Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Glossary B


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Back Region: any area if social context in which, according to Erving Goffman (1969), a person is able to relax from the role playing and ‘peformance’ required by the front region, to create or preserve a particular impression.
Goffman’s concept of different roles in different regions fits with Robert Dilts’ Neurological Levels model (1991), in which Identity and the Values & Beliefs which flow from Identity need to be matched to the Environment for someone to cope in a sustainable manner.

Backcasting: sometimes seen as the opposite to forecasting, this involves identification of a particular future scenario and tracing its origins and lines of development back to the present.

Balance Theory: based on Fritz Heider’s (1946) assertion that people like to be consistent in their attitudes – ie: in a state of balance – this is the idea that people will experience cognitive dissonance if their attitudes, likings, dislikings, etc, are out of balance and so will attempt to resolve the conflict and get back in balance.
For example, if people in relationships find they are out of balance with each other, then they will tend to either end the relationship or one or both will develop a different attitude.

Base/Superstructure: the metaphor used by Karl Marx (1859) to express the relationship between the economy as the foundation and determining influence of society (base) and other parts of society (superstructure).
The assumption is that, at each level of economic development, the form of the economy (specifically the sum total of productive relations) broadly determines the existence of the particular forms of the state, legal system, etc.

Basil Ganglia: a group of subcortical structures located on either side of the thalamus, involved in aspects of memory and emotional expression as well as planning sequences of behaviour.

Bateson Learning Levels: also known as ‘Logical Levels of Learning’, Gregory Bateson (1972) developed this concept from the logical typing of Bertrand Russell. The levels are:-
○ Level 0: Specificity of Response – habitual actions are repeated which require no learning. (Eg: the customer repeats an order to the supplier: same specification, same process, same workers, same delivery time, same price, same credit terms, etc – nothing new so need for any learning.)
○ Level 1: Change in Specificity of Response – basic learning which requires no fundamental change in thinking. (Eg: a company changes its level of inspection on incoming goods; a computer operator learns a new word processing programme.) Learning at this level is associated with the neurological level of Skills & Knowledge. This level can be mapped to Chris Argyris’ concept of Single Loop Learning (1974) and equates to 1st Order Change in Spiral Dynamics.
○ Level 2: Change in Learning 1 – ‘learning how to learn’; a change in the process of learning; learning which challenges mindsets. Learning at this level is associated with the neurological level of Values & Beliefs. This level can be mapped to Argyris’ Double Loop Learning and usually involves what Spiral Dynamics calls 2nd Order Change:Evolution – in that new paradigms are created through the emergence of a different vMEME into dominance.
○ Level 3: Change in Learning 2 – ‘learning how to learn how to learn’, changes at this level are often purely experiential, very difficult to stimulate artificially, can be unlanguable and are sometimes associated with the neurological level of Identity. This may involve what Spiral Dynamics terms 2nd Order:Revolution or even a Quantum Leap.
See also 1st/2nd Order Change.

Behaviour: those activities of an organism which can be observed by another organism.
This definition is sometimes extended to include activities which may not be observable in that sense but can be observed by instrumentation – eg: internal bodily processes.

Behavioural Sciences: a term that encompasses all the disciplines that explore the activities of and interactions among organisms in the natural world. It involves the systematic analysis and investigation of human and animal behaviour through controlled and naturalistic experimental observations and rigorous formulations. The behavioural sciences essentially investigate the decision processes and communication strategies within and between organisms in a social system.
The term can be read to be inclusive of Sociology and Psychology but exclusive of other ‘social sciences’ such as History and Economics. However, the dividing line between what are behavioural sciences and what are social sciences is virtually non-existent.

Behavioural Therapies: therapies which are derived from Behaviourism.

Behaviourism: the overarching term coined by John B Watson (1913) for both the basic stimulus-response (Classical Conditioning) learning studied by the likes of Ivan Pavlov (1897) and then applied to the more complex Operant Conditioning of Edward Thorndike (1905). (Behaviourism is also known as ‘Learning Theory’.) As a psychological paradigm Behaviourism reached its Operant Conditioning peak in the 1940s, consequent to the key work of B F Skinner (1938) who identified 4 key modes for this learning:-
○ Positive Reinforcement – receiving a reward for an action increases the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated
○ Negative Reinforcement – having an action remove something unpleasant increases the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated
○ Positive Punishment – receiving a punishment for an action decreases the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated
○ Negative Punishment – having an action remove something pleasant or desired as a result of an action decreases the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated
While Behaviourism has taught us much about how humans learn to respond to situations and has some very powerful applications, as a theoretical standpoint it omits discussion of cognitive mental processes. This position proved untenable as Cognitive Psychology developed in the 1950s and 1960s to understand the mental processing Behaviourism ignored. There are now almost no psychologists who support pure Behaviourism – although a number of Behaviourist strategies are still widely used in treatment – especially as part of a Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy portfolio.

Biological Determinism: the perspective that behaviour is determined by internal biological systems – eg: genetic or physiological systems.

Biology: the anatomical study of living organisms and how they interact with their environment.

Biopsychosocial: the approach to studying the person as a whole by combining biological, psychological and social aspects of their life.
The Graves Model, originally termed the ‘Emergent Cyclical Double-Helix Model of Adult Bio-Pyscho-Social Behaviour’, is arguably the most powerful biopsychosocial model – though its potency is most completely brought out in the 4Q/8L frame.

Bipolar Disorder:

Blended Family (aka Reconstituted Family): a family formed by the remarriage of a divorced or widowed parent. It includes the new husband and wife, plus some or all of their children from previous marriages. The term is also used if the partners don’t marry but cohabit.

Body Language: the communication of feelings and emotions through non-verbal channels such as gestures, body posture, facial expressions, etc. See also Non-Verbal Communication.

Bond Disruption: separation from the attachment figure which results in damage to or destruction/loss of the relationship. The concept is usually applied in Developmental Psychology to infant attachments but it can be applied to any emotionally-significant relationship at any stage of life.
From the Integrated SocioPsychology perspective, disruption of the bond will undermine the PURPLE vMEME’s need to belong, resulting in either emotional damage and/or attempts to restore or replace the bond. 

Bourgeoisie: in Marxism the term refers to the owners of property in Capitalist society.

 Brain Lateralisation: the extent to which brain functions are controlled by each hemisphere of the brain.

Brainstem: the part of the brain which sits at the top of the spinal cord and is left when both the cerebrum and the cerebellum are removed. It contains the medulla, the pons, the midbrain and some structures of the forebrain. 

Broca’s Area: an area in the frontal lobe of the forebrain, usually in the left hemisphere of the cerebrum, related to speech production.

Buffer: any aspect of a situation which protects people from having to confront the consequences of their actions 

Bureaucracy: a particular form of administration characterised by a set of clearly-defined rules and procedures and a hierarchy that emphasises efficiency and impersonality.
 The term was first used in this way by Max Weber (1922). It is usually perceived as typical of large-scale organisations in modern societies; and Ichak Adizes (1988) sees it as a corresponding stage in the Organisation LifeCycle where form (how you do something) is more important than function (what you do).

Bystander Effect: (aka: ‘bystander apathy’) the observation that there is an inverse relationship between the number of people present at an emergency situation and the willingness of those people to offer help.
This relationship was first proposed by John Darley & Bibb Latané from their investigations into the notorious murder of Kitty Genovase in 1964 when something like 38 neighbours heard her screams and cries for help and/or actually saw part of the attack but did not call the police or otherwise intervene.
Explanations put forward for the ‘bystander effect’ include evaluation apprehension and diffusion of responsibility.