The dialogical self, positioning, and ambiguous signifiers Peter Raggatt, James Cook University, Australia 1. The Dialogical Self as Life History 1. How can the dialogical self be understood from a life historical and temporal perspective? 2. What are the developmental origins of the dialogical self conceived in this way? And, 3. How do positions crystallize over time, leading to multiplicity? Defining the Dialogical Self I-positions can be internal or external, and a range of dialogical tensions are thus possible: “within the internal domain (e.g., ‘As an enjoyer of life I disagree with myself as an ambitious worker’); between the internal and external (extended) domain (e.g., ‘I want to do this but the voice of my mother in myself criticizes me’); and within the external domain (e.g., ‘The way my parents were interacting with each other has shaped the way I deal with problems in my contact with my husband’).” (Hermans & Hermans-Konopka, 2010, p. 7-8) Some Features of Dialogical Self Theory 1. The self and society are directly linked by placing internal psychological processes in the broader context of external social and societal processes. 2. Traditional (in the West) distinctions or boundaries between self and other are challenged. There is recognition of the ‘other-withinself’. 3. The basic metaphor for the dialogical self - a conversation – is embedded in the choice of terminology. 4. The conversation metaphor creates movement and space. The self is multi-positioned and therefore fundamentally spatial in its structural organisation Dialogical Self as a Time-Space Matrix • While this approach explicitly links the self to the social, to movement, and to positioning in space, there is little reference to the continuity or fleetingness of positioning in the temporal and historical domain. • The question -- How does the dialogical self unfold over time -- remains relatively unaddressed. • From a narrative and life-historical perspective, therefore, the dialogical self might be defined as a time-space matrix. • Bakhtin called this matrix the ‘chronotope’ (meaning, literally: ‘time-space’) Outline 1. The dialogical self as life history 2. Bakhtin’s concept of chronotope. 3. Ontogeny and Position Exchange Theory (a) Identification and distanciation (b) ‘I’ and the ‘Me’ as markers of psychological position exchange 4. ‘Thirdness’, ambiguous signifiers, and dialogical triads. (a) I – Me – Other Triads 5. A model for personal chronotopes using triads. 6. A life historical example – chronotopes in the case of Charles 7. The Big Five traits as ambiguous signifiers Overview of Argument 1. I begin with a short discussion of Bakhtin’s (1981) concept of chronotope. 2. I will then shift to a discussion of ontogeny – the early emergence of the dialogical self. In the approach taken here the developing capacity to ‘distanciate’ first-person subject (‘I’) from third-person object (‘Me’) is taken as a fundamental reference point for the emergence of dialogicality in the self (Raggatt, 2010, 2012). 3. However, these internal movements or ‘position exchanges’ (Gillespie & Martin, 2013) ultimately have their origins in the social domain. 4. Alloyed to the I–Me dyad, therefore, we need a third position anchored in the social. This ‘other’ may be a specific person, it may be a generalized other, or it may be some object in the world. 5. Following this line of reasoning I propose to use ‘dialogical triads’ of the form ‘I – Me - Other’ as a means to ‘map’ the emergence of ‘personal chronotopes’. 6. The personal chronotope is conceptualized as a thematically and historically organized string or sequence of dialogical triads. 2. Bakhtin’s Concept of Chronotope Chronotopes in Literature “the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed…” (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 84). “Time, as it were, thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible; likewise, space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot, and history. This intersection of axes and fusion of indicators characterizes the artistic chronotope”(p. 84). Personal Chronotopes in a Dialogical Self 1. A composite of the synchronic and diachronic 2. Defined by (a) the simultaneity and (b) the historicity or succession of Ipositions and Counter-positions as these emerge in time-space 3. Ontogeny and Position Exchange Theory 1. Address the early development of the dialogical self because this helps to understand what happens later. 