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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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Vulnerability to Stress

Updated: 11 April 2020 Clearly some people become stressed more easily than others and some have the experience of stress – fight or flight  – more strongly than others. So what are the factors that influence these phenomena? A vMEMETIC approach One way of looking at this is to take a Maslowian viewpoint – ie: people have needs and having those needs unfulfilled causes stress. The vMEMES identified via the work of Clare W Graves are then the drivers to fulfil those needs. Of course, Graves held that motivational systems (vMEMES) emerge in symbiotic interaction with the life conditions in the environment – an internal response to external stressors and almost certainly the first emergence of a vMEME is an example of epigenetic modification. Graves’ position has been upheld completely by Chris Cowan (2004). However, Don Beck (2002a), with his concept of the prime directive, does imply that there is a maturational factor in the emergence of vMEMES. He has not said explicitly that vMEMES are programmed to emerge in sequence as someone develops through life, irrespective of the life conditions; but the implication that maturation matters is inescapable. The position Beck appears to be working towards is perhaps best represented… Read More

Maintenance and Breakdown of Relationships

Relaunched: 8 December 2018 George Levinger (1977) developed a 5-stage model of relationships, providing a complete overview from beginning to end. In many ways the first 3 stages parallel the Stimulus-Value-Role model of Bernard Murstein (1970). However, like Ichak Adizes (1999) who applied his Organisation LifeCycle concept to relationships, the last 2 stages imply a certain inevitability that a relationship will decline unless strategies are deployed to maintain the relationship and keep it in what Adizes calls ‘Prime’. The first intention of this piece is to consider how relationships can kept in Prime or brought back to it. It is usually relatively easy to keep a relationship going in the ‘first flushes’ of love when the partners idealise each other and there is lots of sexual activity. A year or so later when sexual activity has decreased – William H James‘ (1981) ‘honeymoon effect’ – and the partners are struggling to deal with the ‘daily grind of real life’, maintaining those idealised feelings about your partner and the relationship can be quite a task. Peter Pineo (1961) identified that, in many marriages, relationship satisfaction decreases almost linearly with length of time of the relationship. Ted Huston, Susan McHale & Ann Crouter (1986)… Read More

Psychosocial Development #2

PART 2 In his later stages, Erikson moves away from and beyond Sigmund Freud’s 5 stages. STAGE 5: PEER RELATIONSHIPS/ADOLESCENCE It was adolescence that interested Erikson first and most; and the patterns he saw here were the starting points for his thinking about all the other stages. At this stage, adolescents are in search of an identity that will lead them to adulthood. Adolescents make a strong effort to answer the question “Who am I?” Erikson notes the healthy resolution of earlier conflicts can now serve as a foundation for the search for an identity. If the child overcomes earlier conflicts, they are prepared to search for identity. Did they develop the basic sense of trust? Do they have a strong sense of industry to believe in themselves? Without these things, the adolescent is likely to experience confusion about their social role(s), meaning an uncertainty about your place in society and the world. When an adolescent is confronted by role confusion, Erikson says that is likely to produce an identity crisis. Erikson strongly supported the notion that society should provide clear rites of passage – certain accomplishments and rituals that help to distinguish the adult from the child. In one way… Read More

Social Learning Theory

Relaunched: 26 May 2020 Behaviourism, as a paradigm, doesn’t concern itself with mental processes. In Classical Conditioning John B Watson (1919) treated the mind as a ‘black box’ that Behaviourists did not need to bother with. In Radical Behaviourism B F Skinner (1945) acknowledged that there were ‘private internal events’ but that these were merely the conscious experience of the body functioning. However, not all Behaviourists took such a dismissive view of the concept of internal mental processes. Some did allow for some cognition to influence behaviour. Foremost among these was Edward C Tolman (1932) who proposed the concept of cognitive maps – although Tolman didn’t use the term, he is clearly conceptualising what we now call schemas.  Tolman developed this concept from work he had done (Edward C Tolman & Charles Honzik, 1930) on rats learning the layout of a maze they had to negotiate to get food. In the study 3 groups of rats had to find their way around a complex maze. At the end of the maze there was a ‘goal box’ of food. Some groups of rats got to eat the food, some did not, and for some rats the food was only available after 10 days. The… Read More

Attribution Biases

Updated: 20 April 2016 An attribution bias is  a distortion in perception or judgement about the causes of our own or other people’s behaviour. The attributions people make are not always accurate due to these cognitive biases. Rather than operating as objective perceivers, people are prone to perceptual errors that lead to biased interpretations of their social world Some of the most important biases are:- Fundamental Attribution Error Also known as Correspondence Bias or Overattribution Effect, this is the tendency for people to over-emphasise dispositional (or personality-based), explanations for behaviours observed in others while under-emphasising situational explanations. In other words, people have an unjustified tendency to assume that a person’s actions depend on what ‘kind’ of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces influencing the person. The term was coined by Lee Ross (1977) after a now-classic experiment by Edward E Jones & Victor Harris (1967). Americn participants read short pro- and anti-Fidel Castro essays. They were asked to rate the pro-Castro attitudes of the writers. When the participants believed that the writers freely chose the positions they took (for or against Castro), they naturally rated the people who spoke in favour of Castro as having… Read More

