Understanding control of behavior: Why it matters

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.19.1500)]

BP: Forgive me, but I'm struggling to see what is truly at issue.

Â
Hi BarbÂ
RM: I'm so glad you jumped in! I'll try to explain what I think is at issue and also why understanding control of behavior is important. So I've changed the title of this thread because the discussion is no longer about just my demo.

BP: Some of the argument here sounds as if the theory itself is in question.Â

RM: No, I don't think anyone is questioning the theory.Â
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BP: Some of it sounds as if the specific words being used are in question.

RM: Actually I think the heart of the argument is about whether "control of behavior "is a fact or not. I am arguing that it is a fact; everyone but Martin is arguing that it is not. Those arguing that it is not a fact are basing their argument on the idea the PCT shows that "control of behavior" is impossible (this may be why you thought some of the argument questioned PCT itself; since I was saying that "control of behavior" is a fact and others were saying that PCT shows that it is impossible it could have looked like I was questioning PCT itself; don't worry, I'm not. PCT certainly does show that "control of behavior" is possible; indeed, it explains how it works). They have made this argument mainly by questioning the words that are used to describe control of behavior (and this may be why you think that some of the argument sounded as if specific words being used were in question).Â
RM: I thought the argument would be finally settled by my "control of behavior" demo but, alas, like all things PCT, it wasn't. I think this is because, at its root, this is a political issue. I think Erling described one aspect of it: just saying that "control of behavior" is possible, according to PCT, could give people the impression that PCT is like other theories in psychology which say that behavior is controlled by the environment. Another aspect of it is that many people are attracted to PCT because it seems to justify their belief that people are uncontrollable (free) and that the only thing that screws things up in the world is people trying to control other people. And they are close to being right; PCT shows that efforts to control the behavior of others -- especially when this is done arbitrarily -- is, indeed, the source of many (perhaps most) social problems.Â
RM: While I appreciate these political concerns, I think it's more important to get the facts right than to be politically correct, especially if one wants to use PCT as a basis for improving human interaction. Which gets me to why it matters that we understand and not deny the existence of "control of behavior". First, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see when you are doing it yourself. If one is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior then one will be unaware of when they are doing it. And since control of behavior can lead to rather ugly conflict, a person who doesn't know when he or she is controlling behavior may have no idea why things are going so badly. Second, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see that you can be controlled and explains why and how. One who is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will often be unable or unwilling to see when they are being controlled or how it's beng done (or attempted). Finally, it matters because understanding control of behavior shows how it's possible to control other people's behavior (and allow them to control yours) with minimal or no conflict. This is particularly important when we want to produce results -- such as a smart phone-- that require the coordinated efforts of many people working together who require certain behaviors from each other. Those who are convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will will end up controlling people arbitrarily thinking that they are not controlling anyone at all.Â

BP: Â Outside disturbances may influence behavior in another control system, but not actually control the behavior of that system.Â

RM: This is a crucial observation!! It's important to know what control is in order to understand when control of behavior is happening. Controlling behavior is not the same as influencing or causing behavior. Controlling involves bringing a variable, such as the distance between the sheep and the herd in my demo, to a predetermined state, such as "sheep close to herd", and keeping it there, protected from disturbances, which include the movements of the herd and of the sheep itself. Given this definition of control, the distance of the sheep from the herd can clearly be controlled in my demo. Since the distance between sheep and herd depends at least in part on the movements of the sheep this variable is a behavior of the sheep.Â
RM: So one thing that is clear from my demo is that the behavior of the sheep (just like the behavior of the cursor in a tracking task) is controlled. The data printed at the end of the demo shows how good this control was in terms of the average distance of sheep from herd (RMS error) and stability (ratio of expected to actual variance of the sheep's position). So there is unquestionably control of behavior going on in this demo and we know why it's happening: it's because you (in the role of the dog) are a control system using movements of the mouse (and hence the dog) to keep the sheep near the herd. Only a control system (like you) can control. It turns out that you are exerting this control by disturbing a variable that is controlled by the sheep. But you know nothing of that (just as the dog knows nothing of that in real life). All you know is that when you move the mouse left the sheep moves right and vice versa. And when you move the mouse appropriately that you control the behavior of the sheep.Â
RM: But it turns out that in this demo the sheep is not an inanimate object (as is the cursor in your typical tracking task). The sheep is itself a control system, controlling for the distance between the visual location of the grass shoot and you (the dog). So when you (the dog) move you are disturbing a perception controlled by the sheep and the sheep acts (by moving left or right, as necessary) to compensate for that disturbance. So without your knowing it (and the dog certainly wouldn't know it) you are controlling the position of the sheep by taking advantage of the fact that the sheep is controlling a perception to which your location is a disturbance that is corrected by varying the aspect of its behavior (it's position) that you want to control. The data at the end also shows how well the sheep is controlling its perception (of the desired distance between you and the grass shoot); and it's doing quite well at controlling by successfully moving to compensate for the disturbance created by your movements. You turn out to be using disturbances that influence a controlled variable as the means of controlling the variable (the behavior of the sheep that compensates for those disturbances) that you are controlling.
RM: All this is done with a PCT model of the sheep, of course. So to the extent that you are able to control the behavior of the sheep, the PCT model shows very clearly (and simply) how the behavior of a control system (the sheep) can be controlled by another control system (you, the dog).Â
RM: I think that's enough for now. I'm imagine those who don't like the idea of "control of behavior" will still not be convinced by the demo or my discussion. But there are some very interesting implications of this simple demo (and the model that shows how it works-- that is, PCT) that I'd like to talk about in this thread. But I'll do that in another post. I got blisters on my fingers!!
Best
Rick

Goals and priorities constantly shift in order to maintain a certain level of accomplishment, satisfaction, etc., conscious or unconscious. When a conflict becomes apparent, something on one side or another of that conflict must change in order to move on. We can either reach our goal despite the disturbance or change our goal to accommodate that disturbance.

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I liked Rick's sheep demo, and admittedly played with it for awhile during a lull at work. The dog has been trained that the sheep should be kept together so it has learned on some level that it can bark and nip from certain angles and the sheep will move away from it. Sheep are wild animals, and generally will move away from what looks like a threat. If the dog is not in the way, it will try to get back to the herd. It looks as if the dog is "controlling" the sheep, and the farmer (me) and the dog appear satisfied that this is what is happening. The sheep didn't return to the herd because the dog controlled it. To the sheep, the dog was behaving in a threatening manner, and the goal of the sheep was to return to the safety of the herd.
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The sheep could have turned rogue and decided it wasn't afraid of the dog, and kept running away, contrary to what the dog was trying to accomplish. Had the dog remained between the sheep and the herd, the sheep likely would have moved further off.
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The dog perceives that it is causing the sheep to move. The sheep perceives a threat, and moves itself away from the threat and back to the herd. The farmer perceives his well-trained dog (whom he influences with food) keeping his herd together.  Goals have been met in each of their minds, tiny though some of those may be, but in no case here are any of them controlling one another.Â
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*barb
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In B:CP where Bill explains arbitrary control, he states explicitly that other people's behaviour can be controlled, and that this is a major source of conflict:

'... the attempt to make behaviour conform to one set of goals without regard to other goals...that may already be controlling that behaviour–that musst already exist, since the behaviour exists...’Â

···

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:16 AM, "<mailto:bara0361@gmail.com>bara0361@gmail.com" <<mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu>csgnet@lists.illinois.edu> (Barb Powers)Â wrote:

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:37 AM, Warren Mansell <<mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu>csgnet@lists.illinois.edu> wrote:

Warren

On 19 Nov 2014, at 09:39, Boris Hartman (<mailto:boris.hartman@masicom.net>boris.hartman@masicom.net via csgnet Mailing List) <<mailto:csgnet@lists.illinois.edu>csgnet@lists.illinois.edu> wrote:

What a construct.

Â

Where Bill divided environment into physical and social environment with different effects of disturbances and different perceptual signals for living and non-living environment. Show me in any of his diagrams ?

Â

There are just physical variables (distal stimuli) outside which are turned into perceptual signals and which are than all compared in comparator (neurons) inside LCS. What LCS experience is just perception (disturbances), no mater what is causing disturbances in environment and later perception. I also didn't see in any of his defintions or books divission on physical and social environment. The question is whether environment »controls behavior of LCS or not« ? As I see your writings you say once yes and once no. It's total confussion.

Â

If you are phylosophing in your name under Bill's »flag« than you should find a citation that could support your statement in the name of PCT. If you don't give that proof, I can just conclude that it's your imagination.

Â

LCS perceive disturbances (turned into perception), no matter who is producing them. And there is no protection against them. There is just conter-action.

Â

Here are some Bill's defitions just not to forget about which theroy we are talking about. And as far as I can see he is also not talking about »observable facts«. It's subjective impression, so not something that is »definitelly or objectivelly outside« but something that is subject to human feelings and so on. See how we differently see the same »theme«. So what is here »obervable fact«.

Â

Bill P (BC:P,2005):

DISTURBANCE : Any variable in the environment of a control system that (a) contributes to changes in the controlled quantty (b) is not controlled by the same control system.

Â

ENVIRONMENTÂ (of a control sytem) : All that directly affects the input function of a system and is affected by the output function of the system. See REALITY..

Â

REALITY [Directly perceived] : The world as subjectively experienced, including mental activities, feelings, concepts, as wel as the subjective impression of three-dimensional outside universe. [External] : A directly-perceived set of hypotheses, beleifs, deducations, and organized models purporting to explain directly perceived reality in terms of underlying phenomena and laws. See PHYSICAL QUANTITY.

Â

PHYSICAL QUANTTITY, PHENOMENON : A perception identifyed as part of a physical model of external reality.

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I think it's time that we see some real PCT wording, not just RCT wording. If you will talk what is PCT or what is not you should use PCT wording not self-regulation or behavioristic. As you can see Bill is not mentioning any different meaning for different »stimuli« or »observable facts« that is as it is because you said so…

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At least I see it this way. But I don't see everything as »observable fact«

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Best,

Â

Boris

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From: <mailto:csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu>csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu [<mailto:csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu>mailto:csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Marken (<mailto:rsmarken@gmail.com>rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List)
Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 3:39 AM
To:
Subject: Re: Demonstration of control of behavior

Â

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.17.1840)]

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RM: One more thought regarding control of behavior. Perhaps part of the difficulty here comes from the fact hat PCT does show that the environment -- the physical, non-living environment -- does not control behavior. This is where PCT contradicts those, like Skinner, who believe that the environment does control behavior. Based on his experiments, for example. Skinner concluded that the behavior of organisms is controlled by "contingencies of reinforcement". That is, behavior is controlled by the rewards and punishments (out there in the environment) that follow particular behaviors. Â

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RM: PCT shows that this is not the case at all; the environment -- in the form of stimuli, rewards and punishments -- doesn't control behavior.Â

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HB :

According to upper Bill's definitions this is all what we need to know.Â

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How could rats knew what is »reward and punishment from Skinner«. Rats just perceive stimuli and control these perceived stimuli as any other stimuli from environment. There is no difference between stimuli from social and physical environment. They are all turned into perception which doesn't distinguish between stimuli from social or physical environment. Perceptual signal is the same for all stimuli that affect input function. They just distinguish in intensity (frequency) and space code (.