2. Provide the grounds for using a triadic approach to model mediation in personal chronotopes. Positioning Theories Discursive Positioning - “Positioning Theory” (Harre & van Langenhove, 1991; Harre & Moghaddam, 2003) Psychological (or Reflexive) Positioning – “Dialogical Self Theory” (Hermans & Kempen, 1993; Hermans & HermansKonopka, 2010) Social Positioning – “Position Exchange Theory” (Gillespie, 2010; Martin & Gillespie, 2011) Principles of Position Exchange Theory 1. All abstract psychological positioning begins from the template of our social and physical positioning in the concrete world (Martin & Gillespie, 2011) 2. Our capacities for intersubjectivity emerge from psychological processes of identification, distanciation and integration that begin in early infancy 3. These processes involve an emerging capacity to imaginatively move in both time and space beyond the concrete here and now Identification and Distanciation • Identification – a movement out of one’s own situation to empathetically participate in the situation of someone else • Distanciation – a movement out of one’s own situation to reflect upon one’s own situation (Gillespie, 2010) Early Psychological Position Exchanges 1. When do the ‘I’ and the ‘Me’ emerge as linguistic markers of psychological position exchange? 2. When do children first recognise themselves in a mirror, suggesting that a link between the ‘I’ and the distanciated ‘Me’ has been formed? 3. And what can we learn from looking into a mirror at our own reflection? 3(b) ‘I’ and the ‘Me’ as linguistic markers of psychological position exchange LOOKING INTO A MIRROR AT OUR OWN REFLECTION A disquieting experience characterized by “a peculiar emptiness, ghostliness [and] vaguely oppressive loneliness” (Bakhtin, 1990, pp. 28-29). 4. ‘Thirdness’, Ambiguous Signifiers, and Dialogical Triads C. S. Peirce’s Epistemology 1. Firstnesses -- Involve the immediacy of sensations, such as the sensation of color. 2. Secondnesses -- Involve interactions that are unmediated, as when two bodies collide, but regardless of any third. 3. Thirdnesses – Involve mediation. A first bound together with a second by the mediation of a third. Peirce called thirds ‘interpretants’. Thirds involve cultural knowledge that mediates meaning in the relation of firsts and seconds. Interpretant (Culture) (thirdness) (secondness) Object Figure 1 Signifier Peirce’s semiotic triad Ambiguous Signifier (person, object, event) (thirdness) (secondness) I-position 1 I (Me) Figure 2 A dialogical triad I-position 2 Me (I) Ambiguous Signifiers 1. A person, object, event, or idea that constitutes a third position – a mediator, a link to the outside world 2. As mediator, movement is made possible 3. Are ambiguous, have multi-stable meaning values, e.g., a Janus head, an object or symbol with at least two meanings 4. Are fulcrums for distanciation 5. Help explain (internal and external) position exchange, negotiation, and conflict 5. A Model for the Personal Chronotope using Triads 6. A Life Historical Example – Chronotopes in the life of Charles Personality Web Protocol – Overview of Procedure 1. Participants make a list of about two dozen important constituents from their life histories (important people, events, objects, places). 2. Participant sorts these components into “self-relevant facets” or clusters. 3. The facets are then given a self-descriptive label (e.g., ‘dominant self’, ‘victim’). 4. Participants are also asked to rates all constituents, pairwise, for similarities and differences. These ratings are then cluster analysed. 