Igor Grossmann is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo, Canada, where he leads the Wisdom and Culture Lab. As a cognitive/social scientist, Grossman has worked to unravel what constitutes “wise” judgment in social and cultural change. His main work is to clarify misconceptions about wisdom and social change, and to identify the cultural and psychological processes that enable people to think and act wisely. nature human behavior, scientific progress, Proceedings of the Royal Academy: Biological Sciences, Proceedings of the United States National Academy of Sciences, Perspectives on psychology, psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychologyand Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
His contributions have been recognized through numerous awards, including the American Psychological Foundation’s Joseph B. Gittler Award, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s SAGE Young Scholar Award, and the Association for Psychological Science’s Rising Star Award. Grossmann has in the past emotionsand Social Psychology and Personality Sciencenow editor-in-chief of psychological researchHe co-hosts the ‘On Wisdom Podcast’, which aims to disseminate scientific insights from the cognitive and social sciences to both academic and general audiences. Professor Grossman holds his Ph.D. He holds a PhD in psychology from the University of Michigan.
Where is the most exciting research/discussion taking place in your field?
There is a lot of discussion in psychology these days. Many of them concern metascientific questions about the role of replication in the advancement of theory (e.g., how do we modify a theory or phenomenon if replication fails?). Or questions about the generalizability of lab-based experiments and investigations on specific subsamples (often North American college students) and whether they are applicable not only to wider populations but also to different cultures. Additionally, questions about how to reduce confusion about concepts used by social scientists. That is, when the same concept is intended to describe different phenomena, or when different names are used to describe the same phenomenon. Beyond metatheory, there are provocative questions about cultural evolution, (ongoing) social change, and misunderstandings of such change, often fueled by misinformation and political polarization. It is His two latter topics of misinformation and polarization have been at the center of many topical discussions in social psychology in recent years.
How has the way you understand the world changed over time, and what (or who) has caused the biggest shift in your thinking?
I’m not sure which changes were most significant, but I’m careful to create a post hoc narrative here. Presented. I was born in the Soviet Union in the early 1980s and loved history, so when society collapsed in the early 1990s and values in my home country of Ukraine began to change, I learned about the new life my school received. The change in history textbooks was remarkable and definitely impacted my life. A worldview about the ephemeral, socially constructed nature of things that society values. After that, my family became refugees in Germany. There my worldview was further shaped by the different forms of social stratification, hierarchy and prejudice I experienced as an immigrant from Eastern Europe. When I started studying psychology, many mentors and colleagues in Germany, America and Canada greatly shaped the way I understood psychological phenomena. This includes the cultural underpinnings and temporal aspects that underpin these phenomena.
How have recent advances in analytical methods (machine learning/NLP, big data, etc.) enhanced our ability to understand how humans make sense of changes in their world and society?
For some questions, related computational approaches allow scholars to analyze large amounts of text-related, social media, or archival data. As a result, models may provide a more sophisticated picture of how humans speak and act about specific phenomena, and how related patterns of language and behavior change over time. there is. A caveat here is that the computational approach is still very crude and may not be applicable to all research questions. Moreover, the algorithms used in such computational approaches can be highly biased, expanding the research area.
in your publication “Expert Predictions for Social Change: Insights from a Post-COVID Project World‘ and “Insights on the Accuracy of Social Change Predictions by Social Scientists” You analyzed interviews from world-class experts in the behavioral and social sciences. What are the most important insights from this research?
I had three. First, opinions have changed dramatically. We had more opinions than the scientists we interviewed. Second, scientists expressed great uncertainty when making predictions in the first year of the pandemic. Use mixed-feeling feelings when talking about positive and negative outcomes, both in terms of mentioning the same topic that can improve or harm society, and in terms of emotional feelings often happened. Third, if there is any agreement on the prediction of what the most important consequences of the pandemic will be ( after the pandemic is over), these predictions seemed to reflect what people had in mind at that particular moment. issues, but in the fall of 2020 (just before the US elections), such themes had to do with political polarization. In short, current events seemed to bias scientists’ predictions of the future.
What have been the main challenges in predicting psychological and social changes during this period of Covid?
As outlined above, it is difficult to ignore the “forces of circumstance”. With most of the media writing about it, it might be tempting to predict that if social injustice or political polarization is on your mind, these issues will continue to be of paramount importance. important in the future. But there is also a bigger problem. Most social scientists, including many of the scientific elite I interviewed, have no formal training in prediction-oriented science. As social scientists, we often rely on explanations of the past. But when faced with the problem of predicting the future, we rarely think about the generalizability of explanations. Also, our theoretical models are largely underestimated and simply indicate whether a particular event is likely or unlikely to occur. This approach is hardly suitable for making concrete predictions about the complex world we live in.
We also noted that we initially predicted convergence of predictions larger than observed. Why do so many experts have different opinions on the same issue? Is achieving consensus ultimately a positive thing?
We can only speculate about some of the reasons for the disagreements. On the other hand, most scientists did not have a theoretical template or framework for the role of once-in-a-lifetime events like the COVID-19 pandemic on human society and behavior. Without a common framework, opinions can take ad hoc forms. On the one hand, we intentionally selected top scholars from various fields of social, environmental, and political science. Therefore, the diversity of predictions may be the result of different field orientations.
Whether or not consensus is desirable depends on the goals of the project drawing on the experts. If your goal is to understand the likelihood of a particular event occurring (for example, NATO’s active involvement in a conflict between Russia and Ukraine), consensus It may reflect the accuracy of expert estimates. But if the goal is to cast the net widely and consider all possible outcomes of major events, diversity may be more desirable.
of ‘Cultural Change: How and Why‘ You delve into the mechanisms of cultural change. What are the most important factors in determining how and why societies change?
There are several factors, including the duration and potency of ecological events, socioeconomic forces (including stratification, educational attainment, and GDP), and factors that influence the rate of cultural transmission. For example, the tightness or looseness of cultural norms can affect the speed of change and the observation that negative information tends to spread faster and reach more people than positive information on social media. there is.
What role will cultural and psychological studies play in the future of international relations and politics?
Heterochronous studies allow us to go beyond static cultural differences to model cultural processes and how they change over time. As a result, it captures dynamic features of culture that have been neglected until now by academia and parts of international relations. A major challenge in cultural change research concerns the availability of reliable data with excellent temporal resolution over time. Without good data, estimates of cultural shifts in attitudes toward tolerance, traditionalism, violence, or climate change remain speculative. The latter may be useful to political commentators as their claims about the direction of our society remain unconfirmed. In order to provide a
What is the most important advice you can give to young researchers in international relations?
Don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions that make others uncomfortable. And try to find good (robust and reliable) data to address them.