Bizarro PCT

[From Rick Marken (990822.2200)]

I think that the first book by Carver and Scheier describing
their research based on what we now call PCT came out in about
1981. I read the book back then and remember finding it strange
that these authors did all this work based on what as clearly a
rather bizarro version of Powers' theory.

Now I find that the Carver - Scheier version of PCT is a whole
field called "self regulation"; there are now a large number of
papers written by Carver, Scheier. Lord and many others that
describe research that is purportely based on PCT. What strikes
me as rather interesting is that, to my knowledge, none of the
journals in which these papers were published ever solicited
a review from the main expert on Powers' theory -- W. T Powers
himself. Is that true Bill? If this is not true, could you
give me the gist of hat you said about those papers you were
asked to review?

Thanks

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken/

[From Jeff Vancouver 990823.1052 EST]

regarding Rick Marken (990822.2200)

Rick,

C&S's version of PCT is not the whole field called self-regulation. Indeed,
if you were to survey social/personality/health/organization/educational
psychologists on the most representative theory of self-regulation,
Bandura's social cognitive theory would likely win hands down (with C&S
coming in second). The "bazarreness" comes in a large part from the
amalgamation of Miller, Galanter, and Pribrim's TOTE model(and the theories
of others) with PCT . You may have noticed that C&S give MG&P primary
credit for introducing the negative feedback model to psychology, which is
probably fair (this is not to say that their model was first or better, just
that it had more of an impact than PCT).

You should be careful to recognize the narrowness of C&S within psychology.
They note that the cybernetic model is an integral part of motor control and
physiological motivation (e.g., hunger) theories, but that they are not
really looking at these models. Their interest is in the higher levels in
Power's hierarchy, but their take on how that might work is infused with
their own ideas and the ideas of others. This is merely the age-old issue
of the student (trying) to go beyond the master. You cannot begrudge the
attempt (unless they mis-represent the master, of which I have seen no
evidence - so far I have only read the first 2 and second to last chapters),
but you can seek to address the differences.

Finally, and probably what you do not want to hear, is that some of the
differences might be reasonable. Because they are interested in the
higher-levels, issues of degrees of freedom, which tend to force a more
serial model might have greater play. I am not endorsing their executive
function component (even they question it in the second to last chapter). I
am merely suggesting that control might have some qualitatively different
features at those higher levels. They are speculating about those features
(and they make clear they are speculating). One of the points I try to make
is that PCT also speculates about those features (e.g., imagination mode),
and it might serve all to look at PCT's speculations more closely (for
example in my SR chapter).

Jeff

···

-----Original Message-----
From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet)
[mailto:CSGNET@POSTOFFICE.CSO.UIUC.EDU]On Behalf Of Rick Marken
Sent: Monday, August 23, 1999 2:01 AM
To: CSGNET@POSTOFFICE.CSO.UIUC.EDU
Subject: Bizarro PCT

I think that the first book by Carver and Scheier describing
their research based on what we now call PCT came out in about
1981. I read the book back then and remember finding it strange
that these authors did all this work based on what as clearly a
rather bizarro version of Powers' theory.

Now I find that the Carver - Scheier version of PCT is a whole
field called "self regulation"; there are now a large number of
papers written by Carver, Scheier. Lord and many others that
describe research that is purportely based on PCT. What strikes
me as rather interesting is that, to my knowledge, none of the
journals in which these papers were published ever solicited
a review from the main expert on Powers' theory -- W. T Powers
himself. Is that true Bill? If this is not true, could you
give me the gist of hat you said about those papers you were
asked to review?

Thanks

Rick
--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken/

[From Bill Powers (990823.0856 MDT)]

Rick Marken (990822.2200)--

Now I find that the Carver - Scheier version of PCT is a whole
field called "self regulation"; there are now a large number of
papers written by Carver, Scheier. Lord and many others that
describe research that is purportely based on PCT. What strikes
me as rather interesting is that, to my knowledge, none of the
journals in which these papers were published ever solicited
a review from the main expert on Powers' theory -- W. T Powers
himself. Is that true Bill? If this is not true, could you
give me the gist of hat you said about those papers you were
asked to review?

