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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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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

Classical Conditioning

Updated: 20 June 2020 Classical Conditioning, the first school of  Behaviourism, is learning by association – ie: associating one thing with another. The formula is shown in the graphic below. NS = Neutral Stimulus The neutral stimulus on its own is one that does not normally trigger any notable response. UCS = Unconditioned Stimulus     UCR = Unconditioned Response The unconditioned stimulus (eg: smell of food) produces an unconditioned response (eg: dog salivating). An unconditioned response is essentially an unlearned innate reflex. It is triggered  consistently and automatically by the occurrence of one kind of stimulus. Once such a response is triggered, it is not normally altered for its duration by subsequent events. Experience does little to alter the time course or pattern of the response. When the unconditioned stimulus is paired with the neutral stimulus (eg: sound of door opening) at the same time (‘spontaneous conditioning’) as or immediately before (‘forward conditioning’) the unconditioned stimulus (eg: smell of food), the pairing produces the unconditioned response (salivation). Usually it takes repeated multiple pairings for the association to be made.  CS = Conditioned Stimulus     CR = Conditioned Response The conditioned stimulus (what was the neutral stimulus) will now produce the conditioned response… Read More

Robber’s Cave

Relaunched: 4 March 2018 The Robber’s Cave study is on a par with Stanley Milgrim’s ‘Obedience Experiments’ and Philip Zimbardo’s infamous prison study at Stanford University (Craig Haney, Curtis Bank & Philip Zimbardo, 1973), both for its sheer audaciousness and what it tells us about situational pressures to produce normative influence. Muzafer Sherif had been a growing force in the development of Social Psychology ever since his ‘autokinetic effect’ experiments in 1935 had developed the concept of conformity that would come to be known as informational influence. In fact, Sherif could be considered one of the founders of Social Psychology. His work was also highly thought of by interactionist sociologists, becoming the first psychologist to receive the Cooley-Mead Award for contributions to Social Psychology from the American Sociological Association. By the end of the 1940s his interest in understanding social processes, particularly social norms and social conflict had led him to conceive of developing a field experiment in which pubescent boys would be nurtured into forming 2 distinctive teams with strong group identities to see how conflict between the 2 groups could be exacerbated and then reduced. This would be the basis of the famous and challenging Robber’s Cave study of 1954 (Muzafer Sherif et al, 1961).… Read More

Mental Health

These pages consider the concepts of mental health and mental illness and how they are classified from an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective. 2 specific mental health issues, Depression and stress, are dealt with in more detail. Those who support the Integrated approach and are interested in such matters are invited to submit pieces for publication here as ‘guest features’ or ‘guest reports’. Please get in touch with your ideas via the Contact page. What is Mental Illness? Pages considering approaches to defining mental illness and some of the issues concerning the applicability of these approaches On Being Sane in Insane Places David Rosenhan’s classic 1973 study of pseudopatients gaining access to psychiatric wards and describing the conditions they experienced Suicide? Piece exploring the nature and causes of suicide, based in large part on Émile Durkheim’s classic study Depression Diagnosis of Depression Page outlining diagostic criteria for Clinical Depression and making the case for treatment Can vMEMES cause Clinical Depression…? Detailed discussion of the symptoms and causes of Major Depression, with a particular emphasis on the functioning of vMEMES and how that functioning can be related to mood  Stress What is Stress?    An exploration of the nature of stress from both cognitive and biological perspectives… Read More

