Children's and Youth Literature Writer's and Reviewer's Guide/Psychology and Personality

< Children's and Youth Literature Writer's and Reviewer's Guide

Psychology and personalityEdit

Self-concept and metacognitionEdit

Discrepancies between a character's self-concept and metacognition and the view of other characters, the view of the narrator or the likely views of the reader can also be educational and promote the understanding of the reader. In order to create a plausible psychological description the author should define a character's properties and the discrepancies between a character's self-concept and his actual properties, as intended by the author. Other characters may disagree with both the objective view and the subjective self image of a character, of course.

Cognitive biasesEdit

Learning about cognitive biases could be seen as an important part of education that is often underrepresented. As an author you can make a plan about the cognitive biases of different characters and possibly even about their educational progress in the story. It may be an especially interesting part of a character's psychology if a cognitive bias is recognizably weakened during the novel. In order to allow children and adolescents to understand the development a mentor or teacher may have to stress the point, but possibly not by directly referring to a cognitive bias by name, but with praise or criticism that matches the character's general behavior, of course.

Moral character and trait theoryEdit

Karma, respect, social status and reputation systemsEdit

A theory of karma[1] can, together with a culturally determined perception of social status or possible use of reputation systems, add an interesting and educational aspect to a novel. A complex question to be answered is: What are karma, social status or reputation and what do they mean for the characters in the novel? The answer may be different for groups of characters and characters and may be influenced by personality traits, cognitive biases, sociocultural backgrounds and philosophical views of the characters.

The belief in karma or rejection of the belief can be a relevant part of the idioculture of a group and is obviously connected to the question of the representation of philosophy and religion in the novel. The views of people in the novel may be intended to match actual religions or can be more independent views, formed inside the idiocultures in the novel. Stories that take place in fictional worlds can, of course, also refer to fictional believes of karma. If you itend to design a fictional belief of karma you should probably begin with a visit to the Karma Lab[1] and consider the educational value and the philosophical influence of the belief. The cultural development that could lead to the belief may also be interesting. How much of the belief is mythology, how much is cognitive bias (i.e. just-world fallacy), how much is moral education and is there a grain of truth?

If the karma in the novel is, for instance, dependent on idiocultural elements and may have an actual effect, what does that mean for groups inside the novel? How does the respective karma of the characters appear to influence each others experiences? Can the actual effect be explained away, meaning the events that happened may appear to be effects of karma, but a scientific explanation requires only psychological and sociological effects? Enduring ambiguity can promote theory formation and speculation and consequently narrative tension. Thus one could see it as a beneficial property of philosophical views to retain a degree of interpretability and ambiguity inside a novel, which is why Majikthise and Vroomfondel actually demand that as "representatives of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and other Professional Thinking Persons" in the novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"; of course that is only a parody.

Way of life and philosophy of lifeEdit


  1. a b Theory Design Lab: Karma Lab (Wikiversiy)