Cognitive Psychology Word Cloud

For my 100th blog posting, I’d like to do a little something different. We may all be tired of those titles with top 5, best 10, greatest 7 , amazing 3 and so on, but they do seem to resonate with people. So, I won’t be a snob about it and present here 5 useful tools (at least in theory) to improve your life and relationships (at least in practice). This is something I have become familiar with and/or accumulated as part of my knowledge through experience over a number of years, and was not born as a topic just recently. I am a physicist, not a psychologist, therapist or professional in studies of the mind, but I have these tools to offer from my own thinking and personal experience. I thought I would share them here and perhaps you, the reader, will find them useful and/or interesting perhaps.

1.) Transactional Analysis (TA): Transactional Analysis was developed by Dr. Eric Berne, and introduced in his book “Games People Play” published in 1964. Basically, it breaks people down into three categories of interaction, or ego states: Parent, Adult and Child. These states do not necessarily correspond to common definitions, but represent patterns in our mind on a conceptual basis. In essence it is something like: Parent – taught concept; Child – felt concept; Adult – learned concept. Transactional Analysis is a method of analyzing and improving communication by recognizing the various states of interaction. This link describes it in detail: Eric Berne M.D. There are some videos that are great for an intro to Transactional Analysis. 
Three different ones in fact (ego states & basic transactions, games, gimmicks). Watch the first, and then see links on that Youtube page to the others:

2.) Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Multiple Intelligences was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, and introduced in his book “The Shattered Mind published in 1975. His premise was that what we normally think of as intelligence (IQ) does not entirely explain the range of our cognitive ability, and there are other levels of intelligence of an interpersonal (understanding others) as well as intrapersonal (understanding oneself) nature. The term Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has some storied history, but for purposes here it is referred to as a sentimental capacity of the mind as opposed to a thinking capacity of the mind. It is EQ as opposed to IQ. There are 4 branches of Emotional Intelligence in regards to emotions: Perceiving, Reasoning, Understanding, and Managing. This link describes it in detail: What is Emotional Intelligence? The tool here is recognizing the levels of EQ. There is a good video by Daniel Goleman that introduces the topic:

3.) JoHari Window Model: The JoHari Window Model was developed by Joseph Luft and  Harry Ingram (hence the JoHari name) in the1950’s and its main purpose is to help us understand ourselves, and aid in building relationships with others. The model is fairly simple and is composed of a box with four components or areas: Open/Free, Blind, Hidden, and Unknown. This represents us and reflects our interactions with ourselves and others. So, we all have these four components and any one of the four boxes can stray into the others, but it’s a give and take, so the model is one of giving and receiving feedback in a sense. This link describes in detail: Understanding the Johari Window Model. There is a good video that explains the model:

4.) Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI): The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument was introduced by Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann in 1974 as a tool developed to measure an individual’s response to conflict situations. Here there are five different styles of conflict: Competing, Avoiding, Accommodating, Collaborating, and Compromising. It uses two axes labeled assertiveness and cooperativeness. It is similar to the JoHari Window Model in structure, but different in content. There is usually a questionnaire accompanying to asses the person and their conflict style, but it can be used as a tool like the JoHari Model too. The idea here is that people are not alike and have different ways of interacting, with conflict naturally being part of that interaction process. This tool helps with understanding conflict resolution. This link describes or illustrates in more detail: Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). A video explains it as well:

5.) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was introduced by Abraham Maslow in a 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review, and later fully elaborated on in the 1954 book “Motivation and Personality“. The hierarchy is interpreted usually as a pyramid (though Maslow never used this representation), with basic needs at the bottom and leading to higher levels of needs. They are (from bottom to top): Physiological, Safety, Social, Esteem, Self-actualization. The idea here is that we all have needs, from the basic biological to the more sophisticated, and the complexity of the human mind has many motivations at once. In a sense we exist on all levels, but to which degree we focus on can determine how we progress from the basic to the sophisticated and what motivates us to do so. Needs determine behavior is the main point. This link describes in more detail: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Another interesting link can be found here: Abraham Maslow and the pyramid that beguiled business. The videos on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are mostly a mixed bag. This one is ok:

I would like to discuss Erikson’s Social Theory and Gestalt Theory too, but these are more complex and not so readily used as tools, so I will save them for another time. For now, remember that theory is fine for learning about such things for knowledge purposes, but to implement them takes practice and you have to use what you learn for it to be of benefit. That is why I titled the blog: 5 Tools (in Theory) for Improving Life (in Practice). Use them at your leisure for self-improvement. My descriptions of the tools are only meant for a brief introduction and take advantage of the links and videos to learn more. Learn the theory behind them first and then put them into practice. They may improve your life and relationships, or at the very least give you a different perspective that you may currently have.



……….I felt a cleaving in my mind
……….As if my brain had split;
……….I tried to match it, seam by seam,
……….But could not make them fit.

 ………The thought behind I strove to join
……….Unto the thought before,
……….But sequence ravelled out of reach,
……….Like balls upon a floor.

……….~Emily Dickinson (The Lost Thoughts)