Posts Tagged ‘bad behavioral contagion’

Permissiveness+Neglect+Abuse in Children= Bad Behavioral Contagion!

November 18, 2018

Permissiveness+Neglect+Abuse in Children= Bad Behavioral Contagion!

Many Americans look upon recent developments in American politics in amazement. You can easily hear: America is falling apart! What the hell is going on?! What is happening to us?! Things are spinning out-of-control!

The truth is that all of the social chaos and fearsome anarchy, as well the rise in popularity of Marxist ideals and socialism, have been growing under all of our noses for many years.

A plethora of variables have contributed to the mess that America is now. What we are experiencing is a close approximation to complex cause-effect sociocultural downward spiral that has badly damaged almost all of Western Civilization.

There are a great many influences that singularly and in combination, bring stress and harm to the quality of a population’s behavior patterns. Such influences can be war, petulance, disease, famine, and natural disasters, etc.. Changes of this sort are classified as distress. On the other hand, changes that are considered good, happy or “beneficial” can cause more moderate stress and are known as eustress. Each kind of stress requires adaptation, time and energy to accommodate. 

Then there is a host of stressful advantages and disadvantages that arrive in the form of what may be called “modernization”; namely technological advancements in the area’s of communication, transportation, entertainment, medicine, economics, other time-saving and work-saving advancements. These cultural changes tend to increase faith in mankind and diminishing faith in founding religions as well as other cultural, social, economic and political beliefs and preferences. Many also make life less effortful and rewards more easy to obtain. These cultural changes can contribute to a weakening of motivation and perseverance within a population. Consider the anti-motivational effects of welfare programs and true socialism, for example.

It is important to add, to the previous incomplete list of influences and stresses, the variable of increasing complexity in governments. Governments tend to grow in power, scope and complexity until they become ineffective and moribund. Defunct governments loose legitimacy and increase the likelihood of revolution.

Democratic societies appear to be particularly susceptible to his chain of events, their life-spans are thought by many to typically last around 200 years or so.

It appears, as with individuals, all changes within sociocultures, good or bad, are stressful because they require that a population, political, economic and social agencies change and adapt their behavior patterns in order to meet new challenges.

An important source of change, stressing the entire sociocultural system is what happens to families and the children that they rear. It is important to note that families both affect sociocultural evolution for good or bad and are, in turn, themselves affected by sociocultural evolution, for good or bad. 

This brings us to the matter of Behavioral Contagion, defined as: The spread of particular behavior patterns within a population via scientifically validated Biopsychosocial mechanisms.

It is important to note that changes within populations stress the various social and political agencies that serve them. I call this level of behavioral contagion; Higher Order Behavioral Contagion.

There are many avenues of behavioral contagion. Biological influences include physical damage due to physical injuries, diseases, or inherited characteristics. Social influences include the more’s, folkways, and other behavior patterns among the population to which individuals are exposed. Psychological influences include the mechanisms of behavior change found within the scientific realms of Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Conditioning and Learning Psychology, Behavior Analysis and Applied Behavior Analysis, etc. They also include the perceptual, emotional and belief changes that are influenced within each domain.

Now, please learn about one very important current avenue of bad behavioral contagion in America.

Permissiveness+Neglect+Abuse of Children= Bad Behavioral Contagion!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Health Services Provider in Psychology

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend





Bad Behavioral Contagion: Colorado Pot Floods Other States

December 19, 2014

Bad Behavioral Contagion: Colorado Pot Floods Other States

Well, I’ll be darned!

Who would have ever thought that if one state legalized the recreational consumption of marijuana and developed a massive industry to grow high-quality cannabis and market it to consumers…..that it would ever spread into other nearby states and beyond?!

Gosh, this would be truly inconceivable……to idiots.

On the other hand, not enforcing the federal drug laws in liberal States, knowing that population drug consumption patterns would spread, or contage, to other states would be yet another in the Obama Administration’s myriad of diabolical strategies to transform (i.e., destroy) America.

