• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

“This book, which is in its second edition, provides a provocative mirror from which to discern more clearly one's own assumptions about human nature…. I found myself reflecting on the subject matter and its impact on my own life, including relationships, teaching, research, and therapy…. The author has done a superb job of raising our consciousness about human nature in this book, an I strongly recommend it to academic and applied psychologists. If you need an invitation to examine your views about human nature, this book is it.”--C. R. Snyder, University of Kansas, Lawrence In general, are people trustworthy or unreliable, altruistic or selfish? Are they simple and easy to understand or complex and beyond comprehension? Our assumptions about human nature color everything from the way we bargain with a used-car dealer to our expectations about further conflict in the Middle East. Because our assumptions about human nature underlie our reactions to specific events, Wrightsman designed this second edition to enhance our understanding of human nature--the relationship of attitudes to behavior, the unidimensionality of attitudes, and the influence of social movements on beliefs. Psychologists, social workers, researchers, and students will find Assumptions About Human Nature an illuminating exploration into the philosophies of human nature.

Philosophies of Human Nature: How Much Change is Possible?
Philosophies of human nature: How much change is possible?
George W.Baxter, Jr., Robert N.Claxton, Lawrence S.Wrightsman

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

—William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

After reviewing the voluminous evidence on the consistency of personality, Walter Mischel (1969) concluded that our assumptions about people are formed early in life and that our later experiences are construed so as to conform to these assumptions. He wrote: “There is a great deal of evidence that our cognitive constructions about ourselves and the world—our personal theories about ourselves and those around us … often are extremely stable and highly resistant to change” (p. 1012).

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