[From Rick Marken (2014.12.04.1100)]
Frank Lenk (2014.11.21.15:46 CST)
FL: RickÂ Â I found your post below very interestingg.Â I have several questions and comments:
RM: Hi Frank. I’m afraid I’ve ignored this due to my involvement in the debate about control of behavior. But I will try to assuage my guilt by making some quick comments.
FL:Â 1. First, where canÂ I find a copy of Tim Careyâs and your paper?
Â RM: I Sent you a copy. Let me know what you think.Â
FL:Â Â I found the explanation of the two different types of problems both exceptionally clear and useful.
2.Â FL:Â I, too, am a big fan of Smithâs
Theory of Moral SentimentsÂ …
FL:Â Surely there is advantage to learning from others how to achieve higher levels of control, which may help explain our desire to emulate the rich. Â
RM: That’s true for some people. I’ve never been interested in emulating (or even paying attention to) people because they are rich. But I agree that some people do. Who knows why?
FL:Â 3.Â Veblen conceived of institutions, not as organizations… Dewey (and many others) suggest that a child learns right from wrong by experiencing the reaction of her parents to her actions (and, in light of the heated discussion going on in the âDemonstration of control of behaviorâ? thread, if
thatâs not an attempt by one living control system to control the behavior of another, Iâm not sure what is ). But Iâm having trouble diagramming out exactly how this would work. Â
RM: I posted a diagram of control of behavior. Does that help?
Can you offer some suggestions?
RM: I guess the diagram is my suggestion regarding a controlling relationship between two control systems; but only one control system is controlling the behavior of another. Perhaps you could try expanding it to handle mutual cooperative control. That might require putting two control systems in each system (s and c).Â
FL:Â Does this become a shared control system, or
is it still two isolated control systems simply sharing a reference? Can cooperation, as you defined it, be thought of as creating a shared or joint perceptual control system?
RM: I guess I’d rather see how cooperative control works (in the form of a model) rather than think about how it should be “thought of”.Â
FL:Â 4. If so, it would imply this sharing could extend to more people than a household, that there might be such a thing as a shared system for controlling a perception of, say, social harmony, that would involve the cooperation of even people who had never
RM: I think that kind of cooperation is the only reason hominid apes, like us, have been able to survive.
FL: You can see where Iâm going.Â Is the concept of a shared perceptual control system the way society becomes ârealâ?
RM: I think a society is as real as any other perception. I don’t think PCT can make society any more real. But I do think it can explain what it is we’re perceiving when we perceive a society.
FL:Â 5. I read Kent McClellandâs 1994 paper which also suggests that one way society might have such force is in determining individuals’ references for their highest level perceptions. But also, he says that power is a group phenomenon generated by an alignment
of references and perceptions. While the outputs of individuals in a group arenât necessarily the same as they have different roles in maintaing perceptions near references, there is a high degree of commonality in those purposes and perceptions among individuals
in the group.Â To me, this sounds like they are cooperatively participating in a shared (or dare I say, socialized) perceptual control system.Â Am I wrong in thinking this way? Â
RM: I think cooperation is itself a perceptual variable that people can control for at different levels. It’s not something that happens by accident. This is a whole topic in and of itself and I’ll try write something up on this pretty soon.
FL:Â 6. What I am really interested in exploring is how, in this kind of setup, âa small committed group of citizens can change the world,â? to quote Margaret Mead.Â
RM: Now you’re getting into control of behavior issues.Â
FL:Â What I like about viewing society as being composed of perceptual control systems is that it
opens up the possibility of such a small group banding together to initiate an error perceived by the larger society that results in a reorganization of it.Â
RM: Yes, I think this is one way social change happens. Forced reorganization. Unfortunately, this can be a very ugly way to make things change (see the French Revolution) and the result of the change is unpredictable (see the French Revolution, or any revolution for that matter).Â
FL:Â Essentially, I am thinking about how a minority or historically powerless group might go about performing
the Method Of Levels on a societal scale.