Sadly, I conclude that both explanations of this mess are not only compatible with one another, they are both psychologically synergistic and catalyzing to this form of bad behavioral contagion in America. Most folks don’t think of things this way, and this is the reason that America is in its astonishing rate of decline.

Let me clarify.

Both bad and good population behavior patterns can naturally spread to other members of a citizenry because of the psychological principles of modeling and imitation (humans have a natural tendency to imitate others); direct social reinforcement (social approval and acceptance) of the behavior; material reinforcement of  marketing and selling the drugs (cash rewards), as well as the physiological reinforcement that comes with its consumption (getting stoned and escaping stress in ways that are self-defeating). All of this is damaging to the health and vitality of our socioculture. Furthermore, media coverage and word-of-mouth information presents discriminative stimuli (signals that motivate seeking and consuming behavior within a population).

In my opinion, the results of all of this were perfectly predictable for those who understand principles of psychology and are not blinded by radical liberal philosophy.

The population behavioral contagion dynamics discussed above are the reasons that drugs were made illegal in the past and were called a “vice”.

Please see below for documentation of this obvious outcome of America’s progressive/liberal social redesigns.

Now please see the documentation for the predictable tail-chasing rat-race that all of this has stimulated. Now our legal system (law enforcement) is stressed, the court systems are over-burdened, and the matter will bog-down our Supreme court and our entire political local, state and federal political system. Additionally, the costs of all of this wasted energy will be passed to all of us in the form of increased taxes, further stressing all of us.

In my language, when the stresses caused by primary bad behavior contagion (within the population) begin to stress various social organizations and systems, higher-order bad behavioral contagion is plain to see.

When the stress is focused back on general population of in the form of additional tax expenses, the vicious cycle is complete. Higher-order Bad Behavioral Contagion has stimulated more Primary Bad Behavioral Contagion directly back to the individual citizens.

This is the downward spiral, in many forms, that mediates America’s present decline. Can you not see this happening all around you, in its many other forms?

All of this is caused by bad psychological self-management decisions (rule changes) within our own precious socioculture.

Now see Higher-Order Bad Behavioral Contagion in action below.

Wake-Up America!

Vote for Rule Changes that will stimulate Good Behavioral Contagion in America!

What are they? For now, know what they are not.

They are not progressive-liberal-socialist-comunist rules and practices.

Vote against these rules and practices at all levels of Government and America will begin a real recovery!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.,   12/19/14

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 5b

June 15, 2013

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian #5 b

We hear talk of building “Human Capital”, that is, educating a population in the intellectual, ethical and physical skills needed  for sociocultural success.

If there is something called human capital, and there is, then there must be an opposite. I call the opposite, Social Entropy. 

Social entropy is that proportion of a population that is impaired in some way and is unable to, or unwilling to, work to sustain the socioculture. Therefore, increasing social entropy represents increasing damage to the ability of a socioculture to survive long and well.

Social entropy can increasingly impair a population for many reasons. Addiction to drugs, sex, gambling, and pornography (the traditional vices) (approved of by radical liberals, progressives, and Libertarians) damage human capital and therefore increases social entropy. So does an inferior acculturating education; an entertainment media that encourages irresponsible licentious, hedonistic, and antisocial behavior.

One of the few issues upon which I disagree with the libertarian party is the legalization of the traditional vices. I disagree because they are highly reinforcing to everyone, they tend to become addictive to those who sample the momentary pleasures they seductively offer, and they can spread through a population like wild-fire.

Bad behavioral contagion combines the psychological processes and mechanisms through which bad behaviors spread within a population.  Elementary principles of psychology now contage bad behavior patterns among an increasingly ignorant, barbaric and heathen population, swiftly (generation after generation) increasing a great many forms of self and other-destructive behaviors within America’s population. All of this further directly increases social entropy within the socioculture and is leading to our decline.

