benni, a fictive pupil, how to write and spell: Figure 7. Benni learns to write, 6yrs 11m

Almost seven years old, Pia returns to a developmental stage achieved at least a year and a half earlier. Scaffolded letter formation is followed by the progression to sounds incorporating the phoneme o : ponpon. New vowels are introduced: papion. One of the new vowels is practised in conjunction with the starting consonant: Papa. Ponpon and papion are not real words but sound clusters, transformative exercises aimed at learning the correlation between graphemes and phonemes, as used in the early writing

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exercise books. Benni learns to spell in the same manner as Pia herself did, that is to say, structurally, as at school, using what is already known as a starting point for diversification. In her role as teacher, Pia also evaluates, crossing out badly formed letters and giving Benni the overall grade of 1,5. We should note, however, that Pia learns how to write (as opposed to spell) and is an active writer at home long before formal schooling. More to the point, in her non-institutional context, Pia learns to write holistically, not as a vehicle for knowledge display but as a means of authentic social action. A return to earlier stages of development, recast as play, as we see in Liebe Loic or Benni learns to write, may serve to consolidate and confirm knowledge. Principled and procedural learning blend in such transformative activities as learning becomes playful teaching and nothing is at stake. Such practice invalidates a view of learning as always, or automatically, synchronised with the original catalytic input, for it reveals that learning may take place at alternative temporal and cognitive levels. We can learn, therefore, not only by moving forwards, but equally by moving backwards. A review of the production dates of Pias texts, further, demonstrates that writing at home, guided not only by her developmental level, but also by her social and emotional needs, is not produced seamlessly and regularly, but may involve spurts, contesting the smooth line view at the heart of much language and literacy pedagogy. As Pia says in her own words: Sometimes I dont write anything at all and sometimes I write loads and loads! (Bursch & Simon, 2009, p. 38) This last developmental phase is an open one in the sense that future adaptations or transformations of writing (writing new words, genres, languages, etc) take place in this part of the model, with the previous sections feeding this development, if needs be. Pia might not seek assistance to write new words in French, for example, although she will be sensitised to French spelling, become aware of its rule-bound nature and of her need to acquire these rules. Nor need she go through procedural play, pretending to write French. It seems, therefore, that certain phases of the model, I propose, may be skipped if skills learnt in one area are easily transferable to another, as is the case with writing. Diversification is the motor which moves development forward, enabling the learner or social organism to maintain the ability to adapt to new contexts. There is a metacognitive dimension here, for Pia knows that she knows how to diversify. It is this knowing about doing that enables her to transform knowledge and that is at the heart of her autocatalytic processes, with their attendant changes to her environment. Diversification, thus, is a cognitive tool, a cognitive semiotic, which she learns to use. Diversification, moreover, is characteristic of each developmental level in the sense that there are numerous ways to perform at that level. Hence, awareness, for example, may be expressed in several forms. Pia might first become aware of writing in a specific context, but will then have heightened sensitivity to it in other contexts. Procedural play, similarly, may take several forms, yielding many forms of text. Regarding assisted acquisition, the type of assistance and the person assisting may be diversified, and so on. It has been said that being is anachronistic for we are never being, always becoming (Unsworth, 2001). At school, we note, children are often positioned as be176

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coming literate via an atomistic skills approach to instruction, as reflected in Benni learns to write (Figure.7). Such means are not dynamic, as one would expect of development, i.e. something in motion. The learner is becoming, yet there is a stasis related to a contractual, structural model of language/literacy acquisition and practice that exposes a tension between intentions. Is being, then, anachronistic? Lets see. In the next section, I pursue the analysis from a synchronic vantage, instantiating Pias being at a given moment in relation to her informal writing development and in order to ascertain whether such a snapshot may in fact help us to generate a deeper understanding of a theory of mind.

A single text is not an isolated text: a snapshot perspective

In the street you learn what human beings really are; otherwise, or afterwards, you invent them. (Miller, 1938, p. 11) The data I have chosen to exemplify my theory of mind as evidenced by a single event is entitled Natascha. At the time, Pia was 5yrs 6m. The text was produced on a sheet of A4 paper, which Pia then folded in two to form a book. The text, begun at school with a classmate, Natascha, was nonetheless, and more to the point, completed by Pia at home. The text is a declaration of friendship: Natascha, tu tais ma meilleure copine aujourdhui (Natascha, you were my best friend today). A picture complements the text by depicting children in the playground; in the centre, Pia and her best friend for the day arm-in-arm: Figure.8. Natascha, 5yrs 6m


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Whereas the writing is achieved with some deliberation and in silence, the drawing is rattled off in stages and with ease, to the accompaniment of Pias running commentary: Stage 1: Pia and Natascha arm-in arm Stage 2: boy and girl below Stage 3: heaven clouds and sun, later adds children and some school buildings. The children in this section are cold, so she draws freezing lines down the sides of their bodies; its December. (FN#5)

The interaction lasts approximately thirty minutes. It is documented in detailed fieldnotes, exposing the learning of both interactants5. Pia, emphasizing the fact it is not a letter, but a book, told me what she wanted to write. I then wrote the phrase on a piece of paper for her. She got lost quickly in the jungle of letters, e.g. writing p from copine after tu. The result of this error, for her, is frustration. The result for me: an a-ha! Pias slip revealed that the directionality of her gaze did not move conventionally from left to right, but from up to down, since p was the letter on the line immediately below tu in the sample I had provided (Figure.9). Learning from this cue, I suggested she crossed out each letter after having copied it. She expanded this new task into a secondary activity of colouring the letters. This way she was able to direct her gaze to the appropriate letter and integrate an element of personal creativity rather than simply carry out an order6. Figure 9. Scaffolding

5 I am learner and teacher in one, attempting to pitch my help at Pias level and learning from every clue she reveals about her development. Pia, likewise, although less consciously, is both learner (how signs look, how they are produced, and what they stand for) and teacher, assisting me to new levels of competence regarding her writing development. 6 If anyone can be said to simply carry out an order, then it is I in as much as Pia tells me what to write and I, dutifully, write it down, though even here, the original task is extended, transformed, for I break it down into manageable sub-activities (crossing out letters, using hyphens)


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Similarly, when I explain that she can break up the word meilleure with a hyphen (for she has run out of space), she applies this most recently acquired principle in a new, in her eyes, appropriate situation when she once again runs out of space and cannot put the words copine and aujourdhui on the same line as on my draft, thus separates them with a hyphen. Another a-ha! for me, as her action reveals that she associates the hyphen with the concept of space, not the concept of word. If we return to the formula presented above: C R A1 A2 A3 etc

We see that Pias use of hyphen relates to the phases A1 q A2 q A3, so that her thoughts may be: if I can use a hyphen when I run out of space for meilleure (A1), I can use it when I run out of space elsewhere (A2). She has understood the concept (C), yet her understanding is limited by the fact that she has not yet internalised the relevant concept of word. This is made evident by the fact that, in spite of my clear spacing, it is not easy to identify the start and the end of words in Pias text (Figure.8). Pia does not simply take my meaning/recommendation, she re-interprets it. The process of her letter formation is not always conventional, as can be seen by the arrows in the Figureating below, denoting where her penstrokes go up and down, even though the final product remains the same: Figure 10. Negotiating the directionality of letters

I observe, further, how she adds strokes to certain letters, much in the manner of drawing/painting, e.g. letters m,a,e, thereby moving in and out of writing and drawing as discrete visual representations.

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Pia was uneasy about the straight line at the beginning of the letter m because she said she had not learnt this letter yet. As I knew that she was familiar with it in the cultural context of the sign MacDonalds, her hesitancy drew my attention to a discrepancy between what she knows and what she thinks she knows. Similarly, she did not want to put an accent on the e because, again, she said she has not learnt it yet, so insisted that I did it for her. Learning, thus, for her, seems to be something which must be done explicitly. At home, however, and as she says, it is as if you learn secretly (Bursch & Simon, 2009). In retrospect, I realise this activity is pitched above her ZPD. I should have used capitals, as this is what she was writing at the time (cf Ho Ho txts). I wrote in lower case because it was natural for me, but I see now that it was demanding too much of Pia, who nonetheless rose to the challenge. Pia, insisting that she has written a book not a letter, obviously has very concrete ideas on the form of her text, thus she is the authority on her own authoring. On the other hand, her unwillingness to attempt anything she has not yet learnt at school reveals her doubts about any such claim to authority. She oscillates between know/ dont know; between positive volition and outright resistance. By the end of the interaction, and despite her resistance, she has nonetheless attained a higher level of writing competence thanks to the finely-tuned help of her mother. The accomplishment exemplifies progress through the Zone of Proximal Development, but is not based on an understanding of learning as an abstract, solitary activity aimed at some future benefit. Rather, it is based on an understanding of learning as being deeply anchored in a specific, here-and-now, authentic, socio-affective context, instigated by a proactive child not primarily interested in the structural aspects of learning in the classical, formal sense, but in using knowledge, in this case literacy, as a tool to get something a socially purposeful act - done. To relate these findings to my model, we see how the social and material environment impacts on Pias awareness, readiness and willingness. An allocatalytic incident with a classmate and some writing material triggers off Pias willingness to create the text, although she doubts her cognitive readiness to produce it on her own, thus she later solicits the help of a more competent other. We note, nonetheless, the absence of procedural play, yet the introduction of a new creative element as Pia colours in the crossed out letters, thereby controlling, or learning to master, what initially appeared to be a jungle of letters. This new creative element is set up by the allocatalytic intervention of Pias mother. Environmental cues, thus, frame, but do not prescribe, the direction of development, leaving Pia the room to appropriate the activity and give it her own meaning as opposed to blindly copying7.

The notion of copying appears frequently in discussions of literacy learning and practice. I embrace the view posited by scholars such as Kress (1994, 1997, 2003a,b) or Rowe (2003), who recognise the design and recasting aspects to childrens reproductive writing. Anyone observing children closely will discover how much they hate being copied (Travers, 2009). Paley (1990) however suggests that a childs eagerness to copy another child might be interpreted as an invitation to friendship and a means to establish a bridge between their two worlds. As such, copying may be an invitation to dialogue (and dialogism) beyond the merely verbal plane.


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The text is prepared, (first with Natascha, then with Pias mother). It is co-constructed (with Natascha and Pias mother). And it is redesigned (e.g. colouring and drawing activities are added, unconventional directionality of certain penstrokes, picture added). To need the help of others does not mean the child is wholly dependent upon others, however, and at several points, Pia can be seen to exhibit independent action. When analysing emergent activities or skills, therefore, attention must be paid not only to how children are helped, but equally to how they help themselves. A particular developmental level may give evidence of residual, emergent and mastered or dominant skills/knowledge at one and the same time (Williams, 1977, p132). Pias letter formation still has traces of drawing skills, for example, and although she encounters difficulty with a number of letters, she has mastered how to write, in this case, twice as many letters (a,m,l,r,c,o,p,j,d,h: N=10) as those we could describe as being emergent (s,e,i,u,t: N=5). Pia not only transforms mastery of the sequence of letters on her draft into a colouring activity, but she also transfers the colouring activity to the writing of the text itself, each letter in the book for Natascha being written in the same colour as the one used to control her gaze across her mothers model. Via the colouring/writing activity, therefore, we are given further indications of simultaneous, yet divergent, levels of skill: emergent control over reading a string letters in addition to writing others, and diversification as a consequence of mastery, reflected the application of internalised rules for new results (e.g. the use of hyphen in new situations). It is interesting to note that no comment is made about Pias emergent letters. She is not told that her way of writing them is wrong in any way. Pia herself, more to the point, appears only to exhibit insecurity with regard to the letter , which she refuses to write, and the letter m. Hence, from the childs perspective, these letters alone are deemed new or emergent, so that conclusions about a childs level of competence must be deferred until we have a solid understanding of what the child him/herself thinks or reveals about his/her own abilities. The fact remains: a purely chronological depiction of development - from novice to expert is not unproblematic. Learning, it would seem, is not always a forwardfeeding, conscious process. In addition to the simultaneous presence of varying levels of skill, the developmental pathway may also entail periods of un/awareness, by which I do not mean a progression from unawareness to awareness, but equally a shift from awareness to unawareness: (5yrs 6m) M: Has anyone in your family ever helped you to learn something about writing? P: No (after much thinking....) You helped me to read with the Mico book, but not to write. (FN#4) (5yrs 9m) M: Has anyone ever helped you with writing at home? P: Yes. You! (FN#5)


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(8yrs 2m) M: Where did you learn to write? P: At school. (FN#6) Despite the confirmation given by the Natascha interaction that Pias writing skills, learnt at home, are in advance of those transmitted in the classroom, she remains largely unaware of how instrumental her home environment, and her mother in particular, is in her writing development. It is as she says elsewhere: at home, its as if you learn secretly (Bursch & Simon, 2009). The shifts in her degree of awareness mean that each developmental block represented in the diagram, therefore, should be seen as containing within itself backward and forward moving sub/conscious developmental activity in a general progression towards mastery. If we embrace the dialogical as opposed to merely dialectical - self, a central problem becomes where to allocate learning, which is typically still spoken of according to an underlying notion of a unified (ontological) self, even within the paradigms of both sociocultural theory and cultural psychology. The zoniferousness inherent in a dialogical perspective of the individual is further underscored by the various semiotic zones within the text (drawing, writing, words of different colours), along with movement in and out at the psychological level (meaning making-taking), linguistic level (the written text is in French, I speak English, hence the overall interaction is bilingual), and ecological level (home, school). The combination of a dialogical and plurilingual self alone magnifies the complexity of attempts, and claims, to depict the nature of learning. Movement in and out can also be established at the temporal level, being at times quick, as when Pia embellishes her written text with the drawing, or indeed slow, when we think that it took Pia almost half an hour to produce her one-sentence story, though here, once again, to judge her efforts, and success, as slow is an adult perspective, thus must be treated with a certain caution. Taking a snapshot of Pias writing development, we see, enables us to move from the general character of longitudinal development to the complex dynamics of individual developmental stages when looked at more closely within a microgenetic instance, thereby allowing us to become alert to nuances which otherwise run the risk of being glossed over. In sum, we experience text and text production as a much larger concept than placing words on a page, as a much more dynamic, ontopotential communication ensemble (Kress, 2003a,b) in its own right. More than a mere snapshot or empty statement in developmental terms, the text, as an instance of being in which development is mirrored, has the potential to be an open system and a living agent8 (Smorti, 2008).

8 Cf however Wertschs comments on Bakhtinian authority in texts and their potential univocal qualities (footnote 15)


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Modelling mindfulness: a critical reappraisal

In the following sections, informed in particular by the findings and syntax of cultural psychology, I revisit the model of mind, block by block, and re-articulate from a more critical stance where the findings, the fits and misfits, lead us. As a next measure, I assess the visual representation of the model itself. I close the analysis by evaluating the usefulness of analogies from biology when transferred to educational contexts. We know research is messy business, yet we often feel impelled to deliver neat answers in a smooth chronological order, whose seamless transferability it seems we would so dearly love to prove is equally applicable to our developmental theories despite indications that nature is designed otherwise. The match between the complex, at times elusive, un-navigable phenomena under investigation and the flawless, isotropic (i.e. evenly distributed, smooth) final account seems to me to be a peculiar, if not slightly dishonest, one. Subversion of reality is scientific deception, warns physicist, mathematician and astronomer, Hilton Ratcliffe (2007). He continues: Perhaps we can learn something from bloodhounds. Their success in tracking down elusive criminals stems from the ethic that they will follow the clues wherever they might lead. The bloodhound does not at the outset declare, I will follow this scent trail only if it leads to a preferred destination. If the clues indicate that my target has gone elsewhere, Im going to ignore them and continue searching until I find a scent that suits me.(...) Scientists in the mainstream these days appear to belong to this class of egocentric bloodhound. They assume to prefer a particular theoretical model and filter observational measurements to create a fit. (Ratcliffe, 2007, p20) 9 Notwithstanding our apparent predisposition to want to give positive answers10 in order to safeguard a sense of security in the face of external, and internal, environmental changes (see also Salvatore & Valsiner, 2010), the uncomfortable truth remains: there is still so much which eludes our comprehension.

9 Cf however: Scientific curiosity does not just feed on itself. It lives as well on background presuppositions, inevitably religious-metaphysical in origin, about the nature of nature and the nature of man. At the heart of every coherent system of cultural beliefs, there lies a conception of man, of his perfectibility and weakness and what conditions, limit or promote these. Living in culture predisposes us to search for and even to find empirical confirmations of these deep beliefs. We just get clever in how we design our studies and set up our experiments, clever not dishonest. But culture, as I have argued elsewhere, is not a mould into which thought is poured. It is a dialectic between the canonical expectable and the imaginatively possible. (Bruner, 1999: p231-22) 10 The general principle of human cognition is to search for coherence after experiencing incongruence. This is the ubiquitous tendency to search for meaningfulness in the perceived world, what Hrmann (1976, 1978) called the sense constancy, in explicit analogy to the Gestalt school. (Cornejo, 2007, p483)


Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3/2010

Awareness: it started... with a click

Is change (exposure input conversion? cf van Lier, 1996) always development (i.e. change affecting the learner internally in the right direction - but according to whose criteria???)? Is development synonymous with learning (i.e. the production of new knowledge)? What triggers the click? (RD#1) Let us go back to the very beginning. I propose a model of mind, which is a term I equate with development. What is development? What does it mean? Do or can we know when or what goes bang, goes squeak or makes no noise at all? Employing a slightly different syntax to cultural psychologists, and speaking of evolution, Ratcliffe tries to sum it up: Evolution is growth based on interaction (...) It is the attempt of an already complex organic population to be more successful in its environment. (Ratcliffe, 2007, pp 110,119) Ratcliffes definition targets the active agent in a structuralist manner, making no reference to the mutually constitutive interplay between agent and environment. He does, however, note both the complex and organic nature of the developing system, an observation which not only fits neatly with the image of the organic, breathing house (cf also Hurme, 2010), but one which also underscores my growing conviction of our limited ability to grasp and chart the full complexity of mind. Paradoxically, then, our minds might very well be more intelligent than we are. Nature is intelligent, not random, thus it must be possible to chart its activities, given the appropriate intellectual faculty, the right instruments and methods; in short, the right coordinates (Salvatore & Valsiner, 2008, p10). My analysis so far has demonstrated that in order to understand how Pia learns to write, it is incumbent upon us to move away from a monolithic concept of learning and learners in favour of embracing a more zoniferous, dynamic approach. This, ultimately, means that we must look in several places at the same time. According to a socio-constructivist view, the learners interest is a prerequisite for and consequence of engagement with the targeted knowledge (e.g. Pinto et al., 2008). Whilst I would welcome a more differentiated assessment of interest, or at least coupling it to the notion of readiness (i.e., as a consequence of what Ratcliffe terms our cellular imperatives), my data appears to corroborate the observation: (5yrs 2m) Q: Do you like writing? A: Yes. Q: Why? A: Cos Ive got some writing books and I want to get better. I like to write cos Im writing nicely. (i.e. environment provides the materials, and because she can already write well, this motivates her and makes her want to improve) (FN#7)

This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

The click promoting a new developmental phase, it would seem, originates outside the social, developing agent.
Combining intramental and intermental strategies

The model I propose is not a maturational one, but a catalytic one. Hence development within the child-as-social-organism is fostered by stimuli resulting from the interaction between the organism and its environment rather than triggered off purely by biological/psychological readiness, whereby readiness understood here as an interface between two developmental levels, the upper end of which constitutes a zone of proximal development - is nonetheless a precursor for the organisms ability to engage in activities at certain levels. A central feature of the proposed model is Pias active role in her learning. It is she who signals interest as much as the necessity, degree and duration of help. This is less a picture of formal transmission and more one of teleological processes. The transition from one developmental phase to the next is delineated by a mental click, or meaning-taking, in the cognitive corridor between each developmental stage (diagram 1). This corridor can be quite long; Pia is writing for two years before she fully takes the concept of spacing/word, demonstrated more regularly after formal schooling. Autocatalytic processes, therefore, and as represented in stage 3 of the model (i.e. assisted acquisition), may be accelerated by allocatalytic intervention, the nature of such intervention, naturally, being context-sensitive. Having said this, there is an extent to which even autocatalytic process are also allocatalytic, so that microgenetic change is not simply a move from dialogue to monologue, from outside to inside, since intramental processes are themselves of inherently social, dialogical and heterogeneous origin (Wertsch, 1991). The conventional inside-outside, or intramental-intermental dichotomy, mapping onto the viewpoints propagated by Piaget and Vygotsky respectively, as summarised in table 2, and which, interestingly, also correlate strongly to interactive dynamics of school and home, may be called into question: Table 2. Piagetian and Vygotskian perspectives
Structural development Advocate Basic process Motto Developmental direction View of the learner Piaget (Piaget, 1966) Inside the individuals head Learning by invention From the individual to the social Active, epistemic enquirer Socio-cultural development Vygotsky (Vygotsky, 1978) Interpersonal interaction Learning by intervention From the social to the individual Intentional being, becomes expert of ones culture


Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3/2010

Developmental strategy Timing

Qualitative reconstruction of meaning in ever more integrated forms Child signals readiness Others = catalyst at most. Peer interaction facilitates cognition. Intermental peer conflict provides bridge between inter and intramental Downplay cultural diversity

Instrumental others



Psychological processes are universal

Shaping of social processes via language and other symbolic practices (i.e. culture) Readiness is fostered by social environment Others = essential component. Adults play an important role. Assistance through ZPD by adult or more competent peer provides bridge between the inter and intramental planes Downplay role of individual construction Cannot isolate individual or psychological growth from sociohistorical context. Processes cannot translate across boundaries

I present an active child who signals readiness or who is vulnerable11, her alertness having been fostered by the environment; a child who is then contingently guided by more competent others until a takeover/appropriation is possible. As such, the socio-cultural, Vygotskian perspective (learning by intervention, i.e. allocatalytic) and the structural Piagetian (learning by invention, or readiness, i.e. autocatalytic) perspectives are inextricable. It is, therefore, neither a question of curiosity being a reflection of the measure to which one is instructed; a view leaning more in the direction of Vygotsky. Nor is it the case that competence precedes autonomy; a view leaning more in the direction of Piaget. This latter view rather refers to the last stage of my model, i.e. once you know how, you are free to apply. The first stage of my model, however, suggests the reverse; free experimentation supports refined competence. An empirically-based conclusion combines the two apparently incompatible observations by distinguishing the type of autonomy in question: Procedural Autonomy Competence Principled Autonomy

The debate around the relationship between inside-outside, thus auto/allocatalytic processes extends beyond social agents to encompass the cultural environment as a whole, sweeping along with it, in my opinion, a re-assessment of the validity of analo-

11 At crucial moments in the organism <> environment relations the organism makes itself vulnerable to the always limited (bounded see Valsiner, 1997) indeterminacy, thus making the emergence of novelty possible or not. In other terms, the emergence of the new is the function of the old under catalytic circumstances that open the old systemic structure to a new form of re-organization and innovation. All development depends on previous structures Piagets notion of progressive equilibration fits well not only in childrens cognitive development but also in that of biological and social systems. (Valsiner, 2008b, p135-6)


This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

gies between biological and psychological development. Piaget, as we know, initially conducted his research on molluscs.
Inside or outside: resuming the intra/intermental debate

Does development, then, start on the inside or on the outside, or does it even take place when a certain resonance, interruption or disequilibration - indicative of child being in the ZPD - is established at the interface of the membrane separating the two inside-outside spheres? Development, or learning, must start on the inside, since no one can be forced to learn. However, learning is best promoted by appropriate, and, sometimes, incidental environmental inputs coinciding both with the learners maturational level and with his/her existential, intrinsic authenticity, in as much as an authentic action is one that realizes a free choice and is an expression of what a person genuinely feels and believes (van Lier, 1996, p13). To state that learning must start on the inside, however, would be to contradict my own conclusions given in the preceding paragraph, namely that learning starts on the outside; a conclusion corroborated by cultural psychology, which tells us that an organisms adaptive strategies are an expression of its predisposition to self-maintenance in the face of environmental changes. In other words, changes in the environment promote, or foster, in a catalytic not causal manner, development within the organism. To give a general example: climatic changes that lead Man to feel uncomfortable will result in Mans resistance to such changes. He will create/invent (i.e., he will develop) a tool to neutralise the problem, to safeguard self-maintenance so that it feels as if there had not been a climatic change (e.g. invent shoes, wear a skin, in indeed install central heating in his penthouse suite). To give a more pertinent example, based on my own data: Pia likes to be alone in her bedroom. Her sister suddenly has the bad habit of barging in; a climatic change which is unpleasant for Pia, who therefore (i.e., subsequently) seeks a means of resisting so that she may continue to enjoy being alone in her bedroom as before. She develops the tool of room rules, which she hangs on her bedroom door. Depending on how well they work, the rules are modified until Pia achieves the desired degree of self-maintenance, or peace and quiet. Whilst the above examples substantiate an outside-driven view of learning, continued reflection brings us to a number of key, and tricky, questions: is Pia, in this particular case, learning, or simply doing? Has she progressed in her development? What does that suggest about an outside inside depiction of development?
Procedural play

Procedural play, my analysis indicates, serves different purposes. On the one hand it may constitute, or herald, entry into a new zone of proximal development (Figure.1-2). On the other, it may represent playful re-engagement as a means of consolidating and confirming previous gained knowledge, but in a no risk situation, as with Liebe Loic or Benni learns to write. It is a developmental stage that is optional, it seems, for there is no procedural play in Natascha. What does the multiple and optional na187

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3/2010

ture of this developmental phase mean for a theory of mind? First of all, it animates a reconsideration of the definition of this developmental phase: procedural play. Procedural play is arguably much more than only procedural, that is, pretending, a mere state of as if . Indeed, and increasingly so, I believe that procedural play entails much more a conscious effort to approximate, experience, understand and appropriate specific social practice. Asked what her squiggles mean, Pia says quite categorically that she is writing. She does not say she is pretending to write. For every text, however incomprehensible it appears to the adult, she is able to give a clear, and suddenly for us outsiders, completely plausible explanation. Pias clarity regarding what and that she is writing does not concord easily with a procedural notion of as if , but positions her to the far right end of an apprentice-practitioner continuum. Similarly, is play only play? I believe our views on play to be an adult interpretation of an activity which is perhaps, as I outline in the preceding paragraph, experienced as something else by the child, who will nonetheless call it play because it is the term society has decided upon, though here again, adult and child understandings, meaning making and taking, might not be in tandem (Kress, 1997). There is a concrete risk that an etic, outside perspective is being transmitted, one which privileges abstract, Western notions of learning and thus sets play against notions of work, with the effect of abnegating the power of the former as a cognitive vector. Having said that, we should nonetheless remember that the value of play as a learning strategy is not universal, but culturally mediated (Gregory, 1997). The absence of procedural play in Natascha might also be attributable to the fact that Pia has already progressed beyond this developemental phase and knows, in the meantime, that writing is goverend by rules (i.e., it is principled), thus she need not pretend to write or engage in procedural play. Her Zone of Proximal Development, we note further, relates mainly to spelling and word formation as opposed to writing individual letters, for which little help is sought.
From assisted acquisition to diversification: progression through the ZPD

Education is an exploration of the jungle of the zone of proximal development. (Valsiner, 2008b, p136) (5yrs 2m) Mother: Do you like writing? Pia: Yes. Mother: Why? Pia: Because I like... to learn and when I am reading a book... I can... learn something. (FN#8) If education is purposefully guided becoming (Valsiner, 2008, p. 132), the adventure of finding appropriate catalytic inputs at appropriate times (Valsiner, 2008b,

