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The Catalyzing Mind

Beyond Models of Causality

  • Book
  • © 2014


  • Explores the basic concept of "catalysis"—in philosophy, chemistry, and recent beginnings in psychology
  • Emphasizes the use of catalysis as a concept in a semiotic cultural psychology
  • Synthesizes the conceptual and empirical development of catalysts and catalysis in (cultural) psychology
  • Includes supplementary material:

Part of the book series: Annals of Theoretical Psychology (AOTP, volume 11)

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About this book

How do we understand and explain phenomena in psychology? What does the concept of “causality” mean when we discuss higher psychological functions and behavior? Is it possible to generate “laws” in a psychological and behavioral science—laws that go beyond statistical regularities, frequencies, and probabilities? An international group of authors compare and contrast the use of a causal model in psychology with a newer model—the catalytic model. The Catalyzing Mind: Beyond Models of Causality proposes an approach to the qualitative nature of psychological phenomena that focuses on the psychological significance and meaning of conditions, contexts, and situations as well as their sign-mediating processes. Contributors develop, apply, and criticize the notion of a catalyzing mind in hopes of achieving conceptual clarity and rigor. Disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, semiotics and biosemiotics are used for an interdisciplinary approach to the book. Research topics such as history and national identity, immigration, and transitions to adulthood are all brought into a dialogue with the concept of the catalyzing mind. With a variety of disciplines, theoretical concepts, and research topics this book is a collective effort at an approach to move beyond models of causality for explaining and understanding psychological phenomena.

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Table of contents (15 chapters)

  1. Theoretical Considerations of Causality and Catalysis

  2. Historical and Conceptual Considerations of Causality and Catalysis

  3. Biosemiotic Considerations of Cause and Catalysis

  4. Systemic and Contextual Considerations of Catalysis

  5. Developmental Considerations of Catalysis

  6. Applying the Concept of Catalysis to Everyday Life

Editors and Affiliations

  • Clark University Department of Psychology, Worcester, USA

    Kenneth R. Cabell

  • Niels Bohr Professorship Centre of Cultural Psychology, Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Denmark

    Jaan Valsiner

About the editors

Kenneth R. Cabell is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow working within the sub-discipline of semiotic cultural psychology. Generally, his research interests focus on the cultural organization of human psychological functioning and experience. Specifically, his theoretical and methodological interests focus on developing a framework to better identify the mechanisms by which individuals make their experiences meaningful. His empirical interests focus on experiences of entrapment and other trapping phenomena. He is the Editorial Director of Culture & Psychology (Sage) and he is an editor of Psychology & Society. In addition to editing the book The Catalyzing Mind: Beyond Models of Causality (Springer) he is also an editor of the book series Annals of Cultural Psychology (Information Age Publishing). While at Clark University, he has been able to work closely with international researchers and scholars in the Kitchen Seminar Network ( as well as with the Niels Bohr Professorship Center of Cultural Psychology at Aalborg University, Denmark.

Jaan Valsiner is the Niels Bohr Professor of Cultural Psychology at Aalborg University in Denmark, and Professor of Psychology and English at Clark University, USA. He is the founding editor (1995) of the Sage journal, Culture & Psychology and Editor-in-Chief of Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Sciences (Springer, from 2007). In 1995 he was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for his interdisciplinary work on human development.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: The Catalyzing Mind

  • Book Subtitle: Beyond Models of Causality

  • Editors: Kenneth R. Cabell, Jaan Valsiner

  • Series Title: Annals of Theoretical Psychology

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer New York, NY

  • eBook Packages: Behavioral Science, Behavioral Science and Psychology (R0)

  • Copyright Information: Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4614-8820-0Published: 12 November 2013

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-1-4939-5545-9Published: 23 August 2016

  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4614-8821-7Published: 11 November 2013

  • Series ISSN: 0747-5241

  • Series E-ISSN: 2512-2207

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIX, 303

  • Number of Illustrations: 3 b/w illustrations, 3 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Personality and Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology

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