One, of only a few problems, that I have thus far encountered with the Libertarian model is their position on the traditional vices. They argue that if drugs, prostitution, gambling, and pornography are legalized that people will naturally exert controls to minimize the damages of these vices among themselves.

Libertarians say that such activities would naturally be moved out-of-proximity to mainstream life and activities, that people would naturally shun those who own and operate such businesses, or who become addicted to them and who damage their families and others as a result. 

Libertarians argue that the traditional criminal elements associated with such activities would naturally melt away when they are legalize and that the great costs of law enforcement, adjudication and punishment allocated to such crimes would be saved.

The libertarians say that such “crimes” are victimless in nature and that consenting adults should be able to  get together and do what they want. If they are harmed, it was their choice and it is no concern to the rest of us.

Unfortunately, from the bad behavioral contagion and social entropy perspectives, that is not what happens in a densely packed population with a  pervasive entertainment, news and marketing media flooding children, adolescents and adults with propaganda in favor of self and other-person destructive activities.

Do you really think that a gambling addicted father, who embezzled money, is fired from his job, divorced his wife, abandoned his children, and eventually commited suicide harmed no one but himself?

Do you think that the pretty high school drop-out who becomes an “actress” in the porn industry, or who becomes a prostitute, harms only herself? What about her family, brothers and sisters, what about the flood of her floridly depicted actions (media born or actual) upon married men and their families with children?

Do you think that children finding and viewing their parents pornography, the increasingly explicit pornography on family media, the softer porn..(“The Big Bang Theory” comedy series, or, “if your erection lasts longer than 4 hours”, sexual performance ads, etc.) have no bad effects on our children and adolescents?

Do you think that the word-of-mouth tales and depictions among child and adolescent peers about what they have discovered or observed in our increasingly licentious, permissive, and irresponsible society will have no negative effects upon them and, therefore, upon all of us?

Only a fool or an ideologue would argue that gambling addictions do not ruin families and increase problem gambling in children and teens, or that the flood of pornography in America has not sexualized our youth in ways destructive to them and to our common good.

It should also be plain to see that the likely future legalization of drugs and prostitution will have similar effects on the destruction of human capital through bad behavioral contagion and increasing social entropy.

Wake-up America!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 5a

June 13, 2013

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 5

Key Concepts of Libertarianism


David Boaz

January 1, 1999

“The key concepts of libertarianism have developed over many centuries. The first inklings of them can be found in ancient China, Greece, and Israel; they began to be developed into something resembling modern libertarian philosophy in the work of such seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.”

What follows is first a quote by the author and then an analysis of the components of that quote, by me


The Rule of Law. Libertarianism is not libertinism or hedonism. It is not a claim that “people can do anything they want to, and nobody else can say anything.” Rather, libertarianism proposes a society of liberty under law, in which individuals are free to pursue their own lives so long as they respect the equal rights of others. The rule of law means that individuals are governed by generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules, not by arbitrary commands; and that those rules should protect the freedom of individuals to pursue happiness in their own ways, not aim at any particular result or outcome.

End Quote.


This is an area of Libertarianism that I have problems with.

“Libertarianism is not libertinism or hedonism. It is not a claim that ‘people can do anything they want to, and nobody else can say anything’.” 

Libertarians often advocate that things people do in private, with other consenting individuals, should be legal. This is true in most cases, however, there should be a few exceptions…very few.

They also argue that outlawing the traditional vices such as prostitution, damaging drugs, gambling, and pornography cost more in time, effort and money spent than is practical and this also curtails freedoms that should be the rights and responsibilities of individuals. They promise that, if these activities are legalized, valuable resources could be saved and used more wisely, or be remitted back to the citizens in the form of tax reductions.

The problem with this argument is that the burden of proof should be upon the Libertarians to actually to demonstrate with real-life examples, in sociocultures similar to the America, that these economic outcomes clearly occur. To my knowledge, such idyllic outcomes have not been demonstrated.

