Welcome, dear reader, to an evocative adventure into the labyrinth of the human psyche. With four psychological theories as our guide, we embark on an odyssey through the catacombs of cognition, the jungle of the subconscious, and a wild ride into the infinite depths of human behavior.
Because psychology is not a series of dry academic theories trapped in dusty textbooks prepared for bespectacled professors in ivory towers. It is a quest into the mysterious workings of our mind, a quest to unravel our thoughts, feelings and actions. The important thing is to discover what makes us human.
Here are four psychological theories that can help you do just that. Buckle up, because this first one is not only charming, but also terrifying.
terrorism management theory
Terrorism management theory, in a nutshell, is a psychological theory that states that our own perception of death is one of the fundamental driving forces of human behavior.1
As you know, humans are unique in that unlike dogs, monkeys and rats, humans have the cognitive ability to understand it. we are going to die sometimesHonestly, it’s a pretty scary thought.
So how do we deal with this terrifying reality? We create cultural systems of meaning and value that help us feel part of something greater than ourselves.
These cultural systems are religious,2 Political ideology, social norms. They give us purpose and meaning, and make us believe that our lives mean more than our own existence.
But here’s the problem. When these cultural systems are threatened or challenged, they can trigger a deep sense of existential fear.
Suddenly, the fragile garnish of meaning that we have built up to shield ourselves from the reality of dying is shattered, and we are forced to confront the fact that our lives are finite and perhaps meaningless.
This is where things can get really interesting (or really disturbing, depending on how you look at it). engage in a variety of defense strategies, such as3 They slander those who do not share their beliefs, and resort to violence to defend their cultural worldview.
In other words, when our sense of meaning and purpose is threatened, we become more rigid in our thoughts and actions.
Before throwing up your hands and declaring that all humans are a bunch of nihilistic, violent monsters, it’s worth noting that there are many positive ways to deal with our death realizations. there is.Four For example, many people find that developing an appreciation for the present moment helps them feel more connected to the world around them. Some find comfort in the knowledge that their actions can have a positive impact on future generations.
Here’s the gist: Terrorism management theory may seem like a dark and depressing topic, but in reality it has a lot to do with how we, as humans, strive to find meaning and purpose in a world that at times seems dark and meaningless. can shed light on .
By understanding how we deal with death, we can begin to develop more positive, life-affirming strategies for dealing with existential fear, which is an inevitable part of the human experience.
Actually, just practicing a stoic way of thinking, memento mori, Or, “Remember You Die” helps us develop a wonderful relationship with death. Often when you sit and consciously contemplate your own death, you are able to see things from your own perspective.
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post-traumatic growth theory
We all know trauma is the worst. It’s painful, painful, and can leave deep scars that last a lifetime. Not all is bad. In fact, some people actually experience personal growth and transformation in the aftermath of a traumatic event.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it is backed up by a growing body of psychological research. According to post-traumatic growth theory, people who have experienced trauma are actually stronger and more resilient than before. They may develop a deeper perception of life, a deeper sense of purpose and meaning, and a stronger sense of connection with others.Five
Let me be clear here, this does not mean that trauma is what we should look for or that it is in any way good for us. It means that there is potential for growth and transformation even in the middle of the moment.
So how does this work? Well, it’s not exactly an easy process. In fact, it can be messy, unpredictable, and sometimes painful. But here are some of the key factors that can contribute to post-traumatic growth.
- First, there is the concept of “destruction”. Trauma shakes us out of complacency and forces us to reassess our priorities and beliefs. It can be a wake-up call that forces us to face the reality of dying and re-evaluate what really matters in life.6
- Second, there is the idea of ”making meaning.” Those who have experienced post-traumatic growth often find ways to make sense of their experiences and integrate them into their stories. They may find new sources of meaning and purpose in life, or feel new connections with others.7
- Finally, there is the concept of “resilience”. Those who have experienced post-traumatic growth are often able to bounce back from adversity and use the experience as a source of strength and resilience. They may develop greater self-efficacy and belief in their ability to overcome challenges.8
Now, keep in mind that post-traumatic growth is not guaranteed. Not everyone who experiences trauma experiences growth and transformation as a result.
