Posts Tagged ‘bad behavior’

Law of Effect Needs Moral Governance

January 18, 2018

Law of Effect Needs Moral Governance

There are many psychological principles that determine human behavior. They work together in complex ways and the behavioral outcomes of these interactions often appear to be both synergistic and exponential.

For example, being sexually abused twice, 1+1, may not equal a magnitude of disturbance in the victim of 2; it might equal a magnitude of disturbance of 5. Other unfortunate experiences frequently evolve from this person’s troubled behavior and is likely to produce a quickly accelerating rate of more troubled emotions and behaviors.

Of course principles of genetics and biology are of great importance. The interactions between these factors and psychological factors are bi-directional. Therefore, principles of psychology influence behavior and behavior is influenced by bio-genetic factors.

For example, a person born with the genetic factors that determine alcohol addiction will be more motivated to consume alcohol to excess , which in turn, can lead to more physical and psychological problems. These problems can include broken families, road fatalities, ruined business early death due to alcohol related illnesses or suicide.

In the previous example of rape, the victim may turn to drugs or alcohol in order to self-medicate for the fears and anxieties that typically are associated with rapes or other traumas. This can lead to more physical and psychological problems, which could end in bad outcomes for the individual and society.

These individuals could be helped by entering therapy. But many refuse treatment, are only partially assisted, or even fail to benefit in any measurable way.

Any society that designs itself in ways that accidentally, or selfishly, increase such problems for their citizens and then spends increasing revenues and energy to fix the problems is maladaptive and self-defeating. Such cultural designs are on a certain path to cultural decline.

This defines one of modern America’s most severe and worsening self-management problems.

The primary focus of the remainder of this blog will be upon psychological principles, processes and behavioral outcomes.

The great and powerful Law of Effect states that the probability of behavior is controlled by its consequences. The higher an animal is placed upon the phylogentic continuum, the greater the Law of Effect influences that animal’s behavior. Therefore, human behavior (good, bad, or indifferent) is most greatly influenced by the Law of Effect. The behavior of animals lower on the phyologentic scale is less influenced by the law of effect and more so by genetics.

Unfortunately, if  the powerful and natural influences of the Law of Effect and other interacting psychological principles are not guided by commonly accepted moral rules, values and consequences transmitted consistently and synchronously; within families, agencies and organizations (at managerial and governmental levels)…increased rates of bad behaviors within populations will certainly occur.

This is my prediction based upon principles of conditioning and learning theory and behavioral/cognitive social learning theory. My prediction is also informed by my 36 years as a professor of psychology and over 40 years as a private cognitive/behavioral therapist.

The population behavior changes I have seen in America during the course of my adult life (now at 75 yrs.) is largely, though not a singularly result, of a decline in our moral rules and consequences that less and less consistently govern our behavior. The interacting biopsychosocial scientific principles and  behavioral outcomes cause by this erosion of moral rules, values and consequences is what I call Behavioral Contagion. More specifically, Bad Behavioral contagion, leading to increased rates of bad behavior.

For our informal purposes, “bad behaviors” will include those  perceptions, emotions, beliefs and actions that damage the healthy physical and psychological development of children, adolescents and adults. These problems are very expensive and decrease the ability of a society to survive long and well.

To be sure, an entire book could be written about what bad behavior is, and is not, and there would be disagreement about what are good or bad behaviors under various circumstances. Regarding the class of “good behaviors”, I view these as human actions that are incompatible with, or compete with, the bad behaviors as defined above.

Most people would agree that, bad behaviors are neglecting, abusing or abandoning children or other loved ones; becoming addicted to activities or substances; lying, cheating, stealing and murdering, etc.. Most people would would agree that behaviors that are incompatible, or compete with, such actions would be examples of good or non-harmful behavior.

My general definitions, for the sake of this blog, will allow most folks to begin to to think about this complex matter of desirable, pro-social (good), or undesirable antisocial (bad) behavior among residents of our society.

It is important that citizens of America learn to think about such moral values and judgments because they determine the consequences for the actions of  themselves and others (rewards, punishments or no consequences) through their social interactions with others. Just as importantly, in America’s Representative Republic, citizens also influence the moral values, rules and consequences for themselves and others by casting votes for those who will be elected to make and enforce, or change the rules that govern all of us.

