See how the fates their gifts allot

[From Fred Nickols (990502.0635)]--

From Rick Marken (990430.0830)
"Coercion" (control of behavior
by force or the credible threat thereof) seemed like a pretty
easily observed and explained control phenomenon but, apparently,
it's not.

For me the sticking point here is what it's always been, the use of
"behavior." Were you to say coercion is the control of another person's
"actions" by force or the credible threat thereof I'd have no problem with
the definition or with seeing how the coercee is caught up in the coercer's
control loop (i.e., the coercer is controlling for the coercee's actions).
I'm hardly the one to be a stickler on the use of "behavior" but having
been on the receiving end of some reminders that I was misusing the term in
a PCT sense, I'm mindful of it.

Regarding your question below, I don't mean to answer for Isaac, he can
answer for himself, but I will answer for me...

If this seems reasonable, then maybe you could answer my
question from the previous post:

Now you watch me tell both A and B to go sit in their
rooms and read Chaucer. You see both A and B instantly do
what they are told. How do you determine that I am coercing
B and not coercing A?

My answer is that YOU don't determine and you can't know. The reason is as
I said in that short little post earlier: Coercion is in the eye of the
coercee, not the coercer. Only A and B know if they're being coerced and
even if they tell you whether or not they feel that way all you can know is
what they're telling you. I've not given the matter much thought but, I'd
also hazard the guess that neither you nor Bill P, on your best
collaborative day, could devise a test to see if A or B was feeling coerced.

What you probably can do is define coercion in ways that allow you to test
for that condition. But, so long as what is being controlled is an
internal state instead of a perception of some external condition or state
of affairs, you'll whistle Dixie trying to test it. That's why Skinner
opted for the "black box" view.

···

--

Regards,

Fred Nickols
Distance Consulting "Assistance at A Distance"
http://home.att.net/~nickols/distance.htm
nickols@worldnet.att.net
(609) 490-0095

[From Fred Nickols (990502.0655 EDT)]--

Here I go butting in again...

From Rick Marken (990430.1550)]

Also, could you tell me whether the following is a satisfactory
description of what you think coercion is:

"Coercion occurs when one person (coercer) makes another person
(coercee) do what s/he (coercee) doesn't want to do"

If this isn't right could you give me one that sounds right.

I think your description is a reasonable one when talking about coercion in
an abstract sense or perhaps from the perspective of an observer. I would
be inclined to use a more personal, affective or feeling-oriented
definition, something like, "Coercion occurs when I feel compelled to do
something I don't want to do." Again, it's my sense of being compelled,
not the observer's assessment of the situation that matters.

Darn those internal states anyway!

···

--

Regards,

Fred Nickols
Distance Consulting "Assistance at A Distance"
http://home.att.net/~nickols/distance.htm
nickols@worldnet.att.net
(609) 490-0095

Offline to you:

[Fred Nickols (990502.0635)]--

You said, responding to Rick Marken (990430.0830)'s challenge to Isaac

Now you watch me tell both A and B to go sit in their
rooms and read Chaucer. You see both A and B instantly do
what they are told. How do you determine that I am coercing
B and not coercing A?

My answer is that YOU don't determine and you can't know.

I agree in the following way:

Rick is merely *stipulating* that A has a reference concordant with that of
C, the coercer, and that B does not. But he is demanding that Isaac specify
empirically how to determine that C is coercing B and not A. My response
would be: first tell me how you determine empirically the reference
perceptions of A, B, and C at the time of coercion (not after the fact), or
even just the sameness and difference of their references; then I will tell
you how I determine that C is coercing B and not A, because the answer is
the same. If you can get away with just stipulating that it is so, then so
can I, and the argument has zero empirical content.

Until we have a model of threat and offer and of imagined consequences,
this is all just hot air with no empirical content.

[From Kenny Kitzke (990503.1000 EDT)]

<Fred Nickols (990502.0655 EDT)>

<I would
be inclined to use a more personal, affective or feeling-oriented
definition, something like, "Coercion occurs when I feel compelled to do
something I don't want to do.">

I like your idea as far as it goes; but you have made coercion something only
in the eye of the coercee, just the opposite of Rick who wants to make
coercion something in the eye (perception) of only the coercer.

