Posts Tagged ‘good behavioral contagion’

Socialism’s Popularity: Bad Behavioral Contagion!

December 6, 2019

Socialism’s Popularity: Bad Behavioral Contagion!

In my previous post on November 26 2019, I explained the basic principles of psychology that form what might be called the basic mechanisms, or “clockwork”, that drives the popularity of Socialism. I call this a very important example of Bad Behavioral Contagion. You can call it what you like, but it is a bad development that could easily be lethal for America.

Beyond the basic principles of psychology discussed in my previous article are many other catalytic events that can moderate, accelerate, stop, or reverse these culture-changing psychological “gears” from churning towards our population’s dependence upon a growing government and America’s eventual social and cultural failure. 

The following article will provide you with a review of four of classes of events that have accelerated rates dependent beliefs, emotions and behaviors within America that comprise Socialism; a social, economic and governmental system which is incompatible with our Constitutional Republic and Capitalistic economic system.

This movement towards socialism is monumental example of Bad Behavioral Contagion because it is damaging to the quality of our populations behavior and it will destroy American’s ability to survive long and well.

To learn more about the psychological phenomenon of “Behavioral Contagion”, both Good and Bad, please read the following article and then type Behavioral Contagion into my search box on the top right of my blog’s main page, then hit return!

You will then learn exactly why we should call the growth in popularity of socialism within America’s population, a huge example of “Bad Behavioral Contagion”, and the reason why we must use psychological principles to increase rates of “Good Behavioral Contagion” in America.

The reason, in a phrase is: “The Survival of the Fittest”!

The following is an excellent article, as far as it goes. But, there is much more to this “Big Picture”.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 12/6/19

4 Reasons Socialism Is More Popular Among Americans Now Than Ever Before

Why socialism now? At a time when the American economy under Trump seems to be chugging along at a nice clip, why are so many hankering for an alternative?
Alexander Zubatov


The newfound openness of large numbers of Americans to socialism is, by now, a well-documented phenomenon. According to a Gallup poll from earlier this year, 43 percent of Americans now believe that some form of socialism would be good thing, in contrast to 51 percent who are still against it. A Harris poll found that four in 10 Americans prefer socialism to capitalism.

The trend is particularly apparent in the young: Another Gallup poll showed that, as recently as 2010, 68 percent of people between 18 and 29 approved of capitalism, with only 51 percent approving of socialism, whereas in 2018, while the percentage among this age group favoring socialism was unchanged at 51 percent, those in favor of capitalism had dropped precipitously to 45 percent. The same poll showed that among Democrats, the popularity of socialism now stands at 57 percent, while capitalism is only at 47 percent, a marked departure from 2010 when the two were tied at 53 percent.

1. Ignorance of History

The first cause of socialism’s popularity, especially among the young, is obvious. Having grown up at a time after the end of the Cold War, the collapse of Europe’s Eastern Bloc and China’s transition to authoritarian capitalism, “these kids today” — the 18- to 29-year-olds who were born around the last decade of the 20th century — don’t know what socialism is all about. When they think socialism, they don’t think Stalin; they think Scandinavia.

Americans’ — especially young Americans’ — ignorance of history is well-documented and profound. As of 2018, only one in three Americans could pass a basic citizenship test, and of test-takers under the age of 45, that number dropped to 19 percent. That included such lowlights as having no clue why American colonists fought the British and believing that Dwight Eisenhower led the troops during the Civil War. Speaking of the war during which he actually led the troops, many millennials don’t know much about that either.

They don’t know what Auschwitz was (66 percent of millennials could not identify it). Twenty-two percent of them had not heard of the Holocaust. The Battle of the Bulge? Forget it. Go back further in time, and the cluelessness just keeps deepening.

Closer to the socialism theme, the same compilation of survey results includes respondents attributing words from “The Communist Manifesto” — “from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs” — to Thomas Paine, George Washington, or Barack Obama. Moreover, among college-aged Americans, although support for socialism is pretty high, when these same young adults are asked about their support for the actual definition of socialism — a government-managed economy — 72 percent turn out to be for a free-market economy and only 49 percent for the government-managed alternative (yes, it looks like a lot of confused kids favor both of the mutually exclusive alternatives).

As compared to about one-third of Americans older than 30, only 16 percent of millennials were able to define socialism, according to a 2010 CBS/New York Times poll. Although I haven’t seen polling on this, I’d be willing to bet that a good bunch of these same students, if asked to say what the Soviet Union was, would have no clue or peg it as some sort of vanquished competitor of the West.