So, now comes the big question based upon Behavioral Contagion Theory: What can be done to decrease bad behavioral contagion in America and, as a result, also increase our cultural health and viability? 

Without a doubt, the “wisdom of the ages”, on this matter can be found in the moral precepts of the worlds greatest peaceful religions. My research finds that many scientists who study cultural decline, note that when populations loose their faith in their God’s teachings, they also loose the moral precepts and values important for their culture’s health and viability. This phenomenon appears to be happening to many (perhaps all, to some degree), modern technologically advancing societies in the world. 

I judge that skillfully using the psychological (and genetic/biological) principles of behavioral contagion will naturally decrease rates of bad behavior and increase rates of good behavior in America. But, to achieve this will require that we strengthen the influences of the social agencies, families, churches, schools and media influences that can promulgate and model moral rules and values and also reward conformity to these rules and values with acceptance, praise, recognition, influence, political power and material/financial consequences

Though it is unpopular in America’s increasingly immoral society, withholding these rewards for those who do not follow moral rules is essential. In extreme cases, murder, robbery, rape and child abuse, etc. To ever be effective, Swift and certain punishment must be administered by authorities for these and similar behaviors. 

For this chain of events to occur will require that America’s government (at all levels) cease the restrictions and punishments for America’s traditional and contemporary, peaceful and pro-social religious influences. 

I judge that it is essential to vote only for those public servants who support conservative moral rules and values to guide local, state and national governance. This will naturally catalyze increasing rates of good behavioral contagion in America and decrease rates of bad behavioral contagion.

Wake-Up America: Vote For Conservative Moral Values and Principles!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Health Services Provider in Psychology

 

 

 

Failing To Teach Good Behavior To Our Children

October 13, 2010

Failing To Teach Good Behavior To Our Children

America’s failure to teach good behavior to its children has significantly increased with each of our recent passing generations. Bad behavior contagion is rapidly increasing within our population and it is a self-perpetuating synergistic process. America is destroying itself from within.

The damages produced by increasing rates of bad behavioral contagion within a population can massively contribute to the decline of sociocultures. The larger, the more technologically advanced, complex and interconnected a socioculture is, the greater the damage that increasing rates of bad behavioral contagion will do.

V. Thomas Mawhinney Ph.D.,  10/13/10

Bottom-Up Influences on Culture

April 17, 2010

Bottom-Up Influences on Culture

Psychology has traditionally studied countless environmental influences on the behavior of individuals. In recent decades some psychologists have started to analyze ways in which principles of individual and group behavior can lead to cultural changes. For example, how hundreds of thousands of people raise their children will have a far-reaching impact upon the future collective behavior of our population.

Changes in the ways that these children grow to behave amongst other people will influence their perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behavior for better or worse. The summation of these influences which constantly swirl through our population is a big part of the cultural changes that we all experience.

A clear, though sad,  example of such bottom-up cultural change is the child born in a ghetto to a single unemployed drug addicted mother. Such a child will likely suffer neglect, abuse, drug addiction, school failure, gang membership, and engage in violent crimes against others. This is a tragedy for the child and for all others who’s lives his behavior will influence (family, social workers, teachers, police, medical personnel, victims, and those who work in our court systems, penial employees, and victims). What we fail to see is that it is also a tragedy for the various institutions that employ these workers that are increasingly overwhelmed and we tax payers who are required to pay more of our hard-earned income to keep these institutions solvent.

A far more desirable bottom-up cultural influence would be a mother and father who are committed and loving mates and parents. These parents have children that they can afford to raise under healthy conditions.  They identify and agree upon their childrearing goals, set appropriate limits for their child’s behavior and use humane and effective methods to teach their children the many skills and abilities needed to live well and do good things with their lives. These parents will provide teaching consequences to their children, but they will also understand that their children will watch them and imitate their actions. Therefore,  they too will seek to live well and do good things with their lives and for their children in order to “show them the way”. They generally show kind, courteous, encouraging and loving behavior to their children, to each other and to others. All of this makes it likely that these children will grow to treat their own children and others in similar ways. 