Since Carver & Scheier wrote their first book on this subject, I've never
been asked to review any papers in their field.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (990823.1320)]

Jeff Vancouver (990823.1052 EST) --

C&S's version of PCT is not the whole field called self-regulation.

I know. But they are the one's who seem to be the most explicit
in their use of Powers' model. They refer to Powers a lot and they
even use PCT terminology: reference, perception, action, etc.

You may have noticed that C&S give MG&P primary credit for introducing
the negative feedback model to psychology, which is probably fair

Miller, Galanter and Pribrum (MG&P) published "PLans and the Structure
of Behavior" in about 1965; Powers' first publication on PCT was in
1960 (in either _Psychological Reports_ or _Perceptual and Motor
Skills_).
I suspect that the earliest introduction of the negative feedback model
to psychology was by a British psychologist named Craik during WW II.

Their [Carver and Scheier's] interest is in the higher levels in
Power's hierarchy, but their take on how that might work is infused with
their own ideas and the ideas of others. This is merely the age-old issue
of the student (trying) to go beyond the master.

It would have been nice if the students had gotten to where the master
was before trying to go beyond him. From what I've seen, C&S's model
of the "higher levels" is just a bunch of cause-effect gobbledygook.
Are C&S going beyond the "master" when they present evidence that
"self focus" engages a comparator that causes people to be more
willing to take certain actions?

You cannot begrudge the attempt (unless they mis-represent the master

I can and they do.

Finally, and probably what you do not want to hear, is that some
of the differences might be reasonable.

I judge the quality of a control model by how well it explains
control, not by how reasonable it seems. As far as I can tell,
C&S have never tested their model (such as it is) in terms of
its ability to explain control; so I have no idea whether the
C&S model is better or worse than the good ol' PCT model.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates mailto: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

from Phil Runkel on 23 Aug 99:

Since Carver & Scheier wrote their first book on this subject, I've never
been asked to review any papers in their field.

I deplore that fact, but I can't say I am surprised. A psychologist who
borrows a theory or a part of a theory from an originator almost always
takes the stand that he or she is improving on the original. (And usually
takes the stand that the originator should be honored to receive the
Borrower's attention.) Suppose the Editor asks the Originator whether the
Borrower has it right. Suppose the Originator says no. And the Borrower
says, "Of course I am not doing it the way the Originator did it. I am
improving on it." What is the editor to do? The tradition in mainstream
psychology, like the tradition in many other academic fields, is that
everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. So who can say that the
Originator is right? If you say yes, but can he build a working model,
that conception is simply not, I think, in the imagination of any editor
except MM Taylor and RS Marken. And to stick his neck out and CHOOSE the
criterion of a working model would get the Editor run out of the
discipline on a rail.

I sympathize. I deplore. I protest. I weep. And so it goes. --Phil R.

···

On Mon, 23 Aug 1999, Bill Powers wrote:

[From Bruce Gregory (990824.0700 EDT)]

Phil Runkel on 23 Aug 99:

So who can say that the
Originator is right? If you say yes, but can he build a working model,
that conception is simply not, I think, in the imagination of any editor
except MM Taylor and RS Marken. And to stick his neck out and CHOOSE the
criterion of a working model would get the Editor run out of the
discipline on a rail.

I sympathize. I deplore. I protest. I weep. And so it goes. --Phil R.

Sigh.... I fear you are all too correct. I think even the idea of a working
model is alien to most of the psychological community, who do not
differentiate between models and stories. All psychological "theories" (with
one important exception) seem to me to be stories.

Bruce Gregory

[from Jeff Vancouver 990824.0815 EST]

Last night I got to chapter 3 in Carver & Scheier. That is the chapter on
the self-awareness, self-focus, self-hocus, pocus stuff. In other words,
bizarro. Just like the first time I read this stuff in their '81 book, I
cannot understand what their research tells us. Unlike Rick and Phil, I
still have some faith in the between-subjects experiment. The aggregation of
the data is worrisome, but I think explainable (i.e., not random). Whether
the correct explanation is the one C&S give I do not know. But I find that
the evidence they present is too far from the point they are trying to make.

