4th International Conference on the Dialogical Self (icds-4) University of Minho, Braga, Portugal



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10h15 – 11h15

Paper 11
Forms of dialogue

Chair: Brady Wagoner (Cambridge University, UK)

Father and Daughter”: Stories in dialogue with self-narratives

Kara Vloet (Institute of Inclusive and Special Education, The Netherlands) & Ina ter Avest (Fontys University of Professional Education, The Netherlands)


The world is full of historical and metaphorical stories, ‘a storied landscape’. In earlier days these stories served as explication for phenomena in the existing hierarchy in the world. Personages in stories functioned as role models for the personal and professional identity that was given to them by birth. Personal and professional identities are not given anymore nowadays but have to be constructed in self-narratives, recognised by others. Stories still do offer the possibility to identify: with characters, themes and plots, enabling to construct the self-narrative of an authentic identity.

In this paper we explore the role of stories in the process of identity construction. ‘Father and Daughter’, an animation film, used as an example of our ‘storied landscape’. As an elicitor this story facilitates the awareness of ‘critical incidents’ and ‘critical persons’ identity construction, and shows itself to be useful in the application of the Self Confrontation Method (SCM). Because of the highly metaphorical character of stories we suggest to give them a prominent place in the SCM as a tool in the developmental process of the construction of identity.



What students can teach us about teaching? Experiences from teaching personality diagnosis in the theory of Dialogical Self

Bartosz Zalewski (Warsaw School of Social Psychology, Poland)


The aim of the presentation is to propose the model of teaching personality diagnosis in Dialogical Self theory. During obligatory courses of fenomenological diagnosis a group of fifty students were asked to prepare a description of personality using the Dialogical Self model. Students had to describe the structure of a subject’s I positions and also detect, which kind of positioning occurred between diagnosticians and the subject during the interviews. Each diagnostic team, consisting of three students, had to conduct two psychological interviews and one projective test (TAT). The aim of the first interview was to recognize inner I positions structure and during the second one verify these assumptions. Hypothesis-indicator-operationalization methodology for creating and testing hypothesis during semi-structured interviews was used. Presentation is based on the model of teaching understanding the subject in terms of Dialogical Self theory and practical experience from using this model.

Communication-dialogue and time aspects in empathic understanding

A. Bolotova (State University Higher School of Economics, Russia)


1) The basic theoretical concepts of communication-dialogue retained the traces of humanistic psychology (C. R. Rogers, A. H. Maslow) They find their reflection in natural expression of one’s feelings “now and here” in positive attitude to another person in empathic listening, understanding and interpersonal perception.

2) The aim of our analysis is to show the problem of correlation between time aspects and empathic reactions in communication. The results of the analysis are reliable enough to infer that the art of communication comprises spontaneous, simultaneous and successive effects. Taking into account all these characteristics it is necessary that rapport, supporting communication should be noted.

3) Delayed results of communication, i.e. emotional experience, psychological support, understanding and trust are the strongest ones. Empathic listening (Rogers C.R.) is the ability to concentrate on emotional experience of the partners without forestalling and interpreting it. This emphasizes simultaneously that the partner is understood, perceived and accepted in the relationship. Highlightening time aspects in communication-dialogue particular attention should be paid to some period of time to be given to the efficiency of emotional experience which in its turn stimulates self-actualization and personal competence (Maslow A.H.). Thus awareness of time focuses on energy consuming resource of personal welfare.

11h30 – 12h30

Lecturer 2
Giancarlo Dimaggio (Third Center of Cognitive Psychotherapy, Italy)

The operationalisation of dialogical self theory: State of the art, future directions and implications for psychotherapy
In order to operationalize the Dialogical Self Theory, promote its comparison with the literature coming from various fields, its empirical testing and, above all, in order to use it as an integrative theory of psychotherapy, I propose to split it into six core tenets: 1) the self is multiple and is made of a set of different characters; 2) every side of the self is an autonomous thought centre, has have agent-like qualities, is emotionally driven, and can take temporarily action control (autonomy and agentivity); 3) the interaction between the characters has a dialogical form, both verbal and non-verbal; 4) there is an imaginal space in which characters interact; 5) dialogues are employed in narratives; 6) every individual is inhabited by a stable cast of voices; some characters are tied in stronger ways to some others, creating dialogical relationship patterns. I discuss the tenets one by one in light of exisisting theory and research and I describe how they can bring light to the psychotherapeutic process