Until I see the proof of such cost-savings, without worsening collateral cultural damage, I judge that the risk of great social harm by legalizing the traditional illegal human vices outweighs the hope of costs saved.

Libertarians further argue that the State should not intervene in the private lives of citizens when an individual’s actions harm only that individual. Things “that do not hurt anyone else and are consensual” should not be the business of the state”.

Libertarians state that each individual has the right to make good choices and bad ones and suffer the natural consequences of their actions.  The idea seems to be that individuals who may become drug, pornography, gambling, or prostitution addicted only harm themselves. This is a great fallacy that I will address shortly.

Libertarians assert that when a citizen frequently engages in the traditional vices they will be naturally defamed and shunned from mainstream society. They argue that for this reason such citizen problem behaviors will naturally be kept at low levels. They also argue that societies tend to isolate these activities away from mainstream geographical areas in society, and therefore they have a lessened influence on the rest of the citizenry.

This set of assumptions carries a great danger of the explosive and damaging forces of social chaos. Again, proof of these theoretical assumptions acting as predicted in a socioculture similar to our own is essential before their implementation.

Libertarians state: “The rule of law means that individuals are governed by generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules, not by arbitrary commands;”

I will argue that this nation’s laws governing the traditional human vices listed above are examples of “generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules,” and not “arbitrary commands;”.

These laws evolved because humans are naturally highly motivated to engage in these potentially addictive reinforcing activities and that the many behavioral damages of such addictions commonly destroys the welfare and productivity of spouses, children, friends, neighbors, and the businesses or vocations of the addicted. Therefore the uncontrolled existence of the traditional human vices in a society works to destroy the health and viability of that socioculture.

The psychological mechanisms through which these destructive human forces increase within a socioculture comprise the force of bad behavioral contagion. behavioral contagion is dramatically catalyzed within dense populations and by social/cyberspace media. It contages individuals directly and indirectly through observation and imitation, word of mouth, through the media, and by someone  physically doing something to them or someone they know or care about.

Virtually everyone is oblivious to the principles and effects of bad behavioral contagion in a socioculture and this is a profound danger to us all.

Someone will have to prove to me, with actual cultural examples, that resources spent to control the traditional vices, are not prudently spent; much as my personal resources invested in health, home  and vehicle insurances are spent to protect the welfare of my family.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Hot Sex Among Senior Citizens!

March 1, 2013

Hot Sex Among Senior Citizens!

I read a Drudge Report on 2/27/13 that is worth our thinking about.

It discussed a web site and the fact that during the last 9 months membership at that site had grown from 1 to 2.5 million to more that 4 million members.

Something there is selling like “hot cakes”! Do you wonder what it is?

One 61 year-old lady said: “I have hundreds of men trying to hang-out with me.”

Another elderly lady said she had 600 men “after her”. She said she advertized herself as a lady with: “Good looks and a youthful mind”.

It was said by one senior lady that she scours profiles to find “hot metrosexuals”.

It is reported that men as young as 30 years send suggestive pictures of themselves to older women on this website, often “displaying their manhood”. Another lady said she had 35 partners within a year, plus a “Jacuzzi sex-fest”.

Indeed, the internet has opened opportunities for social networking never dreamed of in great grandmas’ time. But a great many of today’s grandmas and grandpas appear to be “all-in” for social networking and easy sex.

Of course, one could make a logical argument that the elderly should be able to meet as they wish, have 35 partners (or more) in a year, and have Jacuzzi sex-fests with younger men whenever they want too! After all, they have worked hard, “done their time”, they are getting near the “end of the road”, and it’s supposed to be a free country!

Of course this does fit with one traditional American point-of-view. “What goes on between consenting adults is their business, so long as it does no harm to others”. But it does not fit with another traditional idea: People should be virtuous and avoid licentious, hedonistic behavior. Adults, and especially seniors, are supposed to be models of honorable and moral behavior for our youths to look-up to and to imitate.