Because I believe that coercion is a useful concept in PCT only if it
describes an interaction between people, I feel there has to be two
conditions simultaneously existing in order to describe the interaction as
coercion:

A. The coercer must be able and intend to intervene with overwhelming force
if the observable action(s) of the other person is/are not what the coercer
wants, and

B. The coercee must be compelled by such threat of force (real or implied or
imagined) against their own will to act as the coercer desires.

It seems to me, people can be compelled to take actions against their desire
even when they feel no real threat of force by another person. That would
not constitute coercion to me.

It also seems to me that a person will sometimes do what another person
requests rather than what they want even if the requester has no intent to
use overwhelming force if the action suggested is not accepted and performed.
That would not be coercion either.

Because the intent of both the coercer and the coercee would have to
considered to say an interaction was coercive (which is difficult or
impossible to determine by a third party observer), about all an observer
could do is guess that coercion is present in the interaction. The way to
find out, if it was important, would be to ask questions in a way that
reveals the intentions of both parties as they interact. And, I suspect even
then you simply could not be absolutely sure.

I do agree with Rick that coercion is far more prevalent in our relationships
than we would like to admit. And, PCT suggests that coercion (whenever there
are better ways of interaction: collaboration, cooperation and alignment for
example) tends to build conflict between the parties.

I suggest that if either party changes their intentions from the definitions
above, coercion will be eliminated. While this is a hopeful thought, it
often seems beyond the nature of man to do. Observe the actions of Mr. Bill
and Slobodan? Ask them about their intentions. The attempted actions have
not yet produced coercion. If and when Slobodan is finally compelled by Mr.
Bill and NATO's overwhelming force to take the actions NATO demands, coercion
will be an appropriate PCT term to describe the interaction that took place.
And, not until then.

As with most coercion, whether between parent and child, teacher and student,
big bully kid and a weaker kid, or President of NATO and President of
Yugoslavia there will be people who consider the coercion appropriate (good)
and others who will consider it inappropriate (bad). And PCT won't help us
with that tussle.

Only if the parties are willing to subjugate their own wants to those of
others can a coercive interaction be avoided. This is contrary to the carnal
nature of man and will not happen very often, unless there is a change of
heart.

Kenny

[From Bill Powers (990503.1138 MDT)]

Kenny Kitzke (990503.1000 EDT)--

Because I believe that coercion is a useful concept in PCT only if it
describes an interaction between people, I feel there has to be two
conditions simultaneously existing in order to describe the interaction as
coercion:

A. The coercer must be able and intend to intervene with overwhelming force
if the observable action(s) of the other person is/are not what the coercer
wants, and

B. The coercee must be compelled by such threat of force (real or implied or
imagined) against their own will to act as the coercer desires.

Ah. We agree. You put it so simply -- and I hope persuasively.

It seems to me, people can be compelled to take actions against their desire
even when they feel no real threat of force by another person. That would
not constitute coercion to me.

I take it you refer to such things as acting out of guilt or shame. It
seems to me that in such cases there must be an inner conflict. If the ONLY
desire is to do something, what could keep you from doing it, but a desire
not to do it, or to do something incompatible with it, or do avoid
experiencing some consequence of doing it? For example, you might want to
take the last piece of chocolate cake, but you might also feel that someone
else (perhaps a child who is asking for it) deserves it more, and give it
away. You're not exactly acting against your will; you're simply choosing
one desire over another conflicting one.

It also seems to me that a person will sometimes do what another person
requests rather than what they want even if the requester has no intent to
use overwhelming force if the action suggested is not accepted and performed.
That would not be coercion either.

I agree. But again I think this involves internal conflict.

Because the intent of both the coercer and the coercee would have to
considered to say an interaction was coercive (which is difficult or
impossible to determine by a third party observer), about all an observer
could do is guess that coercion is present in the interaction.

I think real coercion is easier to see than that. When you see a mother
dragging a screaming, struggling three-year-old out of the toy department,
I think you're pretty safe in guessing who is coercing whom. The
application of superior physical force is pretty hard to disguise. The
_threat_ of it, which includes a silent understand by the victim that it
will be used, can be harder to detect.

I do agree with Rick that coercion is far more prevalent in our relationships
than we would like to admit. And, PCT suggests that coercion (whenever there
are better ways of interaction: collaboration, cooperation and alignment for
example) tends to build conflict between the parties.

