Of Systems and Theories
What We're About
A Scientific Process
Components of Theory
A common human tendency is to try to analyze how or why it is that some other person has done a particular thing. We frequently base our analysis on our own experience of human behavior and popular or 'lay' theory found in the general press and television programming. In our own mind, we probably have a way of organizing people into groups and categories. This 'system' helps us deal with people who are not well known to us, and helps us relate to those we know perhaps too well. Comments that betray such systems sound similar to these statements: 'Oh well, what can you expect? He's just an excitable type of person!' or 'With more self confidence, she could do a whole lot better'. Some of our ideas about people and how they come to behave as they do emanate from reading the theories of scientists, and from all kinds of informal and formal observations. These classifications we create help us to make sense of our world and the people in it, including even ourselves.
These systems we develop are not the real maps of personhood; they merely try to deal with a small piece of the map, and they certainly do not describe the real territory. Our system may not translate very well to the understanding of another person, and would run into serious problems with those of different ages and from other cultures. We can