Käyttäytymistieteellinen tiedekunta

 

Recent Submissions

  • Paananen, Maiju (Helsingin yliopisto, 2017)
    The emergent knowledge on early brain development together with the aims related to knowledge economy have turned international focus and hopes towards early childhood education. At the same time, increasing economic pressures have been posed to providers of early childhood education. As a result, managerial trends in both private and public organizations have strengthened and governance has, to some extent, been shifted to statistical and outcome-based. This kind of focus has been called the era of accountability. It is not clear, what kind of early childhood education the era of accountability produces. Moreover, we need new tools for examining the formation of everyday life at preschools in this era which is marked by transnational flow of ideas. The arguments posed in this dissertation draw upon the analyses of data from four different scales: from international documents, national docu-ments, interviews of local actors and ethnographic data from preschools. This thesis draws upon ontological premises of social materialism for building a conceptual framework for the study of formation of every day practices within institutions. I argue that these practices are formed in the interplay of governing instruments and discourses concerning the societal roles of early childhood education. Furthermore, to understand the formation of the governing instruments and discourses concerning the societal roles of early childhood education there is a need to take into account both transna-tional and national trajectories of policy and governance. The findings of this dissertation study show that the discourses of the societal roles of early childhood education which are entangled with governance instruments formulate the every day practices of preschools. The findings suggest that outcome-based governance fits ill with the early child-hood education s aims of social justice. The era of accountability the discourses and the governance tools related to it transforms the societal roles of early childhood education. All in all, the findings underline that it is useful to examine early child-hood education by integrating micro- and macro-level analysis; this dissertation study argues for an approach on research which takes into account the transnationality of policy trajectories. Furthermore, a basic premise of the application of these findings is that the tools of governing have always unintended consequences. In order to meet the demand of accountability, the evaluation of early childhood education cannot be reduced to examination of simple outcome-based quantitative indicators. The study concludes with suggestions for avenues of further research.
  • Tammi, Tuure (Helsingin yliopisto, 2017)
    In this thesis, I draw two maps. The first considers how to conceptualize a political process as a phenomenon entangled with everyday life. I drew the second map within the first to consider how political issues could be grasped in the school context by means of democratic discussion and decision-making. The thesis consists of four articles and a discussion. Besides reviewing the findings of the articles, I think with them in order to open directions for further experimentations and conceptualizations. Article I considers children s everyday citizenship in relation to the recent school struggles with mold and the questions regarding indoor air problems in schools. The article explores children s citizenship through considering the power relations between children and adults, children s peer activities, and bodies. When thinking with the article, I consider indoor air problems as a rhizome of human and non-human actors in which also various childhoods are being lived. Article II explores an action research project aimed at developing deliberative communication in a third grade classroom in order to consider some of the questions related to the organizing and unfolding of democratic experiments in elementary classrooms. Besides providing pupils a forum to discuss issues that mattered to them, doing classroom democracy also affected the teacher and the researcher in that they began to ponder the purposes of schooling and to listen to various persuading voices regarding this purpose. Article III explores forces and power relations in the context of citizen juries practiced within schools. It does this through thinking with experiences voiced by the students who participated in these experiments. The article zooms into the students experiencing of participation and empathy, deliberative space and effectiveness. In thinking with the article, I draw connections to affect theories in order to consider the entanglement of the emotional and cognitive aspects of deliberative communication. In addition, I problematize the idea of research as a way of representing students voices. Article IV zooms into the dynamics of interactions and communication, and the unfolding of power relations within one democratic meeting in an elementary school classroom. The findings suggest that it is possible to practice deliberative communication in elementary classroom to explore issues that matter to the members of the class. However, while thinking with the article, I asked what else might be emerging together with deliberative communication, in silences and swarming. I conceptualize the political with concepts of territorialization and contagiousness, among others. Territorialization is spatiotemporal drawing of borders but also an outlining of new directions. Contagiousness orients towards the affective registers of communication, the entanglement of the emotional and cognitive, and towards the processes of affecting and becoming affected in a broader sense. In order to situate the human within its surroundings, I consider the concept of withizenship instead of citizenship. Finally, I ask questions regarding thinking and doing research.