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But Skinner was able to control behavior with rewards and punishments -- mainly rewards -- so what's going on here? Why would PCT deny that rewards and punishments control behavior? The answer is that PCT let's us see the wizard that, in this case, isn't even behind the curtain; the wizard who is doing the actual controlling is in full view but, somehow, never noticed . It's Skinner who is controlling the behavior using rewards and punishments, not the rewards and punishments themselves.Â

Â

Rewards and punishments are not control systems; they have no goals for what an organism should do. But Skinner did. Skinner wanted to see a rat press a lever to get food, for example, and he found that he could get the rat to do that using a process called "shaping", which involves rewarding the animal for making successive approximations to the desired behavior (bar pressing). Skinner was clearly controlling the behavior of the rat, and he did it by varying his actions (giving or withholding rewards) with the aim of getting his perception of the rat's behavior to be what he wanted it to be.Â

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He could also build machines that could stand in for his controlling; so once the rat had been "shaped" into pressing the bar the machine could take over and give a reward only after a press (or several presses) were made. Of course, the machine is not really controlling the rat either since it would deliver a reward even if the bar were pressed by someone other than the rat. And if the pellet delivery system were jammed the rat would eventually stop pressing the bar and the machine would do nothing to get it back to the bar. The machine can't perceive the rat's behavior and act appropriately if it's not doing what is "wanted", becuase the machine also has no wants (references).

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The point is that PCT shows that the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system. It's not "the environment" consisting of stimuli ,rewards, or punishments that controls behavior; it is the other control systems in that environment -- generally other people -- that use stimuli, rewards or punishments to control behavior. And if the controlling is not consensual or if it requires the controllee to do things that conflict with other goals (including the goal of not being controlled) then the controllee might decide to resist the controlling; and then things get ugly.

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HB : I never saw in PCT (Bill's theory) to be pointing to anything you say and I didn't see anything you wrote. Where did you see him saying »the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system«. It looks like your construct of PCT, which can be called RCT. If you are talking in the name of PCT I think you should prove it wilh some Bill's defintion or Bill's writings, as that is now only reference for what is true about PCT or not. You are using PCT as cover for your behavioristic and self-regulation theory. You are almost duplicate of Carver & Scheier. Why don't you join them ?

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Best,

Â

Boris

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BestÂ

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Rick

--

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of  <http://www.amazon.com/Doing-Research-Purpose-Experimental-Psychology/dp/0944337554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407342866&sr=8-1&keywords=doing+research+on+purpose>Doing Research on Purpose.Â

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

--
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of  <http://www.amazon.com/Doing-Research-Purpose-Experimental-Psychology/dp/0944337554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407342866&sr=8-1&keywords=doing+research+on+purpose>Doing Research on Purpose.Â
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

David Goldstein (2014.11.19.2045)

I can control the behavior of the other tennis player so that they stay on the baseline on my right side. No matter where they hit the ball, I hit it on the right baseline.

Of course, if they are not interested, or can’t return my shot, I win the point. But then I lose the argument that I can control their behavior.

David

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.19.1500)]

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:16 AM, “bara0361@gmail.comcsgnet@lists.illinois.edu (Barb Powers) wrote:

BP: Forgive me, but I’m struggling to see what is truly at issue.

Hi Barb

RM: I’m so glad you jumped in! I’ll try to explain what I think is at issue and also why understanding control of behavior is important. So I’ve changed the title of this thread because the discussion is no longer about just my demo.

BP: Some of the argument here sounds as if the theory itself is in question.

RM: No, I don’t think anyone is questioning the theory.

BP: Some of it sounds as if the specific words being used are in question.

RM: Actually I think the heart of the argument is about whether "control of behavior "is a fact or not. I am arguing that it is a fact; everyone but Martin is arguing that it is not. Those arguing that it is not a fact are basing their argument on the idea the PCT shows that “control of behavior” is impossible (this may be why you thought some of the argument questioned PCT itself; since I was saying that “control of behavior” is a fact and others were saying that PCT shows that it is impossible it could have looked like I was questioning PCT itself; don’t worry, I’m not. PCT certainly does show that “control of behavior” is possible; indeed, it explains how it works). They have made this argument mainly by questioning the words that are used to describe control of behavior (and this may be why you think that some of the argument sounded as if specific words being used were in question).

RM: I thought the argument would be finally settled by my “control of behavior” demo but, alas, like all things PCT, it wasn’t. I think this is because, at its root, this is a political issue. I think Erling described one aspect of it: just saying that “control of behavior” is possible, according to PCT, could give people the impression that PCT is like other theories in psychology which say that behavior is controlled by the environment. Another aspect of it is that many people are attracted to PCT because it seems to justify their belief that people are uncontrollable (free) and that the only thing that screws things up in the world is people trying to control other people. And they are close to being right; PCT shows that efforts to control the behavior of others – especially when this is done arbitrarily – is, indeed, the source of many (perhaps most) social problems.

RM: While I appreciate these political concerns, I think it’s more important to get the facts right than to be politically correct, especially if one wants to use PCT as a basis for improving human interaction. Which gets me to why it matters that we understand and not deny the existence of “control of behavior”. First, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see when you are doing it yourself. If one is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior then one will be unaware of when they are doing it. And since control of behavior can lead to rather ugly conflict, a person who doesn’t know when he or she is controlling behavior may have no idea why things are going so badly. Second, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see that you can be controlled and explains why and how. One who is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will often be unable or unwilling to see when they are being controlled or how it’s beng done (or attempted). Finally, it matters because understanding control of behavior shows how it’s possible to control other people’s behavior (and allow them to control yours) with minimal or no conflict. This is particularly important when we want to produce results – such as a smart phone-- that require the coordinated efforts of many people working together who require certain behaviors from each other. Those who are convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will will end up controlling people arbitrarily thinking that they are not controlling anyone at all.

BP: Outside disturbances may influence behavior in another control system, but not actually control the behavior of that system.

RM: This is a crucial observation!! It’s important to know what control is in order to understand when control of behavior is happening. Controlling behavior is not the same as influencing or causing behavior. Controlling involves bringing a variable, such as the distance between the sheep and the herd in my demo, to a predetermined state, such as “sheep close to herd”, and keeping it there, protected from disturbances, which include the movements of the herd and of the sheep itself. Given this definition of control, the distance of the sheep from the herd can clearly be controlled in my demo. Since the distance between sheep and herd depends at least in part on the movements of the sheep this variable is a behavior of the sheep.

RM: So one thing that is clear from my demo is that the behavior of the sheep (just like the behavior of the cursor in a tracking task) is controlled. The data printed at the end of the demo shows how good this control was in terms of the average distance of sheep from herd (RMS error) and stability (ratio of expected to actual variance of the sheep’s position). So there is unquestionably control of behavior going on in this demo and we know why it’s happening: it’s because you (in the role of the dog) are a control system using movements of the mouse (and hence the dog) to keep the sheep near the herd. Only a control system (like you) can control. It turns out that you are exerting this control by disturbing a variable that is controlled by the sheep. But you know nothing of that (just as the dog knows nothing of that in real life). All you know is that when you move the mouse left the sheep moves right and vice versa. And when you move the mouse appropriately that you control the behavior of the sheep.

RM: But it turns out that in this demo the sheep is not an inanimate object (as is the cursor in your typical tracking task). The sheep is itself a control system, controlling for the distance between the visual location of the grass shoot and you (the dog). So when you (the dog) move you are disturbing a perception controlled by the sheep and the sheep acts (by moving left or right, as necessary) to compensate for that disturbance. So without your knowing it (and the dog certainly wouldn’t know it) you are controlling the position of the sheep by taking advantage of the fact that the sheep is controlling a perception to which your location is a disturbance that is corrected by varying the aspect of its behavior (it’s position) that you want to control. The data at the end also shows how well the sheep is controlling its perception (of the desired distance between you and the grass shoot); and it’s doing quite well at controlling by successfully moving to compensate for the disturbance created by *your *movements. You turn out to be using disturbances that influence a controlled variable as the means of controlling the variable (the behavior of the sheep that compensates for those disturbances) that you are controlling.

RM: All this is done with a PCT model of the sheep, of course. So to the extent that you are able to control the behavior of the sheep, the PCT model shows very clearly (and simply) how the behavior of a control system (the sheep) can be controlled by another control system (you, the dog).

RM: I think that’s enough for now. I’m imagine those who don’t like the idea of “control of behavior” will still not be convinced by the demo or my discussion. But there are some very interesting implications of this simple demo (and the model that shows how it works-- that is, PCT) that I’d like to talk about in this thread. But I’ll do that in another post. I got blisters on my fingers!!

Best

Rick

Goals and priorities constantly shift in order to maintain a certain level of accomplishment, satisfaction, etc., conscious or unconscious. When a conflict becomes apparent, something on one side or another of that conflict must change in order to move on. We can either reach our goal despite the disturbance or change our goal to accommodate that disturbance.

I liked Rick’s sheep demo, and admittedly played with it for awhile during a lull at work. The dog has been trained that the sheep should be kept together so it has learned on some level that it can bark and nip from certain angles and the sheep will move away from it. Sheep are wild animals, and generally will move away from what looks like a threat. If the dog is not in the way, it will try to get back to the herd. It looks as if the dog is “controlling” the sheep, and the farmer (me) and the dog appear satisfied that this is what is happening. The sheep didn’t return to the herd because the dog controlled it. To the sheep, the dog was behaving in a threatening manner, and the goal of the sheep was to return to the safety of the herd.

The sheep could have turned rogue and decided it wasn’t afraid of the dog, and kept running away, contrary to what the dog was trying to accomplish. Had the dog remained between the sheep and the herd, the sheep likely would have moved further off.

The dog perceives that it is causing the sheep to move. The sheep perceives a threat, and moves itself away from the threat and back to the herd. The farmer perceives his well-trained dog (whom he influences with food) keeping his herd together. Goals have been met in each of their minds, tiny though some of those may be, but in no case here are any of them controlling one another.

*barb


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:37 AM, Warren Mansell csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

In B:CP where Bill explains arbitrary control, he states explicitly that other people’s behaviour can be controlled, and that this is a major source of conflict:

'… the attempt to make behaviour conform to one set of goals without regard to other goals…that may already be controlling that behaviour–that must already exist, since the behaaviour exists…’

Warren

On 19 Nov 2014, at 09:39, Boris Hartman (boris.hartman@masicom.net via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

What a construct.

Where Bill divided environment into physical and social environment with different effects of disturbances and different perceptual signals for living and non-living environment. Show me in any of his diagrams ?

There are just physical variables (distal stimuli) outside which are turned into perceptual signals and which are than all compared in comparator (neurons) inside LCS. What LCS experience is just perception (disturbances), no mater what is causing disturbances in environment and later perception. I also didn’t see in any of his defintions or books divission on physical and social environment. The question is whether environment »controls behavior of LCS or not« ? As I see your writings you say once yes and once no. It’s total confussion.