RM: Â MOL cannot be used to force change in others. MOL works on lightbulbs that want to change;-)
FL:Â Like MOL, Institutional Economics also admits that institutional change has to take place in within those who need to change, and that external players can do little directly.Â
RM: Good for them! But who decides who “needs to change”. I think right wingers need to change big time but I’m pretty sure they feel that it is actually me who has to change.
FL:Â But the MOL concepts of going up a level
and helping to initiate a reorganization process resonate with me.Â What does it mean to help a society to âgo up a levelâ?? Iâm not sure, but it seems like a fruitful way to think about the problem. Â Â
RM; I think it’s best to just worry about one’s own levels and never watch Fox (except for sports) or listen to right wing radio.Â
FL:Â Iâm sure Iâm not thinking completely clearly about all of this. Comments, suggestions, warnings, outright disagreements, etc. welcome from all.
RM: I think we should focus on cooperation as your topic. If we can understand what that is we might at least be able to be a bit more sanguine about what’s going on in the world.Â
Director of Research Services
Mid-America Regional Council
600 Broadway, Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 64105
Ph. 816.701.8237 (direct)
From: Richard Marken email@example.com
Reply-To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 2:18 PM
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com
Subject: Review of âReconstructing Your World Viewâ? by Bart Madden
[From Rick Marken (2014.10.16.1220)]
âReconstructing Your World Viewâ? introduces Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) as one of four âcore beliefsâ? that can help people solve their business problems. While there is a brief but adequate description of PCT in
Chapter 5 it was never clear to me how PCT was relevant to all the proposed solutions to the business problems described in the book. Indeed, many of these proposals seemed to have little to do with an understanding of humans in terms of PCT. One example of
this is the basic premise of the book: that you can solve your problems by âreconstructing your worldviewâ?. This is presented as a matter of disabusing oneself of âfaulty assumptionsâ? so that one can perceive things correctly.
One example given in the book of the benefits of disabusing oneself of âfaulty assumptionsâ? is Walmartâs success due to Sam Waltonâs ability to see that the perception âbig stores in small townsâ? was correct while
Kmartâs failure resulted from its inability to get past the idea that âbig stores in big townsâ? is correct. But there is nothing in PCT that says that one way of perceiving the world is more correct than another. The âcorrectnessâ? of a perception makes sense
only in terms of whether controlling it achieves the controllerâs higher order goals all of them. So controlling for âbig sstores in small townsâ? may have been âcorrectâ? for Walton inasmuch as it achieved all of his higher level goals but controlling that
perception may not have been correct for Kmart because it would not have achieved all of Kmartâs higher level goals.
How you solve problems (from a PCT perspective) depends on the type of problem you have. A problem, in PCT, is simply an inability to control a perception you want to control. There are basically two kinds of problems
from a PCT perspective: lack of control due to lack of skill (such as inability to solve a math problem due to lack of knowledge of the rules of algebra) and lack of control due to conflict (such as lack of control of eating due to a conflict between wanting
nourishment and wanting to be thin). Tim Carey and I discuss the difference between these two types of problems and how to solve them in our recent paper
Understanding the Change Process Involved in Solving Psychological Problems: A Model-Based Approach to Understanding How Psychotherapy Works (2014).Â The solution to both of these types of problems involves what could be called âreconstructing your worldviewâ?;
but the reconstructing is quite different in each case. If the problem results from lack of skill then the solution is education; teaching the person the perceptions to control to achieve the desired result. If itâs a conflict-based problem then the solution
can only be achieved through reorganization; there is no way to teach the person the perceptions to control that will achieve the desired result. If the â?complex business problemsâ? addressed in the book are lack of skill problems then they can be readily solved
by simply teaching the correct way to achieve the desired results. If, however, these problems are conflict-based as they seem to be since they are described as involving resistance to change of âworldviewâ? then the only solution is random reorganization,
perhaps assisted by MOL; an outsider cannot tell the person with the problem what the correct solution to their problem is.
