chapter  12
16 Pages

Aspects of Narrative Thinking

In the 1987 preface to the Oxford edition of his Social Psychology, S. Asch outlined the perspective that animated his work: . . a human psychology necessarily had to be a social psychology. In turn it had to be an account of human experience, of beliefs and actions as they appeared to their human agents . . . a phenomenological psychology in which social facts and processes held central place” (Asch, 1987, p. IX). The traditional focus of research in social and cognitive psychology has explored forms of understanding which take rather little account of these dynamics of human action. The prevalent concern has been with rules for categorization and with what may be called “ paradig­ matic” thinking. From early studies on concept attainment (e.g., Bruner, Goodnow, & Austin, 1956) to current models of decision making (see Abelson & Levi, 1985; Einhom & Hogarth, 1981), the research has explored strategies for assigning individual events to generic classes and principles for matching new input to preexistent cognitive structures or expectations. Over time, the research considered, alternatively, rectangles, robins, and restaurants; the consistent con-

cem was with the organization of this knowledge in taxonomic and class-inclusion systems.