If you are phylosophing in your name under Bill’s »flag« than you should find a citation that could support your statement in the name of PCT. If you don’t give that proof, I can just conclude that it’s your imagination.

LCS perceive disturbances (turned into perception), no matter who is producing them. And there is no protection against them. There is just conter-action.

Here are some Bill’s defitions just not to forget about which theroy we are talking about. And as far as I can see he is also not talking about »observable facts«. It’s subjective impression, so not something that is »definitelly or objectivelly outside« but something that is subject to human feelings and so on. See how we differently see the same »theme«. So what is here »obervable fact«.

Bill P (BC:P,2005):

DISTURBANCE : Any variable in the environment of a control system that (a) contributes to changes in the controlled quantty (b) is not controlled by the same control system.

ENVIRONMENT (of a control sytem) : All that directly affects the input function of a system and is affected by the output function of the system. See REALITY…

REALITY [Directly perceived] : The world as subjectively experienced, including mental activities, feelings, concepts, as wel as the subjective impression of three-dimensional outside universe. [External] : A directly-perceived set of hypotheses, beleifs, deducations, and organized models purporting to explain directly perceived reality in terms of underlying phenomena and laws. See PHYSICAL QUANTITY.

PHYSICAL QUANTTITY, PHENOMENON : A perception identifyed as part of a physical model of external reality.

I think it’s time that we see some real PCT wording, not just RCT wording. If you will talk what is PCT or what is not you should use PCT wording not self-regulation or behavioristic. As you can see Bill is not mentioning any different meaning for different »stimuli« or »observable facts« that is as it is because you said so…

At least I see it this way. But I don’t see everything as »observable fact«

Best,

Boris

From: csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu [mailto:csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List)
Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 3:39 AM
To:
Subject: Re: Demonstration of control of behavior

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.17.1840)]

RM: One more thought regarding control of behavior. Perhaps part of the difficulty here comes from the fact hat PCT does show that the environment – the physical, non-living environment – does not control behavior. This is where PCT contradicts those, like Skinner, who believe that the environment does control behavior. Based on his experiments, for example. Skinner concluded that the behavior of organisms is controlled by “contingencies of reinforcement”. That is, behavior is controlled by the rewards and punishments (out there in the environment) that follow particular behaviors.

RM: PCT shows that this is not the case at all; the environment – in the form of stimuli, rewards and punishments – doesn’t control behavior.

HB :

According to upper Bill’s definitions this is all what we need to know.

How could rats knew what is »reward and punishment from Skinner«. Rats just perceive stimuli and control these perceived stimuli as any other stimuli from environment. There is no difference between stimuli from social and physical environment. They are all turned into perception which doesn’t distinguish between stimuli from social or physical environment. Perceptual signal is the same for all stimuli that affect input function. They just distinguish in intensity (frequency) and space code (.

But Skinner was able to control behavior with rewards and punishments – mainly rewards – so what’s going on here? Why would PCT deny that rewards and punishments control behavior? The answer is that PCT let’s us see the wizard that, in this case, isn’t even behind the curtain; the wizard who is doing the actual controlling is in full view but, somehow, never noticed . It’s Skinner who is controlling the behavior using rewards and punishments, not the rewards and punishments themselves.

Rewards and punishments are not control systems; they have no goals for what an organism should do. But Skinner did. Skinner wanted to see a rat press a lever to get food, for example, and he found that he could get the rat to do that using a process called “shaping”, which involves rewarding the animal for making successive approximations to the desired behavior (bar pressing). Skinner was clearly controlling the behavior of the rat, and he did it by varying his actions (giving or withholding rewards) with the aim of getting his perception of the rat’s behavior to be what he wanted it to be.

He could also build machines that could stand in for his controlling; so once the rat had been “shaped” into pressing the bar the machine could take over and give a reward only after a press (or several presses) were made. Of course, the machine is not really controlling the rat either since it would deliver a reward even if the bar were pressed by someone other than the rat. And if the pellet delivery system were jammed the rat would eventually stop pressing the bar and the machine would do nothing to get it back to the bar. The machine can’t perceive the rat’s behavior and act appropriately if it’s not doing what is “wanted”, becuase the machine also has no wants (references).

The point is that PCT shows that the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system. It’s not “the environment” consisting of stimuli ,rewards, or punishments that controls behavior; it is the other control systems in that environment – generally other people – that use stimuli, rewards or punishments to control behavior. And if the controlling is not consensual or if it requires the controllee to do things that conflict with other goals (including the goal of not being controlled) then the controllee might decide to resist the controlling; and then things get ugly.

HB : I never saw in PCT (Bill’s theory) to be pointing to anything you say and I didn’t see anything you wrote. Where did you see him saying »the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system«. It looks like your construct of PCT, which can be called RCT. If you are talking in the name of PCT I think you should prove it wilh some Bill’s defintion or Bill’s writings, as that is now only reference for what is true about PCT or not. You are using PCT as cover for your behavioristic and self-regulation theory. You are almost duplicate of Carver & Scheier. Why don’t you join them ?

Best,

Boris

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

…which is your perception. The other player is in control of their own actions, because they are positioning themselves in the best place to keep returning the ball. They perceive the ball being hit in the same general area over and over, so in order to meet their own goal of being able to keep returning it, they do appear to stand where you want them. Actually, they are standing where THEY want to, if they want to enjoy a long volley.

Â

You are providing a disturbance, even if that disturbance is in the same place each time. They still are measuring, adjusting, calculating, even if only slightly, according to their perception of how to best play the game.

Â

*barbÂ

···

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM, David Goldstein csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

David Goldstein (2014.11.19.2045)

I can control the  behavior of the other tennis player so that they stay on the baseline on my right side. No matter where they hit the ball, I hit it on the right baseline.Â

Of course, if they are not interested, or can’t return my shot, I win the point. But then I lose the argument that I can control their behavior.Â

David

Sent from my iPad

On Nov 19, 2014, at 6:03 PM, Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.19.1500)]

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:16 AM, “bara0361@gmail.comcsgnet@lists.illinois.edu (Barb Powers)Â wrote:

BP: Forgive me, but I’m struggling to see what is truly at issue.

Â

Hi BarbÂ

RM: I’m so glad you jumped in! I’ll try to explain what I think is at issue and also why understanding control of behavior is important. So I’ve changed the title of this thread because the discussion is no longer about just my demo.

BP: Some of the argument here sounds as if the theory itself is in question.Â

RM: No, I don’t think anyone is questioning the theory.Â

Â

BP: Some of it sounds as if the specific words being used are in question.

RM: Actually I think the heart of the argument is about whether "control of behavior "is a fact or not. I am arguing that it is a fact; everyone but Martin is arguing that it is not. Those arguing that it is not a fact are basing their argument on the idea the PCT shows that “control of behavior” is impossible (this may be why you thought some of the argument questioned PCT itself; since I was saying that “control of behavior” is a fact and others were saying that PCT shows that it is impossible it could have looked like I was questioning PCT itself; don’t worry, I’m not. PCT certainly does show that “control of behavior” is possible; indeed, it explains how it works). They have made this argument mainly by questioning the words that are used to describe control of behavior (and this may be why you think that some of the argument sounded as if specific words being used were in question).Â

RM: I thought the argument would be finally settled by my “control of behavior” demo but, alas, like all things PCT, it wasn’t. I think this is because, at its root, this is a political issue. I think Erling described one aspect of it: just saying that “control of behavior” is possible, according to PCT, could give people the impression that PCT is like other theories in psychology which say that behavior is controlled by the environment. Another aspect of it is that many people are attracted to PCT because it seems to justify their belief that people are uncontrollable (free) and that the only thing that screws things up in the world is people trying to control other people. And they are close to being right; PCT shows that efforts to control the behavior of others – especially when this is done arbitrarily – is, indeed, the source of many (perhaps most) social problems.Â

RM: While I appreciate these political concerns, I think it’s more important to get the facts right than to be politically correct, especially if one wants to use PCT as a basis for improving human interaction. Which gets me to why it matters that we understand and not deny the existence of “control of behavior”. First, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see when you are doing it yourself. If one is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior then one will be unaware of when they are doing it. And since control of behavior can lead to rather ugly conflict, a person who doesn’t know when he or she is controlling behavior may have no idea why things are going so badly. Second, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see that you can be controlled and explains why and how. One who is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will often be unable or unwilling to see when they are being controlled or how it’s beng done (or attempted). Finally, it matters because understanding control of behavior shows how it’s possible to control other people’s behavior (and allow them to control yours) with minimal or no conflict. This is particularly important when we want to produce results – such as a smart phone-- that require the coordinated efforts of many people working together who require certain behaviors from each other. Those who are convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will will end up controlling people arbitrarily thinking that they are not controlling anyone at all.Â

BP: Â Outside disturbances may influence behavior in another control system, but not actually control the behavior of that system.Â

RM: This is a crucial observation!! It’s important to know what control is in order to understand when control of behavior is happening. Controlling behavior is not the same as influencing or causing behavior. Controlling involves bringing a variable, such as the distance between the sheep and the herd in my demo, to a predetermined state, such as “sheep close to herd”, and keeping it there, protected from disturbances, which include the movements of the herd and of the sheep itself. Given this definition of control, the distance of the sheep from the herd can clearly be controlled in my demo. Since the distance between sheep and herd depends at least in part on the movements of the sheep this variable is a behavior of the sheep.Â

RM: So one thing that is clear from my demo is that the behavior of the sheep (just like the behavior of the cursor in a tracking task) is controlled. The data printed at the end of the demo shows how good this control was in terms of the average distance of sheep from herd (RMS error) and stability (ratio of expected to actual variance of the sheep’s position). So there is unquestionably control of behavior going on in this demo and we know why it’s happening: it’s because you (in the role of the dog) are a control system using movements of the mouse (and hence the dog) to keep the sheep near the herd. Only a control system (like you) can control. It turns out that you are exerting this control by disturbing a variable that is controlled by the sheep. But you know nothing of that (just as the dog knows nothing of that in real life). All you know is that when you move the mouse left the sheep moves right and vice versa. And when you move the mouse appropriately that you control the behavior of the sheep.Â

RM: But it turns out that in this demo the sheep is not an inanimate object (as is the cursor in your typical tracking task). The sheep is itself a control system, controlling for the distance between the visual location of the grass shoot and you (the dog). So when you (the dog) move you are disturbing a perception controlled by the sheep and the sheep acts (by moving left or right, as necessary) to compensate for that disturbance. So without your knowing it (and the dog certainly wouldn’t know it) you are controlling the position of the sheep by taking advantage of the fact that the sheep is controlling a perception to which your location is a disturbance that is corrected by varying the aspect of its behavior (it’s position) that you want to control. The data at the end also shows how well the sheep is controlling its perception (of the desired distance between you and the grass shoot); and it’s doing quite well at controlling by successfully moving to compensate for the disturbance created by *your *movements. You turn out to be using disturbances that influence a controlled variable as the means of controlling the variable (the behavior of the sheep that compensates for those disturbances) that you are controlling.

