ACCEPTANCE - RKC

There is much discussion of the misunderstandings and rejection of the
Perceptual Control Theory of Behavior. It is suggested that various
rebuttals be composed and published.

The objects of these concerns are people -- themselves Hierarchical
Control Systems. If PCT theory is useful, it should provide guidance as
to how best to accomplish our mutual goal: acceptance. In general the
reactions to be expected are predictable: "it is ignored," "it is useless,
it offers nothing we don't already know," "it is wrong," "it is only
putting our present activities into modern terms." Various explanations
and excuses are proposed. The audience has its own goals, interests,
concepts, theoretical constructs, problems. It does not need additional,
unusual, unfamiliar material. Hence the proposed ideas are compared to
the previously accepted structures and fitted in where possible --
"understood." Where they do not fit they are rejected with reasons
(sometimes) given. We generally think (feel?) the given reasons reveal a
"failure to understand" the offered ideas.

My own experience, 30 years ago, was the reception of my paper, "How can
the Scientist Help the Psychotherapist?" Clark and McFarland, American
Academy of Psychotherapists, October, 1962. I expected this 30 minute
invited paper to result in a variety of questions, rebuttals, rejections,
arguments, etc. Instead I found the typical comment, from representatives
of several major theories was as noted above, "It is only putting our
activities into modern terms." We did have several interesting discussions
afterward, but the exercise led nowhere.

How is this situation to be overcome? If we want our ideas to be used, we
must show where they help solve other people's problems, that is, help
them achieve the goals they are already working on. What are their
motives, their higher order objectives? We should show where PCT fits
into and contributes to their ideas. We should compliment them on their
knowledge and insights. We should use Positive Feedback, which, we know,
tends to result in increasing the supportive behavior.

Behavior perceived as attack results in defense, retreat or return of
attack. Such conflicts may be fun for the winner, but often result in
losses on both sides. Examples abound.

Regards,
Bob Clark