From Phil Runkel on 23 Aug 99:

Since Carver & Scheier wrote their first book on this subject, I've never
been asked to review any papers in their field.

I deplore that fact, but I can't say I am surprised.

I was somewhat surprised to here this too, but then I thought about it some
more. Bill P. has not been publishing in the journals in which these
articles were written, or even in related social-personality journals. The
closest was the '78 Psych Review, which probably should have gotten him on
at least one review list, but I do not think it merits a condemnation of the
editorial establishment.

A psychologist who
borrows a theory or a part of a theory from an originator almost always
takes the stand that he or she is improving on the original. (And usually
takes the stand that the originator should be honored to receive the
Borrower's attention.) Suppose the Editor asks the Originator whether the
Borrower has it right. Suppose the Originator says no. And the Borrower
says, "Of course I am not doing it the way the Originator did it. I am
improving on it." What is the editor to do? The tradition in mainstream
psychology, like the tradition in many other academic fields, is that
everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. So who can say that the
Originator is right?

Phil, had Bill reviewed some of this work he would not have simply said x
was an incorrect interpretation of his model but why x does not make sense.
In other words, an editor would not rely on the word of the originator, but
on the power of his or her arguments. From what I have seen, Bill's are
extremely powerful.

If you say yes, but can he build a working model,
that conception is simply not, I think, in the imagination of any editor
except MM Taylor and RS Marken. And to stick his neck out and CHOOSE the
criterion of a working model would get the Editor run out of the
discipline on a rail.

With all do respect Phil, horse hockey. Much of cognitive psychology loves
working models (of course cognitive psychology is a small minority in the
psychological community). In this case it is, if I may generalize a bit,
social-personality that would not know what to do with a working model. But
I believe that if you sell it correctly (i.e., know your audience), even
social-personality journals might be persuaded. It would depend on who the
reviewers and editors were of course. In general, there is a devision
between the modeling schools (e.g., MIT, Carnegie-Melon) and the verbal
schools (e.g., Yale).

From Rick Marken (990823.1320)]

C&S's version of PCT is not the whole field called self-regulation.

I know. But they are the one's who seem to be the most explicit
in their use of Powers' model. They refer to Powers a lot and they
even use PCT terminology: reference, perception, action, etc.

Agreed.

You may have noticed that C&S give MG&P primary credit for introducing
the negative feedback model to psychology, which is probably fair

Miller, Galanter and Pribrum (MG&P) published "PLans and the Structure
of Behavior" in about 1965; Powers' first publication on PCT was in
1960 (in either _Psychological Reports_ or _Perceptual and Motor
Skills_).
I suspect that the earliest introduction of the negative feedback model
to psychology was by a British psychologist named Craik during WW II.

Plans was published in 1960. Same year as Bill and gang (it was P&MS). We
explicited noted this in the goal construct paper (but C&S apparently did
not notice). Before Craik was Cannon, and before Cannon was some guy Cziko
likes to talk about (whose name I cannot remember). But again, having just
finished chapter 3, I see that it is the Wicklund & Duval research that
partially accounts for the bizarreness of C&S. In other words, it appears
they were trying to give a different explanation to a very specific finding
having to do with a mirror. It seems (from what I have read so far), that
where they get bizarre is in trying to shoe horn PCT into the "self-focus"
effect.

Their [Carver and Scheier's] interest is in the higher levels in
Power's hierarchy, but their take on how that might work is infused with
their own ideas and the ideas of others. This is merely the age-old

issue

of the student (trying) to go beyond the master.

It would have been nice if the students had gotten to where the master
was before trying to go beyond him. From what I've seen, C&S's model
of the "higher levels" is just a bunch of cause-effect gobbledygook.
Are C&S going beyond the "master" when they present evidence that
"self focus" engages a comparator that causes people to be more
willing to take certain actions?

