Psychology of Smash and Grab


You will find the following articles on the causes of the recent “Smash and Grab” lawlessness exploding in our big cities very enlightening.

It is essential that we citizens know and understand why this started and how to stop it. We citizens are the “cultural planners” who must act to avoid such travesties. It is up to all of us to stop them. We voters, ultimately, are the only ones that can do anything about these and a myriad of other social and economic problems in America.

It is our duty to shop amongst the political platforms and their subscribing candidates, at all levels of government, to elect our representatives who’s job it is to prevent and solve our nations internal and external problems. It is our job to see to it that our representatives do their jobs as they promised; and to fire their butts, via recall, impeachment or the ballot box, if they do not live up to their promises.

Additionally, we must take the responsibility to be the best citizens we can be. Part of this challenge is to learn the political platforms that have always failed through history and the ones that have lead to social and cultural success and longevity.

This last matter is an educational one, and this is what my over 2000 postings on this blog have been about.

Our elected representatives make new rules and amend old ones that we all, for better or worse, live under. Sometimes our representatives break the rules that the rest of us are expected to live by, and they must be fired. Sometimes they make bad rules, or surreptitiously weaken the good rules that have sustained America, and they must be fired.

I judge that it is also essential that we elect representatives that will, unselfishly and patriotically, support term limits on their own tenure. Thus, putting an end to extended (20,30,40-year political careers) rife with cronyism, great wealth and and corruption. Our current President ,Joe Bidden, is a powerful example of this sad and destructive American tradition.

When it comes to a society’s survival, it is all about the rules and consequences and the voters ability to govern its own government’s behavior via the Ballot box.

Our governing rules, (laws), have outcomes that are good or bad. Some laws have fairly immediate consequences (i.e., raising taxes, requiring inoculations for employment, reducing “red tape” for businesses, etc.) Some laws have somewhat delayed consequences for us all (i.e., hiring 80,000 additional IRS Agents, funding or defunding the police, or appointing liberal or conservative judges, etc.). There are laws that can lead to distant consequences (i.e., conserving or squandering our natural resources, funding or defunding science and space exploration, strengthening or weakening our military, or incrementally conforming-to, or disregarding our Constitutional mandates, etc.)

There are governmental rule-changes that can have consequences all three time periods; short, intermediate, and long-term. The following are some that have, and will continue to damage people, families and the structure of our society: legalizing pornography, gambling, recreational drugs, abortion, or opening borders to millions of unselected and unvetted immigrants.

Rule changes, and their consequences, can damage or strengthen societies. They increase or decrease the likelihood that societies and their cultures will live long and well, or fall into decline.

America, arguably began to vote for, or tolerate bad rule changes, starting somewhere in the 1960’s. The slippery slope and snow-balling effects of our own ballet box failures have led to the decline of America we all now suffer.

Contemplating all of this is a very challenging task.

The Sciences have made great progress starting somewhere around 300 BC. But, when it comes to the purposeful and successful design and evolution of societies and their cultures, human kind remains in the dark ages.

Perhaps the recent sudden appearance of smash and grab flash mobs will highlight one, among other countless examples, of what we and our representatives must not do.

Psychologist B.F. Skinner taught us that learning what we must not do, can help us learn what we must do.

Many fields of science will have things to say regarding this startling, smash and grab break-down in law and order. But, I judge that the one science that most basically informs us about the shaping of perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors in humans, is the science of psychology.

Applied psychology’s premier Law, is called the Law of Effect. The Law of Effect simply states that: Consequences and Expected Consequences Control Behavior.

There are are other valuable psychological principles that influence the evolution of societies and their cultures. But, what is now known is far beyond the scope of this posting.

The following are only a few “nuts and bolts” of this massively complex matter.

In order to influence the quality and rate of occurrence of good and bad behaviors in a population, generally agreed-upon well-known rules of conduct (and laws) of human behavior are essential. But, rules and Laws will only be effective if they are accompanied by rewards for conformity to them and punishments for non-conformity or a lack of rewards. To be effective, rewards and punishments should be immediate enough, big enough, and certain enough to motivate rule-and-law following within a population.

Of course there are other considerations. For example, it helps if parents, extended families, schools and religious organizations teach the advantages of good rules to individuals and their society. It is also critical to teach the individual and societal harms that follow breaking good rules and laws.

Regarding the influences of Religion: Great societies have generally displayed powerful organizing spiritual rules and consequences for conforming to, or breaking them. For example, within Judeo/Christian religions, as well as others, God is believed to know our thoughts and actions and his rewards and punishments are believed to certain and unavoidable in the after-life. These spiritual consequences can dramatically increase the likelihood of rule and law conformity among faithful populations. For the faithful, these spiritual consequences (for example, heaven or hell) can be very delayed; but they are devoutly expected, and they are hugely rewarding or punishing….lasting through all eternity!

However, no matter what is done to increase rule and law conformity within societies around the world, a certain percent of any population will resiliently deviate from cultural rules and laws.

The Law of Effect dictates that if such behavior is rewarded, it will increase its rate of occurrence.

See for yourself in the following short articles.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/30/perverse-incentives-behind-smash-and-grab-wave/

As U.S. Retailers Struggle Against Smash-And-Grab Flash Mobs, Leftists Blame “White Supremacy”

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Health Services Provider in Psychology

President: Behavioral Psychological Family Services



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