NYTimes.com: I Know How You're Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.03.1812)]

This is an interesting report on an article that was published in Science. It’s related to work I’ve done on Theory of Mind (Marken, R. S. (2013) Making Inferences about
Intention: Perceptual Control Theory as a “Theory of Mind” for Psychologists, Psychological Reports, 113) – though for some reason my work never made it to the front page of the NY Times. But, as you’ll see, this paper pretty transparently reveals that the work was based on the ol’ causal model of behavior: reading literary fiction causes people to make more accurate identifications of the emotional states of others. This article goes a long way towards explaining why PCT hasn’t yet hit the big time; people are still looking at behavior – even behavior that involves determining people’s purposes – as purposeless (caused) rather than purposeful (controlling).

I haven’t read the Science article yet but I have taken their “detection of emotion” test (it’s a link in the article) and I have several ideas regarding what may be going on here. But I would be interested in hearing what you think is going on from a PCT perspective (with the caveat that the results are, as usual, statistical, so not everyone does better at guessing emotions after reading Chekhov rather than King.

Best

Rick

···

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: marken emailthis@ms3.lga2.nytimes.com

Date: Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 4:16 PM
Subject: NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com
To: rsmarken@gmail.com

Sent by marken@mindreadings.com:

I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

By PAM BELLUCK

A new study found that reading literary fiction leads to better performance on tests of empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence. Read more…

Or, copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://nyti.ms/18TqWpV
To ensure delivery to your inbox, please add nytdirect@nytimes.com to your address book.
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Copyright 2013 | The New York Times Company | NYTimes.com 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Fred Nickols (2013.10.04.0714 EDT)]

I took the test, too, and I have some ideas about its uses and shortcomings, etc. I also have an idea about all that ties to PCT.

Fred Nickols

···

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Thursday, October 03, 2013 9:13 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Fwd: NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.03.1812)]

This is an interesting report on an article that was published in Science. It’s related to work I’ve done on Theory of Mind (Marken, R. S. (2013) Making Inferences about Intention: Perceptual Control Theory as a “Theory of Mind” for Psychologists, Psychological Reports, 113) – though for some reason my work never made it to the front page of the NY Times. But, as you’ll see, this paper pretty transparently reveals that the work was based on the ol’ causal model of behavior: reading literary fiction causes people to make more accurate identifications of the emotional states of others. This article goes a long way towards explaining why PCT hasn’t yet hit the big time; people are still looking at behavior – even behavior that involves determining people’s purposes – as purposeless (caused) rather than purposeful (controlling).

I haven’t read the Science article yet but I have taken their “detection of emotion” test (it’s a link in the article) and I have several ideas regarding what may be going on here. But I would be interested in hearing what you think is going on from a PCT perspective (with the caveat that the results are, as usual, statistical, so not everyone does better at guessing emotions after reading Chekhov rather than King.

Best

Rick

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: marken emailthis@ms3.lga2.nytimes.com
Date: Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 4:16 PM
Subject: NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com
To: rsmarken@gmail.com

Sent by marken@mindreadings.com:

I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

By PAM BELLUCK

A new study found that reading literary fiction leads to better performance on tests of empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence. Read more…

Or, copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://nyti.ms/18TqWpV

To ensure delivery to your inbox, please add nytdirect@nytimes.com to your address book.

Advertisement

article tools sponsored by

Copyright 2013 | The New York Times Company | NYTimes.com 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.05.1105)]

···

Fred Nickols (2013.10.04.0714 EDT)–

I took the test, too, and I have some ideas about its uses and shortcomings, etc. I also have an idea about all that ties to PCT.

RM: How did you do on the test. I got 83%. What are your ideas about the ties to PCT? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Fred Nickols (2013.10.05.1554 EDT)]

Well, first off it’s an exercise in reading non-verbals – specifically, facial expressions – even more specifically, partial facial expressions, namely, eyes. In and of itself that seems to invalidate whatever results they get because there’s more to reading facial expressions than just the eyes. Secondly, I’m not sure how they determined the correct answers for each item. So, as far as the instrument itself, goes, I don’t think very highly of it. That said, I can readily see how it could be used to introduce some exercises related to reading non-verbals. I think I got 28 or 26 right out of 36 or 38; I don’t recall exactly. I believe the cutoff score for marginally adept was 22 so I wasn’t a lot higher than that. But, like I said, I don’t attach a lot of significance to those results and I sure as heck don’t take them as a meaningful measure of my “sensitivity” to the emotional states of others.

As for PCT, I think we often have reference conditions for the kinds of facial expressions we want to see in others, along with other non-verbals and overt behaviors. If I have a goal state for acceptance or approval or something like that and what I’m reading is skepticism or disbelief, I’ve got a gap between perception and reference signal. Consider the salesperson. Is he or she getting across? Is the customer being persuaded? Does the customer see the business case? Etc., etc., etc. Being able to read such things correctly is a valuable skill or ability. Misreading them can also be costly. Where such things fit in the PCT hierarchy is probably up high somewhere. A facial expression itself might be an example of a perception of someone else’s “configuration” but it probably ties to something higher in my hierarchy. Enter here also such classics as “a disapproving frown,” a “poker face” and even the “venomous glare.” These might be facial configurations on our part or on the part of others. How do we recognize them? How do we make them ourselves (feedback is the answer I suppose)? And how do we tell if they’re genuine on the part of others and might we at times want to fake them ourselves?

Clearly, PCT is involved in making, reading and acting in relation to facial expressions (and other non-verbals). Does all that match or tie to emotional states or manipulative acts? Probably but I don’t think there’s a lot to be gained by going down that path.

My guess is that most folks would view those facial expressions as “caused” by internal states (e.g., emotions) or by some external stimulus. They also no doubt view facial expressions as “causing” reactions on the part of others (which isn’t all that far off the mark because if I’m reading disbelief on your part and what I’m after is acceptance, I’ve got a gap that leads to action on my part and it’s easy for folks to say that your facial expression is causing my behavior (which, in one sense, is exactly what it’s doing). What those others are missing is the mediating effect of my comparing my perception with my intent.

Fred Nickols

···

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Saturday, October 05, 2013 2:03 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.05.1105)]

Fred Nickols (2013.10.04.0714 EDT)–

I took the test, too, and I have some ideas about its uses and shortcomings, etc. I also have an idea about all that ties to PCT.

RM: How did you do on the test. I got 83%. What are your ideas about the ties to PCT? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Fred Nickols (2013.10.05.1554 EDT)]

Well, first off it’s an exercise in reading non-verbals – specifically, facial expressions � even more specifically, ppartial facial expressions, namely, eyes. In and of itself that seems to invalidate whatever results they get because there’s more to reading facial expressions than just the eyes. Secondly, I’m not sure how they determined the correct answers for each item. So, as far as the instrument itself, goes, I don’t think very highly of it. That said, I can readily see how it could be used to introduce some exercises related to reading non-verbals. I think I got 28 or 26 right out of 36 or 38; I don’t recall exactly. I believe the cutoff score for marginally adept was 22 so I wasn’t a lot higher than that. But, like I said, I don’t attach a lot of significance to those results and I sure as heck don’t take them as a meaningful measure of my “sensitivity�? to the emotional states of others.

As for PCT, I think we often have reference conditions for the kinds of facial expressions we want to see in others, along with other non-verbals and overt behaviors. If I have a goal state for acceptance or approval or something like that and what I’m reading is skepticism or disbelief, I’ve got a gap between perception and reference signal. Consider the salesperson. Is he or she getting across? Is the customer being persuaded? Does the customer see the business case? Etc., etc., etc. Being able to read such things correctly is a valuable skill or ability. Misreading them can also be costly. Where such things fit in the PCT hierarchy is probably up high somewhere. A facial expression itself might be an example of a perception of someone else’s “configuration�? but it probably ties to something higher in my hierarchy. Enter here also such classics as “a disapproving frown,�? a “poker face�? and even the “venomous glare.�? These might be facial configurations on our part or on the part of others. How do we recognize them? How do we make them ourselves (feedback is the answer I suppose)? And how do we tell if they’re genuine on the part of others and might we at times want to fake them ourselves?

Clearly, PCT is involved in making, reading and acting in relation to facial expressions (and other non-verbals). Does all that match or tie to emotional states or manipulative acts? Probably but I don’t think there’s a lot to be gained by going down that path.

My guess is that most folks would view those facial expressions as “caused�? by internal states (e.g., emotions) or by some external stimulus. They also no doubt view facial expressions as “causing�? reactions on the part of others (which isn’t all that far off the mark because if I’m reading disbelief on your part and what I’m after is acceptance, I’ve got a gap that leads to action on my part and it’s easy for folks to say that your facial expression is causing my behavior (which, in one sense, is exactly what it’s doing). What those others are missing is the mediating effect of my comparing my perception with my intent.

