Now that we've had a general overview, let's spend a little time getting to know how our "internal" communicative systems are contained. We can call this our FRAME OF REFERENCE.
A frame of reference, often called a Cognitive Frame, takes in all that an individual is exposed to from the time of birth. Our personal frame of reference contains our belief systems and attitudes around everything we do--everything we see others do. The verbal definitions, emotional attitudes, ethnical biases, religious interpretations, behavioral interpretations, perceptual attention and selection, audio selection and attention are all but a few of the aspects included in one's frame of reference.
Analogous to this might be an ordinary "picture frame". This frame excludes perception of any part of that particular picture that might be availble to sight if the frame were not there. So, it is with human "frames of reference". They negate the possibility of that individual seeing options and/or alternatives that are actually available to him, yet are hidden from view due to the blocks this internal frame sets up.
This frame of reference is also the instrument we use to forbid the expression of certain feelings and certain actions. We have built-in "stoppers" (verbal and physiological) that we use to warn ourselves as we get near a particular emotional expression or behavior. Anxiety is produced and, just prior to expression of that feeling and/or that action, we hear these messages loud and clear. After awhile they are so automatic that we are not even aware they exist; but they are there nonetheless. An example:
A frame of reference is inscribed into our cognitive structure by REPETITION. We either defy or accept these "statements" (In denying, we rebel. In accepting, we adapt.) Whatever we decide to do, we are still subject to these dictates--we still hear and react to them.
There are two (2) main types of Frames of Reference: (1) an "inner" frame of reference and (2) an "outer" frame of reference. We will EXAGGERATE these for simplification in understanding. In actuality, we all have some of both.....ya didn't think this was going to be that easy to understand did ya?
OUTER FRAME OF REFERENCE: The person utilizing this frame of reference extensively is often over-adapting to what others say with no "stable" definitions of their own. (This might sometimes be seen as "wishy-washy".) They may be excessively competitive, with problems in motivation.
As can be seen from this, one type of frame is just as harmful as the other. One person can be thought of as RIGID while the other can be seen as UNSTABLE. Therefore, it is best to stabilize one's ethics and beliefs, while not imposing those same ethics and beliefs onto others as though they were the ONLY ethics and beliefs. Learning to use what we have in a "constructive" manner is the growth process and, hopefully, our ultimate goal here.
In summary, an individual's frame of reference is the structure of associated (conditioned) responses (neural pathways) which integrates an individual's overall perceptual, conceptual, affective and action set. This in turn defines the self, other people and the world--both structurally and dynamically/functionally. It can be thought of as a skin (a filter) that surrounds and binds an individual's reality and influences our interaction with others.
Our next class will start us looking at some specifics about the way we view ourselves.
Remember the "Let's talk" button at the top of this page is still not working as I want; so you may contact me at "firstname.lastname@example.org" (without quotes) should you want to discuss anything here.
Click here to look at your self concept.