Leadership – a SocioPsychological Perspective

Updated: 26 May 2016 What makes a successful leader successful? is a question that appears to have vexed politicians and philosophers from the beginnings of civilisation. Certainly, the number of books and articles on leadership by ‘management gurus’ and social psychologists since the end of World War II indicates an ongoing fascination with the topic and, arguably, a vital need to understand the nature of leadership. Peter F Drucker, Stephen Covey, Warren Bennis, Howard Gardner, James MacGregor Burns, John William Gardner, John Kotter and Peter Senge are just a handful of the heavyweight names who have contributed high-profile books on the subject. One unequivocal key factor which has emerged from the multitude of investigations into ‘leadership’ is that leadership and management are not the same thing. Drucker (1967) was perhaps the first to say this, articulating: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Covey (p101, 1989) provides an illuminating example to illustrate this point: “…envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers, the problem-solvers. They’re cutting their way through the undergrowth, clearing it out. The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle… Read More

Spiral Dynamics and the Enneagramme

March 2005 With its roots reputedly in Suffi mysticism, the Enneagramme has developed through centuries to become arguably the most potent of the typing methodologies. Only the Myers-Briggs Typing Inventory, derived from the types postulated by Carl Gustav Jung,(1921)  and the DISC Inventory, based on the work of William Moulton Marston (1928), have anything like as strong a reputation for reliability. While some of those who champion the systems-in-people approach that Spiral Dynamics identifies are wary of types-of-people models such as the Enneagramme and Myers-Briggs, undoubtedly typing models with an irrefutable level of accuracy cannot be ignored and must offer insight into the human psyche in all its many manifestations. For example, it might be argued that a Type is impacted by particular gravitations – developments of harmonics and conflicts amongst vMEMES. So, when types flip into different but predictable patterns, what movement in the selfplex influenced this? And how are meta-programme axes affected by such shifts – reflected in the ‘flip pattern’? For more than 2 years Fabien Chabreuil – e-mail – and his wife, Patricia – email – have been working with their students at the Institut Français de l’Ennéagramme in Paris to understand how Spiral Dynamics and the… Read More

Learner Perspectives: Older Workshops

A Look at Some Older Workshops… “Really enjoyed it. Found Spiral Dynamics quite complex – but revised it and think I’m getting there!” – Rachel Abbey,   Shipley College participant, 2017 “Very good, informal and relaxed but full of information” – Adam McDowall,  Shipley College participant, 2017 “KR created a fascinating learning environment in which learners were curious & enthusiastic to learn .With each new cited reference they posed questions to deepen and explore their own knowledge…. His enthusiasm was contagious and infected the learners. Prior to the class starting one learner reflected that Keith was brilliant before sharing with me how fascinated he was with the previous week’s learning…. Keith’s approach to valuing his learner’s experience is outstanding . He warned the students (& the observer) the previous week about the content of this week’s session. This sensitive approach to a potentially awkwards subject ensured that the environment was safe and the quality of learning was maximised…. You were enthusiastic in your sharing of your extensive knowledge with your learners who as a result described you as ‘brilliant’ and your lessons, ‘excellent’. You diplomatically and sensitively dealt with a difficult subject which resulted in students actively engaging with the learning and me having to stop myself from getting involved!” – Heather Savage, excerpts from Shipley College lesson observation report, 2017 “The course had a huge, positive effect on… Read More

Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism

Updated: 15 September 2016 Though records indicate there have always been a small minority of criminals and ‘wastrels’ who formed an ‘underclass’ at the bottom of whatever social stratification any society had at whatever stage in its history, it was Charles Murray (1989) who first identified this social class as an emerging and important factor in contemporary British society. Murray says of the term: “By ‘underclass’, I do not mean people who are merely poor, but people who are at the margins of society, unsocialised and often violent. The chronic criminal is part of the underclass, especially the violent chronic criminal. But so are parents who mean well but who cannot provide for themselves, who give nothing back to the neighbourhood, and whose children are the despair of the teachers who have to deal with them…. When I use the term ‘underclass’ I am indeed focusing on a certain type of poor person defined not by his condition – eg: long term unemployed – but by his deplorable behaviour in response to that condition – eg: unwilling to take jobs that are available to him.” Those long-term unemployed who fraudulently claim benefits while doing ‘black market’ jobs, the addict who deals… Read More

Social Change

Updated: 17 May 2017 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 – see graphic above – there is 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 is 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. Of course, sometimes a slow growth in… Read More