Psychological Literacy and the Psychologically Literate Citizen
New Frontiers for a Global Discipline
This chapter develops further McGovern et al.’s (2010) concepts of “psychological literacy” and the “psychologically literate citizen”, in particular by making reference to understandings, from diverse sources, of the concepts of literacy, scientific literacy, citizenship, and global citizenship. McGovern et al. stated that psychological literacy encapsulates the common graduate attributes or capabilities that students should acquire while undertaking a major in psychology, such as acquiring discipline knowledge and developing a scientific way of thinking. The chapter proposes that psychological literacy can be defined as psychological knowledge that is used adaptively. This definition is not as simple as it seems. First, use of knowledge infers that one has knowledge to begin with. Second, here “knowledge” includes not only the core content areas, but all the aspects defined by McGovern et al., including critical thinking, research skills, and communication. Third, knowledge also includes knowledge of ethics, and the chapter argues that knowledge in this area necessarily means that “used adaptively” translates to ethical behaviour in all domains of life. Fourth, this definition of psychological literacy implies a relatively well-integrated and functional set of schemas that across individuals may show some variability in expression, but in terms of central tendency, can be recognised and assessed as “psychological literacy”. Finally, in the context of discussing the concept of “global citizen”, the chapter proposes that psychologically literate citizens use their psychological literacy to problem-solve in an ethical and socially responsible manner in a way that directly benefits their communities.
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