Knowledge is a tree, not a conclusion, and it has been a tree for all of time. Sometime, however, it verboten in the Bible with a didactic “tale” apparently by oligarchs telling the average religious person to view the tree of knowledge and its information as verboten. This is the beginning of the limits and control of information necessary for oligarchic dominance, as opposed to capital-type control which is more commodity-based --though information is now a commodity as “intellectual property.” (With “intellectual” being a strong word for the slurry capital pumps into the population.)

The most important extension of this type of information control currently exists as academia with its early revival of control as the dialectic and didactic by academy founders Socrates and Plato in ancient Athens, and recently by Hegel to fit current capital. Important is that these instructors specifically used sexual abuse to control, which survived to our time as, for instance, the Aboriginal residence schools openly, and covertly elsewhere.

Causality is a rational reduction of the complexity of life saying that “if something happens in relation to something else, that something else caused the first thing.” As a rational reduction, it is a “dumbing-down” of all the highly sophisticade life-system that affect us. Knowledge is naturally structured both in society and in our minds in tree structures, also called “complex data structures” Personally, I have never been “causal” (I believe) because I have been influenced by aboriginal knowledge organization, and also abstract art and music early on as a child with access to all of New York’s museums and libraries (access has since been restricted to children.)

If I something is unavoidably causal, I say “simple math” --this causes that, w/o making a bid deal about it.

Empiricism is the scientific method (and system) built from causality and is considered the only (measurement) science, even by scientist who should know better. It suffers from being highly-fractured, as it is built from independent causal conclusions that also tend to be ego-vehicles from empiricist scientists. Another widely-misused term is “objective” as a synomym for “cruel” such that normal human thinking, such as the recollection of experiences, is excluded from empiricist conclusions; only empiricist numbers are used, often as an output of highly-purposed statistical systems. Dependance on statistics is such that statistics now often produce hypothesis and theory, that is validated by the same statistical systems. Information from other sources such as experience and observation, no matter how detailed, cannot test well against conclusive information produced specifically to test well by statistical systems. This statistical reality is most true for current control of the mind (both human and animal) in cognitive-behavioral strategies of CBT. Interestingly, in CBT, the dialectic method as the socratic method is also key for (as they say) “thought control.”

Objectivism, such as Ayn Rand’s and (current-capital’s) Adam Smith’s objectivism simply “objectify’s” people to make then inanimate numbers rather than feeling people to allow for capital exploitation. As it happens, capital-supporting empiricism, as info-oligarchic, also leverages this, and fills its capital-supportive role by defining and maintaining it as its own from of exploitation, originally sexual abuse.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Behavioral learning perspective on personality

Behavioral learning perspective on personality

Life is a continual series of experiences that are paired with parallel, perhaps symbolic, meanings that enable us to use learning from previous experiences to help when people, and other intelligent organisms, have the same, or similar, experiences while going through life (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.).  Classical conditioning describes experiences in terms of stimuli and reactions or responses.  These are paired with parallel events that represent these experiences called conditioned stimuli, which were previously unrelated to the actual stimuli, and conditioned responses that resemble the original response.

Pavlov laid the ground work with animal experiments.  Watson showed that the same conditioning rules apply to humans with respect to emotional responses, such as fear, to otherwise neutral stimuli based with his well-known "Little Albert" experiment.  In the behavioral view, these emotional responses shape our personality.

Pavlov used food, dogs, and auditory stimuli to prove the principles of classical conditioning (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.):

  1. Pre-condition: Conditioned stimulus (CS-bell) causes no response.
  2. Unconditioned stimulus (UCS-food) causes Unconditioned Response (UCR-salivation).
  3. Combine CS-bell (conditioned stimulus) with UCS-food (unconditioned stimulus) while triggering UCR-salivation (unconditioned response) to create CR-salivation (conditioned response).
  4. CS-bell (conditioned stimulus) causes CR-salivation (conditioned response)

Someone who has been robbed at night, for instance, may develop a variety of fears that will typify his personality because of the experience such as a fear of going out at night or a fear of strangers.