11h30 – 12h30

Paper 12
Self and culture: Comparative studies

Chair: Manuel Luis de la Mata (University of Seville, Spain)



Personal narratives and self descriptions: Gender and cultural differences in Mexican and Spanish college students

Lucía Ruiz (Autonomous University of Tamaulipas, Mexico), Manuel Luis de la Mata (University of Seville, Spain) & Andrés Santamaría (University of Seville, Spain)


The study of the relationship between culture, self and personal narratives is an important research topic in the last years. Until now, most research has focused on comparing a small variety of cultures, especially North-American and Asian cultures. Additional research analysing this relationship in other cultures is needed. Another important factor influencing this relationship is gender. Research on this field has evidenced differences between women and men in aspects like the age of the earliest memory, accessibility, form, themes and emotional content. Our study explores the relationship between the notions of self and the characteristics of personal narratives in Mexican and Spanish cultures. We have replicated Wangs’s (2004) methodology and categories of analysis. 160 college students from Mexico and Spain were asked to narrate several memories and answer a shortened version of the Twenty Statements Test (TST). The analysis of the memories applied the same categories used by Wang, as well as the narrative organization of them. The analysis of self-descriptions focused on their organization and the forms of evaluation provided in the answers to TST.

Self and identity across cultures: Comparative studies in Portugal and East-Timor

Rosa Cabecinhas (University of Minho, Portugal)


In Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans, 2003), self and culture can be analysed in terms of dialogical relationship which they can establish. These relations can be highlighted while comparing two cultural contexts. In this paper we discuss the results of two empirical studies about the conceptions of self and identity conducted in different cultural contexts: Portugal (study 1) and East-Timor (study 2). The technique of collecting data was the Twenty Statements Test (Kuhn & McPartland, 1954) and several social identity scales. Results show an asymmetry as a function of the cultural context (Portugal or East Timor) and as a function of the social status of the belonging groups (dominant majority group or social minorities). Globally, Timorese participants, talking about their identity, made more references to specific behaviours, social roles and status whereas Portuguese participants made more references to personality traits, attitudes and emotional states. Implications of these results for the different models of the relation between self and social identity are discussed.

Journeying with identity: Images and yarns – narrative journeys of Australian indigenous health workers

Michelle Dickson (Macquarie University, Australia)


Australian Indigenous Health Workers embark on Narrative healing journeys on a daily basis. Through stories they make sense of Indigenous experiences and value the complex contexts in which Australian Indigenous health is located. By respecting the voices, images and shared stories of Indigenous Health Workers we acknowledge Indigenous knowledges, identities and community. Photographs taken by Australian Indigenous Health Workers provided opportunities to profile and reflect on issues around the public and private cultural and professional identities of Australian Indigenous Health Workers. Infinite cultural pride connects Indigenous Australians to their stories and forges deep, proud links with family, people and land. Narratives, told in appropriate places, by appropriate people, powerfully connect Indigenous Australians with life, learning and healing. Identifying these Narrative journeys pays respect to a long history of connection between life, health, healing and stories. These journeys are pivotal in connecting Indigenous Health Workers to their people, their health issues, and their cultural and professional identities. In an attempt to give this research back to community the researcher and Health Workers explored ideas around using the photographs and narratives to provide a “photovoice” of images meaningful to the construct of identity and work of the Australian Indigenous Health Worker.

11h30 – 12h30

Panel 1
Dialogism: One or many?