For the short-sighted thinker, casual hyper-sexuality among our seniors (or anyone, for that matter) is not a problem. Unfortunately, they fail to consider the delayed outcomes for such actions and how it affects everyone’s well-fare.

Modern technology often changes cultures in major ways. Often the changes are for the better and for the worse, at the same time. Modernity also universally weakens the influences of religiously-based moral codes in populations. The birth control pill, medication to strengthen male erections, the flood of pornography in media, and the spread of social-cyberspace media has catalyzed some real population behavior problems.

Think about the following:

STD’s in seniors are now at record high. Citizens in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are reported to get chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea at twice the rate of the past decade. Interestingly, there was no mention of increased rates of AIDS in Seniors. Well, do your research and you will find that AIDS is increasing in individuals over 50 years.

Late menopause can occur between 55 and 65 years. This would suggest a likelihood of increased senior pregnancies. I have not yet found evidence of this because most of the demographic information now is more insensly focused upon our birth dearth among our younger generation and its strong negative implications for America’s future. But, increasing STDS, abortions, births and birth defects in the offspring of our elderly would only add to the expense of caring for the medical needs and troubles of our increasingly aged population. All of this would further stress the resources of the shrinking younger generation.

As a therapist, I have seen the strain that cyberspace sexual escapades and easy social media connections puts on marriages and otherwise stable relationships. “Hooking-up” emotionally, and in sexual fantasy, can easily lead to extra-marital/partner sexual activities. All of this is very often a prelude to alienation and divorce among couples. It is a fact that marriages and births are already occurring later in life, which increases the odds that later dissolutions of senior marriages will impact more children than before. When children are involved in divorce, it increases the risk of very damaging outcomes for the children.

Historically, seniors have played an important role in modeling traditional morals and values for their children to imitate. As grandparents, they have often been a powerful influence in their own adult children’s lives, as well as their grandchildren’s lives.

“Houston, we have a problem.” But it is not on the moon!

Increasing bad behavioral contagion* within our population increases sociocultural entropy* and reduces America’s viability for long-term survival.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D. 3/1/13

* Bad Behavioral Contagion: “The spread of damaging or self-destructive behavior patterns within a population via scientifically validated biopsychosocial mechanisms”.

* Sociocultural Entropy: “The proportion of human behavioral energy, within a population, that is not available to build and maintain the culture—but functions as a drain upon it”.

Definitions are taken from: V. Thomas Mawhinney (1998), Behavioral Sexual Maladaption Contagion in America: An Applied Theoretical Analysis. Behavior and Social Issues, (vol. 8), No. 2, Fall 1998, 159-192.

Fix America’s Self-Destructive Cultural Designs: It’s Do or Die!

December 21, 2012

Fix America’s Self-Destructive Cultural Designs: It’s Do or Die!

Everyone is saying the problem is the existence of evil. Well evil is just a another word used to describe things and actions that are bad, immoral, or wicked, etc.. Evil has been described as a force of nature that leads to wickedness and sin (the breaking of God’s laws…i.e., “Though Shalt Not Kill”!). For the religious, the word evil suggests “The Work of The Devil”.

For the secular humanist, evil is just a word that they snitch from religion in order to describe something that is horrible beyond the ability of their secular language to describe. It is most instructive to observe how they try to borrow the word, without its true meaning, in order to have an emotional impact upon their listeners that they wish to influence in some direction. It is the distorted mirror image of a secularist who wishes someone “God’s Blessings” in order to achieve some strategic behavioral or emotional goal with them.

