Dialogue in the self may be able to exist in every small action in everyday life. I would like to tell about dialogue which occurred in myself while playing handball. In doing defense in handball game (maybe same as in basketball or football), each defense player is in charge of an opponent offence player. When defense makes mistake or team was made score, we try to clarify who was responsible to cover, in order to stop making more mistakes. If it was obvious the person who had responsibility makes apology and no discussion takes place among teammates. In contrast, when it was not obvious who needs to take responsibility, sometimes players make argument with each other.

When I am doing defense in handball game and the team that I belong to made score, I judge whether or not I was wrong or was in charge for the failure. If I was obviously in charge for the failure, I make apology at the time. However, because there are many reasons and factors for the failure, sometimes I do not think that I was wrong and was in charge of covering the opponent player who made score. In these cases, I behave as the person who does not need to take responsibility for making score. Sometimes teammates accept the fact that the failure was not caused by me, but sometimes one or some of teammates argue that I made mistake and I was wrong. If I did not accept his or their argument, dispute happens. When I accept their argument, I make apology to teammates, to show that I am aware that I was in charge of covering.

If we look at this process of reaching making apology or dispute in relation to dialogical self theory (Hermans, 2003; Hermans and Kempen, 1993), in this process, dialogue between or among positions occurred. Furthermore, in this dialogue, new positions emerge. When facing the failure, an internal position having voice of “I was not wrong” exists in self, and first of all, it is dominant. If some teammates blame me, an external position having voice of “I was wrong” comes into self and contradicts the internal position. This is start of dialogue, and once dialogue starts, a new internal position emerges. The newly emerged internal position has a voice of “am I wrong?”. This voice puts me into being reflexive and I come to be interested in thinking about what happened. At this time, another new position emerges. {quotes}This position mediates between positions of “I was not wrong” and “I was wrong”, {/quotes}and tries to make the judgment of whether I was wrong in doing defense and was in charge for the failure. In this judgmental position that can be regarded as “third position” (Hermans, 2009), discussion takes place among sub-positions having voices of “I did best in making defense”, “I thought that he was responsible to cover” and “it is certain that we were made score by the opponent offence player who I had to cover”. If voice of “I was not wrong” is convinced, I would do make apology, and if voice of “I was wrong” is rejected, I would not make apology.

It is interesting that when voice from others comes into the self, dialogue happens in my self, even in everyday small actions such as in playing sports. In being reflexive, we re-consider or clarify what happened and what we have done. If the power of newly emerged voice is significantly strong, the voice may lead to changing the attitudes or views. Taking responsibility and making apology would be not straight decision but decision evolving from a dialogue. This experience introduced above derives from the context of playing sports. If it would appear in the other context such as in the context of law or politics, the mechanism or content of dialogue would be more complicated. In that context, people have many relationships and their behavior would be influenced by many people, who can also act as external I positions (Hermans, 2003). This would lead to a variety of positions in the self, which are mapped in a very complicated way.



Hermans, H.J.M. (2003). The construction and reconstruction of a dialogical self. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 16, 89-130.

Hermans, H.J.M. and Kempen, H.J.G. (1993). The dialogical self: Meaning as movement. San Diego, California: Academic Press.

Hermans, H.J.M. (2009, August). The need of a dialogical self in a globalizing world. Keynote speech in the 73th annual convention of Japanese Psychological Association. Kyoto: Japan.