5. Participants are interviewed using the life history constituents as cues in a semi-structured format. Table 2 Taxonomy of Attachments Comprising the PersonalityWeb Protocol People 1 Liked Associate 1 2 Liked Public 2 Figure 3 Disliked Associate3 4 Disliked Public 4 Figure 5 Other Important 5 Associate (i) 6 Other Important 6 Associate (ii) 7 8 Objects-inthe-World Important Possession (i) Important Possession (ii) Symbolic Object Place-in-the-World (i) Place-in-the-World (ii) Clothing, Costume (i) Clothing, Costume (ii) Work of Art or Imagination 1 2 3 4 5 6 Life Events Childhood Peak Experience Childhood Nadir Experience Adolescence Peak Experience Adolescence Nadir Experience Adulthood Peak Experience Adulthood Nadir Experience Body Orientations 1 Liked Body Part 2 Disliked Body Part 3 Strong Body Part 4 Weak Body Part Personality Web Instructions and Interview Probes Positive Figures: “someone who has inspired you, occupied your thoughts, and guided your actions”. Negative Figures: "people who have occupied your thoughts and influenced your actions, but with whom you associate strong negative thoughts and feelings". Interview Probes: ego’s relationship to figure; story about figure; conversation with figure; trait description of figure ‘Objects-in-the-World’: "including your most private mementos, and your most important material possessions...but also objects to which you are attached psychologically...(a flag, a logo... a public building, a national park...)". Events: broken up into 'peak' and 'nadir' experiences. A peak experience was defined as "a high point in your life; one of the most wonderful times in your life." Nadir experiences were the opposite: "a low point; a bad time in your life". Body Orientations: participants asked to "think about particular body parts that mean different things to you". Then identify four parts (e.g., eyes, legs etc), that were respectively "liked", "disliked", "strong" and "weak". Interview Probe: "reflect on the associations and connections you draw from the object/event/body part." Task 1: Pair-Wise Rating of Attachments for Multidimensional Scaling 'the strength of association or connection between pairs of attachments in terms of your sense of who you are -- your selfrelevant thinking, feeling, acting and experiencing.' 1 2 None/Weak 3 4 Moderate 5 6 7 8 9 Strong/V. Strong Association in Thought, Feeling, Action & Experience ATTACHMENT 1. RATINGS 1 2. 2 3. 3 4. 4 5. 5 6. 6 7. 7 At the time of interview Charles was a 37 year old single gay man who ran a successful small business. He was also a committed activist for gay rights and had twice run for election to public office. Although he was not elected Charles became a spokesperson for gay issues in his local community. Charles feels his life had been enriched by his commitments to gay politics. But at the same time he is keenly aware that his successes were born out of significant challenges. Charles identifies strongly with ‘manliness’ and masculinity. But, due in significant part to his homosexuality, he has had to endure a series of humiliations and rejections in the context of his masculinity. As a child Charles was not interested in sports and he remembers that this particularly disappointed his father. He felt he owed his father something because of this. Charles joined the Navy at 15, inspired by the archetype of the manly warrior. But at 17 he was discharged after a (gay) affair with a fellow crew member was discovered. After this experience Charles sought out a ‘cure’ for his homosexuality in a charismatic church group. This, too, ended in humiliation when Charles was publicly ex-communicated from the church after the cure failed. Charles construes his activism in the gay community as a dialogical response to the traumas inflicted by these and other humiliations. At the same time Charles reports inner turmoil over his strong sense of masculinity, which he construes as at odds with both his sexual orientation, and gay stereotypes. Table 3 Charles’ Web of Attachments Grouped into Voices of the Self 1. Humiliated Self Rejected by father after first football match (aged 8) (made to feel I’d let him down; guilt) Discharged from Navy (aged 17) (admitted homosexuality; fear, shame, confusion) Excommunicated from Church (aged 19) (attempt to ‘cure’ myself; “they said I was demonically possessed” Quentin Crisp (activist, but also a negative role model; “his extreme femininity was a negative influence”) Crooked face: (“Barbara Streisand nose”; “Prince Charles ears”; “lips and teeth that aren’t aligned”) 2. Activist Armistead Maupin (aged 15) (first gay public figure discovered; “his stories influenced my life”) Quentin Crisp (activist, but also a negative role model; “his extreme femininity was a