This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

p. 136), that is, pitched at the right level of the learners comprehension and familiarity, then we must reconsider the relationship between purpose and exploration from the point of view of the learner. The idea of purpose suggests a conscious effort to attain a future-oriented goal. Whilst this may be true as far as the teacher is concerned, the texts, fieldnotes and research diary entries presented in this paper appear more to support the conclusion that Pia is more concerned with exploring the here-and-now. She is very much engaged in being, not in becoming; in exploring the possibilities of the present moment, rather than working towards the ulterior goal of learning to write. Purpose, more to the point, is emotionally as well as socially contingent, thus the relationship between emotion and cognition is a central one (Rodriguez, 2010). These observations are not simply premises on my part, but are in line with a sociocultural approach to learning and are thus confirmed elsewhere (e.g. Diaz & Vincencio, 2007; van Lier, 2004; Pavlenko, 2005; Rosa, 2008; Wertsch, 1991). The book for Natascha, for all the effort Pia invests in its production, never gets sent, as is the case for many of the letters and declarations of friendship addressed to others. Its referential value is subordinated to its emotional value. Natascha, principally satisfies Pias immediate socio-affective needs and reflects her intrinsic authenticity, that is, the sources of her motivation, namely control, autonomy, ownership and competence: (7yrs 5m) Mother: What do you like to write, Pia? Pia: Some things thatve happened. For example, Mummy wins at the party. (FN#9) (6yrs 10m) Mother:: Do you like writing with other people or on your own? Pia: On my own. Sometimes I do it with other people... you... papa... (FN#10) (6yrs 8m) Mother: Does anyone ever write to you? Pia: Yes. If I give post to Ccile, she writes back. Alice. Sometimes a carte dinvitation from Lise. And some other people. Mother: How did you feel when your friends wrote to you? Pia: Inside I feel happy. Afterwards I said thank you and she said de rien. (FN#11) (4yrs 11m) Mother: Do you know what a letter is? Pia: Yes. I cant explain very well. (FN#12) (5yrs 4m) Mother: Do you know what an invitation is? Pia: Yes. Its a card and we write on it: hello Alice! Im inviting you to my birthday the 21st June at then you put the address. We have to put it in an envelope and decorate it. (FN#13)

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3/2010

The here-and-now child perspective reinforces my proposal that learners and teachers enter the educational contract with divergent time frames, an observation which invites us to revise our notions of time in relation to the ZPD and how the learner progresses through it. The Ho-ho text and Natascha likewise reveal discrepancies between potential adult and child perspectives, in this case on mastery of spelling, word as concept and individual letters. A discrepancy between adult and child perspectives is also instantiated by my assumption that to take thirty minutes to complete the book suggests that Pia is too slow. Whose perspective has the last say? The notion of ZPD that is prevalent in educational research, and couched in apprentice-driven, as opposed to practitioner-driven, theories of learning, is an adult perspective, which detracts from the learners sustained cognitive and interactive efforts to attain, and maintain, autonomy and responsibility12: Mother: this is a lovely drawing, Pia. Pia: (smiles) Mother: why didnt you put yourself in the picture? Pia: eh ben, je dessine ce que je vois et cest sr que je ne vois pas moi mme moins que jaie un miroir. Et je nen ai pas! (well, I draw what I see, and of course I cant see myself unless Ive got a mirror. Which I havent!) Mother: what about this drawing of me. Do you want to change anything? Colour me in, or anything? Pia: Non. Cest termin. (No, its finished) NB should I have pointed out to her that I am not white, or would she take this to be nitpicking and break down in tears at the criticism? Better keep my mouth shut. I am black and she knows it. She has the right to resist my mediational means. (Bursch, 2006) Cf Lave & Wengers (1991) Legitimate Peripheral Participation: LPP: Peripheral participation, like ZPD = an analytical viewpoint on learning, but from an etic, outside, adult perspective. Would learners regard their participation in events as peripheral? Cognitively, if not physically, learners are in the very midst of the activities they engage in with others. (RD#2) Not only must it be made explicit whose perspective is given voice in judgements of progress through the ZPD, with such efforts taking care not to unduly eclipse an emic account, but the very account of who assists the learner through the ZPD would benefit from a more stratified analysis. Help may not only be provided by a more competent adult, but equally by more capable peers (e.g. Pias sister), peers of the same

12 cf however: None of us, children or adults, are ever free to write. Writing, like all language use, is always a situated response, an addressing of another in a particular time and place, a motivated making of words to some end. (Dyson, 1993, p217)


This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

level (e.g. Natascha), less capable peers (e.g. Benni)13, and ones own inner resources (van Lier, 1996, p193). More important for the purposes of my argument, however, is the fact that the child may progress through the ZPD alone or indeed set up ZPDs at developmental junctions that do not concord with those perceived by the adult or helper. I recommend, therefore, that we acknowledge, alongside dialogicality and the polychronic nature of time, the fact that we, as outsiders, can never be sure just along which multidirectional paths the learning adventure will take the child. In this sense, the ZPD may rightly be conceived of as opaque, as tangly; as a jungle.
Time after time

Once changes begin, they happen fast. The child leaps and expands in several directions, according to a mysterious plan that no one can anticipate. (Paley, 1990, p. 142) A claim we cannot entirely prove, for we have neither grasped the rate nor the full potential scope developmental directions, as Paley concedes herself elsewhere (Paley, 1990, pp. 77, 126, 127), this statement nonetheless draws our attention to time as a crucial element in any analysis of development (see also Toomela, 2010). One of the problems with dealing with time is our ingrained, thus unquestioned, conception of it as a straight line. Indeed, there is a true sense in which time is irreversible. One cannot step in the same river twice, as the ancient Greek philosopher, Anaximander, reminds us. In our minds, however, the irreversibility of time may be contested, as may straightforward notions of past, present and future, for it seems that time is, in fact, pivotal. My analysis has demonstrated development to be more than a forward-feeding process, but one that involves moving backwards and forwards in time, not only at the end of a developmental stage (i.e. diversification), but, I contend, probably at every stage. If we add to this the insights from a dialogical view of the individual, then we see how time is split once again, moving backwards and forwards, according to the subject position in question, or according to the particular constellation which an outsider cannot chart of simultaneous, dialogical positions activated in any instant of the networking of knowledge which promotes development. If we add, further, to the catalytic view of development the notions of happen to and what if , then we enter a modal, conditional time frame of infinite developmental possibilities from which a particular path, for whichever reasons, was selected14. Time, then, may perhaps better

13 This is the reasoning behind collaborative tasks between pupils from different grades: the stronger pupils get to revisit and consolidate their knowledge. The weaker ones are assisted to higher levels of knowledge in less asymmetrical relationships with others who have just been there themselves. Pias teddy, Benni, takes the role of the weaker pupil, giving Pia the opportunity, and the pleasure, to cross the border between novice/ expert, learner/teacher. 14 We may pivot along a number of teleological-temporal pathways, e.g.: as if (transfer from one time/state to another), what if (modal intentionality), happen to (chance event), will (future intention), would (hypothe-


Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3/2010

be conceived of as a frayed rope, whose opening strands point (simultaneously or not) to potential pathways, with one (or indeed many) decided upon (or subconsciously...), than as the straight line we invariably select for its depiction. This dynamic, polychronic conceptualization of time as a core component of our meaning-making processes, and one which breaks beyond the assumed synchronic-diachronic dualism, has a dizzying effect upon us, yet needs to be seriously entertained as part of our methodological endeavours, as is already the case in Japan, where Sato and colleagues propose a Trajectory Equifinality Model; TEM (Sato, 2009; Zittoun & Valsiner, 2009) charting the potential multiple, equivalent outcomes issuing from a single real (i.e. historical) point of action. Such a model is no doubt a move in the right direction, although I take issue with the notion of equifinality. Two trajectories can never be the same, but may only be similar (or of equal value), since we ourselves can never be the same at two different moments in time. Applied to my data, we see that Pias s in Natascha and my s look the same (i.e. the outcome), but have taken different trajectories (Figure.10). Even if Pia were to write these letters several times, and, indeed, as we see in every childs handwriting exercise books, no two letters are the same, only similar enough for us to recognise an intention to replicate an original model (cf Benni learns to write). Thus the very notion of sameness or equifinality would need to be further operationalised within the TEM, stating clearly from whose perspective such a judgement is being made. With regard to time and sameness, one should, perhaps, and finally, also bear in mind not only that there are no straight lines in nature, but that no two entities within a specific species are identical.
The construction of meaning

Meaning is constructed in accordance with immediate cultural contexts and in the space between the utterances or behaviour of the interactants and to the degree to which each acknowledges the rights and intentions of the other. (Travers, 2009a, p. 43) To understand another persons utterance means to orient oneself with respect to it, to find the proper place for it in the corresponding context. For each word of the utterance we are in the process of understanding, we, as it were, lay down a set of our own answering words. The greater their number and weight, the deeper and more substantial our understanding will be Any true understanding is dialogic in nature. Understanding is to utterance as one line of a dialogue is to the next. (Voloshinov, 1973, p. 102, cited in Wertsch, 1991, p. 54)

tical future), so happened that (chance in the past), then (past sequence of two or more events), when (fixed point in the past), wanted to (past intention), could have (missed opportunity: for every lived experience, we leave behind, consciously or subconsciously, alternative trajectories that did not become), should have (evaluated retrospectively - as missed opportunity/wrong action. Looking at the past in order to evaluate/ correct a future action)


This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

Meaning making and taking is a prerequisite for and consequence of gaining understanding and thus for cognitive development. It is local and subjective pre-, coand re-construction (Prinsloo, 2004; Rowe, 2003); an event orchestrated in the space, around the borders, between utterance A and utterance B or indeed between a whole range of non-linguistic communication ensembles. Meaning making involves interanimating this space with intention; anticipating, negotiating, transforming; selecting particular semantic trajectories from the myriad of potential meanings hovering behind each thought and act. From the citations of interactions between Pia and myself, we glean how adult and child meaning-making differs (Dyson, 2007; Kress, 1994). When Vivian Paley (1990), for example, tries to explain to one of her Kindergarten children that there was not enough space on the sheet to write down all he wanted to say, the boy replied: say it fast. The difference between adult and child meaning making will have an effect on what and how each participant makes of and gains from teaching-learning endeavours and thus on how the learning agent progresses through the ZPD. The teacher, ultimately, has no control over - and limited insight into - the pupils learning, but attempts to set up optimal parameters to facilitate access to knowledge; to support purposefully guided becoming (Valsiner, 2008b, p. 132). Natascha exposes an experiential aspect to meaning-making. Freezing marks, cold, warmth, friendship, play Pia feels a real bond to Natascha and wants to make it concrete, to reify it, via the book she makes, which she keeps and can use to reanimate this physical experience/recollection whenever she wants to, or whenever she happens to come into contact with this text. Meaning is more than saying: (4yrs 11m) Mother: Do you know what a letter is? Pia: Yes. I cant explain very well. (FN#14) Meaning is catalysed intention. By analysing Pias written texts in their capacity as thinking devices15 (Wertsch, 1991), I am able to make allowances for the discrepancy between her social and linguistic competence; between what she can perform socially and what she can express in words. I may show what she means even if she cannot say, and even before she is able to write conventionally. In so doing, I approach a more accurate picture of her learning. Having said this, we should not lose sight of the fact

15 Wertsch, addressing the issue of authority in texts, refers to Bakhtins distinction between authoritative and internally persuasive discourse in relation to univocality and dialogicality. Authoritative texts constitute univocal, indivisible mass in as much as we encounter them, as Bakhtin states, with their authority fused to them (Bakhtin, 1981). An authoritative text permits no interanimation with other voices, thus they cannot function as generators of meaning. Rather, it demands unconditional allegiance and allows no play with its border, no gradual and flexible transitions, no spontaneously creative stylizing variants on it (Wertsch, 1991, p78). Wertsch nonetheless goes on to observe that Bakhtin in fact provides few detailed interpretations of texts and little concrete detail regarding the precise semiotic phenomena he has in mind.


Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3/2010

that it is, in fact, impossible to determine what actually happens during a process by making measurements or evaluations at only one end of that process (Ratcliffe, 2007, p97). By analysing Pias speech, I may illuminate both what and how learning to write means to her from a different, complementary perspectives.

Writing and meaning the Self: identity texts

The proposed model of mind charts how Pia learns to write from both the diachronic and synchronic perspectives. It does not, in the first instance, chart how she learns to mean. These are parallel strategies (anticipation, negotiation, transformation) set within a catalysed dialogical, experiential and polychronic thought-frame, yet meaning and learning are not the same to mean is not automatically to learn - though both may be investigated from the point of view of content and structure. I chart how Pia learns to write; how she achieves knowledge as object. This knowledge - the how, when, what, why, for/with whom in relation to writing is in a sense fixed in her identity texts, a term Cummins (2006), referring back to Maslow (Maslow, 1968, 1999), devises for the peak experience represented in texts and which allow writers to harness their funds of knowledge (Moll et al., 1992). These identity texts, then, may be regarded as a general map of her mind, though we know, of course, that not all thoughts leave a trace, and that writing, for children, is simply one of many, and not necessarily the most important, means of communication (Kress, 2003a). Together, the written and spoken texts expose Pias wanderings and wonderings, thus ultimately what she means via writing - that is to say, her intentions16 - and what writing means to her; an expressive vehicle for real concerns in real contexts and by means of which she may show, may embellish, her Self in all its complexity, explore, negotiate and transform her social environment, her place in it and the roles she may occupy.
On the model of mind: re-evaluating representations

When a field is not yet well staked-out, one must leave room for emerging meanings and metaphors. (van Lier, 1996, p. 79) A scientific theory () codifies the observations we make. A good theory will describe a large range of phenomena on the basis of a few simple postulates and will make definite predictions that can be tested. If the predictions agree with the observations, the theory survives the test, though it can never be

16 Intentions differ according to their proximal or distal qualities, making them less or more oblique (i.e. sub/ conscious). Immediate or proximal qualities relate to the satisfaction of immediate, affective needs. Distal or long-term qualities relate to the more political notion of setting and contesting, thus negotiating the Self in society.


This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

proved to be correct. On the other hand, if those observations disagree with predictions, one has to discard or modify the theory. (Hawkins, 2001, p31, cited in Ratcliffe, 2007, p. 67) The model presented in the current paper aims to give an idiographic, childcentred account, thus clearly has Pias experience of learning at home as its principle point of reference. Notwithstanding the scope of reflections it has triggered off, it is still very much in kid shoes. What we see depends as much on what we decide to look for as on how we look (see Toomela, 2010). A string of further reflections, doubts and suggestions may refine both procedures, for example: Where do I accommodate emotion? Is my model an open system, i.e. may it transform itself? Where is this represented? Do I satisfactorily accommodate the idea of resistance? How may the anticipated diversification inherent at each developmental stage be represented? How can the mutually constitutive nature of agent+sign+environment be represented? Is it possible, in a single model, to chart the learner and teacher processes at work in both agents/organisms? If learning is culturally mediated, how would investigations into the interactional learning strategies in non-Western societies bear upon the theory and representation of mind I postulate?

Although I speak of the A-ha as a reflection of an insight gained, not every developmental jump need be accompanied by such a reaction, by such a bang; some may make no noise at all, making it impossible for them to be identified and thus charted, so that researchers run the risk of declaring breakthroughs which are entirely from their own perspective. No one can tell the moment of truth for another (Paley, 1990, 1997). The individual blocks of the model, although they visually remind us of doors and thus refer back to the house metaphor, lean in fact in the direction of biological analogies favoured by cultural psychologists. Thoughts as structured, discernable shapes is no doubt what we would like to see, although I question whether the non-isotropic (i.e. uneven, lumpy) nature of cognitive matter possesses such a form, such membranes, or whether we can ever say when a discrete thought starts and when it stops, as we suggest with whichever visuals we select to represent cognitive activity. In any case, one would still be confronted with how to capture simultaneous activities together with their squeaks, bangs and silences at different levels of consciousness. The task is perhaps too complex for a single researcher, let alone for a single model or indeed paper. In the final analysis, whichever representation we choose, it is coupled to the recognition that it may be contested and refined. As already suggested, it could be that to want to understand the human mind is perhaps to bite off more than one can chew; a doomed endeavour to grasp something beyond our reach, and one which inevitably drives us into confrontation with our

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3/2010

doubt zones yet again. The paradox, it indeed seems, could perhaps lie in the fact that our minds are more intelligent than we are: The presence of an intelligence that could and more importantly would, change the rules of existence with each passing cycle should, by virtue of its ability to alter truth, be beyond the comprehension of the subjects of that truth. (Ratcliffe, 2007, p125) One problem appears to be that we are on the same level as that which we seek to analyse. We try to understand mind by using mind, when perhaps the mind that analyses needs to be more advanced or developed than the mind that is being analysed. Another problem could be the inappropriate nature of our analytical tools. Ratcliffe reminds us that 90% of the universe we cannot see, just as we cannot see most of what light really is as we do not have the necessary equipment to detect it. His observations regarding the universe might well hold true for our understanding of the mind. Maybe language is not the appropriate tool to capture all that is entailed, the mind being more than language. And if language is the only tool at our disposal, maybe we simply need to deploy it in such a manner as to move beyond language, to a post-Vygotskian17, post-linguistic, affectively-centred account, as advocated by Bhlers Organon Model (Valsiner, 1998; 2007b). This would entail passing the boundary between words, concepts, as classically depicted, and seen/heard with the inner eye, in order to enter the realm of words felt and thus the world of personal, experiential, idiosemantic thought nested within larger cultural meanings. The coercive power of socio-affective variables for cognition is increasingly recognised (Cummins, 2006; Dyson, 2007; van Lier, 1997). We cannot use the medium to study the medium, Ratcliffe insists. Maybe we can, to a certain extent, as far as the mind is concerned and provided such attempts are coordinated appropriately. I would, however, second Ratcliffes conclusion in so far as we cannot create an adequate analogy by comparing lower order (biological) systems to higher order ones (psychological).
The limits of analogy, or: why 1+2 = 2+1 but I+am am+I

Biological organisms, unlike humans, are not pro-active, simply reactive, and whilst we may perhaps conceive of them as dialectal, they are not, or we have no proof that they are, like us, dialogical. The analogy is useful in principle, since much technical and medical progress is due our observation and replication of naturally occurring phenomenon. The transfer to educational contexts, however, is not unproblematic. For cultural psychology to pass via biology to explain cognition and then relate their findings to education, passes, in my opinion, by too many corners. The analogy

17 Vygotsky, however, did not disclaim the significance of affect. Indeed, he saw consciousness as comprising of affect and intelligence (van Lier, 2004, p123)


This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

is, therefore, only tenable up to a certain point. I feel a strong resistance to such drag & drop, cut & paste, above all due to the paucity of data from educational contexts to lend credence to such analogies, which may amount to nothing more than Gedanken experiments: See Ratcliffe (2007, p. 299): Need to differentiate between real experiments with observable matter/measurable results and Gedanken experiments (Gedanken = German = thoughts) as is common in physics where observed results are taken a step further simply by mental means. Must be mindful not to let the Gedanken experiments pass as actual empirical verification. (RD #3) When we consider the readiness of the social organism as a biological-psychological phenomenon, that is, as a maturational process18 in conjunction with the organisms environment, it becomes clear that whilst the biological organism will complete maturation after a specific period, following its cellular imperative (Ratcliffe, 2007), the social or psychological organism, by contrast, continues to mature according to environmental stimuli. To acknowledge this is to puncture the validity of the analogy itself. Gedanken experiments advocating a seamless transfer from one context to another extract from me, therefore, a queasy verbal agreement rather than wholehearted consent, above all because such practice runs in direct opposition to the very idea of environmental contingency: to each organism its own environment. To this must be added that, although we use the word in the singular, environment is a rich, complex phenomenon that merits being used in the plural. This, in turn, draws out a rather monocatalytic assumption at the heart of a biological analogy which is questionable for humans in their diverse environments. I ask myself, moreover, who would dare, and who accept, a drag & drop in the other direction, that is, findings from research conducted in educational settings, which are then seamlessly transposed or applied to biological ones. Sensitive to the tension between empirical observation and logic, and resisting the pressure to deliver immediately accessible, usable outcomes, my wanderings and wonderings lead to additional revelations and reservations on the issue of this analogy. Cultural psychology, basing its arguments (or Gedanken experiments) on observations from the latest aristo-science19, advocate an outside inside developmental theory, that is, that changes in the environment motivate adaptation strategies in the organism in order to ensure the latters continued survival. How does this apply to learning how to write? The child is born into already existing literacy practices and into a signs-

18 A child cannot be born and survive before it achieves a specific maturational level. 19 Drawing our attention to a work by Goldsmith (1998) in which Passmore is cited as coining the phrase aristo-science, van Lier notes how physics has been usurped by biology as the current supreme science (van Lier, 2004, pp10, 40) with the effect that, today, the distinction is not merely one between hard and soft science, but also between hard (physical) and wet (biological).


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infested environment (Valsiner, 2008a). The environment, therefore, doesnt, or hasnt, changed. It is the childs awareness of such activities, in direct relation to the childs maturation, which changes, effectuating the first click. Rather than substantiating an outside - inside theory, this observation suggests the opposite: change may originate within the organism and not in the environment. The child then adapts to the environment in order to survive (i.e. become a full member of his/her society). If adaptation strategies seek to block doubt (or fear) zones, then the doubt or fear in the case of Pias writing development might relate to a fear of social exclusion if she does not acquire the practices necessary for full inclusion. I, however, have difficulty casting her curiosity, willingness and conscious efforts in this light. What is more, the notion of resistance to environmental changes as advocated via the biological analogy appears not to accommodate the possibility, or indeed reality, that social organisms, unlike biological ones, may in fact turn their backs on their environment. This is an important point, which the scope of this paper, unfortunately, does not allow me to expand. It does however provide a compelling final argument for acknowledging the shortcomings of analogies the biological development on the one hand and human social development on the other.

The children taught us a lot, once we were prepared to listen (Kearney, 2003, p. 11). The theory and model of mind postulated in the present paper represents a childcentred perspective whilst conceding the difficulty, if not impossibility, not only of getting inside someone elses mind, but also of fully grasping and charting the mind itself. Paradoxically, our mind appears to be more intelligent than we are. At a methodological level, the paper confirms the usefulness of a compound diachronic and synchronic approach for its ability to bring to light potential variations between long-term and short-term development. At a conceptual level, the paper confirms the usefulness of a compound analytical approach. Combining the tenets of cultural psychology and sociocultural theory permits an account of development, which profits from the strengths of each discipline whilst compensating for their weaknesses. Thus, the paper stresses the importance of time as a complex variable in developmental issues in conjunction with a dialogical depiction of social agents and it underlines the proactive, as opposed to reactive, nature of social agents negotiating environmental cues at varying levels of consciousness. The fact, however, remains that we have yet to fully grasp how the human mind works, and current theories only give an inadequate account of its development. We need interdisciplinary research addressing the issue from a diachronic and synchronic perspective in order to disabuse knowledge and reduce the risk of complacency with the findings from ones own field. The paper is not intended to be a mere celebration of achievement. My goal was to make a case for a theory of mind based on empirical observations as opposed to

This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

extrapolating conclusions from analogous contexts. My goal, further, was to solicit critical reflections on what we consider learning, how we conceive learners and how we depict their developmental processes. Development is both mindful and social. It is a knotty jungle of dynamic and stable elements, whose complexity arises from the multitude of possible trajectories - what Barthes terms mathesis pluralis; a plurality of outcomes (Mininni, 2008) - within and across each of the key areas of interaction: psyche, time, signs, environments. Development is not purely a progression from the intermental to the intramental, for it is only possible once the corresponding maturational level has been reached by the learner and is coupled to readiness from the point of view of conscious volition. Pias development as a writer appears to be characterised by distinct phases that are internally dynamic and which involve transformations not only in her learning strategies but also of the targeted knowledge. Simultaneous levels of skills may co-reside at any given moment and develop at different rates. Certain stages of development may be skipped if irrelevant for the achievement of the targeted knowledge and if previously acquired skills may transfer to the new task. Although there is a gradual progression towards mastery, development should not be conceived of only in terms of an evenly paced forward-feeding process, but as one that is pivotal, recursive, moving backwards and forwards in an uneven manner but in keeping with the polychronic, dialogical, dialectical, organic breathing nature of mind. Pias learning seems propelled by decisions (acts being manifestations of thought), which, once taken, are forgotten, or relegated to the realm of the subconscious. At home, it is as if you learn secretly, she says (Bursch & Simon, 2009). The model brings such decision-making back to the surface, from which, however, it should not be inferred that this is where they remain. Pias development is catalysed by environmental cues, also in the form of assistance given by other social agents, who, acting as guiding lights, contribute towards Pias achievement of higher levels of knowledge. Within her home context, Pia has recourse to numerous such agents and to variegated interactional constellations and styles, which extend not only beyond the classical question-answer routine but also beyond adult-child dyads. Such external assistance, however, is not always given, or sought, with conscious teaching in mind, nor is it always pitched at the appropriate level, so that development, in a certain sense, may sometimes even be regarded as a spin off of other social activities. Although Pia actively seeks the help of others, thereby exercising a degree of power in her selection of who is permitted to help, how and for how long, a fact which demonstrates that constraints may be set up by the developing system and not purely by the environment, her acceptance of such assistance should not detract from the fact that she is also able, and indeed wants to, help herself to progress through the zone of proximal development on her own. This is not to say that development is largely intramental, for the cultural tools used as a means of acquiring, expressing and transforming knowledge are themselves inherently social. In this paper, I work towards a theory of mind, thus readily concede that my model, in its present state, is inconclusive. Continued research, both from an idiographic as from a cross-cultural and possibly multilingual perspective, is envisaged. At this early stage, it is nonetheless possible to anticipate some educational implications from the findings.

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The findings may encourage educational practitioners to accommodate the possibility that young learners are motivated by different time agendas to their own. The phenomenon of re-engagement, for example, suggests the usefulness of accommodating a longer time frame for individual skills in which the learner must become energy efficient. Re-engagement should however not be mere repetition, but provide an opportunity for heterogeneous practice. In addition to having divergent notions of time, learners expectations may not necessarily concord with those of the teacher, learners being less focused on future, structural goals and more on authentic needs seeking expression in the here-and-now. Authentic, creative, recursive contexts harnessing learners genuine motivation should, therefore, and ideally, find their way into the curriculum. Discrepancies between adult and child meaning-making must also be taken into account, not least of all because these will bear upon how the learner is assisted to higher levels of knowledge. To acknowledge this means to be aware that sustained efforts must be made to approximate as emic a perspective as possible. The preoccupation in Western cultures with the presumed natural nature of adult-child dyadic relations may well influence unduly our perceptions of how to foster childrens learning. Such bias fails to sufficiently recognise alternative, empowering interactional constellations. As children and adults appear not only to differ with regard to making meaning, goals or orientations in time, but also with regard to notions of competence, teachers need to be sensitive to childrens self-evaluations, respecting and contingently acting upon the cues these reveal about childrens attitude to their development. In short, we must acknowledge learners as an authority on their own development. In order to be effective teachers, we must first learn. This means getting alongside, as close as possible, to the perspectives of the learners as the only starting point from which we may assist their continued development. The less time we spend observing, getting alongside, children, the less we are entitled to make claims about their learning and our ability to assist. The more time we spend fine tuning and cultivating a sensitive, respectful, interrogative stance in our endeavours to understand their needs and abilities, or to recognise the deep messages behind their epistemic offerings, the more we may aid both them and ourselves to higher levels of knowledge. Whilst such recommendations might appear axiomatic, and notwithstanding repeated and longstanding calls to build upon what we have learnt from close observation of children about how they learn, it is exceedingly difficult in the current European educational climate, tainted by achievement tests and accountability, for teachers to be able to respond sensitively to the needs of individual students in classes of increasing heterogeneity and size. It is still unfortunately the case that sound research findings do not always translate into educational policy. Hence they continue to make only a limited large scale and supported impact. We may only hope that an increased volume of empirical research, to which this paper strives to make a modest contribution, may eventually bear upon policymaking and thereby animate a reassessment of the directives taken to improve classroom practice.