Pavlov was able to create neurotic behaviors in animals that appeared to be similar to those in humans with experiments that altered and confused the animals when they were presented with confusing stimuli, such as changing the shapes of circles, that further revealed the effects of classical conditioning on personality (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.).  Friedman and Schustack give an example of children whose personalities are affected by their unstable parents; they become anxious and confused when they cannot predict praise or punishment responses from their parents (2010). 

As Pavlov was primarily interested in behavioral responses, the thinking and feeling components of classical conditioning that affect personality were expanded by Watson, a contemporary to Pavlov, who developed the concept of conditioned emotional responses (Rilling, 2000).  Rilling writes that Watson actually absorbed ideas from psychoanalysts such as Freud whose entire work was to theorize personality (2000).  Watson proved certain aspects of their theories with classical conditioning experiments, even though he was apparently unimpressed by psychoanalytic theory. 

With his "Little Albert" experiment, Watson conditioned a small child to fear a rat that the child was previously unafraid of by using a loud noise, or unconditioned stimulus, that produced fear in the child while he was playing with the rat (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.).  Importantly, Watson then showed that the child's fear response to the rat was transferred to another similar but neutral object, a rabbit.  Watson proved the transference component of Freud's theory of affect that shows emotional response, or learning, is redirected from one object to another (Rilling, 2000). As Rilling states, Watson explained the "transfer of emotion behavioristically" (p. 7) without the using the unconcious as a mediator as Freud had in his approach to transference.

Today the term transference is used in therapy to describe the transfer of feelings.  In a broader sense, the term may be used to describe the transfer of feelings in describing emotional bonding.

Rilling, M. (2000). John Watson's paradoxical struggle to explain Freud. American Psychologist, 55(3), 301-312. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.3.301.
Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W.  (2009).  Personality: Classic theories and modern research (4th ed.).  Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

1) pre-condition
Conditioned stimulus (CS Bell) causes no response
Unconditioned stimulus (UCS food) causes Unconditioned Response (UCR salivation)
2) combine CS-bell with UCS-food to cause UCR-salivation
3) CS-bell (conditioned stimulus) causes CR-salivation (conditioned response)
Conditioned stimulus (CS Bell)  causes conditioned response (CR salivation)
“the whole of behaviorism is but an expression of the fact that infancy and childhood slant our adult personalities” (Watson, 1924, p. 242)
Watson, J. B. (1924). Behaviorism. New York: Norton.
process of displaced emotion without producing a scrap of publishable data until he conducted the famous case study with the infant know to history as Little Albert (Watson & Rayner, 1920). This experiment was the tour de force of Watson's struggle to explain psychoanalytic concepts in terms of classical conditioning. The study confirmed Freud's prediction that affect could be transferred from one object to another. Historical research suggests that Watson and Rayner's (1920) experiment was inspired not only by Russian research on classical conditioning but also by Watson's major objective of explaining psychoanalytic concepts in terms of classical conditioning (Watson & Morgan, 1917).
For Watson, development from childhood to adulthood was a process by which the habits of childhood were replaced by the habits of adulthood.
Although Watson never entirely abandoned trying to explain personality development in terms of habit, he gradually turned his attention toward what was then for American psychologists the new method of classical conditioning (Watson, 1916b). Watson described the transition in his thinking from habit to the conditioned reflex as follows: “When I began to dig into the vague word HABIT … I saw the enormous contribution Pavlov had made, and how easily the conditioned response could be looked upon as the unit of what we had all been calling HABIT (Watson, 1937, p. •••). First, the conditioned reflex became Watson's unit for learning (1916b). Then, Watson returned to his long-standing interest of trying to explain the concepts of psychoanalysis in terms of concepts from learning theory. Soon after beginning his research program on classical conditioning, Watson was explaining Freud in terms of classical conditioning (Watson, 1916a).
adapting Pavlov's methods to study the emotions of infants. Pavlov had shown no interest in the emotions,
Pavlov's unconditioned stimulus was a tool that was helpful. An unconditioned stimulus could be used in the laboratory to produce unconditioned emotional responses. If unconditioned emotional responses could be produced at will in a laboratory, did conditioned emotional responses also exist?
Watson's most original contribution to learning theory was the discovery of a new category of conditioning called conditioned emotional responses that emerged from his research program on children's learning of fears (Watson & Rayner, 1920). The idea was that a central emotional state, such as conditioned fear, was established when a neutral stimulus was paired with an unconditioned stimulus that previously elicited a specific unconditioned emotional state, such as unconditioned fear.
Pavlov's salivary reflex and then went on to describe Bechterev's work on conditioned motor reflexes.
we believe that the ductless glands which are so important for the emotions are conditioned in the same way

