Three families of Psychological Processes
Walton and Wilson (2018) clustered wise interventions into three families based on the basic motivation underlying meaning making upon which the intervention capitalized. Most interventions fall primarily into one category; a few, however, cut across categories. See how Walton and Wilson defined each category.
Psychologically Wise Interventions that Capitalize on the Need to Understand
Many interventions aim to help people interpret themselves and their circumstances in adaptive ways by capitalizing on the need to make sense of matters as best they can. These studies draw primarily on attribution theory, which assumes that people try to form rational impressions of the causes of their own and other people’s behavior (Weiner, 1985). They thus assume that people are responsive to information and experiences that suggest new ways of thinking. Because there is typically no single simple truth about subjective meanings, and because people’s views readily become self-fulfilling, this approach is less concerned with whether people’s interpretations are accurate in some objective sense than with facilitating reasonable perspectives that help people flourish (Abramson, Seligman, &Teasdale, 1978).
Psychologically Wise Interventions that Capitalize on the Need for Self-Integrity
Even as people strive to make sense of the world reasonably, they desire or are threatened by certain meanings. Among these is the desire to see oneself as decent, moral, competent, and coherent. Experiences that threaten this sense of self-integrity can give rise to a range of personal and social problems (Aronson, 1968; Sherman & Cohen, 2006; Steele, 1988).
Psychologically Wise Interventions that Capitalize on the Need to Belong
A third family of interventions capitalizes on people’s need to see themselves as connected to others so as to improve outcomes that go beyond a relationship or a sense of belonging itself, such as to improve well-being, health, or achievement.