Compounding the problem still further is that the “history” students learn in school increasingly falls into the category of “woke” history, America’s history of oppression as the influential revisionist socialist historian Howard Zinn imagined it. When socialists are writing our history books, the end result is preordained. Given such ignorance and systematic distortion of history, is it any surprise that millennials who never lived through very much of the 20th century don’t think socialism is all that bad?

2. Government Bungling

Take the skyrocketing cost of college, for instance. On the surface, this looks like greedy capitalist universities just continuing to raise tuition, and since most college kids and their parents can’t pay the sticker price, two-thirds take out loans, saddling young people trying to start their careers with a mountain of debt (almost $30,000 on average). This makes all those socialist promises of free college or loan forgiveness sound dandy.

Underneath the surface, however, a huge part of the problem is federal grants and subsidized loans. If the government stopped footing a large part of their bill, more students and parents would be forced to pony up, which would mean, in turn, that colleges would not be able to keep hiking prices without a precipitous drop in enrollment. They would, instead, be forced to price themselves at some level that applicants could realistically pay, making college more affordable for a large segment of the American middle class.

Another simple example of the problem is Obama’s Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, colloquially known as the big bank “bailout.” When kids grow up seeing government tossing out free lifelines to businesses that get themselves in dire straits, cause a massive financial crisis, and, in the process, lose ordinary folks lots of jobs and homes, we can’t blame them for concluding the system is rigged.

3. Universities’ Ideological Monoculture

The supporters of socialism are not simply the young, but they’re disproportionately young people who are college-educated. The more college they have, the hotter for socialism they get. According to a 2015 poll, support for socialism grows from 48 percent among those with a high school diploma or less, to 62 percent among college graduates, to 78 percent among those with post-graduate degrees.

Those on the left probably jump immediately to the conclusion that support for socialism is just a natural outgrowth of big brains and elite educations. But there is, in fact, a less obvious but ultimately far more compelling explanation: Something — something bad — is happening at universities to pull students toward the (far) left.

We have already seen above that what’s not happening at even elite universities today is a whole lot of education in important subjects such as history. What we are getting instead is a lot of groupthink and indoctrination. Universities have always skewed a bit left. But beginning in the early to mid 1990s (for reasons I’ve explained in some detail elsewhere), ideological diversity began to vanish entirely, as the leftward deviation turned tidal.

As documented in a 2005 paper from Stanley Rothman et al., as of 1984, 39 percent of university faculty were left/liberal, and 34 percent were right/conservative. By 1999, those numbers had undergone a seismic shift: Faculty was now 72 percent left/liberal and 15 percent right/conservative.

Since 1999, the imbalance has become starker still. An April 2018 comprehensive National Association of Scholars report from Professor Mitchell Langbert of Brooklyn College — tracking the political registrations of 8,688 tenure-track, Ph.D.-holding professors from 51 of U.S. News & World Report’s 66 top-ranked liberal arts colleges for 2017 — found that “78.2 percent of the academic departments in [his] sample have either zero Republicans, or so few as to make no difference.”

Predictably, given the composition of the professoriate, survey data also indicates that students’ political views drift further leftward between freshman and senior years. In light of this data, it should not be a surprise to us that students who have gone to college in this age of ideological extremism have come out radicalized — and socialized.

4. Coddled Kids

The young have always been more inclined to embrace pipe dreams. A lack of familiarity with the complicated way the world actually works, coupled with the college fix described above, will do that to most anyone. But there is a reason today’s young’uns are particularly susceptible to the red menace. In last year’s “The Coddling of the American Mind,” the prominent social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Greg Lukianoff describe a prevailing trend among kids growing up in the ’90s and ’00s. Their overprotective parents and educators instilled in them baseless and uncritical self-esteem.

When kids are raised to believe they are wonderful just as they are and get used to elders sheltering them from many of life’s ordinary difficulties and stresses and giving them trophies just for showing up, they never learn the critical life skills of self-soothing, working through anxiety, facing obstacles, and overcoming adversity. The predictable result, as Haidt and Lukianoff observe, is a demand to be safeguarded through safe spaces, free speech crackdowns, and so on.

But the result is also the propensity to blame others for personal failures. When people can’t compete with others on a level playing field, they simply call for the playing field to be tilted in their favor, saying the system is compromised by discrimination, institutional racism, sexism, etc. When they can’t compete in the capitalist marketplace, they call for socialism, which they imagine will result in a warm, fuzzy, and caring mommy-state that tends to their physical and emotional needs.

