• 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.

Relationship of Philosophies of Human Nature to Interpersonal Behavior
Relationship of philosophies of human nature to interpersonal behavior

Attitudes are alive and well and gainfully employed in the sphere of action.

—HERBERT KELMAN

Philosophies of human nature have been conceptualized throughout this book as social attitudes. The preceding chapters reviewed evidence that differences in philosophies of human nature exist among groups and that meaningful relationships occur between the PHN measures and other attitudinal variables. The internal consistency, stability, and validity of the PHN scale appear to be within the acceptable limits for such paper-and-pencil measures of attitude. So far, so good.

The pragmatist might say that the measurement of attitudes is useless unless it can be shown that attitudes are related to behavior. While this statement seems to me ...

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