  • Rättyä, Kaisu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2017)
    Grammar teaching and the meaning of grammar in L1 education often inspires different arguments and opinions in Finland and abroad, whereas concrete, data-based researches on grammar teaching methods are rare. This research aims to extend existing knowledge about grammar teaching. Representing subject matter didactics, my research focuses on two teaching methods in grammar teaching: languaging and visualisations. The aim of the research is also to create theoretical understanding of what constitutes meaningful grammar teaching. This research follows an educational design research (EDR) strategy and features a theory-oriented point of view. The article-based dissertation consists of five articles. The first three focus on teaching experiments in class teacher education and the collection of information on student teachers conceptual knowledge of word classes and sentence constituents through languaging and visualisations. The fourth article discusses languaging and functional grammar teaching methods in the framework of subject matter didactics, teaching methods and teaching objectives. Finally, the fifth article studies the relationship between grammar teaching and literacy exercises in eighth-graders exam answers. This research examines what languaging exercises reveal about what students know and how they apply word classes and sentence constituents, what visualisation exercises tell about what students know regarding word classes and sentence constituents and how the use of a languaging approach and visualisation methods can be explained theoretically. The data examples demonstrate what students' languaging can reveal about their conceptual knowledge. This information on students' conceptual under-standing is combined with theoretical knowledge of learning concepts. The development of teaching methods is based on findings as to how students mix linguistic concepts, how definitions of concepts are reduced, how conceptual categories are incomplete or partial and how this affects problem solving. Even strategies that fail to solve problems are taken into account here. In theoretical phases of EDR, conceptual change theory, constructive alignment, meaningful learning, pedagogical content knowledge and learning objectives have strengthened the knowledge of plausible teaching methods. Applying conceptual change theory to the learning of linguistic concepts points out the meaning of ontological categories and categorical shifts. This research presents possibilities for languaging approach when it is used for conceptual learning and when teachers need information for planning and assessment. Visualisation method can provide teachers with the knowledge of how students understand categorical hierarchies and the dependencies between categories. I argue that, with languaging approach and visualisation methods, a teacher is able to assess and evaluate their students' conceptual, procedural and metacognitive knowledge. According to this research, meaningful grammar teaching is based on a) the use of teaching methods that acknowledge conceptual change and its effects on learning, b) exercises which are constructed and aligned to different dimensions of knowledge and cognitive processes, gives student feedback and c) learning objectives, which describe concepts related to complete categories and hierarchies.
  • Kuuluvainen, Soila (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Accurate perception of speech sound features forms the basis of language and oral communication. Cortical speech processing consists of sound identification, feature extraction, and change discrimination, all occurring within a few hundred milliseconds timescale, and leading to conscious perception of sounds in their context. When these processes do not work optimally, speech perception is hampered, which can lead to problems in academic achievement or social interaction. Therefore, in this thesis, the processing of sublexical syllables and changes if their five features (consonant, vowel, vowel duration, fundamental frequency (F0), and intensity) were compared to the processing of complex nonspeech sounds in adults and six-year-old children, using event-related potentials (ERPs). Overall, larger ERP amplitudes or stronger magnetic mismatch negativity (MMNm) sources were found for speech than nonspeech stimuli. Stronger responses in the speech than the nonspeech condition were seen in both groups for changes in consonants, vowels, vowel duration and vowel F0. This is consistent with their role in Finnish: in addition to phonemic changes, vowel duration and F0 changes co-signal vowel quantity, which differentiates word meaning. Furthermore, children, but not adults, had larger left-lateralized responses for speech than nonspeech intensity changes, which is possibly beneficial for word segmentation and learning. Moreover, children's cortical measures were associated with neurocognitive skills. The overall pattern of larger speech than nonspeech responses was associated with better reasoning skills. Furthermore, larger left than right hemisphere ERP amplitudes for speech stimuli were associated with better performance in language tasks. Finally, the early responses (P1, early differentiating negativity, EDN) were associated with phonological and prereading skills, and later responses (N2, N4, late differentiating negativity, LDN) with verbal short-term memory and naming speed. The results suggest that speech and nonspeech sounds are processed by at least partially different neural substrates in preschoolers and adults. Furthermore, intra-individual differences in ERP amplitudes between conditions and hemispheres might be a useful tool in assessing cortical auditory functioning in children without the requirement of attention or motivation to carry out tasks.
