The Experimental Citizen

Changing Behaviours

The Psychological State and the Experimental Subject

In a previous post we considered the ways in which the psychological sciences are reshaping how policy makers understand human subjectivity. The classical view of the human ‘[…] as a bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic centre of awareness, emotion, judgment and action, organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastively against other wholes […]’ (Clifford Geertz), is being replaced by a much less autonomous vision of human subjectivity. In this new, psychologically-imbued vision of the human subject agency is not only associated with conscious deliberation and action, but also unconscious drivers and contextual prompts. Human subjectivity becomes less Homo Economicus and more Homer Simpson. Putting these broader debates to one side, it is also becoming clear that the rise of the Psychological State is constructing another form of subjectivity: the experimental subject. In this…

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