Fred Nickols

···

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Saturday, October 05, 2013 2:03 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.05.1105)]

Fred Nickols (2013.10.04.0714 EDT)–

I took the test, too, and I have some ideas about its uses and shortcomings, etc. I also have an idea about all that ties to PCT.

RM: How did you do on the test. I got 83%. What are your ideas about the ties to PCT? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.06.1020)]

RM: But I would be interested in hearing what you think is going on from a PCT perspective (with the caveat that the results are, as usual, statistical, so not everyone does better at guessing emotions after reading Chekhov rather than King).

Fred Nickols (2013.10.05.1554 EDT)–

FN: Well, first off it’s an exercise in reading non-verbals – specifically, facial expressions – even more specifically, partial facial expressions, namely, eyes…

Chuck Tucker

CT: The so-called test is flawed in that it is not about facial expression but only about “gaze” which is difficult to judge w/o a face.

RM: Thanks Fred and Chuck. These are interesting observations but what stood out most clearly to me in the description of the study was the assumption of a causal explanation of the results. For example, one of the comments on the paper was:

“This really nails down the causal direction,” said Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto who was not involved in the study. “These people have done not one experiment but five, and they have found the same effects.”
The psychologists who commented on this article took it for granted that different kinds of reading material causes the differential ability to read the emotions of other people. This is stimulus-response psychology pure and simple. The implicit model of the behavior observed in this study (again, ignoring the statistical nature of the results) is that reading causes empathy; IV–DV. This is the kind of attractive conclusion (note the generally positive comments on the article) that keeps conventional psychology going.

When I look at results like this from a PCT perspective, the first thing I ask myself is “what might the subjects’ purpose(s) be in this study”? Their main purposes are given in the instructions for the task, which I presume were something like “read a passage of a book and then associate an emotion”. Since, from a PCT perspective, IVs (like the type of material read) that appear to have an effect on responses do so because they are a disturbance to some controlled variable, understanding the results of this study (again, ignoring the statistical nature of the results) from a PCT perspective involves guessing what the subject’s might be controlling that would be disturbed by the type of reading material. My guess is that the type of reading material was a disturbance to the subject’s perception of “what I should be doing in the experiment”,a program level perception with the reference being “doing it correctly”. The type of reading material, I imagine, suggests the kind of answers to be made to the picture. Reading Chekhov would be interpreted as meaning that the experimenter wants a more higher falutin’ type of answer than reading Mickey Spillane. If the “correct” answers to the emotion identification quiz tend to be more high falutin’, then the readers of Chekhov will do better than the readers of Spillane.

At any rate, the PCT view of what’s going on is not that that different types of reading material causes different levels of empathy by that different types of reading materials are different kinds of disturbances to the subject’s purposes (controlled perceptions) resulting in different types of compensating responses (the answers to the emotional pictures test).

Clearly, the conventional interpretation is a lot more fun, even though it’s completely wrong. So, as I said, this study is a good example of why PCT has a tough time competing with conventional psychology. The magical story (as in conventional psychology and the biblical story of genesis) is a lot more fun (and easy), for the layman, anyway, than the scientific story (as in PCT and natural selection).

Best regards

Rick

···


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Martin Taylor 2013.10.06.17.04]

Fair enough.

Yes, but there is a universe of possible answers. Another question
you might be tempted to ask yourself is “how might the experimental
situation induce reorganization?” And there would be lots of
possible answers for that, too.
You could read the study. If you did, you might see that this is not
a very good guess.
Would it not be more correct to say “a PCT view” or “my PCT view”,
rather than “the PCT view”? There’s nothing in PCT that suggests the
interpretation of the results must be wrong, though the route to get
that interpretation is clearly not compatible with PCT. This statement might have more power if there was evidence that you
had read what the experimenters actually did.
Nice polemics.
PCT must account for learning (as it does in various ways). This
study appears to show some results of learning. Might it not be more
useful to suggest a PCT-learning account of the results, rather than
simply assuming what they did and declaring that you know what was
the primary controlled perception, its reference value, and the
disturbance for all the participants? After all, one mantra of PCT
is that you can’t know what someone is doing by looking at what they
are doing. Yet, you apparently DO know what the subjects were doing
in an experiment reported in a study you appear not to have read. Magic, as usual.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.06.1020)]

        RM:

But I would be interested in hearing what you think is going
on from a PCT perspective (with the caveat that the results
are, as usual, statistical, so not everyone does better at
guessing emotions after reading Chekhov rather than King).

      Fred Nickols (2013.10.05.1554 EDT)--
        FN: Well, first off it’s an exercise in reading non-verbals

– specifically, facial expressions – even more specifically,
partial facial expressions, namely, eyes…

Chuck Tucker

        CT: The so-called test is flawed in that it is not about

facial expression but only about “gaze” which is difficult
to judge w/o a face.

        RM: Thanks Fred and Chuck. These are interesting

observations but what stood out most clearly to me in the
description of the study was the assumption of a causal
explanation of the results. For example, one of the comments
on the paper was:

          “This really nails down the causal direction,”

said Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive
psychology at the University of Toronto who was not
involved in the study. “These people have done not one
experiment but five, and they have found the same
effects.”
The psychologists who commented on this article took it for
granted that different kinds of reading material causes the
differential ability to read the emotions of other people.
This is stimulus-response psychology pure and simple. The
implicit model of the behavior observed in this study
(again, ignoring the statistical nature of the results) is
that reading causes empathy; IV–DV. This is the kind of
attractive conclusion (note the generally positive comments
on the article) that keeps conventional psychology going.

        When I look at results like this from a PCT perspective,

the first thing I ask myself is “what might the subjects’
purpose(s) be in this study”?

        Their main purposes are given in the instructions for the

task, which I presume were something like “read a passage of
a book and then associate an emotion”.

        At any rate, the PCT view of what's going on is not that

that different types of reading material causes different
levels of empathy by that different types of reading
materials are different kinds of disturbances to the
subject’s purposes (controlled perceptions) resulting in
different types of compensating responses (the answers to
the emotional pictures test).

        Clearly, the conventional interpretation is a lot more

fun, even though it’s completely wrong.

        So, as I said, this study is a good example of why PCT

has a tough time competing with conventional psychology. The
magical story (as in conventional psychology and the
biblical story of genesis) is a lot more fun (and easy), for
the layman, anyway, than the scientific story (as in PCT and
natural selection).

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.07.1845)]

···

Martin Taylor (2013.10.06.17.04)-

        RM: When I look at results like this from a PCT perspective,

the first thing I ask myself is “what might the subjects’
purpose(s) be in this study”?

MT: Yes, but there is a universe of possible answers.

RM: Yes, indeed. And those purposes (controlled variables) are likely somewhat different for different people, ergo, the statistical nature of the results.

MT: Another question

you might be tempted to ask yourself is “how might the experimental
situation induce reorganization?” And there would be lots of
possible answers for that, too.

RM: Actually, I wouldn’t ask myself that question because I don’t think experimental situations “induce” anything. But, as you say, I didn’t read the original article so maybe the experimental conditions did somehow produce reorganization. I guess they could appear to 'induce" reorganization" if they made it difficult or impossible for the subjects to control variables that they were able to control before being exposed to those conditions. But I can’t imagine what purposes were thwarted by being asked to read various things. Maybe you could explain why you think that the experimental conditions inducing reorganization could explain the results of the research. Based on the description in the article and the abstract it seems that what they found was that people did better on that emotion identification task after reading Chekhov than after reading something else. What does this have to do with inducing reorganization? And isn’t “inducing reorganization” just another causal explanation of the results, anyway?

        RM: Their main purposes are given in the instructions for the

task, which I presume were something like “read a passage of
a book and then associate an emotion”.

MT: You could read the study. If you did, you might see that this is not

a very good guess.

RM: You appear to have read the paper; I would like to read it too to see why this guess is wrong and why you imply that your guess about inducing reorganization is right. But the point of my guess was not to claim that it was correct. Rather, it was to show how one would start trying to understand these results from a PCT perspective. Because it certainly looks like having people read different kinds of material causes differential results on the emotion identification test. And that’s the conclusion we see in their abstract:

We present five experiments showing that reading
literary fiction led to better performance on tests of affective ToM (experiments
1 to 5) and cognitive ToM (experiments 4 and 5) compared with reading nonfiction (experiments 1), popular fiction (experiments
2 to 5), or nothing at all (experiments 2 and 5).