I think you are right, and that the prevalence of coercion is what makes
some people cautious about how they define it -- they want to exclude their
own behavior from the category of coerciveness.

I suggest that if either party changes their intentions from the definitions
above, coercion will be eliminated. While this is a hopeful thought, it
often seems beyond the nature of man to do. Observe the actions of Mr. Bill
and Slobodan? Ask them about their intentions. The attempted actions have
not yet produced coercion. If and when Slobodan is finally compelled by Mr.
Bill and NATO's overwhelming force to take the actions NATO demands, coercion
will be an appropriate PCT term to describe the interaction that took place.
And, not until then.

Well noted. We have yet to see what amounts to an _irresistible_
application of force in Yugoslavia -- except in the case of the dead.

As with most coercion, whether between parent and child, teacher and student,
big bully kid and a weaker kid, or President of NATO and President of
Yugoslavia there will be people who consider the coercion appropriate (good)
and others who will consider it inappropriate (bad). And PCT won't help us
with that tussle.

True. We are reduced to personal opinions that don't carry much weight.

Only if the parties are willing to subjugate their own wants to those of
others can a coercive interaction be avoided. This is contrary to the carnal
nature of man and will not happen very often, unless there is a change of
heart.

What we need is to subjugate our private and immediate benefits to a system
concept under which benefiting others becomes an eventual but much greater
benefit to ourselves and those we love. Christianity, at least in some
versions, is such a proposed system concept. There are others of equal
promise. I would be happy if more people subscribed seriously to _any_ of
them.

The carnal nature of man is to try to satisfy reference conditions by
acting on the world (which, sometimes unfortunately, contains other
people). This can't be changed without eliminating living systems. What
people need to learn is that _all_ people are like this, and they need to
learn what is really to their ultimate benefit, instead of seeing only the
short-term and local gain. I think this is the main idea that the people in
charge of education have to make sure is taught. But how can you teach
practical ethics, when parents are interested only in having children
taught _their_ values?

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (990503.1630)]

Me:

3. Is there any way for me to be non-coercive in my interaction
with people other than by being willing and able to force
them to do only what thay (unbekonwnst to me) want to do anyway?

Could you answer it now?

i.kurtzer (990503.1530)

Not until we resolve 1 and 2.

I think we've already resolved it. You won't call what people
do "coercion" if victims are not being forced to do what they
don't want to do. I was hoping to learn more about the practical
implications of your point of view from your answer to question 3.

Best

Rick

···

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

i.kurtzer (990503.2100)

[From Rick Marken (990503.1630)]

Me:

> 3. Is there any way for me to be non-coercive in my interaction
> with people other than by being willing and able to force
> them to do only what thay (unbekonwnst to me) want to do anyway?
>
> Could you answer it now?

i.kurtzer (990503.1530)

> Not until we resolve 1 and 2.

I think we've already resolved it. You won't call what people
do "coercion" if victims are not being forced to do what they
don't want to do. I was hoping to learn more about the practical
implications of your point of view from your answer to question 3.

We have come to agree that we disagree. I was hoping to find out why
first before we discuss the ramifications. You show me your why and
I'll show you mine. It might be delayed till Thursday though.

i.

[From Kenny Kitzke (990504.0100 EDT)]

<Bill Powers (990503.1138 MDT)>

A. The coercer must be able and intend to intervene with overwhelming force
if the observable action(s) of the other person is/are not what the coercer
wants, and

B. The coercee must be compelled by such threat of force (real or implied or
imagined) against their own will to act as the coercer desires.

<Ah. We agree. You put it so simply -- and I hope persuasively.>

I am sure it could be improved; but this concept works for me and I would be
thrilled to see the CSGNet agree on what coercion is so that we can recognize
it and move on to how to deter its frequency in relationships between people.

<I take it you refer to such things as acting out of guilt or shame. It
seems to me that in such cases there must be an inner conflict.>

Yes. Or, respect for others as more important than yourself. While it may
create inner conflict, it may avoid coercion by willingly doing without
malice what the coercer seems to want.

<For example, you might want to
take the last piece of chocolate cake, but you might also feel that someone
else (perhaps a child who is asking for it) deserves it more, and give it
away. You're not exactly acting against your will; you're simply choosing
one desire over another conflicting one.>

Another good example of free will choice. I would not feel I did it because
the child coerced me. Coercion is not what is taking place in this
situation. By giving the cake to the cute kid with freckles, he gets the
cake he wants and I get something at a higher reference level. We both can
smile.

