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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Epigenetics’

Glossary G

Nos   A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P-Q    R    S     T     U    V    W    X-Y-Z GABA: gamma-amino butryic acid is a neurotransmitter that is produced at times of stress or anxiety and acts as the bodys’ natural form of stress relief. GABA works by inhibiting the transmission of an action potential at the synapse. GDP: Galvanic Skin Response: a means of measuring the electrical conductivity of the skin which is increased by sweating. When the autonomic nervous system is aroused through stress or strong emotion, an electrode placed on the skin – eg: the wrist or the palm – relays the electrical activity to a machine that responds to electrical signals. Gamete: reproductive cell – either sperm or egg – in its mature state. Gender: the psychological characteristics associated with being male or female. Many of these characteristics are socially determined and may be relative to the particular culture or society rather than being universal. Sociologists and psychologists usually distinguish between these sociopsychological characteristics and the anatomical features of being either biologically male or female. Gender Bias: generally this is the tendency to prefer one gender over another. It is the… Read More

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments

Relaunched: 27 February 2018 “I observed a mature and initially poised businessman enter the laboratory smiling and confident. Within 20 minutes he was reduced to a twitching, stuttering wreck who was rapidly approaching nervous collapse. He constantly pulled on his earlobe and twisted his hands. At one point he pushed his fist into his forehead and muttered, ‘Oh, God, let’s stop it!’ And yet he continued to respond to every word of the experimenter and obeyed to the end.” – Stanley Milgram, 1963 Stanley Milgram’s ‘electric shock’ experiments of the 1960s and 1970s – and the many replications and variations of them throughout the Western world and way beyond – are some of the most audacious, genuinely creative and thought-provoking sociopsychological studies ever undertaken. They provide truly disturbing insights into the human readiness to obey those in authority to the point of carrying out horrific acts of violence, secure in the knowledge that the person is ‘doing the right thing’ and that no unpleasant consequences will follow from carrying out those orders. Yet the experiments are as controversial for validity of their methodologies as their results. The theory the experiments gave birth to, Agentic Shift Theory (aka Agency Theory), despite the strength… Read More

Social Change

Updated: 25 August 2020   Social change means some aspect of society, culture or sub-culture changes. The changes may be overt and dramatic and obvious to everyone or they may be more discreet and less obvious…until people come to a realisation society around them has already changed. An example of this is the attitude of the general public in the UK towards welfare and benefits. As Elizabeth Clery shows in the results of the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey (BSA)– see graphic left – there has been an increased perception that people on welfare are over-reliant on their benefits and that cutting benefits won’t harm too many people too badly. The following 2 years’ surveys  showed only the most marginal reversal (3%) of this trend (Sarah Alcock, 2015) and the election in 2015  of a Tory government determined to cut even more could be seen as voter approval of these strategies. This was actually a major attitudinal shift in a country that, for many years, had largely prided itself on a generous attitude to welfare. Yet these more subtle changes in public perception often only become news when surveys like the British Social Attitudes annual survey pick them up. How complex… Read More

The Process of Change

Updated: 5 April 2019 A French translation of this article by Luc Taesch is available at https://www.taesch.com/cognitive/changemanagement/le-processus-de-changement-keith-rice What is it leads us to change? Do we just suddenly wake up one morning and decide to change? Do we change because we want to or because we have to? Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996), co-developers of Spiral Dynamics, identified 7 factors which are part of the change process. Beck (2009) later identified another 3 factors; and this article will use Beck’s 10 factors to set a broad frame for understanding change and how and why it takes place. 1. Potential The individual – or, for that matter, the organisation – has to have the capability to change. Beck & Cowan, from the seminal work of Clare W Graves, identified that someone could be in one of 3 states:- Open to the possibilities of change – they are ready for something new. The Open state is often characterised by the acceptance that change is inevitable and a relatively non-judgemental tolerance of differences. Arrested – caught up so much in their present way of thinking and being that change – without the introduction of dissonance – simply will not occur. This is particularly… Read More

Meta-Programmes

Updated: 10 February 2016 Meta-programmes, a key concept in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), are observable distinctions in mental processing, as reflected in language and behaviour. They act as filters for how and what we let into our heads  – memes from the external world influencing the schemas of our internal representations – and they shape what comes out from us in terms of language and concepts – our schemas becoming memes to influence others. Meta-programmes are usually depicted as poles at the opposite ends of a scalable continuum. The concept of meta-programmes was conceived in the late 1970s by Leslie Cameron Bandler (then wife of NLP co-developer Richard Bandler), building on Noam Chomsky’s groundbreaking work around linguistic patterns reflecting mental filters. David Gordon, Robert Dilts and Maribeth Meyers-Anderson were among Cameron-Bandler’s leading collaborators in identifying the first sets of meta-programmes. As NLP has grown in scope and complexity, so more and more meta-programmes have been charted to identify more and more distinctions. Leading ‘guru’ Wyatt Woodsmall has reputedly talked about having identified over 350 meta-programmes! In 1997 L Michael Hall & Bob Bodenhamer grouped 51 principle meta-programmes into 5 overarching categories: mental, emotional, volitional, response and meta meta-programmes.They also linked meta-programmes to the concept… Read More

Good Boys gone bad…?

