THEY ARE CONTROLLING PEOPLE

[FROM: Dennis Delprato (092705)]

I was surprised to find self-control tied to conflict in several
previous posts. Let me suggest an alternative way to talk
about self-control from a PCT perspective. If self-control
is a meaningful category, then so must be nonself-control,
which I'll call external control. Now, what sort of control,
or regulation, applies to living systems? (1) only external
control, (2) only self-control, (3) both apply.

It seems to me that PCT, and its close relative behavioral cyber-
netics (K. U. Smith), opt for choice 2, for self-control refers
to closed-loop negative feedback regulation. External control
(nonself-control) refers to open-loop, one-way cause-effect
regulation in which disturbances, even intra-organismic ones,
and perceptual variables are thought to have causal powers.

What makes PCT so difficult
for conventional thinkers to understand is the radical notion
that external control never applies to living systems, even
in cases described as coercion--all control is self-control.
Behavior is control, not controlled as all the different
applications of lineal mechanism would have it.

Tying self-control to conflict seems very close to the sort
of position adopted by leading self-control theorist, Kanfer.
His view is the mainstream one of open-loop control--behavior
is caused output--but when good ole external control
doesn't get the behaver what it wants, THEN self-control
kicks in. Self-control is an option. Another form of self-
control as optional is in the widely held view that self-
control is applicable to describe a bit of behavior when the
behaver turns away from the face of temptation and chooses
a larger reward that is delayed.

The message from PCT to psychology is that all control is
self-control. Any beefs?

Here is a possible sort of "test" of how one views control of
behavior: What do you think of given the statement, "THEY ARE
CONTROLLING PEOPLE"?

psy_delprato@emuvax.emich.edu

In a message dated 95-09-27, Dennis Delprato writes in part:

Here is a possible sort of "test" of how one views control of
behavior: What do you think of given the statement, "THEY ARE
CONTROLLING PEOPLE"?

Well, Dennis, I'm a newcomer so if I seem a bumbler, you'll have to excuse
me.

Given the statement above, I think of at least two possible interpretations
of meaning.

Meaning One: "They" (meaning some unnamed, unnumbered set of people over
there somewhere) are "controlling people" (which is to say they are people
who are predisposed toward control).

Meaning Two: "They" (again meaning those people over there somewhere) are
"controlling" people (which is to say they are actually engaged in efforts
intended to control other people).

Which meaning applies, I think, depends on whether "controlling people" was
meant to describe the qualities or the behavior of those nameless, numberless
folks known as "they."

By the way, the "test" you posed is an unusual one: a constructed response,
self-referencing, single item test. I foresee great difficulty in achieving
inter-rater reliability.

Fred Nickols
Exec Dir, Operations Staff
Educational Testing Service
Princeton, NJ 08520
(609) 538-6265 Tel
(609) 538-6270 Fax
fnickols@ets.org
nickols@aol.com

P.S.

I read Mr. Powers' book, Behavior: The Control of Perception, 20 + years ago,
when it was first published. It has greatly influenced my views regarding
human behavior and performance. I also have a nodding familiarity with what
George Richardson calls the "two threads" of feedback thought:
servomechanisms, and cybernetics. I hope to add considerably to my stock of
knowledge as a result of joining this list.

For those interested,

George Herbert Mead wrote about issues of social control and the self. He
also had ideas about the nature of social problems and their solution
lying within the self (or selves). I wrote a paper on the subject for the
learned's meetings in 1992.

Scott Brandon
Dept of Sociology
McMaster University

e-mail: brandon@mcmaster.ca

ยทยทยท

On Wed, 27 Sep 1995, Dennis Delprato, Eastern Mich. Univ., Ypsilanti, MI wrote:

[FROM: Dennis Delprato (092705)]

I was surprised to find self-control tied to conflict in several
previous posts. Let me suggest an alternative way to talk
about self-control from a PCT perspective. If self-control
is a meaningful category, then so must be nonself-control,
which I'll call external control. Now, what sort of control,
or regulation, applies to living systems? (1) only external
control, (2) only self-control, (3) both apply.

It seems to me that PCT, and its close relative behavioral cyber-
netics (K. U. Smith), opt for choice 2, for self-control refers
to closed-loop negative feedback regulation. External control
(nonself-control) refers to open-loop, one-way cause-effect
regulation in which disturbances, even intra-organismic ones,
and perceptual variables are thought to have causal powers.

What makes PCT so difficult
for conventional thinkers to understand is the radical notion
that external control never applies to living systems, even
in cases described as coercion--all control is self-control.
Behavior is control, not controlled as all the different
applications of lineal mechanism would have it.

Tying self-control to conflict seems very close to the sort
of position adopted by leading self-control theorist, Kanfer.
His view is the mainstream one of open-loop control--behavior
is caused output--but when good ole external control
doesn't get the behaver what it wants, THEN self-control
kicks in. Self-control is an option. Another form of self-
control as optional is in the widely held view that self-
control is applicable to describe a bit of behavior when the
behaver turns away from the face of temptation and chooses
a larger reward that is delayed.

The message from PCT to psychology is that all control is
self-control. Any beefs?

Here is a possible sort of "test" of how one views control of
behavior: What do you think of given the statement, "THEY ARE
CONTROLLING PEOPLE"?

psy_delprato@emuvax.emich.edu