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Personhood: Social psychology

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  1. Emerging approaches to social psychology.
  2. An analytical definition of a person is that he has recognition, existence and legal capacity under law.
  3. The biological membership to the Homo sapiens species needs to be refined.
  4. Formal language has a key role in the development of personhood.
  5. Language is further used as a method by which growing recognition of self is measured.
  6. As a consequence of being a textual being, there are four main grammars that shape the verbal intercourse of conscious persons.
  7. Culture is an important context by which personhood must be viewed.

Social psychology is an interdisciplinary area of study on how social conditions affect human beings. The focus from the psychological perspective is explaining the influence of interaction (whether actual, imagined or implied) with others on an individual's thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It tackled the intrapersonal phenomena of attitudes, persuasion, social cognition, self-concept and cognitive dissonance and interpersonal phenomena such as social influence, group dynamics, relations with others and interpersonal attraction (Allport, 1985). The emphasis from the sociological view is the behavior of groups with respect to micro-level interactions and exchanges and macro-level group dynamics and crowds. It has three known schools of thought: symbolic interactionism, social cognition and social exchange (House, 1977).

[...] Social psychologists, in their pursuit of further understanding the personhood of human beings, try to express a personhood with language. In doing so, the symbiotic relationship of the person to the existing language community must be respected and that life forms that may be disturbed or destroyed by embarking in this endeavor must also be respected. As a consequence of being a textual being, there are four main grammars that shape the verbal intercourse of conscious persons. These are: Soul or S-grammar which focuses on concepts such as God, soul, sin and redemption; Person or P-grammar which emphasizes persons as basic components and sources of activity; Organism or O-grammar which takes organisms as the basic particulars and active beings; and Molecular or M-grammar wherein molecules are the basic units and sources of activity (Harre, n.d.). [...]


[...] House, J. S. (1977). The three faces of social psychology. Sociometry 161-177. Burr, V. (1995). An Introduction to Social Constructionism, London: Routledge. Locke, J. (1690). An essay concerning human understanding. Nixon, G. (n.d.). Excavating the cultural construction of personhood. Retrieved 15 May 2007 from Prescott College Website: Edelman, G. (1992). Bright air, Brilliant fire: On the matter [...]


[...] Culture characterizes society and is therefore an important sociological factor in the social construction of personhood. Nixon (n.d.), in his discussion of personhood, narrows down the definition of personhood by including only participating members of a social community. Extraterrestrial and undiscovered life in the universe was not included simply because the possibilities of life forms are infinite and therefore indefinable beyond discussion. The biological membership to the Homo sapiens species needs to be refined because neurologically damaged individuals may not be able to significantly participate in social activities and thus, will not receive social influence to form his personhood. [...]

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