Overview: Forms of Collective Control in Social Life

Part of the power of the collective control concept, and one reason that I find it particularly relevant to the social sciences, is that people can and do control perceptions collectively from the full range of their perceptions, from the simplest and most concrete perceptions to the most complex and abstract. This extremely wide applicability, of course, is one of the beauties of PCT—that all kinds of the behavior of living things can be understood in terms of a single, unified theory.

In particular, the collective control concept applies to patterns of human action and interaction, as well as to manipulation of the physical environment. The fact that people can collectively control their perceptions of their own actions in the context of other people’s actions is a key to the understanding the behavior of social groups and the formation of cultural patterns.

One important thing to keep in mind when thinking about collective control is that people control their perceptions at multiple levels of perception concurrently, since control of any higher-level perception is based on the simultaneous control of a pyramidal hierarchy of lower-level perceptions that link to and thus define the more complex perception. Much of this lower-level control, of course, occurs unconsciously (at least until any failures of control draw attention to uncontrolled lower-level perceptions). Nevertheless, the complexity introduced by the co-occurrence of control at many different levels of perception makes our analysis of collective control more complex.

Socially relevant collective control takes at least three forms:

    1. The most straightforward form of collective control occurs when a group of people come together in the same physical environment and actively focus on a single object of perception in order to control their own perceptions of it by doing “the same” thing. One simple example (which I will describe in detail in a later post) is when an audience gives a round of applause at the end of a public performance.
    1. A more complex form of collective control occurs when groups of people cooperate by collectively controlling a single focal perception at a given perceptual level while independently controlling different perceptions at lower levels. Their various actions taken independently create a complex set of environmental stabilities that make it possible for them to control the focal perception collectively. In simpler terms, this form of collective control happens when people work together by doing different things toward the achievement of a shared goal (the collectively controlled perception). Many kinds of group behavior depend on this form of collective control. Organizations and businesses work on this principle.
    1. A third and highly consequential form of collective control consists of parallel independent control of “the same” perception or set of perceptions by different people who share a set of common references for their own independent control of those perceptions. In parallel independent collective control, the control can be widely dispersed in time and location. Society-wide and world-wide collective phenomena, such as cultural patterns like languages, are examples of this form of collective control.

In future posts I will offer additional examples of each of these forms of collective control and describe them in more detail.

An Example of Form #1: A Round of Applause

Let’s start with the simplest form of collective control: a group of people in the same location focus actively on a single object of perception to control their own perceptions of it by doing “the same” thing.

Here is an example: An audience applauds at the end of a performance. Multiple members of the audience, usually everyone in the audience or nearly all, make a collectively controlled noise by clapping: that is, by repeatedly striking both hands together, all at the same time but usually not in rhythm with each other. Hearers of the applause, including performers as well as audience members, perceive the loudness of the noise and the length of the applause as expressing the degree of approval felt by audience members for the performance just completed.

A round of applause nicely illustrates the properties of a giant virtual controller. Every member of a large audience can contribute to the collectively produced sound by joining into the applause, but no single individual has more than a negligible effect on the overall intensity of the sound. An individual member of the audience who feels that the applause is too loud can cease clapping. If the applause does not seem loud enough, a person can clap more vigorously or even whistle and stomp feet. But in a large audience, none of the actions of a single individual will have any great impact on the collectively produced sound. The larger the audience, the less that any individual contribution will matter.

Note an implicit conflict in the different references that audience members may have for how hard and long to clap. Audience members are likely to have had different opinions about the performance and then to express those differing degrees of approval in how vigorously they clap. But the audience’s collective sound will average out such individual differences, just as if a powerful but unitary control agent, “the audience,” has responded to the performance with a much louder sound, but one proportional to the average of the individual contributions. Conflicts in opinions about the performance don’t generally make a difference in the overall outcome, unless opinions are so divided that some audience members start booing.

The collectively controlled perceptions in this case—the intensity and duration of the noise of the clapping—are low-level perceptions in the perceptual hierarchy. Another example of this simple form of collective control, which I intend to discuss in more detail in a future post, is the team game called tug of war. The focal perception to be collectively controlled in that case is the position of a length of rope relative to markings on the ground, again a perception at a lower level of the perceptual hierarchy.

