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October 2021

Dialogical thinking and self-innovation

Journal/Book: Cult Psychol. 1999; 5: 6 Bonhill Street, London, England EC2a 4Pu. Sage Publications Ltd. 67-87.

Abstract: In the tradition of American pragmatism, theorists like Tames, Mead and Allport have emphasized the self's capacity for change and innovation. In the tradition of the Russian dialogical school, Bakhtin and his co-workers have dealt with the relationship between dialogue and innovation. These two traditions are brought together in the concept of the 'dialogical self', which is taken as the starting point for an empirical investigation. 103 participants were invited to describe a personal problem and, subsequently, think about this problem through a sequence of dialogical steps. Three types of dialogical movement are distinguished representing increasing, decreasing and stabilizing levels of novelty. Moreover, thinking about a problem from the position of a significant other (other-position) and from one's own point of view (self-position) are compared. The results were analyzed on the group and individual level. On the group level it was found that a sizeable minority of the participants show increasing levels of novelty, and, contrary to expectations, those who think via the other-position demonstrate more cases of stabilizing and decreasing novelty than increasing novelty. On the individual level a series of idiographic analyses was performed demonstrating an intimate relationship between the dialogical processing of a personal problem and changes in the corresponding experience of novelty. Finally, the relevance of the Bakhtinian notion of polyphony and the collaborative relationship between researcher and subject are discussed.

Note: Article Hermans HJM, Univ Nijmegen, Dept Psychol, POB 9104, NL-6500 HE Nijmegen, NETHERLANDS

Keyword(s): dialogical thinking; dialogicality; innovation; self

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