Note how the authors say that their results show that reading literary fiction LED TO better performance on the affective ToM test (the emotion identification test). A synonym for LED TO is CAUSED.So the researchers concluded that the type of reading material CAUSED the level of performance seen on the affective ToM (emotion identification) test. All I was doing, with my proposal for the possible purposes involved in this study, was to show how the results could be understood from a PCT perspective. Of course, my proposed explanation is likely to be wrong about what purposes (controlled variables) are involved and how subjects control these variables; that’s why this kind of research is pretty much useless from a PCT perspective; it ignores the aspect of behavior that is central to PCT: the purpose of the behavior observed. But the fact that there is an observed relationship – even though it’s statistical – between type of reading material (IV) and score on the emotion test (DV) suggests that at least some of the subjects are controlling a variable that is disturbed by the IV and correcting for that disturbance with an output that result in different scores on the emotional identification test.

        RM: At any rate, the PCT view of what's going on is not that

that different types of reading material causes different
levels of empathy by that different types of reading
materials are different kinds of disturbances to the
subject’s purposes (controlled perceptions) resulting in
different types of compensating responses (the answers to
the emotional pictures test).

MT: Would it not be more correct to say "a PCT view" or "my PCT view",

rather than “the PCT view”? There’s nothing in PCT that suggests the
interpretation of the results must be wrong, though the route to get
that interpretation is clearly not compatible with PCT.

RM: I would say that what I said about the study is “the PCT view”, not just mine. This is really just basic PCT; it’s the “Behavioral Illusion” aspect of PCT. The “Behavioral Illusion” is the appearance that stimuli (IVs, like type of reading material) cause responses; this is an illusion (when observing a control system, according to PCT) because the apparently direct causal connection from IV to DV is mediated by a controlled variable; it’s the existence and nature of the controlled variable that explains the apparent causal relationship between IV and DV. When the controlled variable is no longer being controlled, the apparent causal relationship between IV and DV disappears, exposing its illusory nature

        RM: Clearly, the conventional interpretation is a lot more

fun, even though it’s completely wrong.

MT: This statement might have more power if there was evidence that you

had read what the experimenters actually did.

RM: I think the power of my statement comes from reading B:CP and related work and understanding what the Behavioral Illusion is.

        RM: So, as I said, this study is a good example of why PCT

has a tough time competing with conventional psychology. The
magical story (as in conventional psychology and the
biblical story of genesis) is a lot more fun (and easy), for
the layman, anyway, than the scientific story (as in PCT and
natural selection).

MT: Nice polemics.

RM: Again, I really think it’s just basic PCT. It’s what I discuss in some detail in my paper Marken, R. S. (2013) Taking Purpose into Account in Experimental Psychology: Testing for Controlled Variables, Psychological Reports, 112, 184-201.

MT: PCT must account for learning (as it does in various ways). This

study appears to show some results of learning.

RM: Since you have read the article it would be great if you could point out how this study shows some results of learning; in particular the learning assumed by PCT that is called “reorganization”.

MT: Might it not be more

useful to suggest a PCT-learning account of the results, rather than
simply assuming what they did and declaring that you know what was
the primary controlled perception, its reference value, and the
disturbance for all the participants?

RM: It might be. It would be great if you could describe a PCT -learning account of the results. I didn’t see anything in the article or the abstract that suggested that reorganization learning was going on; it looked like a pretty clear cut case of Behavioral Illusion to me.

MT: After all, one mantra of PCT

is that you can’t know what someone is doing by looking at what they
are doing. Yet, you apparently DO know what the subjects were doing
in an experiment reported in a study you appear not to have read.

RM: No, I don’t know what the subjects were doing. What I do know is that the results described in the article and abstract are a very clear cut case of the Behavioral Illusion. The appearance of a causal path from Chekhov to a high score on the emotion identification task is unquestionably an an example of the behavioral illusion. I was just suggesting a possible controlled variable that would result in that illusion.

MT: Magic, as usual.

RM: Yes, the article and abstract of the paper described the usual magic involved in conventional psychological research. Their description of the results implies a magical connection between what you read and how you do on the emotional identification test. Sort of like this:

Chekhov–>And then a miracle occurs–> high score on the affective ToM test.

The PCT explanation is quite different:

r
|

p ----->C-------- e

| |

___|v

Chekhov–>CV<–choices on affective ToM test resulting in high score

Best

Rick

Martin


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Martin Taylor 2013.10.07.23.08]

···

My only point was to suggest that the degree of your assurance in
the correctness of your one and only interpretation of a paper you
had not read was perhaps a little extreme. Some humility might
perhaps be more appropriate than a fiat that the results are due
to “this and only this”.

  You might also have noted that I did not propose any

interpretation of the paper. Nor will I, other than to note the
parallel that the paper deals with learning, and one of the ways
learning is implemented in PCT (the version of PCT contained in
Bill’s writing, I mean) is reorganization. It therefore seems not
unreasonable to suggest that the results reported might have some
bearing on reorganization, specifically reorganization of the
perceptual system.

  Martin

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.07.1845)]

            Martin Taylor

(2013.10.06.17.04)-

                      RM: When I look at results like this from a

PCT perspective, the first thing I ask myself
is “what might the subjects’ purpose(s) be in
this study”?

MT: Yes, but there is a universe of possible answers.

          RM: Yes, indeed. And those purposes (controlled

variables) are likely somewhat different for different
people, ergo, the statistical nature of the results.

            MT: Another question

you might be tempted to ask yourself is “how might the
experimental situation induce reorganization?” And there
would be lots of possible answers for that, too.

          RM: Actually, I wouldn't ask myself that question

because I don’t think experimental situations “induce”
anything. But, as you say, I didn’t read the original
article so maybe the experimental conditions did somehow
produce reorganization. I guess they could appear to
'induce" reorganization" if they made it difficult or
impossible for the subjects to control variables that they
were able to control before being exposed to those
conditions. But I can’t imagine what purposes were
thwarted by being asked to read various things. Maybe you
could explain why you think that the experimental
conditions inducing reorganization could explain the
results of the research. Based on the description in the
article and the abstract it seems that what they found was
that people did better on that emotion identification task
after reading Chekhov than after reading something else.
What does this have to do with inducing reorganization?
And isn’t “inducing reorganization” just another causal
explanation of the results, anyway?

                      RM: Their main purposes are given in the

instructions for the task, which I presume
were something like “read a passage of a book
and then associate an emotion”.

            MT: You could read the study. If you did, you might see

that this is not a very good guess.

          RM: You appear to have read the paper; I would like to

read it too to see why this guess is wrong and why you
imply that your guess about inducing reorganization is
right. But the point of my guess was not to claim that it
was correct. Rather, it was to show how one would start
trying to understand these results from a PCT perspective.
Because it certainly looks like having people read
different kinds of material causes differential results on
the emotion identification test. And that’s the conclusion
we see in their abstract:

            We present five experiments showing that reading

literary fiction led to better performance on tests of
affective ToM (experiments 1 to 5) and cognitive ToM
(experiments 4 and 5) compared with reading nonfiction
(experiments 1), popular fiction (experiments 2 to 5),
or nothing at all (experiments 2 and 5).

          Note how the authors say that their results show that

reading literary fiction LED TO better performance on the
affective ToM test (the emotion identification test). A
synonym for LED TO is CAUSED.So the researchers concluded
that the type of reading material CAUSED the level of
performance seen on the affective ToM (emotion
identification) test. All I was doing, with my proposal
for the possible purposes involved in this study, was to
show how the results could be understood from a PCT
perspective. Of course, my proposed explanation is likely
to be wrong about what purposes (controlled variables) are
involved and how subjects control these variables; that’s
why this kind of research is pretty much useless from a
PCT perspective; it ignores the aspect of behavior that is
central to PCT: the purpose of the behavior observed. But
the fact that there is an observed relationship – even
though it’s statistical – between type of reading
material (IV) and score on the emotion test (DV) suggests
that at least some of the subjects are controlling a
variable that is disturbed by the IV and correcting for
that disturbance with an output that result in different
scores on the emotional identification test.

                      RM: At any rate, the PCT view of what's

going on is not that that different types of
reading material causes different levels of
empathy by that different types of reading
materials are different kinds of disturbances
to the subject’s purposes (controlled
perceptions) resulting in different types of
compensating responses (the answers to the
emotional pictures test).

            MT: Would it not be more correct to say "a PCT view" or

“my PCT view”, rather than “the PCT view”? There’s
nothing in PCT that suggests the interpretation of the
results must be wrong, though the route to get that
interpretation is clearly not compatible with PCT.

          RM: I would say that what I said about the study is

“the PCT view”, not just mine. This is really just basic
PCT; it’s the “Behavioral Illusion” aspect of PCT. The
“Behavioral Illusion” is the appearance that stimuli (IVs,
like type of reading material) cause responses; this is an
illusion (when observing a control system, according to
PCT) because the apparently direct causal connection from
IV to DV is mediated by a controlled variable; it’s the
existence and nature of the controlled variable that
explains the apparent causal relationship between IV and
DV. When the controlled variable is no longer being
controlled, the apparent causal relationship between IV
and DV disappears, exposing its illusory nature

                      RM: Clearly, the conventional

interpretation is a lot more fun, even though
it’s completely wrong.

