• 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.

The Historical Background of Assumptions about Human Nature
The historical background of assumptions about human nature

Our youth today love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect for older people. Children nowadays are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

—SOCRATES, writing in the year 5 b.c.

As the above quotation shows, evaluations of others are nothing new. Conceptions of human nature can be traced back through all of recorded civilization. This chapter examines the sources of assumptions about human nature, going back even to the origins of philosophers’ inquiries into the nature of matter. One of the goals of the chapter is to show how early inquiries into the nature of matter have contributed to present-day strategies for seeking an ...

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