  • Radun, Jenni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    The objective in this thesis was to examine the psychological process of image-quality estimation, specifically focusing on people who are naïve in this respect and on how they estimate high-quality images. Quality estimation in this context tends to be a preference task, and to be subjective. The aim in this thesis is to enhance understanding of viewing behaviour and estimation rules in the subjective assessment of image-quality. On a more general level, the intention is to shed light on estimation processes in preference tasks. An Interpretation-Based Quality (IBQ) method was therefore developed to investigate the rules used by naïve participants in their quality estimations. It combines qualitative and quantitative approaches, and complements standard methods of image-quality measurement. The findings indicate that the content of the image influences perceptions of its quality: it influences how the interaction between the content and the changing image features is interpreted (Study 1). The IBQ method was also used to create three subjective quality dimensions: naturalness of colour, darkness and sharpness (Study 2). These dimensions were used to describe the performance of camera components. The IBQ also revealed individual differences in estimation rules: the participants differed as to whether they included interpretation of the changes perceived in an image in their estimations or whether they just commented on them (Study 4). Viewing behaviour was measured to enable examination of the task properties as well as the individual differences. Viewing behaviour was compared in two tasks that are commonly used in studies on image-quality estimation: the estimation of difference and the estimation of difference in quality (Study 3). The results showed that viewing behaviour differed even in two magnitude-estimation tasks with identical material. When they were estimating quality the participants concentrated mainly on the semantically important areas of the image, whereas in the difference-estimation task they also examined wider areas. Further examination of quality-estimation task revealed individual differences in the viewing behaviour and in the importance these viewing behaviour groups attached to the interpretation of changes in their estimations (Study 4). It seems that people engaged in a subjective preference-estimation task use different estimation rules, which is also reflected in their viewing behaviour. The findings reported in this thesis indicate that: 1) people are able to describe the basis of their quality estimations even without training when they are allowed to use their own vocabulary; 2) the IBQ method has the potential to reveal the rules used in quality estimation; 3) changes in instructions influence the way people search for information from the images; and 4) there are individual differences in terms of rules and viewing behaviour in quality-estimation tasks.
