Posts Tagged ‘Modeling and Imitation’

Education In Oakland: @#%@!!

October 26, 2019

Education In Oakland: @#%@!!

Look-Out for radical liberals/leftists/socialists and their public systems of education. 

All citizens need to read this article and take the time to watch Oakland California teachers and parents behaviors at a school board meeting.

Be sure not to miss the large frame video about half way through the article! Just click on “continue reading”.

California is often “credited” for producing cultural trends that spread through the rest of America.

We had better hope that this reputation becomes a thing of the past.

Please note that parents and teachers are protesting schools of choice. They are also protesting about so many students being sent to “reform school” settings.

It is not hard to see and understand why reform school settings are needed for so many of their students.

Just watch the actions of their parents and teachers!

Research Psychologists have documented a very powerful influences on learning (I.e., expectations, beliefs, values, emotions and behaviors). We call this influence Modeling and Imitation.

Perhaps you recall grandma’s old saying, “Monkey see, monkey do”.

Psst…..We are the monkeys!

Now, don’t get your “undies in a bundle” over my use of an old American common saying. Yes, I know we are not monkeys. Nor are we birds (I.e., “Birds of a feather flock together”).

Also, You can be sure that race and ethnicity have nothing to do with the basic mechanisms of learning to which I make partial reference.

America had better face the facts that our citizens learn in ways very similar to the ways other animals do; and sadly, we are not as smart as we think we are when it comes to managing our own behavior.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 10/26/19

VIDEO: Melee at Oakland school board meeting as teachers jump barrier, clash with cops

The Psychology of A Broken Q-Tip

July 5, 2016

The Psychology of A Broken Q-Tip

On July 4, 2016 we placed some of our deceased son’s ashes under an oval head-stone at his favorite place on our wooded family property in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We chose the place where he and his children and friends (other family members too) l0ved to sit by the fire at night, listen to music, look at the bright stars and enjoy the woods and each other.

Many of our extended family, including his three precious teenage children, had a little service there with prayers. It was a sad, but deeply grateful celebration of our wonderful son, father and friend to many.

His stone is adorned with his name, Sean Mawhinney, and his favorite saying: “It’s All Good”.  There is a dancing bear one one  corner of the stone and a block lettered N.D. on the other corner. These signifying his favorite musical groups (The Grateful Dead) and his beloved football team, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Some time ago, I wrote the following remembrance about our early years of parenting Sean, who was then just a toddler. It is a story about the psychology of love and a minor trauma…transformed by events in time into a precious and instructive sweet memory.

I hope you will enjoy it and learn something useful.


As many people do, when we use Q-Tips we have disguarded them in a little trash basket  in our bathroom.

Again, I am reminded of our dear son,  Sean, who died suddenly at 46 yrs. of age.

When Sean was an adventuresome little toddler he entered our bathroom, “fished” a Q-Tip from the trash, put it in his ear and then slipped and fell puncturing his ear drum. I was caring for him alone at the time and was greatly horrified by this event. He cried so hard and there was blood coming from his ear. With a Doctor’s care, his ear drum healed with little consequence.

However, I never forgot the sights, sounds, and my upset from that event.

Now, for the Psychology of A Broken Q-Tip!

Sean’s putting the Q-tip in his ear, was and example of normal imitative behavior.  He had often observed Mom and Dad doing the same thing (contrary to published warnings; just as millions of people regularly do). He simply did what he saw us do.

Imitation is a massively important form of social learning in all developing children and adults. A great deal of what we all learn throughout our lives is based upon numerous psychological principles of modeling and imitation.

After this happened I compulsively broke the Q-Tips I used in-half before disposing of them. This may seem odd, but right after the accident, breaking them in-half made another such accident less likely. As a consequence, doing this relived me of the anxiety that I felt about disposing them whole, as I once did.

Technically speaking, breaking the Q-Tip allowed my escape of an aversive condition, commonly known as anxiety.  Psychologists call this a contingency of negative reinforcement. In other-words, if someone does something that removes, or reduces anxiety, this consequence can reinforce the particular behavior pattern that reduced the anxiety. Therefore, that behavior is more likely to happen again in the future.

I will digress briefly.

While, my own peculiar actions towards Q-Tips have remained focused exclusively upon them, sometimes actions that reduce fear or anxiety can begin to morph into many different shapes, forms and applications.