            MT: This statement might have more power if there was

evidence that you had read what the experimenters
actually did.

          RM: I think the power of my statement comes from

reading B:CP and related work and understanding what the
Behavioral Illusion is.

                      RM: So, as I said, this study is a good

example of why PCT has a tough time competing
with conventional psychology. The magical
story (as in conventional psychology and the
biblical story of genesis) is a lot more fun
(and easy), for the layman, anyway, than the
scientific story (as in PCT and natural
selection).

MT: Nice polemics.

          RM: Again, I really think it's just basic PCT.  It's

what I discuss in some detail in my paper Marken, R. S.
(2013) Taking Purpose into Account in Experimental
Psychology: Testing for Controlled Variables, * Psychological
Reports*, 112, 184-201.

            MT: PCT must account for learning (as it does in various

ways). This study appears to show some results of
learning.

          RM: Since you have read the article it would be great

if you could point out how this study shows some results
of learning; in particular the learning assumed by PCT
that is called “reorganization”.

            MT: Might it not be

more useful to suggest a PCT-learning account of the
results, rather than simply assuming what they did and
declaring that you know what was the primary controlled
perception, its reference value, and the disturbance for
all the participants?

          RM: It might be.  It would be great if you could

describe a PCT -learning account of the results. I didn’t
see anything in the article or the abstract that suggested
that reorganization learning was going on; it looked like
a pretty clear cut case of Behavioral Illusion to me.

            MT: After all, one

mantra of PCT is that you can’t know what someone is
doing by looking at what they are doing. Yet, you
apparently DO know what the subjects were doing in an
experiment reported in a study you appear not to have
read.

          RM: No, I don't know what the subjects were doing. What

I do know is that the results described in the article and
abstract are a very clear cut case of the Behavioral
Illusion. The appearance of a causal path from Chekhov to
a high score on the emotion identification task is
unquestionably an an example of the behavioral illusion. I
was just suggesting a possible controlled variable that
would result in that illusion.

            MT: Magic, as

usual.

          RM: Yes, the article and abstract of the paper

described the usual magic involved in conventional
psychological research. Their description of the results
implies a magical connection between what you read and how
you do on the emotional identification test. Sort of like
this:

          Chekhov-->And then a miracle occurs--> high score

on the affective ToM test.

The PCT explanation is quite different:

r

                                      |

p ----->C-------- e

| |

___|v

          Chekhov-->CV<--choices on affective ToM test

resulting in high score

Best

          Rick
                Martin
      --

      Richard S. Marken PhD

      rsmarken@gmail.com

      [www.mindreadings.com](http://www.mindreadings.com)

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.08.0910)]

···

Martin Taylor (2013.10.07.23.08)–

  MT: My only point was to suggest that the degree of your assurance in

the correctness of your one and only interpretation of a paper you
had not read was perhaps a little extreme. Some humility might
perhaps be more appropriate than a fiat that the results are due
to “this and only this”.

            RM: The only point I was assured of was that the causal explanation of the results of this experiment are wrong, from a PCT perspective. If, per PCT, organisms are purposive (control) systems, then the claim that the results of these experiments show that "reading

literary fiction led to better performance on tests of
affective ToM" is based on an illusion. I offered a possible explanation of these results from a PCT perspective, but I never said that “this and only this” was the correct explanation. There are other possible PCT explanations; to know which is right you would have to start doing some testing from a PCT perspective (testing for controlled variables). The only thing about the results that I was not humble about (and remain unhumble about) is my PCT-based claim that the apparent causal relationship between what people read and how well they do on he affective ToM test is an illusion.

  MT: You might also have noted that I did not propose any

interpretation of the paper. Nor will I, other than to note the
parallel that the paper deals with learning, and one of the ways
learning is implemented in PCT (the version of PCT contained in
Bill’s writing, I mean) is reorganization. It therefore seems not
unreasonable to suggest that the results reported might have some
bearing on reorganization, specifically reorganization of the
perceptual system.

RM: Perhaps it’s not unreasonable for you to suggest this. But that’s because you appear to be able to note that the paper deals with learning. I don’t see what this study has to do with learning and apparently you’re not going to tell me why you think this study has to do with learning so there we jolly well are. But that seems to me beside the point. Even if this paper is about learning it still doesn’t mitigate the wrongness, from a PCT perspective, of the conclusions drawn by the authors and commentators about what the results mean. If PCT is right – if people are organized as negative feedback control systems-- then, in order for psychology to become a science, we should never more hear researchers imply that their manipulations of IVs were the cause of varaitions in the DV.

This will be a good discussion to continue when we get to the Experimental Methods chapter (16) in B:CP. So I’ll store this away until we get there, which might take a while since my work on the course has been delayed by the arrival of my first grandchild. So I’m kind of preoccupied at the moment.

Best

Rick

  Martin

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.07.1845)]


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

            Martin Taylor

(2013.10.06.17.04)-

                      RM: When I look at results like this from a

PCT perspective, the first thing I ask myself
is “what might the subjects’ purpose(s) be in
this study”?

MT: Yes, but there is a universe of possible answers.

          RM: Yes, indeed. And those purposes (controlled

variables) are likely somewhat different for different
people, ergo, the statistical nature of the results.

            MT: Another question

you might be tempted to ask yourself is “how might the
experimental situation induce reorganization?” And there
would be lots of possible answers for that, too.

          RM: Actually, I wouldn't ask myself that question

because I don’t think experimental situations “induce”
anything. But, as you say, I didn’t read the original
article so maybe the experimental conditions did somehow
produce reorganization. I guess they could appear to
'induce" reorganization" if they made it difficult or
impossible for the subjects to control variables that they
were able to control before being exposed to those
conditions. But I can’t imagine what purposes were
thwarted by being asked to read various things. Maybe you
could explain why you think that the experimental
conditions inducing reorganization could explain the
results of the research. Based on the description in the
article and the abstract it seems that what they found was
that people did better on that emotion identification task
after reading Chekhov than after reading something else.
What does this have to do with inducing reorganization?
And isn’t “inducing reorganization” just another causal
explanation of the results, anyway?

                      RM: Their main purposes are given in the

instructions for the task, which I presume
were something like “read a passage of a book
and then associate an emotion”.

            MT: You could read the study. If you did, you might see

that this is not a very good guess.

          RM: You appear to have read the paper; I would like to

read it too to see why this guess is wrong and why you
imply that your guess about inducing reorganization is
right. But the point of my guess was not to claim that it
was correct. Rather, it was to show how one would start
trying to understand these results from a PCT perspective.
Because it certainly looks like having people read
different kinds of material causes differential results on
the emotion identification test. And that’s the conclusion
we see in their abstract:

            We present five experiments showing that reading

literary fiction led to better performance on tests of
affective ToM (experiments 1 to 5) and cognitive ToM
(experiments 4 and 5) compared with reading nonfiction
(experiments 1), popular fiction (experiments 2 to 5),
or nothing at all (experiments 2 and 5).

          Note how the authors say that their results show that

reading literary fiction LED TO better performance on the
affective ToM test (the emotion identification test). A
synonym for LED TO is CAUSED.So the researchers concluded
that the type of reading material CAUSED the level of
performance seen on the affective ToM (emotion
identification) test. All I was doing, with my proposal
for the possible purposes involved in this study, was to
show how the results could be understood from a PCT
perspective. Of course, my proposed explanation is likely
to be wrong about what purposes (controlled variables) are
involved and how subjects control these variables; that’s
why this kind of research is pretty much useless from a
PCT perspective; it ignores the aspect of behavior that is
central to PCT: the purpose of the behavior observed. But
the fact that there is an observed relationship – even
though it’s statistical – between type of reading
material (IV) and score on the emotion test (DV) suggests
that at least some of the subjects are controlling a
variable that is disturbed by the IV and correcting for
that disturbance with an output that result in different
scores on the emotional identification test.

                      RM: At any rate, the PCT view of what's

going on is not that that different types of
reading material causes different levels of
empathy by that different types of reading
materials are different kinds of disturbances
to the subject’s purposes (controlled
perceptions) resulting in different types of
compensating responses (the answers to the
emotional pictures test).

            MT: Would it not be more correct to say "a PCT view" or

“my PCT view”, rather than “the PCT view”? There’s
nothing in PCT that suggests the interpretation of the
results must be wrong, though the route to get that
interpretation is clearly not compatible with PCT.