This breathing house, whose doors go squeack, go bang or make no noise at all

I would like to thank Professor Jaan Valsiner for his constructive criticism of earlier drafts of this paper, and for his humour and generosity of spirit regarding my critique of a number of his opinions. Especial thanks to Professor Jean-Jacques Weber, for always finding the time and the just means to guide me in the right direction. My gratitude extends to Dr Jacques Aubry for putting his IT skills at my disposal, and to Jrme Jaminet, whose perspicacious philosophical stance continually proves to be a source of inspiration to me. Thank you, last but not least, to my daughter Pia, who has not only had to put up with me scrutinising her development for over a decade, but also tolerate long evenings alone as I sat, inaccessibly, at my pc. I am now all yours. Till the next paper.

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Robertson, L. M. (2004). Early literacy in parallel literacy classes: young bilingual children learning to read. Unpublished PhD thesis. Goldsmiths College, University of London. Rodriguez, L. P. (2010). A case study of ontogeny: understanding the cognitive development in infants . In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J.B. Travers Simon & A., Gennaro (Eds.), Yearbook of Idiographic Science. Volume 3. (pp.139-156) Rome: Firea & Liuzzo Publishing Group. Rogoff, B., Mosier, C., Mistry, J. and Gnc, A. (1998). Toddlers guided participation with their caregivers in cultural Activity. In M. Woodhead, D. Faulkner, and K. Littleton, (Eds.). Cultural worlds of early childhood. London/Routledge: the Open University. 225-249 Rowe, D. W. (2003). The nature of young childrens authoring. In N. Hall, J. Larson, and J. Marsh, (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood Literacy. (pp. 258-270) London: Sage.. Salvatore, S., & Valsiner, J. (2008). Idiographic science on its way: towards making sense of psychology. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. Strout, & J. Clegg, (Eds.), YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Volume 1 (pp. 9-19-19). Firea & Liuzzo Publishing Group. Salvatore, S., & Jaan Valsiner, J. (2010). Idiographic science as a non-existing object: the importance of the reality of the dynamic system. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, A. Gennaro & J. B. Travers Simon (Eds.), Yearbook of Idiographic Science. Volume 2. (pp. 7-26) Rome: Firea & Liuzzo Publishing Group. Sato, T. Hidaka, T., and Fukuda, M. (2009). Depicting the dynamics of living the life. In J. Valsiner, P. Molenaar, M., Lyra, and N. Chaudhary (Eds.) Dynamic process methodology in the social and developmental sciences. (pp. 217-240) New York: Springer. Schaffer, R. (1996). Social Development. Oxford: Blackwell. Smorti., A. (2008). Texts as cultural instruments. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, S. Strout, & J. Clegg, (Eds.), YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science - Volume 1. (pp.349-359). Firea & Liuzzo Publishing Group. Street, B. (1994). Cross-cultural perspectives on literacy. In J. Maybin, (Ed.). Language and Literacy in Social Practice. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 139-150 Street, B. (1997). Implications of the new literacy studies for literacy education. English in Education. 31(3), 45-59. Street, B. (2004). Futures of the ethnography of literacy. Language and Education. Vol. 18,4. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 326-330 Tagaki, M. (2010). Long-term acquired physical disability from lifespan development perspective: life stories of persons with spinal cord injuries. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J.B., Travers Simon & A., Gennaro (Eds.), Yearbook of Idiographic Science. Volume 2 (pp. 183-203). Rome: Firea & Liuzzo Publishing Group. Taylor, D., & Kabuto, B. (2007). Reading everybodys child: teaching literacy as a human right. In Y. Goodman, & P. Martens, (Eds.). Critical issues in early literacy. (pp.273-289). London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.. Tharp, R. & Gallimore, R. (1998). A theory of teaching as assisted performance. In D. Faulkner, K. Littleton, & M. Woodhead, (Eds.). Learning Relationships in the

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Joan Travers Simon worked as a language teacher for almost twenty years before obtaining her PhD thesis in educational science from Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 2008. She is currently a research assistant at the University of Luxembourg. Her fields of interest include plurilingual literacy development at home and school, the social functions of young childrens authoring, multimodality, and how research findings may be redesigned to directly address nursery and primary school children. She has rewritten her thesis, with the collaboration of her daughter, as a trilingual childrens book in English, French and German. e-mail:




Franca Tani*, Rosapia Lauro-Grotto*

The paper addresses some theoretical and methodological issues concerning the application of the idiographic approach in the context of developmental studies. The nature of the scientific inquire according to a Galilean perspective will be described and we will discuss how this perspective can be employed in order to explore the issue of causality and prediction in the domain of developmental phenomena. We will introduce the Vygotskijan approach that takes as the basic unit of study the-child-active-in a-context. We will argue that the microgenetic method can indeed provide a suitable framework to describe development and learning in single case studies by tracking evolution and change on the run, provided that a very rigorous control of setting and timing is granted by the research design. Relevant points will be illustrated with the material provided by the two studies by Travers Simon (2010) and by Rodriguez (2010), published in this volume. In the present paper we will address some conceptual and methodological issues concerning the application of an idiographic approach in the context of developmental studies. According to the classical dichotomy proposed by Lewin (1931), we can distinguish between two modes of thought, the Aristotelian and the Galilean one. This distinction bears upon the analysis of the evolution of the physical science. In particular, physics as systematized by the Aristotelian school considered as appropriate objects of scientific inquires only those events that are regularly occurring or at least presents with a given level of frequency, the prototypical example being the study of the astral trajectories. Events that on the contrary never repeat themselves in time or do occur only rarely, therefore appearing as accidental and random, - for example, the geological ones - are excluded from the scientific enquire. This is due to the fact that only the former allow for classifications and extraction of regularities by virtue of repeated assessments.
* University of Florence - Italy.


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On the contrary, in modern physics as funded by the Galilean conception, all physical events, irrespective of their frequency of occurrence are considered to be ruled by laws and are therefore object of scientific knowledge. In the Galilean perspective therefore a genetic-functional type of knowledge takes the place of the knowledge based on mere classification. Instead of enlightening the common features of events or objects, the focus is on the relationship between the occurrence of a single event and the presence in the situation in which the event takes places, of a given set of defined conditions. This entails a shift from the abstraction of the properties that a given phenomenon shares with others, to the individuation of the conditions given which a phenomenon can be produced or predicted. This type of relationships can be of explanatory nature, in which case they are called scientific laws. A law in fact does not simply record the co-occurrence of different phenomena but makes explicit the causal nexa among them, therefore providing an explanation. In some cases however, and this is especially the case of psychological sciences, causal relationships involve phenomena that are not always directly observed but also relationships in which causes can be only inferred (illata, Reichenbach, 1938). However, the higher is the complexity of the context, the higher is the difficulty in deriving a causal explanation of the phenomenon. Psychological Research, and in particular developmental investigations, is always dealing with very complex contexts as wisely documented by Broffenbrenner (1979). For example, we can hypothesize a causal relationship between primary parental deprivation and antisocial behaviour in adolescence, assuming that the latter depends upon the former, but in this case, the relationship between the two classes of events is extremely complex. It is indeed impossible to verify a direct causal influence between early experiences of parental deprivation and antisocial behaviour in adolescence, if not due to the huge temporal distance between the two classes of events. In this case it is more plausibly a set of events that activates a chain of processes that, in presence of other events or conditions, favour antisocial behaviour. In other words, it is difficult to trace back the effect (antisocial behaviour) to one or few causae primae, or deduce the final effect from the knowledge of the causae primae (early deprivation experiences). Moving from these considerations, Rutter (1984) claims that many of the laws in developmental and clinical psychology are looking backwards laws, and not looking forwards laws. Looking backwards laws impose necessary but not sufficient conditions. If it is in fact true that adolescent with experiences of early deprivation can manifest antisocial behaviour, it is nevertheless true that many of those adolescents with antisocial behaviour have not suffered from parental deprivation. These laws are therefore probabilistic in nature, in the sense that they allows to infer that a given behaviour depends upon given previous conditions but it is not always true that given those conditions the behaviour will be observed. In other terms, description and explanation are different operations, and indeed we can try to find explanations only for something that has been preliminarily described, as observed by Battacchi (2006). In developmental psychology, a huge gap persists between description - often very detailed and accurate - of evolutionary processes and explanations of the same processes, that are almost always just sketched or not enough supported by evidence or in some cases not even attempted (Battacchi, 1988).

On the ideographic approach in the context of developmental psychology

Nevertheless, even purely descriptive researches can be very valuable both from an applicative perspective and from the point of view of methodological refinement. For example, in developmental psychology studies, that describe in a normative and statistical sense the age trends for the appearance of specific competences, can be very useful. However these nomotetic studies must be combined with an idiographic approach and employed in the context of wider assessment designs, in order to be able to track the developmental trend of single subjects. As a consequence we see good reasons to reduce the conflict between description and explanation. And in fact not only a given kind of description anticipates a kind of explanation, but every explanatory hypothesis feeds-back on the explained facts, shows up other facts and transforms them. All this takes us to consider, on one side, the complex links between theory and methods, and on the other, what is the object of the psychological inquire. Concerning the first issue, and according to the ethimology of the world (meta odos), a method can be defined as a set of rules that shape a route to knowledge. When exploring a new landscape, it is evident that the kind of perspectives that we gain on the paysage changes along with the nature of the road we follow, a motorway obviously offering a sight-seeing that is very different from what we can appreciate when following a lovely country-road. In a similar way we usually select the track to follow in line with the sights we are interested to visit and explore. With respect to the second point, that is the peculiar nature of the object of psychological inquire, we agree with Battacchi (2006), who claims that the unity of psychology consists in having as object of knowledge a triadic system of objects: behaviour, cultural context and experience. These three objects are necessarily linked to each other and none of them can be excluded from the account. As shown in figure 1, behaviour generates cultural objects and these provide testimony of behaviour, while experience or the subjective world provides sense to behaviours and cultural context and expresses itself in both of them. Figure 1. The triadic object of inquire in psychological sciences (Battacchi, 2006)

produces Behaviour Cultural world

provides testimony provides sense expresses Behaviour provides sense expresses


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According to this conceptualization, the unitary approach of psychology would implement a guarantee of continuity and complementarity between the framework of cultural studies, having their central focus on sense-making processes, and the traditional approach of ethnografic studies, stressing on the central role of testimonies in the context of a collective system of relationship and exchanges (ethnos). In the domain of developmental psychology this general perspective declines itself quite naturally if we assume the contextualist point if view, derived from Vygotskian theory. Indeed Vygotskij (1978) takes as the basic unit of study the-child-active-inacontext. According to him, the child in fact is not a universal and constant organism operating in vacuo: the mind is social in its own nature. The individual and his ambient cannot be considered as separate entities that interact, the separation being artificial and misleading. They constitute instead a unity or unique process, in the sense that some forms of social practices link the child and his needs and goals to his ecological ambient (Broffenbrenner, 1989) and define what the ambient means to him. The child, the Other and the context do merge together in Activity. It is actually in the analysis of the childs daily activities that we grasp in a straightforward manner the way in which culture organizes his life experiences. This approach, that sees culture-as-medium and not culture-as-difference (Cole, 1992), shows how culture provides tools in its evolution along time that mediate the relationship of people among themselves and with the physical ambient. Studies about diadic recall are very explicit in this respect. These studies (Hutchins, 1991; Rogoff, 1990) exemplify how the most remote levels of context (cultural believes on what kind of competences children should be able to acquire) reach the child through the immediate social interaction. In fact in the activities of diadic recall that the child carries over with one of his parents, hints from the adult help him to recall and organize his past experiences. It is just because the mother and the child have a common knowledge of a shared experience that they are able of talking about it. Another example can be the one in which parents try to attract the attention of a toddler on relevant aspects of the context by let him go closer or pointing to some specific objects or events. These examples show how cultural tools put children in communication trough their activities with the physical and social world. In other words, culture provides tools to help people to dominate the context; tools are given to children during social exchanges and on their turn the children use tools to help themselves in thinking. So the tools shape thinking. All these examples show how adults help the child to build bridges (Rogoff, 1990) between the actual abilities that he already has and other new ones. Shared activities prompt inner evolutionary processes that operates only when the child interacts with people of his own ambient or with his peers. Vygotskij has described this process in his well known construct of Proximal Development Zone. In his own words the Proximal Development Zone defines those functions that are not yet mature but are on the way to maturation, functions that are going to mature tomorrow but are at the moment in an embrional stadium. These functions could be called the buds or flowers of development more that the fruits of development. The actual level of development characterizes mental development in a retrospective way, while the Proximal Development Zone characterizes it in a prospective way. (Vygotskij, 1978, Italian translation, 1980, pag. 128).

On the ideographic approach in the context of developmental psychology

In other terms, contextualists - together with Vygotskij - assume that development can be understood only by directly observing the processes of change instead of the mere sequence of evolutionary levels. The process is therefore more relevant than the product itself, because it is only in movement that a body shows up what it is (Vygotskij, 1978, Italian translation, 1980, pag. 99). Along with the displacement of the child through the Proximal Development Zone it is possible to observe the internalization of social processes: what is outer becomes inner. The interaction between the child and the adult is internalized in the childs mind. In other words, according to Vygotskij every intellectual superior function acquired along development appears twice on two different levels: the first time between people as an inter-psychic category, and the second time, inside the child, as an intra-psychic category (Vigotskij, 1960). Processes and intra-psychic structures do not reproduce exactly the inter-psychic ones but the latter are transformed along with internalization. The most suitable method in order to grasp changes that occur in the Proximal Development Zone is the microgenetic one. A very good example of an application of this method is provided by Lilian Patricia Rodriguez (2010). The study is dedicated to investigate the ontogeny of deductive generalization. The author, thanks to an appropriate application of this method, identifies the new ways in which the mind of a child organizes itself in order to produce new forms of knowledge. As clearly depicted by Rodriguez, in the first trials Marcela accepts to be engaged in an interactive situation with the experimenter. In this phase however, the relationship appears to be mostly centred on the object and already shows that emotion and cognition do not walk separate paths. In a successive step Marcela seems to discover the functional relationships that links together the different parts of the object and carries out the integration between a part of the object and its functional use. This cognitive achievement is accompanied by emotional manifestations that are now more clearly directed towards the experimenter. In the successive sessions the child becomes more and more protagonist and independent in her role, to the point of establishing a link between the object and the task. In the last session she becomes able to integrate the functional use of objects and to solve the task while accompanying her performance with active confirmation demands and frequent emotional exchanges with the experimenter. Solving the task amounts to linking the objects, the experimenter and the self in a single meaningful event. Thanks to the micro-longitudinal single case approach, the emergence of inductive generalization can be tracked step by step in what could be seen as a concrete learning experience. The nature of this experience is further analyzed by distinguishing two levels of interactions the child is involved in, with objects and with the experimenter respectively. The experimenter explicitly states that the way in which the observations are conducted is guided by the decision to focus on the interactions involving the objects. Nevertheless the description of this level of interactions is constantly sided by the neat and elegant contrappunto of the report on the emotional and social exchanges occurring all along the experimental sessions. In this way the figure-ground segmentation that was overtly adopted in the design of the research, is endowed with a dynamic nature, so that we can follow the mutual evolution in time both of the figure and of the rich emotional ground over which the figure is bounded to emerge. By this method we

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can appreciate the way in which the bond between the two levels of interaction (with the objects and with the experimenter) is established and occasionally broken. This is the case when Marcela, having bitten a shoe, receives what could be interpreted as a negative feedback from the experimenter and clearly shows the need for reparation by moving closer to her, extending her hands and caressing her on the face. In any case the bond is maintained within every single session and along the overall development of the research, till the final ahaa!.. experience, where Marcela seems to claim with enthusiasm: Ahaa!... This is what you expect I can do for you with these objects! . This kind of retrospective insight, that corresponds to the moment in which the task is solved, allows us to focus our attention on the peculiar nature of the relationship that binds together the achievement of the goal (inductive generalization) and the process that should support this achievement. In fact, in this research situation there is no goal elsewhere than in the experimenters mind. The child, to some extent, discovers the problem, the solution and the process to link the two, in the same act of creative synthesis. We could even say that at the same exact ahaa! point also the description of what is going on during the experimental session acquires its complete sense. If inductive generalization would not have emerged on the child, the sequences of interactions would been more obscure, leaving us, and probably the experimenter as well, with an overall sensation of not understanding what was actually going along the planned experimental sessions. We would like to underline that the chance to follow the emergence of these new acquisitions in the childs mind is sustained by the careful observance of a research method. In this methodological asset, free observations, performed in a natural context, are enclosed in a precise frame of setting and timing. The respect of these methodological rules allows us to follow the development of the processes on one side and makes the study of this single case comparable with other eventual similar research experiences on the other side. In this way the possibility to generalize the results is assured. A different theoretical approach and methodological asset is adopted in the paper by Joan Travers Simon (2010). According to the author the heuristic interpretative framework for her analysis is provided by an interdisciplinary approach drawing on cultural psychology and socio-cultural theory. From this theoretical perspective the author presents a rich empirical documentation including as primary data unsolicited texts written at home between the ages of 3-9 years, together with secondary data comprising conversational data, an unsystematic set of field notes and a research diary. This variety of empirical sources, typical of ethnographic research is usually employed in order to derive a comprehensive sketch of a complex phenomenon by integrating and comparing the different perspectives and life experiences of the members of a given community. The objects which emerge from this research process are therefore the datum of an entire collectivity, within the complexity of the symbolic interactions and sense attributions that constitute and maintain any social structure. In the Travers Simons paper, however, this variety of empirical sources, collected without any specific constraint of timing and setting, is employed in order to track the microgenesis of the developmental processes of a single individual. So the different sources typical of the

On the ideographic approach in the context of developmental psychology

ethnographic method appear in this case to be referring mainly to the point of view of the researcher, and are suitable to support her specific theoretical hypotheses. Being this the case, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to connect the final product of a given behaviour to the physical and relational context in which it has occurred. In the absence of a solid methodological frame, the nature of the data that are presented appears to be reabsorbed in the interpretation that the author provides about them. In other words, the hardiness of theory and of the model of the mind that is proposed by Travers Simon obscures in the end the heuristic value of the observations. In conclusion, we would like to point out that the contribution that the idiographic method can provide to developmental psychology is strictly bounded to the definition and observance of a rigorous and explicit methodological asset. It is just the definition and observance of a framework of timing and setting that allows to shed light through a micro-analytic approach, the developmental changes taking place along time. The same observance of methodological constraints supports the possibility to replicate the observations and to generalize the results to similar research assessments.

Battacchi M. W. (1988), Lidea di sviluppo [The idea of development]. In M. W. Battacchi & G. Giovannelli (Eds.), Psicologia dello sviluppo, Carocci, Roma. Battacchi M. W. (2006), La conoscenza psicologica: Il metodo, loggetto, la ricerca [Psychological Knowledge: The Method, the object, the research] , Carocci, Roma. Bronfenbrenner U. (1979), The Ecology of Human Development, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA). Broffenbrenner U. (1989), Ecological systems theory. In R. Vasta (ed.), Annals of child development, vol.VI: Six theories of child development, JAI Press, Greenwich (CONN). Cole M. (1992), Culture in Development. In M. Bornstein & M. Lamb (eds.), Developmental Psychology: An advanced texbook, erlbaum, Hillsdale, New York. Hutchins E. (1991), The social organization of distributed cognition. In L. A. Resnick, R. Levine & A. Behren (eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition, American Psychological Association, Washington. Lewin K. (1931), The conflict between Aristotelian and Galilean Modes of Thought in Contemporary Psychology. Journal of General Psychology, 5, 141-177. Reichenbach H. (1938), Experience and Prediction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Rodriguez, L.P. (2010) A case study of ontogeny: Understanding the cognitive development in infants In YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3. (pp. 139156) Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Rogoff B. (1990), Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context, Oxford University Press, New York. Rutter M. (1984), Continuities and Discontinuities in Socioemotional Development: Empirical and Conceptual Perspectives. In R.N. Emde, & R.J. Harmon (Eds.),

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Continuities and Discontinuities in Development, Plenum Press, New York. Travers Simon, J.B. (2010) This breathing house, whose doors go squeak, go bang or make no noise at all: towards a theory of mind. In YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3. (pp. 157-206) Firera & Liuzzo Publishing. Vigotskij L. S. (1960), Development of the higher psychical functions, APN, Moscow. Vygotskij L. S. (1978), Mind and Society, Harvard University press, Cambridge (MA) (Italian translation, Torino, Boringhieri,1980).

Franca Tani is full professor of Developmental Psychology in the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Florence. Shes also an associate member of the International Psychoanalytical Association by virtue of associate membership in the Italian Psychoanalytical Association; she is member of European Association for Research in Adolescence, member of the Italian Association of Psychology and of the Italian Association for the Children Mental Health. She participated in and coordinated several research programmes at a national and regional level (e.g., PRIN; MIUR founded by the Ministry of the University CNR by National Council for Researches- or by the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena). Her main research interests concern the development of social competence with particular reference to networks of close relationships across lifespan and to risk and protection factors in the inter-generational transmission. Rosapia Lauro-Grotto graduated in Theorethical Physics at Roma La Sapienza University in 1993 and has obtained a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience at the International School for Advanced Studies (I.S.A.S. S.I.S.S.A.) in Trieste on 1997. In 2009 she graduated in Psychology at University of Salento. She is actually Researcher at the Department of Psychology at Florence University. She has beeen for several years Responsible for the Methodological Training of the Ph.D. School of Psychology, Full Member of the Interdipartimental Center for Non Linear Systems and Complex Dynamics at Florence University an member of the Italian Society of Neuropsychology, the Italian Psychology Association and the Sandor Ferenczi Society. Her research interests have focused on the investigation of the function/structure relationship in modelling brain functions and in the assessment and simulation of neuropsychological syndromes. She has now moved to the domain of psychodynamics, where she performs both theoretical research and interventions with Heath Care professionals of different domains in Public Health Institutions.


section iv memories and narratives in context

rememBerinG aPParent BeHavior: a stUdY oF narrative mediation

Brady Wagoner *

The present experiment systematically investigates the role of narrative templates (Wertsch, 2002) in remembering. To stimulate the construction of a diversity of narratives I used Heider and Simmels (1944) celebrated apparent behavior film, in which geometric shapes moving around a screen are seen by subjects as agents involved in a kind of story. Which narratives are used, as well as the strength subjects used them with, is then compared with what subjects remember and how they remembered it. The relationship is not conceived causally (as if one variable determined or predicted another) but rather as constraints on an agents constructive potentials. My analysis involves attending to both general trends found across the sample, as well as the particularities of single cases, especially atypical cases. In other words, I use patterns found at the level of the sample to choose which subjects to attend to in the idiographic analysis. Generalization still moves from single case to general model and back to single case, but the movement is facilitated by analysis at the level of the sample as a whole. Cultural psychology has shown us how higher psychological functions are necessarily mediated by social tools or artifacts (Cole, 1996). For example, we control our remembering with the aid of concrete mediators (such as knots on a rope, photographs of family and home, daily planners, computers, etc.), as well as more general, abstract and imaginative mediators (such as social conventions and narrative schemas). In another experiment (Wagoner and Gillespie, in preparation) I found participants using the narrative templates of Hollywood ghost stories to help them understand and remember the foreign Native American story War of the Ghosts, made famous in Bartletts (1932) studies. In the present chapter, I follow up on this finding by systematically investigating how different narrative resources organize remembering in different directions. For example, how the use of a domestic conflict narrative template guides

* Aalborg University - Denmark


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the remembering of a number of ambiguous happenings differently from a playful teasing narrative template. To empirically explore this question I drawn on the methodological ideas outlined in my paper The experimental methodology of constructive Microgenesis (Wagoner, 2009): First, I argued that experiments should look at the (cultural) means by which subjects performed the experimental taskin other words, attending to the process rather than simply the product or outcome of the task. This requires an analysis of subjects novel constructions, which cannot be seen from coded and quantified data. Second, attempts to exorcise meaning from the laboratory have failed. There is no such thing as experiments in a vacuum (Tajfel, 1972) in psychology: Subjects arrive in the laboratory with a personal past, ideas about what a psychological experiment entails and cultural means of dealing with what they think they should be doing. Instead of trying to remove outside influences (such as social norms, beliefs and narratives) from the laboratory, we should develop ways of studying them in action. Third, rather than conceptualize a subjects responses as directly caused by the manipulation of some variable, we can reconceive them as the creative constructions of agents, and interpret them in relation to agents personal history and their participation with different social groups. Fourth, an analysis that moves between single cases and aggregates can overcome some of the limitations of each. In this analysis single cases are given primacy because an analysis of systemic functioning is only possible at the level of the single case. However, aggregate analysis can be fruitfully used to generate questions to look at in single cases, help identify which single cases to explore and provide additional resources for interpreting single cases. In the present chapter, I will focus especially on how to bring this fourth point into practice. Before getting into the details of present experiment, I will first briefly outline how narrative and remembering have previously been studied in psychology.

The narrative mediation of remembering

Research on the role played by narrative in remembering goes back to, at least, the social psychologist Frederic Bartlett (1932), who used whole narratives, among other meaningful material, in his experiments on remembering. He is most famous for showing the transformations that ensued in the Native American ghost story War of the Ghosts as it was repeatedly reproduced by Cambridge students. The story came to look more like an English story: canoes became boats, foreign names disappeared, the supernatural elements dropped out and the whole narrative structure was adapted to English conventionsin Bartletts (1932) words the folk-story was conventionalized. In contrast to storage theories of remembering which took memories to be discrete units inscribed on the mind/brain, Bartlett theorized that participants were guided by evolving generalizations of past experiencewhat he called schemata, organized settings or active developing patterns. Schemata were understood as holistic developing patterns used in the service of the present to help an organism act in its environment. Following Halbwachs (1925) notion of social frameworks of memory, Bartlett thought that

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

most human schemata developed out of participation in various social groups social groups, for example, have characteristic ways of constructing stories. Bartletts concept of schema was not taken up by the next generation of psychologists. It was not until the cognitive revolution of the 1970s that psychologists began to use the word schema again. But for the cognitive psychologists schema came to mean something quite different. For example, Mandler and Johnson (1977) utilize Bartletts story War of the Ghosts to show that elements of a story that do not fit into a story schema are omitted in later reproductions. Their concept of story schema differs from Bartletts version in two significant ways: first, story schemas are separated from action by locating them in the head, whereas Bartletts use of the concept situates it in the organism-environment interaction. Second, in contrast to Bartletts description of schemata as evolving cultural formations, Mandler and Johnsons (1977) story schemas are more abstract and considered to be the same for everyone in all cultures and historical time periods. This difference reflects competing conceptions of the discipline of psychology going back to its foundations (Farr, 1996): mind as an unchanging universal versus mind as interdependent with society and therefore varying among societies and historical time periods. This is not to say that there are not universals, such as remembering through narrative, but rather the cultural means (e.g. schemata) by which this is done will not be universal. This second conception of psychology has recently been revived in the sub-discipline of cultural psychology (Boesch, 1991; Bruner, 1990; Cole, 1996; Shweder and Sullivan, 1993; Valsiner, 2007; Wertsch, 1991). For Bruner (1990), and several other cultural psychologists, narrative is a social medium that carries folk-knowledge and transforms individual psyches. In one study, Bruner and Feldman (1995) interviewed members of three different theatre groups and found distinctive patterns in the narratives told for each groupfor example, actors belonging to a group with closed membership and common principles tended to use we in their narratives of their individual and the group history, whereas members of another group that emphasized personal growth tended to use I and they. Similarly, Wertsch (2002) distinguishes between specific narratives (involving particular people, places and events) and schematic narrative templates (from which particular narratives are constructed). He shows how Russian students accounts of world history are organized by schematic narrative templates, such as the story genre triumph-over-alien-forces, which is applied to events as different as the Second World War and the Civil War of 1918. Americans would use a very different schematic narrative template in order to construct specific narratives about the events of World War II. In short, schematic narrative templates are tools of mediation generated between and distributed among members of a social group, and as such will vary between social groups. Thus, as Halbwachs (1925) and Bartlett (1932) theorized much earlier, an individuals construction of the past is intimately related to the social groups to which he or she belongs and the resources these groups provide. Unlike Bartlett and cognitive psychologists, cultural psychologists, on the whole, have tended not to use experimental methods to explore how schematic narrative templates are used in remembering. One exception to this was a replication and extension of Bartletts experiment on the repeated reproduction of War of the Ghosts I conducted using pairs of participants remembering together in conversation (Wagoner and

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Gillespie, in preparation). In this experimental study I made the conjecture that participants were using schematic narrative templates developed from Hollywood Ghost Films to resolve ambiguities in the Native American folk-story: for example, why the main character did not feel sick when he was hit with an arrow, what he means when he says [the warriors] are ghosts and why the sudden ending he was dead. A number of well-known Hollywood movies (e.g. The Six Sense and The Others) both conclude with a surprise ending in which the main character recognizes that he or she is in fact a ghost. Without realizing it, three out of ten pairs of participants drew on narrative templates exemplified in these films in order to make the unfamiliar Native American story intelligible. In sum, more than eighty years after Bartlett conducted his experiments I found participants using very different cultural resources (e.g. Hollywood movies) to remember the story War of the Ghosts thus, illustrating the intimate link between the variability of mind and the varying tools of mediation. The present experiment systematically explores how the use of different schematic narrative templates guides the interpretation and remembering of the subjects who actively employ them. Agency, thus, here means that subjects cannot be treated as billiard balls moved in different directions as a result of influences purely outside of themselves, but, rather, they are themselves active centers of causality constructively moving towards their own future goals (Harr, 2002). The question becomes one of exploring the constraints on subjects constructive potentials. As such, in my analysis I will avoid direct causal claims such as this narrative resource leads to x and instead highlight the constructive role of subjects using these resources, as Bartlett and Vygotsky had done much earlier (see Wagoner, 2011). To experimentally trigger, access and analyze the use of schematic narrative templates I use Heider and Simmels (1944) apparent behavior film, which invites a number of different narrative constructions. In this way, I can compare the varieties of narrative resources employed to solve the task of narrating the film after a time delay, thus creating ambiguities in memory. This comparison will involve attending to a number of narrative dimensions, including their form, content and source. Through this analysis I will work towards a general model of how narrative is used in remembering and how it in turn shapes this process.