Ivana Marková (University of Stirling, UK) & Per Linell (Linköping University, Sweden)


Discussant: Jaan Valsiner
Presenters: Ivana Marková (University of Stirling, UK), Per Linell (Linköping University, Sweden) & João Salgado (ISMAI, Portugal)
Originally, ‘dialogism’ or ‘dialogicality’ referred above all to Michail Bakhtin’s thinking or to ideas originating from his oeuvre. However, as during the last decade ‘dialogism’ has attracted public eyes and more and more people have been using ‘dialogical approaches’, ‘dialogical thinking’ or ‘dialogical methods’, the meaning of ‘dialogism’ it has become unclear. What is dialogicality and who is ‘dialogical’? Is anything that refers to dialogue ‘dialogical’ or are there other, more specific meanings of this term?

The purpose of this session would be to present, to discuss and argue about different perspectives on dialogicality and dialogism, ranging from Bakhtin to Habermas, from epistemology to more eclectic usages, and from theory to practical dialogues (e.g. in psychotherapeutic sessions). Each of the (brief) presentations will point out different versions about basic features of dialogism, in order to trigger the discussion with the discussant and the audience.



11h30 – 12h30

Paper 13
Artistic forms and the dialogical self

Chair: William B. Gomes (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)



Constitutive processes in the scenic production

António Luís de Quadros Altieri (Nove de Julho University Center, Brazil)


There are some events involved by creation of character’s in the theater in which our body and mind was involved in a kind of action that was pluralistic and multivocal, an intentional search process. These are episodes with continuous movement that occur in the presence of tension and urgency, when intra-subjective relations are established. We can recognize them as individual’s actions with constructive impulses that work in a dialogical sense of self construction: a search of human characterizations in proposed situations. The character's creation process, in theater, is a search on gestures with consequent essays of actions and words. It is a search of meaning that causes individual changes and adaptations as partial elements of the true subject of action, the theatrical performance. There are some creation and formation moments in this ‘social movement’ that involve ‘social actors’. Considerations about ‘culture’ and ‘subjects manifestations’, present in the works of Lucien Goldmann, Mikhail Bakhtin and Alain Touraine, can lead us through the way of the creation process of personages: a dialogical self construction of person and character.

A portrait of a dialogical self. Picture theory and the dialogical self

Nora Ruck & Thomas Slunecko (University of Vienna, Austria)


Meaning is at the very heart of the ‘second cognitive revolution’. Since this revolution was closely allied to the narrative/discursive turn in psychology, meaning was mainly studied in its relation to language; hence, the temporal dimension of meaning-making inevitably made up the focus of interest. In the dialogical self, however, meaning is conceptualized as a dynamic product of dialogical positioning and re-positioning. The term ‘positioning’ captures the multitude of intrapersonal und interpersonal relations of self and other, and even within the self. Thereby, temporal and spatial characteristics of the self are considered of equal importance. Like the theory on the whole, its most recent methodical offspring (PPR) is narratively inspired and, thus, mainly analyzes meaning as it is constituted and conveyed by language. In this paper we point to layers of meaning in interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships that emerge outside of language, i.e., pictorially. The paintress Frida Kahlo is well-known for juxtaposing different subselves in her works. A qualitative interpretation of some of her pictures shall demonstrate the idiosyncrasy of those exclusively pictorial layers of meaning.

Ornamentation as a poetic manifestation on the dialogical self

Elaine Pedreira Rabinovich (Catholic University of Salvador, Brazil)


Ornamental is a universal esthetical-anthropological category by which human beings are in a continuous movement of humanization. A dimension at the same time esthetics and anthropomorphic, it is a transversal force located in architecture, painting, dancing, etc., floating between diverse manifestations of culture and therefore making frontiers to float: a force of immanent exteriorization able to free itself from what has already been crystallized. This force may manifest itself as ornamentation which is one way of appropriation of space. A person organizes him/herself and his/her world disposing things in a space so it becomes a home. Therefore ornamentation can be seen as a kind of dialogical self because it is at the same time a universal dimension and also related to in-and-out world, being both a mirror and a display window. Through ornamentation, a person may experience this sacred instant where he/she merges in humanity timeless flow, the definition of poetics.