One final note: When referring to the physical actions taken by members of the audience to control their perceptions of the noise of the applause, I have put the words the “the same” in quotation marks. These physical acts of clapping are the same in the sense that an observer would see most members of the audience making roughly the same patterns of movement to strike their hands together, and an observer with cultural knowledge about the practice would describe them all as “clapping.” But one individual’s kinesthetic perceptions of physical motion and of the impacts of the hands striking together are obviously not the same as the perceptions controlled by other members, because each controls his or her own perceptions. Their perceptions of the overall sound of clapping may be different, as well, because of the physical location of the audience members within the gathering and the acuity of their hearing. Whenever we talk about collective control by humans, we need to make allowances for the fact that each person has a unique set of perceptual abilities and each person’s body occupies a unique location in physical space.

An Example of Form #1 with Conflict: Tug of War

My earliest presentations and papers on collective control showed a classic situation of conflict between control systems, where two control agents, acting upon a commonly perceived environmental variable, both try to control their perception of the variable but with different references for its value.

As I’ve repeatedly shown in my publications, this simple form of collective control by agents with different references can result in an escalating conflict of output. The joint actions of the control agents, nevertheless, stabilize the contested variable at a virtual reference level intermediate between their preferred references. The effect on the contested variable is indistinguishable from the result of the actions of a more powerful control agent using this virtual reference level to control its perception of the contested variable. Martin and I have described this hypothetical controller as a giant virtual controller, or GVC.

My previous example of a giant virtual controller—an audience clapping—demonstrates that escalating conflict is not an inevitable feature of this simplest form collective control, even when participants have a range of different reference levels for the jointly produced environmental variables (in this case, the loudness and length of the sound of clapping). However, escalating conflict often results in the simple form of GVC when the participants cluster around two incompatible references for their perceptions of the same external variable, and a good example is in the game called tug of war.

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tug_of_war), tug of war has ancient origins and has been played in many societies worldwide. In the modern version described in the Wikipedia article, two teams grab a long, sturdy rope and pull it in opposite directions, trying to drag the members of the other team along with it. The collectively controlled variable in this case is the physical location of a center point marked on the rope.

At the start of the game, the teams set up on either side of three parallel and equally spaced lines on the ground, and the rope is stretched out across the lines and perpendicular to them. Team members array themselves along either end of the rope and then pick it up and hold it with the center point positioned directly above the middle line. Both teams commence pulling, and the object of the game is for a team to pull the rope’s center point past the outside line on their side of the field in spite of the resistance of the other team.

After the signal to begin the game, the conflict between the two sides escalates quickly as teams try to pull as hard as they can to gain an advantage. If one team is considerably heavier and stronger than the other, the game ends quickly. When teams are evenly matched, however, the value of the contested variable—the position of the middle of the rope—may not change much at all, at least not immediately.

If both sides are pulling at the limits of their abilities and neither has a decisive edge, a high-conflict stalemate can often last for several minutes before one side is overpowered by the other. A YouTube video of the 2015 UK Tug of War Championships shows a match that lasted more than nine minutes, with the teams in a near standoff until the last couple of minutes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQoM8kKDn6Y). The team that finally succeeds in pulling the center of the rope over the line on their side of the field is declared the victor, after which the contest ends and everyone stops pulling.

Stalemated conflicts are a common feature of social life, from family feuds to the halls of Congress, and whenever the teams in conflict can recruit new members to replace older members as they drop out—thus bringing new energy to the fight—these conflicts can last far longer than the relatively brief struggles of a tug-of-war game. However, such long-running conflicts are generally much more complex than the simple form of collective control I just described.

It’s worth noting that even the tug of war game has some complexities. The teams collectively control several other perceptions in addition to the focal perception of the position of the rope on the field. Members of each team control the high-level perceptions of belonging to their own team, and all of the contestants control their perceptions of the rules of the game and personal adherence (we hope) to those rules.

Finally, some of the YouTube videos of tug of war contests show an extra team member, called a “driver,” whose role is something like that of the coxswain in a rowing competition. The driver doesn’t hold onto the rope but instead stands beside the team and calls out commands to help them coordinate the rhythm of their efforts, so that they all choose the same moment to make an extra pull and then take rests together by “hanging,” that is, planting their feet and leaning their weight back against the other team’s pull on the rope (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tug_of_war). Among the perceptions that team members collectively control, then, is the perception of following the references suggested by the driver. This coordination of references adds to the impact and efficiency of their collective control efforts, because team members avoid wasting their energy by inadvertently pulling against each other.