  • Niemi, Pia-Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    This study investigates the ways that schoolwide events can contribute to the creation of membership in a school community. An essential aspect of school life across grade levels and national contexts, the sense of membership refers to a situation in which a student is accepted as part of a group by others and feels connected with the other members of the community. The importance of membership has been highlighted in international studies that have shown the positive relation between students sense of school belonging and several academic and non-academic features of their lives, such as their motivation for learning and general future orientation. To increase the knowledge of how school practices can support students sense of membership, this study focuses on schoolwide events, including celebrations, theme days, and other organized activities for the entire school community's participation. This study's main research question is as follows: How do schoolwide events contribute to students experiences of membership in the school community through a) personal-level experiences, b) school community-level practices, and c) representations of culture? To answer this question, the study approaches the notion of membership from various disciplinary perspectives that originate from psychology, sociology, and educational sciences. The key concepts of this study are social integration, sense of belonging, and social representations of cultural communities that are investigated in the educational context of schoolwide events. This study consists of qualitative interview data from both students (Study I, data gathered in winter 2013 2014) and teachers (Study III, data gathered in autumn 2011), as well as quantitative survey data from students (Study II, data gathered in autumn 2013). Data were collected from four secondary schools of basic education (serving 13 16-year-old students) in the southern area of Finland. The student data were collected from three schools (referred to as Schools 1, 2, and 3), while the teacher data were collected from a fourth school. This study's main findings answer the research question by showing that schoolwide events can contribute to students experiences of membership by providing them with positive interpersonal encounters with their peers and in the school as a social community. The results also indicate that experiences of membership are disrupted by negative peer relations as well as by unfair and hasty practices when organizing events. Regarding cultural representations, the findings show that the events do not support students interpersonal understanding of various cultural traditions in any particular way, but instead the events focus on creating memberships in the broader context of the national (Finnish) community by transmitting its traditions. On the other hand, the results demonstrate that the notion of tradition is fluid and subjective to interpretation. The findings also indicate that students social and emotional experiences and personal involvement in schoolwide events are more remarkable aspects for creating membership than the factual content of the events. The findings also reveal that teachers and students approach the question of community building from different perspectives. Teachers emphasize the role of national traditions, while students call for inclusive events. However, both groups regard schoolwide events as avenues from which experiences of community and membership may emerge. Concerning the study's practical implications, the results emphasize the important role of schoolwide events in the social life of the school and the need for researchers and practitioners to pay closer attention to such events. Based on the findings, this study also proposes practical implications for the development of the content and practices of schoolwide events in Finland and in other countries.
  • Laine, Sonja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    The main purpose of this doctoral thesis is to investigate Finnish elementary school teachers perspectives on gifted education. In particular, teachers conceptions of giftedness, their attitudes toward gifted education and the practices they are using to address gifted students needs are examined. The thesis is intended to increase understanding of the current state of gifted education from the perspective of teachers in Finland, a context in which emphasis is on inclusion and differentiated teaching. The thesis is comprised of four articles. The first analyzes the public discus- sion of giftedness in print media during the years 1992-2007 in order to enrich the view of the Finnish context by revealing different conceptions of giftedness and gifted students in that time period. The three other articles (II-IV) are based on survey data gathered from Finnish elementary school teachers (N=212) during the school year 2010-2011. The instrument used was a mixed questionnaire, including both qualitative and quantitative items. By mixing both qualitative and quantitative data and analysis methods the thesis thereby utilizes a mixed methods approach. The results indicate that teachers conceptions, even though simplistic, as well as their attitudes are in many ways supportive of the gifted and their education in general. In particular, teachers attitudes toward differentiated teaching for the gifted were mainly positive, whereas they were mostly negative about acceleration and ability groupings. Furthermore, teachers descriptions of their practices revealed that, even though they differentiate their teaching, they do not necessarily use evidence-based practices shown to be effective with gifted students. Together these findings suggest that the practical functionality of a differentiation paradigm might be questioned. The thesis also emphasizes that, in Finland, meeting the needs of gifted students depends heavily on individual teachers, which may lead to inequality in delivering quality education to the gifted.