RM: All this is done with a PCT model of the sheep, of course. So to the extent that you are able to control the behavior of the sheep, the PCT model shows very clearly (and simply) how the behavior of a control system (the sheep) can be controlled by another control system (you, the dog).Â

RM: I think that’s enough for now. I’m imagine those who don’t like the idea of “control of behavior” will still not be convinced by the demo or my discussion. But there are some very interesting implications of this simple demo (and the model that shows how it works-- that is, PCT) that I’d like to talk about in this thread. But I’ll do that in another post. I got blisters on my fingers!!

Best

Rick

Goals and priorities constantly shift in order to maintain a certain level of accomplishment, satisfaction, etc., conscious or unconscious. When a conflict becomes apparent, something on one side or another of that conflict must change in order to move on. We can either reach our goal despite the disturbance or change our goal to accommodate that disturbance.

Â

I liked Rick’s sheep demo, and admittedly played with it for awhile during a lull at work. The dog has been trained that the sheep should be kept together so it has learned on some level that it can bark and nip from certain angles and the sheep will move away from it. Sheep are wild animals, and generally will move away from what looks like a threat. If the dog is not in the way, it will try to get back to the herd. It looks as if the dog is “controlling” the sheep, and the farmer (me) and the dog appear satisfied that this is what is happening. The sheep didn’t return to the herd because the dog controlled it. To the sheep, the dog was behaving in a threatening manner, and the goal of the sheep was to return to the safety of the herd.

Â

The sheep could have turned rogue and decided it wasn’t afraid of the dog, and kept running away, contrary to what the dog was trying to accomplish. Had the dog remained between the sheep and the herd, the sheep likely would have moved further off.

Â

The dog perceives that it is causing the sheep to move. The sheep perceives a threat, and moves itself away from the threat and back to the herd. The farmer perceives his well-trained dog (whom he influences with food) keeping his herd together.  Goals have been met in each of their minds, tiny though some of those may be, but in no case here are any of them controlling one another.Â

Â

Â

*barb

Â

Â

Â

Â


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:37 AM, Warren Mansell csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

In B:CP where Bill explains arbitrary control, he states explicitly that other people’s behaviour can be controlled, and that this is a major source of conflict:

'… the attempt to make behaviour conform to one set of goals without regard to other goals…that may already be controlling that behaviour–that must already exist, since the behaviour exists…’Â

Warren

On 19 Nov 2014, at 09:39, Boris Hartman (boris.hartman@masicom.net via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

What a construct.

Â

Where Bill divided environment into physical and social environment with different effects of disturbances and different perceptual signals for living and non-living environment. Show me in any of his diagrams ?

Â

There are just physical variables (distal stimuli) outside which are turned into perceptual signals and which are than all compared in comparator (neurons) inside LCS. What LCS experience is just perception (disturbances), no mater what is causing disturbances in environment and later perception. I also didn’t see in any of his defintions or books divission on physical and social environment. The question is whether environment »controls behavior of LCS or not« ? As I see your writings you say once yes and once no. It’s total confussion.

Â

If you are phylosophing in your name under Bill’s »flag« than you should find a citation that could support your statement in the name of PCT. If you don’t give that proof, I can just conclude that it’s your imagination.

Â

LCS perceive disturbances (turned into perception), no matter who is producing them. And there is no protection against them. There is just conter-action.

Â

Here are some Bill’s defitions just not to forget about which theroy we are talking about. And as far as I can see he is also not talking about »observable facts«. It’s subjective impression, so not something that is »definitelly or objectivelly outside« but something that is subject to human feelings and so on. See how we differently see the same »theme«. So what is here »obervable fact«.

Â

Bill P (BC:P,2005):

DISTURBANCE : Any variable in the environment of a control system that (a) contributes to changes in the controlled quantty (b) is not controlled by the same control system.

Â

ENVIRONMENTÂ (of a control sytem) : All that directly affects the input function of a system and is affected by the output function of the system. See REALITY…

Â

REALITY [Directly perceived] : The world as subjectively experienced, including mental activities, feelings, concepts, as wel as the subjective impression of three-dimensional outside universe. [External] : A directly-perceived set of hypotheses, beleifs, deducations, and organized models purporting to explain directly perceived reality in terms of underlying phenomena and laws. See PHYSICAL QUANTITY.

Â

PHYSICAL QUANTTITY, PHENOMENON : A perception identifyed as part of a physical model of external reality.

Â

I think it’s time that we see some real PCT wording, not just RCT wording. If you will talk what is PCT or what is not you should use PCT wording not self-regulation or behavioristic. As you can see Bill is not mentioning any different meaning for different »stimuli« or »observable facts« that is as it is because you said so…/p>

Â

At least I see it this way. But I don’t see everything as »observable fact«

Â

Best,

Â

Boris

Â

From: csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu [mailto:csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List)
Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 3:39 AM
To:
Subject: Re: Demonstration of control of behavior

Â

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.17.1840)]

Â

RM: One more thought regarding control of behavior. Perhaps part of the difficulty here comes from the fact hat PCT does show that the environment – the physical, non-living environment – does not control behavior. This is where PCT contradicts those, like Skinner, who believe that the environment does control behavior. Based on his experiments, for example. Skinner concluded that the behavior of organisms is controlled by “contingencies of reinforcement”. That is, behavior is controlled by the rewards and punishments (out there in the environment) that follow particular behaviors. Â

Â

RM: PCT shows that this is not the case at all; the environment – in the form of stimuli, rewards and punishments – doesn’t control behavior.Â

Â

HB :

According to upper Bill’s definitions this is all what we need to know.Â

Â

How could rats knew what is »reward and punishment from Skinner«. Rats just perceive stimuli and control these perceived stimuli as any other stimuli from environment. There is no difference between stimuli from social and physical environment. They are all turned into perception which doesn’t distinguish between stimuli from social or physical environment. Perceptual signal is the same for all stimuli that affect input function. They just distinguish in intensity (frequency) and space code (.

Â

Â

Â

But Skinner was able to control behavior with rewards and punishments – mainly rewards – so what’s going on here? Why would PCT deny that rewards and punishments control behavior? The answer is that PCT let’s us see the wizard that, in this case, isn’t even behind the curtain; the wizard who is doing the actual controlling is in full view but, somehow, never noticed . It’s Skinner who is controlling the behavior using rewards and punishments, not the rewards and punishments themselves.Â

Â

Rewards and punishments are not control systems; they have no goals for what an organism should do. But Skinner did. Skinner wanted to see a rat press a lever to get food, for example, and he found that he could get the rat to do that using a process called “shaping”, which involves rewarding the animal for making successive approximations to the desired behavior (bar pressing). Skinner was clearly controlling the behavior of the rat, and he did it by varying his actions (giving or withholding rewards) with the aim of getting his perception of the rat’s behavior to be what he wanted it to be.Â

Â

He could also build machines that could stand in for his controlling; so once the rat had been “shaped” into pressing the bar the machine could take over and give a reward only after a press (or several presses) were made. Of course, the machine is not really controlling the rat either since it would deliver a reward even if the bar were pressed by someone other than the rat. And if the pellet delivery system were jammed the rat would eventually stop pressing the bar and the machine would do nothing to get it back to the bar. The machine can’t perceive the rat’s behavior and act appropriately if it’s not doing what is “wanted”, becuase the machine also has no wants (references).

Â

The point is that PCT shows that the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system. It’s not “the environment” consisting of stimuli ,rewards, or punishments that controls behavior; it is the other control systems in that environment – generally other people – that use stimuli, rewards or punishments to control behavior. And if the controlling is not consensual or if it requires the controllee to do things that conflict with other goals (including the goal of not being controlled) then the controllee might decide to resist the controlling; and then things get ugly.

Â

HB : I never saw in PCT (Bill’s theory) to be pointing to anything you say and I didn’t see anything you wrote. Where did you see him saying »the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system«. It looks like your construct of PCT, which can be called RCT. If you are talking in the name of PCT I think you should prove it wilh some Bill’s defintion or Bill’s writings, as that is now only reference for what is true about PCT or not. You are using PCT as cover for your behavioristic and self-regulation theory. You are almost duplicate of Carver & Scheier. Why don’t you join them ?

Â

Best,

Â

Boris

Â

Â

BestÂ

Â

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[Martin Taylor 2014.11.19.23.02]

I think it is this insistence that only successful control is

control that causes much of the confusion. For example Boris’s:
would be correct, if control is happening only when “…a variable,
such as the distance between the sheep and the herd in my demo, [is
brought] to a predetermined state, such as “sheep close to herd”,
and keeping it there, protected from disturbances,…”
I think it is important to recognize that the output of a control
unit may not bring the perception close to any predetermined state.
If they always did, why would Bill have had to worry about how
reorganization could be made to work?
Boris’s “1” and “2” refer to successful control and unsuccessful
control, not to control and non-control using two different
mechanisms.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.19.1500)]

  Controlling involves bringing a variable, such as the

distance between the sheep and the herd in my demo, to a
predetermined state, such as “sheep close to herd”, and keeping it
there, protected from disturbances, which include the movements of
the herd and of the sheep itself.

      So whether subject will cooperate in

experiment or not is always by his will not by the will of
experimenter. The same is with the salt. If you ask somebody
to pass you salt and he doesn’t want to do it, it’s obvious
that you request doesn’t imply behavior of the person that you
asked for salt. Even if he does agree that he will do what you
want, the references are always set inside control system. It
can’t be set from outside, so to say that environment »control
behavior« of HPCT. So I think that you can’t say in any case
that environment »control behavior of HPCT«. As Kent wrote
once, control stays at controllee. The decission which
perception will be controlled stays always at controlee. If
this is not so, than there are two control mechanisms for
»controlling behavior« :

  1.              one when person agree to pass you
    

salt, and

  1.              one when person disagree to pass
    

you salt.

David Goldstein (2014.11.20. 9516)

I wouldn’t think that the tennis ball machine could control the other player. It is not a living being and does not have wants or goals. However, the person that “set up the machine to throw the ball in a specific area” would be the one controlling.

My point was that there is only an impression that the other person is being controlled. If the other person doesn’t want to win the point and hit the ball back, he/she will not make the effort to do so. My shots to the other person are disturbances only if the other person has the goal of wanting to hit the ball back.

Tennis coaches teach players to return to the center of the court after he/she makes a shot. If the ball keeps on coming to the rightmost part of the baseline, there is the temptation for the other player to not follow the recommended strategy. This is when the player who is consistently hitting the ball to the rightmost baseline area will hit the ball to the leftmost baseline area and possibly win the point.

In other words, while it seems that I am controlling the other person’s actions, I am only being a disturbance to something that the other person is controlling. If the other person is controlling for hitting the ball back, he/she will engage in an action that will be equal and opposite to my disturbance. In my example, this would be to stay closer to the rightmost baseline area which would reduce the amount of running necessary.