PCT is simply a model of how purposeful behavior (control) works; it supports no particular political point of view or value system. But it does show what a properly functioning living
system is: itâs a system that is in control. So if oneâs idea of a âgoodâ? society is one where everyone is in control of their lives that is, if one is controlling for the perceptionn of a society made up of individuals who are able to control the perceptions
they need and want to control (as mine is) then âReconsttructing Your World Viewâ? is particularly disappointing forum for âpromulgating PCTâ?. This is because the book seems to accept the idea that competition is a good thing; that Â "society benefits from
business firms competingâ?. Competition is just another word for conflict and if PCT teaches us anything itâs that conflict is the enemy of control. So I think that an understanding of PCT leads to a very different conclusion about the merits of competition
in society, more like the conclusion so beautifully articulated by Powers in his paper “Degrees of freedom in social interaction”( reprinted in LCS I). In particular, see the section on “Freedom in Social Interactions” (starting on p. 229) for the PCT view
of the supposed benefits of competition in a society.Â
Complementing the lack of understanding of the debilitating effects of conflict is a lack of understanding of the nature of cooperation. One of the âKey pointsâ? at the end of the chapter on PCT is the following: âWhen
people working together have sharply different high-level goals, conflict is to be expected. When their high-level goals are similar, expect cooperation.â? What is being described is not necessarily cooperation. If the simultaneous control of the same perception
is simply coincidental then there was no cooperation involved; itâs just two systems that happen to be controlling the same variable at the same time. Either system could have controlled the variable on its own; there was no need for the other system to be
controlling as well. The only benefit of simultaneous control of the variable is that each system needs to produce less output to produce the desired result than it would have if it were on its own. This would be an example of cooperation if the two systems
had agreed in advance to control the same perception so that each would have to expend less effort at controlling it individually. Cooperation involves two or more control systems achieving a result that could not be achieved by either system acting on its
own. Real cooperation requires that each system give up some control (give up some âpersonal freedomâ?) in order to achieve control of some variable that the systems involved could not achieve individually (so that they are all âfreerâ?). Cooperation does not
âjust happenâ? when people adopt (coincidentally) similar goals (although adopting similar goals can be part of what is agreed to as part of being cooperative).
Cooperation is the basis of civilized human society. And I think it is the failure to understand the nature of cooperation from a PCT perspective that I find most problematic about this book. A business is a cooperative
venture between employees and employers. So any problems in the business are control problems for both employees and employers. But this book presents PCT as a solution to the problems the employer only (with even the small nod toward improving âworker satisfactionâ?
being aimed at making business better for the employer). I find this focus on solving business problems only from the employers perspective to be almost obscene in the context of an economy where over the last 30 years CEO remuneration has gone from 50 to
over 300 times that of the average employee while employee wages have remained stagnant or actually declined in real terms. Since money is what gives people a great deal of their ability to control (in a society based on specialized production) it’s pretty
clear that over the last 30 years the problems of employers have declined considerably while those of their employees have increased substantially.Â It seems to me that what we need are more books on how employers can better cooperate with employees to give
employees better control of their lives. Â
Ultimately I think this book suffers from a âworldviewâ? that is well described in these quotes from two of my favorite economists:
This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition…[is] the great and
most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments… We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the virtuous. We see frequently the vices and follies
of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent. (Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments I.III.28).
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. John Kenneth Galbraith
I look forward to someday seeing a truly PCT-based book on economics and business. I think it would describe an economy organized a lot more like those of the the Nordic countries than that of the US.Â
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Â Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author ofÂ Â Doing Research on Purpose.Â
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble
In nature there’s no blemish but the mind
None can be called deformed but the unkind.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Shakespeare, Twelfth Night