In my next post, I intend to offer some additional examples of the more complex form of collective control in which participants control different perceptions at lower levels of perception in order to collectively control a single perception of a higher level.

KM: … A round of applause nicely illustrates the properties of a giant virtual controller. Every member of a large audience can contribute to the collectively produced sound by joining into the applause, but no single individual has more than a negligible effect on the overall intensity of the sound. An individual member of the audience who feels that the applause is too loud can cease clapping. If the applause does not seem loud enough, a person can clap more vigorously or even whistle and stomp feet. But in a large audience, none of the actions of a single individual will have any great impact on the collectively produced sound. The larger the audience, the less that any individual contribution will matter.

RM: The problem with this “theory first” approach to understanding social behavior is that the theory can become a Procrustean Bed into which the the phenomenon must be fit. In this case you have a theory of “collective control” where multiple control systems are acting to control the same variable relative to the same or different reference levels. You have found, via computer simulations, that even when the systems all have a different reference for this variable, it will remain in a virtual reference state, as though it were being controlled by a “virtual control system”. So now you have applied this theory to “a round of applause” under the assumption that each individual in the audience is controlling for the same variable – the loudness level produced by their own clapping and that of anyone else in the audience who claps.

RM: But based on my experience in audiences this seems somewhat unlikely to me. The loudness level of audience applause has typically seemed like an uncontrolled side effect of the ambient level of appreciation of the performance by individuals in the audience. There have been times when I (or others) have tried to increase the overall level of applause for a performance or speech. But this has usually been done by other means than increasing my level of applause. It has been done by calling out things like “let’s hear it for…”, hopefully taking advantage of the possibility that members of the audience are controlling for following such an order.

RM: But your explanation may be right. What is needed is empirical evidence that would provide as test of this theory. Evidence such as measures of variations in overall loudness levels compared to variations in individually produced loudness levels. You need to find data that would provide a test of your hypothesis; data that could best be fit my you model (of overall loudness as a common controlled variable) and mine (of loudness as a side effect of the individual levels of loudness each individual wants to produce).

RM: I think it makes more sense to take a phenomena first than a theory first approach to understanding social phenomena. Some of these phenomena (such as the tug of war example you give later) may be best explained in terms of agents controlling the same variable with respect to the same and/or different references. But others (like applause level or the social behaviors explained by the CROWD program) may be explained as side effects that emerge for groups of agents mainly controlling different variables (the agents in the CROWD program are all controlling the same types of variables - they are all controlling for “proximity” to other agents, for example – but each agent is controlling a different environmental correlate of each type of variable – for example, each agent is controlling proximity to a different agent).

RM: I think there is much more to social control phenomena than groups of agents controlling the same variable.



Thank you for your reply to my post, Rick. It looks to me like we may be getting nearer to a meeting of minds on this topic than we have in the past. It seems like a big deal to me that you’ve conceded that my tug of war example may demonstrate the simplest form of collective control. For a long time, you’ve been telling me that you couldn’t think of any empirical examples at all. But there are also some other areas of possible agreement.

First of all, I agree completely with the final statement of your post:

I absolutely agree with you that most empirical examples of collective control are far more complex than simply groups of agents controlling the same variable. I plan to delve into some of those complexities in my subsequent posts on the various forms of collective control.

Second, while I think I understand your views on how science should work, and I agree with your views in some respects, I do not completely agree with the way you’ve outlined it in your post. Let me start by trying to paraphrase your views on science, and please correct me if I’ve got it wrong.

You argue that we should take a phenomena-first approach to science. That means, if I understand it, that we should look at a phenomenon that we would like to explain, make careful observations of it, gather data, devise a theory to explain the phenomenon, and finally demonstrate that the theory is correct by constructing a computational model that replicates the data. This all makes for a nice neat linear progression. Emphasis on the word linear .

The thing is, that I don’t think either a phenomena-first or a theory-first approach to science is even possible. I think instead that phenomena and theories in science are completely intertwined. In my view, science—as a form of knowing about the world—and thus as a form of perception—is a cyclical process, where it’s no more possible to separate phenomena from theory from techniques of observation than it is to separate perceptions from references from actions in a control-system loop.