To me, it always helps to switch roles, to be able to see that you aren’t controlling someone else. If a ball machine was set up to shoot tennis balls to that same spot over and over, would you now say the machine is controlling the person? Is that possible, for a machine to have that kind of control?

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Now you see the ball coming at you again and again at the baseline. What is your perception now? Is it that of being controlled, or that of deciding to change (or not change) your behavior in order to hit the ball?

···

On Wednesday, November 19, 2014 9:12 PM, “bara0361@gmail.combara0361@gmail.com wrote:

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 7:03 PM, bara0361@gmail.com bara0361@gmail.com wrote:

…which is your perception. The other player is in control of their own actions, because they are positioning themselves in the best place to keep returning the ball. They perceive the ball being hit in the same general area over and over, so in order to meet their own goal of being able to keep returning it, they do appear to stand where you want them. Actually, they are standing where THEY want to, if they want to enjoy a long volley.

You are providing a disturbance, even if that disturbance is in the same place each time. They still are measuring, adjusting, calculating, even if only slightly, according to their perception of how to best play the game.

*barb

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM, David Goldstein csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

David Goldstein (2014.11.19.2045)

I can control the behavior of the other tennis player so that they stay on the baseline on my right side. No matter where they hit the ball, I hit it on the right baseline.

Of course, if they are not interested, or can’t return my shot, I win the point. But then I lose the argument that I can control their behavior.

David

Sent from my iPad

On Nov 19, 2014, at 6:03 PM, Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.19.1500)]

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:16 AM, “bara0361@gmail.comcsgnet@lists.illinois.edu (Barb Powers) wrote:

BP: Forgive me, but I’m struggling to see what is truly at issue.

Hi Barb

RM: I’m so glad you jumped in! I’ll try to explain what I think is at issue and also why understanding control of behavior is important. So I’ve changed the title of this thread because the discussion is no longer about just my demo.

BP: Some of the argument here sounds as if the theory itself is in question.

RM: No, I don’t think anyone is questioning the theory.

BP: Some of it sounds as if the specific words being used are in question.

RM: Actually I think the heart of the argument is about whether "control of behavior "is a fact or not. I am arguing that it is a fact; everyone but Martin is arguing that it is not. Those arguing that it is not a fact are basing their argument on the idea the PCT shows that “control of behavior” is impossible (this may be why you thought some of the argument questioned PCT itself; since I was saying that “control of behavior” is a fact and others were saying that PCT shows that it is impossible it could have looked like I was questioning PCT itself; don’t worry, I’m not. PCT certainly does show that “control of behavior” is possible; indeed, it explains how it works). They have made this argument mainly by questioning the words that are used to describe control of behavior (and this may be why you think that some of the argument sounded as if specific words being used were in question).

RM: I thought the argument would be finally settled by my “control of behavior” demo but, alas, like all things PCT, it wasn’t. I think this is because, at its root, this is a political issue. I think Erling described one aspect of it: just saying that “control of behavior” is possible, according to PCT, could give people the impression that PCT is like other theories in psychology which say that behavior is controlled by the environment. Another aspect of it is that many people are attracted to PCT because it seems to justify their belief that people are uncontrollable (free) and that the only thing that screws things up in the world is people trying to control other people. And they are close to being right; PCT shows that efforts to control the behavior of others – especially when this is done arbitrarily – is, indeed, the source of many (perhaps most) social problems.

RM: While I appreciate these political concerns, I think it’s more important to get the facts right than to be politically correct, especially if one wants to use PCT as a basis for improving human interaction. Which gets me to why it matters that we understand and not deny the existence of “control of behavior”. First, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see when you are doing it yourself. If one is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior then one will be unaware of when they are doing it. And since control of behavior can lead to rather ugly conflict, a person who doesn’t know when he or she is controlling behavior may have no idea why things are going so badly. Second, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see that you can be controlled and explains why and how. One who is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will often be unable or unwilling to see when they are being controlled or how it’s beng done (or attempted). Finally, it matters because understanding control of behavior shows how it’s possible to control other people’s behavior (and allow them to control yours) with minimal or no conflict. This is particularly important when we want to produce results – such as a smart phone-- that require the coordinated efforts of many people working together who require certain behaviors from each other. Those who are convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will will end up controlling people arbitrarily thinking that they are not controlling anyone at all.

BP: Outside disturbances may influence behavior in another control system, but not actually control the behavior of that system.

RM: This is a crucial observation!! It’s important to know what control is in order to understand when control of behavior is happening. Controlling behavior is not the same as influencing or causing behavior. Controlling involves bringing a variable, such as the distance between the sheep and the herd in my demo, to a predetermined state, such as “sheep close to herd”, and keeping it there, protected from disturbances, which include the movements of the herd and of the sheep itself. Given this definition of control, the distance of the sheep from the herd can clearly be controlled in my demo. Since the distance between sheep and herd depends at least in part on the movements of the sheep this variable is a behavior of the sheep.

RM: So one thing that is clear from my demo is that the behavior of the sheep (just like the behavior of the cursor in a tracking task) is controlled. The data printed at the end of the demo shows how good this control was in terms of the average distance of sheep from herd (RMS error) and stability (ratio of expected to actual variance of the sheep’s position). So there is unquestionably control of behavior going on in this demo and we know why it’s happening: it’s because you (in the role of the dog) are a control system using movements of the mouse (and hence the dog) to keep the sheep near the herd. Only a control system (like you) can control. It turns out that you are exerting this control by disturbing a variable that is controlled by the sheep. But you know nothing of that (just as the dog knows nothing of that in real life). All you know is that when you move the mouse left the sheep moves right and vice versa. And when you move the mouse appropriately that you control the behavior of the sheep.

RM: But it turns out that in this demo the sheep is not an inanimate object (as is the cursor in your typical tracking task). The sheep is itself a control system, controlling for the distance between the visual location of the grass shoot and you (the dog). So when you (the dog) move you are disturbing a perception controlled by the sheep and the sheep acts (by moving left or right, as necessary) to compensate for that disturbance. So without your knowing it (and the dog certainly wouldn’t know it) you are controlling the position of the sheep by taking advantage of the fact that the sheep is controlling a perception to which your location is a disturbance that is corrected by varying the aspect of its behavior (it’s position) that you want to control. The data at the end also shows how well the sheep is controlling its perception (of the desired distance between you and the grass shoot); and it’s doing quite well at controlling by successfully moving to compensate for the disturbance created by *your *movements. You turn out to be using disturbances that influence a controlled variable as the means of controlling the variable (the behavior of the sheep that compensates for those disturbances) that you are controlling.

RM: All this is done with a PCT model of the sheep, of course. So to the extent that you are able to control the behavior of the sheep, the PCT model shows very clearly (and simply) how the behavior of a control system (the sheep) can be controlled by another control system (you, the dog).

RM: I think that’s enough for now. I’m imagine those who don’t like the idea of “control of behavior” will still not be convinced by the demo or my discussion. But there are some very interesting implications of this simple demo (and the model that shows how it works-- that is, PCT) that I’d like to talk about in this thread. But I’ll do that in another post. I got blisters on my fingers!!

Best

Rick

Goals and priorities constantly shift in order to maintain a certain level of accomplishment, satisfaction, etc., conscious or unconscious. When a conflict becomes apparent, something on one side or another of that conflict must change in order to move on. We can either reach our goal despite the disturbance or change our goal to accommodate that disturbance.

I liked Rick’s sheep demo, and admittedly played with it for awhile during a lull at work. The dog has been trained that the sheep should be kept together so it has learned on some level that it can bark and nip from certain angles and the sheep will move away from it. Sheep are wild animals, and generally will move away from what looks like a threat. If the dog is not in the way, it will try to get back to the herd. It looks as if the dog is “controlling” the sheep, and the farmer (me) and the dog appear satisfied that this is what is happening. The sheep didn’t return to the herd because the dog controlled it. To the sheep, the dog was behaving in a threatening manner, and the goal of the sheep was to return to the safety of the herd.

The sheep could have turned rogue and decided it wasn’t afraid of the dog, and kept running away, contrary to what the dog was trying to accomplish. Had the dog remained between the sheep and the herd, the sheep likely would have moved further off.

The dog perceives that it is causing the sheep to move. The sheep perceives a threat, and moves itself away from the threat and back to the herd. The farmer perceives his well-trained dog (whom he influences with food) keeping his herd together. Goals have been met in each of their minds, tiny though some of those may be, but in no case here are any of them controlling one another.

*barb

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:37 AM, Warren Mansell csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

In B:CP where Bill explains arbitrary control, he states explicitly that other people’s behaviour can be controlled, and that this is a major source of conflict:

'… the attempt to make behaviour conform to one set of goals without regard to other goals…that may already be controlling that behaviour–that must already exist, since the behhaviour exists…’

Warren

On 19 Nov 2014, at 09:39, Boris Hartman (boris.hartman@masicom.net via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

What a construct.

Where Bill divided environment into physical and social environment with different effects of disturbances and different perceptual signals for living and non-living environment. Show me in any of his diagrams ?

There are just physical variables (distal stimuli) outside which are turned into perceptual signals and which are than all compared in comparator (neurons) inside LCS. What LCS experience is just perception (disturbances), no mater what is causing disturbances in environment and later perception. I also didn’t see in any of his defintions or books divission on physical and social environment. The question is whether environment »controls behavior of LCS or not« ? As I see your writings you say once yes and once no. It’s total confussion.

If you are phylosophing in your name under Bill’s »flag« than you should find a citation that could support your statement in the name of PCT. If you don’t give that proof, I can just conclude that it’s your imagination.

LCS perceive disturbances (turned into perception), no matter who is producing them. And there is no protection against them. There is just conter-action.

Here are some Bill’s defitions just not to forget about which theroy we are talking about. And as far as I can see he is also not talking about »observable facts«. It’s subjective impression, so not something that is »definitelly or objectivelly outside« but something that is subject to human feelings and so on. See how we differently see the same »theme«. So what is here »obervable fact«.

Bill P (BC:P,2005):

DISTURBANCE : Any variable in the environment of a control system that (a) contributes to changes in the controlled quantty (b) is not controlled by the same control system.

ENVIRONMENT (of a control sytem) : All that directly affects the input function of a system and is affected by the output function of the system. See REALITY…

REALITY [Directly perceived] : The world as subjectively experienced, including mental activities, feelings, concepts, as wel as the subjective impression of three-dimensional outside universe. [External] : A directly-perceived set of hypotheses, beleifs, deducations, and organized models purporting to explain directly perceived reality in terms of underlying phenomena and laws. See PHYSICAL QUANTITY.

PHYSICAL QUANTTITY, PHENOMENON : A perception identifyed as part of a physical model of external reality.