The present experiment employs Heider and Simmels (1944) now classic apparent behavior film. In the film two triangles and a circle move around the screen in relationship to each other, and to a rectangle, which opens on one side (see figure 1 below).1 The film was originally created to study which stimulus conditions are rel-

The original film can be watched at:


Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

evant in the production of phenomenal movement and of determining the influences of the surrounding field (p. 243). They found that the perception of animate (i.e. intentional) movement (which all their participants experienced) is organized around the attribution of the origin influences (p. 259). For example, we might perceive one shape either chasing or following another; in the first case the shape behind is the origin, while in the second case the first shape would be. It is around these causal centers that the whole field is structured. Figure 1. An image of the geometric shapes in Heider and Simmels (1944) apparent behavior film. T = big triangle. t = little triangle. c = circle.

What is left undiscussed in their theorizing, though so obvious in the presentation of their data, is the rich variety of narratives constructed by participants to make sense of the film. Little is said about how these narratives provide the structure upon which any attribution to the shapes can be made. That is, Heider and Simmel (1944) do not theorize the (sociocultural) frame through which an attribution becomes meaningful.2 For our purposes of exploring the role of narrative frames in remembering, the film provides an exceptional tool: (1) it has been shown to generate a diversity of narratives and (2) these mediating frames are likely to be fore-grounded in participants linguistic descriptions. This is the case because the task involves story telling (in whatever frame subjects see fit) rather than a reproduction of material in the same medium, as we see in Bartletts repeated reproduction experiments. In other words, the film must be described in language for the first time by the participant and there are no restrictions on what language can be used the object and events of the film can be referred to in any number of ways. Cross-modal remembering (Edwards and Middleton, 1987)that is, vision, touch or taste into languagesuch as this, is relatively rare in experimental research on memory, even though it is probably the most common kind of remembering in everyday life (cf. Bartletts method of description in Remembering).

Heider does explicitly explore this topic several years later in his classic book The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958).


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Participants were recruited by word of mouth and through a message sent out to the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences e-mail list at the University of Cambridge. Participants ages ranged from 16 37. Of the twenty participants in my sample fourteen were students at the university, two were young lecturers, two were students preparing to enter university and two were working in a non-academic environment. In the course of the experiment I had the chance to learn more about their background and interests through casual talk in-between stimulus presentation and recall. Rather than a bias this information was essential to interpreting participants reproductions. Bartlett (1932, p. 15) comments, If the experimentalist in psychology once recognizes that he remains to a great extent a clinician, he is forced to realize that the study of any well developed psychological function is possible only in the light of consideration of its history.

Each pair of participants3 was brought into the lab and seated at a table where it was explained to them that this was an experiment about what and how people remember. After obtaining their written consent, they were shown the Heider and Simmel (1944) film on a notebook computer. This was followed by a forty-five minute delay, in which they first filled out a demographic questionnaire, and then, for the remaining time, we discussed topics unrelated to the experiment. After the time had elapsed one of the participants was asked to leave the room for a few minutes. The remaining participant was then told to, Tell me what happened in the film in as much detail as possible. These instructions were deliberately minimal so as to leave open how the film would be narratively framed by participants and thus create a diversity of responses. Heider and Simmel (1944) used a similar question in the first condition of their experiment. Subjects narration of the story was video recorded.
The interview

Participants reproductions were followed by a short individual interview in which I asked them: (1) about their understanding of the film, (2) their experience of watching it and of narrating it, (3) its relationship to the meaningful narratives they produced, (4) their attributions of the shapes, (5) any other comments they had, and (6) about their personal history which might help me to understand their interpretation of the film. The questions were at first open, and then more focused if the participant left some relevant topic unanswered. Several additional questions were directed at probing their ability to elaborate a coherent narrative for the filmfor example, why did t do x. Once the interview with the first participant was completed, the second participant
3 A pair was used because I originally intended to test the two participants together after a week to explore how the two renderings were negotiated in conversation. This design was made unworkable by the fact that participants near universally discussed the film together upon leaving the experiment.


Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

was invited to re-enter and to do the same task, while the first waited outside. The informal interview as an integral part of the experiment was common in the pre-World War II era of experimentation (Wagoner, 2009), though it has largely been abandoned today (or perhaps replaced by a questionnaire). It provides a wealth of background knowledge about the participants personal history, interests and feelings during the experiment. As such, it is an essential resource for interpreting participants processes and productions (see also Moscovici, 2007). Here, participants personal history and character is used to help interpret participants reproductions, rather than exorcise them from the laboratory as Ebbinghaus (1885/1913) tried to do.
Results and analysis

Five interrelated analyses are carried out: First, I calculate which parts (discrete events) are remembered and which are forgotten. Second, I consider the different meaningful wholes (narratives) which participants brought forward in order to make sense of the film. Third, I move to the analysis of single cases in order to see how these parts and wholes are systemically related in the process of remembering. Fourth, I return to the sample as a whole to analyze how the strength of narrative framing effects how much is remembered and transformed. Fifth, I seek out individual cases that break this group trend and explore them idiographically.

What events were remembered and forgotten?

In the first analysis, the film was segmented into 24 events (see table 1). This was an expansion of Heider and Simmels (1944) original division into 12 events and their anthropomorphic descriptions of them. Every participants narration was then coded for included and excluded events. This technique of analysis has been common in memory research, at least, since it was used by Mandler and Johnson (1977) for the recall of stories. Any identifiable reference to the event was accepted, regardless of the narrative adopted. My aim was to capture, generally, the most and least salient events in the film, what was most remembered and forgotten, regardless of how the participants understood the film. Salient events (i.e., those that tended to be remembered) should help us identify which aspects of the film a narrative must be mapped unto, when participants break the norm (by not remembering an event most others did) and, finally, analyze what led to the atypical case. The distribution of remembered events approximates Ebbinghauss (1885/1913) serial position effect which predicts the likelihood of an item being remembered according to its position in a list (see figure 2). However, I will argue that this is only a partial explanation.4 Events 11 and 17 are in the middle of the sequence but are still remembered at a high frequency, whereas event 23, second to last in the sequence, is remembered by no one. The reason these events are included and excluded has more to do with their particular effect on the participant and how they are interpreted to relate to other events. To take an obvious example, to tell a coherent narrative, event 11 (c moves out of the house) must be included if there is an earlier event in which c goes into the house and a later event in which c leaves the frame. Similarly, events 22 and 24 are highly remembered because they suggest narrative closure, whereas event 23 does not.

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

An explanation for the high frequency with which event 17 is remembered is less obvious. My guess is that it stands out because of the emotion it evokes in participants. Other events, such as T and t fight (4) and T hits the walls of the house (24) were also emotional and highly remembered. To see these events as emotionally tense the participant must understand them as events in which the health of animate beings is at stake, whose future possibilities are threatened, whose desires might be thwarted. Thus, their inclusion can be interpreted as showing rudiments of a narrative, seeing the film as actions not simply as motions. Figure 2 . The Serial position effect first reported by Ebbinghaus (1885/1913). The percentage of nonsense syllables recalled is a function of their serial position in a list. Those at the beginning and end are remembered with the greatest frequency.

Much more of the film is omitted or forgotten in the reproduction than remembered. For example, it was rare to see participants commenting on the opening, closing or slamming of the door, probably because it was inessential to their narrative. As already mentioned the majority of the events in the middle of the film (event 7 to 21) are forgotten, and when they are remembered they are often placed in the wrong order. For example, several participants mention that T could not open the door but this event is followed by a different event to the one in the original, like T getting angry and breaking the house. In the third analysis (below) we will see that almost all major changes to the events occur in the middle of the sequence. In sum, events are not perceived in isolation; they come into a structured relationship with each other. It is to the different wholes that we must now turn, in order to see how they are put into relation with these parts (i.e., events).


Table 1. Events of the film described anthropologically for simplicity of presentation, and events remembered for each participant. (T = big triangle, t = little triangle and c = circle).
1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 s 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 w 0 0 2 2 8 s 0 1 0 1 0 0 10 s 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 10 w 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 5 w 1 3 0 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 9 s 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 8 s 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 3 n 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 5 n 3 2 0 5 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 w 1 1 1 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 10 w 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 11 s s 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 10 s 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 7 s 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 10 w 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 8 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 s 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 w 1 1 1 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 6 w 1 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 5 T 2 12 17 15 16 9 0 8 0 1 12 2 3 5 1 3 10 1 1 0 2 14 0 16

24 episodes in Heider Simmel film / participants

T closes door to the house

t and c appear and move near the door

T moves out of the house toward t

T and t fight: T wins.

During the fight c moves into the house

T moves into the house

And shuts the door

T chases c within house:

c moves toward the door


t opens the door


c moves out of the house


t and c close the door


T tries to open the door but does not succeed


t and c touch and circle each other


And move around the outside of the house


T opens door and comes outside the house


T chases t and c around the house


T looks inside the house


t and c hide behind the corner of the house


t and c move around the house


T moves around the house


t and c leave the field


T slams the door


T hits the wall of the house several times: the walls break

Total number of events remembered

Strong (s),Weak (w) or Non- (n) Narrative framing

Number of reordered events

Number of additions

Number of substitutions

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation


Total transformations

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

What narratives were used?

Like Heider and Simmel (1944), I found an incredible diversity of interpretations of the film. The multiplicity of frames found both inter- and intra-individually points to the polysemic nature of the material (i.e., it enters several meaning systems). Participants project and elaborate their own particular backgrounds and interests in order to interpret and remember the film, as Bartlett (1916, 1932) found participants doing in his experiments on imagining using inkblots. Two participants in the present experiment did not refer to the shapes as animate beings but we will put those cases aside for now, and will return to them later. The following is a list of frames used by participants in their narration and identified by them in the post-experiment interview: Table2. The different narrative frames used by subjects
Bullying [4 partecipants]4 Territory conflict [2 participants] Domestic conflict [2 participants] Fish in bowl Cichlids (fish) fighting over a female Gladiatorial games Lion and Christian fight Grumpy guy and playful kids Psychometric test used in job interviews Football strategy book Ping-pong Sheep trials Dogs in a pen Prison escape Magnetic field Tortilla chips and m&ms

The first three narrative frames (i.e. Bullying, territory conflict and domestic conflict) were understood by participants to encompass the entire film, which was not the case for the majority of those that followed. Participants would often fluctuate between two frames or see the first half in terms of one and then the second half as another; the film might be understood in terms of both narratives x and y. For example, one participant first saw the movements as being similar t a football strategy book and quickly abandoned that idea of fighting gladiators when T and t begin to hit each other. For many of the participants, narrative frames could be connected up to their life history. A territory conflict narrative was adopted by a participant highly involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict; the psychometric test was the invention of a participant who just had finished her PhD and had begun to look for employment; Sheep trials were a frequent and major event in the childhood of the participant who adopted this narrative; tortilla chips and m&ms was reported by a participant who had been enjoy-

I showed the Heider and Simmel film in a lecture I gave to A-level students and had them tell me what happened on paper an hour later. Interestingly, for this group the narrative of bullying was referenced independently by over a third of the students. In other words, the group was organized around particular activities and concerns to the extent that a common narrative frame emerged within the group.


Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

ing lunch (which included tortilla chips) just minutes before the experiment. Bartlett (1916, 1932), similarly, observed that his participants in experiments on imagination would, in like fashion, project their own interests and ideals onto an unstructured stimulus (i.e., inkblots) to give it form. This is not to say that there is a direct causal relationship between a persons life history and the narrative they adopt, nor are all narratives directly derived from personal experience: for example, one of the participants, who saw the film as a domestic conflict, commented after the experiment that she had had a happy upbringing and did not know why she would have interpreted the film as such. Narratives and imagery circulate within a social group in such a way that what is not directly experienced is still a part of our immediate environment and can be used to structure new experiences (Gillespie, 2007). We are constantly being transported to other worlds in imagination through the narratives found in television, movies, books, etc (Zittoun, 2006). The mass medias narratives are as much, or more, a part of our interpretive tools as the narratives we become direct actors in.

Single case analysis

To capture the systemic organization (i.e., the relationship between parts and wholes) of remembering we must analyze single cases. By staying close to the actual data we are (1) able to provide a detailed analysis of total organismic functioning, (2) we can attend to atypical cases, and (3) because of the extensive presentation of unprocessed data, others are able to scrutinize our analysis and offer alternative interpretations. This methodological strategy was the keystone of Bartletts (1932) methodology and was employed by many other researchers in the first half of the last century (e.g. Werner, Vygotsky, Luria, and Piaget). Rather than focusing on average cases, I picked the following six single cases for analysis in order to present the reader with the full spectrum of my sample in terms of how strongly remembering is framed by a narrative schema. By this I mean the degree to which subjects used a single narrative frame, with a coherent sequence of events spanning the entire film and consistent characterization of shapes, in their narration of the film and interview afterwardhow exactly this was determined will be covered in the next section. The following six cases represent, in order of appearance, strong, weak and non narrative framing.

Strong narrative framing

Our first example is a strongly framed, highly elaborated narrative: There was a line drawing of a room, with a door. And there was a large triangle inside the room. And then a smaller triangle and a circle came along the

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

outside. Ok, so at some point the large triangle [T] sort of nosed its way out the door. And I remember thinking as I was watching this interaction this could be read in two ways: either you could see the T coming out and being threatening towards the other two or perhaps T is feeling threatened by the approach of these other two. I wasnt sure. But the c and t acted really differently. c seemed to be more afraid and was moving away from T whereas t was very pointy and aggressive. They were being quite aggressive to each other. And there was quite a bit of moving about being pointy at each other. And, umm, at one point c ended up going inside the room. And it kind of, looked like it was sort of hanging around. I dont know if Im anthropomorphizing or what here. c seemed to be sort of watching what was going on and sneaking, trying to get to a safe place, and went to the room. But eventually T came back into the room. And c went straight to the corner trying to get as far away from T as possible. It was not going to confront the triangle like t was. And then t came in, I think. And there was more interaction between those two. No, before t came in, T at first seemed to have its attention focused still on t outside and then turned its attention to c, who was trying to get away from it, then t came in, I think. And then engaged T more. And then, everyone ended up outside. There was some chasing around the room. And, oh gosh how did it end up? Who ended up back in there? I cannot remember now after all this talking weve been doing whether T reclaimed its territory as it were. Or [pause] I cant remember how it ended. Participant 1 in table 1, whom I will call Dorothy, explicitly comments afterwards that she understood the film as a territory conflict. Her characterization relates directly to her past and present involvement in observing and facilitating interactions between Israelis and Palestinians. As with the Israel-Palestine conflict she is careful to recognize two possible interpretations of the events: either you could see T coming out and being threatening towards the other two or perhaps T is feeling threatened by the approach of these other two. Attribution of feeling threatened is dependent on the larger narrative adapted to the scene it is not observed directly in the movements of the shapes. Also, the scene can be re-interpreted so that attribution of feeling threatened is not warranted, as she herself notes in her narration. Only a few participants saw t as being aggressive. The majority thought that T was at fault for the conflict. However, the general organizing meaning territory leads this participant (and the others who adopted this narrative) to see t as being very pointy and aggressive. In conformity with her recognition of the two different perspectives, she then qualifies this statement by saying They were being quite aggressive to each other, which implies they are equally responsible for the conflict. A second conflict event between T and t is erroneously introduced into the story at the point where c and T are in the rectangle. Notice the language used here, t came in [] and then engaged T more. We have the sense that t is the causal center (Heider and Simmel, 1944) of the conflict in this narrative. When the shapes are moving around the room she does not say T was chasing them as most other participants do. Instead, the vaguer passive phrase, there was some chasing is used, which does not identify who was chasing who.

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

It is my conjecture that her narrative frame blocks her from remembering the final event of the film, where T breaks the sides of the rectangle, by leading her to believe the story should conclude with either T reclaim[ing] its territory or not. She asks herself, Who ended up back in there [the rectangle]? Thus, it is likely that she is unable to give it an ending because the raw material (i.e., where T breaks the rectangle) does not fit her strong narrative frame. Dorothys speech also contains two revealing abrupt shifts of perspective. First, she interjects in her narrative stream a self-reflection on telling the story anthropomorphically I dont know if Im anthropomorphizing or what here. This was an extremely common occurrence within the sample of participants. And like other participants, this one has the self-reflective moment and then continues to anthropomorphize as much as before. In the very next sentence she describes c as watching, sneaking and trying. This inability to avoid highly anthropomorphic language was typical of strong narrative framing, and can be seen in the next participant we will consider as well. The second case of an abrupt shift of perspective occurs when she suddenly exclaims no in reference to her previous statement. She responds to her own utterance as if it were the utterance of an interlocutor in a conversation that she disagrees with. Her new utterance helps her to add an event to the story before the one she says no to. Both of these instances of self-reflection suggest reconstructive remembering is occurring during the act of speaking. Speech is not simply a means of description; it has the power to shape the form and content of remembering (Halbwachs, 1925; Mead, 1934). The next participant, Rebecca (participant 5), framed the story in terms of a domestic conflict, though she does not elaborate on this in her narration of the events as Dorothy does for a territory conflict. Nonetheless, in both these cases a single general narrative seems to be structuring the organization of remembering Rebecca is capable of elaborating on her narrative in the interview after her narration. Rebeccas description is rather short but is exceptionally accurate compared to other participants. There were, it started with one big triangle inside the square, the door was open. He closed it; she closed it [laughs]. t and c came toward the box, and T came out and started pushing t around. Hmmm, it seemed kind of scared and kept running away. The small c backed into the house, the house, construction, and shut the door. And it sort of looked like it was hiding. And then T gave up on t and went inside and tried to pin the small c. The small c went away from it and went outside with t and they were chased around by T and they got away. Though short and unelaborated she still interprets the shapes with a rich, highly anthropomorphic language: c is scared and it was hiding, T gave up, T tries to pin small c, and T is explicitly gendered as male. And we see her, like Dorothy, selfreflect on this language at two points. First, in hearing herself say He in reference to T, she is stimulated to produce its opposite as a way of signaling her recognition of anthropomorphizing. The idea of T being a she produces laughter, because of its

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

purported incongruity with the character of T no participant thought of T as female. When I brought up this suggestion to other participants I got the same response of laughter, as when Rebecca suggested it to herself. Second, we see Rebecca spontaneously identifies the rectangle as a house, even though she called it a square in the beginning of her narration. She then retracts it with the vaguer term construction. In all, Rebecca seems to attempt to be neutral in her description but continues to get caught in her own meaning-making. This is typical of many participants; though they criticized or laughed at themselves for anthropomorphizing, they continued to do it just the same. Rebecca was also the only participant to remember that T closed the door in the beginning. My speculation for its inclusion here is that in describing the scene, as most participants begin by doing, she stumbles upon the door was open, which then stimulates her to recall the first event of the film. This is a case of self-stimulating remembering through speech, where ideas come to us in the flow of speaking. Similarly, Rebecca is not fully aware of the meaning of the use of He, in the above, until she says it. Hearing her own utterance stimulates a response to the unintended surplus of meaning (Gillespie, 2006) carried in the word He. Her utterance appears uncomfortably gendered, which she rectifies by calling it a she, but with a laugh. With both Dorothy and Rebecca, as well as with the others in the strong narrative framing classification, we find a coherent narrative structuring their experience and recollection of the film, a detailed and accurate memory for the events, well developed social relationships among the shapes, consistent characterization of shapes, and the use of highly anthropomorphic language, for which they self-reflect on at various points in their narration, but continue to use it nonetheless.

Weak narrative framing

The next participant, representing the weak narrative framing, reported having a rather different experience of the film, in which one part was particularly vivid in relation to a narrative but not so for the majority of the film. It was typical for participants in this classification to project powerful visual imagery on an event in the film, but the imagery did not extend throughout. For example, Cathy (participant 12) described seeing two fish in an aquarium at the point where T and t are fighting near the bottom corner of the rectangle: There was a house-like structure with two triangles and a circle in the picture. And hmmm, the the hmmm the triangles were trying to escape and I think they escaped together. And, ahhh, the ball went inside the house. And before that there was a bit of an altercation between the triangles. It looked like the bigger one was attacking the smaller one. So, hmmm, yeah, so c went inside the house. And there were a lot of movements. And at one point it looked like fish in the aquarium. And the bigger fish was attacking the smaller fish, down by the bottom of the house. And Im not sure what the ball was doing at that

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

point, but ah, I think it was inside the house. And then the triangles went back inside, through the top. And did some stuff in there [laughs]. Ah, it is impossible to do this without personifying everything. So, they went through the house, which is obviously the point. It looked like the ball came out of the house again, the triangle, one of the triangles followed the ball. And the T inside the house suddenly went mad and started breaking it down. And it was just breaking the structure apart at the end. And thats as much of a narrative I can impose, on a non-people situation. Cathys description is much patchier than the first two cases we explored. Afterwards, she comments that she saw the film as many sporadic dramas rather a single unified drama like the above participants. Events in the film stand out to her as meaningful but she struggles to bring them together. The relationship between the triangles goes from them being a part of the same group to being in an antagonistic relationship: At one point the triangles were trying to escape [] together and further down, the bigger one is attacking the smaller one. These two events seem completely unconnected. Vague statements like there were a lot of movements and [c] did some stuff in there break up continuity between events. The temporal movement of her description also jumps around as she attempts to place different events. She inserts an altercation between the triangles before the ball went inside the house only after remembering the latter. The patchy narratives affect the content of what is remembered. Cathy confabulates by reorganizing events and applying the same event (in the original) to two places in her reproduction. Her confabulation that [The triangles] escaped together is interesting in that some narrative of entrapment in the rectangle as indicated by the triangles went back inside and escape from it seems to be guiding the production of this idea. It comes up again later in her reproduction when she says, So, they went through the house, which is obviously the point.5 However, these narratives are never elaborated (in the reproduction or in the interview afterward), nor does she seem to use it to understand other events in the film. Notice also how Cathy utilizes the event of the triangles being inside in two places in her reproduction, and in both they seem to act as a group, in unison, even though they are said to fight later. This is left unexplained. The ending, in which T breaks the structure apart, is inserted after t and c leave the rectangle and T is still inside, whereas in the original this ending occurs when T is outside and presumably cant find t and c. Our next participant, Charles (participant 6), refers to the shapes with anthropomorphic terms, but does not fully develop a narrative which he applies to the entire film. Instead, several events in the middle of the film where the shapes appear to be in direct conflict with each other stand out as gladiators in a colosseum, though this

Ebbinghauss serial position effect can help explain why the first events of the film are so highly remembered. A purely narrative explanation of this is incomplete as well because while watching the earliest events of the film subjects have likely not discovered a narrative.


Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

is not applied readily to other portions of the film in his reproduction. Nonetheless, I had trouble classing this participant as offering a single narrative or many narratives. The end still seems to belong to the conflict situation that he has represented the film by. However, when pressed to elaborate his account he was unable to. So, there was two triangles and a dot. It started out with all three objects in a box and, I think so. Anyway, the bigger of the triangles was chasing around the smaller of the triangles. And, actually, they were all outside the box, and consequently c was able to because the other two were preoccupied with each other to go around them and into the box. Eventually, the bigger triangle got distracted by the dot and started chasing it around and corned it in one of the corners inside the box, sort of like a gladiator [pause], a lion. It sort of reminded me of a colosseum it was nice and round, Christendom lions and. Hmmm, anyway, somehow, somehow the dot got out of the box. I think it was because t came in the box and distracted the other triangle. Anyway, there was a lot of chasing around the box. And eventually, the dot and t manage to trap T inside the box. Then it got frustrated and destroyed the box after the other two had run off. Charles changes order of events so that t and c trap T inside box after they have been chased around the rectangle, not after c leaves the rectangle as in the original. Rarely is this event included at all in participants reproductions. The new plotting of the event must fit both what comes before and after in the narrative sequence. Charles is clear that t and c were being chased before a situation that could be remedied by trapping the chaser. His emplotment is also able to make sense of the event that occurs after the trapping: T gets frustrated by what happens to him and breaks the rectangle. As with Cathy, we also see in the middle of Charles narration the emergence of vivid imagery. Shapes suddenly appear to be like a gladiator and a lion. Cathy sees a bigger fish attacking a smaller fish. The attachment of strong visual imagery to particular events in the film was a relatively common occurrence among participants, especially in the weak narrative framing classification. In all cases it seemed to apply to only a portion of the film.

Non narrative framing

Federica (participant 11) used very little intentional language, though she still remembered five events of the film. Instead of understanding the film as a story, she made it meaningful through her training as an engineer. The shapes become meaningfully ordered as geometric forms in space, and not in their relationships with each other. However, this does retard her from remembering some of the more specific movements of the film as well as remembering the events in the original order. So there was a parallelogram and one of the edges was kind of a little door.

