The #PsychMapping Model Project
Authorship statement: First authorship rests with the project leader, Alexander T. Latinjak, who invites collaborators in writing to become co-authors in potential derivative publications. It is our intention that anyone who makes a significant contribution to the final model will be invited as a co-author. It is also our intention to acknowledge the contribution of all other project participants. Upon invitation, invited co-authors may decline the invitation.
We started this project in September 2022 with the aim of improving the first draft of the new #PsychMapping model through public discussion.
The #PsychMapping model should represent the main aspects that explain who humans are and why they behave the way they do, by identifying four main clusters (traits, states, externalized self and external factors) and two essential processes (external perception and self-regulation).
Perhaps what we should have mentioned is that one of the reasons for creating an integrative, holistic model is our inability to keep up with the publishing boom. For example, see the number of studies on the Web of Science about sport and physical activity over the past 25 years.
After discussing first impressions of the model, we focused on specific clusters. Descriptive traits define stable aspects that describe who people are in general, including physical, psychological, and social traits alongside knowledge, skills, memories, and habits.
Descriptive states are momentary events that describe how a person is doing at a given moment. They include physical, physiological, and psychological states, social experiences, and pre-behavioural states.
We have discussed the relationship between descriptive traits and states, where traits predict states (e.g., introversion predicts social anxiety), and states shape traits (e.g., experiences of boredom shape contextual motivation).
In week 5 we discussed the externalized self and defined performance as a quality assessment view of appearance, actions, communication and behaviour.
We have discussed that behaviour and performance are direct expressions of descriptive states (e.g., aggressive behaviour is an expression of anger). Descriptive traits only influence performance insofar as they can be translated into descriptive states (e.g., tactical knowledge only enhances success if it translates into good decision making).
Also, in week 6 we talked about the direct feedback effect of proprioception of behaviour on descriptive states. Later we would discuss the indirect effect of behaviour on states through observing behaviour's effects on external variables.
External variables can also be grouped into 5 very broad subclusters: physical environment and objects, social systems and contracts, task characteristics and progress, life contexts and people.
Regarding external factors, we have emphasized the distinction between an actual external influence (e.g., what someone really said) and internal states and trait related to the external influence (e.g., what I think someone wanted to say).
Week 8 was very important. We started by looking at the subcluster of people and we discussed that what influences us from other people as external influences is their externalized selves: appearance, actions, communication, behaviour and performance. So, indirectly their internal states, traits, and processes that determine their externalized selves.
In week 8, we turned the #PsychMapping model inside out to create the collective #PsychMapping model, which focuses less on internal states, traits and processes and more on the relationships made between individuals.
In week 9, we returned to performance and behaviour to examine how people can influence their environment, including other people to whom they act as external influences.
External influences do not affect us directly. Their effect is mediated through external perception, a process consisting of the following steps: external influences must always enter the person through physiological input, and sometimes external influences are captured through external attention and processed further for psychological appraisal.
There seemed to be general agreement that psychological appraisal should include two assessments: is a stimulus relevant and, if so, is it positive or negative? Of course, these assessments represent the primary appraisal of Lazarus. Lazarus' secondary appraisal would be part of the self-awareness that comes at the beginning of a self-regulatory process
In week 11 we tried to answer the question of why we perceive the world the way we perceive it. We first discussed the impact of descriptive traits on physiological input, external attention, and psychological appraisal. These would be stable causes that explain our perception more generally.
Our external perception can also be explained by descriptive states such as emotions, social experiences or physiological processes. These are unstable influences on perception that explain why we see a particular moment the way we do. We hadn't mentioned it yet, but self-regulation can also partially control external perception.
In week 12 we started looking at self-regulation. In the model, self-regulation is represented by a three-step process that includes: self-awareness, coping strategy selection, and intentional control.
The first aspect we examined about self-regulation was self-awareness. Specifically, we have classified the types of challenges a person may become aware of into four types: present-negative (I am anxious), present-positive (I lack motivation), anticipated-negative (I'll get tired) and anticipated-positive (I'll lose confidence).
In week 13, we examined the circular relationship between descriptive states and self-awareness. Of course, descriptive states trigger awareness of challenges, but awareness of challenges (e.g., pain makes me realize I am in pain) also has a direct impact on descriptive states (e.g., becoming aware of my pain makes me scared).