  • Kouhia, Anna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    The purpose of this study is to investigate the meanings of modern day textile hobby crafts for makers who engage with crafts as a creative leisure outlet. The research is embodied in the term unraveling, which conceptualizes the study both as a means to reflect on the meanings of embodied practice, and as a way to open up new perspectives on making. The theoretical framework reviews contemporary textile hobby crafting culture and uncovers how it has found new meaning in recreational leisure, gendered domesticity and individual resourcefulness linked with Do-It-Yourself. The thesis consists of three sub-studies. The first level of examination is based on interviews with craftspeople coming from different cultural backgrounds, who were asked to talk about how they see the meaning and value of craft making in their lives. Secondly, textile hobby craft making is approached as a collective practice through a study conducted with an open-curricula craft group. Thirdly, the story of a craft-maker-researcher is sewn into the research narrative through autoethnographic cinema in order to create an understanding of the performativity of craft practice from the perspective of a young maker. The three studies address how hobby craft making opens up opportunities for learning, sharing, community building and self-discovery, and how it materializes experiences of belonging to a social group and nurtures emotional sensibility in relation to one s own being. The studies show that the meanings attached to hobby craft making have many dimensions, and can be characterized as multiple, overlapping, connective, contextual, shifting and conflicting. Regardless of individual differences, there is a range of commonalities shared by the craftspeople, and accordingly, a wider sense of the world, which becomes agreed upon by the people interested in textile hobby crafts. This suggests that as people take up hobby crafting, they become involved in the negotiation of comprehensive strategies for discussing and sharing hobby practices. This implies that a shared view of the world plays an important role in cultivating meaningfulness of one s craft work, as it generates a common cultural interpretation of the meanings of craft as a leisure pursuit. All in all, experiencing personal meaningfulness seems to be the most important reason for taking up textile hobby craft activities.
  • Alemanji, Aminkeng Atabong (2016)
    In this thesis I set out to investigate what antiracism education in Finland is at a conceptual, methodological and practical level. At the conceptual level, this study examines how and why antiracism is theorised and explores the challenges to and possible gains from a potential shift in existing antiracist strategies in Finland. At the practical and methodological levels (using both literature and research data) this study investigates how antiracism education Finland is done and how it could be done differently. This thesis includes a collection of five articles. The first article, If an apple is a foreign apple you have to wash it very carefully : Youth discourses on racism (2016), is set at the intersection of formal and non-formal education and critically examines the use of wrong questions in antiracism discourses. The second article, Antiracism Apps as Actants of Education for Diversities (2015), examines how two mobile phone applications could be used as antiracism educational tools, bearing in mind the potentials and limitations of such technologies. The third article, Educating Children to Survive within a Neo-Racist Framework: Parents' Struggle, (submitted), set in informal/non-formal education, investigates the different strategies employed by mothers of immigrant background children to educate their child or children on how to respond to racial violence. Article four, Zebra World - The Promotion of Imperial Stereotypes in a Children's Book (2015), challenges the binary and stereotypical agenda of educational materials regarding how they tell the story of us and them. The last article, Holocaust Education: An Alternative Approach to Antiracism Education? A Study of a Holocaust Textbook Used in 8th Grade in an International School in Finland (2015), examines how, through the notion of intersectionality, educators can use the concepts of racism and neo-racism to teach about the Holocaust and vice versa. Grounded in an understanding of racism based on postcoloniality and neo-racism, this study investigates racism in Finland using four interrelated lenses: Finnish exceptionalism, coloniality of power, whiteness theory and denial of racism. It unearths the hidden structural hierarchies (re)produced, sustained and recycled by power structures. In addition, this study argues that since antiracism as a word endorses a recognition of the existence of racism, it is important to build and offer antiracism programmes in and out of schools. It calls for antiracism education as a discipline to be given more space in formal education and proposes strategies through which this can be achieved. Furthermore, it proposes that antiracism education must be ready to be self-critical, bearing in mind that there is no one true solution to racism.