conditioned emotional responses
was used by Watson to compete with two psychoanalytic concepts that were part of Freud's theory of affect: transference and displacement

conditioned emotional reflexes.
Any stimulus (non-emotional) which immediately (or shortly) follows an emotionally exciting stimulus produces its motor reaction before the emotional effects of the original stimulus have died down. A transfer (conditioned reflex) takes place (after many such occurrences) so that in the end the second stimulus produces in its train now not only its proper group of motor integrations, but an emotional set which belonged originally to another stimulus. Surely it is better to use even this crude formulation than to describe the phenomenon as is done in the current psychoanalytic treatises. (Watson, 1916a, p. 596)

Notice that Watson made a procedural slip by describing the normally ineffective backward conditioning procedure in which the unconditioned stimulus precedes the conditioned stimulus. The distinction between forward and backward conditioning was not as salient in Watson's day as it is now.

Instead of using the word acquisition to describe the learning of a conditioned emotional response, Watson borrowed a diminutive transfer from Freud's transference. With conditioned emotional responses, Watson at last had a concept that could explain the transfer of emotion behavioristically without an appeal to Freud's unconscious.

Watson and Rayner's (1920)
experiment with Little Albert is well known. Less well known is that their experiment was designed to test a theory of emotions developed by Watson and Morgan (1917). Morgan earned his doctor of philosophy degree in psychology at Columbia University and spent a postdoctoral year with Watson at Johns Hopkins University. Watson and Morgan's theory was inspired, in part, by Freud's ideas about the emotional development of personality. Infancy was an important stage of personality development for Freud, and he traced psychopathology in adults back to events during infancy.
proposing behavioristic testing of the theory on infants in the laboratory with the method of Pavlov.
“We venture to predict that the one thing that will stand out as distinctly Freudian will be their utilization of the principle of Uebertragung [transference]. To our mind this is the essential concept in Freudian Psychology”

that describe  the infant is a "blank slate"  previously neutral stimulus can come to have a learned effect on someone

pairing (associating) a unconditioned stimulus (which already produces an unconditioned response) with a neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus)

likes and dislikes, the preferences and biases that define one�s personality, develop through emotional conditioning

conditioning processes may underlie many of people�s preferences for persons, events, things, places, and ideas.

most likes and preferences AND dislikes and biases that DEFINE our personality develop through EMOTIONAL CONDITIONINGorganism learns to respond to the conditioned stimulus with a conditioned response which is like the  unconditioned response.
  • Linking neutral stimulus with pleasant event/feeling --> positive preference
  • Linking neutral stimulus with upsetting event/feeling --> aversion or bias
Start as a "blank slate"

learn everything as a result of environmental effects to create responses 

the learning perspective differ from perspectives that propose that a person is born with an innate nature or personality structure -- some biological theories call it temperament, trait theories call it dispositions, psychoanalysts call it drives or instincts and the humanists also use the term drives

paired associations:

"Many of our behaviors today are shaped by the pairing of stimuli. If you ever noticed certain stimuli, such as the smell of a cologne or perfume, a certain song, a specific day of the year, results in fairly intense emotions. Its not that the smell or the song are the cause of the emotion, but rather what that smell or song has been paired with...perhaps an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, the death of a loved one, or maybe the day you met you current husband or wife. We make these associations all the time and often don’t realize the power that these connections, or pairings have on us. But, in fact, we have been classically conditioned."

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