A very interesting discussion that we had concerned the distinction between coping strategies, such as change-oriented or avoidance-oriented coping, and the means by which a strategy should be implemented, like through psychological control or asking others for help.
One conclusion from our discussions of strategy and means was that intentional control was required only when psychological means were chosen. For example, if I choose to listen to relaxing music or talk to a friend, I don't need intentional "psychological" emotion control.
Towards the end of 2022, we discussed the rather unintended effect of strategy selection on descriptive states. Some strategies can make us feel bad or in doubt, while others make us feel better and more confident.
We also examined more specific change-oriented coping strategies using psychological means (e.g., changing a bad emotion through self-talk). We have discussed that when the cause of the challenge is stable, eventually the resources to exercise psychological control will dwindle and the phenomenon called ego depletion may occur.
Finally, at the end of the year, we examined acceptance-based coping strategies and how they might work. Our hypothesis is that they affect the first level of self-regulation: self-awareness. They do not aim to affect descriptive states, but as we had seen a few weeks earlier, changing our awareness (i.e., our self-assessment) can have a feedback effect on descriptive states.
To start the new year, we have focused why people chose specific coping strategies over others. On the one hand, descriptive traits are stable predictors for coping styles, while on the other hand, descriptive states are momentary predictors. Among the traits, I would especially highlight past coping experiences which must have an important impact on future coping strategy selection.
We have examined which aspects can be intentionally controlled, including descriptive states (e.g., state motivation) and external perception (e.g., appraisals).
We have focused on self-regulation of self-regulation. In particular, we can intentionally control some of our self-awareness and coping strategy choices.
In 2020, we published the Knowledge Map of Sport and Exercise Psychology, based on a conceptual review of the Sport and Exercise Psychology (SEP) literature (Click for the article). In the #KnoweldgeMap, the concepts used in the SEP could be grouped into three main blocks: external variables, personal descriptors, and psychological skills. In addition, four auxiliary clusters helped connect the three main clusters and create a simplified model: (a) linked external variables to personal descriptors; (b) related personal descriptors with external variables; (c) related personal descriptors with psychological skills; and (d) connected psychological skills with personal descriptors.
The #KnoweldgeMap has usefulness explaining people and their behaviour, but it is oversimplified and was not built for that purpose. The clusters were not selected to best simplify why people are who and how they are and why they behave the way they do. They were created to summarise and group concepts used in scientific literature. The #KnoweldgeMap is more of an organizational scheme than a model. We often call it a wardrobe of scientific concepts.
Further reflection on the #KnoweldgeMap has prompted criticism of some of the core principles of the #KnoweldgeMap. It is arguable that: (a) not all personal descriptors directly affect performance; just the descriptive states; (b) psychological skills alone cannot adequately explain the process of self-regulation; (c) external variables can sometimes directly affect performance; or (d) concepts such as resilience or mental toughness are not strictly necessary to explain people and their behaviour.
With this project, we want to further develop the #KnoweldgeMap and consciously turn it into a holistic model that explains globally who people are and why they behave the way they do. We want this to be a conceptual model that explains in general terms how clusters of concepts interact with each other to explain life experiences. Our goal is not to create an explanatory model that deals with the mechanisms underlying the relationships between concepts.
We want to develop the #PsychMapping model from an interdisciplinary and multicultural perspective, so we would like to invite as many different participants as possible to the discussions leading to the final model. Our goal is to build a psychologically centered model that is nevertheless sensitive to concepts from other sciences such as economics, sociology, pedagogy, politics, architecture, sports science, biology or medicine.
In essence, the #PsychMapping model is a model that focuses on individuals and their relationship to external variables, including society. However, we also aim to create a derived version of the individual model that focuses more on societal variables than individual ones.
The ultimate goal is to create a model that leads to relevant questions and hypotheses about people and their behaviour and that is understandable for both lay people and experts. While laypersons get a better view of all the factors that contribute to people and their behaviour, specialists who know far more about specific issues than the model can accommodate may find help in contextualizing their area of expertise in the broader research landscape.
In the #PsychMapping community, the #PsychMapping model will serve us to further develop our applied tools like the basic #PsychMapping exercise, #MetaMapping or #HealthBehaviourMapping.