<I think real coercion is easier to see than that. When you see a mother
dragging a screaming, struggling three-year-old out of the toy department,
I think you're pretty safe in guessing who is coercing whom. The
application of superior physical force is pretty hard to disguise. The
_threat_ of it, which includes a silent understand by the victim that it
will be used, can be harder to detect.>

It is the threat of force that is not always visible to a third party
observer. During church services, just the look of dad as he calls Josh's
name seems to change the way Josh is behaving (making noise) and disturbing
the services. Perhaps Josh does not want to disturb services and happily
changes his actions. But, just a likely, he knows he'll get punished unless
he stops. I still think the only way to know if Josh has been coerced by his
father's authoritative look is to ask him if he would rather keep playing
noisily and disturb his father and be punished, or rather please his father
and be a little less noisy in his dump truck game. This has the flavor of
the RTP choice that isn't a totally free choice but is better than no choice
at all.

I have also seen fathers simply get up and swipe their kid away in a rage.
You hear the whacks and crying out in the parking lot. And, those who
discipline with coercion, as you so well pointed out, can create just as
disruptive a kid as the parent who says, "Hey, put up with his noise, he is
just a kid."

<What we need is to subjugate our private and immediate benefits to a system
concept under which benefiting others becomes an eventual but much greater
benefit to ourselves and those we love. Christianity, at least in some
versions, is such a proposed system concept. There are others of equal
promise. I would be happy if more people subscribed seriously to _any_ of
them.>

Me too. I can only say that I finally found one that works for me. Its the
same one Bernhard Langer, Reggie White, Jeff Gordon and millions of others
seem to have found that was missing in their observably successful lives.
For someone else, they may find that golf, football, auto racing or being a
successful scientist is all they need to find peace. Let it be.

<The carnal nature of man is to try to satisfy reference conditions by
acting on the world (which, sometimes unfortunately, contains other
people).>

Tend to agree in concept.

<This can't be changed without eliminating living systems.>

No, it can be changed when living systems reject the carnality. You even
provided a nice Chocolate cake example. :sunglasses:

<What people need to learn is that _all_ people are like this, and they need
to
learn what is really to their ultimate benefit, instead of seeing only the
short-term and local gain.>

PCT has taught me this. You have helped me see people in a different light.
And, we need to think of behavior not in terms of right or wrong but as the
control of perceptions which are often unknown and unknowable even by the
person (much less an observer). We do not need to change peoples behavior,
in fact, short of coercion you can't. We need to help them change their
reference perceptions. Cooperation is the way. Coercion and conflict are
not.

<I think this is the main idea that the people in charge of education have to
make sure is taught. But how can you teach practical ethics, when parents are
interested only in having children taught _their_ values?>

This would be sound only if the parents values are not ethical or practical.
I don't know why that needs to be the case. On the RTP forum, an interchange
between Tim Carey and Tom Bourbon about what is fundamentally wrong in our
schools had me excited all week. But, without understanding PCT and
redefining the role of schools and teachers, the schools are doomed to less
learning and more violence as kids refuse to be coerced. What a pity.

I approached the head of the Pittsburgh schools Intermediate Unit who
admitted that violence and disrespect is growing even with these younger
students while learned is flat to declining.

I asked him if he wanted to do something about it? He said certainly. But,
when I mentioned that he would have to learn a new way of how behavior works
before discovering what to do differently, he referred me to his task force
team on discipline to try it out on them. They are experts on how to
maintain discipline. He is sick of new ideas and silver bullets.

I told him if it wasn't important enough to him to pursue it, it was not
important enough for me either. He may have perceived that I wasn't looking
for some consulting money from his team like most consultants. That was not
my interest. I said that he would just have to be satisfied watching things
get worse and worse if he won't change the policies of the school toward
teachers, students and learning. And, if he wanted to change what he did to
help achieve a safe and studious school, he should call me anytime. That was
two years ago. No ring a ling. Bet you are not surprised. A staff member
told me he is too busy installing metal detectors and hiring school guards
and psychologists to take the time to figure out why kids bring guns to
school and punch out teachers and vandalize everything in sight.

