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The point of view: towards a social psychology of relativity

Sammut, Gordon (2010) The point of view: towards a social psychology of relativity. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The explanation of social behaviour requires an understanding of individual orientations to social issues as these exist relative to others. This thesis argues that whilst the attitude concept and social representations have illuminated certain aspects of social behaviour, both are handicapped by a restricted focus. The former’s focus on the evaluation of attitude objects excludes a reference to wider societal processes. The latter provides an account of societal contingencies, but excludes an explanation of individual orientations towards objects and issues in the social environment. This thesis postulates the point of view concept to bridge this gap, that provides an explanation of social behaviour at the situational level. This complements attitude and social representations in a nested, multilevel explanation of social behaviour. The point of view is defined as an outlook towards a social event, expressed as a claim, which can be supported by an argument of opinion based on a system of knowledge from which it derives its logic. It reflects an individual’s orientation towards a social object, relative to others. This thesis has demonstrated, in a series of empirical studies, that the point of view can be typified in three categories. A monological point of view is closed to another’s perspective. A dialogical point of view acknowledges another’s perspective but dismisses it as wrong. A metalogical point of view acknowledges the relativity of its’ perspective, and concedes to an alternative the possibility of being right. These different types were demonstrated to be characterised by differences in positioning and in individuals’ capacity to fit a given social reality. Such relational outcomes accrue as a function of the socio-cognitive structure of points of view in relation with another perspective. This thesis demonstrates that points of view, alongside attitudes and social representations, provides a multilevel explanation of social behaviour

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Gordon Sammut
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science
Supervisor: Jovchelovitch, Sandra and Gaskell, George and Jovchelovitch, Sandra

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