13h45 – 15h15

Symposium 7
Research methodologies for the dialogical study of psychotherapy

Mikael Leiman (University of Joensuu, Finland) & João Salgado (ISMAI, Portugal)


Discussant: Ivana Marková (University of Stirling, UK)
Psychotherapy research is an extremely exciting field within psychology. Then, we may ask what could be the contribution of a dialogical approach to the study of psychotherapy? The construction of research methodologies compatible with the general axiomatic and theoretical claims of such a dialogical approach is a serious challenge to the most current practices on the field. As Valsiner and Branco claim, methodology is a complex cycle that requires the harmonization between phenomena, theories, axioms and methods of data collection. In this symposium we will discuss some evolving methodologies grounded in a Bakhtinian and semiotic perspective devoted to the analysis of psychotherapeutic processes.

From sameness to novelty: A microgenetic analysis of dialogical change processes

Carla Cunha (ISMAI, Portugal) & Miguel Gonçalves (University of Minho, Portugal)


The self is constantly changing and constructing its unity and identity throughout the irreversible flow of time and experience that characterizes human existence (Valsiner, 2002). Sometimes, the construction of this “sameness” leads to recursive and inflexible patterns implicated in a perpetuating personal problem. Following this, the goal of a psychotherapeutic process in a dialogical framework would be the promotion of change by facilitating more functional and adaptive dynamics in dialogical relationships between I-positions. The “Identity Positions Interview” (Gonçalves & Cunha, 2004) provides the context and the tool for the discussion around a significant personal problem of the participant and its implications in her life. This brief procedure allows the exploration of the recursive dynamics exhibited in that problem and the use of some therapeutic techniques strategically introduced to study the emergence and development of change processes. This paper will present a microgenetic analysis of a specific interview and focus on the following goals:

  1. The illustration of processes of self-regulation implicated in a personal problem and its recursive dynamics;

  2. The characterization of the emergence of dialogical change processes that create novelty and innovation in the meaning-making of experience.



The structure of subjectivity in utterances: Dialogical sequence analysis as a method of investigation

Mikael Leiman (University of Joensuu, Finland)


Donald Winnicott claimed that creative subjectivity happens within the third area of experience that is located at the border between the internal and external. His ideas come close to Valentin Voloshinov's and, later on, Mikhail Bakhtin's understanding of consciousness as a threshold phenomenon, formed in communion with others. Dialogical sequence analysis (DSA) is based on Bakhtin's view that human subjectivity reveals itself in utterances. An utterance, as a mediated response is the primary medium in discourse but should not be limited to it. Any human act can be studied as an utterance. DSA also owes much to Cognitive Analytic Therapy that has provided conceptual tools for describing the person's repetitive action patterns and reciprocal positionings in different contexts of experience. The paper presents a brief outline of the DSA in its current form. Its relations with the triadic conception of subjectivity, as presented by Salgado and Ferreira will also be discussed.

Searching for a dialogical analysis of psychotherapy

Liliana Meira (University of Minho/ISMAI, Portugal), João Salgado (ISMAI, Portugal) & Miguel Gonçalves (University of Minho, Portugal)


The individual-socioecological perspective, one of the frames of reference to the empirical research within the field of psychology proposed by Jaan Valsiner, stands for the study of human development that takes into account the joint action between the person, the environment, and the “social others” guiding the person toward specific goals. Within this perspective, psychotherapy sessions, borrowing an expression from H. S. Sullivan, may be seen as “anthropological laboratories” of human development in which a dialogical interchange is going on and a constant positioning and repositioning is taking place. Therefore, the aim of this presentation is to suggest a first step toward a procedure of analysis of psychotherapy processes that integrates the individual-socioecological framework, the Dialogical Sequence Analysis (M. Leiman) and the Dialogical Self-Theory (H. Hermans).

13h45 – 15h15

Symposium 8
Dialogicality in psychologists’ profession

Katrin Kullasepp (Tallinn University, Estonia) & Sofia Tavares (University of Minho, Portugal)


Discussant: Lívia M. Simão (University of S. Paulo, Brazil)
The professional work in the psychological field is the main focus of this symposium proposal. We intend to highlight some key topics around the development of a professional identity, professional self organization and the construction of meaning for psychologists’ activities. The invited contributors develop their studies within a socio-constructivist perspective where human existence and meaning construction are seen as dynamics dialogical interplays between social environment and the self. In all these studies, the meaning to our lives, activities or identity is always a relational and communicational achievement. In accord to this meaning nature conception, what we are as psychologists depend of the semiotic resources multiplicity existents in our culture. Hence, the subjective way as we position, act, choose and move in this plural world is what allows us to be a distinctive person - and psychologist - between others. In this symposium, we will discuss the theoretical and practice implications of the presented studies for psychological interventions and psychologists’ education.