Every radio and T.V. station is featuring pundits (supposed experts) who blame guns, especially so-called “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines for the carnage that is so much a part of  our modern American culture. But, of course, high-capacity semi-automatic pistols and rifles have existed well before the escalating rates of our contemporary so-called “senseless”,  but truely horrific mass murders of innocent men, women and children

I often hear people say, it’s not the gun, it’s the person. Of course it is “the person”, the gun cannot shoot by itself!  But that smug and dismissive rejoinder to the gun critic does not answer the key question.

The key question is: What in hell causes people to perpetrate such horrendous violence upon their defenseless and innocent fellow citizens, even children, for no identifiable material gain!?

My life-time study of the behavioral and social sciences leaves me with some distressing news for you. In the final analysis, if you are looking for the single cause for any behavior, let alone these senseless complex mass-murder rampages of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, you will never find it.

There are no single causes of human behavior. Rather there is a massive confluence of interacting causes/influences that include Genetics-Biology; the Learning history of the individual; the Current State of the Person; and the Current State of the Environment.

But if you are looking for one word that subsumes nearly all of the relevant causes and interactions that produce the dramatic increase in these murderous rampages, look no further than the word Culture.

There are many definitions of the word culture. But the definitions that I find most useful are the ones that emphasize the formal and informal rules for good behavior and the sanctions for bad behavior adopted by society in question.

Such rules and sanctions are normally imposed through government (laws, regulations, rewards and punishments; through various Commandments for moral and ethical conduct taught by the population’s religions with promised spiritual rewards and punishments such as God’s love, God’s Care and versions of Heaven and Hell; Refinements in Medical Practices that change which people within a population (gene pools) survive to propagate and which ones do not; And, there are also the products of technology that alter various  advantages and stressors that impact the population (technology in all its forms; entertainment, conveniences, weapons, and conveyances, etc.).

Finally, there are the “informal” (More’s and folkways) expectations that are imposed by the friends, families, neighbors, and fellow workers upon the individual in the forms of grass-root expectations, rules, and social and material rewards and punishments that form the fabric of our every-day existence.

All in all,  these are the contingencies (I.e., the antecedents, contexts, behaviors and the consequences) that select our most important behaviors  in or out-of frequent existence (high or low rates of occurrence within a population).

But there are many more scientific principles that effect our cultural behaviors, These many principles comprise the mechanisms that drive a societies’ cultural changes. The many behavioral principles involved in this process are beyond the scope of this short blog. But, taken together they comprise the mechanisms of behavioral/cultural change, the outcomes of which, I call Behavioral  Contagion.

I define behavioral contagion as the spread of particular behavior patterns within a population via scientifically validated biopsychosocial mechanisms. And yes, dear reader, just as there is good and bad behaviors (no matter what the secular humanists tell you) There is also good and bad behavioral contagion.

Good behavioral contagion strengthens the viability of the culture in which it occurs and bad behavioral contagion weakens its viability.

At some point, failing cultures have probably always known they were in decline, and they have normally attempted to reverse the process. Given the complexity of the many interacting behavioral principles that spell success or failure, it is not a wonder that so many have failed to save themselves.

It appears to me that the evolution of individual cultures recapitulate the evolution of the countless species that have evolved to life and then devolved into extinction. For cultures in a changing and “selecting” universe, failure is the general rule: Successes are short-lived and cultures have normally destroyed themselves.

Not a hopeful picture! Especially if we, as our own cultural designers, continue to do dumb,  self-abusive and self-defeating things to our selves. Perhaps the dumbest and most maladaptive things that America has done is to fail to use the products of its own behavioral sciences. And where such useful products are not yet available, America has failed to  use of the wisdom of the ages available in the teachings of the world’s greatest benevolent religions.

Coming now in my blogs will be a discussion of some of these failings that I judge to have come into strong confluence and catalysis to produce the murderous carnage among America’s citizens that we are now suffering.

In short, we have designed our modern American culture in ways that have dramatically increased bad behavioral contagion and the result is a dramatic destruction of our viability.

Stay tuned folks, I am about shiver-your-timbers with the truth that I see.

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

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