Cognitive Polyphasia, Themata and Blood Donation: Between or Within Representation

  • Gail Moloney Southern Cross University
  • Judith Williams Southern Cross University
  • Duncan Blair Southern Cross University


Cognitive polyphasia has typically been understood through the notion of situated

knowledge. This paper adds to this body of work by suggesting that the processes

involved in representation, namely themata, be considered in concert with the content of

the representation. We present research that investigated why so few people in Australia

donate blood when most people agree that blood donation is a worthwhile, altruistic act.

Using word association data we show that the representational field associated with

blood donation has contradictory normative and functional meanings that are not

delineated by donor status. We suggest that the thema of self/other gives rise to a

heterogeneous field that manifests as polyphasic responses bound to the salience of the

social context.

Author Biographies

Gail Moloney, Southern Cross University

GAIL MOLONEY is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Southern Cross University, Coffs

Harbour, Australia. Her research interests are in the theoretical articulation of social

representations theory and social identity in relation to diffused social issues such as blood

donation, organ donation and transplantation, community and the resettlement of refugees, and

climate change.

Judith Williams, Southern Cross University

JUDITH WILLIAMS completed her undergraduate studies in psychology at Southern Cross

University. Her Honours thesis investigated the social representation of blood donation in

relation to donor status. She has since completed a Masters of Clinical Psychology and now

works in private practice.

Duncan Blair, Southern Cross University

DUNCAN BLAIR is a Technical Officer for the School of Health and Human Science at

Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia. He spends his time building tools

and processing data for Psychology research and the various enterprise systems. His research

interests are in Social Simulation and Modelling, Emergent Systems, and Serious Games.