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

And so I think T fell from the top and then went into the parallelogram and sort of hovered around. And then you have two more shapes falling from the top, a small t and a c. And then they started falling a bit further down. And the door opened and T came out and t came in. And the triangle and the dot kept moving down towards the southeast corner of the screen. And there was lots of movement; they started moving back and forth. t inside the box was also moving. And then I think the sphere [c] went in. And, this could be completely wrong [laughs], and so the sphere went in and the door closed. And I think, then the triangle came out, the small one, and it got attached at the bottom of the parallelogram, the point facing east. And then it started moving up across that side. And then it came out. And then, sorry, the ball came out. And T got attached and started moving. And then the t and sphere started to disappear from the screen. And then T got into the parallelogram and started breaking the sides. And the parallelogram kind of decomposed and that was the end of it. Her reproduction is somewhat difficult to follow. The shapes do not form any meaningful social relationships together, except t and c seem to enter and leave the film together. This is the only participant that calls c a sphere, which has a more technical connotation than circle or even dot. Additionally, she is the most inconsistent about the name she gives it, using sphere, dot and ball at different times. The events are disjointed as well. They only make sense in terms of spatial relocation, e.g. t came in [t] came out. Movements in which there is no significant spatial relocation such as the fight between T and t, the cornering of c by T, and the reunion of t and c are seen by this participant as mere noise. There are no more refined categories for describing this change of place than simply movement or moving. Her multiple additions to the sequence of events are also worth noting. T fell from the top, T came out and t came in, the triangle came out, the small one, and it got attached at the bottom of the parallelogram. She has confused who is in the rectangle and at which times. Different events get completely mixed together. Consider the original in relation to the reorganized sequence in her reproduction:
Original T comes out T and t fight c goes in t is left at the bottom of the parallelogram T enters t opens the door c exits Reproduction T comes out t goes in T and c move to bottom of the screen c goes in t comes out t is at the bottom of the parallelogram c exits

The placement and movement of shapes have interest only in themselves, not in relation to other placements and movements. Without a narrative framework to guide her she is still able to remember many of the events but radically reorganizes them.

Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

The reorganization does not happen in the next case we will consider only because the participant does not remember enough of the film for this to occur. The last participant we will consider, Susan (participant 10), did not seem to impose any meaning on the film aside from the basic shape categories and non-intentional verbs, like collapse, whizzed and bashing. The one exception might be hitting each other used to describe t and cs reunion; however, even this categorization is referred to in simile and is unconnected to any other event in the film. As a result of not meaningfully framing the material, the shapes movements appear arbitrary and she is unable to recall much of the events therein. I dont remember very much of it. At the start I think there is a rectangle and the triangle sort of bashed into the rectangle and made part of the side collapse in. And sort of whizzed around. And then I really dont remember a lot of the middle of it. There must have been. Definitely, at some point another triangle and a circle and they were sort of bashing about, like hitting each other. And then I remember the very end when the triangle and circle kind of disappeared and the original triangle bashed around the rectangle and broke it into little pieces. What most participants describe as opening the door she describes as the triangle sort of bashed into the rectangle and made part of the side collapse in. Where most participants saw meaningful actions between intentional beings she saw whizzing and bashing. When most participants understood a reconciliation between t and c, she understood that they were sort of bashing about, like hitting each other. Susans comments after the film are revealing. She says, It is kind of difficult to remember because it is just shapes. There is like no interest to them. They are just shapes. So it was hard to remember because a lot of the movement was quite repetitive. Without coming to understand the film through narrative, metaphor or schemas one event is indistinguishable from the next, the sequence is random and the movements are without purpose. Her characterization of events is of the same actions happening throughout. A rectangle collapses and shapes bash about. There just seemed to be lots of shapes hitting each other generally. The rectangle, the size of it, seemed like it was collapsing in and out, back into shape, several times. But its not the most interesting image to remember. Again, without meaning there is no interest and no vivid imagery develops. Here is a case in which little effort after meaning (Bartlett, 1932) can be found, and consequently the object of memory is undifferentiated and unintegrated.

Strength of Narrative Framing

In running the experiment with the first few subjects I quickly discovered an influential factor at work in subjects remembering. It seemed that the stronger the narrative framing that is, the level of meaningful elaboration of the material given in order to

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

synthesize it into an integrated whole the more complete and accurate the reproduction would be. To further explore this relationship I began to classify participants as being strong, weak or non- narrative framing. The first step in classifying them was a judgment about their reproduction as a whole: if the whole film was consistently described by a single elaborated frame (e.g. as domestic conflict between mother, father and child) I preliminary placed them in the strong classification, while if they used multiple frames, they were classed as weak narrative framing. The two subjects who described the film in an almost entirely geotechnical language and who reported having not considered the shapes to be animate at any moment were classed non-narrative framing. These classifications were starting points to be tested in the interview phase of the experiment. The interview occurred immediately after the participants had narrated the story. They were first asked the open question, How did you interpret the film? Most subjects revealed in their answer that they saw the film through a single narrative, multiple narratives or not as narrative (i.e., as inanimate shapes). Those who did not were specifically asked to classify themselves into one of these three groups. I then asked them to elaborate on the meaning of the film as they saw it. A subject in the strong narrative framing class would be able to tell a story for the whole film with consistent characterization, developed relationships between shapes and with intelligible motivations for actions. For weak narrative framing subjects such integration of the film did not occur. Table 3. Frequency distributions of the number of events remembered (left) and number of transformations (right) for strong, weak and non-narrative framing.
strong 0-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-10 11 7 2 1 2 2 6 1 1 weak non 0 1 2 3 4 5 strong 5 4 1 weak 1 1 3 2 1 1 non 1

The classification of each participant can be found in table 1, along with the number of transformations to the film made in the reproduction and the total number of events remembered for each participant. Transformations refer to three kinds of changes introduced by participants in their reproductions: (1) the order of events is changed, (2) a shape is added or subtracted from an event, and (3) an event not in the original is added. Table 3 provides frequency distribution of the number of events remembered and number of transformations for the three classifications of narrative

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framing. We can see that those with strong narrative framing tend to remember slightly more events than those in the weak narrative framing classification (table on left). As to the number of transformations (table on right), only one participant (out of ten) who adopted a strong narrative frame had more than one transformation (the exception will be analyzed below) and in all but two cases the transformation was an addition of an event. The others reordered an event. None confused which characters belonged to which event. In the weak narrative framing classification two or more transformations were common. The non-narrative framing is difficult to compare with the other two because we only have two quite different participants to work with (i.e., Susan and Federica), both of whom were analyzed in depth above. Susan did not remember enough of the story to elaborate and transform her text, whereas Federica remembered almost as many events as the average participant in the weak narrative framing classification (i.e., 6 events), but transformed the text more than any other participant in my sample. By contrast, what seems to block the act of remembering for Susan (to say nothing of accuracy) is not the use of a particular narrative per se but the rejection of any narrative, meaning or interest. With Frederica, who is without a narrative guide, though not without a meaningful framework, the individual events suffer much transformation.

Analysis of atypical cases

As part of my methodological credo, I must attend to the atypical cases that do not entirely conform to the general trends and analysis seen in the last section. If we look back to table 1 we find individual cases that break the general rule of strong narrative framing = more events remembered and less transformation of events, when compared with weak narrative framing. In some cases less transformation of the story can be explained by the minimal length of a participants reproduction this can be inferred from the number of events remembered as was the case with Susan (participant 10). Still, three atypical cases remain. We have already seen above how Charles (participant 6) remembered ten events and transformed two. It was explained that he was on the border between the two classes, which would justify his scores. Two other cases still need to be further explored: Participant 2 and participant 13. Though neither would fit the alternative class particularly well either, it will strengthen my case to explain why they do not quite fit their classification.
An atypical case of strong narrative framing

Participant 2, Clarissa, in the strong narrative framing class, remembered eight events, which was only slightly less than the average number of events remembered within her classification (i.e., 9 events); however, she was the only participant in this class to transform three events. Let us look at her highly elaborated anthropomorphic narrative:

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

There was an angry triangle in a box. That hmmm opened the door to his box and had a look outside and found a little triangle and a circle, looked quite playful. And then he started, pointed his little triangular face at them. And they seemed quite alarmed and kind of being pushed away and then there, it seemed like they were tricking him a bit. Then the other triangle [T] opened the door to his hatch and snuck into his box and was in there for a while. And then, came back outside again. And in the mean time, the baby triangle had been pushing the circle around for a while. And at that point, I think, T went back into the box and came out again. There was a lot of movement and c went into the box. T followed him in. There seemed to be a lot of force at the point. So whenever T pointed its pointy face c kind of got displaced to a different corner of the box, in quite swift non-jagged movement. c left the box and T peered its head out and t and c disappeared off the scene. And then T seemed to get really angry and frustrated and smashed his box apart with his pointy face. Clarissas account has many of the features of a strong narrative framing. There is consistent characterization: She explains afterward that T was a grumpy quite old guy and the other two were young playful characters (It should also be noted that Clarissa was the only participant to refer to c as male). These characters get cast into a master narrative centering on the single conflict of the youth joking around and agitating the old (in the old mans territory). It is a kind of Denis the Menace (well known American cartoon) narrative, in which Denis is always causing trouble to Mr. Wilson, on his own property, while Mr. Wilson becomes increasingly angry and frustrated. The form of antagonism in this narrative is only surface deep Denis and Mr. Wilson are in reality quite attached. It is thus highly significant that Clarissa later comments, at the end when they [t and c] left the scene all together and T starting smashing his walls down. I thought that he was actually quite upset that theyd gone. I think he missed them, despite it all. We get the sense from Clarissas narrative that T wants to be left alone, whereas both t and c enjoy teasing him after they get over their initial alarm. T angrily pushes them away when they disturb his peace and quiet and once they are out of the way he returns to his own activities in his box, though he remains agitated. Thus we can explain many of her omissions: she says nothing about the fight between T and t outside the box (as nearly all the other participants do), nor anything about the chase between T and the smaller shapes (which over half of the participants mention something about). For her the conflict must be understood as arising from t and cs interference in Ts life and is settled as soon as T pushes them out of his space. For this reason she is clear in the interview that c was just as confrontational as t, which was a rare attribution among my sample. Now that we understand the form and logic of her narrative, how should we understand the transformations that occur in it? Clarissa includes two cases of T entering and then exiting his box alone. In the original this occurs only once after T has chased the other two shapes. Also in between these two events she inserts the baby triangle had

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been pushing c around for a while. It is hard to know what to make of this attribution of conflict Clarissa is the only participant to think of t as pushing c around here. My reading, based on her whole narrative framing, is that she interprets event 13 (t and cs reunion) as playful fighting and includes it at this early point. However, it could also be argued that the event was a mixing up of who had which roles in the fight between T and t. In any case, all three of these transformations fit her general narrative of T only being aggressive to a point t and c are also held responsible for causing trouble. Additionally, the transformations help her to avoid including events that would not easily fit her narrative frame, like Ts fighting with t at a distance from the house and c moving away from the conflict. In fact, she makes the transition out of her confabulation to the event where c enters the box with the very vague expression there was a lot of movement, as if to cover up the unknown event. Similarly, cs entering is interpreted as motivated not from fear (which is the common causal connection made by other participants), but is rather another form of jokingthat is, playing with Ts things. In sum, it appears that Clarissa both omits and transforms the film because she adheres too closely to her general narrative frame, which does not schematize the sequence of events as accurately as other narrative frames, such as bullying or a territory conflict.
An atypical case of weak narrative framing

Participant 13, Mike, is in several ways an atypical case: First, though classed as weak narrative framing he remembers ten events, though transformed two. Second, he claims in the interview to not have seen the shapes as meaningful actors yet in his narration we see unmistakable attributions such as chasing and vicious used several times. As I explained above, I still classed this participant in the weak narrative frame because he seemed to be using character attribution and was able to elaborate a coherent story when tested in the interview. So to start there was the large T and the rectangle which opened. T opened the part at the top right of the rectangle and it went in. It was moving, I think at the same time it was going in. The small t and c appear on the screen. And they were swirling about. And T came out of the rectangle and started bumping t. Around this time I think c goes into the rectangle, through the door. Hmmm, then the, oh yeah, and t goes in the rectangle, followed by T which is chasing it. Im not sure what happened. Hmmm, in which case, the, Im not sure where t is. But the c is in the rectangle and T goes, T and c are definitely in the rectangle. c when chased by T escapes. And then I think T is still in the rectangle. And c and t are outside. And they kind of bump into each other but it is not as vicious as the T and t interaction. Hmmm, then, I think I might of missed a bit, but then the, they then disappear off the screen and T leaves the rectangle going back to the original state. But then at one point it seems to go back into the rectangle through the door, which has been a consistent part of the play. But now the door of the rectangle is the only bit of the rectangle

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

that is movable. T seems to take apart the, or it bumps into the side of the rectangle, and the rectangle collapses or disintegrates. We see Mike fluctuating between non-descript narration and an anthropomorphic one; first, he talks about swirling and bumping which mere objects can do but then lapses into an intentional animate language of followed, chasing and escaped. Later, he clearly identifies the part of the rectangle that moves as a door. In the interview he comments, I was trying not to think of it as a story. I was trying to think of it as an interaction between inanimate objects an intention in which he in part fails. It appears that the participant is trying to save face by avoiding what he perceives to be the experimenter tricking him into seeing the film as something it was not. Mike was involved in a social psychology course at the time where he came in contact with experiments where participants were deceived by experimenters. Thus, this becomes a kind of framing resource for him in completing the task. It is difficult to say what kind of narrative Mike might have had in mind while he watched and while he remembered the film. As such I cannot fully explain this particular case within the general model I have developed above.

Narrative type and strength in relation to material

I have highlighted two different dimensions of narrative frames their strength and type (e.g. a domestic conflict). Narrative as a mediator transforms experience of some material in the direction of a well-structured temporal sequence, with consistent characterization (e.g. stable descriptions of the agents and object), developed relationships between agents and with intelligible motivations for actions. The degree to which this is done has been called strength of narrative framing. Participants in the strong narrative framing category tended to reproduce more events of the film overall and transform less of the film. However, we should be careful about using this finding to make inferences about single cases, where variables are not isolated from the whole. By analyzing atypical cases, we find that what seems to be a general trend for the classification only holds true for certain (typically used) narrative types which fit the content of the film. Strong narrative framers, such as Clarissa (above), employ a narrative frame that more easily lead to transformations in remembering the events of the film. Thus, these two properties of narratives as mediators of remembering (i.e., strength and type), as well as the material they are put to work on, must be considered together, as an integrated whole, when assessing their effect. Any one of these factors in isolation of the others cannot reliably predict the direction in which remembering will unfold. This is because particular narratives can reveal and conceal happenings, transform and stabilize our experiences, constrain and enable our remembering depending on when and where they are used.

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In short, different narrative types are schematized (Werner and Kaplan, 1963) to different material in qualitatively different ways (i.e., differing degrees of strength). Changing any one of these components will simultaneously change the functioning of the others. With regard to material, random movements between the shapes (e.g. see Oldmeadow and Wagoner, under review), rather than Heider and Simmels well structured sequence of events, would likely be less effectively remembered using strong narrative meditation. We would expect the random material to be highly transformed in reproductions in order to give them what the Gestalt psychologists called good form.
The agentic construction of narratives

Narratives, like speech, are always partially used and partially invented, partially borrowed and partially constructed anew. They are borrowed in the sense of being made out of existing social meanings, tools and conventions. It was often possible to trace narrative frames back to the social groups the participants belonged to (e.g. the sheep trail and territory conflict narratives) or social activities they had recently participated in (e.g. the psychometric testing frame). Also, in a separate run of this experiment on a group of school children, I found a much more persistent use of a single narrative framebullying. This group was more homogeneous and organized around more set activities than my adult sample. The relationship between the social group and the narrative frame used is not, however, a directly causal one: it is still only through individual agency that narratives become mediators of remembering. Cultural resources are actively used and shaped according to ones commitment to a given task; narratives are appropriated by individuals with a history and personal interests to solve a problem in a concrete situationin this case, to make ambiguous happenings meaningful in order to remember them. Vygotsky and Leontievs famous experiment on mediated memory parallels this experimental setup (see Wagoner, 2009). In their experiment children were instructed to remember a list of words, too many words for them to recall with the natural memory alone. However, in one condition of the experiment they also provided children with picture cards, which they could give meaning to in order to stimulate their memory for the target word later on. Vygotskys (1987) idiographic analysis of this data revealed that children constructed narratives to link target words with pictures, which they then used to remember the target words later on when given the picture. In the present experiment, subjects gave a narrative meaning to the film in order to remember the sequence of events later on. Like Vygotskys analysis, understanding which narrative was used can explain transformations occurring at recallfor example, one child in Vygotsky and Leontievs experiment formed the narrative they shot the lion in order to remember to shoot with the help of a picture of a lion; however, the child remembered gun instead (p. 182). Similarly, it is likely that Dorthy (participant 1) is blocked from remembering how the film ended, by her constructed narrative, because of its incongruence with the ending, even though the vast majority of subjects (i.e., 16 out of 20) clearly remembered this event.


Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

Distinguishing narrative mediators

I have already discussed narrative mediators along the dimensions of type and strength but there are other dimensions which have received less explicit treatment. Participants draw upon a wide range of cultural resources to make the film meaningful. Some participants employed narrative templates from the social groups to which the participant belonged, such as bullying among the school children or territory conflict for participant involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Others drew on narratives from entertainment media like the gladiatorial games, a prison escape or grumpy guy and playful kids. The participant who saw the film as being like a psychometric test used in job interviews was having to do these tests during the time period in which the experiment was conducted. Finally, some narratives were developed from particular objects such as the tortilla chips and m&ms eaten by one participant just before the experiment. The different source domains probably have different time-spans. Narratives that could be traced back to participants upbringing (e.g. sheep trials) were probably deeply embedded in participants thinking, whereas others might disappear once the participant moves on to another phase in their life (e.g. the psychometric test used in job interviews), while others, still, would probably be totally situation specific (e.g. tortilla chips and m&ms). Unfortunately, with only one reproduction I am unable to develop this idea any further here.
Linguistic categorization and physical transformation

Subjects tended to see shapes as having similar physical characteristics when the shapes were attributed as having the same goals. In contrast, shapes that were understood to be in conflict with one another were seen as being physically different. Of the three dynamic shapes one is big, two are small, two are triangles and one is a circle. The small triangles group membership is thus physically ambiguous. From this perspective we can understand why no subject saw the c and T as belonging together, yet a few did understand T and t to be in the same group, acting toward the same end. In the majority of cases, however, t and c were seen as one social group (i.e., acting together with the same interests) and T as another antagonistic social group (i.e., with different interests). It is interesting to note that c is often referred to as little c or small c, even though there is no need to distinguish c from the other two shapes; instead, the added adjective works to group c and t together, to emphasize their sameness and minimize difference (as well as to emphasizes cs inefficacy). Tajfel (1959) long ago noted peoples tendency to exaggerate in-group similarities and out-group dissimilarities. We are seeing a much simplified case of this here. Before this grouping can be done, subjects must establish a narrative in which such a grouping makes sense. When this condition is not met, the grouping of shapes does not occur. Similarly, when actions and/or the dispositions of the shapes were said to be aggressive, certain physical characteristics would stand out to accord with this categorization. When T was understood as being aggressive, it was simultaneously understood to be pointy, though if T was not seen in this way, no such characterization was given.

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Similarly, t was the same shape as T but didnt become pointy until t was deemed partially responsible for the conflict, as was the case for participant 1, who was involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and who saw the film as being about a conflict over territory. In sum, narratives have the effect of changing the basic appearance of the shapes in accordance with the meaning given to them by the narrative.

Mediation by visual imagery

We already have some indication of how narrative and linguistic categories transform subjects visual imagery of the shapes. One subject commented that events stick out when you think in metaphors. The metaphor/linguistic category imposes itself on our perception; it does not seem to be chosen in any deliberate sense. The same subject goes on to describe how she saw and remembered the event in which T breaks the house: its just the lines breaking but you see the whole thing fall down. Its in 2-D but you almost see it in 3-D. This subject has implicitly linked this event to the strongly framed narrative of bullying, and to T being aggressive and violent. The parts are thus formed out of the whole (i.e. strong narrative frame). This provides evidence for clear links between mediation by narrative and by visualization (see also Wagoner, in preparation). On the other hand, visual imagery often remained relatively self-contained for subjects who did not have a general organizing narrative. This frequently occurred for the fighting between T and t, which almost everyone remembered. A description of this scene was usually accompanied by gestures, in which subjects brought their thumb and figures together on both hands and proceeded to move the pointed ends together with quick rhythmic movements. McNeil (1996) argues that gestures are a window onto the subjects subjective visual imagery. This would imply here that something about the scene catches the imagistic imagination and begs the subject to provide an elaborated meaning. Imagery does seem to work closely with narrative and categorization but is not exhausted by this relationship. Attending to gesture enables us to analyze imagery outside of linguistic categorization. All subjects gestured at several points in their description of the video. The majority gestured continuously throughout. It is interesting to note that the gestures create imagery from the vantage point of the subject, as if they were watching the film a second time, not from the perspective of someone facing them. For example, in laying out the setting, subjects often put the house on their left and the door on their right when gesturing in space. If the gestures were to serve a communicative function we would have expected to see the opposite. Less frequently, subjects would elaborate imagery with their fingers pointing to spaces on the table in front of them, but still these images were upside down from the point of view of the camera and researcher. When narrating a social drama that we observed from an outside perspective, we often put ourselves in the perspective of a participant in the drama. Using cartoons

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

McNeil (1996) has uncovered much first person gesturing in the narration of observed events. In my research using written stories I have found the same (Wagoner, in preparation). For example, when in conversation about The War of the Ghosts one subject bent forward in her chair as she said, I sort of remember them crouching down. In this way she actually becomes an active participant in the events of the story. With the Heider and Simmel (1944) film as stimulus, this imagistic transposition of perspective seemed not to occur. Even at points were the subject could communicate pushing in the film from a first person perspective, they always gestured as if it were on a screen in front of them. One major difference between the two experiments is that subjects reading War of the Ghost had to construct their own visual images out of a story that was read, whereas here the subjects watch actions unfolding and must construct a narrative to make them coherent. But this does not completely explain the non-existence of first person imageryMcNeil (1996) found subjects gesturing from the perspective of a cartoon character when narrating what happened in the cartoon. Thus, the shapes in the Heider and Simmel (1944) film are animate beings for most of the subjects, but possibly not quite animate enough for subjects to embody them in imagination.
Cross-modal remembering

Cross-modal remembering is the most frequent mode of remembering in everyday life (Edwards and Middleton, 1987). However, most memory experiments require only single-modal remembering. Bartlett (1932) is an exception: his method of description was a cross-modal method. Likewise, in the present experiment participants were required to remember a visual stimulus verbally. Participants in the present experiment remembered much less of the stimulus material, when compared to my earlier strictly verbal experiment using War of the Ghosts (Wagoner, in preparation). On average individuals participants remembered more than 30 out of 42 units of War of the Ghosts, while participants in this experiment remembered only 7 out of 24. That is 71.4% versus 29.1% respectively. Of course, this is only a very rough comparison between two experiments which are not alike but it can give us a general impression of the information lost as the films visual material is schematized into a linear narrative form that can then be communicated. In the case of a written story events are already segmented and we know exactly what should be included in our reproduction. In the film things are more ambiguous; it is up to the subjects to impose an order on events and decide which are worthy of being included in their narrative account.
Some methodological reflections

In this experiment, data has been collected through both a controlled experimental procedure and semi-flexible interview. Furthermore, both aggregate and single case analyses were employed to analyze the data. Only by using these multiple sources of data and analysis was I able to arrive at an understanding of narrative that captures several dimensions of complexity. For example, if I had left out the interview, it would

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have been impossible to confidently identify weak and strong narrative framing as well as connect narrative frames to participants life outside the laboratory. Or if I had only attended to aggregate data, the differences found between the number of events remembered and transformed for weak and strong narrative framing would be misleading. Understanding the reason for these differences required analyzing single cases (in particular atypical cases), where the systemic relationship between type, strength and the material could be seen. Moreover, single case analysis enabled the analysis to move beyond experiments in a vacuum (Tajfel, 1972), to begin to conceptualize the ways in which participants everyday lives and ways of thinking become operative within the context of an experiment. Thus, a flexible interpretive process moves between levels of analysis and sources of data, in order to synthesize these different findings into a general theoretical model.

Conclusion: the many dimensions of narrative and methodology

This experiment set out to explore the relationship between narrative resources and their operation in remembering, using an analytic strategy that works between single case and aggregate analysis. All of the participants reported some kind of narrative understanding of the film, excepting the two analyzed above, though for many, narratives related to specific pieces of the film and not the film in its entirety. An effective narrative allowed participants to make useful connections between events and agents, which could be drawn upon in their recall of the film. However, as we saw above, narratives can misdirect as well as faithfully direct remembering, exclude as well as include, they constrain us as well as enable. A number of systemically related factors (e.g. narrative frame and strength) were identified as conditions for remembering, forgetting and transforming the events of the film. I say systemically related because these factors cannot be considered apart from one another or the material on which they work. By attending to atypical cases (e.g. Clarissa), we see that it is not just a matter of strong and weak narrative framing, but also which narrative frame is used. A strong domestic conflict narrative frame does not tend to produce transformations, nor as many omissions for this film. This frame seems to map onto the sequence of events directly, whereas Clarissas playful teasing narrative frame can be used but requires a more active spinning of the frame to the sequence of events to make it work, which results in a number of transformations. Thus, this study helps us to understand these different characteristics of narrative frames as mediators and how they are related in remembering. A brief methodological note before closing: this experiment brought together the standard American analysis of itemized and aggregated data with the European pre-WWII focus on single cases and holistic psychological functioning (see Toomela, 2007; Wagoner, 2010). My analysis began at the aggregate level by first looking at what events (i.e., parts) tended to be remembered and forgotten by subjects. Second, I outlined the diversity of narrative frames (i.e., wholes) used to understand and

Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation

remember Heider and Simmels (1944) film. Third, I explored how narrative frames (i.e., wholes) were related to events remembered and transformed (i.e., parts), as well as to subjects history, through a systemic analysis of a diverse set of single cases. Fourth, I returned to the level of the sample as a whole to explore general trends of remembering for strong, weak or non-narrative framing. Fifth, the last analysis was used to identify atypical cases in the sample, which were then explored idiographically. Using this analytic movement, we can better account both for trends found at the level of the sample as a whole, as well as single cases. Analysis of the sample as a whole can provide questions and resources by which to approach single cases. Single case analysis can in turn show how parts are systematically relatedthus, it can provide concrete instances and explanations for the abstractions of aggregate analysis. In sum, generalization still moves from single cases to a general model, but this movement can be facilitated by an analysis at the level of the sample as a whole.

I would like to thank Julian Oldmeadow, Jaan Valsiner and Sergio Salvatore for their constructive comments on earlier drafts of this chapter, as well as the Gates Cambridge Trust who financed me at the time this research was conducted and written up.

Bartlett, F.C. (1916). An experimental study of some problems of perceiving and imagining. British Journal of Psychology 8, 222-266. Bartlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Boesch, E. (1991). Symbolic Action Theory and Cultural Psychology. Berlin: Springer, Verlag. Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of Meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bruner, J. & Feldman, C. F. (1996). Group narrative as a cultural context of autobiography. In D.C. Rubin (Ed.) Remembering Our Past: Studies in Autobiographical Memory (pp. 291-317). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cole, M. (1996). Cultural Psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Edwards, D. & Middleton, D. (1987). Conversation and Remembering: Bartlett Revisited. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 1, 77-92. Gillespie, A. (2006). Becoming Other: Social interaction to self-reflection. Greenwich, Information Age Publishers. Halbwachs, M. (1925). Les cadres sociaux de la mmoire. Paris: Alcan. Harr, R. (2002). Cognitive Science: A philosophical introduction. London: Sage. Heider, F. (1958). The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations. New York: Wiley.

