Psychology Colloquium: “What Would a Holistic Psychology Look Like?”

Posted on 11/9/2010 8:01:25 AM

Michael Mascolo of the Department of Psychology at Merrimack College will be presenting a colloquium for the Psychology Department titled “What Would a Holistic Psychology Look Like?: Analyzing the Development of Persons.”

The colloquium takes place on Friday, November 12, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. in Uhler Hall, Room 114.

Professor Mascolo developed a system for the dynamic analysis of joint action. This system provides a set of conceptual and empirical tools for analyzing developmental changes in the dynamic structure of jointly-produced acting, thinking, and feeling. The analytic system has been used to examine developmental changes in a variety of different psychological domains: development of representations of self in sociocultural contexts (USA, India); development of self-evaluative emotions (pride, shame, guilt, etc.) in sociocultural contexts (USA, Chinese-American immigrants); teaching and learning how to perform everyday tasks (sensori-motor tasks; how to tie shoes; adding integers; storytelling, etc.); micro-development of self and emotion in psychotherapy; and individual and social change processes in development.

About his colloquium, Dr. Mascolo notes:

Psychology is largely a fragmented discipline. Psychologists not only begin their work from different orientations and assumptions, they tend to focus their research programs on relatively isolated problems that have relevance within isolated intellectual communities.

Researchers tend to study parts or modules of human action and experience in isolation from each other (e.g., sensation, perception, emotion, cognition). Within these practices, we are immediately faced with a paradox.

Scientific analysis requires that researchers narrow the scope of their inquiry to solvable problems. The local success of this approach comes at a cost. Researchers are often unaware of studies in areas that have deep importance for their own research. Similarly, despite the voluminous outpouring of data generated from local research, progress toward developing an understanding of human action at the level of the integrated person has been limited.

In this talk, I attempt to bring together literature from multiple areas within and outside of psychology to develop an integrated conception of what it means to understand human action at the level of the person. I then describe a set of conceptual and empirical tools for analyzing the development of integrated structures of thinking, feeling and acting over the course of the lifespan. I will draw on studies on the holistic nature of development in academic, socio-emotional, and psychotherapeutic contexts. My hope is to invite conversation about how to coordinate and preserve what is best about existing research and applied practice in psychology, while simultaneously working toward ways to develop a rigorous holistic psychology of developing persons.

About Michael Mascolo

Michael F. Mascolo earned his PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University at Albany and conducted post-doctoral research at Harvard University (Graduate School of Education). He is currently professor of Psychology at Merrimack College (North Andover, Mass.). His research is derived from an embodied co-active systems approach to human development. His research includes studies on the development of self and emotion, psychotherapy as a developmental process, teaching and learning processes, and the development of action within the context of social interaction. Mascolo has authored or coauthored numerous theoretical and empirical articles, and he has edited and coauthored several books, most recently Psychotherapy as a Developmental Process.

Learn more about Michael Mascolo.