For many Individuals who have suffered chronic trauma and anxiety states, the following two psychological principles can create a bewildering array of different, but related, emotional and behavioral problems.

Many other stimuli not directly associated with trauma can simultaneously acquire aversive properties through the psychological principle of Stimulus Generalization (i.e., similar responding to similar, but different, stimuli). Individuals may begin to fear and escape, or avoid, harmless situations that only slightly resemble those associated with the stimulus conditions involved within the original traumatic learning experience. For example, a child bitten by a dog may come to fear cats; or,  a woman abused by a man may feel anxiety around all men, etc..

Also, Response Generalization can occur when the reinforcing effects of anxiety reduction produced by the original behavior spread to other responses that have some similarity. For example, people may come to use a variety of ways to escape  or avoid anxiety-evoking circumstances, such as making excuses to leave a situation, acting ill to avoid an event, or consuming inebriates in order to relax, etc..

Also, just so you know, these principles can apply to the learning of more positive stimuli and actions.

But now, back to the Psychology of A Broken Q-Tip!

As you now know, my breaking the Q-tips, is an example of a behavior pattern that avoids a future aversive event (i.e., it reduces the probability of my little boy harming himself with a Q-Tip in the future).  Psychologist have demonstrated that avoidance behavior is very common in all animals, and especially among us human animals.

You now know why I started to break Q-Tips in half, about 44 years ago.

But the question remains, why am I now still breaking Q-Tips!?

What could account for the fact that, after over four decades since that  traumatic event,  I still break each and every Q-Tip I use in-half before discarding them?

Some might consider this behavior pattern to be a form of psychopathology named Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. But for a behavior or emotional condition to be called a “disorder”, it must significantly interfere with effectively managing the normal demands of life, or it must hurt ones-self or others. You can be sure that my behavior is idiosyncratic, but I’m happy to say that it cannot be classified as a psychological disorder.

Someone could label my “aggression against Q-Tips” anyway we want. But, they would still have some trouble explaining why I am still breaking my used Q-Tips after all of this time. To the observer, the behavior now makes no sense because the real trauma and danger has been gone for over 40 years!

Of we could call it a habit, but this explains very little.

The best explanation  of what I, personally, am doing to Q-Tips can only be found in something that I will call Behavioral Introspection. By this, I mean a personal unobservable (thoughts, perceptions and emotions) accounts of how some behavior pattern has come to  start, continue, or change according to well-researched and well-documented elementary principles of behavior. True behavioral introspection is only likely to be useful when conducted, or interpreted, by an individual well-versed in the science and technology of psychological behavior principles.

Among the years that have ensued since the original Q-Tip trauma, my recollections of it have been associated thousands of times with highly positively reinforcing (enjoyable) recollections of my precious times parenting, teaching, learning from and playing with my son. When very powerful reinforcing events (stimuli) are associated with a historically aversive event (or the object associated with that event), both the event, the object and my action of breaking that object can actually acquire new learned properties. These are the properties of a conditioned positive reinforcer

In simple terms, the act breaking Q-Tips, perhaps even thinking about breaking Q-Tips can now acquire rewarding properties. Additionally, a Q-Tip, under the conditions I have described, can become a discriminative stimulus; one that stimulates me to think about breaking it and actually do so.

This is about enough of the technical stuff, at least for now!

There are some wonderful words given to us at the time of our son’s passing.

I hope your increased psychological understanding combined with the stone’s artful common language will provide a deeper understanding of  even more than The Psychology of A Broken Q-Tip!

The small plaque had the following message etched upon it:

“When someone you love becomes a history of memories, th0se memories become a treasure chest”.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 7/5/16

P.S., From a technical perspective, more psychological principles could be added to my little story. However, I hope that my simplified technical explanation and the example of my own “thin slice of behavior” will advance your understanding of scientific psychology to some rewarding degree.




Why Progressive/Socialism (A Forshadow of Communism in Disguise) Always Fails and Always Will: A Psychological Perspective

July 9, 2014

Why Progressivism/Socialism (Communism in Disguise) Aways Fails and Always Will: A Psychological Perspective

I am representing an older blog today because it is particularly Germane and it is the truth that underlays almost all of America’s problems now reaching horrific proportions.