  • Nuutila, Jaakko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Jaakko Nuutila The Finnish organic food chain - Modelling towards 2020 goals with change and innovation The current Finnish food chain generates negative externalities for the environment, human beings and animals. Organic food and its production represent an alternative that aims at reducing those externalities. Such an approach is supported by international authorities, and features in Finnish government goals that are intended to diminish these externalities, among others, by increasing the share of organic production. None of the goals previously set by the Finnish authorities for the organic sector have been reached, and this also applies to the target for 2020 according to trends in organic production and expanding market share in Finland. Several other European Union countries are making more significant progress in this regard in comparison with Finland. This thesis proposes a Finnish food chain model tackling the challenging aim to enable the government goals for organic food and its production to be reached. Simultaneously, it may enhance greater sustainability, with benefits to society and enhanced profitability for those enterprises acting for the common good. The model combines three theories: Activity Theory for the model with its elements, Economy of Common Good for the values and Co-creation for the collaboration of the food chain actors that pertain to the model. A change from the current to the suggested model, generating the desired outcomes, can be possible if a path of certain actions based on the principles of the Finnish national innovation system is followed. Organic food and its production need to be recognized (legitimacy) and integrated into strategic development and research topics, in Finland, for development in this area to be sufficient to reach the goals set. The findings in this thesis and its four component articles link to the associated theories that gain support from the literature on the food system. The suggested food chain model is, therefore, based on official reports, theories and empirical studies. The suggested model encourages food-chain-level cooperation that would lead to a fairer division of power and easier interference in legislation and taxation, making it easier to set the common good values and to use them to influence affect to the tools of food chain activities. The resulting production methods, and the food itself, will enable the goals set for organic production to be reached. The path of actions suggests tax incentives, better education and research on organic food and its production, more effective information policy and a tailored SHOK-type organic consortium to spearhead the project as an integral component of the Finnish strategic research agenda. The resilience of planet Earth is rapidly decreasing, and small actions remain largely without effect. The entire food chain has to be redeveloped in a comprehensive and radical way. The model suggested is theoretical: a combination of several theoretical approaches proven to have been successful in existing business environments. It is difficult to imagine that, under the currently prevailing conditions of materialism and egocentricity, the proposed system could be comprehensively adopted right away at the national level, but a gradual change towards the greater common good and organic goals can be expected to be possible by following the action plan presented.
  • Savolainen, Katri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    It is well established that stress poses an elevated risk for non-communicable diseases and early mortality. However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. There is strong, yet not conclusive, evidence showing that telomeres, non-coding DNA-protein complexes (TTAGGG) located at the end of chromosomes, are associated with aging-related diseases including cardiovascular diseases, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The aim of this thesis is to expand the relatively scant literature on stress and telomere length and to study whether stress-related factors are associated with leukocyte telomere length (LTL), a possible biomarker of cellular aging. The participants were from the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, which comprises 13,345 individuals born from 1934 to 1944 in Finland. Between the years 2001 and 2004 a randomly selected sample of subjects participated in a detailed clinical examination including blood sampling for LTL measurement. LTL data, measured by the quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) method, was available for 1964 participants (men n = 912 and women n = 1052) at a mean age of 61.5 (SD = 2.9, Range = 56.7 - 69.8) years. In conjunction with the clinical examination, the participants reported on the following stress-related factors: the Beck Depression Inventory (n = 1954), the Mental Health Index (n = 1950) and the Vitality Scale (n = 1950) from the SF36/RAND to capture depressive symptoms. After clinical examination they completed the NEO Personality Inventory (n = 1671) to capture personality dimensions that either render individuals vulnerable to or buffer them from stress and the Traumatic events checklist (n = 1486) to capture traumatic experiences across the lifespan. Objective stress-related factors were derived from Finnish registries. These included mental disorders (n = 116 vs. 1840), sleep apnea (n = 44 vs. 1875) and snoring (n = 29 vs. 1875) that were identified from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register, psychotropic medication use (n = 665 vs. 1291) that was identified from the Finnish National Social Insurance Institution Register, and early life stress (n = 215 vs. 1271), namely temporary separation from both parent(s) due to child evacuations from Finland during World War II, that was identified from the National Archives register. In addition, a subsample of the participants with LTL measurement underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (n = 287) during which HPA axis stress reactivity was measured. The results showed no associations between personality dimensions, mental disorders, depressive symptoms, objectively measured early life stress, self-reported traumatic experiences across the lifespan, or HPA axis stress reactivity and LTL. However, a combination of objectively measured early life stress and self-reported traumatic experiences, and a history of sleep apnea, were associated with shorter LTL. Two unpredicted findings were also made. Individuals hospitalized for mental disorders who also used psychotropic medication had longer LTL than non-hospitalized controls; also an agreeable personality dimension was associated with LTL in a sex-specific manner such that more agreeable men and less agreeable women had shorter LTL. As a majority of the findings did not support the study hypotheses, and the effect sizes in the few existing associations were relatively small, the results in this PhD thesis suggest that stress related factors are not strongly associated LTL, at least when measured with qPCR in an elderly sample showing little variation in age.