I would emphasize the _trying_ here. Your job, should you choose to accept
it, is to explain why they found what they found and why your interpretation
is consistent with a different model of negative feedback loops (although
obviously a speculative alternative explanation since it was not what was
tested). This is what you did with your behavioral illusion demo. I think
that is powerful stuff. The irony here is that C&S's explanation is
presumably negative feedback. So far, I have only gotten to the point where
it seems very problematic to interpret their findings as they did (I do not
understand how a manipulation which presumably focuses attention on the self
improves the comparison process for a specific control unit relevant to some
specific task, see p. 34). So, although I can have problems with their
interpretations, I cannot offer an alternative that is actually
PCT-compatible (which I interpret as my shortcoming, not PCTs). But given
the social-personality audience, you cannot simple ignore their findings
(e.g., calling it gobbledygook) and simply having problems with their
interpretation only undermines control theory in the short run. It might be
reasonable to settle for that last state, but I would rather provide a true
PCT-consistent explanation, and some data to back it up. Until I (or
someone) can do that, I am leaving the self-focus stuff alone.

I anticipate, given other stuff I have read by C&S, that I will have great
misgivings about the "executive" control they suggest, and the narrowness of
the affect stuff. What I will look for is whether they attribute those
"ideas" to PCT (see below).

You cannot begrudge the attempt (unless they mis-represent the master

I can and they do.

You cannot begrudge the attempt. You can certainly begrudge the result!

In terms of mis-representation. I would be interested in your (or anyone
elses) opinions about that. So far, I have found 2 possible incidents, but
they are arguably not a misrepresentation.

1) In the figure on page 32, they call the reference signal a "standard for
behavior." This is inconsistent with their own description of control of
perception and their label for the results of the input function
("perception of effects of your behavior"). This problem with switching
behavior and perception also shows up in the title. But rather than arguing
that this is a mis-representation of PCT, I would argue that this is an
inconsistency within C&S's explanation, an inconsistency that PCT does not
suffer from.

2) On p. 76 (I skipped ahead a little bit) they claim that Powers claims
that the hierarchy takes on a digital quality at the program level. My read
of PCT is that a unit _can_ be digital (no matter where it is), but that we
are more likely to see that at higher levels like the program level.
However, I think that if I were Miller et al., I would be more upset. In
that same section they claim that "the sense of this [Miller et al's]
discussion is very similar to the arguments that Powers made about the
hierarchy he proposed" (p. 77). This sounds like something I would have
said a few years ago. Where is the science in "sense of this discussion."

If I find more I will post them. If anyone finds more, I would appreciate
knowing.

Finally, and probably what you do not want to hear, is that some
of the differences might be reasonable.

I judge the quality of a control model by how well it explains
control, not by how reasonable it seems. As far as I can tell,
C&S have never tested their model (such as it is) in terms of
its ability to explain control; so I have no idea whether the
C&S model is better or worse than the good ol' PCT model.

I judge the quality of a psychological model by how well it explains human
behavior. Judging on the quality to which a model is a control model does
not play well to psychological audiences. In other words, I use the term
reasonable in relation to the perceptions I am trying to control. Sorry for
the confusion.

Later

Jeff

···

On Mon, 23 Aug 1999, Bill Powers wrote:

[From Bruce Gregory (990824.1003 EDT)]

Jeff Vancouver 990824.0815 EST

I judge the quality of a psychological model by how well it
explains human
behavior.

Leaving it up to the reader to decide what "explains" means?

Most psychological explanations rely on being more or less plausible.
Physicists have long accepted that the best models are often quite
implausible. I'm reading at an article right now that begins with one of
my favorite quotes from Freeman Dyson:

"Thirty-one years ago Dick Feynman told me about his "sum over
histories" version of quantum mechanics. "The electron does anything it
likes," he said. "It just goes in any direction at any speed,...however
it likes, and then you add up the amplitudes and it gives you the
wave-function." "I said to him, "You're crazy." But he wasn't."

Of course Dyson decided that Feynman wasn't crazy when he discovered
that Feynman's approach "works". It let's you predict how nature will
behave.