          RM: I would say that what I said about the study is

“the PCT view”, not just mine. This is really just basic
PCT; it’s the “Behavioral Illusion” aspect of PCT. The
“Behavioral Illusion” is the appearance that stimuli (IVs,
like type of reading material) cause responses; this is an
illusion (when observing a control system, according to
PCT) because the apparently direct causal connection from
IV to DV is mediated by a controlled variable; it’s the
existence and nature of the controlled variable that
explains the apparent causal relationship between IV and
DV. When the controlled variable is no longer being
controlled, the apparent causal relationship between IV
and DV disappears, exposing its illusory nature

                      RM: Clearly, the conventional

interpretation is a lot more fun, even though
it’s completely wrong.

            MT: This statement might have more power if there was

evidence that you had read what the experimenters
actually did.

          RM: I think the power of my statement comes from

reading B:CP and related work and understanding what the
Behavioral Illusion is.

                      RM: So, as I said, this study is a good

example of why PCT has a tough time competing
with conventional psychology. The magical
story (as in conventional psychology and the
biblical story of genesis) is a lot more fun
(and easy), for the layman, anyway, than the
scientific story (as in PCT and natural
selection).

MT: Nice polemics.

          RM: Again, I really think it's just basic PCT.  It's

what I discuss in some detail in my paper Marken, R. S.
(2013) Taking Purpose into Account in Experimental
Psychology: Testing for Controlled Variables, * Psychological
Reports*, 112, 184-201.

            MT: PCT must account for learning (as it does in various

ways). This study appears to show some results of
learning.

          RM: Since you have read the article it would be great

if you could point out how this study shows some results
of learning; in particular the learning assumed by PCT
that is called “reorganization”.

            MT: Might it not be

more useful to suggest a PCT-learning account of the
results, rather than simply assuming what they did and
declaring that you know what was the primary controlled
perception, its reference value, and the disturbance for
all the participants?

          RM: It might be.  It would be great if you could

describe a PCT -learning account of the results. I didn’t
see anything in the article or the abstract that suggested
that reorganization learning was going on; it looked like
a pretty clear cut case of Behavioral Illusion to me.

            MT: After all, one

mantra of PCT is that you can’t know what someone is
doing by looking at what they are doing. Yet, you
apparently DO know what the subjects were doing in an
experiment reported in a study you appear not to have
read.

          RM: No, I don't know what the subjects were doing. What

I do know is that the results described in the article and
abstract are a very clear cut case of the Behavioral
Illusion. The appearance of a causal path from Chekhov to
a high score on the emotion identification task is
unquestionably an an example of the behavioral illusion. I
was just suggesting a possible controlled variable that
would result in that illusion.

            MT: Magic, as

usual.

          RM: Yes, the article and abstract of the paper

described the usual magic involved in conventional
psychological research. Their description of the results
implies a magical connection between what you read and how
you do on the emotional identification test. Sort of like
this:

          Chekhov-->And then a miracle occurs--> high score

on the affective ToM test.

The PCT explanation is quite different:

r

                                      |

p ----->C-------- e

| |

___|v

          Chekhov-->CV<--choices on affective ToM test

resulting in high score

Best

          Rick
                Martin
      --

      Richard S. Marken PhD

      rsmarken@gmail.com

      [www.mindreadings.com](http://www.mindreadings.com)

[Martin Taylor 2013.10.08.13.51]

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.08.0910)]

On that, we can agree.

Is a change of ability to, say, hit a golf ball near the hole after

practice also an illusion? The frame is the same, as discussed in
the NYT blurb. The subjects practiced doing something and afterward
they were able to do something else more accurately than they could
do it before the practice. I’d call that “learning”, not an
illusion.

I would, however, be very cautious in asserting causality, because

if it were causal as I understand the term, the experience of the
practice would be the same in everyone, which is not shown to be the
case.

I didn't have to tell you. You could have read it in the NYT blurb,

if nowhere else.

Again we agree.

There we disagree -- about "never more". In situations where

feedback cannot occur, IVs can easily cause variations in DVs. Bill
called you out on this point a few times, as I recall.

Congratulations. And I hope you enjoy his/her teenage and college

years as much as you presumably enjoy this moment.

Martin
···
              Martin Taylor

(2013.10.07.23.08)–

                MT: My only point was to suggest that the degree of

your assurance in the correctness of your one and
only interpretation of a paper you had not read was
perhaps a little extreme. Some humility might
perhaps be more appropriate than a fiat that the
results are due to “this and only this”.

            RM: The only point I was assured of was that the

causal explanation of the results of this experiment are
wrong, from a PCT perspective.

            If, per PCT, organisms are purposive (control)

systems, then the claim that the results of these
experiments show that “reading literary fiction led to
better performance on tests of affective ToM” is based
on an illusion. I offered a possible explanation of
these results from a PCT perspective, but I never said
that “this and only this” was the correct explanation.
There are other possible PCT explanations; to know which
is right you would have to start doing some testing from
a PCT perspective (testing for controlled variables).
The only thing about the results that I was not humble
about (and remain unhumble about) is my PCT-based claim
that the apparent causal relationship between what
people read and how well they do on he affective ToM
test is an illusion.

                MT: You might also have noted that I did not

propose any interpretation of the paper. Nor will I,
other than to note the parallel that the paper deals
with learning, and one of the ways learning is
implemented in PCT (the version of PCT contained in
Bill’s writing, I mean) is reorganization. It
therefore seems not unreasonable to suggest that the
results reported might have some bearing on
reorganization, specifically reorganization of the
perceptual system.

            RM: Perhaps it's not unreasonable for you to suggest

this. But that’s because you appear to be able to note
that the paper deals with learning. I don’t see what
this study has to do with learning and apparently you’re
not going to tell me why you think this study has to do
with learning so there we jolly well are.

            But that seems to me beside the point. Even if this

paper is about learning it still doesn’t mitigate the
wrongness, from a PCT perspective, of the conclusions
drawn by the authors and commentators about what the
results mean.

            If PCT is right -- if people are organized as

negative feedback control systems-- then, in order for
psychology to become a science, we should never more
hear researchers imply that their manipulations of IVs
were the cause of varaitions in the DV.

            This will be a good discussion to continue when we

get to the Experimental Methods chapter (16) in B:CP. So
I’ll store this away until we get there, which might
take a while since my work on the course has been
delayed by the arrival of my first grandchild. So I’m
kind of preoccupied at the moment.

David Goldstein (2013.10.08.15:30)

Congratulations grandpa Marken!

I assume the delay is not a disturbance.

···

Martin Taylor (2013.10.07.23.08)–

  MT: My only point was to suggest that the degree of your assurance in

the correctness of your one and only interpretation of a paper you
had not read was perhaps a little extreme. Some humility might
perhaps be more appropriate than a fiat that the results are due
to “this and only this”.

            RM: The only point I was assured of was that the causal explanation of the results of this experiment are wrong, from a PCT perspective. If, per PCT, organisms are purposive (control) systems, then the claim that the results of these experiments show that "reading

literary fiction led to better performance on tests of
affective ToM" is based on an illusion. I offered a possible explanation of these results from a PCT perspective, but I never said that “this and only this” was the correct explanation. There are other possible PCT explanations; to know which is right you would have to start doing some testing from a PCT perspective (testing for controlled variables). The only thing about the results that I was not humble about (and remain unhumble about) is my PCT-based claim that the apparent causal relationship between what people read and how well they do on he affective ToM test is an illusion.

  MT: You might also have noted that I did not propose any

interpretation of the paper. Nor will I, other than to note the
parallel that the paper deals with learning, and one of the ways
learning is implemented in PCT (the version of PCT contained in
Bill’s writing, I mean) is reorganization. It therefore seems not
unreasonable to suggest that the results reported might have some
bearing on reorganization, specifically reorganization of the
perceptual system.

RM: Perhaps it’s not unreasonable for you to suggest this. But that’s because you appear to be able to note that the paper deals with learning. I don’t see what this study has to do with learning and apparently you’re not going to tell me why you think this study has to do with learning so there we jolly well are. But that seems to me beside the point. Even if this paper is about learning it still doesn’t mitigate the wrongness, from a PCT perspective, of the conclusions drawn by the authors and commentators about what the results mean. If PCT is right – if people are organized as negative feedback control systems-- then, in order for psychology to become a science, we should never more hear researchers imply that their manipulations of IVs were the cause of varaitions in the DV.

This will be a good discussion to continue when we get to the Experimental Methods chapter (16) in B:CP. So I’ll store this away until we get there, which might take a while since my work on the course has been delayed by the arrival of my first grandchild. So I’m kind of preoccupied at the moment.

Best

Rick

  Martin

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.07.1845)]


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

            Martin Taylor

(2013.10.06.17.04)-

                      RM: When I look at results like this from a

PCT perspective, the first thing I ask myself
is “what might the subjects’ purpose(s) be in
this study”?

MT: Yes, but there is a universe of possible answers.