  • Mikander, Pia (Unigrafia, 2016)
    This study focuses on the worldview constructed in Finnish and Swedish history, social studies and geography textbooks in Finland. I have approached the textbooks from a postcolonial perspective. This means a focus on the descriptions of global power relations, more explicitly the descriptions of Westerners and others. Postcolonial scholars have shown that education has long been Eurocentric, particularly in school subjects such as history and geography. They have also pointed out that the outcomes of colonialism have both epistemological and material aspects. Learning about the world, as consisting of superior Westerners and inferior others, has gone hand in hand with aspiring for its domination. Today, the world no longer consists of colonial powers and colonies; however, researchers have suggested that globalization can be seen as ongoing colonialism. This has implications for education. School textbooks reflect the dominant values of a society. Studying them is a way of clarifying how society constructs what is normal, suitable and ideal. The textbooks researched for this study include the history, social studies and geography textbooks (basic education, years 5-9) printed between 2005 and 2010 by all major Finnish textbook publishers. They were based on the 2004 curriculum, which states that the underlying values of basic education include human rights, equality and democracy. Meanwhile, research shows that prejudiced and racist attitudes are prevalent and increasing among young people in schools in Finland. This suggests that there is a particular need to study the descriptions of Westerners and non-Westerners in the textbooks. The purpose of this research is to explore discourses in history, social studies and geography textbooks, particularly concerning the construction of the concept of the West and its relation to the rest of the world. Research question: How do the textbooks construct an understanding of the West and Western people as superior to others? Some relevant analytical concepts from Laclau and Mouffe s discourse theory analysis have been used in the research. Based on these concepts, the textbook texts were organized in order to find central themes and to explore discourses. Laclau s and Mouffe s ontological assumptions, including the idea that what is considered objective can be seen as ideological, have also been important for the analysis. The articles included in the thesis show how the hegemony of a superior West is depicted in different ways. This includes descriptions of historical events as well as current global relations. While most of the old stereotypes about non-Westerners have begun to vanish from the textbooks, there are other statements that work to strengthen the image of the West as superior to others. Western violence is hidden or justified in past as well as current conflicts. Values such as democracy and human rights are considered essentially Western. The articles also show how hegemony can work to make ideological claims into common sense. This includes subtle descriptions of ideological choices presented as neutral, even though they involve assumptions that clash with the principles of human rights and democracy. Examples of phenomena that are portrayed as neutral include the control of non-Westerners migration, non-Western populations and a non-challenging attitude towards the structures of global inequality.
  • Berg, Venla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Recently, personality variation has been found to be associated with number of offspring, pace of reproduction, and other components of fitness in humans and other animals. The link between personality and fitness has inspired a surge of theoretical accounts on the evolution of personality. However, the associations between personality and fitness are yet to be sufficiently empirically elaborated for the theoretical advances to be solidly based. This thesis explores the pathways between personality and fertility in three contemporary Western human populations. Specifically, this thesis i) provides further evidence on the phenotypic associations between personality and lifetime reproductive success; ii) examines the differences between a phenotypic and genetic approach to natural selection on personality; iii) investigates whether personality is involved in a trade-off between the number and quality of offspring; and iv) explores possible novel selection pressures on personality. The results are discussed in relation to the theoretical accounts on the evolution of personality. The results suggest that the phenotypic associations between personality and lifetime reproductive success vary by populations. Further, it seems that the phenotypic and genetic approaches to natural selection on personality differ and that modern environments can impose novel selection pressures on personality. Lastly, it seems that personality is similarly associated with number of children and grandchildren, implying no quality quantity trade-offs in modern environments. Crucially, the results show that personality is not associated with fitness in any one way, or because of any one evolutionary mechanism. Further, the results suggest that the behavioural personality differences might not be evolutionarily relevant, but that personality correlates genetically with something else that affects fitness. Thus, future studies should concentrate on the individual personality traits and their genetic correlates, as trying to find a unified evolutionary answer for personality may prove an elusive task.