Those who will not admit this truth are dishonest, rendered ignorant by public education’s propaganda machine, blinded by the lies of liberal dogma, or perhaps they are already effortlessly suckling copious rewards from the many giant governmental teats aggressively extended for their pleasure (sorry, I just could not help myself regarding this last metaphor).

Please read the following explanation of America’s present steep social and cultural decline. It all has to do with the psychopathology of Liberal Ideology and the individuals who practice it.

The following is a re-blog from 9/24/12.

The answer is clear and simple. The psychological contingencies of positive reinforcement (rewards), punishment (painful consequences) and extinction (no rewards) that are governmentally imposed are ass-backward and they produce incompetent and self-defeating behavior patterns within populations. The Law of Effect will provide no other outcome. Consequences control behavior.

This assertion can be illustrated with two basic psychological principles, from among others.

The first is the Law of Effect. This Law states that behavior (a great deal of very important human behavior) is controlled by its consequences.

The Second is the Principle of Least Effort. The principle of least effort states that animals and humans tend to learn to obtain their rewards, or escape and avoid pain, in the least effortful ways available.

When the rewards of the have-more people who have worked very hard for delayed rewards, behaved responsibly and avoided the many human foibles (immediately rewarding sex, drugs, alcohol, other self-destructive and irresponsible behaviors, that do immediate or delayed damage) are confiscated through taxation and given freely (i.e., non­-contingently) to the have-nots…..the have-nots will increase in frequency. This will occur simply because the government has reinforced the population’s have-not behavior patterns and this will predictably strengthen the have-not behavior patterns and lead to more have-not people applying to the government for free rewards. Modeling and imitation and direct reinforcement of have-not behavior patterns will predictably increase the future frequency of such behaviors within the population.

Also, increasing numbers of new people will join the have-not undereducated, low socioeconomic class because the have-nots are more likely to reproduce at higher rates than the have-more people. This outcome is dramatically increased when the government pays various material rewards to those have-nots for having children that they cannot afford.

It is just this simple, when the wealth-maker’s money is given to the wealth-takers for simply having more babies, they predictably have more babies than the wealth-makers do. The wealth-makers are just too busy getting educated, working in professions and businesses, making money and behaving responsibly to match the wealth-takers reproductive rates.

Now the plot thickens again. The basic psychological principles of Modeling and Imitation insure that the majority of children raised by have­-not/wealth­-taking parents will watch and learn to think, believe and to behave much as their parents do.

Within the span of several generations, this complex and spreading vicious cycle of bad behavioral contagion will shift the socio/political demographics and power to a rapidly growing proportion of the have-not/wealth­-taking population. Unfortunately, this undereducated group will believe almost anything they are told by their political curators. After-all the have-not/wealth-takers are under-educated in reading, writing, math, science, history and economics, etc., they have been taught by their families and the government to behave in these ways.  On what basis would anyone expect otherwise?

Initially, the political outcome for a voting Democratic Republic such as America, will be that increasing numbers have-not/wealth-takers will vote increasing numbers of their intelligent, but devious, political curators into office. In this way political curators can take more from the have-more/wealth-makers and give it to them. In this way they will rapidly grow their have-not/wealth-taking constituents . Of course the political curators are doing this at this moment, to solidify their own political base and power.

Over time the productivity of the have-more/wealth-makers will be reduced due to political contingencies of response cost punishment (the more you work the more the government takes to give away) focused upon them by the dominant have-not/wealth-takers and their increasingly dominant political representatives­.

Of course there must be a mathematical end to this form of social, political and economic psychopathology. When the money runs out, there will most likely be hell to pay in the currency of social rioting resulting from the psychological principle of extinction-produced aggression, as is now seen in Europe in the first decade of the 21st Century.

Basic 20th Century principles of human behavior (the science of psychology), easily predicts such socioculturally destructive outcomes. The history of failed Marxist/Leninist-Communist, Socialist, Progressive revolutions and evolutions provide strong corroborating testimony to these psychological predictions.

So now the greatest question emerges: Why do obviously intelligent social and political social leaders embrace the unattainable Marxist/Leninist­­-Communist, Socialist, Progressive pipe-dream?

The obvious answer is that they are not interested in long-term outcomes for their Socioculture. Rather, they are interested in the personal gains of power and self-aggrandizement. But there is a much more elemental problem involved.