If capitalism, in other words, is an economic system that rewards motivated, resilient self-starters, then the easiest, most natural fit for a generation of coddled, brittle man-children who shrink from challenges is surely socialism.

Taking on the Socialism Tsunami

If these four are the primary causes of socialism’s rapid surge in our midst, then the next logical question is what to do about it. There is no easy answer, of course, but I suggest the radicalization of academia is the linchpin issue. If we could succeed in reversing that tsunami, many dominoes would fall.

To address the university monoculture that systematically distorts research, sends students veering hard left, and graduates generations of left-orthodox clones would affect journalism, government, education, entertainment, and other influential sectors these graduates enter. This, in turn, would shape the other three downstream issues factoring into socialism’s rise: government policy, educational philosophy, and the manner in which history is taught.

Many have observed that our universities are in crisis, but that crisis also represents an opportunity to avert the much larger socialist cataclysm that threatens to engulf us all.

Alexander Zubatov is a practicing attorney specializing in general commercial litigation. He is also a practicing writer specializing in general non-commercial poetry, fiction, drama and polemics that have appeared in The Hedgehog Review, Independent Journal Review, PopMatters, Acculurated, MercatorNet, The Montreal Review, The Fortnightly Review, New English Review, and Culture Wars, among others. He makes occasional, unscheduled appearances on Twitter and on Medium.

Happy Mother’s Day, 2013

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day, 2013

My dear wife Sally’s Mother, and my own wonderful mother were simply marvelous.

We have so many memories of love, beauty, creativity, and fair and loving discipline that we cannot count them all. But these countless events are all in us and they have determined a great many of our thoughts, emotions and actions in all areas of our lives.

Our mothers strongly shaped our lives for the rest of our lives and they have also, through us, helped to shape the lives of their grandchildren, and now their great-grandchildren. Our mothers, therefore, have shaped the thoughts, emotions and actions of their lineage for generations to come.

Like genetics, good behavioral contagion in families (and among us all) continues to express itself long into the lives of those who are yet to live.

God Bless the world’s wonderful mothers!

The following is a very touching tribute to mothers everywhere.

VTM, 5/12/13

The Psychology of America’s Decline #3

February 22, 2012

The Psychology of America’s Decline #3

Behavioral Contagion and Changing Population Behavior Patterns

Medicine was able to make great strides when it learned the ways in which disease spread among humans. It is now time that the science of human behavior capture similar gains. In chapter 9, the older psychological concept of behavioral contagion was revitalized. Discussed there was the fact that behavior is contagious. Behavior (emotions, perceptions attitudes and actions), both good and bad, spread within a population as a result of person to person, or media mediated symbolic contact.

You may recall that my definition of behavioral contagion is: The spread of particular behavior patterns within a population via scientifically validated biopsychosocal mechanisms. 

Behavioral contagion is a social phenomenon and from that perspective behavior change is spread by contact with other humans through direct contact (we see, hear, or are touched by someone within a particular context). Though we normally do not think about it in this way, it is essential to do so. Just think about any personal relationship (friends, lovers, or family, in which you have had to deal with someone who has been angry, threatening, violent, depressed, untrustworthy, etc. Conversely, think about the times that you have had with those who are kind and loving, courteous, honest, and helpful. Recall the emotions, thoughts and your own behaviors in under these conditions. I will assure you that if you were a practicing psychologist, the range of phenomena that I call behavioral contagion would gain stunning clarity.

It would also be clear that behavioral contagion spreads through indirect contact (individuals witness artificial depictions of events through our ever-present media. We observe others seeing, hearing, or being impacted in good or bad ways by still others, or different events,  within various contexts. This also is clear to see as our society becomes more profane, violent, drug involved and sexual amid ever-present media portrayal these behavior patterns.

The behaviors of someone that impinge upon others though direct or indirect contact commonly change the emotions, perceptions, beliefs and behaviors of the impinged individual. In these complex and ubiquitous chains of social transmission, the behavior patterns that impinge upon others become both causes and effects.

This is commonly observed in the transmission of both good and bad behavior patterns within families across generations. Such examples of behavioral contagion include all three domains of transmission (biological, psychological, and social). Family members physically resemble one another and they often display genetically based physical and psychological strengths and weaknesses. The same can be said for the behavior patterns that are shaped by basic principles of psychology and also function predictably within unique family mores, folkways, traditions, and action patterns. All of this occurs within the family’s unique sociocultural contexts, which further shapes behavioral outcomes.