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Heider, F., and Simmel, M. (1944). An experimental study of apparent behavior. American Journal of Psychology 57, 243-259. Farr, R. (1996). The Roots of Modern Social Psychology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Ebbinghaus, H. (1885/1913). Memory: A contribution to experimental psychology. New York, Dover. Edwards, D. & Middleton, D. (1987). Conversation and Remembering: Bartlett Revisited. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 1, 77-92. Mandler, J. M., and Johnson, N.S. (1977). Rememberance of things parsed: Story structure and recall. Cognitive Psychology 9, 111-151. McNeill, D. (1996). Hand and Mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: University of Chicago. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, Self and Society: from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist. Chicago, University of Chicago. Moscovici, S. (2007). Experiments and experience: An intermediate step between Sherif and Asch. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 23(3), 253-268. Oldmeadow, J. A. & Wagoner, B. (under review). Stereotypes and the perception of apparent behaviour. Social Psychology. Shweder, R. A. & Sullivan, M. A. (1993). Cultural psychology: who needs it? Annual Review of Psychology, 44, 497523. Tajfel, H. (1959). Quantitative judgments in social perception. British Journal of Psychology, 50, 16-29. Tajfel, H. (1972) Experiments in a vacuum. In: J. Israel & H. Tajfel (eds.), The Context of Social Psychology: A critical assessment (pp. 69-121). London: Academic Press. Toomela, A. (2007). Culture of Science: Strange History of the Methodological Thinking in Psychology. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science 41, 6-20. Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in Minds and Societies: Foundations of Cultural Psychology. New Delhi: Sage. Vygotsky, L. S. (1987) The Development of Mnemonic and Mnemotechnical Functions. Collected Works, Vol. 4 The History of the Development of Higher Mental Functions. New York: Plenum. Wagoner, B. (2009). The Experimental Methodology of Constructive Microgenesis. In: J. Valsiner, P. Molenaar, N. Chaudhary, and M. Lyra (Eds.). Handbook of Dynamic Process Methodology in the Social and Developmental Sciences. New York: Springer. Toronto: Captus Press Wagoner, B. (2011). Meaning construction in remembering: a synthesis of Bartlett and Vygotsky. In J. Stenner, J. Cromby, P. Motzkau, J. Yen (Eds). Encompassing theorethical psychology: east/western/south/north. Toronto: Captus Press. Wagoner, B. (2010). Remembering Methodology: Experimenting with Bartlett. In: A. Toomela & J. Valsiner (Eds.), Methodological Thinking in Psychology: 60 Years Gone Astray? Charlotte, N.C.: Information Age Publishers. Wagoner, B. & Gillespie, A. (in preparation). Social and psychological processes mediating remembering: A contemporary extension of Bartletts repeated reproduction experiment. British Journal of Social Psychology. Werner, H. & Kaplan, B. (1963). Symbol Formation. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Wertsch, J. (1991). Voices of Mind: A Sociocultural Approach to Mediated Action. Cam250

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bridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wertsch, J. (2002). Voices of Collective Remembering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zittoun, T. (2006). Transitions: Development through symbolic resources. Greenwich, Information Age Publishers.

Brady Wagoner completed his Ph.D. at University of Cambridge, with the support of the Gates Cambridge Trust, and is now associate professor of psychology at Aalborg University, Denmark. His interests include the history and philosophy of psychology, cultural psychology, constructive memory, existentialism, pragmatism and the absurd pursuit of mountain summits. He is on the editorial board of Culture & Psychology, Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, International Journal for Dialogical Science) and is co-founding editor of Psychology & Society [accessed at:]. Additionally, he is a co-creator of the Sir Frederic Bartlett Internet Archive [accessed at: www.] and has recently published Symbolic Transformation: The Mind in Movement through Culture and Society (Routledge).


tHe constrUction oF tHe moraL seLF in aUtoBioGraPHicaL memorY: BeinG an ordinarY man WitHin tHe exPerience oF dictatorsHiP in arGentina
Lucas M. Bietti*

Not only are antisocial individuals who do not feel empathy, guilt or remorse able to commit horrible and deeply immoral acts towards others, but normal individuals with a well-developed sense of morality are also able to commit such acts. Furthermore, many people are able to justify (at least to some extent) their immoral or offensive acts towards others, and by doing so they sustain a view of themselves as morally good people. Admitting to oneself that one is a bad person constitutes damage to the self-concept that is too hard to bear and the perpetrator therefore looks incessantly for alternative paths to resolve this internal inconsistency. The aim of this paper is to empirically investigate how a state of cognitive dissonance is overcome in real world-settings. This will be done by analyzing an open-ended interview conducted in March 2008 with an ordinary man born in 1940. The interview was about his memories of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina. The construction of the moral self is closely associated with a positive self-representation. This representation is sustained by a coherent autobiographical memory. It is created in accordance with a cognitive representation of the context that controls the ways of representing oneself in relation to the environment.

On March 24th, 1976, a military coup took place in Argentina. The military dictatorship immediately released an ultimatum: if military or civil police witnessed any suspicious or subversive activity they should follow the shoot to kill policy. Some
* Pompeu Fabra University.


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30,000 activists were kidnapped and murdered during the military junta dictatorship which ruled Argentina from 1976-1983. The military junta leaders set out to eliminate communism and install a new political order and economic model in Argentina. It had a clear target: of the 30,000 people who disappeared, 80% were workers. The 1976-1983 military dictatorship ushered in unimaginable methods of terror. For example, drugging dissidents and dropping them from planes into the Atlantic Ocean in vuelos de la muerte death flights (Verbitsky, 1995), using picana electric prods on the genitals of men and women who were taken to clandestine detention centers (Duhalde, 1999). Several mechanisms of moral disengagement were utilized by the media, politicians, companies and ordinary people in order to justify the extreme violence committed by the military regime, or at least to say that what was occurring (such as people disappearing), was not their business. Antisocial individuals with brain impairments, thus unable to feel empathy, guilt or remorse, are not the only ones able to commit horrible and deeply immoral acts towards others. Normal individuals with a well-developed sense of morality are also able to commit such acts (Staub, 1999; Welzer, 2005). Furthermore, many people are able to justify (at least to some extent) their immoral or offensive acts towards others, and by doing so they sustain a view of themselves as morally good people (Bandura, 1999, 2002). Evil actions (Zimbardo, 2007) can be defined by means of three criteria: (1) extreme actions that go beyond normal limits of the social and cultural context in which they occur, (2) underlying intentions of reducing the victims quality of life; and (3) when committing the act the perpetrator feels no empathy. The concept of evil covers a wide spectrum of different actions. It covers in different degrees, everything from a perpetrator who tortures victims, to passive bystanders who fail to intervene either because we didnt know what was going on, or they were arrested because they were mixed up in something. Even though the underlying motives may differ, the different kinds of evil actions have common features due to the fact that the actions are often committed by ordinary people who, under different circumstances, are considerate, emphatic and concerned about doing the morally right thing (Zimbrado, 2007). This raises an important question: how is it possible to commit evil, immoral acts and at the same time uphold the belief that your acts are morally acceptable? This question will be guiding the paper. It will enable us to understand the way in which the moral self is constructed in an interview situation.

Moral self disengagement

The theory of moral disengagement (Bandura, 1999, 2002) deals with the question of how normal people, who are morally oriented most of the time, are capable of committing offensive and dehumanizing acts. This is possible through moral disengagement, defined as a cognitive rationalization of the immoral acts that make them seem as if in accordance with the persons moral principles. By using the cognitive strategy of moral disengagement, you get the opportunity to commit the evil and immoral strategy, and at the same time, sustain the impression of upholding your moral standards.

The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory

Moral disengagement is not to be seen as a personality trait but as a kind of coping strategy arising from the interaction between a person focused on maintaining an acceptable moral self before others and a given situation. Moral disengagement takes place through one or more of four different disengagement loci (Bandura, 1999, 2002): (1) moral justification of the immoral act, e.g. it seems to serve higher moral purposes; (2) neglecting and rejecting your personal responsibility; (3) neglecting and rejecting the negative consequences of the immoral act; and (4) neglecting or rejecting the victim. Moral justification of immoral acts: The cognitive reconstruction of the evil/immoral act is the most effective kind of moral disengagement (Bandura, 1999). This is due to the fact that by legitimizing the act one not only makes an unacceptable act acceptable, one also goes a step further and turns the previous immoral and selfcondemning acts into a source of positive self-evaluation. The term moral justification means a cognitive reconstruction of the act, so that it is interpreted as serving a purpose that is in accord with socially and morally acceptable norms. Utilitarian thinking often plays a role in the moral justification: one acts contrary to moral standards, but one does it for a greater good. An illustration of moral justification is a police officer who justifies torturing an alleged terrorist, adducing that the ultimate goal of the immoral act is to obtain information in order to prevent potential terrorist attacks. Other strategies of justification rest upon highlighting the comparative advantages of the immoral acts in relation to the consequences of actions carried out by others, which are categorized as more harmful. For instance, a passive bystander may argue that his lack of intervention is much less harmful than the immoral act itself. Neglecting and rejecting personal responsibility: The rejection of responsibility is another disengagement mechanism (Bandura, 1999). The perpetrator argues either that the act is committed without the intention to harm the victim or that the circumstances or others have forced the perpetrator to commit the acts. The perpetrator uses a perception of himself as externally controlled and, therefore, without personal responsibility for his immoral acts (Sykes & Matza, 1957; Bandura, 1999). Social-psychological research (Milgram, 1974), as well as historical events such as the Holocaust (Tsang, 2002), show us many examples of how people commit harmful and violent acts because authorities wanted them to do so. We may also find cases in which the person responsible for committing immoral acts feels as if he were a little part of a larger group. Hence, he perceives that his acts do not have major consequences and, in the end, he is not really hurting anybody. A clear example is the person who does not care about the environment because no one else does. Neglecting the negative consequences of immoral acts: The question of whether one has done something wrong is transformed into a question of whether someone has been directly harmed by his/her acts. An everyday realization of this disengagement locus is the car thief who argues that there will be no harm done on the grounds that the owner of the stolen car will be able to obtain a new vehicle because his car is ensured. Bandura (1999) claims that if people are not confronted with the suffering of their victims, their willingness to commit immoral acts will increase.

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Neglecting the victim: The perpetrator argues that it is the victim own fault that he is subjected to the evil acts. By considering himself as some kind of avenger and claiming that the rough treatment is the victims own fault, feelings of guilt are replaced by feelings of doing something right or necessary. In cases of domestic violence, a mother may legitimate her violent actions towards her son arguing that he deserved it because he received a low grade at school. Likewise, strategies of dehumanization are usually employed by perpetrators to morally disengage with their victims. The strategies of dehumanization consist of a progressive process of degradation which ends by removing the victims rights and personal features, and any kind of characteristic which could provoke empathy with other human beings on the part of the perpetrator. Torture and killing are often legitimized through dehumanization, e.g. in genocides and wars (Tsang, 2002). These strategies of disengagement take place in social interactions, mainly in and by discourses. However, if the moral self is constructed and performed in life stories or self-narratives, what would happen if there was an underlying intention to hide the self in order to avoid negative evaluations from a real or imagined audience? If it was unlikely to find self-narratives displaying the real moral self? And if there were no indexes of moral responsibility realizing agency? In short, would it be possible to find a moral self emptied out of autobiographical memories? The ultimate goal of a life story is to construct a coherent positive self-representation (Linde, 1993), but what would happen if the only way to do that were to invent a fictional self? And what would it mean? In what follows, I will try to answer some of these questions.

Autobiographical memory and self-narratives

Before explaining the functional nature of autobiographical memory, it is important to define what semantic memory is, because these two intertwined memorysystems are the basis for the production of self-narratives. According to Tulving and Schacter (1990), semantic memory is the part of memory systems which is able to perceive, encode, store, and retrieve socially generalized knowledge and which does not involve memory of a specific event in which the self has direct experience. This type of knowledge includes socially shared beliefs, such as attitudes, ideologies, etc. For instance, I know that during the 1976-1983 dictatorship in Argentina, a former general junta leader defined the desparecidos missing people as non-existent entities, who are neither dead nor alive. Throughout the last 25 years, I have been exposed to multiple representations of such horrifying statements in textbooks, films, the media, videos on youtube, etc. Due to the strong influence exerted by hundreds of films about Holocaust, the Second World War, and the Vietnam War, I also know what the differences between war and genocide are. That is why I am able to understand what distinguishes the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and D-Day in Normandy as historical events. In a few words, extensive exposure to these historical events has significantly contributed towards shaping cultural models (Kronenfeld, 2008) of wars and genocides. Hence, even though I was a distant spectator, I would be able to categorize new experiences, such as the events in Rwanda in the early 90s, as genocide, and not as war, due to the influence

The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory

of these cultural models. It should be borne in mind that these cultural models are continually being shaped and re-shaped by the experiences we have during our life-times. Having explained what is understood by semantic memory and roughly defined it as socially shared knowledge about the world, it is time to have a closer look at role of autobiographical memory in the construction of the self in narratives. Autobiographical memories guarantee the ability to maintain both a coherent awareness of ones self over time and a consistent feeling of identity (Welzer, 2008). They also function to structure the shareable life story of a people. Thus, they not only define social identity, linking individual past experiences to a past shared by a community, but also sustain a network of personal aims over the life-span (Conway & Pleydell-Pearce, 2000). Autobiographical memory plays a key role in social interactions (Pasupathi 2003; Pasupathi et al., 2006). People usually use their past experiences in order to begin and establish new human relationships, talking about their past to show who they are and to accomplish their goals. Autobiographical memories are also utilized to create a feeling of connection and intimacy with partners. Autobiographical memory is a functional system that integrates in a goal-oriented fashion different kinds of memory (procedural, priming, perceptual, semantic and episodic memory) from the long-term memory systems (Markowitsch & Welzer, 2005; Markowitsch, 2008). Autobiographical memories, that is to say, memories related to the self as well as memories linked to its mappings onto future events, depend on the current mental state of the individual. In other words, they depend on emotional states shaped by mood, motivation, perceived environmental circumstances in terms of cultural models, and so on (Damasio, 1999). Emotions always reflect themselves in relation to one-self and they come into play at the time of evaluating the subjects position vis-vis the social environment (Damasio, 1999). This is why the same individual may remember one specific autobiographical experience in a different manner depending on whether s/he is feeling fear, sadness, anger, guilt, hope, etc. at the time of recalling. Narrative schemata (Schmidt, 2008) are the most natural cultural resources for constructing autobiographical narratives. These schemata should be thought of as by-products of cultural mental models. That is why semantic and autobiographical memory-systems are so intertwined in self-narratives, creating an action-oriented socio-cultural self. Narratives are verbal elaborations based on conscious remembrance. However, the relation between autobiographical memories and self-narratives is not so simple. A life story schema (Bluck & Habermas, 2000) operates at a mental level as the interface between autobiographical memories and narratives by ordering the life story in temporal, causal and thematic coherence in accordance with a cultural concept of biography. The self-narratives emerging from the life story schema depends on social agreement (Bruner, 2002; Nelson, 2003) because they are closely related to what others think of us, which means our credibility as tellers (Labov, 1997). Bruner (2002) claims that the self made in narratives must fulfil the needs of social interaction. That is to say, we employ self-narratives as a way of positioning ourselves (Bamberg, 1997; Harr & Davis, 1990) within our environment. The social self is based on a coherent, consistent and acceptable flexible life story (Linde, 1993) that organizes it historically in meaningful ways. Coherence seems not only a social demand but also an internal psychological demand, because human be257

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ings need to maintain a consistent feeling of identity. This social self would be the kind of person the speaker claims to be in narratives. But it should be borne in mind that the social self always emerges in complex processes of negotiation and cooperation with a real or imagined audience and it is discursively realized.

The self in discourse

Contextualized self-making needs to be thought of as a discursive act (Harr & Gillett, 1994). Why are discourses so important to understand who we are and pretend to be before others? Discourses establish a link between textual networks, cognitive networks and social networks. Discourses are (verbal) realizations of the relations between social networks and textual networks. However, these relations are mediated by social cognition (van Dijk, 2008). According to van Dijk (2008) social cognition is understood as the socially shared knowledge and ideologies which are materialized in discourses after going through an intermediate level which is constituted by cultural models (Kronenfeld, 2008) and, particularly, context models. Cultural models provide action plans for how to behave or how to interpret the behaviour of others in some given situation (Kronenfeld, 2008, p 69). They function by organizing prior knowledge, ideologies, and emotional evaluations, and by aiding the understanding of new information. That is to say, peoples prior knowledge, ideology, and emotional evaluations about some particular domain is organized in memory in coherent networks that influence what one sees and remembers, and how one interprets reality. Cultural Models can be inter-culturally differentiated between different social groups, and even between different individuals from the same community. However, they have to adjust or negotiate in order to ensure the desired degree of mutual interpretability and interactive reciprocity (Kronenfeld, 2008, p. 70). In self-narratives we make an attempt to represent ourselves as worthy group members with high moral standards. That is why our self-positioning in social interactions plays a central role. By positioning I refer to the social and emotional stances that individuals take in relation to real or imagined others (Bamberg, 1997; Davis & Harr, 1990). We must display a good self which needs to be perceived as good by a real or imagined audience. The selection of the first person in singular form (in English, but also in Spanish) makes evident the commitment and involvement of the teller, which depends on his mental representation of the communicative interaction. It constitutes a clear act of self-positioning before a real or imagined audience. One of the functions of the first person is taking responsibility by a speaker for what he or she says and to what extent he or she is committed by the saying of it (Harr & Gillett, 1994, p. 137). The use of the first person also implies the creation of moral individuality. If I said last year I saw John beating his wife, I would be committed to demonstrate that what I said is true. But if someone proved that I am mistaken, I would probably experience a feeling of insecurity. This example reveals to us the importance of the usage of the first person with regard to creating responsibility and individuality before others. I also make the claim that I am actually doing something accusing John for beating his wife- (Austin, 1962; Harr & Gillett, 1994). This is far more than a simple description of a past experience;

The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory

it is a goal-oriented performance that positions me in the moral world. Nevertheless, as we are normally members of social groups, in many cases the first person singular becomes plural facilitating the emergence of collective agency (e.g. how couples construct self-narratives is an everyday life example of collective agency usually manifested in WE forms). Now, what connects our autobiographical memories, our life story schema, in coherent self-narratives accordingly to the situation? According to van Dijk (2008), context models are the missing link in the whole picture. They control how speakers accommodate their utterances in the communicative situation. Context models are like other cultural models employed to conceptualize experiences in terms of actions, actors, and events (Kronenfeld, 2008), but they are specifically for verbal interaction. Nevertheless, the way in which the speaker communicates is not previously determined by the situation. Instead, the speaker utilizes subjective context models when acting on the situation, making an interpretation of it. Context models not only work with information perceived, encoded, stored, and retrieved by episodic memory, but also with socially shared knowledge and ideologies. For this reason, as with cultural models in general, context models can also express their ideological bias when becoming discursively realized. Considering that the mode of representation of the participants does not only include relevant aspects of their own communicative situation, but also relevant aspects of the different social spaces (groups, organizations and institutions) they belong to (van Dijk, 2008), context models are, therefore, the interface between the society, the situation, the interaction and the discourse (van Dijk, 2008). Finally, context models would be constituted by the interplay of the following categories: setting, participants, actions, goals, ideology and knowledge. Here there is a brief description of their main components: Setting: When? Where? (The time and place in which the communicate event takes place) Participants: Who? To whom? (The speaker(s), listener(s), immediate audience, roles, positioning, and relations between participants) Actions: What is the speaker(s) doing? (Commemorating the victims, blaming the perpetrators, etc.) Goals: What is the speaker(s) trying to achieve? (Positive self-representation, etc.) Ideologies: What are the personal beliefs, opinions, and attitudes of the speaker or listener in a communicative interaction? (War against subversion vs. State Terrorism) Knowledge: What are the beliefs shared by the speaker or listener in a communicative interaction? These beliefs are usually accepted, implied or presupposed in the interaction -not challenged-. (Military dictatorship, Falklands War, political violence, missing people, etc.) These elements may vary depending on their relevance for the communicative interaction. In short, context models sustain a coherent and consistent self-positioning in real-world settings and are the key to understanding how autobiographical memories and a life story schema are interconnected and realized in self-narratives.


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Interviewing Paco: an ordinary man

My interviewee is a retired high ranking police officer from the Province of Buenos Aires Police. He was a police officer for more than 25 years, from 1971 to 1996. In order to protect the identity of the participant, he agreed to choose the pseudonym Paco (1940) to be used during the entire interview session. I have known Paco since 1992 but we have never had a close relationship. In February 2008, I was conducting focus groups in Buenos Aires as part of my doctoral project about the discursive reconstruction and uses of collective memory in Argentina. I invited Paco to participate in one of the groups, but he did not respond to either my telephone calls or emails. A few days later, he called me inviting me to come to his house in downtown Buenos Aires. He had agreed to give me an interview. As soon as I arrived at his place, he provided the reasons for not attending the focus group session; he would not feel safe participating in a focus group in an unknown place with people he did not know beforehand. Before starting with the interview he said that he would define himself as a retired surgeon. The interview session had two parts. In the first one, I showed him five images relating to the military dictatorship. In the second part, I presented five historical dates linked to Argentinean history. I asked Paco to do the following: to discuss the historical dates and images and to make an attempt to incorporate his own personal experiences in this discussion. The interview was recorded with an audio device Olympus Voice Recorder VN-2100PC. It was transcribed in its entirely, both orthographically and verbatim. Contextual notes, such as important gestures and other nonverbal behaviours were reported. Taking into account the present political context in Argentina (e.g. repealing of amnesty laws which opens the door for the prosecution of former junta officials; implementation of March 24th as public national holiday and named El Da de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia The Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice, etc.), Pacos working experience as a police officer during the military dictatorship was as sensitive issue. I was aware that the use of a digital recorder could be threatening to him because his voice may be identifiable. It should be borne in mind that the transcription of the data must be considered more as kind of data-construction and not as mere process of data-representation. That is why the subjectivity of the researcher (identity, knowledge, ideology, etc.) must be thought of a key component in the process of transcription. The interview followed some of the features of the ethnographic interview in order to satisfy ecological validity: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. make the interview situation familiar/comfortable for the interviewee; conduct the interview in his/her space; act like a real person, not as a researcher; do not consult a written list of questions; try to approximate ordinary conversation; show interest; let the interviewee show/tell you what is important and then ask him/her about that.


The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory

This approach tries to give a fuller picture of the participants everyday linguistic and cultural practices (Briggs, 1986), where the self-making is constructed and performed meaningfully. Now, how can Paco create a fictional self in accordance with his self-definition as a surgeon? What are the discursive strategies employed to build such self-representation? Can that fictional self be maintained throughout the communicative interaction? And finally, what are the acts that he performs while unfolding his fictional self?

Context model: a general description

To begin with the analysis, I will briefly present a general description of the context model of Pacos interview. It should be borne in mind that context models are continually reshaping throughout the verbal interaction depending on the speakers specific goals and positionings. Nevertheless, we can find some general and global features that maintain relatively constant during the communicative interaction. They operate to sustain and connect autobiographical memories, a life story schema and discourse in a coherent and consistent fashion. These general features form the (macro) context model that constitutes the basis for more local and dynamic context model


Moral Self-decentering
In order not to undermine his fictional self-representation as a surgeon, Paco could have been uncooperative by simply not following the conventional rules which govern an interview. That is, he could either play the role of the interviewer (asking instead of responding to questions) or simply contribute much less or much more than required

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by his role as an interviewee. However, as we will notice this was not the case. In the chart below, we will see that Pacos interactional turns represent more than 87.1% of the total words (3,951) of the interview. Figure 1. Distribution of interactional turns: focus groups and interviews



Paco 87%

Interviews 89%

Focus groups 92%

Interactional turns

The chart displays the same distributional patterns found in five interviews and six focus groups which I conducted for my doctoral project using the same methodology. What these figures in chart 1 show is that Paco did follow the conventional rules of a communicative interaction focused on his autobiographical experiences. Nevertheless, a closer look at the frequency of personal pronouns in the singular and plural forms he employed will shed more light on the way in which he constructs his fictional self. As mentioned above, the decision to include plural forms was based on the fact that in many cases, individuals tend to represent themselves as members of groups, which may facilitate the emergence of forms of collective responsibility. The pragmatic reasons for incorporating forms in the 2nd and 3rd person rest upon the fact that speakers normally tend to mitigate their agency by not merely using forms in the first person, which would automatically confer responsibility for their utterances. Figure 2 displays the distribution of personal pronouns in the singular and plural forms in Pacos interactional turns.