          RM: Yes, indeed. And those purposes (controlled

variables) are likely somewhat different for different
people, ergo, the statistical nature of the results.

            MT: Another question

you might be tempted to ask yourself is “how might the
experimental situation induce reorganization?” And there
would be lots of possible answers for that, too.

          RM: Actually, I wouldn't ask myself that question

because I don’t think experimental situations “induce”
anything. But, as you say, I didn’t read the original
article so maybe the experimental conditions did somehow
produce reorganization. I guess they could appear to
'induce" reorganization" if they made it difficult or
impossible for the subjects to control variables that they
were able to control before being exposed to those
conditions. But I can’t imagine what purposes were
thwarted by being asked to read various things. Maybe you
could explain why you think that the experimental
conditions inducing reorganization could explain the
results of the research. Based on the description in the
article and the abstract it seems that what they found was
that people did better on that emotion identification task
after reading Chekhov than after reading something else.
What does this have to do with inducing reorganization?
And isn’t “inducing reorganization” just another causal
explanation of the results, anyway?

                      RM: Their main purposes are given in the

instructions for the task, which I presume
were something like “read a passage of a book
and then associate an emotion”.

            MT: You could read the study. If you did, you might see

that this is not a very good guess.

          RM: You appear to have read the paper; I would like to

read it too to see why this guess is wrong and why you
imply that your guess about inducing reorganization is
right. But the point of my guess was not to claim that it
was correct. Rather, it was to show how one would start
trying to understand these results from a PCT perspective.
Because it certainly looks like having people read
different kinds of material causes differential results on
the emotion identification test. And that’s the conclusion
we see in their abstract:

            We present five experiments showing that reading

literary fiction led to better performance on tests of
affective ToM (experiments 1 to 5) and cognitive ToM
(experiments 4 and 5) compared with reading nonfiction
(experiments 1), popular fiction (experiments 2 to 5),
or nothing at all (experiments 2 and 5).

          Note how the authors say that their results show that

reading literary fiction LED TO better performance on the
affective ToM test (the emotion identification test). A
synonym for LED TO is CAUSED.So the researchers concluded
that the type of reading material CAUSED the level of
performance seen on the affective ToM (emotion
identification) test. All I was doing, with my proposal
for the possible purposes involved in this study, was to
show how the results could be understood from a PCT
perspective. Of course, my proposed explanation is likely
to be wrong about what purposes (controlled variables) are
involved and how subjects control these variables; that’s
why this kind of research is pretty much useless from a
PCT perspective; it ignores the aspect of behavior that is
central to PCT: the purpose of the behavior observed. But
the fact that there is an observed relationship – even
though it’s statistical – between type of reading
material (IV) and score on the emotion test (DV) suggests
that at least some of the subjects are controlling a
variable that is disturbed by the IV and correcting for
that disturbance with an output that result in different
scores on the emotional identification test.

                      RM: At any rate, the PCT view of what's

going on is not that that different types of
reading material causes different levels of
empathy by that different types of reading
materials are different kinds of disturbances
to the subject’s purposes (controlled
perceptions) resulting in different types of
compensating responses (the answers to the
emotional pictures test).

            MT: Would it not be more correct to say "a PCT view" or

“my PCT view”, rather than “the PCT view”? There’s
nothing in PCT that suggests the interpretation of the
results must be wrong, though the route to get that
interpretation is clearly not compatible with PCT.

          RM: I would say that what I said about the study is

“the PCT view”, not just mine. This is really just basic
PCT; it’s the “Behavioral Illusion” aspect of PCT. The
“Behavioral Illusion” is the appearance that stimuli (IVs,
like type of reading material) cause responses; this is an
illusion (when observing a control system, according to
PCT) because the apparently direct causal connection from
IV to DV is mediated by a controlled variable; it’s the
existence and nature of the controlled variable that
explains the apparent causal relationship between IV and
DV. When the controlled variable is no longer being
controlled, the apparent causal relationship between IV
and DV disappears, exposing its illusory nature

                      RM: Clearly, the conventional

interpretation is a lot more fun, even though
it’s completely wrong.

            MT: This statement might have more power if there was

evidence that you had read what the experimenters
actually did.

          RM: I think the power of my statement comes from

reading B:CP and related work and understanding what the
Behavioral Illusion is.

                      RM: So, as I said, this study is a good

example of why PCT has a tough time competing
with conventional psychology. The magical
story (as in conventional psychology and the
biblical story of genesis) is a lot more fun
(and easy), for the layman, anyway, than the
scientific story (as in PCT and natural
selection).

MT: Nice polemics.

          RM: Again, I really think it's just basic PCT.  It's

what I discuss in some detail in my paper Marken, R. S.
(2013) Taking Purpose into Account in Experimental
Psychology: Testing for Controlled Variables, * Psychological
Reports*, 112, 184-201.

            MT: PCT must account for learning (as it does in various

ways). This study appears to show some results of
learning.

          RM: Since you have read the article it would be great

if you could point out how this study shows some results
of learning; in particular the learning assumed by PCT
that is called “reorganization”.

            MT: Might it not be

more useful to suggest a PCT-learning account of the
results, rather than simply assuming what they did and
declaring that you know what was the primary controlled
perception, its reference value, and the disturbance for
all the participants?

          RM: It might be.  It would be great if you could

describe a PCT -learning account of the results. I didn’t
see anything in the article or the abstract that suggested
that reorganization learning was going on; it looked like
a pretty clear cut case of Behavioral Illusion to me.

            MT: After all, one

mantra of PCT is that you can’t know what someone is
doing by looking at what they are doing. Yet, you
apparently DO know what the subjects were doing in an
experiment reported in a study you appear not to have
read.

          RM: No, I don't know what the subjects were doing. What

I do know is that the results described in the article and
abstract are a very clear cut case of the Behavioral
Illusion. The appearance of a causal path from Chekhov to
a high score on the emotion identification task is
unquestionably an an example of the behavioral illusion. I
was just suggesting a possible controlled variable that
would result in that illusion.

            MT: Magic, as

usual.

          RM: Yes, the article and abstract of the paper

described the usual magic involved in conventional
psychological research. Their description of the results
implies a magical connection between what you read and how
you do on the emotional identification test. Sort of like
this:

          Chekhov-->And then a miracle occurs--> high score

on the affective ToM test.

The PCT explanation is quite different:

r

                                      |

p ----->C-------- e

| |

___|v

          Chekhov-->CV<--choices on affective ToM test

resulting in high score

Best

          Rick
                Martin
      --

      Richard S. Marken PhD

      rsmarken@gmail.com

      [www.mindreadings.com](http://www.mindreadings.com)

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.08.1645)]

···

Martin Taylor (2013.10.08.13.51)–

            RM: The only point I was assured of was that the

causal explanation of the results of this experiment are
wrong, from a PCT perspective.

MT: On that, we can agree.

RM: Great. Though it’s always nice to have you disagree; it’s been the inspiration for some of my best papers.

MT: Is a change of ability to, say, hit a golf ball near the hole after

practice also an illusion? The frame is the same, as discussed in
the NYT blurb.

RM: All I found in the blurb regarding their procedure was “After reading — or in some cases reading nothing — the participants took
computerized tests that measure people’s ability to decode emotions”. There is nothing about people taking the computerized tests first (analogous to hitting the golf ball), finding out how they did (analogous to seeing how close the ball came to the hole) then reading something (analogous to the practice) and then doing better if they had read Chekhov.

MT: The subjects practiced doing something and afterward

they were able to do something else more accurately than they could
do it before the practice. I’d call that “learning”, not an
illusion.

RM: It doesn’t seem to have been pre-post test design. But even if it was, I wouldn’t necessarily call any observed improvement “learning”. And any observed improvement is certainly not an illusion. The illusion is seeing the reading (IV) as the cause of the improvement (DV); that’s the behavioral illusion.

MT: Again we agree.

RM: Again, great.

MT: There we disagree -- about "never more". In situations where

feedback cannot occur, IVs can easily cause variations in DVs. Bill
called you out on this point a few times, as I recall.

RM: Well, it’s nice to have you back in disagreement. I actually agree that IVs can be seen, correctly, as the cause of DVs when feedback doesn’t exist; that’s what is done in the physical sciences; the sciences of non-living (non-purposive) systems. But when you are dealing with living control systems there is always feedback; when feedback cannot occur there can be no control. That was basically the message of B:CP Chapter 4. So we can be pretty confident that there are no situations “where feedback cannot occur” when we are dealing with behavior that involves control. And, as I tried to demonstrate in my paper:
Marken, R. S. (2013) Taking Purpose into Account
in Experimental Psychology: Testing for Controlled Variables, Psychological Reports, 112, 184-201

it may look like there is no feedback in some particular example of behavior (like the behavior in the reading and emotion identification study) but a more careful analysis (using some version of the Test for the Controlled Variable) will likely reveal that there is feedback (via a controlled variable) involved in the behavior and that that is the reason why the apparent causal IV-DV relationship is observed.

