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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

vMEME Stacks’

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

Operant Conditioning

Relaunched: 3 May 2020 Unlike Classical Conditioning, which is based on association, Operant Conditioning is based on consequences. The basic principle is that behaviour which brings reward is likely to be repeated to gain the reward again, thus reinforcing the behaviour; on the other hand, behaviour which brings punishment is unlikely to be repeated, to avoid the punishment. Operant Conditioning has its roots in the ‘instrumental learning’ work of Edward Thorndike (1905). His Law of Effect stated positive effects (rewards) of some behaviours ‘stamped in’ those behaviour while negative effects (punishments) of other behaviours ‘stamped out’ those behaviours. Thorndike had developed his ideas from ‘puzzle box’ experiments, usually with cats. Typically he placed a hungry, young and active cat in a box from which it could only escape by pulling on a loop attached to a string. (In  later  studies Thorndike used buttons and levers.) To motivate the hungry cat to escape, Thorndike hung fish outside the puzzle box door. The cat initially scratched, clawed and miaowed, exploring all corners and openings  in the box and trying to squeeze out.  Eventually it clawed at the loop, causing the door to open and allowing the cat to get the fish. On successive… Read More

Of Components and Tiers…

by Don Beck June 2003 Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck is occasionally prone to post what effectively amount to teach-ins or mini-lectures on the Spiral Dynamics e-lists. This is an extract from one such posting in 2003. You can e-mail Don or visit the Spiral Dynamics Integral website to find out more about his work. The 3 Components The Gravesian/Spiral Dynamics/SDi framework tracks the relationships among 3 essential components:- The life conditions – both external and internal or within a person The awakened vMEMETIC code that contains the complex, adaptive, contextual intelligences to deal with those specific life conditions The surface level content that displays those codes, in all 4 Quadrants. There is no guarantee that a specific set of life conditions will, automatically, activate the adaptive codes. They may overwhelm the preexisting capacities. I heard a BBC report that described a project of moving thousands of ‘Bantu speaking’ Africans in Somalia into urban centres in this country, with just a few speeches to ‘orient’ them to our life style. These projects, for the most part, have failed because, like the deep sea diver who gets the bends when ‘coming up’ too rapidly, one can most certainly get the ‘cultural bends’.… Read More

Killing the Terrorists

20 January 2009 This feature is being written even as Israeli shells fall on the citizens of Gaza and people are being killed and maimed. (That’s quite a sobering thought!) The aim of the Israeli assault on Gaza avowedly is to neutralise terrorist organisation Hamas’ capacity to fire rockets into southern Israel. However, there is also talk of toppling Hamas – the duly-elected party controlling the government of the Gaza Strip. Does a government have the right to take action to protect its citizens? In a BLUE-ORANGE Western-style democracy, the government has an obligation to take action. If it doesn’t, the electorate will punish it at the polls – and it’s no coincidence that Israel has an election next month. (By contrast, with the kind of RED-BLUE zealotry, with which Hamas runs Gaza, its government can actually sacrifice large numbers of its own citizens with a fair degree of impunity!) Does a government have a right to invade the land of those who are trying to kill its citizens (and sometimes succeeding!)? The Americans certainly saw it as legitimate to invade Afghanistan as a response to 9/11 – and most of the rest of the world supported the invasion (or at… Read More

Assimilation-Contrast Effect

Updated: 4 October 2015 The Assimilation-Contrast Effect is grounded in Social Judgement Theory, developed by Muzafer Sherif & Carl Hovland (1961) and Muzafer Sherif & Carolyn Wood Sherif (1968). According to Muzafer, when a potential issue of conflict arises, people – individual or group – approach it with one of 3 ‘latitudes’:- Latitude of Acceptance: – consists of the information you find pleasing and acceptable Latitude of Rejection: – consists of the information you find objectionable Latitude of Noncommitment: – consists of information you find neither pleasing nor objectionable The key to which latitude information fell into would depend on the level of ego investment – ie: how important the issue was to you personally and how committed to it you were. In other words, how much your sense of self-esteem was involved – clearly the domain of the RED vMEME. Muzafer found that working in the Latitude of Acceptance led to what he called an ‘assimilation effect’ – ie: you will find to some degree acceptable information that is not really that close to what you believe. On the other hand, when working in the Latitude of Rejection, there is a ‘contrast effect’ – ie: you find unacceptable even information that is… Read More

Islamification: Europe’s Challenge #2

PART 2 Preparing for change British Home Secretary Theresa May was vilified by much of the media for her 6 October speech at the Conservative Party conference for saying (amongst other things):  “… when immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.” (The Guardian’s Alan Travis called it a “new low in politics of migration”.) However, May was merely echoing the Functionalist argument of Talcott Parsons (1966) that sudden large-scale change disrupts the equilibrium of society and leads to dysfunction. Parsons postulates that social change is necessary for a society to renew and refresh itself but at a gradual pace which the institutions of society can adjust to and cope with. The disruption of equilibrium brought on by significant sudden large-scale change can bring about conflict. Over the past half-century Western Europe has been flooded with migrants. Their cultures were initially marginalised and disregarded – and then, through Multiculturalism, given nominal equal status with the host majority and a degree of positive discrimination to help foster that equality. A half-century is a relatively short amount of time to assimilate such large-scale changes. In retrospect, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been more overt conflict… 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: 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

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