Contextual “Personality” Questionnaire: Observing your Self by Observing your World

This is adapted from a class assignment , and the references to guide your observations come from the book we use:

Guerin, B. (2016). How to rethink human behavior: A practical guide to social contextual analysis. London: Routledge.

The idea is that instead of ‘explaining’ everything about yourself as something inside you (personality, thinking, cognitions, decisions, choices), this is intended to ‘turn you inside out’ and have you observe your own contexts and how they control you.  So these are self-observations but of your world, context or environments, not some ‘inner self’ (which is really just your talking and therefore controlled externally by your social relationships anyway; next questionnaire I do will be a language use one on your own talking and thinking in context).

The instructions are simply to begin observing your own world and how it affects you.  Fill this in over time after many observations of what happens in your world and how you have learned to respond.

It covers your basic resources in life, the people or relationships through which you get these resources, social properties of some main relationships (family, friends and strangers), the economics that determines your behaviours, and the various opportunities you have had (privileges) or not had (barriers) through gender, race and family resources. For this we did not cover historical or cultural context except indirectly.

Notice this: if you assume our actions, thinking and talking originate from ‘inside’ us then using verbal self-reports makes sense theoretically. If our actions, thinking and talking arise from our external contexts then the methodology must be more detailed, time-consuming, and intense.   This is no place for online surveys, sorry… It requires participation but in this case it is participation in your own world so it should be easier in some ways than other research participation.

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1. What are the three most important tangible resources you need in your own life from week to week?

                                                                                       _____________

Write below: which people do you mainly get these resources through? Write about as much of the chain of people as you know to get these tangible resources? (small paragraph)

 

2.. What are two important examples of “access to resources” in your life?

                                                                                               

Write below: What actual tangible resources might these get you eventually, and through which people do these come? (small paragraph)

 

3. What is one example from your life of your symbolic resources?

                                                   

Write below: What actual tangible resources might this get you, and through which people?  Who are the intended audiences for this, and how does this fit into your life, resources and social relationships? (small paragraph)

 

4. What is one form of reputation, status, or honour you try to maintain fairly consistently in your life?

                                                   

Write below: What actual tangible resources might this get you eventually, and through which people?  Who are the intended audiences for this, and how does this fit into your life, resources and social relationships?  What would happen to your life-in-context if it got messed up (maybe someone spreads gossip?) (small paragraph)

 

5. Give one example of you doing something to escape or avoid some event or thing which would have negative consequences for you otherwise? (small paragraph)

 

6. Give a brief example from your life of the ‘over-persons’ form of ‘generalized exchanges”. (Figure 2.1; small paragraph)

 

7. What is an example of you keeping something secret from a friend, and what were the resources and people involved? (small paragraph)

 

8. What is an example of you trying to find out something you did not know about one of your friends, and what were the resources/ outcomes (why did you want to know?) and people involved? (small paragraph)

 

9. What is an example of you trusting someone (when things could have gone wrong), and what were the resources and people involved? (small paragraph)

 

10. Give two examples of compartmentalization in your life (p. 71). (small paragraph)

 

11. Family: (just lists of initials but name the relationship you have, expand as you observe your life over the next 3 months as you observe more about your patterns of interaction)

Who are the main family members in your life whom you talk to at least once a day?

Who are other family members in your life whom you talk to at least once a month?

 

12. Friends: (just lists of initials but name the relationship you have)

Who are your main friends you talk to at least once a day?

Who are other friends in your life you talk to at least once a month?

 

13. Groups: (just lists of initials but name the relationship you have)

What social groups do you identify with (groups you feel a part of, hang out with, or claim an identity or affiliation with when you are talking to other people?)

 

14. Strangers and acquaintances: (just lists of initials but name the relationship you have)

Who are strangers (non-kin, non-friend) in your life whom you talk to at least once a week?

Who are strangers (non-kin, non-friend) in your life whom you talk to at least once a month?

 

15. Now fill out 3 different tables of the fifteen “social relationship properties” given below. You choose from above one friend, one close family member, and one stranger you see often (from 11-14). Do one table for each of these three people.

Do not just write “money” for a stranger resource; give an actual example which you observed in your own life (“I paid about $3 for the fruit and the shopkeeper and I sort of smiled at each other, no talking”). Write about 2-3 sentences for each social property when they are juicy. You might want to refer back to earlier properties to explain something later.

Pick one family member: Fill out the table given below for this person.

Pick one friend: Fill out the table given below for this person.

Pick one stranger you see regularly: Fill out the table given below for this person.

What are some socially strategic properties of these three relationships?  What are common possibilities which you might observe?  What might each of these social phenomena listed look like when observed in the stated social relationships?

Pick ONE person in ONE relationship with you, and map your social relationship context

  • Resources that can be obtained through this person?
  • Secrecy and openness with this person?
  • Monitoring you do of this person?
  • Exchanges/interdependencies made with this person?
  • Ease of escaping or avoiding bad consequences from this person?
  • Do you normally do things this person wants?
  • Obligations to this person?
  • Your reputation/ image that you try to uphold with this person?
  • How easily can you influence this person?
  • Competitiveness with this person?
  • How much knowledge has this person of your other social relationships in life?
  • Refusing to help this person, how easy is that?
  • Politeness and deference you give to this person?
  • Having trust in this person?
  • Apologizing to this person; for what sorts of things?

 

16. Give two examples from your life of how capitalism has directly affected some behaviours, thinking or major directions in your life, with concrete examples. Follow pages 92-96. (small paragraph)

 

17. Give two examples from your life of how you got some resources without using money, documenting the resources, the people involved, and the reciprocity involved. (small paragraph)

 

18. Give two examples from your life of you and a person sharing, and document the frequency, the resources, the people involved, and the reciprocity. Use two different people from your lists earlier (11-14). (small paragraph)

 

19. Give one example from your life of you and a person bartering, documenting the frequency, the resources, the people involved, and the reciprocity involved

 

20. Give two examples using people from your ‘people lists’ earlier (11-14), that you give gifts to, at least occasionally and not just Xmas or their birthday? What would happen if you stopped giving these gifts? (small paragraph)

 

21. Give two different examples of gender-based opportunities which have impacted on a major direction in your life for good, for bad, or both. Then give one concrete example of how your life might have been different if you had been another gender? (small paragraph)

 

22. Give two different examples of race-based or ethnicity-based opportunities which have impacted on a major direction in your life for good, for bad, or both. Then give one concrete example of how your life might have been different if you had been another race or ethnicity? (small paragraph)

 

23. Give two different examples of wealth-based opportunities that have impacted on a major direction in your life for good, for bad, or both. Then give one concrete example of how your life might have been different if you had been in a different economic context?

 

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24. Finally, write a few paragraphs about the trajectory of your life so far, given all you have observed above, and perhaps about how your life contexts will determine your future. Make it follow from all you have written in this Assignment above and only refer to observable events, people, and things from your life. If what you write bears no relationship to all you have observed and written about above, it will not get good marks. That is, do not just outline your abstract plans for life (“I want to be a famous clinical psychologist…”). Instead, say where your life contexts are currently leading you.

 

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