MT: Congratulations. And I hope you enjoy his/her teenage and college

years as much as you presumably enjoy this moment.

RM: Thanks.

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

            RM: But that seems to me beside the point. Even if this

paper is about learning it still doesn’t mitigate the
wrongness, from a PCT perspective, of the conclusions
drawn by the authors and commentators about what the
results mean.

            RM: If PCT is right -- if people are organized as

negative feedback control systems-- then, in order for
psychology to become a science, we should never more
hear researchers imply that their manipulations of IVs
were the cause of varaitions in the DV.

            RM: This will be a good discussion to continue when we

get to the Experimental Methods chapter (16) in B:CP. So
I’ll store this away until we get there, which might
take a while since my work on the course has been
delayed by the arrival of my first grandchild. So I’m
kind of preoccupied at the moment.

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.08.450)]

IMG_3252.jpg

···

David Goldstein (2013.10.08.15:30)

Congratulations grandpa Marken!

RM: Gee, thanks David. So I have to post a picture of the kid, right. Becoming a grandaddy caused me to do it. It’s not my fault;-)

Her name is Alaia Marken Castillo and all her level one control systems seem to be in order. This will have to become part of the B:CP course somehow;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

I assume the delay is not a disturbance.

[Fred Nickols (2013.10.10.1244 EDT)]

Congratulations, Grandpa! Wait til you’re a great grandpa.

On another note, I saw reference to the “gaze heuristic” on another list today. Has to do with catching fly balls by keeping your eyes fixated on the ball and moving so as to keep that angle constant or within a narrow range. Ever heard of it?

Fred Nickols

···

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 7:51 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.08.450)]

David Goldstein (2013.10.08.15:30)

Congratulations grandpa Marken!

I assume the delay is not a disturbance.

RM: Gee, thanks David. So I have to post a picture of the kid, right. Becoming a grandaddy caused me to do it. It’s not my fault;-)

Her name is Alaia Marken Castillo and all her level one control systems seem to be in order. This will have to become part of the B:CP course somehow;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.13.0930)]

···

Fred Nickols (2013.10.10.1244 EDT)–

FN: Congratulations, Grandpa! Wait til you’re a great grandpa.

RM: Thanks Fred! I can’t see how it could be much better. But if I live that long it would be fun to find out.

FN: On another note, I saw reference to the “gaze heuristic” on another list today. Has to do with catching fly balls by keeping your eyes fixated on the ball and moving so as to keep that angle constant or within a narrow range. Ever heard of it?

RM: Actually, there are several possibilities (one being mine, of course). But it sounds like you saw a reference to those who think that what is controlled in catching fly balls isthe Az-El of the head.So the “gaze heuristic” is kind of a control of output model (anything to keep from admitting that it is input that is controlled) although if you built a model it would have to control a perception of head Az-El.

On that note, I have another article that has been published that may actually be somewhat relevant to this point, since it is copy written (by the Psychonomic Society) I suppose I should have people request copies. So if you would like to to see a copy I please send me a “reprint request” and I’ll send a pointer to the paper.

Best regards

Rick

Fred Nickols

From: Richard Marken [mailto:rsmarken@GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 7:51 PM

To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.08.450)]

David Goldstein (2013.10.08.15:30)

Congratulations grandpa Marken!

I assume the delay is not a disturbance.

RM: Gee, thanks David. So I have to post a picture of the kid, right. Becoming a grandaddy caused me to do it. It’s not my fault;-)

Her name is Alaia Marken Castillo and all her level one control systems seem to be in order. This will have to become part of the B:CP course somehow;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

www.mindreadings.com


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Frank Lenk 2013.10.16.11.11]

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to join in any conversations, and projects at work continue to interfere with my ability to get some PCT modeling
done for my dissertation (that I am still working on…). But I have been thinking a lot about how to model perception as part of that work. I confess that I, too have not read this paper, only Rick’s and Martin’s entertaining exchange regarding it. But I
wonder if another PCT-based explanation for the result isn’t the influence reading something might have on the gain of an existing control system, rather than a reorganization of it (although I guess altering relative gains among control systems could be a
form of reorganization).

It seems we are composed of many interacting control systems and they all can’t be equally important at all times. If reading Chekhov causes us to simply give
more attention to control systems and controlled variables dealing with how I interact emotionally with others, wouldn’t that explain the result? The converse seems true - Much of economic life seems to promote actions that might cause conflict with emotionally/empathetically-oriented
control systems, and one way of avoiding such conflicts would be to reduce the gain on them (so we appear not to care or are able to say, “that’s just business, that’s not me”). Maybe reading Chekhov reverses that, focuses our attention on the variables our
empathetic control systems are controlling – at least temporarily.

Frank

···

From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet) [mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU]
On Behalf Of Martin Taylor
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 1:03 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: [CSGNET] NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

[Martin Taylor 2013.10.08.13.51]

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.08.0910)]

Martin Taylor (2013.10.07.23.08)–

MT: My only point was to suggest that the degree of your assurance in the correctness of your one and only interpretation of a paper you had not read was perhaps a little extreme. Some humility might perhaps be more appropriate than a fiat that the results
are due to “this and only this”.

RM: The only point I was assured of was that the causal explanation of the results of this experiment are wrong, from a PCT perspective.

On that, we can agree.

If, per PCT, organisms are purposive (control) systems, then the claim that the results of these experiments show that “reading literary fiction led to better performance on tests of affective ToM” is based on an illusion. I offered a possible
explanation of these results from a PCT perspective, but I never said that “this and only this” was the correct explanation. There are other possible PCT explanations; to know which is right you would have to start doing some testing from a PCT perspective
(testing for controlled variables). The only thing about the results that I was not humble about (and remain unhumble about) is my PCT-based claim that the apparent causal relationship between what people read and how well they do on he affective ToM test
is an illusion.

Is a change of ability to, say, hit a golf ball near the hole after practice also an illusion? The frame is the same, as discussed in the NYT blurb. The subjects practiced doing something and afterward they were able to do something else more accurately than
they could do it before the practice. I’d call that “learning”, not an illusion.

I would, however, be very cautious in asserting causality, because if it were causal as I understand the term, the experience of the practice would be the same in everyone, which is not shown to be the case.

MT: You might also have noted that I did not propose any interpretation of the paper. Nor will I, other than to note the parallel that the paper deals with learning, and one of the ways learning is implemented in PCT (the version of PCT
contained in Bill’s writing, I mean) is reorganization. It therefore seems not unreasonable to suggest that the results reported might have some bearing on reorganization, specifically reorganization of the perceptual system.

RM: Perhaps it’s not unreasonable for you to suggest this. But that’s because you appear to be able to note that the paper deals with learning. I don’t see what this study has to do with learning and apparently you’re not going to tell
me why you think this study has to do with learning so there we jolly well are.

I didn’t have to tell you. You could have read it in the NYT blurb, if nowhere else.

But that seems to me beside the point. Even if this paper is about learning it still doesn’t mitigate the wrongness, from a PCT perspective, of the conclusions drawn by the authors and commentators about what the results mean.

Again we agree.

If PCT is right – if people are organized as negative feedback control systems-- then, in order for psychology to become a science, we should never more hear researchers imply that their manipulations of IVs were the cause of varaitions
in the DV.

There we disagree – about “never more”. In situations where feedback cannot occur, IVs can easily cause variations in DVs. Bill called you out on this point a few times, as I recall.

This will be a good discussion to continue when we get to the Experimental Methods chapter (16) in B:CP. So I’ll store this away until we get there, which might take a while since my work on the course has been delayed by the arrival of
my first grandchild. So I’m kind of preoccupied at the moment.

Congratulations. And I hope you enjoy his/her teenage and college years as much as you presumably enjoy this moment.

Martin

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.16.1825)]

···

Frank Lenk (2013.10.16.11.11)–

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to join in any conversations, and projects at work continue to interfere with my ability to get some PCT modeling
done for my dissertation (that I am still working on…). But I have been thinking a lot about how to model perception as part of that work. I confess that I, too have not read this paper, only Rick’s and Martin’s entertaining exchange regarding it. But I
wonder if another PCT-based explanation for the result isn’t the influence reading something might have on the gain of an existing control system, rather than a reorganization of it (although I guess altering relative gains among control systems could be a
form of reorganization).

It seems we are composed of many interacting control systems and they all can’t be equally important at all times. If reading Chekhov causes us to simply give
more attention to control systems and controlled variables dealing with how I interact emotionally with others, wouldn’t that explain the result?

