Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Glossary B


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

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 (1910). 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 equates to 1st Order Change in the Gravesian approach.
  • 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 usually involves 2nd Order Change: Evolution in the Gravesian approach – 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 unlangueable and are sometimes associated with the neurological level of Identity. This may involve what in Gravesian terms is 2nd Order: Revolution or even a Quantum Leap.
    See also 1st/2nd Order Change. and the Article The Process of 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 experiments and observations. 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 highly debatable.

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 Petrovich Pavlov (1902) 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, with B F Skinner’s (1945) Radical Behaviourism. This proposed that  everything humans do should be considered ‘behaviour’, including ‘private events’ such as thinking and feeling. Moreover, such private events should be seen as subject to the same principles of learning and modification as had been discovered to exist for overt behaviour.
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.

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.

Brain Scan: a technique used to examine brain functioning by taking images of the living brain.
Such techniques make it possible to match regions of the brain to behaviour by asking research participants to carry out particular activities while the scan is done. Brain scans are also done to detect brain abnormalities such as tumours. The techniques are expensive and may be unpleasant – eg: claustrophobic.
There are 4 main techniques:-

  1. CAT Scan (Computerised  Axial Tomography)
    With this technique X-Rays are passed through the head while the participant engages in the activity. See graphic below.

    Graphic copyright © 2001 Psychology Press Ltd

  2. PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography)
    In this technique the participant is injected with or imbibes a mildly-radioactive form of glucose. Active regions of the brain use the glucose  and its radioactivity is detected by the scanner.
  3. MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
    This technique uses magnetic fields to produce images.
  4. fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
    This works by detecting changes in blood oxygenation as active areas of the brain consume more oxygen, causing increased blood flow to those areas. fMRI produces 3-dimensional images (activation maps) of the active areas receiving increased blood flow.

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 oblongata, the pons, the midbrain and some structures of the forebrain.
The brainstem monitors vital life functions and is active even when someone is in a vegetative state.
From an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective, it would be reasonable that the neural networks behind the BEIGE vMEME include at least some areas of the brainstem.

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.
Ichak Adizes (1987) 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.