The last thing on this man's mind would be to teach 5th graders about how
behavior works in them and in all people. Yet that, perhaps with some morals
or ethics, may be the only rational and objective solution to the hell he
faces every week. For a lack of knowledge, people suffer and perish. Who is
wise enough to teach them?

Thanks for the sincere and useful dialogue,

Kenny

[From Rick Marken (990504.0920)]

Kenny Kitzke (990504.0100 EDT)--

we need to think of behavior not in terms of right or wrong
but as the control of perceptions which are often unknown and
unknowable even by the person (much less an observer). We do
not need to change peoples behavior, in fact, short of coercion
you can't. We need to help them change their reference
perceptions. Cooperation is the way. Coercion and conflict
are not.

Very nicely put, Kenny!

Best

Rick

···

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

from [ Marc Abrams (990504.1240) ]

[From Rick Marken (990504.0920)]

Kenny Kitzke (990504.0100 EDT)--

> we need to think of behavior not in terms of right or wrong
> but as the control of perceptions which are often unknown and
> unknowable even by the person (much less an observer). We do
> not need to change peoples behavior, in fact, short of coercion
> you can't. We need to help them change their reference
> perceptions. Cooperation is the way. Coercion and conflict
> are not.

Very nicely put, Kenny!

Sounds great. Unfortunately, in Ken's statement there is one nit I have.
When Ken says " We need to help them change their reference perceptions".
Are you talking about reference levels or Perceptions? Further, _how_ would
you go about "helping" someone change those things?

When we use the MOL, do we necessarily go up a level on _all_ the CV's we
are controlling for at that time ( I don't think so )?, or are we going up a
level with a related group of "behavioral modules", or simply one module?
If the latter, how do we determine the significance or importance as it
relates to the rest of our ability to control other "modules"? Room for
plenty of research and modeling here.

What does it mean to "cooperate"? Can someone be "cooperating" and posing
the threat of coercion at the same time? Can someone be trying to "help"
someone while they are coercing them? ( this one has been beaten into the
ground :slight_smile: ) Looking at basic behavioral modules is necessary to understand
what might and might not be controlled. The logic follows. If this
phenomenon _is_ controlled, then ( PCT ) is how it must happen.

Whenever we talk about a behavioral phenomenon, I think we need to be aware
of what kinds and types of CV's ( that's an s, as in _multiple_ :slight_smile: ) may be
involved. Treating these high level concepts with basic control models will
not be satisfactory to anyone. ( that's my prediction, anyway :slight_smile: )

I do think something can be done about this. Modeling can take many forms.
_ALL_ modeling does not have to be of the "rigorous, theory generating" kind
( although this is always preferable :slight_smile: )I think for some of the higher
level concepts. "Plausibility" can be an important thing to see, especially
given the multiple nature of control. We need some "anchors" for some of
these concepts, and words alone don't seem to be sufficient.

Any thoughts?

Marc

[From Rick Marken (990505.0810)]

Kenny Kitzke (990505.2120EDT)

If a person gives in (unwillingly) to the bully's demand, it
would be coercion by both our definitions.

Not really. The person now wants what the bully wants. So I
think that by your definition coercion has ceased.

But, while the wimp resists giving in, I would not call it
coercion. Would you?

I would, because the bully is controlling the person's behavior,
though he doesn't yet have the person's behavior at the reference.
Not calling this coercion (control of behavior) would be like not
calling it "control of car position" when the position of the
car briefly deviates from it's intended course due to a strong
gust of wind; resistance to the bully is like a gust of wind;
a momentary increase in the size of the disturbance to the
behavioral variable being controlled by the bully.

I just prefer my view. So when you say coercion is taking
place, it will just have to be different that when I say it is
taking place some times.

Ok. I agree that when we talk about "coercion" we all seem to
be talking about something different. I'm talking about something
people _do_ to others: control of behavior. You seem to be
talking about that _and_ what people feel.

Maybe we can agree to use the term "control of behavior" to
describe the behavior that I have been calling "coercion". I
presume that you know what I'm talking about when I say "control
of behavior"; I'm talking about control of a perception of what
someone else is doing.

Could we agree, then, that if you send someone from a room
because you want that person out of the room, you are
controlling that person's behavior, even if going to the other
room is _exactly_ what that person wanted to do anyway? That
is, in this case, is it not accurate to say that what _you_
are doing is "control of behavior"?

Best

Rick

···

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