However, it is a reminder that even our darkest moments have the potential for light and growth. It is proof of the power of the spirit.
So to everyone who has been through trauma, know that you are not alone and that there is growth and transformation potential on the other side. And it’s worth keeping.
Life history theory
According to life history theory, all organisms have finite resources at their disposal and should allocate those resources in a way that maximizes reproductive success.9
In other words, they need to figure out how to have as many babies as possible.
This is where things get interesting. Different organisms have different strategies for allocating resources. Some organisms, such as trees and turtles, invest heavily in growth and development early in life and then slow down to conserve resources. It is less invested in development and then breeds early and frequently.
So where do humans fit into all of this? According to life history theory, humans are known as a species with a “variable life history strategy.” In other words, we are very flexible in how we allocate resources over time.
Some humans may invest heavily in education, careers, and personal development before settling down and having children, following a slow life history strategy. Others may have children early and often and follow a fast life history strategy with less focus on long-term planning or delaying gratification.
Now, this may seem a bit abstract, but here’s where it gets really interesting. Life history theory helps explain the full range of human behavior and characteristics, from risk-taking to mate choice to socialization.
For example, humans who follow fast life history strategies are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug use and reckless driving because they have less to lose in the long run. It’s also a fertility signal, so you’re more likely to choose a partner based on physical attractiveness.
On the other hand, humans who follow a slow life history strategy may be more likely to choose partners based on intelligence or ambition. These traits are likely to contribute to long-term reproductive success. They also have more to lose in the long run, which makes them less likely to take risks and engage in risky behavior.
Note that life history theory is not a panacea for human behavior. The theory of psychology is not. It is a complex and nuanced theory that is still being studied and debated by evolutionary psychologists.
But it serves as a reminder that human behavior is not simply a product of individual choices or circumstances. It is shaped by our evolutionary history and the strategies we have developed over time to maximize reproductive success.
Life history theory may not be the most feel-good topic out there, but it does help clarify some of the most fundamental aspects of human behavior. That’s it.
If you’re even a little familiar with my work, you’ll know that I rely heavily on attachment theory to explain much of how relationships work or don’t work. .
Attachment theory is about one of the most basic human experiences: the need for emotional connection.
At the heart of attachment theory is the bond that forms between an infant and its caregiver. According to attachment theory, these bonds are important for a child’s emotional and social development. Infants who are firmly attached to their caregivers are more likely to feel safe, confident, and competent in their relationships with others throughout their lives.
But here’s where it gets really interesting. Attachment theory does not apply only to infants and their caregivers. It also helps us understand the dynamics of adult relationships. It also helps us understand why some people succeed in forming and maintaining healthy and satisfying partnerships.Ten
According to attachment theory, adults with stable attachment styles feel comfortable with intimacy and are able to form strong emotional bonds with others. They are confident in their ability to communicate their needs and feelings and trust their partner to be there when they need support.
Adults with insecure attachment styles, on the other hand, may struggle with intimacy and have trouble forming strong emotional bonds. You may struggle to communicate your needs and feelings in a healthy way.
Now, here’s where it gets really interesting. Attachment styles aren’t just hardwired into us from birth. It can also be shaped by our life experiences.11 Especially early experiences with caregivers.12
For example, if a child’s caregivers are consistently responsive and attentive to the child’s needs, they are more likely to develop a secure attachment style as adults. Lack of sexuality or neglect can lead to the development of insecure attachment styles.
Luckily, attachment styles are not set in stone. Through therapy and other forms of self-work, you can develop a more secure attachment style and build healthier, more fulfilling relationships.
Here are four psychological theories that you may not have heard of before, but they can tell you a lot about your own life. It’s a simplification of, but can give you the understanding you need to make positive changes in your life.