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The word situation denotes the situation or position, the connection to facts or circumstances, but also (psychologically) the nature or effectiveness of a defined or (clearly) delimited region or area.

Word origin and usage

Situation comes from the Latin situs 'place, position, seat', but it was not until the late 16th century that it was borrowed from French as a foreign word in the meaning of geographical location, site plan, area . In German, this concrete meaning is now out of date, except in the technical language, and is only situated in the form of the participle adjective , namely located in use (cf. accident situation).

Today, the term situation encompasses the framework conditions that someone or under which a project or thing is placed and which, as concrete conditions, set and limit the possibilities of doing or suffering, generally the state of being in an environment, a context or a dependency (e.g. B. Dilemma , constraint , emergency).

The situation is always "situation of ...". Although the situation with no explicit reference to a subject is mentioned, it is a of situated (,, Affected 'Location Highlights Exposed) related. It is the temporally, spatially or personally-existentially determined connection of facts in which the situation stands. For example, one speaks of well-off when one describes a beautiful local location, but also prosperity .

The adjective situational , as related to a concrete situation, also has a tendency towards the spontaneous : Some decisions are made situationally, that is, based on the specific circumstances.


In philosophy , the situation is an important term for Martin Heidegger , Karl Jaspers , Søren Kierkegaard and Jean-Paul Sartre or the situationists . Due to the existentialism , the term got a subjective coloring. Situation affects people in the world. In contrast, the term location describes a more objective context. Also in the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl important considerations situation term exist.

Philosophy of science

In psychology , CF Graumann uses the term situation to describe the perspectivity of perception. Human perception only depicts a section of the world, thematizes the world. This section is essentially determined by the state and motivation of the subject. Graumann developed this model based on terms that come from gestalt and holistic psychology. This psychology emerged at the beginning of the 20th century as a reaction to the more scientifically oriented psychology that was the dominant teaching at the end of the 19th century.

With his research in the 1970s, Stanley Milgram emphasized the great importance of the situation in the formation of behavior compared to personality theory as the background to behavioral sequences. Not only with the experiments on obedience and its refusal, but also (for example) with the investigations into the social situation in big cities or rural idylls, he carried out fundamental research that included a new meaning of the situation in the creation of human behavior. In this question he sees a fundamental opposition between situation and personality. The situation can be so strong and compelling that it decides which behavior the person realizes - not the personality (or the character) (see below).

The sociology discovered especially in the 1960s, the concept of situation for themselves. It links up both the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl , the philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey as well as to the Graumannsche psychology of perspectivity. The term situation and the empirical situation research that followed in the 1980s had the aim of analyzing industrially organized work processes.

Individual subject areas


Geographical situation : It is the origin of the technical term and roughly means embedding in a region or landscape , i.e. the spatial surroundings of an object on the earth's surface , such as a building or a city . The situated is a geographical object , the situation is the spatial context of the topographical facts in which the object is located.

The mapping distinguishes between grounds (the earth's surface as such) and situation (which located on their properties). In mining , one speaks of a situation plan - a representation of the location of certain points on the mountain surface, which are measured in relation to well-known, immovable objects.


Economic situation : The situation is an economic subject , situation is the connection of the facts that are in interaction with it.

The social situation as a factor of economic policy relates not only to economic factors but also to B. family issues.


Social situation in the sense of situational analysis in sociology is to be distinguished from the economic term, here shorter-term social processes are examined, e.g. B. under aspects of the social role .

Life situation : a person is situated, situation is the connection between their living conditions; In common parlance , the above-mentioned material or social factors aremainlyaddressed, while the emotional situation can vary greatly (e.g. rich, but still sad or depressed people)


The psychological concept of situation can be defined as the totality of the conditions that are psychologically effective e.g. B. when certain feelings, thought processes and behaviors come about. Psychological situations can be clear, but also barely manageable or very complex.

One must assume that z. For example, the actor or thinker does not have to be aware of all the conditions that are relevant to actions. So one could differentiate between conscious and unconscious conditions.

A distinction could also be made between psychological conditions (= conditions that are associated with a certain structure of the personality; someone is, for example, less motivated than another person when it comes to performance requirements) and external conditions that have an effect on the psyche: e.g. B. Group situation, pressure to perform, understanding of the parent, room temperature, etc.

The analysis of the psychological situation is usually a very complex undertaking. On the other hand, psychologists , psychotherapists , counselors , teachers and educators are well advised in their work if they perceive the structure of situations as precisely as possible and (are able to) evaluate them with regard to their professional activity. An excellent example of the methodology of such analyzes is the conflict structure analysis by Dieter Betz. A senior structuring approach is the field theory of Kurt Lewin .