Although the outcomes of behavioral contagion are individually difficult to predict, when viewed from statistical perspective (Rate per 100,000 of population), they become very predictable. This predictability advantage can be observed when individuals who are subjected to x, y, and z events are at significantly greater risk for certain kinds of behavioral/ psychological problems, or they are at less risk for them.

A great deal is known about the workings of behavioral contagion. Both prosocial (good behavioral contagion) and damaging (bad behavioral contagion) advance or spread through a population, via the very same well-known biological, psychological and social principles which I have described in earlier chapters.

No less real, but more difficult to recognize, is what I call Higher-Order behavioral contagion. Increases in Primary behavioral contagion (good or bad) among the citizens of any society are directly transmitted to the social organizations and systems that function to transmit, stabilize, and protect the socioculture of concern. Look carefully and you will see that as America’s behavior problems have increased, the demands (stressors) placed upon social services, law enforcement, the courts, education and special education has continues to overwhelm them. Higher-order bad behavioral contagion flows upward through our levels of government and back down to the population in the form of increased taxes and decreases in the quality of infrastructure and services at all levels.

As explained earlier, the effects of this massive and very complex behavioral contagion cycle are both catalytic and synergistic to further escalating feed-back cycles of bad behavioral contagion.

Breaking these escalating feed-back cycles of bad behavioral contagion will require a great, focused and well-defined effort by both government and citizens.

Francis Bacon reportedly stated that: “Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they are not altered for the better designedly”. I am certain that this is the truth.

It is much more labor intensive to insure that the rates of good behavior contagion are greater than the rates of bad behavior contagion. Maintaining higher rates of good behavioral contagion requires sustained planning, coordinated effort, and constant maintenance This is true whether the focus is upon the individual, family, city, state, or a whole socioculture. It is the basic nature of bad behavior contagion that its determinants are low effort, easier, faster and more immediately rewarding than those of good behavioral contagion.

The failure to understand these basic truths, and to vigilantly work to increase and maintain rates of good (and avoid bad) behavioral contagion is an important variable in the decline of civilizations.

The preceding from the book I am writing. You may share it with others, but not for commercial purposes.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.  2/20/12

What Could This Mean For Society?

August 27, 2009

What Could This Mean For Society?

God’s Blessings to you Jana. You know your Bible well and you are correct that scripture states it is by Faith alone that salvation is gained.

I find the discussion of what gets a person into Heaven to be very humbling. This is truly a matter of faith which is beyond the analysis of science, and certainly beyond my ability. My posting was not meant to address the matter of Eternal Salvation, but rather to address the fact that such a faith-based teachings and social influences can lead to rare and highly beneficial behavioral effects here on earth.

Some may argue that Christian influences have had bad effects (the Inquisitions, etc.), but ultimately, it was this religious influence that enlarged the circle of acceptance and respect to include all of humanity. Judeo/Christian influences also were central in the development of Western Civilization as we know it today. At age 67 years, I convinced by my experiences and readings of history that all faiths that include similar value systems have generated far more goods than bads for people and the evolution of their sociocultures.

I am also convinced that as America evolves further way from Judeo/Christian, or other similar and compatible, faith-based value systems, the quality of our population’s collective thoughts and actions will continue to decline, generating more bad outcomes than good ones for all of us. I sadly and fearfully conclude that this will diminish our cultural and national viability.

Jana, your questions at the end of your response to my blog are excellent and thought-provoking. It is very difficult to answer them with certainty, but I will tell you what I believe to be the most probable outcomes.

“If it were real, would you consider a spiritual experience be a catalyst for positive change?”

Any strongly held belief, or system of beliefs, will powerfully influence our thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviors. This is so for both good and bad. Most would agree that the spiritual experiences of Reverend Jim Jones were bad. However, I think that what you consider spiritually-derived Judeo/Christian faith-based moral actions could be an especially powerful catalyst for positive change within any population.

“What ways could people experiencing God’s spirit affect those around them?”

People who habitually ask themselves, “What would Jesus do” and then act accordingly, are not only models for others to imitate, they influence and teach others through their direct treatment of them. I call the spread of these and other similar influences within a population a form of good Behavioral Contagion. The results can be powerfully beneficial to all. Add to this similar increases in educational and media activities and the good influences could spread like wild-fire.

“What could this mean for society?”

Such changes could lead to a dramatic increase in the virtues that have made America the greatest nation in the history of the world and thereby reverse its present decline. It could also mean the spread of this wonderful continuing legacy to other nations that will benefit immensely. In other words, a wave of good behavioral contagion among nations of the world.

Now that would be pretty good, don’t ya think?!

VTM, 8/27/09

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