negative influence Running for public office as Gay candidate (fear; pride; “gained respect from society”) Attending NYC Gay Games (coming together of my world; met A. Maupin; achievement, success, pride) Strong face (craggy; conveys strength of character) Home (symbol of success) 3. Masculine Self Father (“masculinity is what I have taken from my father”; father was sports champion as young man) Joined Navy (aged 15) (“I was a man”; “I felt I was conquering the world”) Men in military uniform (aggressive, hard, heterosexual) 4. Wild Self Recurring sexual fantasy (various homo-erotic themes, memories and images) Sex in jeans Sex in boots Body tattoo (“to celebrate my body”) Figure 1 Charles' Web Of Attachments in the Multidimensional Scaling Solution: Dimensions 1 x 2 DIM. 2 Strong face 2.0 * NYC Gay Games * Business "ACTIVIST POSITION" 1.0 * Ran for election Armistead Maupin o * role model * Home * Sex in Jeans Sex with * military officer * o "WILD POSITION" 0.0 DIM. 1 Tattoo Military officer Father Joined Navy * * o * Back * * * * From Church Discharged from Navy -2.0 -1.0 * Underwear Quentin Crisp Crooked face * Excommunicated - 2.0 * Sex in boots “MASCULINE POSITION” - 1.0 * Rejected by father after football match o * 0.0 Note: Kruskall's Stress 1 = 0.12; Multiple R2 = 0.75 "HUMILIATED POSITION" 1.0 2.0 Father (Ambiguous Signifier) (thirdness) (secondness) Masculine Position Figure Humiliated Position A dialogical triad in Charles Quentin Crisp (Ambiguous Signifier) (thirdness) (secondness) Humiliated Position Activist Position Figure 3 Another dialogical triad in Charles Figure 5 Hypothetical tracking of personal chronotopes in the case of Charles Personal Chronotope 1 Manhood vs. Humiliation Charles on his father: “I felt really pressured by my father for most of my life to perform in a whole lot of things, to be a man, to succeed, to be strong….I always felt…that I had let him down.” Charles on Masculinity and the Navy “I was a man, the navy wanted me. I was 15…my father was just happy that I even got through the interview process….It was a good time for me. I felt like I was conquering the world, I was going to go and fight for my country….I like being a man, those things don’t frighten me. In a fight I can defend myself, I am proud of that. It’s not a bad thing.” “In my attempt to ‘cure’ myself after I was forced to leave the navy, I questioned a lot of things about myself and I went through the usual thing of trying to change and I became a born again Christian….They attempted for a year and a half to cure me by getting me to repeatedly write out passages of the Bible….Of course…I continued to fall from grace, I was honest about my falling from grace, and they eventually said that I was demonically possessed. Then one Sunday afternoon at a church service in front of 450 people, it was a big church assembly…[the pastor] asked everybody to stand and turn there back, and he asked me to leave the church…I was excommunicated. And as I was walking out down the center isle and nobody would face me, I was thinking that a lot of these people had grown to become very good friends of mine over the time. I was devastated. [The pastor] went into a spiel about how if I was seen on the streets they were to cross the road, I was not to be communicated with in anyway. Yeah, so, the church was a major negative influence on me.” Charles on the Church Personal Chronotope 2 Masculine vs. Wild Self Figure 5 Hypothetical tracking of personal chronotopes in the case of Charles Charles on the Military Man as Fetish Object “I am very much a role player and I do like men in uniform, a variety of uniforms. I’d like to be in the aggressive position, I would like to be stimulating and satisfying their every whim and wish. And they have got to be straight, to be straight, and I am showing them a good time. Absolutely, I have to be the pleaser….This is, this is the fag getting his own back on the heterosexual world, by giving them a taste of it and seeing that they like it. And the uniform becomes important because they [military men] are the most aggressive. They are perceived to be the hardest mountain to climb…. I suppose it’s all about the fag being more of the man than the man is, so to speak.” Personal Chronotope 3 Humiliation