From Worldview Transformation and the Development of Social Consciousness by Sofia University’s Doctorate Program Chair, Marilyn Schlitz, as well as Cassandra Vieten & Elizabeth M. Miller.
Each person has his or her own personal story about the nature of reality. Genetic tendencies, religion, culture, and geographic region,together with all the experiences people have both internally and in relationship to their environments, give rise to their
worldview, or their general way of viewing themselves and the world around them.
Worldview is one aspect of consciousness. Psychological, social and neurophysiological theories of development indicate that as we grow and interact with the world we learn to categorize, discriminate,and generalize about what we see and feel (Flavell, Miller and Miller,2002; Siegler and Alabali, 2005). A worldview combines beliefs,assumptions, attitudes, values, and ideas to form a comprehensive model of reality. Worldviews also encompass formulations and inter- pretations of past, present, and future.
In our worldviews, we construct complex conceptual frameworks to organize our beliefs about who we are and about the world we live in. Worldviews function in similar ways to the internal working models proposed by Bowlby (1969) and elaborated by Bretherton and Munholland (1999). These models arise from interactions with primary attachment figures, and ‘provide a framework for understanding new experiences and guiding social interaction’ (Shaver, Collins and Clark, 1996, p. 39). Worldview is a broader construct that is influenced by more than interactions with attachment figures, but similarly provides the holder a belief structure within which to organize perceptions and new experiences within the context of their social and physical environment.
Human perceptions are filtered by the ways people view the world. People’s worldviews therefore influence every aspect of how they understand and interact with the world around them. Worldviews profoundly impact individual and shared goals and desires, shaping perceptions, motivations and values both consciously and unconsciously. Worldviews inform human behaviour in relationships and choreograph individual and social reactions and actions every moment of the day.
In 1997, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) initiated a series of studies focused on the process of worldview transformation. The goal has been to under-stand the process by which people experience fundamental shifts in perception that alter how they view and interact with themselves and the world around them. In particular, our team investigated factors that facilitate the kind of worldview transformations that result in increased social consciousness and prosocial behavior.
To read more of this research article, click here.