  • Heilala, Cecilia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    During WWII a total of 48,628 Finnish children were evacuated to Sweden and placed into temporary foster care. Previous studies have mainly focused on the long-term consequences on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. The results are ambiguous and there is not enough convincing evidence to conclude that the evacuation led to mental morbidity or increased the risk of mortality. However, it could be assumed that the early separation trauma had some consequences affecting the quality of life of the evacuees, and that it would be valuable to define this pattern of unspecific symptoms. The objective of this thesis was to analyze the effects of the evacuation on later-life outcomes such as educational attainment, social status, psychosocial wellbeing, mental health problems and substance abuse. The sample consisted of 887 evacuees and 1,748 non-evacuees and was collected from four different sources: the Finnish National Archives, the Population Register Central Finland, the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) and by a survey. The results show that becoming a war child was not random: the evacuees came from families with a lower socioeconomic status, which must be taken into account when estimating the effects of the evacuation. The atmosphere in most of the foster homes was good, and they were generally affluent. The return to Finland was difficult for many evacuees due to the loss of their mother tongue, Finnish. However, the quality of the atmosphere of the home of origin was a factor that cannot be ruled out when evaluating the consequences of the evacuation. The thesis further shows that evacuees had a higher rate of substance abuse and a lower sense of coherence (SOC), but did not have more problems related to psychosocial wellbeing or mental health than non-evacuees. However, problems related to experienced emotions such as loss of confidence, detachment and/or rootlessness, as well as unworthiness and/or rejection, were expressed. The results show that even long-term separation from one's parents during childhood must be understood as representing a developmental context that makes the emergence of problems either less likely or more likely, depending on other risk and protective factors.
  • Bona, Silvia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    This thesis investigates the causal role of two extra-striate visual regions, the lateral occipital (LO) cortex and the occipital face area (OFA), in certain visual processes. Firstly, I examined whether these areas are causally implicated in the perception of bilateral visual symmetry. Despite the ubiquitous presence of this feature in the external world, the neural basis underlying its detection is not fully known. In Studies I and II,this issue was explored by disrupting the activity of LO and OFA with fMRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) while participants discriminated between symmetric and nonsymmetric dot configurations and between perfectly symmetric and normal (i.e. somewhat non symmetric) faces. The results showed that rightOFA plays a causal role in detection of symmetry in both configurations of dots and faces whereas LO exclusively in the former, with the rightLO showing greater involvement relative to the homologous region in the left hemisphere. As symmetry is extracted in a holistic manner (i.e. through a parallel global analysis of the stimulusrather than via a serial point-by-point comparisonof the local elements), Study III examined whether rightOFA is involved, more generally, in visual detection based on holistic encoding and, if so, whether its role is restricted to faces or extends also to non-face stimuli. To examine this issue, rightOFA and rightLO were stimulated with fMRI-guided TMS meanwhile participants were asked to detect Mooney faces and non-face images, a class of stimuli which are known to be perceived through holistic processes. The results showed that rightOFA is causally involved in detection of both Mooney faces and objects. Taken together, this thesis sheds new light on the functions of LO and OFA in visual perception. Firstly, it demonstrates that both of these regions are causally involved in holistic processes, including detection of symmetry. Secondly, it is shownthat OFA s role in holistic processing extends to both face and non-face stimuli, suggesting that this region is not strictly face-selective.