Judging on the quality to which a model is a
control model does
not play well to psychological audiences.

No real surprise, since they don't seem to be aware that there is
anything that needs explaining. Physicists would be in a similar bind if
they ignored the phenomenon of gravity.

Bruce Gregory

[From Bruce Gregory (990824.1034 EDT)]

···

At 10:05 AM 08/24/1999 -0400, you wrote:

>I'm reading at an article right now that begins with one of
>my favorite quotes from Freeman Dyson:

What's the article?

"Teaching Feynman's sum-over-paths quantum theory" by Edwin F. Taylor,
et al. Available as a PDF file from
http://www.artsaxis.com/eftaylor/feynman.html

Bruce Gregory

[From Bill Powers (990824.0906 MDT)]

Jeff Vancouver 990824.0815 EST--

On the Carver and Scheier "self-focus" stuff:

A few years ago, I called up Carver and asked if he had considered
attending a CSG meeting, saying he would be welcome. He turned me down. I
asked about the mirror-self-focus effect in the first book, and he said,
approximately, "Oh, we don't do that stuff any more." Now I hear that in
the new book it's all back.

It's not just this particular idea that bothers me. In this field (whatever
it's called -- personality theory?), there are frequent assertions that
some simple objective measure is an indicator of an inner state, without
the slightest proof that it is. It's as though I decided that each time you
scratch your head you are puzzled, and then went on to treat observations
of head-scratching as if they were observations of your puzzlement. C&S go
further than that: they don't have to establish that a person is
specifically looking at himself or herself in the mirror; the mere presence
of the mirror in the same room is enough to increase self-awareness. Of
course lacking any independent measure of self-awareness, they have no way
to test their basic assertion that the presence of the mirror increases it.

This is not science as I know it.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (990824.0840)]

Jeff Vancouver (990824.0815 EST) --

Bill P. has not been publishing in the journals in which these articles
were written, or even in related social-personality journals.

The fact that Powers has never been asked to review _any_ of the papers
based on his model is just plain rude.

Before Craik was Cannon, and before Cannon was some guy Cziko
likes to talk about (whose name I cannot remember).

Cannon did seem to know that certain physiological variables are
controlled; but he didn't know how this could happen (because
he didn't have control _theory_); so he certainly isn't responsible
for "introducing the negative feedback model to psychology". Darwin
(the guy Cziko likes to talk about) didn't even know what control
was. His natural selection model of evolution is _not_ a control
model; it's a passive filtering model. Filtering is a cause-effect,
not a control process. Powers is the first to propose a control
model of evolution; evolution is the control of intrinsic variables.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to explain why they [C&S]
found what they found

I choose not to accept it. Since C&S did not test for controlled variables
one subject at a time there is no way to make sense of their results in
terms of a control model.

So far, I have only gotten to the point where it seems very problematic
to interpret their findings as they did (I do not understand how a
manipulation which presumably focuses attention on the self
improves the comparison process for a specific control unit relevant
to some specific task, see p. 34).

This "problem of interpretation" is a problem of making sense of their
verbal model, not their data. The only way to eliminate the "problem"
is to have C&S implement their model as a working model. That's their
responsibility, not yours. They are the ones saying "this is my model
and it predicts this data". Obviously they can say whatever they like.
But, since they have no working model (only words) we have no idea
whether their data actually is consistent with their model.

In terms of mis-representation. I would be interested in your (or
anyone elses) opinions about that.

The two points you mention are, indeed, important misrepresentations
of PCT. Their cause-effect bias obviously led them to look at PCT as
a "control of output (behavior)" model. This is really their fundamental
misconception about PCT; it results from their failure to understand
that PCT starts with a reconceptualization of behavior itself; behavior
(purposeful behavior) _is_ control. PCT shows that the word "behavior is
ambiguous; it refers to both _actions_ and controlled _results_ of those
actions. PCT should enter the picture _after_ one has figured out what
purposeful behavior (control) _is_. C&S are a wonderful example of what
happens when people get excited about PCT as a model of behavior
_before_
they understand the phenomenon that PCT explains.