I judge that the most fundamental answer is that they disproportionately suffer from psychological disorders that predispose them to such irrational behavior.

Certain forms of human psychopathology best fit with the Marxist/Leninist/progressive impossible dream.  Where reality-testing, the human conscience, and social reciprocity fails, human psychopathology too often succeeds.

Psychopathology can take many forms and I will only mention the forms that appear to me to be most frequently associated with both the impossible dream-leaders and their followers. No one that I know of has done systematic norm-referenced personality testing on these populations to empirically derive such information. Therefore, my theory is only based upon my readings in history, training and experiences as an academic and practicing psychologist, and my 70 years of life-experiences.   I suggest the following:

Marxist/Leninist/socialist leaders frequently show an all-consuming obsessive/compulsive quest for domination and control of the masses. They seek self-aggrandizement, as most leaders do, but they commonly show Narcissistic Personality Disorder levels of self-love, adoration and the need to be worshipped by others.

That they often lie, cheat, and deceive; or persecute, imprison and kill their opposition; or foment civil or interstate war to achieve their goals is suggestive of Antisocial Personality Disorder. That they often torture and even kill thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of their fellow-citizens who they suspect may threaten their dream suggests features of Paranoid Personality Disorder, and also Sadistic Personality Disorder.

Marxist/Leninist Followers seek to have their pathological dependency (Dependent Personality Disorder) needs met by relying on others for their sustenance and well-fare. There are numerous psychopathologies that tend to be associated with Dependent Personality Disorder. These are Anxiety Disorders, Depressive Disorders, and Alcohol or Substance Abuse and Dependency Disorders to name only a few.

I am deeply saddened that the science of psychology commonly does not get the attention and respect that it deserves and that it’s products are not more often used to improve our lives. You may wonder why I am deeply saddened, rather than just simply saddened.

I am deeply saddened that humanity’s ignorance about psychology’s basic principles of human conditioning, learning and motivation condemns countless billions of humans to tragic, even horrific sociocultural outcomes, over and over again, like a broken record…with no end in sight.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.


Transgender Social Problems, Etc.: Good Luck America!!

March 22, 2012

Transgender Social Problems, Etc.: Good Luck America!

Following yesterdays blog on Gay Rights two individuals on my blog list wrote me and asked that I remove their name from my list. One called me closed-minded, intolerant and unChristian.

I guess that I just touched the “third rail” of our cultural revolution. Ninety-eight people read my blog yesterday perhaps. Perhaps more will email me and request to be removed from my blog list. I will immediately and respectfully do so .

I know it’s not easy to think aboutthis matter. But for those who support the purposeful social engineering of radically blurred traditional psychosexual roles, welcome to the social anarchy and chaos that awaits us in the 21 st. century.

There is a very big and powerful  learning mechanism studied by social psychologist called modeling and imitation. Put simply, we imitate what we see others do. Monkey see, monkey do— and we are the monkeys.

The gay and lesbian political movement trumpets that homosexual behavior is all biological. I would not be surprised if there were a genetic component in many who live an enduring homosexual life-style and there is some evidence to support that theory.

However, there is overwhelming evidence that sexual values and appetites are also conditionable and that their frequency of occurrence within a population can be learned by imitating others who prominently display their homosexual behaviors and values. All of this, of course, will be vividly amplified and made explicit through our liberally-biased media, judicial system and government.

Sociocultures are infinitely plastic. But they cannot be so, willy-nilly, and expect to survive. What the universe will reward amongst its sociocultures is clearly not infinite. Only the uneducated, the naive, or the dream-locked ideologue could believe that.

For societies to reinforce what you see in the following two videos, and all maladaptive things similar,  in the name of freedom and open-mindedness, is to increase the rate of its occurrence within their populations. Only be then will it be discovered that their society can no longer cope in a hostile and pernicious universe.

But the discovery will probably come to late.

Let us not be so open-minded that our brains fall out.

I have, at best, only another decade to observe America’s radical social experiments and their summating outcomes, which fuels our continued decline.

I continue to fear for my children and grandchildren.

Good Luck America!

See what you think in the videos below.

This next video can be viewed (amplified by the media) as funny. But lots of little boys want to grow up to be fire-fighters. Monkey see, monkey do.

VTM, 3/22/12

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