The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory

Figure 2. Distribution of personal pronouns: Participants born between 1935 and 1955









1st person 75% 35%

2nd person 8% 29%

3rd person 17% 36%

6 participants (1935-1955) Paco (1940)

Compared to the other participants who were born between 1935 and 1955, the distribution of personal pronouns in Pacos interactional turns empirically displays the process of decentering i)1st personal pronouns (35%); ii) 2nd personal pronouns (29%); and iii) 3rd personal pronouns (36%). The figures show one striking finding: agency seems distributed instead of centered in the first person, as occurs in the interviews and focus groups I conducted which were focused on self-narratives. The distribution of agency could be thought of as a discursive strategy which is more frequent in cases in which the self is de-centered. That is, the linguistic choices the speaker made among forms in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person could be meaningful in terms of responsibility in the moral world (e.g. I stole your wallet vs. He stole your wallet). Moreover, they are always sustained by a subjective mental representation of the context. This context model includes a real and imagined audience who are in a position to evaluate the speakers positioning in the moral world. Hence, the emergence of the moral self is deeply interpersonal and based on social agreement. If others thought that I was a former perpetrator, for example, I would feel obliged to provide convincing arguments to support my self-positioning as a person with high moral standards. A less centered self-construction may be an operative discursive strategy to avoid interpersonal processes of moral self undermining. The selection of linguistic resources to portray the moral self not only includes personal pronouns, as usually occurs in analyses of self-descriptions, due to grammati263

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cal and pragmatic reasons. First, in contrast to English, in Spanish the singular form yo [I] is not required grammatically because the agency is marked in verbal morphology (e.g. Trabaj (1st person singular) para la polica I worked for the police) Hence, the analysis must include verbal forms as well. A description of the moral self (at least in Spanish) would be incomplete if we only focused on personal pronouns. We also need to include a distribution of verbal forms in the whole picture. Figure 3. Distribution of verbal forms: Participants born between 1935 and 1955









1st person 28% 23%

2nd person 5% 5%

3rd person 67% 69%

6 participants (1935-1955) Paco (1940)

According to the figures, verbal forms do not follow the trend displayed by the use of personal pronouns. The distribution of the verbal forms follows the same pattern found in other participants born between 1935 and 1955. Hence, the figures show that even in Spanish there is not a clear correlation between the distribution of personal pronouns and verbal forms. That is, according to our sample, the distribution of verbal forms may not be considered as a discursive strategy focused on reinforcing a decentered self-representation.
Moral self-disengagement

In what follows I will introduce some examples which shed some light on the way in which Paco discursively constructs his moral self embedded in the experience of

The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory

dictatorship. The examples are useful to illustrate how Paco represents himself within the dictatorship in cognitive and emotional terms. These mental representations are based on his mental models employed to conceptualize the actions, actors and events that form part of the mental time-frame dictatorship. Moral justification of the immoral act 1. Ac se est juzgando a todos los militares que trabajaron en una lucha que hubo una guerra como en Tucumn en los montes [Here they are judging all the military men that participated in a fight we had, in a war, like in Tucuman, in the woodlands] 2. Hubo una guerra (.6) entonces le echan toda la culpa a la Escuela de Mecnica de la Armada [There was a war then they put all the blame on the Navy Mechanics School] 3. Uno puede estar de acuerdo que (.) iban a atacar a los militares [One can agree that they were going to attack the army] 4. Hubo metidas de pata de un lado metidas de pata del otro (.) no te se va a discutir (.3) fue una guerra [People made mistakes on one side, mistakes on the other thats not arguable it was a war] 5. En el 76 es cuando se terminan los quilombos (.) 77 puede durar por ah [Trouble ended in 1976 (.) maybe lasted until 1977] Throughout the entire interview, Paco provides some arguments conceptualizing the period of dictatorship as a war. He employs a war-cultural mental model to frame the traumatic experience. The use of impersonal verbal forms such as in examples 1 and 2 hubo there was dilutes the responsibility for the origin of the war. This existential verb form (Halliday, 1985; Hernndez Diaz, 2006) turns the dictatorship into an event that just happens, like an accident or natural disaster, without referring to the actors or actions involved. The definition of the social episode as a war by means of the use of the verb to be in the 3rd person further reinforces the previous conceptualization. The war-cultural model also implies the following socially shared knowledge: symmetry between agents engaged in the battle. A war-cultural model also functions creating a cognitive frame in the real or imaged audience in which atrocities can be expected. Cultural knowledge of wars makes human rights violations not an exceptional issue which could undermine the war-cultural model (4). This shared knowledge forms part of the context model (Knowledge: WAR RULES). Verbal forms in the 3rd person puede estar de acuerdo one can agree, mitigate the involvement of the speakers at the time of presenting and evaluating actions. However, the evaluation is a clear discursive realization of the war-cultural model. Violence is justified because it is a key component of the war-model. Finally, example 5 displays a clear association between the beginning of the dictatorship and the end of sociopolitical instability. But still, there are no agents involved. The way of presenting the dictatorship as a war, along with the military as a patient iban a atacar a los militares they were going to attack the army instead of as agent, played a central role at the time of representing the actors and actions involved in the experience of dictatorship. This positioning is sustained by shared knowledge

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(DICTATORSHIP, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, WAR RULES, TRIALS AGAINST PERPETRATORS, etc.) and a deep underlying ideological component (POLARIZATIONS BETWEEN US ordinary people AND THEM terrorists human rights organizations). Both, knowledge and ideology, are central components of the (macro) context model. Neglecting and rejecting your personal responsibility 1. Lucas: en el tiempo, cul te parece que vendra primero, cul te parece que vendra despus? [in time, which ones (images) do you think come first and which do you think come after?] Paco: Yo he visto (.) ledo en los diarios en la televisin que tiraban una bomba en una plaza para matar un polica y caa gente que no tena nada que ver [Ive seen read in the newspapers, on television, that they put a bomb in a park to kill a policeman, and people that had nothing to do with anything died]. 2. Lucas: ahora volvamos ac (.) te acords dnde estabas ese da? Si estabas en la plaza [Now lets go back there, do you remember where you were that day? If you were at the park] Paco: No no no no no (.) haba salido a hacer guardia [No no no no no I was out on guard] 3. Lucas: Ah (.4) est bien (.) trabajando [Uh huh OK workin] Paco: Nada que ver [Nothing to do with it] Lucas: es cuando, es cuando gan Pern las elecciones (.) cuando volvi [its when Peron won the elections (.) when he returned] Paco: gracias por hacrmelo acordar [thanks for reminding of me this] Lucas: s s s [yeah yeah yeah] Paco: Porque yo de la poltica no vivo (.3) vivo de mi profesin (.) viva ahora que no trabajo ms no corto ms a nadie no opero ms a nadie (.2) vivo de mi jubilacin y a la mierda [Because I dont make a living from politics, I live from my profession, I lived now I dont work anymore I dont cut anyone anymore I dont operate on anyone anymore, I live on retirement and fuck it] 4. Lucas: por qu haba mucho caos (.) por esto por lo otro? [Why was there so much chaos because of this or that?] Paco: no no no en la poca de los milicos (.4) yo me acuerdo que era chico, que iba al colegio (.) eee (.7) ya era grande (.4) ya me haba recibido trabajaba ganaba bien [No no no, at the time of the military government I remember I was a kid, I was in school uuh I was grown up, I was graduated, I was making good money]. Example 1 shows a mediated construction of the self as knower. There is no first hand knowledge. Micro interactions 2 and 4 illustrate the problems that generate the construction of a fictional self. In micro interaction 2, my question requires an answer incorporating a personal experience due to the force of a basic principle of cooperation in human communication. The repetition of denial, no no no no no, along with the negative reinforcement nada que ver nothing to do with it displays a clear attempt to support the fictional self. Hacer guardia to be on guard/to be on guard duty is a verbal

The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory

construction employed not only by doctors, but also by policemen to refer to a once a week long-shift at work that could last up to 24 hours. Its ambiguity in the interview situation rests upon the fact that I knew that Paco was a retired police officer and not a retired surgeon. After listening to his response I was surprised because the use of that form seemed contradictory to me. My surprise is realized by a long pause. During my four second silence, Paco noticed that something was going wrong with my interpretation process, therefore he winked at me to make clear that he was lying. But he was not lying to me; he was lying to an imagined audience that could negatively evaluate his past. This imagined audience forms part of his subjective mental context model. After this meaning clarification, I decided to cooperate with him est bien (.) trabajando uh huh OK workin. Then, to rule out any kind of ambiguity concerning the meaning of hacer guardia he added nada que ver nothing to do with it. However, someone could ask nada que ver with what? Its implicit meaning is given by inferential processes grounded in shared knowledge of the dictatorship (HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, MARCH 24TH 1976 COUP DETAT). What nada que ver really means was that he was not involved in the events. The micro interaction in 2 is a striking example in which the construction of a fictional self becomes troubled. In micro interaction 3, Paco shapes his fictional self as a retired surgeon by employing the first person in singular form yo along with 1st person verbal forms in present and past tense. The use of the pronominal form yo is not grammatically required in Spanish. Speakers tend to omit its use unless expressively seeking to stress their agency. Pacos fictional professional life story enables him to neglect moral responsibility in accordance with his goals (TO MAINTAIN A DE-CENTERED SELF REPRESENTATION). Finally, in micro interaction 4, we notice another example in which the fictional self is troubled. Contradictions era chico I was a kid, era grande I was grown up, iba al colegio I was in school and trabajaba, ganaba bien I was graduate, I was making good money and long pauses and doubts, make salient Pacos insecurity, reflecting the problem of synchronizing a life story schema with the fictional self-making. Neglecting and rejecting the negative consequences of the immoral act 1. De la Escuela de Mecnica de la Armada no te puedo decir nada (.) se dicen mil cosas distintas (.) que hubo desaparecidos que hubo que se mat ah y dems y (.3) de eso nadie puede decir nada [I cant tell you anything about the Navy Mechanics School, people say a thousand different things, that people disappeared there, that there were killings there and the rest, nobody can say anything about that] 2. Hay muchas madres que tienen los hijos vivos (.7) y otras estn desaparecidos que no se sabe [There are many mothers who have their children alive, others disappeared, no news about them] 3. Example 1 shows Pacos positioning in relation to the School of Navy Mechanics (ESMA); the largest detention and torture center during the military regime. The discussion was triggered by the presentation of the next visual stimulus:


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Figure 2. School of Navy Mechanics (ESMA). Between 1976 and 1983 more than 5,000 people were tortured and killed at the ESMA Lucas Bietti 2008

In example 1, Pacos de-centered moral self is discursively realized by distancing himself from the public debate concerning the role of the ESMA during the period of dictatorship. The use of the negative form of a verb of possibility in the first person portrays Paco as a voiceless agent. In terms of modality, the choice of the verb of possibility poder to be able to could lead us to think that either he does not know what happened at the ESMA (dynamic modality) or that he knows but cannot say much about that (deontic modalilty). According to Palmer (2001), dynamic modality refers to cases in which the conditioning factors are internal (Paco does not know what happened at the ESMA), whereas deontic modality refers to cases in which the conditioning factors are external (Paco knows but may not say much about it). The former seems highly unlikely. This example shows us the way in which Paco minimizes what he knows about the ESMA. Paco frames the traumatic past from the present in ideological terms, avoiding to mention the negative consequences of the immoral acts carried out by perpetrators. Paco employs pronouns in the 3rd person se dice people say and existential verbs hubo there were to mitigate the responsibility of the Armed Forces for the disappearances and mass killings. There are no actors involved neither in the disappearances (X makes Y disappear) nor in the killings (X kills Y). Since the return of democracy in 1983, Pacos ideological framing about the negative consequences of the dictatorship has been largely refuted by the Nunca Ms report (1984) and the trial (1985) of those senior ranking officers of the army and the navy who were in power from 1976 to 1983. Pacos conceptualization of actions and actors are based on highly ideologized mental models not taking into account todays shared knowledge about the dictatorship. In example 2, the use of an existential verb in the present tense hay there are rules out any kind of personal engagement with the belief. This highly controversial self-positioning cannot be expressed by means of an epistemic modalizer (Channell,

The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory

1994) such as creo I think, me parece it seems to me, etc. In short, what Paco is saying is that the truth is p, not that he believes that p happened. Then, an adjective muchas many along with a pronoun otras others are employed to quantify the mothers of the missing people. The implicit meaning emerging from the combination of both forms is that they refer to all the mothers. What is more significant is that if some children are alive and others have disappeared, and we do not know about their destiny, there are no killings. In the moral order, there would be no crime to be responsible for. Another striking feature of example 2 is the reference to the topos of the uncertainty as an argument to back up the self-positioning. Neglecting or rejecting the victim 1. Uno como padre tiene que saber en qu en qu anda su hijo (.) dnde va y con y qu amistades tiene [As a parent, one should know what your children are involved in, where they go and what friends they have] 2. Hubo tiroteos y que estaban (.) moran gente de ambos lados y quedaban criaturas (.) y los vecinos decan enfrente vive la abuela y la abuela no lo quera aceptar al hijo (.) y ahora estn con las las abuelas de plaza mayo recuperando hijos y haciendo procesos a la gente despus de 30 aos (.3) lo que pas [There were shootings and there were, people from both sides who died and children were orphaned, and the neighbors would say the grandmother lives across the street and the grandmother didnt want to take the child , and now they are trying to get the children back with the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and suing people 30 years after what happened] 3. Tena los papeles en orden y a la mierda no me jodan meteran en cana al que estaba en la joda (.) no s [I had my papers in order and fuck it. They couldnt fuck with me, maybe they could put those who were part of the mess in jail, I dont know] In 1 Paco creates a moral frame that acts to support his positive self-representation and sustain the polarization between himself and the victims. The use of uno one along with verbs in the 3rd person is aimed to construct a moral order; parents who do not know X, Y, Z of their children are bad parents for not fulfilling the basic requirements of their role according to our cultural models of parenthood (Knowledge: TO BE A GOOD PARENT/PARENTHOOD). Uno one and verbs in 3rd person are employed to create a parent-prototype (all parents to be parents must know X, Y, Z) that does not fit with the mothers of those who disappeared. Pacos evaluation of the victims, survivors but mainly relatives of the disappeared, rests upon ideological polarizations (POLARIZATIONS BETWEEN US ordinary people AND THEM terrorists human rights organizations). The mothers and grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo are the largest and most powerful human rights organizations in the current Argentinean context. Polarizations are based on his subjective context model.

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Examples 1 and 3 are employed to create such polarizations. Besides the opposition between a good parent and a bad one displayed in example 1, in example 3 Paco not only rejects the direct victims, but makes them responsible for their disappearance: materian en cana al que estaba en la joda they could put those who were part of the mess in jail. In so doing, he is representing his moral self in line with the moral standards of the society; he was not bothered because he had los papeles en orden my papers in order, in contrast to those who were detained. In example 2 we see Paco instantiating the war-mental model employed to frame the experience of dictatorship. Based on the parent-prototype constructed in example 1, he delegitimates the grandmothers of the disappeared by describing them as individuals who did not follow the cultural models of parenthood. Not accepting ones own grandchildren after shootings represents a clear violation of the moral standards that govern family life in Western societies. Paco utilizes the previous description as a way to show how contradictory todays campaigns are by demanding the return of the kidnapped grandchildren to their biological families. This is a clear strategy of other negative representations. The negative depiction of the grandmothers implicitly justifies the hundreds of children kidnapped by the perpetrators of the military dictatorship.

The analysis of the construction of the moral self in Pacos self-positioning throughout the interview situation has shown his attempt to sustain the impression of upholding moral standards before a real or imagined audience. The mode of conceptualizing parenthood is a striking example employed to that end. Pacos discursive self-realizations have indicated the strong influence exerted by context models at the time of connecting autobiographical memories, a life story schema and self-narratives. These mediated multilayer connections are reflected in the way a person creates a de-centered moral self. By mediated multilayer connections I mean the dynamic interrelations between autobiographical and semantic memory systems, a life story schema that organizes self-narratives in temporal, causal and thematic coherence in accordance with a cultural concept of biography and, finally, a subjective representation of the communicative interaction. In other words, the connection between memory systems and a life story schema is mediated by context models. These mediated connections enable a goal-oriented and situated construction of a moral self. In quantitative terms, we have noted in Pacos interview how the frequency of personal pronouns sustains a notion of distributed agency, which is central in constructing a de-centered moral self. In contrast to the other participants, born between 1935 and 1995 whose average frequency of first person pronouns was above 75%, in Pacos interview it just reached 35%. What do these numbers indicate? They indicate a clear case of distributed agency that would undermine the taken- for-granted conception that self-narratives are the only vehicle for self-realizations. Based on a goaloriented approach to the construction of the self in a real-world setting, the distribution of agency in Pacos interview needs to be thought as a performative act. By lacking

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indexes of moral individuality and responsibility, Paco is trying to create a de-centered moral self that according to his context model in general, and to his knowledge of what a real and imagined audience know about the experience of dictatorship (HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, ESMA, etc.), in particular, would be more acceptable and shareable with others. Conflicting goals (I, intending to make Paco incorporate autobiographical experiences and he, trying to maintain a de-centered moral self ) are manifested in qualitative terms by exploring the moral disengagement loci. Due to the force of the principle of cooperation in human communication that obliges Paco to include autobiographical episodes in the account, his de-centered self becomes a fictional self. However, the synchronicity among autobiographical memories, a life story schema, and an entangled mental representation of the context because he knew that I was aware he was not being accurate, turns into a problem. This problem becomes evident when Paco needs to make use of a kinesthetic resource, a wink, to overcome a problematic situation during the interview. Otherwise, his words would have been recorded and his past could be negatively evaluated by an imagined audience. The problem of synchronizing, in a consistent and coherent fashion, autobiographical memories, a life story schema, and context models is reflected in Pacos discursive self-realizations at the time of distancing himself or neglecting his involvement in the experience of dictatorship. Insecurities and inconsistencies of this sort when constructing self-narratives can only be found in non-directive interviews fulfilling ecological validity. To conclude, after analyzing in quantitative and qualitative terms the making of Pacos moral self in discourse, it seems that self-realizations, at least those related to the moral world, need to be explored taking into account instances of distributed agency. If cognition and memory seem to be distributed, there is no reason to believe that the self would not be, at least in the moral world.

My warm thanks to Teun van Dijk, John Sutton, Sergio Salvatore and Jaan Valsiner for their helpful comments on the theoretical framework and the linguistic analysis.

Austin, J. (1962) How to do things with words. Oxford: Clarendon. Bamberg, M. (1997). Positioning between structure and performance. Journal of Narrative and Life History, 7, 335-342. Bandura, A. (1999). Moral disengagement in the perpetration of inhumanities. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 193-209. Bandura, A. (2002). Selective Moral Disengagment in the Exercise of Moral Agency.

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Journal of Moral Education, 31(2), 101-119. Bluck, S. & Habermas, T. (2000). The life story schema. Motivation and Emotion, 24(2), 121-146. Briggs, C. (1986). Learning how to ask: A sociolinguistic appraisal of the role of the interview in social science research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bruner, J. (2002). Making stories: Law, Literature, Life. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux Channell, J. (1994). Vague language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cicourel, A. (2006). The interaction of discourse, cognition and culture. Discourse Studies 8(2), 25-29. Conway, M.A. & Pleydell-Pearce, C.W. (2000). The construction of autobiographical memories in the self-memory system. Psychological Review, 107, 261-288. Damasio, A. (1999). The feeling of what happened. Body, emotion and the making of consciousness. London: Heinemann Davies, D., & Harr, R. (1990). Positioning: The discursive production of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 20(1), 43-63. Duhalde, E. L. (1999). El Estado Terrorista Argentino. Quince aos despus. Buenos Aires: EUDEBA. Erll, A. & Nunning, A. (Eds.). Cultural Memory Studies. An interdisciplinary handbook. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter. Halliday, M.A.K. (1985). An introduction to functional grammar. London: Edward Amold. Harr, R. & Gillett, G. (1994). The discursive mind. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Hernndez Daz, A. (2006). Posesin y existencia. La competencia de haber y tener y haber existencial. In Concepcin Company Company (Ed.) Sintaxis histrica de la lengua espaola. Primera parte: La frase verbal (pp. 1055-1160). Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Econmica-UNAM. Kronenfeld, D. (2008). Cultural models. Intercultural Pragmatics 5(1), 67-74. Labov, W. (1997). Some further steps in narrative analysis. Journal of Narrative and Life History 7(1-4), 395-415. Linde, Charlotte. (1993). Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence: Oxford University Press. Markowitsch, Hans-J. (2008). Cultural memory and the neurosciences. Cultural Memory Studies. An interdisciplinary handbook. Eds. A. Erll & A. Nunning. (pp. 275283) Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter.. Markowitsch, Hans-J. & Welzer, H. (2005). Das autobiographie Gedachnis: Hirnnorganische Grundlagen und biosoziale Entwicklung. Sttutgart: Klett-Cotta. Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to Authority: An experimental view. New York NY: Harper & Row. Nelson, K. (2003). Narrative and self, myth and memory: emergence of the cultural self. In R. Firvush & C. Haden (Eds.). Autobiographical memory and the construction of a narrative self. (pp. 3-28) Mahwah, NJ/London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.. Palmer, F. (2001). Mood and modality (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Pasupathi, M. (2003). Emotion regulation during social remembering: Differences between emotions elicited during an event and emotion elicited when talking about it. Memory 11, 151-163. Pasupathi, M., Weeks, T. & Rice, C. (2006). Reflecting on life: Remembering as a major process in adult development. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 25, 244-263. Shore, B. (1996). Culture in mind: Cognition, culture, and the problem of meaning. New York: Oxford University Press Schmidt, S. (2008). Memory and remembrance: A constructivist approach. Cultural Memory Studies. In A. Erll, & A. Nunning (Eds). An interdisciplinary handbook. (pp.191-201). Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter. Staub, E. (1999). The roots of evil: Social conditions, culture, personality and basic human needs. Personality and Social Psychology Review 3, 179-192. Sykes, G.M. & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of neutralization: A theory of delinquency. American Sociological Review 22(6) 664-670. Tsang, J.A. (2002). Moral Rationalization and the integration of situational factors and psychological processed in immoral behavior. Review of general psychology, 6(1), 25-50 Tulving, E. & Schacter, D. (1990). Priming and human memory systems. Science 24,7: 301-306. Van Dijk, T.A. (2005). Contextual knowledge management in discourse production: a CDA perspective. A New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis. Eds. P. Chilton & R. Wodak. (pp. 71-100). Amsterdam/Philadephia: John Benjamins.. Van Dijk, T. A. (2008). Discourse and context: A sociocognitive approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Verbitsky, H. (1995). El vuelo. Buenos Aires: Planeta Welzer, H. (2005). Tter. Wie aus ganz normalen Menschen Massenmrder werden. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer. Welzer, H. (2008). Communicative memory. In A. Erll, & A. Nunning (Eds). Cultural Memory Studies. An interdisciplinary handbook. (pp. 285-297).Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter. Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer effect: understanding how good people turn evil. New York: Random House.

Lucas M. Bietti is currently completing a PhD in Linguistic Communication and Multilingual Mediation at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona and a PhD in Linguistics at Macquarie University, Sydney. Since November 2007 he has been working developing his PhD research project about the discursive reconstruction and uses of autobiographical and collective memory in Argentina. He studied literature and linguistics at the University of Buenos Aires before completing an MA in Cognitive Science and Language at Pompeu Fabra University.


tHe BUsiness oF UnFinisHed BUsiness: reFLections on co-constrUction oF meaninGs in researcH encoUnters

Mariann Mrtsin*

My concern in this commentary is the discrepancy between cultural psychologists theoretical claims that meanings are co-constructed by, with and for individuals in ongoing social interaction, and their research practices where researchers and research participants meaning-making processes are separated in time into sequential turns. I argue for the need to live up to these theoretical assumptions, by making both the initial research encounter and the researchers later interpretation process more co-constructive. I suggest making the initial research encounter more co-constructive by paying attention to these moments when the negotiated flow of interaction between researcher and research participant breaks down, for it allows the research participants meaning-making to be traced and makes the researchers efforts towards meaning more explicit. I propose to make the later interpretation process more co-constructive by adopting a more openended and dialogical way of writing that is specifically addressed to research participants and invites them to actively engage with researchers meaning-making. [This text] tries to convey the sense of fluidity, of unfinishedness, of an inexhaustible work in progress, which is inherent to the fascination and frustration of oral history floating as it does in time between the present and an ever-changing past, oscillating in the dialogue between narrator and the interviewer, and melting and coalescing in the no-mans-land from orality to writing and back. Alessandro Portelli, The death of Luigi Trastulli and other stories. Form and meaning in oral history. (1991, p. vii)

* Cardiff University - UK.


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Let us start with a personal memory. Some time ago I faced the unnerving situation of having to defend my doctoral dissertation in front of a committee. A very wise man, who there and then acted as my external examiner, asked me why I had decided to write myself out of the analysis of my participants meaning-making. That is, why I had not explicitly considered how my presence and my participants perspective of me had influenced their sense-making, and how if at all I had sought their feedback to my interpretation. As far as I can remember my answer was somewhat vague and insufficient, yet somehow it got me through the rest of the defence hurdle. Nevertheless, my examiners question about the researchers role in someone elses meaning-making has never really left me, and was again brought strongly to the surface by my reading of the two target articles by Bietti (2010) and Wagoner (2010). The co-construction of meanings in the social interaction between researcher and researched is therefore my focus in this commentary. While my reflections are triggered by two articles which talk about memories and remembering, in my discussion I move beyond this focus and towards a general discussion about meaning-making. In particular, I want to discuss two interrelated issues. First, by drawing on the data presented in Biettis target article I want to suggest that analysing the moments when the negotiated flow of interaction between researcher and researched breaks down and has to be repaired, can contribute to our understanding of interviewees meaning-making, as well as make the researchers efforts towards meaning (Wagoner, 2010) more explicit. Second, I want to consider how we can make the meaning-making of the researcher part of the research process, not simply as a one-sided act of interpretation, but as an active and participant-involving process of dialogue.

Broken dance of perspectives

The idea that memories (and in my view meanings in general) are co-constructed in the continuous dialogue between researcher and researched, is implicitly assumed in both Bietti and Wagoners work. Yet neither of them makes this aspect explicit and central to their analysis. The focus is instead on the available collective meaning suggestions, cultural models or narrative templates, that research participants draw upon in their act of remembering. The researcher thus appears as a stage director, explaining the research participants meaning-making processes from a kind of neutral perspective, as if from above (Portelli, 1991). Yet the research interview is a dialogical encounter between two individuals, who are equally involved in meaning-making. As Shotter (2008) writes: Our words have no meaning in themselves, nor is it a matter of them occurring in a context, nor is it a matter of a speakers intentions. Meaning is created by, with, and for people in their collaborative meetings with each other (p. 2). From this perspective then, the stories we tell ourselves and others emerge in that interaction as temporary stabilizations of the continuous oscillation between the perspectives of me and other(s). That is, they are co-constructed within the real or imagined presence of someone and are addressed to someone within and beyond the ongoing interaction (Bakhtin, 1986; Shotter, 2003). They are produced as affirmations of one perspec278

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tive while being negations of another (Billig, 1996), and it matters how the dialogue partners perceive each others social positions, each others rights and duties and orient themselves to these (Harr et al., 2009). Thus, the construction of memories (or meanings in general) does not only require the work of utilizing the collectively available meaning suggestions, but also the work of understanding how the person I am talking to has internalized these suggestions and uses them to make sense of me and us. Portelli (1991) writes: Field work is meaningful as the encounter of two subjects who recognize each other as subjects, and therefore separate, and seek to build their equality upon their difference in order to work together (p. 43). Researcher and researched are thus never really on the same side, but build a bridge between their separate perspectives in the research encounter. To build that bridge, both sides need to engage in the work of studying the other. The researchers work of studying is explicit and woven clearly into the fabric of research activity. Yet, albeit more implicitly the researched is also studying the researcher. That is, the narrator needs to understand who the listener is to be able to respond adequately to his callings. Portelli, for example, talks about the ways how his local informants from an industrial town in central Italy used various counter-interviewing techniques, such as name-dropping or making allusions to understand who he really was an outsider or a native intellectual. There are thus two parallel studies taking place in the research encounter. The two perspectives become mutually negotiated through these studies this is the relationship we have here, this is what each of us is supposed to do. The two studies feed into each other, evolve in relation to each other and thus establish a mutually responsive dance of perspectives. In my view, the most fascinating and informative moments to trace and analyse in this dance are those where the two studies collide, where one partner takes a step that the other one does not expect and therefore does not immediately know how to or does not want to follow. For me, these are the moments when the meanings of events suddenly come to the surface of the negotiated sequence and order of interaction, in order to disappear under the flow of negotiated relative stability and ordinariness again. Yet how should one recognize these moments of collision? In my view, the moments are noticeable when one steps out from the role as a neutral researcher and back into the ordinary role of being a dialogue partner. The moments of surprise, confusion, being lost for words, not knowing how to proceed with the discussion then become clues to understanding that something is going wrong in the flow of interaction. The case of Paco as presented in Biettis article, offers some examples of this breaking up of the dance of perspectives. For me, the first instance of this breakage, which seems to be left out of Biettis analysis, is the fact that Paco suggested having an interview. In my view, it would have made more sense, if Paco had just refused to take part in the focus group. Full stop. Yet, he suggested having an interview. Why was it important for Paco to tell his story to the researcher? What was at stake for him here? The next moment of surprise, which again did not come across as a significant incident from Biettis analysis, was Pacos decision to take on another identity in the interview. To be precise, taking notice of the researchers surprise about Pacos decision has nothing to do with recognition and acceptance of his choices. It is however significant as another instance where the ordinary flow of interaction between researcher

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and researched breaks down. Thus it is another chance to get a glimpse into Pacos meaning-making: why is it important for him to define himself as someone else? And why is it important for him to tell the researcher that he is doing so? What does this say about his perspective of the researcher? And then the interview itself which offers yet another opportunity to explore the broken dance of perspectives. Describing the examples of Pacos neglect and rejection of personal responsibility Bietti (2010) writes: During my four second silence, Paco noticed that something was going wrong with my interpretation process, therefore he winked at me to make clear that he was lying (p. 267). As presented here the breakage is a temporary freezing of time, where the partners can check each other out what goes here? where are we with this interaction? Many questions seem relevant in analysing this instance. Who breaks up the flow and why? Or rather, who perceives the break and how? And who makes an effort to repair it? What is at stake in making the breakage visible? And what is at stake in repairing it as quickly as possible? In this instance a silence and a wink are needed to break up and to repair the dance. It happens automatically in the ongoing interaction, yet the moment is full of meanings that shine through the temporarily broken surface. Paco knows that the researcher knows. He knows that the researcher is one of them, just like he knows that the researcher thinks he is one of them. Yet he navigates around these perspectives and meta-perspectives and invites the researcher to do the same. Because what is at stake in revealing the factual truth is more than Paco can handle. And so he offers a story, which while being factually wrong is psychologically true for him (Portelli, 1991). That is, it allows him to talk about events which cannot be talked about, yet need to be talked about (remember Paco wanted to have an interview), in a manner that is personally meaningful, possible and perhaps even enabling for Paco.