You describe me as having a theory-first approach, but you may not appreciate the extent to which my theoretical ideas on collective control have been rooted in a phenomena-first approach. I have been studying, teaching, and doing research in sociology for more than 50 years now, and thus have spent my entire career observing and thinking about the widespread social and cultural phenomena that I have always hoped be able to explain scientifically. When I finally encountered perceptual control theory—which was not until almost halfway through my career—it opened a way for me to begin to make sense of phenomena that I had long been observing.

You yourself have argued in your quite brilliant article on “Control-Theory Glasses” that making observations and gathering data don’t do you much good until you find the correct theory to explain what you’re seeing. This insight provides a nice explanation for the apparent futility of a century-plus of social scientific research that has sought to find the “causes” of human behavior rather than the perceptions people are controlling.

When it finally dawned on me that widespread social and cultural phenomena were not the results of linear causal processes but instead were evidence of control—and that the control had to be happening collectively on a massive scale—I began seeing collective control everywhere in the social and cultural world. Everywhere. All the society-wide and world-wide patterns of cooperative human action, as well as the large degree of uniformity in the manufactured physical environments in which we live and work, could not possibly have resulted from the random actions of individual people controlling their own perceptions without any reference to the behavior of others. Large-scale cooperation just doesn’t happen randomly, any more than it could happen that all the molecules in a gas might suddenly line up and begin moving at the same speed in the same direction.

The widespread social and cultural phenomena that interest me may not be things that you think much about or even find very interesting. That’s OK. You’ve been trained as an experimental psychologist, and that training teaches you to distrust anything you can’t confirm in your own lab. Unfortunately, the macro phenomena that interest me aren’t easily amenable to being brought into a laboratory. For me to go out and do the kind of research that you recommend in your post, I would need to have assembled a sizeable research organization: a team of graduate students ready to go out into the field, as well as a substantial research grant to support them. As a teacher at an undergraduate liberal arts college for most of my career, I just haven’t had access to those kinds of resources.

To put it another way, doing research on widespread social and cultural phenomena, or indeed any serious program of research, requires a collective effort and a division of labor. Within that division of labor, I see a place for someone who works mainly as a specialist in theory and can help others in the team to understand what they see.

Bill Powers, when you think of it, was essentially a theorist. Although he was able to do some experiments, the fact that he never had an army of graduate students at his command or any big research grants was of course one of the reasons that his theory hasn’t gained more attention in the academic world.

My goal in doing what I can to advance PCT with the resources at my disposal is to provide some theoretical ideas that may hopefully someday be tested out by others, much in the way you would recommend. Until then, I don’t feel any need to apologize for playing my limited role in the collective scientific enterprise.

My next planned post, which I began working on before composing this reply to you, will be a commentary and critique on Tom Bourbon’s article, “Invitation to the Dance.” I actually regard Tom’s experiment as a good demonstration of collective control as I would define it. To give a little preview of my post, I will argue that he carried out an elegant experiment, but that Tom’s analysis of his results left something to be desired, because the theoretical framework that he applied was inadequate to the task.

Until I’ve got that post put together, here’s a question for further thought (or a “leading question” as a friend of ours used to say). Do you see any way at all that the CROWD demos actually do serve to demonstrate the simplest form of collective control, that is, groups of agents controlling the same variables?

What does it mean for control agents to control the “same” variable?

Rick made an argument in his response to my original post that he had evidently not thought through carefully, or he could have easily seen that the argument doesn’t quite compute.

Rick argues in the final sentence of this paragraph that when control agents are controlling the same types of variables, we can tell whether control agents are controlling the same perceptual variable or different variables by examining the environmental correlate[s] of the variables they are controlling.

We can see that this argument doesn’t actually make sense by applying that same argument to perceptions controlled by a single control agent over time and asking whether controlled variables change every time the environmental correlates of the controlled perceptions change.

Consider the CROWD program that he refers to. The individual agents in that program control two types of proximity variables, as I understand it. One variable is to stay within a prescribed distance of a designated target agent (call it the leader). The other is to maintain at least a minimal separation distance from the other agents.

A typical CROWD demo shows a group of control agents following the same leader through a field of other agents all moving in different directions. Because of the constantly shifting configurations of agents in the field of action, the environmental correlates of the proximity variables controlled by the group of follower agents are in constant flux. But does that mean that the perceptual variables they control are constantly changing?