I think it’s time that we see some real PCT wording, not just RCT wording. If you will talk what is PCT or what is not you should use PCT wording not self-regulation or behavioristic. As you can see Bill is not mentioning any different meaning for different »stimuli« or »observable facts« that is as it is because you said so…

At least I see it this way. But I don’t see everything as »observable fact«

Best,

Boris

From: csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu [mailto:csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List)
Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 3:39 AM
To:
Subject: Re: Demonstration of control of behavior

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.17.1840)]

RM: One more thought regarding control of behavior. Perhaps part of the difficulty here comes from the fact hat PCT does show that the environment – the physical, non-living environment – does not control behavior. This is where PCT contradicts those, like Skinner, who believe that the environment does control behavior. Based on his experiments, for example. Skinner concluded that the behavior of organisms is controlled by “contingencies of reinforcement”. That is, behavior is controlled by the rewards and punishments (out there in the environment) that follow particular behaviors.

RM: PCT shows that this is not the case at all; the environment – in the form of stimuli, rewards and punishments – doesn’t control behavior.

HB :

According to upper Bill’s definitions this is all what we need to know.

How could rats knew what is »reward and punishment from Skinner«. Rats just perceive stimuli and control these perceived stimuli as any other stimuli from environment. There is no difference between stimuli from social and physical environment. They are all turned into perception which doesn’t distinguish between stimuli from social or physical environment. Perceptual signal is the same for all stimuli that affect input function. They just distinguish in intensity (frequency) and space code (.

But Skinner was able to control behavior with rewards and punishments – mainly rewards – so what’s going on here? Why would PCT deny that rewards and punishments control behavior? The answer is that PCT let’s us see the wizard that, in this case, isn’t even behind the curtain; the wizard who is doing the actual controlling is in full view but, somehow, never noticed . It’s Skinner who is controlling the behavior using rewards and punishments, not the rewards and punishments themselves.

Rewards and punishments are not control systems; they have no goals for what an organism should do. But Skinner did. Skinner wanted to see a rat press a lever to get food, for example, and he found that he could get the rat to do that using a process called “shaping”, which involves rewarding the animal for making successive approximations to the desired behavior (bar pressing). Skinner was clearly controlling the behavior of the rat, and he did it by varying his actions (giving or withholding rewards) with the aim of getting his perception of the rat’s behavior to be what he wanted it to be.

He could also build machines that could stand in for his controlling; so once the rat had been “shaped” into pressing the bar the machine could take over and give a reward only after a press (or several presses) were made. Of course, the machine is not really controlling the rat either since it would deliver a reward even if the bar were pressed by someone other than the rat. And if the pellet delivery system were jammed the rat would eventually stop pressing the bar and the machine would do nothing to get it back to the bar. The machine can’t perceive the rat’s behavior and act appropriately if it’s not doing what is “wanted”, becuase the machine also has no wants (references).

The point is that PCT shows that the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system. It’s not “the environment” consisting of stimuli ,rewards, or punishments that controls behavior; it is the other control systems in that environment – generally other people – that use stimuli, rewards or punishments to control behavior. And if the controlling is not consensual or if it requires the controllee to do things that conflict with other goals (including the goal of not being controlled) then the controllee might decide to resist the controlling; and then things get ugly.

HB : I never saw in PCT (Bill’s theory) to be pointing to anything you say and I didn’t see anything you wrote. Where did you see him saying »the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system«. It looks like your construct of PCT, which can be called RCT. If you are talking in the name of PCT I think you should prove it wilh some Bill’s defintion or Bill’s writings, as that is now only reference for what is true about PCT or not. You are using PCT as cover for your behavioristic and self-regulation theory. You are almost duplicate of Carver & Scheier. Why don’t you join them ?

Best,

Boris

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.20.0910)]

···

David Goldstein (2014.11.19.2045)

DG:I can control the behavior of the other tennis player so that they stay on the baseline on my right side. No matter where they hit the ball, I hit it on the right baseline.

BP …which is your perception.

RM: Right. David is controlling his perception of the opponent’s position on the court, keeping that player behind the baseline. And he’s able to do that to the extent that the opponent is able to control his or her perception of getting behind the ball to hit it.

BP: The other player is in control of their own actions,

RM: Actually the other player (like everyone else) is controlling their own perceptions, not their actions. In this case, in order to control the perception of being behind the ball the other player must vary his or her actions (in this case, the action of moving to the appropriate position on the court) in order to keep that perception under control. So David can control the other player’s actions, keeping him or her behind the baseline, by hitting the ball to the baseline. Both David and the other player are controlling their perceptions. But the perception David is in control of is a perception of an aspect of the behavior of the other player: their location on the court.

BP: because they are positioning themselves in the best place to keep returning the ball. They perceive the ball being hit in the same general area over and over, so in order to meet their own goal of being able to keep returning it, they do appear to stand where you want them.

RM: Why say “appear”? The other player is, in fact, standing where David wants him or her to stand. He is controlling the field position of the other player just as surely as the sheepdog is controlling the sheep. And the other player is controlling his or her perception of her location relative to the ball just as surely as the sheep is controlling its perception of the distance between the dog and grass shoot.

BP: Actually, they are standing where THEY want to, if they want to enjoy a long volley.

RM: True. And they are also standing where David wants them to stand. They are controlling and being controlled. As is David. the other player is surely controlling for keeping David in a place on the court where he can’t hit back those baseline shots. A tennis game is actually an example of people trying to control each other’s behavior; it’s a conflict situation, which is why neither player really controls the other’s behavior as well as they would like; the better player (the more skillful controller) will end up controlling the other best. If David were playing Federer his control of Federer’s position on the court would be very poor while Federer’s control of David’s position would, I would wager, be excellent (no offense David;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

RM: Both David and the other player are controlling their perceptions. But the perception David is in control of is a perception of an aspect of the behavior of the other player: their location on the court.

WM: Rick, isn’t location in the court best regarded as an environmental variable than as a ‘behaviour’?

···

David Goldstein (2014.11.19.2045)

DG:I can control the behavior of the other tennis player so that they stay on the baseline on my right side. No matter where they hit the ball, I hit it on the right baseline.

BP …which is your perception.

RM: Right. David is controlling his perception of the opponent’s position on the court, keeping that player behind the baseline. And he’s able to do that to the extent that the opponent is able to control his or her perception of getting behind the ball to hit it.

BP: The other player is in control of their own actions,

RM: Actually the other player (like everyone else) is controlling their own perceptions, not their actions. In this case, in order to control the perception of being behind the ball the other player must vary his or her actions (in this case, the action of moving to the appropriate position on the court) in order to keep that perception under control. So David can control the other player’s actions, keeping him or her behind the baseline, by hitting the ball to the baseline. Both David and the other player are controlling their perceptions. But the perception David is in control of is a perception of an aspect of the behavior of the other player: their location on the court.

BP: because they are positioning themselves in the best place to keep returning the ball. They perceive the ball being hit in the same general area over and over, so in order to meet their own goal of being able to keep returning it, they do appear to stand where you want them.

RM: Why say “appear”? The other player is, in fact, standing where David wants him or her to stand. He is controlling the field position of the other player just as surely as the sheepdog is controlling the sheep. And the other player is controlling his or her perception of her location relative to the ball just as sur
ely as the sheep is controlling its perception of the distance between the dog and grass shoot.

BP: Actually, they are standing where THEY want to, if they want to enjoy a long volley.

RM: True. And they are also standing where David wants them to stand. They are controlling and being controlled. As is David. the other player is surely controlling for keeping David in a place on the court where he can’t hit back those baseline shots. A tennis game is actually an example of people trying to control each other’s behavior; it’s a conflict situation, which is why neither player really controls the other’s behavior as well as they would like; the better player (the more skillful controller) will end up controlling the other best. If David were playing Federer his control of Federer’s position on the court would be very poor while Federer’s control of David’s position would, I would wager, be excellent (no offense David;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Kent McClelland (2014.11.20.1140)]

Several of the recent posts in this thread by Rick and Martin have clarified things enough for me that I am beginning to think that I finally understand what Rick has been trying to say.

Is this your argument? (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

People [attempt to] control [some aspect, as they perceive it, of] other people’s behavior [or, in other words, their observable actions] [often successfully, but not always] {with or without the other people’s cooperation].

If this is your argument, I agree with it fully.

When you state the argument, however, without noting the stipulations in brackets (or just leaving them implicit), you risk that readers will misunderstand you, both within the PCT community and outside of it. This thread has illustrated some of the ways
in which people might misunderstand you.

Best to all,

Kent

···

David Goldstein (2014.11.19.2045)

DG:I can control the behavior of the other tennis player so that they stay on the baseline on my right side. No matter where they hit the ball, I hit it on the right baseline.

BP …which is your perception.

RM: Right. David is controlling his perception of the opponent’s position on the court, keeping that player behind the baseline. And he’s able to do that to the extent that the opponent is able to control his or her perception of getting behind the ball
to hit it.

BP: The other player is in control of their own actions,

RM: Actually the other player (like everyone else) is controlling their own perceptions, not their actions. In this case, in order to control the perception of being behind the ball the other player must vary his or her actions (in this case, the action
of moving to the appropriate position on the court) in order to keep that perception under control. So David can control the other player’s actions, keeping him or her behind the baseline, by hitting the ball to the baseline. Both David and the other player
are controlling their perceptions. But the perception David is in control of is a perception of an aspect of the behavior of the other player: their location on the court.

BP: because they are positioning themselves in the best place to keep returning the ball. They perceive the ball being hit in the same general area over and over, so in order to meet their own goal of being able to keep returning it, they do appear to
stand where you want them.

RM: Why say “appear”? The other player is, in fact, standing where David wants him or her to stand. He is controlling the field position of the other player just as surely as the sheepdog is controlling the sheep. And the other player is controlling his
or her perception of her location relative to the ball just as surely as the sheep is controlling its perception of the distance between the dog and grass shoot.

BP: Actually, they are standing where THEY want to, if they want to enjoy a long volley.

RM: True. And they are also standing where David wants them to stand. They are controlling and being controlled. As is David. the other player is surely controlling for keeping David in a place on the court where he can’t hit back those baseline shots.
A tennis game is actually an example of people trying to control each other’s behavior; it’s a conflict situation, which is why neither player really controls the other’s behavior as well as they would like; the better player (the more skillful controller)
will end up controlling the other best. If David were playing Federer his control of Federer’s position on the court would be very poor while Federer’s control of David’s position would, I would wager, be excellent (no offense David;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.

Author of Doing
Research on Purpose
.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Superb…answer *barb.

Best,

Boris

···

From: csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu [mailto:csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu] On Behalf Ofbara0361@gmail.com” (bara0361@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List)
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2014 3:04 AM
To: davidmg@verizon.net
Cc: rsmarken@gmail.com; csgnet@lists.illinois.edu; Richard Marken
Subject: Re: Understanding control of behavior: Why it matters

…which is your perception. The other player is in control of their own actions, because they are positioning themselves in the best place to keep returning the ball. They perceive the ball being hit in the same general area over and over, so in order to meet their own goal of being able to keep returning it, they do appear to stand where you want them. Actually, they are standing where THEY want to, if they want to enjoy a long volley.

You are providing a disturbance, even if that disturbance is in the same place each time. They still are measuring, adjusting, calculating, even if only slightly, according to their perception of how to best play the game.