Researcher in writing
Bringing the researchers perceptions of the ongoing interaction more explicitly into the analysis of meaning-making is thus one way of making the processes of coconstruction more visible. Yet the researchers meaning-making is not only taking place during the research encounter, but importantly also during the later process of analysis and writing. It seems to me that inviting the research participant to actively contribute to that process is as important as allowing the researcher to take part in the sensemaking efforts of the research participant during the interview. One of the pioneers of contemporary dialogical research, Michael Billig (2010) has recently raised a question whether dialogical researchers should also write in a specifically dialogical manner, instead of using the ordinary monological style of present-day academic writing. He suggests that while the ordinary nominal style, where processes are turned into things, the use of passive verbs is favoured and fictional things are ascribed with agency, is suitable for confirming ones belonging to a certain disciplinary circle and for talking to like-minded audiences, it may not be the most dialogue-opening way of writing (note for example my use of passive verbs in this sentence). Instead,

The business of unfinished business

he suggests, continuously maintained relationship with other non-friendly audiences may hold the key to dialogical writing. Billig is obviously talking about academic writing to academic audiences. This is the arena where researchers take the role of a stage director and explain to fellow stage directors what things in the field look like. As Billig argues, this audience expects to be given coherent, thought-through, nicely packaged end-products of someone elses thinking. My discussion here concerns another audience that researchers, who assume that meanings are co-constructed by, with and for people, need to address before and perhaps above the academic audience the research participants. I suggest that while the open-ended, self-reflective and incoherent way of writing may not sit well within the academic debates, it might be required for engaging with research participants. Asking for participants feedback on the researchers interpretation is a relatively common practice in modern social sciences. The terms used to describe this practice member checking or respondent validation indicate the underlying rationale of its usage (see for example Mays & Pope, 2000; Whittemore, Chase & Mandle, 2001). While in general this practice should be applauded, I am interested in examining how well it sits within the theoretical tradition that assumes the co-construction of meanings. My concern is with the practice of asking research participants for feedback on the researchers interpretation as if it was a finished and completed result of their interaction. My own experience with this kind of participant-engagement is that it may not be easy for participants to engage with a story that is presented to them as a nicely packaged and polished product. If presented as such it remains a story of a stage director that the actors can agree with or reject altogether, but cannot contribute to in a way that allows the cycle of meaning-making and co-construction to continue. Thus it seems to me that if we want to live up to our aspirations of studying meaning-making as an unfinished process of co-construction, as researchers we need to give up our comfortable stage director seats and step on to the stage as actors among other actors. But what should writing addressed to research participants look like? As already indicated it is a different kind of writing from ordinary academic writing, for the product needs to be unfinished, to allow the other to step in. One way of achieving this, in my view, is to bring our own reflections, our own questions and our own efforts towards meaning (Wagoner, 2010) into the writing: why did this seem important to me? Why did I think this was meaningful to you? What were my own reasons for ascribing meaning to this aspect of our talk, over and above the others? Why did you say this? And why did you not mention that? Paying attention to researchers surprises, confusions, her being lost for words and not being able to understand the others logic seem to me to be good starting points for making the researchers efforts towards meaning explicit and in this way, encouraging the others further contribution. One of the most interesting attempts that I have seen in that direction was presented by Hristina Keranova (in preparation). Based on the data collected through repeated interviews, Keranova wrote a quasi-direct narrative a semi-fictional story of her research participants life. It was written as a story of a fictional character, where the researchers interpretations were woven into the story as the protagonists internal dialogues. Thus, the researchers meaning-making was explicitly present in the narrative as her way of trying to see the world from her protagonists point of view. Present281

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ing the researchers reflections as protagonists internal dialogues was thus a vehicle through which to invite the participant to step back into his perspective and reflect upon researchers sense-making. This narrative was exchanged between researcher and researched and later became a part of an academic article, yet its initial purpose was to see whether the researchers efforts at living in the research participants perspective were successful. Engaging in this kind of cyclic interaction which also requires an additional writing effort is obviously laborious and one could thus ask what this kind of cyclic interaction between researcher and researched is going to add to our theorizing about meaning-making. What is it about co-construction of meanings that we do not or cannot know if we do not engage in this kind of research practice? In my view, the issue at stake here is living up to ones theoretical claims, and substantiating these not through one-sided interpretations of the two-sided interaction, but through actual oscillation between different perspectives. That is, most of the research that assumes the co-construction of meanings, my own work to date included, uses methodologies where the co-construction of meanings as it happens in unfolding interaction is not part of the research exercise. Instead, the research interview is meant for collecting instances of the others sense-making and then fixing these into a story through the researchers interpretation. And although both parties appear in that interpretation through the use of such concepts as addressivity or positioning, the interpretation still remains one-sided. In that sense my suggestion here is a kind of round-about way of achieving something that could be achieved by changing the ways of data collection. But it is also more than that. If, as indicated above, the practice of asking for participants feedback is a recommended practice anyway, then why not make it also theoretically fruitful. For the reason of using this additional sense-making cycle is not to validate the researchers interpretation, but substantiating the claims that meanings are essentially an unfinished business.

End of a never-ending story

Let us return to where we started to my memory of my examination. By placing this memory to the starting point of the current discussion I have made it significant, I have turned an ordinary event of interaction into something fairly extraordinary. There are many possible reasons why I thought it was a good idea. Perhaps it was a moment that created tension there and then and I needed to release that tension by turning it into a something more enabling a trigger of my theoretical reflections. Or perhaps I just chose this memory because it was the only one I could more or less clearly remember that had anything to do with researcher/researched relationship, and I wanted to make this discussion somewhat more personal. One way or another, by taking that incident out of my flow of being and placing it into another story, written to a specific audience, I have reconstructed it and thus continued an old story. The open-ended nature of meaning-making has been my concern in this commentary. The target articles, while very insightful, left me with a feeling that although

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as cultural psychologists we claim that meaning-making happens through oscillation between different perspectives, we tend to study it in a one-sided manner, where researchers and research participants meaning-making are separated in time into sequential turns. In my effort to find a way out of this quandary, I have suggested that by bringing researchers efforts towards meaning more explicitly into the analysis and by continuing the cycle of sense-making by giving an unfinished product of researchers interpretation back to the research participant for their further sense-making we can better live up to our theoretical claims and aspirations.

Bakhtin, M.M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. (V.W. McGee, Trans.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Bietti, L. (2010). The construction of the moral self in autobiographical memory: being and ordinary man within the experience of dictatorship in Argentina. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J. Travers Simon, A. Gennaro (Eds.).YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic Science, 3, (pp. 253-273) Rome: Firera & Liuzzo Publishing group. Billig, M. (1996). Arguing and thinking. A rhetorical approach to social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Billig, M. (forthcoming). Dialogical writing and dialogical theory: Reflections on Locke, Shaftesbury and fictional things. In M. Mrtsin. B. Wagoner, E.-L. Aveling, I. Kadianaki & L. Whittaker (Eds.), Dialogicality in focus: Challenges to theory, method and application. New York: Nova Science Publishers. Harr, R., Moghaddam, F.M., Pilkerton Cairnie, T., Rothbart, D. & Sabat, S.R. (2009). Recent advances in positioning theory, Theory & Psychology, 19(1), 5-31. Keranova, H. (in preparation). The interpretative potential of quasi-direct speech narratives in a qualitative study of immigrant identities in college ESL. International Journal of Dialogical Science. Mays, N. Pope, C. (2000). Qualitative research in health care: Assessing quality in qualitative research. British Medical Journal, 320, 50-52. Portelli, A. (1991). The death of Luigi Trastulli and other stories. Form and meaning in oral history. New York: State University of New York Press. Shotter, J. (2003). Real presences. Meaning as living movement in participatory world. Theory & Psychology, 13(4), 435-468. Shotter, J. (2008). Conversational realities revisited: Life, language, body and world. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute Publications. Wagoner, B. (2010). Remembering apparent behaviour. A study of narrative mediation. In S. Salvatore, J. Valsiner, J. Travers Simon, A. Gennaro (Eds.). YIS: Yearbook of Idiographic ScienceVolume 3. (pp. 221-251). Rome: Firera & Liuzzo publishing group. Whittemore, R., Chase, S.K., & Mandle, C.L. (2001). Validity in qualitative research. Qualitative Health Research, 11(4), 522-537.


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Mariann Mrtsin is currently working at Cardiff Universitys School of Social Sciences. She is a researcher in Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD). Her work examines how young people make sense of their life-course transitions. She is interested in exploring how socio-cultural contexts shape and are shaped by young peoples future aspirations, how these constrain and enable young people as they imagine themselves forward. Her research interests also include the issue of otherness within self-system and she is especially interested in evidencing self-other dynamics in personal narratives. She is also interested in using micro-genetic and multi-modal methods in the investigation of sense-making. ADDRESS: Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences, WISERD, 46 Park Place, CF10 3BB Cardiff, UK. e-mail:


tHe narrative mediation on HistoricaL rememBerinG

Mario Carretero*and Cesar Lpez Rodrguez*

Narrative structures have an essential role when analyzing historical remembering and its importance at both individual and social levels. This influence is particularly decisive in the production of narratives, primarily reflected in school history textbooks and other informal cultural devices, and also when people consume these narratives in order to explain historical events. Peoples representations of national identities and the very concept of nation are the most characteristic elements of these narratives. This paper examines the importance of making a detailed analysis of the features of such representations in order to have a better understanding of the process of human historical remembering. In the field of narrative remembering there are two highly interrelated phenomena: individual memories and societal issues. This relationship is a major issue when analyzing the process of remembering, as noted in this volume by Bietti (2010) and Wagoner (2010).In other words, both papers state that it is clearly impossible for individual subjects to remember anything independently of how society structures and organizes events in a particular way. Let us start with Biettis contribution(Bietti, 2010). It is no doubt a very intriguing and exciting piece of research about the memories of a normal man who not only agreed with the terrible and savage repression carried out by the Argentinian military but also probably participated or at least played some role in those criminal practices1.

* Autonoma University of Madrid - Spain 1 Concerning the description provided by Biettis paper about the Argentinian military dictatorship (19731982) and the repression exerted during that time, some clarifications should be provided, particularly with regard to the most recent historical research. On the one hand, political repression was not only against leftist or revolutionary political activists, but also against people who were just defending the most basic democratic rights. Also, a significant number of arbitrary acts of political repression were carried out


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One of the first points we feel it is interesting to comment on is to what extent the Bandura model of moral disengagement is sufficient to explain Pacos behavior (see Bietti, 2010, for a description of this model. pp.4-7.). In fact, let us imagine that the acts performed by Paco, the person interviewed by Bietti, were not such serious crimes. Suppose, for example, that Paco simply committed an large number of traffic violations. One could also imagine that Paco committed a robbery. Would the features considered by Bandura apply to his behavior? In other words, do these features predict the degree which they can be applied in? We think it is important to take into account that to save the nation is also considered a basic moral goal for any nationalist ideology. In this respect, we think it is essential to consider the influence of nationalist beliefs in order to understand such terrible, evil acts. Thus, it is important to take into account the fact that nationalist ideologies and beliefs play an important role in establishing some of the most important traits of any human being. It would be very difficult to find specific human beings who do not regard themselves as members of a particular national or cultural identity. To some extent, it can be said that the features of national beliefs are part of the dominant social ideologies, and at the same time, they finally become embodied in human beings through a process of internalization. An important part of national beliefs is related to the historical origins of the nation. These narratives often adopt the form of a saga and provide the nationals with an explanation of their origins. This is to say, historical narratives are essential in order to provide a specific format for individual identities. Thus, with regard to the these ideas, there is, in our opinion, an interesting issue which is not considered by this paper, but which has an important influence on the phenomena being studied. We mean the influence of national historical narratives and also the very concept of nation. Concerning the historical period analyzed by Biettis paper, it is quite impossible to understand military dictatorships in Latin America during the 70s we could even say any dictatorship- without taking into account their representation of their own nations, obviously supported by a particular national narrative. It is well known that the last Argentinian dictatorship deemed itself a process of national reorganization; its ideological roots doubtless stem from the right-wing trend of authoritarian political processes such as National Socialism in Germany (1930-1945) and the National Catholicism of Spain (1939-1975). Thus, if Biettis interview with his subject had considered topics like the historical origins of

against people who had nothing to do with political action. This is to say, most of these acts were criminal deeds having the sole purpose of stealing goods or even whole businesses from their legal owners (Jelin, 2003). On the other hand, it is interesting to comment on the idea posed by Paco, Biettis subject, about political repression as something that could be justified as a kind of legitimate defense, because in those years a real war was taking place in Argentina between two armies, namely the State on one side and the violent subversive revolutionaries on the other. It is worth noting that this particular idea, which is historiographically labelled as the theory of the two demons, has received ideological support from some right-wing historians and political theorists. Nevertheless, is rather difficult to uphold this theory, mainly for two reasons. Firstly, because the States illegal and violent repression against the leftist activists started before the Military Dictatorship; and secondly, because it is inappropriate to compare the violence exerted by the State, which is responsible for guaranteeing the citizens civil rights, to the violent acts of a particular group such as leftist activists.


The narrative mediation on historical remembering

the Argentinian Military Dictatorship, those national motives would no doubt have emerged very neatly. On the other hand, we ought to say that for an understanding of how societies deal with the issue of recent violent historical events, two very well known opposing points of view need to be considered. On the one hand, the classical statement by Santayana (1905), who wrote those who forget History, are condemned to repeat it (p.284). And on the other hand, the opposite view expressed by Renan that forgetting is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation (2004, p.11), meaning that in order to construct and to keep a national society united, sharing the same goals and motives, it is essential not only to remember certain shared collective memories, but also to suppress and to forget other common collective memories. We think any study about recent violent historical events needs to be considered, at least to some extent, from the point of view of a possible tension between these two views. Let us unpack this idea through a concrete example. At the time when I was beginning my academic activities in Argentina, one day I presented the film 1984, based on the famous novel by George Orwell, to my students. Of course, they were very shocked, among other things, by the scenes of torture and mistreatment, particularly those exerted by OBrien, an outstanding member of the INGSOC (Eurasias dictatorial State Party ), upon Winston Smith, the novels main character who tries to maintain at least some portion of freedom in a very difficult climate of oppression and political repression. When we started our class discussion, many of my students considered that situation of oppression basically similar to the one Argentina suffered under the Proceso Militar, from 1976 to 1983, yet quite surprisingly, they expressed great resistance to identifying similarities with the abuses committed under the communist regime in the USSR. In other words, Argentinian students were probably much more prone to remember fascist repression than communist repression. In my opinion, this shows how the main topics considered by this chapter cannot be understood without taking into account the context where specific subjects make sense of their meaning in specific national contexts. Wagoner(2010)s study on the influence of narrative structures upon remembrance highlights the existence of constraints on an agents constructive potentials. The process of remembering analyzed by Wagoner is not produced in an isolated way. Such a process is influenced by an individuals previous experience, as well as by social conventions developed within the group where he or she belongs. Thus, narratives elaborated by participants while remembering also depend on a previous social and personal context. Therefore, one of the fundamental starting points of Wagoners study is the relationship between the concepts of specific narratives and schematic narrative templates (Wertsch, 2002). In this relationship, the specific narratives produced by individuals (involving particular people, places and events) are influenced by the schematic narrative templates, previously generated in a social context. As seen in Wagoners study, taking into account the relationships between these two types of narratives is central in order to understand the process of remembering. From our perspective, narrative structures as tools for human knowledge also play an important mediating role in the remembrance of past events that are analyzed in the

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domain of History. Wagoners study suggests a series of questions in this sense: What is the role of narrative templates on the remembering of historical events? What characteristics do schematic narratives templates have in the domain of History? Through which social and personal mechanisms are they built? We think it is relevant to analyze specifically the role narrative structures play in history production and consumption. This is so because we find a close link between the influences of the narrative format upon remembrance, analyzed in Wagoners study, and the way narrative structures impinge on historical knowledge when it comes to producing and consuming historical narratives. The discipline of history is fundamentally related with an analysis of events that have occurred in the past. In order to carry out this analysis, it is necessary to look back and recover as much as possible- the information on those past events. In this sense, the term historical memory or collective memory has been frequently used in recent years. Collective memory refers to the way societies transmit beliefs about the past from one generation to the next; also for the purposes for which these beliefs are selected, their nature and shape, and the way they change over time (Seixas, 2004, 2006). It is in this sense that we refer to a process of collective memory. In psychological terms, this process differs greatly from that produced on an individual level. Events analyzed by history have occurred mostly in a remote past. None of the people who analyze these events directly witnessed them. Consequently, it is psychologically impossible for them to remember something they have not experienced. On other occasions, as when recent historical events are examined, we may indeed find processes of remembrance where the individual who remembers has taken part in the historical process being analyzed (for example, think of the Argentinian dictatorship case analyzed by Bietti, 2010). Considering this differentiation, in our view the individual process of remembering and the analyses produced in the discipline of History share a fundamental mediator, namely narrative structures. The construction of historical knowledge is intimately related to the elaboration of narrations (Carretero et. al., 1994). The influence of narratives goes well beyond the field of history and its learning, since they constitute an instrument of human knowledge. Narration constitutes a specifically human way of organizing thought. As human beings we interpret our actions and behaviors, as well as others, in a narrative fashion; indeed, there exists a predisposition to organize experience into a narrative form, through plot structures (Bruner, 1990). Many of the ways in which we structure information about the past possess a narrative structure (stories, myths, textbooks, films or diaries). Hence it is no wonder that some educators equate history teaching to telling a good story (Barton & Levstik, 2004). It is important to point out that the influence of narratives in the realm of history is produced in two distinct moments: on one hand, in the process of production of historical narratives by historians, which reach students fundamentally through textbooks; and on the other hand, in the process of consumption and appropriation of these narratives by students, which are reflected in the narratives they themselves build when it comes to explaining a historical event (Wertsch, 1997; Carretero & Kriger, 2011). For this reason, we think it is relevant to analyze firstly the characteristics of the schematic narrative templates students find when they study history, and subsequently to examine their influence on the specific narratives they produce.

The narrative mediation on historical remembering

Characteristics of narrative templates in the production process

Narratives are not a sequence of random events; rather, they use causal explanations, attempting to shed light upon how one event causes another and the factors that affect these relations (Barton & Levstik, 2004). As Seixas points out, In History, memories organized as narratives include a temporal dimension, conveying an idea of origins and development, of challenges overcome, with collective protagonists and individual heroes confronting difficult conditions and threatening enemies. Narratives provide actors roles with a moral valence, in accordance with belief in an enduring set of ideals or common character traits. The narrative thus defines a boundary between members who share the common past and those who do not (Seixas, 2004, pp.5-6). One very common type of historical narrative we can find globally in the educational ambit is the national narrative (Barton & Levstik, 2004; Barton & McCully, 2005; Carretero & Lpez Rodrguez, 2009). These national narratives become a kind of schematic narrative template, the influence of which is fundamental when building specific historical narratives. National narratives are closed narrations that try to draw a clear line between the past, the present and the future, making the nation a perennial protagonist. In these narrations, there is a tendency to evaluate ones own social group positively, to explain their characteristics in essential not historical- terms, and to reject the sources that come into conflict with a complacent version of ones history. Likewise, these narratives evaluate the countrys political evolution positively, uncritically retrieve the role of certain emblematic historical characters and establish links of permanence and continuity between past events and characters and the national groups current time (Carretero & Bermudez, in press). Through these national narratives, history becomes a sequence of events aimed at a concrete goal. This concrete goal is often to show the virtues and accomplishments of ones own nation. In this type of narratives, the selection of events and characters to be remembered is as important as the choice of those to be forgotten. In this respect, think of the classical phrase by Renan mentioned above about the need for collective oblivion. In Wagoners study (2010), the transformations in the narratives help the participants to avoid including events that do not easily fit their narrative frame (p. 29) Similarly, national narratives tell certain stories, not others; they speak of certain central characters but forget others, less well known and more anonymous. Sometimes entire social groups are forgotten, because they do not fit well in the national narratives plot (Barton & Levstik, 2004; Carretero, 2011). As we have already mentioned, national narratives try to establish a union between past and present. This present link, which is fundamentally necessary for the construction of a national identity, is built upon the basis of affective and emotional aspects (Carretero & Bermudez, in press). Such national narrations take a central role in numerous countries school curricula. Through an exhaustive analysis of North American textbooks, Paxton (1990) and Alridge (2006) evidence how narratives about great men and events that guided

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North America toward an ideal of progress and civilization continue to be the prototypical manner in which many historians and textbooks disseminate historical knowledge. Although textbooks are a major mechanism through which the process of production of historical narratives reaches students, they are not the only one. Family histories, diaries, national history museums, memorials or films on historic events are some of the mechanisms whereby schematic narrative templates are built, whose fundamental feature is often the nation. Wineburg and colleagues (2001; 2007) analyze how movies like Forrest Gump or memorials like the World War II Memorial in Washington are cultural tools that influence people when they construe narrative explanations about a historic event such as the Vietnam War. A more recent example of this phenomenon is found in the analysis by the Slovenian philosopher SlavojZizek on the film The Hurt Locker, recent winner of the main Oscars(Zizek, 2010). As Zizek points out, the narrative developed in the film almost completely ignores the great debate about U.S. intervention in Iraq, and instead focuses on the daily experiences, during service and outside it, of common soldiers forcedto live with the danger and destruction.Thus, there is a humanization of the war, promoting identification with the fears and anxieties of the soldiers and ignoring the more general problem of the causes and consequences of U.S. intervention in Iraq. Therefore, this type of cultural tools, present in the informal ambit, also contributes to develop a particular type of schematic narrative templates that influence the specific narratives produced by people when making sense of specific historical events.2

Narrative mediation in consuming History

The conclusions of Wagoners study point out that an effective narrative allowed participants to make useful connections between events and agents, which could be drawn upon in their recall of the film. However, narratives can misdirect as well as faithfully direct remembering, exclude as well as include, constrain as well as enable us (Wagoner, 2010, p.37). Another relevant conclusion in his analysis is that reminiscence is affected both by the strength of narrative structure and by the type of narrative. We believe it is appropriate to analyze these conclusions in the case of historical narratives. This leads us to pose the following questions: What importance do narrative structures have in history learning? What implications does the use of national-type narratives have on students understanding of historical events? In short, how do the characteristics of schematic narrative templates influence the consuming of historical narratives?
2 Zizeks article contrasts the schematic narrative template developed in The Hurt Locker to the one developed in James Camerons film Avatar. Avatars schematic narrative template reflects the territorial conflict between a technologically advanced group and a native group linked to the territory by nature elements. Note that this shematic narrative template is very similar to that developed in other famous films like Kevin Costners Dancing with Wolves or Disneys Pocahontas, both regarding Native Americans.


The narrative mediation on historical remembering

As we noted before, Wagoner (2010) bases his case on the notion of scheme as holistic developing patterns used in the service of the present to help an organism act in its environment(p. 4). These schemes originate through either personal experiences or participation in different social groups. If we follow Wertsch (2002)s notion of scheme, schematic narrative templates are tools of mediation generated between and distributed among members of a social group, and as such will vary between social groups. As we saw earlier on, the type of narrative most frequently used in the domain of history is national narrative. These narratives are elaborated within a social group, the national group in this case. National narratives originated in the realm of formal teaching, as well as in an informal context, significantly influence the way students make sense of and interpret historical events (Barton & Levstik, 2004; VanSledright, 2008; Wertsch, 2002). Narratives often differ from one nation to another, even when they deal with one and the same historic event. Carretero and colleagues (2002) carried out an analysis of Spanish and Mexican students representations of a historic event that was central to both countries, namely the Discovery of America. This study shows that textbooks from both countries reflect the same event in very different ways. Narratives composed by Spanish and Mexican students differ significantly and tend to support the official narrative reflected in each nations textbooks. Thus we consider Wagoners statement, an individuals construction of the past is intimately related to the social groups to which he or she belongs and the resources these groups provide(p. 5), to be adequate to what sometimes happens in the process of consuming History. Another relevant aspect reflected by Wagoners study (2010) is that narratives built by participants to explain the film Apparent Behavior (Heider & Simmel, 1994) depend on the participants current situation and most recent experiences. This influence of the present on the past also occurs in the domain of history. One of the goals of official national narratives is often to legitimize the nation-states current politics. Consequently, as we have already pointed out, the national narrative usually highlights those very events and characters that suit the narratives final objective, but also obliterates those that do not. This impinges on the causes students ascribe to certain historical events. In this sense, Barton & Levstik (2004) show how students in the United States interpret certain historical events in such a way that they fit the goals of freedom and progress, which are present throughout the American national narrative. Thus, for instance, Native Americans resistance is viewed as an obstacle in attaining progress or the Vietnam War as an attempt to bring freedom to that country. Yet another of the relevant features in Wagoners study is the strength of narrative level. Strength of narrative refers to the degree to which participants saw the film as a unique narrative with a clear plot from beginning to end, or contrariwise, whether they interpreted it as various narratives or they simply did not give the film a narrative sense. Along this line, we think the students degree of appropriation of an official national narrative may have a similar influence on the understanding of history. One of the implications an elevated degree of appropriation of the official narrative might have is fostering an epistemological vision of history as something closed, unique and true (VanSledright, 2008). According to Alridge (2006), North American textbooks present discrete, heroic and one-dimensional narratives that deprive the stu291

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dent of a complex, trustworthy and precise knowledge about the people and events of North American history. Another fundamental implication of an excessive appropriation of national narratives is related to the capacity to contemplate another persons point of view. As Wertsch (1998) indicates in his study of United States History narratives, very few of the subjects introduce any irony in their stories or comments that account for conflicts between interpretations; most of them have appropriated the official historical version and reproduce it almost without nuance. Lastly, a high degree of appropriation of the national narrative may lead students to think that history is a mechanical succession of events that fit the national narratives logic. This often causes them to make predictions about history, precisely based on such mechanistic logic (Barton & Levstik, 2004). We wouldnt like to finish this reflection without acknowledging some of the advantages of narrative structures in history learning. As in Wagoners study the use of narrative structures has positive effects upon remembrance, so narrative structures have positive effects too when it comes to learning history. Narratives are cultural tools, which we are daily in contact with: this is why they seem familiar to us and their use is relatively simple. Some studies, like Wagoner (2010), have demonstrated narratives positive effects on remembrance, as well as on students motivation with regard to history learning. Nevertheless, from our perspective it is necessary to bear in mind that narrative structures, when applied to the domain of school-taught history, ought to be understood as an additional tool for historical knowledge, rather than as historical knowledge itself. In this sense, one must consider the difficulties that an excessive importance of narratives mainly those of a national type- may imply in students acquisition, not only of historical information, but also of a more elaborate capacity to think historically.

This paper was written with the support of Project PICT 2005-34778 (Agencia de Investigacion de Argentina), Project SEJ2006-15461 (Agencia de Investigacion, Spain), and the Fellowship at the D. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (Harvard University) enjoyed during 2009-10 by the first author. We would like express our gratitude also for the support the second author received from the Autonoma University FPI program.

Alridge, D.P. (2006). The limits of Master Narratives in History Textbooks: An Analysis of Representations of Martin Luther King, Jr. Teachers College Record, 108(4), 662-686.

The narrative mediation on historical remembering

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Yearbook of Idiographic Science Volume 3

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Mario Carretero is Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Autonoma University of Madrid and Researcher at FLACSO (Argentina). He has received the Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation (1997) and the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University (2009). He has been working on Conceptual Change and Understanding in History and Social Sciences. His last book is about the Construction of National Identities (Information Age Publishing, 2010). Csar Lpez Rodrguez has a Psychology degree from Autonoma University of Madrid (Madrid, Spain) where he is now a graduate student. In 2008 he obtained an advanced studies certificate in cognitive psychology. He is especially interested in conceptual change in History and its connections with national identity.