RM: My problem with this explanation is the same as my problem with the explanation given by the authors: how does reading Chekhov cause us to give more attention to control systems and controlled variables dealing with how we act emotionally with others. What is the mechanism? How would you model it?

I like my explanation (that reading Chekhov is a disturbance to the perception of “doing what the experimenter wants” and the subject controls for this perception by answering the emotion test with the sort of emotion descriptions found in the reading material) because it seems to me to be consistent with the PCT view of behavior as purposeful rather than caused.

Best

Rick

The converse seems true - Much of economic life seems to promote actions that might cause conflict with emotionally/empathetically-oriented
control systems, and one way of avoiding such conflicts would be to reduce the gain on them (so we appear not to care or are able to say, “that’s just business, that’s not me”). Maybe reading Chekhov reverses that, focuses our attention on the variables our
empathetic control systems are controlling – at least temporarily.

Frank

From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet) [mailto:CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU]
On Behalf Of Martin Taylor
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 1:03 PM
To: CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: Re: [CSGNET] NYTimes.com: I Know How You’re Feeling, I Read Chekhov - NYTimes.com

[Martin Taylor 2013.10.08.13.51]

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.08.0910)]

Martin Taylor (2013.10.07.23.08)–

MT: My only point was to suggest that the degree of your assurance in the correctness of your one and only interpretation of a paper you had not read was perhaps a little extreme. Some humility might perhaps be more appropriate than a fiat that the results
are due to “this and only this”.

RM: The only point I was assured of was that the causal explanation of the results of this experiment are wrong, from a PCT perspective.

On that, we can agree.

If, per PCT, organisms are purposive (control) systems, then the claim that the results of these experiments show that “reading literary fiction led to better performance on tests of affective ToM” is based on an illusion. I offered a possible
explanation of these results from a PCT perspective, but I never said that “this and only this” was the correct explanation. There are other possible PCT explanations; to know which is right you would have to start doing some testing from a PCT perspective
(testing for controlled variables). The only thing about the results that I was not humble about (and remain unhumble about) is my PCT-based claim that the apparent causal relationship between what people read and how well they do on he affective ToM test
is an illusion.

Is a change of ability to, say, hit a golf ball near the hole after practice also an illusion? The frame is the same, as discussed in the NYT blurb. The subjects practiced doing something and afterward they were able to do something else more accurately than
they could do it before the practice. I’d call that “learning”, not an illusion.

I would, however, be very cautious in asserting causality, because if it were causal as I understand the term, the experience of the practice would be the same in everyone, which is not shown to be the case.

MT: You might also have noted that I did not propose any interpretation of the paper. Nor will I, other than to note the parallel that the paper deals with learning, and one of the ways learning is implemented in PCT (the version of PCT
contained in Bill’s writing, I mean) is reorganization. It therefore seems not unreasonable to suggest that the results reported might have some bearing on reorganization, specifically reorganization of the perceptual system.

RM: Perhaps it’s not unreasonable for you to suggest this. But that’s because you appear to be able to note that the paper deals with learning. I don’t see what this study has to do with learning and apparently you’re not going to tell
me why you think this study has to do with learning so there we jolly well are.

I didn’t have to tell you. You could have read it in the NYT blurb, if nowhere else.

But that seems to me beside the point. Even if this paper is about learning it still doesn’t mitigate the wrongness, from a PCT perspective, of the conclusions drawn by the authors and commentators about what the results mean.

Again we agree.

If PCT is right – if people are organized as negative feedback control systems-- then, in order for psychology to become a science, we should never more hear researchers imply that their manipulations of IVs were the cause of varaitions
in the DV.

There we disagree – about “never more”. In situations where feedback cannot occur, IVs can easily cause variations in DVs. Bill called you out on this point a few times, as I recall.

This will be a good discussion to continue when we get to the Experimental Methods chapter (16) in B:CP. So I’ll store this away until we get there, which might take a while since my work on the course has been delayed by the arrival of
my first grandchild. So I’m kind of preoccupied at the moment.

Congratulations. And I hope you enjoy his/her teenage and college years as much as you presumably enjoy this moment.

Martin


Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[Martin Taylor 2013.10.16.23.03]

A little more detail on your model of how they become more accurate

on the forced-choice tests might be helpful.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.16.1825)]

Frank Lenk (2013.10.16.11.11)–

                  It’s

been a long time since I’ve been able to join in
any conversations, and projects at work continue
to interfere with my ability to get some PCT
modeling done for my dissertation (that I am still
working on…). But I have been thinking a lot about
how to model perception as part of that work. I
confess that I, too have not read this paper, only
Rick’s and Martin’s entertaining exchange
regarding it. But I wonder if another PCT-based
explanation for the result isn’t the influence
reading something might have on the gain of an
existing control system, rather than a
reorganization of it (although I guess altering
relative gains among control systems could be a
form of reorganization).

                  It

seems we are composed of many interacting control
systems and they all can’t be equally important at
all times. If reading Chekhov causes us to simply
give more attention to control systems and
controlled variables dealing with how I interact
emotionally with others, wouldn’t that explain the
result?

          RM: My problem with this explanation is the

same as my problem with the explanation given by the
authors: how does reading Chekhov cause us to give more
attention to control systems and controlled variables
dealing with how we act emotionally with others. What is
the mechanism? How would you model it?

          I like my explanation (that reading Chekhov is

a disturbance to the perception of “doing what the
experimenter wants” and the subject controls for this
perception by answering the emotion test with the sort of
emotion descriptions found in the reading material)
because it seems to me to be consistent with the PCT view
of behavior as purposeful rather than caused.

[From Rick Marken (2013.10.17.2230)]
Martin Taylor (2013.10.16.23.03)--

RM: My problem with this explanation is the same as my problem with the explanation given by the authors: how does reading Chekhov cause us to give more attention to control systems and controlled variables dealing with how we act emotionally with others. What is the mechanism? How would you model it?
I like my explanation (that reading Chekhov is a disturbance to the perception of "doing what the experimenter wants" and the subject controls for this perception by answering the emotion test with the sort of emotion descriptions found in the reading material) because it seems to me to be consistent with the PCT view of behavior as purposeful rather than caused.

MT: A little more detail on your model of how they become more accurate on the forced-choice tests might be helpful.

RM: I would like to see the data to see just how different the accuracy of the Chekhov group is from the others. But assuming that it is a fairly clear cut difference I'll try to expand on my model just a bit.

When I say that the subjects are controlling for "doing what the experimenter wants" I mean that the subjects are controlling for what they think the experimenter wants to find; try to give the experimenter what he wants to find. They probably have various hypotheses about what that is when they are reading the material they are asked to read. So they are not only trying to understand and remember what they are reading; they are also trying to figure out why they are reading it.

Once the subjects get to the emotion test, I think they realize that the experimenter probably wants to see if what they just read will influence their choices. So they control the "doing what the experimenter wants" perception by varying their actions (the choices they make in the emotion test) as the means of protecting the perception of "doing what the experimenter wants" from the disturbances created by the questions on the emotion test. They correct for these disturbances by selecting the answers that they think are the ones that would be given by a person who had read what they just read. Of course, this would only be true for some of the questions on the emotion test, the ones where the "correct" answer is not obvious.

I think there is actually a way to test this model using their data. My model predicts that the "wrong" answers made to the same questions in the different reading groups will be systematically different. So, for example, the subjects who missed question 5 in the Chekhov group should tend to have selected a different answer than those who missed question 5 in the other groups. This is because, when they don't know what to say, the subjects in the Chekhov group would tend to pick the "Chekhovian" answer while those in the other groups would pick something else.

By the way, my model suggests that the people who got a high score on the emotion test, regardless of the group they were in, were not actually better at reading emotion than those who got a low score. That would imply that a person's true emotion is perfectly reflected in a picture of their eyes. But my experience is that I often get it wrong; for example, I see a person weeping as experiencing great sadness when, in fact, they are experiencing great joy.

The "correctness" of the answers on the emotion test seem to me to reflect one's ability to make culturally accepted conventional matches between the appearance of the eyes and the emotion word that "should" go with it. I suspect that a subject who is trying to give the experimenter what is wanted, when unsure of what the "conventional" association should be, will use what was inferred from the reading material to select the answer. Which suggests another test of this model: there should be a group of questions that the subjects in all groups tend to get right; these are the "conventional" emotion word pictures. Then there should also be a specific set of questions that the Chekhov group tends to get right that the other groups don't. These are the pictures where the "correct" answer is more Chekhovean.

Maybe the Science article present these analyses; so my model could then be tested (and, perhaps rejected) if these predictions don't pan out. It would be nice if someone who subscribes to Science could post the actual article so we could see what's up.

Best regards

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
<mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com>rsmarken@gmail.com
<http://www.mindreadings.com>www.mindreadings.com