I judge the quality of a psychological model by how well it explains
human behavior.

That's the problem; if you judge a model by how well it explains
"behavior" as conventionally understood -- ie., as caused output -
then when you compare PCT to other psychological models you will
be comparing apples and oranges. PCT is a model of purposeful
behavior: control. Conventional psychological models are _not_
models of control and the research that tests these models reveals
little or nothing about whatever controlling the subjects may be
doing.

Judging on the quality to which a model is a control model does
not play well to psychological audiences.

That's the fact, Jack. That's because psychological audiences
don't know what control is or how to study it. A model that
explains something that doesn't exist in psychology (controlled
variables) is not going to play well with psychological audiences.
These audiences have to be educated; they have to learn to see the
controlling that people (and other living systems) do before they
can be expected to be interested in a theory that explains this
controlling.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates mailto: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[From Bill Powers (990824.1129 MDT)]

Bruce Gregory (990824.1034 EDT)--

What's the article?

"Teaching Feynman's sum-over-paths quantum theory" by Edwin F. Taylor,
et al. Available as a PDF file from
http://www.artsaxis.com/eftaylor/feynman.html

Not available to me! It asks for a password and username, or invites me to
purchase the article.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (990824.1124 MDT)]

Rick Marken (990824.0840)--

Jeff V. says

Before Craik was Cannon, and before Cannon was some guy Cziko
likes to talk about (whose name I cannot remember).

Marken says

Darwin
(the guy Cziko likes to talk about) didn't even know what control
was.

The one is question was Claude Bernard, not Darwin.

His natural selection model of evolution is _not_ a control

model; it's a passive filtering model.

Claude Bernard knew nothing about negative feedback, but he did see that
the "milieu interieur" [SP?] was actively maintained -- somehow -- in a
stable condition.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Jeff Vancouver 990824.1420 EST]

[From Bill Powers (990824.1124 MDT)]

Rick Marken (990824.0840)--

Jeff V. says

Before Craik was Cannon, and before Cannon was some guy Cziko
likes to talk about (whose name I cannot remember).

The one is question was Claude Bernard, not Darwin.

Yes, that was who I meant. And, yes, he was pre-negative feedback model. Of
course there was Wiener and Ashby. But I suppose we should not go there.

Jeff

[from Jeff Vancouver 990824.1440 EST]

Bill Powers (990824.0906 MDT)]

On the Carver and Scheier "self-focus" stuff:

A few years ago, I called up Carver and asked if he had considered
attending a CSG meeting, saying he would be welcome. He turned me down. I
asked about the mirror-self-focus effect in the first book, and he said,
approximately, "Oh, we don't do that stuff any more." Now I hear that in
the new book it's all back.

More in a historical sense, although they clearly take it seriously.

It's not just this particular idea that bothers me. In this field (whatever
it's called -- personality theory?),

Personality theory is a reasonable moniker

. . . there are frequent assertions that
some simple objective measure is an indicator of an inner state, without
the slightest proof that it is. It's as though I decided that each time you
scratch your head you are puzzled, and then went on to treat observations
of head-scratching as if they were observations of your puzzlement. C&S go
further than that: they don't have to establish that a person is
specifically looking at himself or herself in the mirror; the mere presence
of the mirror in the same room is enough to increase self-awareness. Of
course lacking any independent measure of self-awareness, they have no way
to test their basic assertion that the presence of the mirror increases it.

They do have independent measures, but they are self-report and therefore
suspect for other reasons. However, the basic issue you describe is
construct validity. Does some measure or manipulation really measure or
manipulate what it proports to measure or manipulate (and only that thing).
This is a big concern, always a fair criticism, and often made. It plays
well on psychological audiences. But it plays better if you have an
alternative construct that you think is being measured or manipulated that
accounts for the findings. Otherwise, the complaint seems like sour grapes.
In psychology we all know there is no such thing as the perfect study. But
it is true that some transgressions are worse than others and it is often
amazing what makes it through (and what does not).