Well, obviously not. Whatever the environmental correlates of their perceptions might momentarily be, they can only to control the same two proximity variables that they were programmed to control. And, in fact, they are all controlling the same two variables, because the agents are all programmed to be identical, and the programmer has assigned the same references for controlling these two variables to each one of them.

We can expect the environmental correlates of controlled perceptions to constantly fluctuate because of unpredictable environmental disturbances. Control of a perception, of course, results in some reduction of the variability of a perception’s environmental correlates, but never a complete elimination of the variability. We are talking about variables after all, and they have variable values by definition.

What makes a controlled perception the same from one moment to the next, or from one episode of control to the next, or even from one control agent controlling a perception to another controlling the same perception, is the organization of control loop and the similarity in the references used for the control.

If the perceptions controlled by two control agents (or one control agent at different points in time) are constructed in the same way (or highly similar ways), and the references used by tthose agents for controlling those perceptions are the same (or highly similar), we can say that they are controlling the same perception. Otherwise it makes no sense to say that any perception is the same as any other, and we must then resign ourselves to living in a world of perpetual and chaotic flux. Social life would not be possible in that kind of world.

Now, it’s true that no living control agent can have exactly the same transient perception as any other at the same moment, because no two living control agents can occupy the same point in physical space at the same moment, and no two living control agents (at least, those with complex internal organizations) have perceptual hierarchies that are organized in exactly the same way,

But for the purposes of my argument, variations in the organizations of perceptual circuits and the values of the references used by different control agents make no difference in determining whether collective control of the same variable is taking place. If agents use different references for controlling their perceptions of a shared environmental variable, there will indeed be some conflict between agents, and the agents may escalate their outputs to try to get their perceptions into control. However, my simulations have demonstrated that their joint control actions will continue to have the same cumulative effect on the environmental correlates of these perceptions, so long as the agents continue to control the same perceptions they started with and use the same references they started with.

What matters for collective control, then, is the combined impact of the control agents’ actions on the shared environmental reality affected by the agents’ actions, even when the agents do not all perceive that shared environment in quite the same way.

Getting back to the social world of humans, no one of us has perceptions that are exactly the same as any other, but we can have perceptions of our shared environment that are similar enough, and we can control those perceptions with references that are similar enough, to allow enough cooperation for the practical purposes of our survival as a human group (so far, at least). And by cooperating with each other, we have gained the immense advantages of collective power over our shared environmental circumstances. That is the payoff for collective control.

KM: What does it mean for control agents to control the “same” variable?

RM: This is a great question. Two controlled variables could be the “same” because they are the same type of variable or because they are both the same type of variable and a function of the same environmental variables.

RM: In the context of your model of collective control, where a virtual controlled variable emerges from two or more agents controlling the same variable relative to different references, the meaning of “same” must be the latter: the virtually controlled variable is the same type of variable and a function of the same environmental variables.

RM: The agents in a tug of war are controlling the same type of variable – the position of the flag relative to the dividing line between the two teams; call it a relationship type perception – that is also a function of the same environmental variables – the flag and line. Since it is physically impossible to have the flag in two different positions relative to the line at the same time, it is impossible for the two different teams to get their perceptions of the position of the flag relative to the line in two different states at the same time. So there is a conflict.

RM: The agents in the CROWD program are also controlling the same type of variable – their proximity to other agents and objects; also a relationship type perception – but each agent’s perception of proximity is a function of different environmental variables – the different agents and objects that they happen to be close to as they move through a scenario. Because the agents are controlling different perceptions that are functions of different environmental variables, there is no conflict.

RM: The variables controlled by the agents in the CROWD program are not virtually controlled; they are really controlled. The stable patterns that emerge in the various CROWD scenarios – such as the semi-circle of agents around a “guru” – are a side effect of each agent’s successful control of the variables it is controlling. The stable patterns are not a result of conflict between the agents acting like a “giant virtual controller” of these variables.

RM: This is why I think your “giant virtual controller” model of collective control doesn’t apply to social behavior like that seen in the CROWD program. In fact, I can’t think of any example of social behavior, except a tug of war and arm wrestling, where there is a stable result (even for a relatively short time) that results from conflict over the state of the same controlled variable – one that is the same type of variable and a function of the same environmental variables.