vs. Activism “My other positive figure was both positive and negative at the same time and that is Quentin Crisp….He is positive because of his strength of character…but his extreme femininity and eccentricity was also a negative influence. It was like I only wanted to take pieces of him….” Charles Conclusion 1. I have argued that semiotic mediation is crucial to the dynamics of positioning processes in the dialogical self. 2. From a developmental point-of-view, I have suggested that the concept of ‘thirdness’ provides an important tool for understanding the emergence of personal chronotopes in timespace. Ambiguous signifers reveal how chronotopes are built from semiotic relations. 3. Also from a developmental point of view, I have suggested that early experiences of multiplicity instantiated in I - Me distanciation provide the basic mechanisms for the later elaboration of chronotopes. 4. Finally, using case examples, I have shown how this approach allows us to plot the formation of I-positions, counter-positions, and chronotopes, via an analysis of dynamic relations in life history data. 7. The Big Five Traits as Ambiguous Signifiers Traits and Narrative Identity Raggatt, P. T. F. (2006). Putting the five-factor model into context: Evidence linking Big Five traits to narrative identity. Journal of Personality, 74 (5), 1034 - 1071. Raggatt, P. T. F. (2012). Has ‘Average Joe’ got inner conflicts? Positioning the self and the meaning of mid-range scores on the Big Five traits. European Journal of Personality. History Of Big Five Model 1. Lexical hypothesis, so has social origins 2. Aggregated normative data 3. Factor analysis yields semantic space 4. Mid-range scores are most numerous, hence most individuals are a blend of traits. 1 The Big Five Traits Descriptors (Costa & McCrae) Extraversion Sociable, Impulsive, Dominant, Strong, Optimistic, Adventurous Neuroticism Emotional, Anxious, Fearful, Vulnerable, Self-Conscious, Depressed Openness to Experience Independent, Intelligent, Imaginative, Artistic, Creative, Cultured Agreeableness Trusting, Affectionate, Nurturant, Tactful, Straightforward, Modest Conscientiousness Hardworking, Dutiful, Reliable, Organized, Ambitious, Achieving Big Five as Social Psychological Construct: Extraversion x Neuroticism N E I S - Nomothetic orthogonal space underpinned by lexicon - Individual fixed in space - Assumes a blend of characteristics and behaviours at mid-ranges E I Strong E Somewhat E I E ??? Big Five as Intra-Psychological Construct: Extraversion x Neuroticism N E I S - Ideographic distanciated space underpinned by positioning - Individual not fixed in space; three positions are represented - The trait Extraversion-Introversion is an ambiguous signifier Extraversion-Introversion (thirdness) (secondness) I-position 1 (= E) I-position 2 (= I) Figure 8 Extraversion-Introversion as an ambiguous signifier Research Question Do those at the mid-range on a Big Five trait report more I-position conflict within that domain than those scoring Hi/Lo on the trait? For example, those scoring in the mid-range for Extraversion (E) will report I-position conflict in the E domain while those scoring high and low on E will not. Measures • NEO PI-R (Costa & McRae, 1992) • I-Position Inventory – a checklist of salient I-positions generated in previous research (Hermans, 2001; Raggatt, 2006) Prediction Conflict Hypothesis: Participants scoring in the mid-range on a Big Five trait will report more trait-congruent Iposition conflict in that domain than participants who score either high or low on the trait concerned. For example, those scoring in the midrange for Extraversion (E) will report I-position conflict in the E domain while those scoring high and low on E will not. Sample • 147 adults completed the NEO PI-R and the I-Position Inventory(IPI) • Mean Age: 33.3 years, SD = 15.1 years • Range: 17 years to 75 years • 46 males; 101 females Table 1 Trait-congruent I-positions across the Big Five domain Extraversion I-as-… Neuroticism I-as-… Openness I-as-… Agreeableness I-as-… Conscientiousness I-as-… +Fighter +Dominating +Enjoyer of life +Brave +Strong +Confident +Optimist +Positive +Bold +Loud +Adventurous + Happy +Victim +Negative +Jealous +Guilty +Vulnerable +Pessimist +Weak +Sad +Fearful +Humiliated +Avoider +Freedom seeker +Idealist +Independent +Mystic +Believer +Dreamer +Artistic +Creative +Spiritual +Religious +Warmth Seeker +Sacrificing +Understanding +Modest +Accepting +Nurturing +Loving +Caring +Loyal +Compliant +Humble +Forgiver +Colleague +Professional +Doer +Organised +In Control +Achiever +Successful +Hard Worker +Career-Oriented +Committed +Serious Introversion Stable Closed Disagreeable Unconscientious I-as-… -Quiet -Reserved -Shy -Privacy Seeker -Risk Avoider I-as-… -Calm -Secure -Stable -Proud -Winner I-as-… -Realist -Dependent -Non-believer -Traditionalist -Doubter -Practical I-as-… -Defiant -Vengeful -Stubborn -Betrayer -Demanding -Judging I-as-… -Avoider -Messy -Disorganised -Lazy -Amateurish Table 2 Opposing I-Positions Pairs across the Big Five Domain Extraversion Neuroticism Openness Agreeableness Conscientiousness Bold / Reserved Vulnerable/ Secure Independent / Dependent Forgiver / Vengeful Organised / Disorganised Loud / Quiet Negative / Positive Freedom-seeker / Sacrificing / Risk avoider c Demanding Professional / Amateurish Dominating / Shy Humiliated / Proud Religious / Non-believer Accepting / Stubborn Doer / Avoider Strong / Weak a Victim / Winner Artistic / Practical Compliant / Defiant Hard-worker / Lazy Optimist / Pessimist a Fearful / Calm Idealist / Realist Loyal / Betrayer Adventurous / Risk avoider c Sad / Happy b Table 6 t -test comparisons: Mid-range vs. high/low trait domain groups on I-position conflict scores for that domain * p <.05, one-tailed. N = 147 Trait Groups Trait-congruent I-position Conflict Scores a Trait Mean SD n Big Five Trait Domain Group Comparisons df t Extraversion 1. Mid-Range 2. High/Low 74 73 E 1.80 1.22 1.79 1.45 145 2.16* Neuroticism Mid-Range High/Low 72 75 N 2.33 2.24 1.91 2.05 145 0.29 Openness Mid-Range High/Low 74 73 O 2.73 2.15 2.14 1.86 145 1.75* Agreeableness Mid-Range High/Low 75 72 A 1.78 1.16 2.02 1.37 145 2.18* Conscientiousness Mid-Range High/Low 74 73 C 2.45 2.21 2.23 2.09 145 0.69 Table 4 Pearson correlations: Mean trait-congruent I-position ratings with Big Five trait scores ** p < .001, one-tailed. † p < .01, two-tailed. N = 147 . Mean Trait-Congruent I-Position Ratings Big Five Scores E N O A C E-congruent positions .64** -.39† .27† -.30† .14 N-congruent positions -.40† .69** -.04 -.12 -.29† O-congruent positions .19 .03 .32** .17 .23 A-congruent positions .21 -.06 .05 .53** .24† C-congruent positions .28† -.14 -.03 .20 .77** Conclusions – Trait Study 1. For three of the five major trait domains we found that individuals scoring in the mid-range prioritized conflict among I-positions in that domain (significant for E, O, and A, with a non-significant trend also observed for C) 2. Therefore, mid-range trait scores are linked to identityrelated conflict, rather than balance, harmony or flexibility in the domain concerned. 3. Aggregating trait scores masks underlying processes involving conflict. 4. Are traits really continuous constructs? 5. Are the Big Five made up of apples and oranges, but also bananas, pineapples and Brussell’s Sprouts? Summary 1. At the beginning of this talk I posed the questions: How can the dialogical self in its extension be understood from a temporal and life historical perspective? 2. In order to address these questions I have adapted Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope to this task. 3. I argued that early experiences of multiplicity arising out of ‘position exchange’, such as I - Me ‘distanciation’, provide the basic mechanisms for the later elaboration of chronotopes. 4. I suggested that Peirce’s concept of thirdness provides an important tool for understanding mediation in the emergence of chronotopes. 5. In particular, ‘ambiguous signifiers’, symbolic objects with multistable meanings, reveal how chronotopes are built from semiotic relations. 6. Using a case example, I have shown how this approach allows us to plot the formation of I-positions and counter-positions by analysing dynamic relations among life history data. 7. From the perspective of dialogical self theory, the case of Charles illustrates how time, symbolic mediation (culture), and the ambiguity of critical events are all fundamental to the dynamics of positioning processes in a dialogical self.