Jeff

[From Jeff Vancouver 990824.1455 EST]

Bruce Gregory (990824.1003 EDT)]

me

I judge the quality of a psychological model by how well it
explains human
behavior.

Leaving it up to the reader to decide what "explains" means?

Most psychological explanations rely on being more or less plausible.
Physicists have long accepted that the best models are often quite
implausible. I'm reading at an article right now that begins with one of
my favorite quotes from Freeman Dyson:

"Thirty-one years ago Dick Feynman told me about his "sum over
histories" version of quantum mechanics. "The electron does anything it
likes," he said. "It just goes in any direction at any speed,...however
it likes, and then you add up the amplitudes and it gives you the
wave-function." "I said to him, "You're crazy." But he wasn't."

Of course Dyson decided that Feynman wasn't crazy when he discovered
that Feynman's approach "works". It let's you predict how nature will
behave.

By explain I, and psychology, mean predict how nature (in this case humans)
will behave. One problem, often pointed out on this list, is that the
behavior a theory is asked to explain is static and aggregated (across
individuals or time). This should be your complaint.

Regarding implausible theories. I would guess that all the more "plausible"
theories were eliminated because they did not comform to data. Is that not
the game, Sherlock, find the least implausible theory?

Me:

Judging on the quality to which a model is a
control model does
not play well to psychological audiences.

Bruce:

No real surprise, since they don't seem to be aware that there is
anything that needs explaining. Physicists would be in a similar bind if
they ignored the phenomenon of gravity.

When no theory is well accepted (as is generally the case in psychology), no
theory can be used as a criteria for evaluating. The shame is that control
theory is not such a model in psychology (actually, I believe it is in some
circles beyond this one).

Jeff

[from Jeff Vancouver 990824.1500 est.]

Rick Marken (990824.0840)]

The fact that Powers has never been asked to review _any_ of the papers
based on his model is just plain rude.

I will grant you that.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to explain why they [C&S]
found what they found

I choose not to accept it. Since C&S did not test for controlled variables
one subject at a time there is no way to make sense of their results in
terms of a control model.

Yes, I figured. BTW, you disrespect is showing.

So far, I have only gotten to the point where it seems very problematic
to interpret their findings as they did (I do not understand how a
manipulation which presumably focuses attention on the self
improves the comparison process for a specific control unit relevant
to some specific task, see p. 34).

This "problem of interpretation" is a problem of making sense of their
verbal model, not their data. The only way to eliminate the "problem"
is to have C&S implement their model as a working model. That's their
responsibility, not yours. They are the ones saying "this is my model
and it predicts this data". Obviously they can say whatever they like.
But, since they have no working model (only words) we have no idea
whether their data actually is consistent with their model.

We have had this discussion before. Psychology, and I think science in
general, is impressed by the ability of a theory to explain a finding that
cannot be explained by conventional wisdom. In other words, ones theory
must conform to data. Simply saying that the extant data is irrelevant does
not play well in any science. To show that your theory can easily explain
the extant data, but with a substantially different structure than any
previous theory (or where no theory existed), plus it explains additional
data that the old theory cannot explain makes an impact. The impact is to
evidentially find the original data pretty uninteresting. Your behavioral
illusion demo does this with aplomb. Until we can do it with the self-focus
stuff, I would say, let it go.

In terms of mis-representation. I would be interested in your (or
anyone elses) opinions about that.

The two points you mention are, indeed, important misrepresentations
of PCT. Their cause-effect bias obviously led them to look at PCT as
a "control of output (behavior)" model. This is really their fundamental
misconception about PCT; it results from their failure to understand
that PCT starts with a reconceptualization of behavior itself; behavior
(purposeful behavior) _is_ control. PCT shows that the word "behavior is
ambiguous; it refers to both _actions_ and controlled _results_ of those
actions. PCT should enter the picture _after_ one has figured out what
purposeful behavior (control) _is_. C&S are a wonderful example of what
happens when people get excited about PCT as a model of behavior
_before_
they understand the phenomenon that PCT explains.

