Behavioral consequence, or perception

[from Mary Powers 941208]

Bruce Abbot says:

     It is the fact that a behavior PRODUCES the reward that
     leads to the repetition of the behavior. However, "the
     behavior" is NOT to be defined as a particular set of muscle
     contractions, but rather as a goal-directed activity
     mediated by several layers of perceptual control systems
     (e.g., pulling on a string). And whether some consequence of
     behavior serves to "reward" or "punish" behavior depends, of
     course on the effect of that consequence on controlled
     perceptual variables, relative to their reference levels.

I think this leads to the heart of the matter: what the hell is
behavior anyway? For traditional psychology, apparently, not any
particular set of muscle contractions, for, as PCT maintains, and
psychologists (I think) agree, no particular set of muscle
contractions ever repeats. One can either shrug this fact off and
redefine behavior as behavioral consequences, as psychology has
done, or consider it one of THE fundamental phenomena to be
explained, as PCT does.

One of the main points of PCT is that it proposes a mechanism by
which variable behavior leads to consistent perceived outcomes -
a mechanism in which in fact behavior MUST be variable in order
to do so.

But that outcome is a perception, not a behavioral consequence.

Bruce's model looks like this:

behavior -> behavioral consequence -> effect on perception

PCT says this:

behavior -> effect on perception

An organism does not, cannot, repeat behavior. It can, and does,
repeat the production of particular desired perceptions
(including the non-perception of an undesired state).

The construct "behavioral consequence" exists in the outside
observer, and ends up having many features attributed to it which
are actually internal to the organism. These include the
qualities of being a goal, and being rewarding or punishing.
Goals, rewards and punishments, however, do not exist in the
external world of behavioral consequences. They concern the state
of the relationship between reference and perceptual signals
inside the organism.

Dropping the idea of a behavioral consequence, along with all its
baggage, is the tough part of really understanding and accepting

Mary P.