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Explorations in Orienting vs. Multiple Perspectives

Pantaleo, G.
1997, 108 pages
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978-3-933151-07-0
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This book presents the reader with a set of empirical studies aimed at exploring the basic tenets of the theory of orienting vs. multiple perspectives. Starting with the simple observation that humans who possess and show status symbols are commonly thought to be "better" than other persons - i.e. more highly educated, wiser, more intelligent, and the like - the focus moves to the analysis of the psychological forces that bring a perceiver to open to a multiplicity of alternative, seemingly different, even contradictory views of  the symbol. Thus, at a cross-cultural level of analysis, a first experiment illustrates how a culture (nation) with a relatively lesser background of everyday social contact (Germany) tends to appreciate to a greater extent literary excerpts allegedly written by an author with a Dr.-title, than a culture with more intense social contact (Italy). In a similar vein, a second study shows that the culture with more everyday contact (Italy) also manifests a comparatively stronger tendency to ascribe multiple meanings to a stauts symbol (a doctor’s title) than the culture with less contact (Germany). Perhaps most importantly, a third experiment makes it clear that similar effects can occur also within the boundaries of a given nation, the case in point being Germany. The psychological forces causing individuals to orient themselves toward univocal, clear-cut positions and interpretations, thereby reducing the complexity entailed in multiple perspectives, can also be examined on a more direct, and perhaps more relevant plane - the interpersonal setting. Experiment four shows how these forces can surface in a person’s propensity to exclude other’s viewpoints. An extension of the theoretical domain of application is given by the last reported experiment, which brings the theory to bear on the freedoms stemming from a relatively unstructured stimulus situation. Finally, the comings and goings of orienting vs. multiple perspectives are discussed with reference to three traditionally distinct levels of analysis and a unifying temporal dimension: (1) the short-term, acute, or experimental level, (2) the developmental/personality level, and (3) the cultural, or still longer-term level. This provides the reader with an integrative framework for the analysis of the interplay of the two forces across research paradigms.

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