Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

The Changing Face of Psychology at the Dawning of a Globalization Era

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

The Changing Face of Psychology at the Dawning of a Globalization Era

Article excerpt

Honorary President's Address - Allocution du President honoraire


Societies today are undergoing drastic social, informational, and technological changes. The revolutionary advances in electronic technologies and globalization are transforming the nature, reach, speed, and loci of human influence. These rapidly evolving realities place increasing demands on the exercise of personal and collective agency to shape personal destinies and the national life of societies. There is growing unease about progressive divestiture of different aspects of psychology to biology and subpersonal cognitive science. It is feared that as we give away more and more psychology to disciplines lower on the food chain, there will be no core psychological discipline left. Contrary to divestitive oracles, psychology is the integrative discipline best suited to advance understanding of human adaptation and change. It is the discipline that uniquely encompasses the complex interplay between intrapersonal, biological, interpersonal, and sociostructural determinants of human functioning. With the growing primacy of human agency in virtually all spheres of life, the field of psychology should be articulating a broad vision of human beings not a reductive fragmentary one.

The present address analyzes human adaptation and change from an agentic perspective and documents the growing primacy of personal and collective agency in this era of globalization. The capacity to exercise some measure of control over the nature and quality of one's life is the essence of humanness. Human agency is characterized by a number of core features. These include intentionality for shaping future plans and courses of action, temporal extension of agency through forethought, self-regulation of motivation, affect, and action through self-influence, and self-reflectiveness concerning one's functioning and the meaning and purpose of one's life (Bandura, 1999a, 2001). These core features of self-directedness enable humans to play a part in their own development, adaptation, and self-- renewal.


In its brief history, psychology has undergone wrenching paradigm shifts. The current theoretical ferment will determine the very nature of our discipline, not only the paradigms that subserve it. Over the years, the core metaphors of our theories have changed but the theories grant humans little, if any, agentic capabilities.

Much of the early psychological theorizing was founded on behaviouristic principles. It embraced an input-output model linked by an internal conduit that makes behaviour possible but exerts no influence of its own. Human behaviour was shaped and controlled automatically and mechanically by environmental stimuli. This line of theorizing was put out of vogue by the advent of the computer. It likened the mind to a linear computational system operating through a central processor. This model filled the internal conduit with a lot of representational and computational operations created by smart and inventive thinkers.

The linear model was, in turn, supplanted by more dynamically organized computational models that perform multiple operations simultaneously and inter-actively to mimic better how the human brain works. Sensory organs deliver up information to a neural network acting as the mental machinery. The network does the construing, planning, motivating, and regulating nonconsciously. Although the mindless organism became a more cognitive one, it was still devoid of consciousness and agentic capabilities. It is not people, but their subpersonal parts that are orchestrating the courses of action. The personal level involves phenomenal consciousness and the purposive use of information and self-regulative means to make desired things happen.

Consciousness is the very substance of mental life. It not only makes life personally manageable but worth living. …

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