Believing in Beliefs: A Scientific but Personal Quest

Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)

As a species, we humans use, indeed must use, our cognitive capacities both individually and collectively to ensure our survival and enhance our flourishing in the ecological niches we inhabit across the life span. Vivendo, ergo cogito. Our abilities to discriminate, abstract, integrate knowledge into hierarchical models, to reflect and refine enable us to build upon classical and instrumental conditioning provided by our individual experiences over the life course to figure out how our world we inhabit works. Our cultures of origin provide each of us with a repository of received wisdom which equips each cultural group member with a general framework for testing in this process of mastering one's world. This transmitted legacy shapes how we process experiences across the life span, so as to revise our beliefs as a function of how the world responds to our being-in-that-world. These acquired truths or axioms about the material, psychological, social, and spiritual worlds encountered by us humans organize themselves into five separate dimensions, along which each individual develops a profile representing his or her best-practice judgments to date. We have come to conceptualize these general judgments about how the world functions as individual assessments of the perceived distal situation. We individuals must deploy the personal resources of temperament, intelligence, and creativity in our daily exchanges with the proximal environment we confront to achieve our preferred goals through our engagements in individual life projects. Numerous empirical studies to date have suggested this to be a useful general model for understanding human functioning, a model which is being further elaborated as research continues. This scientific process parallels the individual process by which individuals elaborate their understanding of the world that they continue to engage.


Life Satisfaction General Belief Anxious Attachment Social Complexity Death Anxiety 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyChinese University of Hong KongShatinChina

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