*barb

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM, David Goldstein csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

David Goldstein (2014.11.19.2045)

I can control the behavior of the other tennis player so that they stay on the baseline on my right side. No matter where they hit the ball, I hit it on the right baseline.

Of course, if they are not interested, or can’t return my shot, I win the point. But then I lose the argument that I can control their behavior.

David

Sent from my iPad

On Nov 19, 2014, at 6:03 PM, Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.19.1500)]

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:16 AM, “bara0361@gmail.comcsgnet@lists.illinois.edu (Barb Powers) wrote:

BP: Forgive me, but I’m struggling to see what is truly at issue.

Hi Barb

RM: I’m so glad you jumped in! I’ll try to explain what I think is at issue and also why understanding control of behavior is important. So I’ve changed the title of this thread because the discussion is no longer about just my demo.

BP: Some of the argument here sounds as if the theory itself is in question.

RM: No, I don’t think anyone is questioning the theory.

BP: Some of it sounds as if the specific words being used are in question.

RM: Actually I think the heart of the argument is about whether "control of behavior "is a fact or not. I am arguing that it is a fact; everyone but Martin is arguing that it is not. Those arguing that it is not a fact are basing their argument on the idea the PCT shows that “control of behavior” is impossible (this may be why you thought some of the argument questioned PCT itself; since I was saying that “control of behavior” is a fact and others were saying that PCT shows that it is impossible it could have looked like I was questioning PCT itself; don’t worry, I’m not. PCT certainly does show that “control of behavior” is possible; indeed, it explains how it works). They have made this argument mainly by questioning the words that are used to describe control of behavior (and this may be why you think that some of the argument sounded as if specific words being used were in question).

RM: I thought the argument would be finally settled by my “control of behavior” demo but, alas, like all things PCT, it wasn’t. I think this is because, at its root, this is a political issue. I think Erling described one aspect of it: just saying that “control of behavior” is possible, according to PCT, could give people the impression that PCT is like other theories in psychology which say that behavior is controlled by the environment. Another aspect of it is that many people are attracted to PCT because it seems to justify their belief that people are uncontrollable (free) and that the only thing that screws things up in the world is people trying to control other people. And they are close to being right; PCT shows that efforts to control the behavior of others – especially when this is done arbitrarily – is, indeed, the source of many (perhaps most) social problems.

RM: While I appreciate these political concerns, I think it’s more important to get the facts right than to be politically correct, especially if one wants to use PCT as a basis for improving human interaction. Which gets me to why it matters that we understand and not deny the existence of “control of behavior”. First, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see when you are doing it yourself. If one is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior then one will be unaware of when they are doing it. And since control of behavior can lead to rather ugly conflict, a person who doesn’t know when he or she is controlling behavior may have no idea why things are going so badly. Second, it matters because understanding control of behavior lets you see that you can be controlled and explains why and how. One who is convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will often be unable or unwilling to see when they are being controlled or how it’s beng done (or attempted). Finally, it matters because understanding control of behavior shows how it’s possible to control other people’s behavior (and allow them to control yours) with minimal or no conflict. This is particularly important when we want to produce results – such as a smart phone-- that require the coordinated efforts of many people working together who require certain behaviors from each other. Those who are convinced that PCT says there is no such thing as control of behavior will will end up controlling people arbitrarily thinking that they are not controlling anyone at all.

BP: Outside disturbances may influence behavior in another control system, but not actually control the behavior of that system.

RM: This is a crucial observation!! It’s important to know what control is in order to understand when control of behavior is happening. Controlling behavior is not the same as influencing or causing behavior. Controlling involves bringing a variable, such as the distance between the sheep and the herd in my demo, to a predetermined state, such as “sheep close to herd”, and keeping it there, protected from disturbances, which include the movements of the herd and of the sheep itself. Given this definition of control, the distance of the sheep from the herd can clearly be controlled in my demo. Since the distance between sheep and herd depends at least in part on the movements of the sheep this variable is a behavior of the sheep.

RM: So one thing that is clear from my demo is that the behavior of the sheep (just like the behavior of the cursor in a tracking task) is controlled. The data printed at the end of the demo shows how good this control was in terms of the average distance of sheep from herd (RMS error) and stability (ratio of expected to actual variance of the sheep’s position). So there is unquestionably control of behavior going on in this demo and we know why it’s happening: it’s because you (in the role of the dog) are a control system using movements of the mouse (and hence the dog) to keep the sheep near the herd. Only a control system (like you) can control. It turns out that you are exerting this control by disturbing a variable that is controlled by the sheep. But you know nothing of that (just as the dog knows nothing of that in real life). All you know is that when you move the mouse left the sheep moves right and vice versa. And when you move the mouse appropriately that you control the behavior of the sheep.

RM: But it turns out that in this demo the sheep is not an inanimate object (as is the cursor in your typical tracking task). The sheep is itself a control system, controlling for the distance between the visual location of the grass shoot and you (the dog). So when you (the dog) move you are disturbing a perception controlled by the sheep and the sheep acts (by moving left or right, as necessary) to compensate for that disturbance. So without your knowing it (and the dog certainly wouldn’t know it) you are controlling the position of the sheep by taking advantage of the fact that the sheep is controlling a perception to which your location is a disturbance that is corrected by varying the aspect of its behavior (it’s position) that you want to control. The data at the end also shows how well the sheep is controlling its perception (of the desired distance between you and the grass shoot); and it’s doing quite well at controlling by successfully moving to compensate for the disturbance created by *your *movements. You turn out to be using disturbances that influence a controlled variable as the means of controlling the variable (the behavior of the sheep that compensates for those disturbances) that you are controlling.

RM: All this is done with a PCT model of the sheep, of course. So to the extent that you are able to control the behavior of the sheep, the PCT model shows very clearly (and simply) how the behavior of a control system (the sheep) can be controlled by another control system (you, the dog).

RM: I think that’s enough for now. I’m imagine those who don’t like the idea of “control of behavior” will still not be convinced by the demo or my discussion. But there are some very interesting implications of this simple demo (and the model that shows how it works-- that is, PCT) that I’d like to talk about in this thread. But I’ll do that in another post. I got blisters on my fingers!!

Best

Rick

Goals and priorities constantly shift in order to maintain a certain level of accomplishment, satisfaction, etc., conscious or unconscious. When a conflict becomes apparent, something on one side or another of that conflict must change in order to move on. We can either reach our goal despite the disturbance or change our goal to accommodate that disturbance.

I liked Rick’s sheep demo, and admittedly played with it for awhile during a lull at work. The dog has been trained that the sheep should be kept together so it has learned on some level that it can bark and nip from certain angles and the sheep will move away from it. Sheep are wild animals, and generally will move away from what looks like a threat. If the dog is not in the way, it will try to get back to the herd. It looks as if the dog is “controlling” the sheep, and the farmer (me) and the dog appear satisfied that this is what is happening. The sheep didn’t return to the herd because the dog controlled it. To the sheep, the dog was behaving in a threatening manner, and the goal of the sheep was to return to the safety of the herd.

The sheep could have turned rogue and decided it wasn’t afraid of the dog, and kept running away, contrary to what the dog was trying to accomplish. Had the dog remained between the sheep and the herd, the sheep likely would have moved further off.

The dog perceives that it is causing the sheep to move. The sheep perceives a threat, and moves itself away from the threat and back to the herd. The farmer perceives his well-trained dog (whom he influences with food) keeping his herd together. Goals have been met in each of their minds, tiny though some of those may be, but in no case here are any of them controlling one another.

*barb

On Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:37 AM, Warren Mansell csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

In B:CP where Bill explains arbitrary control, he states explicitly that other people’s behaviour can be controlled, and that this is a major source of conflict:

'… the attempt to make behaviour conform to one set of goals without regard to other goals…that may already be controlling that behaviour–that must already exist, since the behaviiour exists…’

Warren

On 19 Nov 2014, at 09:39, Boris Hartman (boris.hartman@masicom.net via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

What a construct.

Where Bill divided environment into physical and social environment with different effects of disturbances and different perceptual signals for living and non-living environment. Show me in any of his diagrams ?

There are just physical variables (distal stimuli) outside which are turned into perceptual signals and which are than all compared in comparator (neurons) inside LCS. What LCS experience is just perception (disturbances), no mater what is causing disturbances in environment and later perception. I also didn’t see in any of his defintions or books divission on physical and social environment. The question is whether environment »controls behavior of LCS or not« ? As I see your writings you say once yes and once no. It’s total confussion.

If you are phylosophing in your name under Bill’s »flag« than you should find a citation that could support your statement in the name of PCT. If you don’t give that proof, I can just conclude that it’s your imagination.

LCS perceive disturbances (turned into perception), no matter who is producing them. And there is no protection against them. There is just conter-action.

Here are some Bill’s defitions just not to forget about which theroy we are talking about. And as far as I can see he is also not talking about »observable facts«. It’s subjective impression, so not something that is »definitelly or objectivelly outside« but something that is subject to human feelings and so on. See how we differently see the same »theme«. So what is here »obervable fact«.

Bill P (BC:P,2005):

DISTURBANCE : Any variable in the environment of a control system that (a) contributes to changes in the controlled quantty (b) is not controlled by the same control system.

ENVIRONMENT (of a control sytem) : All that directly affects the input function of a system and is affected by the output function of the system. See REALITY…

REALITY [Directly perceived] : The world as subjectively experienced, including mental activities, feelings, concepts, as wel as the subjective impression of three-dimensional outside universe. [External] : A directly-perceived set of hypotheses, beleifs, deducations, and organized models purporting to explain directly perceived reality in terms of underlying phenomena and laws. See PHYSICAL QUANTITY.

PHYSICAL QUANTTITY, PHENOMENON : A perception identifyed as part of a physical model of external reality.

I think it’s time that we see some real PCT wording, not just RCT wording. If you will talk what is PCT or what is not you should use PCT wording not self-regulation or behavioristic. As you can see Bill is not mentioning any different meaning for different »stimuli« or »observable facts« that is as it is because you said so…<

At least I see it this way. But I don’t see everything as »observable fact«

Best,

Boris

From: csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu [mailto:csgnet-request@lists.illinois.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Marken (rsmarken@gmail.com via csgnet Mailing List)
Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 3:39 AM
To:
Subject: Re: Demonstration of control of behavior

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.17.1840)]

RM: One more thought regarding control of behavior. Perhaps part of the difficulty here comes from the fact hat PCT does show that the environment – the physical, non-living environment – does not control behavior. This is where PCT contradicts those, like Skinner, who believe that the environment does control behavior. Based on his experiments, for example. Skinner concluded that the behavior of organisms is controlled by “contingencies of reinforcement”. That is, behavior is controlled by the rewards and punishments (out there in the environment) that follow particular behaviors.

RM: PCT shows that this is not the case at all; the environment – in the form of stimuli, rewards and punishments – doesn’t control behavior.

HB :

According to upper Bill’s definitions this is all what we need to know.

