Posts tagged life scenario

Scenario Thinking and Possible Selves

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your e-mail.  I had not heard of Scenario Thinking theory
so I looked it up and found it is used in business to enhance future
outcomes.  So creating scenarios can be used to envision possible
demands a company’s products will need to address in the future.  It
can help a company have more flexible expectations for the future which
then can lead to better strategies for meeting needs in the future.
When engaging in Scenario Thinking, multiple scenarios with varied
alternative futures can be constructed.  The scenarios often are useful
for making long term projections.  Once scenarios are constructed they
can be evaluated in terms of how they might actually play out.

I can see why you noted the similarity between scenario thinking and
possible selves as they do have conceptual overlap.  Given that the
business world and the human development world both are engaged in
“social science,” it is not surprising that some of our theories have
common ideas.  Scenario Thinking appears to have been developed in and
for business, and is focused on business-related goals and processes.
The concept of Possible Selves stems from social psychological theory
and was designed to enhance understanding of the “self” (the nature
of the individual person).  Possible selves are hopes, fears and
expectations about who one might become in the future.  In the words of
Markus and Nurius:

“Possible selves are the ideal selves that we would very much like to
become.  They are also the selves that we could become and are afraid of
becoming. The possible selves that are hoped for might include the
successful self, the creative self, the rich self, the thin self, or the
loved and admired self, whereas, the dreaded possible selves could be
the alone self, the depressed self, the incompetent self, the alcoholic
self, the unemployed self, or the bag lady self.” (Markus and Nurius,
1986, p. 954)

Many researchers and practitioners have applied the concept of Possible
Selves to the academic domain and focus on how possible selves foster
achievement.  For example, Carey and Martin (2007), Center for School
Counseling Outcome Research, University of Massachusettes
http://www.umass.edu/schoolcounseling/PDFs/brief5.2.pdf suggest that
possible selves theory and research offer a useful foundation for school
counseling interventions that facilitate student achievement. They
present the following principles for possible-selves based
interventions:

1.  “Interventions that help students develop vivid, compelling
visions of their “hoped for”  “feared”, and “expected”
possible selves can be expected to promote achievement by enhancing
students’ motivation.”
2.  “Students are more likely to translate enhanced motivation into
actual achievement if the intervention is designed to help them: (a) see
the connection between their current
behavior and the attainment of desired future selves and/or the
avoidance of undesired
future selves; (b) establish goals that regulate and direct needed
learning; and (c) identify specific skills and/or strategies that they
have or need to learn to achieve their goals.”

3.  “Many students will benefit from interventions that expand their
range of “hoped for”
possible selves, especially when factors such as poverty,
discrimination, media, and the
absence of role models have resulted in an artificial constriction of
possible futures.

4.  “Interventions that help students envision a positive academic
self that is strongly
connected to attaining a desirable, or avoiding an undesirable future
self, are more likely
to promote achievement motivation and enhance school performance.”

5.  “Many students could benefit from interventions that integrate an
achievement-oriented academic identity with a positive social group
identity and harmonize those identities with achievement oriented
goals.”

A well-established researcher who has conducted basic research on
possible selves and used the concept in academic interventions is Daphna
Oyserman.  You can access her work at:

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/daphna.oyserman/self-concept_and_possible_selves_publications
Possible selves also have been applied to other areas in people’s
lives, such as career, weight loss, relationships, delinquency, etc.

Again, thanks for your e-mail.  It is always interesting to learn about
common concepts being used in different disciplines.  Jennifer

________________________________________

Jennifer L. Kerpelman, Ph.D.
Professor and Extension Specialist
Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies
203 Spidle Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849
334-844-4149 (phone)
334-844-4515 (fax)
kerpejl@auburn.edu

Advertisements

Leave a comment »