Updated: 29 October 2016 Some years ago I encountered ‘Johnny’ and his younger brother, ‘Harry’, at a school I taught at in a run-down town in East Yorkshire. Their behaviour tended towards the extreme – although I have come across worse in my time as a teacher! – but was not that far removed from the behaviour of many boys (and some girls!) in secondary schools in deprived areas. As I taught both boys and had Harry in my tutor group, I learned a fair amount about their backgrounds and factors which influenced their attitudes and behaviours. I developed this diagnostic case study and recommendations from those experiences. My experiences in schools since, my conversations with other educationalists and my readings in Sociology and Psychology leave me still convinced that schools and society in general fail this kind of child. The case study is updated with more of my understanding in Integrated SocioPsychology. ‘Johnny’ was an ‘interesting’ 11-year who came to the school I was teaching at to start Year 7. He was bright, enthusiastic, eager both to learn and to show off his knowledge – almost always the first to have his hand up to answer a question. He was often ahead… Read More

Biological Factors in Crime

Updated: 7 December 2016 Are criminals born or ‘made’? This is a question which has vexed philosophers for millennia and psychologists and sociologists since the dawn of the behavioural sciences early in the 19th Century. The deterministic view offered by biological explanations for criminality – ie: you have no real choice, it’s in your biological make-up – have major implications for how society treats criminals – especially violent ones.  Biological theories assert criminal behaviour has a physiological origin, with the implication that the ‘criminal’, therefore, has difficulty not committing crime because it is ‘natural’ –  ie: the ‘born criminal’ concept. Biological determinism can be used to undermine the legal concept of criminal responsibility: criminals are held to be personally and morally accountable for their actions. Only when the Law of Diminished Responsibility is applied in cases of self-defence and mental illness – and in some countries (eg: France) ‘crimes of passion’ (temporary insanity) – is the defendant assumed not to have acted from their own free will. 3 cases illustrate how biological arguments have been used as mitigating factors to reduce the level of criminal responsibility:- In 1994 Stephen Mobley was sentenced to death for shooting dead the manager of an American branch of Domino’s Pizza. He was also found… Read More

Epigenetics

Updated: 4 July 2018 Epigenetics is an approach that helps to explain how nurture shapes nature to produce the phenotype from the genotype – in other words, how you become who you are from your genetic potential. In the words of Mark Solms & Oliver Turnbull (2002, p11): “…the fine organisation of the brain is literally sculpted by the environment in which it finds itself – far more so than any other organ in the body, and over much longer periods of time.” Whilst in no way undermining the importance of Genetics, it does undermine genetic determinism because it allows that virtually everything in the life span of an individual – from diet and nutrition, to ingestion of toxins, to social experiences, etc, etc – can influence the expression of genes to produce differences in motivation, temperament, cognition, behaviour and mental health. Bruce Lipton (2008) has put forward evidence to claim that emotions and even unconscious beliefs can bring about epigenetic modification. Conrad Waddington is credited with first using the term ‘epigenetics’ in Biology in 1946. ‘Epi’ is a Greek term meaning upon or above. Thus, epigenetics reflects the effects that take place upon, above or in addition to genetics.This original… Read More

Dimensions of Temperament

Updated: 5 December 2020 Looking at the 4 personality types depicted in the graphic above, which most accurately describes you? By ‘you’, we mean the natural you, the you you don’t have to work at, the you which feels most comfortable to you when there are no pressures to be anyone else. We’re talking about the you you were born with: your natural temperamental type. Of course, very, very few people remain totally true to that type in all circumstances – especially when their vMEMES motivate them to do things beyond their temperamental type. (For example, as someone slightly on the Melancholic side, when leading a workshop event, I find my ORANGE’s achievement orientation will lead me to perform in an outgoing, even charismatic way that contains little hint of my natural moderate Introversion.) How much you are any one type will depend on where you tend to locate naturally on each of the 2 Dimensions of Neuroticism and Extraversion. A number of studies have supported Hans J Eysenck’s (1967) contention that our default position on these Dimensions is birthed in us. One such was James Shields (1976) finding that monozygotic (MZ) twins were significantly more similar in Extraversion and Neuroticism … Read More

Reciprocal Determinism

Updated: 2 May 2016 The model of Reciprocal Determinism was developed by Albert Bandura (1977). It considers how what we do and who we spend time with – our Behaviour – impacts upon and changes the life conditions in the Environment we experience and how we respond cognitively and emotionally – and possibly physiologically too – as a Person to the environmental feedback we then receive. Unlike the determinism of straight-forward Behaviourism, Bandura posits that we can influence the Environment as well as the Environment influencing us. Bandura (1999) terms the actor acting upon their environment personal agency. If the environmental feedback is favourable, then that will have a reinforcing effect likely to lead to repetition of the behaviour. If the environmental feedback is unfavourable, then that may lead to changes in beliefs and attitudes and consequently behaviour, depending on just what sense we make of the feedback. The sense we make will clearly depend on what meta-programmes are being run by what vMEMES and what schemas are challenged. Bandura was the leading Social Learning theoretician of the mid-late 20th Century. While the concept of the Environment determining Behaviour is rooted in Behaviourism, Social Learning Theory built on Edward C Tolman’s (1932) position of there… Read More