Identity construction of psychology students during their First Year of Studies: A longitudinal approach

Katrin Kullasepp (Tallinn University, Estonia)


In this paper the construction of professional identity is discussed from socio-cultural perspective—from the viewpoint of dialogical processes of the self. I propose an account of development of identity of psychology students during their studies at the university as a result of transactional processes between social environment and the self, wherein mutual relationship between social and personal world leads to transformations in both. The model of Dialogical Self is applied in this project to investigate changes that take place in ever-transforming professional self organization. The present perspective defines the self as an open-system, emphasizing its multiplicity and dynamical nature. It also considers the role of socio-cultural input to the development of identity and therefore permits to explain turning of social events into personal. Data from the first year of a long-term investigation of the identity processes of Estonian psychology students (23 first year psychology students—of the 25 students in the cohort enrolled in psychology) show how the Self<>Self and Self<>Other dynamics set up the first personal-cultural differentiations of the “being myself” and “being a psychologist”. It is shown how that emerging differentiation is inherently ambivalent, as it leads to a variety of trajectories in the construction of the Self-as-Psychologist.

The sense-making as emergence from dialogical dynamic: Implication for a psychological theory of psychological intervention

Sergio Salvatore (University of Lecce, Italy)


The socio-constructivist model of communication proposes a specific way of looking at inter-subjectivity. This highlights the idea that a meaning is a social construction that happens within and by the social exchange. Hence, the meaning is not given uphill the discourse; rather, it is the communication dynamic that depicts the situated semantic value of the symbolic devices which the discourse unfolds. The socio-constructivist conception is an alternative way of seeing the meaning-making, which reaps Wittgenstein’s lesson. This underlines that the meaning-making is not an autonomous process, but it always unfolds in function of the social context. According to this point of view, the socio-constructivist model highlights that the meaning devices (concepts, categories, codes, signs, scripts…) are not given and fixed entities being universal and not depending on time for this reason – but these are open signs, which shape their significance in situation, according to the way the actors use them within the linguistic games they carry out. The socio-constructivist model has relevant implications for the psychological intervention (in clinical social, educational, organizational fields). These implications concern the definition of the goals of the professional action; the way of understanding and dealing with client's demand, the model of setting, the conception of effectiveness. The paper aims discussing such implications, in the perspective of a psychological theory of the psychological intervention.

The psychotherapist’s social role under a dialogical perspective: A study of the personal construction of «I as a psychotherapist»

Sofia Tavares, Miguel M. Gonçalves (University of Minho, Portugal) & João Salgado (ISMAI, Portugal)


To become a psychotherapist is a self-organizing challenge for anyone who assumes that role, involving a dynamic dialogical interplay between social expectations and personal features. This involves subjective and intersubjective processes in which self-image (or “internal I-position”) emerges as co-relative others’ images (or “external I-positions”). The classical distinction between the motives of agency and communion is considered here a valuable theoretical tool for this dialogical approach, because it may help to distinguish and classify diversity in terms of two kinds of orientations towards clients: one more self-centred (focused on the therapist’s abilities and power) and the other a more other-centred (focused on the contact and empathy with the client). Following these assumptions, clearly rooted in a dialogical approach of self-identity, we analyse the discourse of three psychotherapists about two different clients (one referred to as a “positive client” and another referred to as a “negative client”). The results suggest that this adaptation is a very dynamic process and that different therapists create different meanings to their occupational role. Moreover, this analysis also allows a distinction between those different self-images in terms of their global orientation. One of the therapists seems to engage in self-organization processes focused in self-needs, other seems focused on client’s needs and the third seems to keep a balance between those two orientations. The implication of these results for future research and their practical and theoretical implications are discussed.
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