Oops, you got stuck in that cause-effect groove again. It might be that a
bias affected their labeling of the figure we are talking about here. But
as I stated, they are clear in earlier sections that the issue is the
control of perception. Whether the mistake they make in the figure is made
when the interpret their results needs to be looked at carefully. How badly
the mistake effects the interpretability of the studies they design is
another issue.

I judge the quality of a psychological model by how well it explains
human behavior.

That's the problem; if you judge a model by how well it explains
"behavior" as conventionally understood -- ie., as caused output -

Boo! I am hoping that will scare you out of your groove. I am not
referring to behavior in the "conventional" sense. I am referring to it in
the sense Bill P. did in the title of his book.

Judging on the quality to which a model is a control model does
not play well to psychological audiences.

That's the fact, Jack. That's because psychological audiences
don't know what control is or how to study it. A model that
explains something that doesn't exist in psychology (controlled
variables) is not going to play well with psychological audiences.
These audiences have to be educated; they have to learn to see the
controlling that people (and other living systems) do before they
can be expected to be interested in a theory that explains this
controlling.

Yes, they have to be educated. It is a slow, careful process of tying the
experiences (perceptions) of the learner together in new ways that allow
them to see the power of PCT. The key is taking the learners' perspective.
Understanding the perceptions they have and figuring out how to encourage
them to be rearranged so that our perception that they understand PCT is
maintained (or at least achieved). Imagine, if we could prove we have
figured out how to do that, all this conversation would be mute.

Jeff

Chuck Tucker [990824]

In a message dated 8/24/99 2:52:22 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
vancouve@OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU writes:

<< They do have independent measures, but they are self-report and therefore
suspect for other reasons. However, the basic issue you describe is
construct validity. Does some measure or manipulation really measure or
manipulate what it proports to measure or manipulate (and only that thing).
This is a big concern, always a fair criticism, and often made. It plays
well on psychological audiences. But it plays better if you have an
alternative construct that you think is being measured or manipulated that
accounts for the findings. Otherwise, the complaint seems like sour grapes.
In psychology we all know there is no such thing as the perfect study. But
it is true that some transgressions are worse than others and it is often
amazing what makes it through (and what does not).
  >>

Would you please describe what they are measuring and how they measure it;
self-focus sounds like "looking-glass self"(Cooley) to me.

Regards,
            Chuck

[From Rick Marken (990824.1540)]

Jeff Vancouver (990824.1500 est.) --

To show that your theory can easily explain the extant data, but with
a substantially different structure than any previous theory (or where
no theory existed), plus it explains additional data that the old
theory cannot explain makes an impact.

But the extant data is not relevant to individual behavior, which is
what OCT is about. Moreover, there are no current theories that
_quantitatively_ explain the noisy group level data obtained by
C&S. So why should PCT have to explain data that other theories
can't explain?

Your behavioral illusion demo does this with aplomb.

This is _not_ what the behavioral illusion demo (which is Bill
Powers' brilliant discovery, not mine) does with aplomb. The
behavioral illusion shows that the form of (noise free) "organism"
functions (IV-DV relationships for individual organisms) are
actually the inverse of the feedback function when the organism
is a control system and the IV and DV are independent influences
on a controlled variable.

Oops, you got stuck in that cause-effect groove again. It might be that a
bias affected their labeling of the figure we are talking about here. But
as I stated, they are clear in earlier sections that the issue is the
control of perception.

If the "issue" is control of perception then why are C&S not doing
experiments to determine what perceptions individuals control?
It looks to me like the issue for C&S is always "does variable X
have an effect on variable Y"?

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates mailto: rmarken@earthlink.net
http://home.earthlink.net/~rmarken

[from Jeff Vancouver 990825.0855 EST]

Chuck Tucker [990824]

Would you please describe what they are measuring and how they measure it;
self-focus sounds like "looking-glass self"(Cooley) to me.

They used a measure called the self-consciousness scale. I could not find
the actual scale in their books or papers, but they cite Fenigstein,
Scheier, and Buss (1975). Public and private self-consciousness: assessment
and theory. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 43, 522-527.

Jeff