# Conflict (was Re: Good Corporate Citizen)

[From Rick Marken (2005.10.28.1000)]

Bjorn Simonsen (2005.10.28,15:30 EuST) --

Rick, you explained thoughts also I have in a convincing way to me.

Thanks!

May also I ask a question?

From Rick Marken (2005.10.27.0900)
A person can be tolerant with respect to some goals and intolerant
with respect to others. In PCT terms, this means that a person
controls for some perceptions with low gain and for others with
high gain, respectively.

Could it also be with respect to the reference value? A person controls for
some perceptions with a not so high reference value for some goals and with a
high reference value for other goals.

Yes, I think this could work if the reference were set to zero, which in a
one way control system would mean that the system is no longer controlling
for that variable when there is no perception of that variable. So setting
the reference to zero would be like ceasing to control the conflicted
variable, which is equivalent to leaving the conflict.

But, in general, changing the reference signal from high to low will not
reduce conflict (at least, in terms of the PCT model of conflict). This is
because the value of the reference signal just specifies the intended state
of the controlled variable; it doesn't determine how hard the system will
work to get that variable to the reference.

rubber band demo. Assume that there are two different people, each with
their finger in a different loop of the knotted rubber bands and each trying
to keep the knot over different dots (targets). The value of the reference
signal in each person determines where each person wants to keep the knot --
the distance of the knot relative to the target dot. Assume two way control
systems so a zero reference setting results in error (and, thus, action)
when the knot is some distance in either direction from the target. The
result will be conflict, with each person pulling their rubber band end in
opposite directions to oppose each other's disturbance, regardless of the
setting of each person's reference (as long as the references specify even
slightly different reference positions for the knot).

The intensity of the conflict, at least in terms of the initial size of the
response to disturbance, is determined by the size of the _difference_
between the references setting in the two parties; the greater the
difference the more intense the initial response to disturbance because the
error signal in one or both parties start out very large. If the references
happen to be equal (in terms of the objective position of the controlled
variable, the knot) then there will be no conflict at all because both
parties are happy with the knot being in the same place. But the references
can be functionally equal in this way when their values are small (even zero
in this case) or large. So lowering the value of the reference signal does
not necessarily eliminate conflict.

The only way to eliminate conflict is by changing the value of the reference
signal is to change the reference signal so that it is functionally equal to
that of your opponent. So in the rubber band demo, the conflict will
disappear if one party decides to keep the knot where the other party wants
it. This could involve either raising or lowering the value of the
reference, depending on what gets the reference to be the same as the
opponent's.

Does this make sense?

Best regards

Rick

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Richard S. Marken
Home: 310 474 0313
Cell: 310 729 1400

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From [Marc Abrams (2005.10.28.2145)]

In a message dated 10/28/2005 1:07:45 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, marken@MINDREADINGS.COM writes:

[From Rick Marken (2005.10.28.1000)]
The only way to eliminate conflict is by changing the value of the reference
signal is to change the reference signal so that it is functionally equal to
that of your opponent. So in the rubber band demo, the conflict will
disappear if one party decides to keep the knot where the other party wants
it. This could involve either raising or lowering the value of the
reference, depending on what gets the reference to be the same as the
opponent’s.

Does this make sense?

Yes, but only from a PCT perspective, not necessarily from a controlled one.

People want their knots (references, to use the PCT vernacular) in specific places for very specific reasons.

In the rubber band demo you alleviate this very real problem with a very tidy solution. The participant just takes on the reference level you tell them to take on. That is, keep the knot on the dot, or to the left, or whatever, and compliance is there because keeping the knot on the dot has no significance to the participant at the time, so taking on a reference condition someone else wants is not an issue. This is rarely the case in the real world.

Number two, all concerned perceive the situation the same way. That is, of course you do not ask a blind person to do this test or a deaf one that can’t hear your instructions. The ideal that we all perceive things the same way is nonsense and was shown just yesterday with Rick and I and the definition of the word tolerance not to be the case. We each perceive; that is, understand, the world differently.

So to show the existence of control with a rubber band demo is fine. To try and generalize & extrapolate beyond that is dubious at best and intellectually dishonest at worst and I think trying to extend that to human conflict is a bit of a stretch. (no pun intended).

Yes, a conflict will disappear if one of the parties changes goals or simply breaks off contact with the other party. But does that even truly end the conflict? If so, why do we seem to hold grudges that can last for generations and in some cases, thousands of years.

WW I the war to end all wars?

To point to the rubber band demo as a real world example of how PCT can help stop conflict is a pretty weak one in my book. I think understanding the nature of conflict is extremely important and I believe control plays an extremely important part. I just don’t think a PCT perspective as stated by Rick is very useful, and I’m not sure any PCT explanation might be useful at this point because I’m not sure whether PCT is intended to be a science of perceptual control, or a pet psych theory of one man?

If it is intended to be a science then there are no competing theories, just complementary ones, because as I said yesterday, if control is the foundation of purposeful human behavior, than all other inquiry into PHB by this very fact must be talking about some aspects of the control process. So it seems to me it would behoove us to understand what those aspects are from the various theories in the various social science domains. Which would of course include much work done on conflict.

On the other hand if PCT is simply a pet psych theory that someone is looking to advocate so he can ‘win’, and be ‘right’, than you certainly don’t want to encourage inquiry, nor consider other lines of thinking. After all, these things provide a threat and a possible ‘loss’, and an attempt will be made to show that PCT has a unique way of dealing with conflict that other theories just can’t match.

But here is where I have a very difficult time understanding the logic involved. If per chance, someone were to come up with a better idea, would not that advance the science or understanding of PCT or control and PHB? Wouldn’t we all be better off? What is being ‘protected’ by cutting off inquiry? Who is being protected, and why & from what do they need protection?

Do you like these questions Bjorn? Maybe you have an answer or two.

So my question here is what am I doing that is causing mistrust on CSGnet, and how can I adversely affect PCT by trying to generate discussions that might provide some needed insight into some important issues?

Is it because you don’t ‘like’ me? You don’t know me. How can you like or dislike anything you don’t know anything about? Easy, you imagine what the other person is like (me) and base your beliefs on your imagination.

All sounds reasonable to me.

[Martin Taylor 2005.10.31.00.42]

[From Rick Marken (2005.10.28.1000)]

The only way to eliminate conflict is by changing the value of the reference
signal is to change the reference signal so that it is functionally equal to

"Only"?

What about reducing the gain to zero, in other words finding other ways to bring the higher-level perception to its (non-conflicting) reference level while leaving this one at whatever level that the othe person is controlling for it to be. To my mind, that's a much more common way of eliminating conflict in the real world.

Martin

[From Rick Marken (2005.10.31.0810)]

Martin Taylor (2005.10.31.00.42)--

Rick Marken (2005.10.28.1000)

The only way to eliminate conflict is by changing the value of the reference
signal is to change the reference signal so that it is functionally equal to

"Only"?

What about reducing the gain to zero..

In my poorly constructed sentence above I was only taking about how to
eliminate conflict by changing one's reference (goal). Of course, you can
also eliminate conflict by reducing the gain of a system on one side of the
conflict to zero.

Best

Rick

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Richard S. Marken