Dilts’ Brain Science

Updated: 5 February 2014 The Neurological Levels model developed by Robert Dilts (1990) is a key concept in NLP and forms the basis for understanding at the Nominal Level in Integrated SocioPsychology. The ‘walking the levels’ therapeutic exercise Dilts derived from the model is regarded as highly effective by a great many NLP Practitioners. However, Neurological Levels as a construct has received a rough ride from a number of critics on both scientific and methodological grounds. Some of these criticisms are outlined in Peter McNab’s Aligning Neurological Levels – A Reassessment (1999) article. One aspect of the Neurological Levels concept which is often criticised is Dilts’ attribution of brain anatomy and activity. It certainly is doubtful whether statements from Robert Dilts & Judith DeLozier’s online Encyclopedia of NLP (p 866-867, 2000) such as:- ◦“The level of neurology that is mobilised when a person is challenged at the level of mission and identity, for instance, is much deeper than the level of neurology that is required to move his or her hand.” ◦‘Forming and manifesting beliefs and value about our capabilities, behaviours and the environment requires an even deeper commitment of neurology…” ◦“Neurologically beliefs are associated with the limbic system and the… Read More

Separation, Deprivation & Privation

Relaunched: 5 December 2017 In considering problems to do with failed attachment or lack of attachment, developmental psychologists usually use 3 categorisations:- Separation:  this is where the young child has been temporarily separated from the mother/caregiver for a period of days or even weeks, with the result that the bond between them has been weakened and/or damaged Maternal deprivation: the child and the mother/caregiver have been separated substantially, with the result that the bond is seriously damaged or even destroyed Privation: the child has never formed a real bond with their mother or any other caregiver As we shall see, it is not always easy to determine whether a child is suffering from separation or, more, maternal deprivation; neither is it always easy tell whether  a child is suffering from severe deprivation or is truly privated. However, all 3 categorisations are associated with emotional and behavioural difficulties, usually mildest in cases of separation and worst in those where the child is truly privated. This can be seen as the PURPLE vMEME not having its safety-in-belonging needs met, leading to the emergence and dominance of unhealthy RED in the child’s vMEME stack, with the consequence of Id-like thinking and beh&aviour. It is important to… Read More

Selfplex Defence Mechanisms

Updated: 10 May 2016 What the great Sigmund Freud termed ‘ego defence mechanisms’ are called ‘selfplex defence mechanisms’ in Integrated SocioPsychology. (The reasons for this are largely semantic: ‘ego’ has multiple meanings beyond the one Freud assigned it whereas ‘selfplex’ is used in a quite specific sense.) Freud’s Ego, driven by the Reality Principle, firstly works to restrain the Id (if it feels good, do it) where there might be undesirable consequences to the Id acting out its instincts. It then tries to balance out the conflicting demands of the Id and the Superego (do what it is right). The implication is that the we are largely unaware of the Id bubbling away in our Unconscious – except where it leaks out in parapraxes (‘Freudian slips’ of the tongue which reveal your unconscious thoughts and desires) and in dreams. Also much of the conflict between the 3 parts of the mind takes place below the surface of the consciousness in what Daniel J Siegel (2012) terms ‘non-conscious processing’. Consequently we may not understand why we employ the ego defence mechanisms we do. This concept of conflicts in the Unconscious is reflected in the ‘Iceberg Model’ – see graphic above – on the basis that, as with… Read More

Can vMEMES cause Clinical Depression..? #2

PART 2 The frustration of needs Abraham Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs (1943, 1971)  effectively describes the sequential levels of needs/goals of the emerging vMEMES. Eg: PURPLE wants to find safety in belonging; RED craves esteem; etc. As Maslow theorised mainly from case studies, rather than the kind of methodological research Clare W Graves undertook, it’s hardly surprising that his Hierarchy does not match exactly to Graves’ Spiral. However, the match is close enough  – see the Comparison Map – for us to consider Maslowian concerns and principles from the perspective of vMEMES. By doing this, we see not the ‘theoretical needs’ so often associated in a rather abstracted way with Maslow’s Hierarchy but living neurological systems within us desperate to be fulfilled. Maslow’s Hierarchy is looked upon by a number of psychologists as a guide to ‘ideal mental health’. In other words, if an individual is able to progress up the Hierarchy, with their needs met at each level, then they will move beyond the lower subsistence/deficiency levels and start to meet their ‘growth needs’ and eventually their ‘being needs’. According to Marie Jahoda (1958), Self-Actualisation – YELLOW in the Graves construct – is  a key element of ideal mental… 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