The sum of the situations that a person - in the course of life - experiences, perceives or processes or has to process is something like the trace or the end result of the socialization that defines a person. Although, as mentioned above, it is very difficult to record, describe or structurally compare the structures of situations. Nevertheless, it can be said that different strands of situations (sequence of situations) have different consequences for different people.

In psychology (depending on the psychological basis or basic assumptions), the importance of the situation conditions when the behavior planning or the implemented behavior is realized is assessed very differently. Stanley Milgram favors a newer situational approach e.g. B. in his investigations / experiments on obedience and its refusal. Milgram explicitly concludes that the situation can be stronger than a stable character; In other words: If someone is subjected to strong pressure, they can also act against their personal principles (personality structure). This would make the dominance of the situation over the personality structures obvious. A generalization, however, according to which the situation fundamentally plays a stronger role than the personality in the development of behavior, is certainly not appropriate. Of course, it can be critically questioned whether favoring personality theories over the situational approach is a justified valuation against the background of our culture.


The educator and the person to be educated are in an educational situation that is characterized by many details - e.g. B.

  • the level of education or training of the educator or his previous experience
  • the personality structure of the educator
  • on the educator's current motivation
  • on the mental and cognitive state of the child / adolescent
  • of different environments and situational conditions (situational context).

The nature of the educational situation has consequences for the success of the education (short and long term). The changes in the child's psyche and cognition are the result of innumerable parenting situations ( developmental psychology ).

But the changes made by the educator during his educational activity can also be determined (compare: the educator / educator at the beginning of his activity ↔ the experienced educator) and are equally dependent on the educational situation, even if this fact hardly plays a role in scientific and practiced pedagogy. Difficult situations have different effects on the educator than situations that are easy to deal with and often successful.

Most educators believe that parenting situations can be shaped. Design is one of the most important tasks of the educator. The design of the educational situation primarily serves to optimize the educational outcome for the child / adolescent. So one can distinguish favorable parenting situations from less favorable ones; where “cheap” means: suitable to achieve the best possible learning effect for the child / young person ( learning , learning process). Many educators deal with these connections, since it is the task of educational institutions to support children / young people in the best possible way (see Reinhard Tausch and Anne-Marie Tausch : Educational Psychology).

If the result of the education is not satisfactory or satisfactory, one can formally u. a. blame unfavorable situational conditions or design details. But one can also learn from this: What can be done better in the future or how can parenting situations be made more favorable? For example, the role of parental care in upbringing has been viewed and assessed differently at different times (see also attachment theory ).

One could not unequivocally infer the structure of the preceding situations from the result of an educational process, if one could formulate it appropriately.

Literature and language

Situation comedy is a type of humor that relates to a current situation that can be perceived by several people. Outside of its framework or for outsiders, it may or mostly remain incomprehensible. It is difficult (or hardly) to reproduce.

In stage works, the "lighter" situation comedy is separated from the "serious" character comedy .

Also situation Drama is as narrative form the character drama contrasted: The former develops out of the situation, the latter follows a strict narrative concept.

See also


  • K. Bühler: The crisis of psychology. Jena 1927
  • Carl August Emge : About the indispensability of the concept of situation for the normative disciplines (= treatises of the humanities and social sciences class of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. Born in 1966, No. 3).
  • W. Finke: Investigations into the concept of the situation. Dissertation at the University of Göttingen, 1955
  • CF Graumann: Basics of a phenomenology and psychology of perspectivity. Phenomenological-Psychological Research Volume 2, Berlin 1960
  • K. Thomas: Analysis of the work. Opportunities for interdisciplinary research into industrialized work processes. Göttingen treatises on sociology and its border areas. Volume 16, Stuttgart 1969

Web links

Wiktionary: Situation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c SITUATION, f. the french situation, position, position . In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm : German Dictionary . Hirzel, Leipzig 1854–1961 ( , University of Trier).
  2. Lit. Graumann 1960
  3. ↑ Basically : Buba, Hans-Peter: Situation - Concepts and Typologies for the social situation and their integration in the frame of reference of role and person, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-04555-6 .
  4. see e.g. B. Kurt Lewin : The psychological situation with wages and punishment, Leipzig 1931.
  5. see for example: Dieter Betz: Vicious circle learning disorder - Theoretical foundation and standard program, Weinheim 1987.