The parents in this positive example will also protect their children from the toxic effects of our entertainment media which showcase profanity, drugs, sex, violence and other irresponsible lifestyles. When children repeatedly witness these damaging behaviors, they are prone to imitate them with bad effects for both them and  society. 

From moment to moment, in any society,  such individual “grass-roots” bottom-up human events are occurring by the billions. Without question, the behavior patterns learned by children who’s behavior is shaped by parents, families and their communities become a major influence in the evolution of our whole culture.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.      4/17/10

Defining Good Vs. Bad Behavior

December 3, 2009

Defining Good  vs. Bad  Behavior

I am a psychologist and therefore I have deep respect for its most robust laws and principles: The Law of Effect is one such law.

I like to think of it this way: The Law of Effect is one of  God’s Truths discovered by science, but known by perceptive humans through all time.

The Law of Effect states that: Consequences Control Behavior.

The facts are that individuals, groups and sociocultures that do not abide by this law will suffer the consequences of increasingly chaotic behavior patterns. Much of this behavior will be bad because bad behavior normally requires less organization and planning, less patience, less effort, and leads to fast, or even instant,  gratification (rewards).  My general definitions for bad behavior is dumb, short-sighted, self-defeating, maladaptive, self-and-other destructive, damaging, irresponsible, mentally disturbed, criminal, selfish, addicted, murderous, or suicidal behavior, etc..

Defining and differentiating bad behavior and good behavior is not always a simple matter. Attempting to do so invites criticism, even social censure in this day and age. But we all do it. Its just that many of us have been intimidated, by modern political correctness and the prevailing philosophy of moral relativism, into keeping these judgements of good/bad or right/wrong to ourselves. By giving-in to these social pressures, we become incompetent at encouraging good behavior, in ourselves, our loved ones and others. This form of ethical incompetence is self-destructive for individuals, groups and sociocultures, which is the point of this discussion.

The growth of ethical ignorance and incompetence, and its predictable consequences, is exactly what is happening to America.

I have struggled with the problem of defining good behavior and bad behavior for many years. The best that I have been able to do is to blend several criteria as an aid to making such evaluations. Though this method is admittedly imperfect, in my judgement, it is far better than declaring that there are no rights/wrongs, or goods/bads, and embracing the behavioral chaos which naturally results from this perverted anti-ethical philosophy.

I define bad or undesirable behaviors as all behaviors (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and important physiological events such as extreme anger, fear, and anxiety) that:

 A). Are prohibited by law. These criteria can change over time, but they are generally a helpful guide.

 B). Are represented as a Psychological Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV 4(DSM-IV). This is the diagnostic manual used by physicians and mental health professionals to determine who is suffering from significant mental problems.
 http://allpsych.com/disorders/dsm.html

 C).  Are listed in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10). This diagnostic manual is used world round to diagnose both physical diseases and mental disorders.
 http://apps.who.int/classifications/apps/icd/icd10online/

 D).  Are behaviors competitive or incompatible with the main features of a healthy human personality as identified by psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow
 http://psikoloji.fisek.com.tr/maslow/self.htm

E).  Are proscribed by the benevolent religions of the world.
 http://www.universalbehaviorcode.com/index.html

I define Good or desirable behaviors as those behaviors (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and important physiological events such as good feelings, happiness and affection) that compete with, or are incompatible with, definitions A.  B. and C., and those that are consistent with D).,Roger’s and Maslow’s definitions of a healthy personality and E)., the behavior patterns recommended by the benevolent religions of the world.

Again, the general criteria stated above are only a general guide. You may wish to research each of the references mentioned in order form your own opinions.

I believe it is essential to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior in our private lives and as citizens of our American Republic.  There are many ways to do this through teaching, showing desirable role models, rewarding good behavior, and withholding rewards from bad behaviors. Much less frequently, in exceptional cases, it will be necessary to appropriately punish bad behaviors.

My study of the sciences of psychology/sociology/anthropology/economics, my experiences as a therapist, and my readings of the history of evolving and declining cultures, have taught me that:

Those who do not do recognize and use the law of effect , and other valuable psychological and social science principles, for the benefit of all, inevitably suffer the disastrous consequences of behavioral chaos.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.
12/3/09


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