Personality Politics

Topics: Jean Piaget, Theory of cognitive development, Personality psychology Pages: 3 (886 words) Published: September 30, 2005
This paper will examine the distinction between egocentric and sociocentric behaviors among leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi. Additionally, the paper will compare and contrast Hitler's violent tendencies to Gandhi's belief of non-violence in relation to the social cognitive personality theory.

Personality Politics
In a letter to Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi writes, "It is quite clear that you are today the one person in the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to the savage state. Must you pay that price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to be" (1939, para. 2)? Evidently, Gandhi recognized Hitler's egocentric tendencies by acknowledging that he understands that Hitler's ideals (from Hitler's point of view) may have merit. Egocentricity and Sociocentricity

According to Piaget (1972), there are four stages of cognitive development: sensorimotor stage, pre-operational stage, concrete operational stage, and formal operational stage. It is during the pre-operational stage where the child's thinking patterns are predominantly egocentric and diminishes during the concrete operational stage. Egocentricity is disinclination towards considering another person's perspective. "…[I]t is characterized by a need to be right about everything, a lack of interest in consistency and clarity, an all or nothing attitude" (Critical Thinking Consortium, n.d., para. 1.). Sociocentricity extends beyond that type of self-centered thought to group self-centered thought. Sociocentric is defined as "tending to regard one's own social group as superior to others" (Random House, 1997, para. 1). After all, there is strength in numbers. Both Hitler and Gandhi used propaganda in order to influence the masses, which in turn progressed their egocentric thinking into sociocentric thinking. Hitler introduced the swastika and his infamous "Heil, Hitler" salute, while Gandhi used his long-lasting hunger strikes to stir the...

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Gandhi, M. (1939, July 23). Gandhi 's letter to Hitler. Retrieved September 11, 2004, from
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Piaget, J. (1972). The psychology of the child. New York: Basic Books.
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