Psychology, chaos theory, complexity theory, happiness and Batman?
Posted August 14, 2008on:
Any of these topics – psychology, chaos theory and complexity theory – is heavy reading on its own. All three together?
David Pinctus’ new blog explains chaos and complexity theory in psychology and is tucked away at the end of the Self-Help blogs on Psychology Today. David’s blog is probably far too heavy reading for the typical self-help audience. It is important reading for anyone interested in positive psychology and where this new field is going.
- Psychology has traditionally looked for linear models. We look for phenomena that grow bigger or smaller in direct proportion to something else. Happiness is likely to be a non-linear phenomenon. A small thing can make us very happy; a large event can wash over us.
- Psychology assumes that my behavior is essentially unconnected from yours. Our models require all our observations to be independent of each other – do you remember that distantly? Though much of the positive psychology empirical research is still conducted in the ‘old school of research’, it is our interconnections with others that are more interesting.
- Psychology has difficulty with time. We are taught simply to use time as sparingly as possible in our models. As a consequence we have little idea “what will happen next” or how long anything takes. If tomorrow is a result of today, how do we describe that trajectory?
David Pinctus explains “non-linear dynamical systems“. Though he hasn’t talked directly about positive psychology as yet, listing him under “Self-Help”, tells it all.
He also devoted three posts to a series on Batman. Ordinarily, you would have had to drag me along kicking-and-screaming to a batman movie. I hated it too! But his review gave the movie depth I wouldn’t have fathomed on my own and a useful way of thinking about the deep, festering conflicts in many organizations.
I am glad to have a blog written by an academic who has deep mastery of the methodology in this field and who writes well. I am subscribed, watching, reading and learning!