RM: When I refer to variables that are the same, I usually mean “same” in the second sense: same type and function of same environmental variables. When I am just referring to variables that are the same only in terms of type, then I will always try to say “same type” of variable. But I think what is meant by “same variable” is usually pretty clear from context.

I think Kent is mixing up the variable(s) being controlled with the value(s) of the variable(s) being controlled. The values are in flux, the environmental correlate(s) of the variable(s) is/are not. The value(s) of the environmental correlate(s) change. That’s what control is all about, keeping those values near their reference values. Control, collective or otherwise, isn’t about changing the variables being controlled. That’s something reorganization might do, but control does not.

In general, collective control does not mean that multiple controllers try to simultaneously control the same variable. It does mean that whatever variables the members of the Giant Virtual Controllers might be controlling, the environmental effects of controlling their own variables all influence a correlated common variable that might not be THE variable controlled by any of them. That’s perhaps a side-effect from the viewpoint of each individual controller, but it is not a side-effect for the Giant Virtual Controller.

A side-effect from the viewpoint of the GVC is something that happens unperceived by the controller as a consequence of the environmental effects of the controller’s output. A good example is the Tragedy of the Commons in which several controllers actions deplete the resource on which they all depend, but none perceives changing as a direct consequence of their own actions. Climate change, for example, where everybody says that their choice of car has no effect, when their choice does have an effect that is too small and too delayed for tem to perceive.

Seems to me that what makes it the same from one moment to the next, or from one episode of control to the next, is the perceptual input function. (Every PIF categorizes over a domain of effective input, and not all of its input need come from the environment.) And what makes it the same from one agent to another is a perception that another agent is controlling a particular variable. Although that variable is necessarily among one’s own perceptual variables, the agent takes it to be an actuality in the environment. This is the basis of intersubjective agreement about aspects of the environment.

Cooperation and competition are not the only phenomena that depend upon a perception that another agent is controlling a particular variable. Attribution of such perceptions (and control) to others is important for survival; I hope it’s not necessary to argue that point. Mutual perceptions of e.g. predator and prey, conspecific, and kin go back pretty far in the evolutionary tree. As Rick observed a few years ago, so-called ‘mirror cells’ are probably reference signals that fire, controlling in imagination “what I would be controlling if I were doing what I see that guy doing”. Of course we can’t just dismissively say “they’re only reference signals” without inquiring into why reference signals fire upon observing the activity of another agent.

Some aspects of the environment may serve in the environmental feedback path for control. More than one agent may use the same aspect of the environment in the environmental feedback path for control, even for control of different perceptual variables. Where environmental feedback paths intersect might be called a ‘crossroads’ or ‘intersection’ aspect of the environment. Under social conditions in which these collective phenomena occur, the stability of a common intersection of environmental feedback paths may itself become a controlled perception. This is how our built environment has come to supplant the natural environment. As Kent says, everything in the built environment is collectively controlled.


    February 17

BN: Seems to me that what makes it [the controlled variable] the same from one moment to the next is the perceptual input function.

RM: As I said in an earlier post that apparently no one read, that is one possible meaning of “same controlled variable”; when the perceptual input functions in two control systems are the same, the systems are controlling the same type of variable. But if the environmental inputs to these functions are not the same they are not controlling the same variable, just the same type of variable.

RM: For example, I could be controlling for opening a door and you could be controlling for closing a door. We are both controlling the same type of variable (angle of door relative to frame). But if we are dealing with two different doors then we are not controlling the same variable. So even though we have two different references for the state of the same type of variable (my reference being something like 80 degrees and yours being 0 degrees) there is no conflict and no “virtual” controlled variable. But if we are controlling the angle of the same door, then we are controlling both the same variable AND the same type of variable: the angle being the angle of that particular door relative to the door frame. In that case there will be conflict and, depending on our relative strength and stamina, the angle of the door will remain in a virtual reference state for a while, until one or both of us realizes that there are better things to do.

RM: Kent’s model of collective control as being the virtual reference states of controlled variables requires that the collective (group of control systems) be controlling not just the same type of variable but also the same variable. I think this limits the range of social phenomena to which the model applies to a very small number. I can think of many examples of social phenomena where a collectively produced result is a result of individuals controlling the same type of variables but not the same variables.