Getting a Grip on Reality
In everyday folk psychology, it is common to say that another person understands or fails to understand some aspect of their world. These statements would seem to assume that achieving understanding is an important part of being human and is something that we often find easy to evaluate in others. As teachers, we have to make such judgments quickly and frequently whether our students are 5 or 25. Yet, surprisingly, there has been relatively little work in psychology on what it means to achieve understanding. In this chapter, we focus on one important aspect of that process, how we achieve causal understandings of the world around us, and we argue that Dick Neisser’s ideas are enormously helpful in guiding us in this process.