How could rats knew what is »reward and punishment from Skinner«. Rats just perceive stimuli and control these perceived stimuli as any other stimuli from environment. There is no difference between stimuli from social and physical environment. They are all turned into perception which doesn’t distinguish between stimuli from social or physical environment. Perceptual signal is the same for all stimuli that affect input function. They just distinguish in intensity (frequency) and space code (.

But Skinner was able to control behavior with rewards and punishments – mainly rewards – so what’s going on here? Why would PCT deny that rewards and punishments control behavior? The answer is that PCT let’s us see the wizard that, in this case, isn’t even behind the curtain; the wizard who is doing the actual controlling is in full view but, somehow, never noticed . It’s Skinner who is controlling the behavior using rewards and punishments, not the rewards and punishments themselves.

Rewards and punishments are not control systems; they have no goals for what an organism should do. But Skinner did. Skinner wanted to see a rat press a lever to get food, for example, and he found that he could get the rat to do that using a process called “shaping”, which involves rewarding the animal for making successive approximations to the desired behavior (bar pressing). Skinner was clearly controlling the behavior of the rat, and he did it by varying his actions (giving or withholding rewards) with the aim of getting his perception of the rat’s behavior to be what he wanted it to be.

He could also build machines that could stand in for his controlling; so once the rat had been “shaped” into pressing the bar the machine could take over and give a reward only after a press (or several presses) were made. Of course, the machine is not really controlling the rat either since it would deliver a reward even if the bar were pressed by someone other than the rat. And if the pellet delivery system were jammed the rat would eventually stop pressing the bar and the machine would do nothing to get it back to the bar. The machine can’t perceive the rat’s behavior and act appropriately if it’s not doing what is “wanted”, becuase the machine also has no wants (references).

The point is that PCT shows that the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system. It’s not “the environment” consisting of stimuli ,rewards, or punishments that controls behavior; it is the other control systems in that environment – generally other people – that use stimuli, rewards or punishments to control behavior. And if the controlling is not consensual or if it requires the controllee to do things that conflict with other goals (including the goal of not being controlled) then the controllee might decide to resist the controlling; and then things get ugly.

HB : I never saw in PCT (Bill’s theory) to be pointing to anything you say and I didn’t see anything you wrote. Where did you see him saying »the only thing that can control the behavior of a control system is another control system«. It looks like your construct of PCT, which can be called RCT. If you are talking in the name of PCT I think you should prove it wilh some Bill’s defintion or Bill’s writings, as that is now only reference for what is true about PCT or not. You are using PCT as cover for your behavioristic and self-regulation theory. You are almost duplicate of Carver & Scheier. Why don’t you join them ?

Best,

Boris

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.

Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Thank you Kent!

···

David Goldstein (2014.11.19.2045)

DG:I can control the behavior of the other tennis player so that they stay on the baseline on my right side. No matter where they hit the ball, I hit it on the right baseline.

BP …which is your perception.

RM: Right. David is controlling his perception of the opponent’s position on the court, keeping that player behind the baseline. And he’s able to do that to the extent that the opponent is able to control his or her perception of getting behind the ball
to hit it.

BP: The other player is in control of their own actions,

RM: Actually the other player (like everyone else) is controlling their own perceptions, not their actions. In this case, in order to control the perception of being behind the ball the other player must vary his or her actions (in this case, the action
of moving to the appropriate position on the court) in order to keep that perception under control. So David can control the other player’s actions, keeping him or her behind the baseline, by hitting the ball to the baseline. Both David and the other player
are controlling their perceptions. But the perception David is in control of is a perception of an aspect of the behavior of the other player: their location on the court.

BP: because they are positioning themselves in the best place to keep returning the ball. They perceive the ball being hit in the same general area over and over, so in order to meet their own goal of being able to keep returning it, they do appear to
stand where you want them.

RM: Why say “appear”? The other player is, in fact, standing where David wants him or her to stand. He is controlling the field position of the other player just as surely as the sheepdog is controlling the sheep. And the other player is controlling his
or her perception of her location relative to the ball just as surely as the sheep is controlling its perception of the distance between the dog and grass shoot.

BP: Actually, they are standing where THEY want to, if they want to enjoy a long volley.

RM: True. And they are also standing where David wants them to stand. They are controlling and being controlled. As is David. the other player is surely controlling for keeping David in a place on the court where he can’t hit back those baseline shots.
A tennis game is actually an example of people trying to control each other’s behavior; it’s a conflict situation, which is why neither player really controls the other’s behavior as well as they would like; the better player (the more skillful controller)
will end up controlling the other best. If David were playing Federer his control of Federer’s position on the court would be very poor while Federer’s control of David’s position would, I would wager, be excellent (no offense David;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.

Author of Doing
Research on Purpose
.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.20.1040)]

Martin Taylor (2014.11.19.23.02__

MT: I think it is this insistence that only successful control is control that causes much of the confusion.

RM: I don't think I was "insisting" that only successful control is control. But I agree that one of the reasons people are rejecting the idea that behavior can be controlled is because it often can't be controlled (as in the case with the person who won't pass the salt) or can't be controlled very well.
RM: When I talk about control I am always aware of the fact that control is a variable that can range from poor (or none) to nearly perfect. I assumed that anyone who understands control theory would understand that control is not an all or none phenomenon. But apparently not.
RM: So I'll just say here that, from now on, when whenever I talk about control please understand that I am talking about a phenomenon that can vary from none to nearly perfect. Control is a variable which in the demo is measured as RMS error and stability. When you do the demo notice that how well you (the dog) and the sheep control varies from trial to trial.
RM: Control of the behavior of a control system is typically poorer than control of behavior of a physical variable, but not always. When I demonstrate control of behavior in my PCT seminars, by asking a student to track my fingertip with theirs, I can control the position of their fingertip nearly as precisely as I can control the position of a cursor on the computer screen using a mouse. But even if it were true that control of the behavior of a control system were always poorer than control of the behavior of physical variables it would certainly not be correct to say that the behavior of a control system cannot be controlled. So I think there is something deeper going on here that leads people to think that control of behavior is impossible.

Best
Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of <http://www.amazon.com/Doing-Research-Purpose-Experimental-Psychology/dp/0944337554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407342866&sr=8-1&keywords=doing+research+on+purpose>Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.20.1155)]

···

On Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Warren Mansell <<mailto:wmansell@gmail.com>wmansell@gmail.com> wrote:

RM: Both David and the other player are controlling their perceptions. But the perception David is in control of is a perception of an aspect of the behavior of the other player: their location on the court.
WM: Rick, isn't location in the court best regarded as an environmental variable than as a 'behaviour'?

RM: I think it's a behavioral variable to the same extent that the distance between two people, which is what you measured in the social distance study, is a behavioral variable;the value of the variable depends ultimately on the output (muscle forces) of the behaving system. Indeed, aren't most of the variables we call behavioral variables measured in the environment of the behaving system. Isn't swinging the tennis racket, for example, a behavior? The behavior of the racket occurs in the environment but we consider that to be a behavior of the tennis player, right?
Best
Rick
--
Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of <http://www.amazon.com/Doing-Research-Purpose-Experimental-Psychology/dp/0944337554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407342866&sr=8-1&keywords=doing+research+on+purpose>Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[Martin Taylor 2014.11.20.15.17]

I quite agree with Rick.

Isn’t this a question similar to asking what someone pushing a
button beside a door is doing? Is he controlling for feeling the
pressure of the button, hearing the ringing of a bell, perceiving
the door to be opening, perceiving Aunt Mabel “behaving” (having got
up from her chair, walked to the door, and now saying “how lovely to
see you” etc.), or perceiving self sitting in a comfortable chair
sipping tea (as a consequence of having controlled Aunt Mabel’s
“tea-making” behaviour by saying “Yes” when asked "would you like
some tea)? Which of ONE of the above perceptions is the person seen pushing the
button controlling? Isn’t that rather a silly question?
Yes, location in the court is an environmental variable. Yes, the
opponent’s moving legs in such a way as to get to that location is a
“Behaviour”. Why do I (analyst) have to say I (tennis player) am
controlling one OR the other?
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.20.1155)]

        On Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 9:47 AM,

Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

              RM:                      Both

David and the other player are controlling their
perceptions. But the perception David is in control
of is a perception of an aspect of the behavior of
the other player: their location on the court.

              WM: Rick, isn't location in the court best regarded

as an environmental variable than as a ‘behaviour’?

        RM: I think it's a behavioral variable to the same extent

that the distance between two people, which is what you
measured in the social distance study, is a behavioral
variable;the value of the variable depends ultimately on the
output (muscle forces) of the behaving system. Indeed,
aren’t most of the variables we call behavioral variables
measured in the environment of the behaving system. Isn’t
swinging the tennis racket, for example, a behavior? The
behavior of the racket occurs in the environment but we
consider that to be a behavior of the tennis player, right?

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.20.2220)]

···

Kent McClelland (2014.11.20.1140)]

KM: Several of the recent posts in this thread by Rick and Martin have clarified things enough for me that I am beginning to think that I finally understand what Rick has been trying to say.

KM: Is this your argument? (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

KM: People [attempt to] control [some aspect, as they perceive it, of] other people’s behavior [or, in other words, their observable actions] [often successfully, but not always] {with or without the other people’s cooperation].

KM: If this is your argument, I agree with it fully.

RM: Great. That is certainly a way of making my argument. But actually my argument has been made, non-verbally, by the “Control of Behavior” demo (http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/BehavioralControl.html). The demo shows that a control system (you, in the role of the dog) can control the behavior of another control system (the sheep). That is my argument: that the behavior of a control system can be controlled by another control system.

RM:All the verbal counter-arguments to to my argument become moot, I believe, in the face of that demo. If the measures of “Sheepdog Control” displayed at the end of a run show that there was reasonably good control (a Stability measure > 2) then you (a control system) have controlled the behavior of another control system (the sheep). This is happening whether or not you call the movements of the sheep its “behavior”; it’s happening whether the sheep wants to make these movements or not; it’s happening whether you are controlling the position of the sheep well or poorly.

KM: When you state the argument, however, without noting the stipulations in brackets (or just leaving them implicit), you risk that readers will misunderstand you, both within the PCT community and outside of it. This thread has illustrated some of the ways
in which people might misunderstand you.

RM: I try to do the best I can at describing what I know to be true from the modeling. But understanding based on verbal descriptions can never be as good as an understanding based on modeling. I think verbal descriptions are important because we have to try to communicate our understanding to one another. But when there are disagreements about what the correct understanding is, I think the final arbiter has to be the model.

RM: I think I understand where people are coming from on this “control of behavior” issue because I was there myself until relatively recently. I wanted to believe that people are autonomous and uncontrollable. But I knew from the “rubber band demo” described in B:CP (p. 245 in the 2nd edition) that it was possible to control the behavior of a human control system. [For those who take Bill’s words rather than the model as scripture, note that in the third paragraph on that page Bill says: “Therefore, if S wants to control the knot, E can control S’s finger”.]

RM: But I still wanted to believe that a living control system is autonomous in a way that makes its behavior fundamentally uncontrollable. And I believed this autonomy/uncontrollability would come from the fact that the reference signals in living control systems, which are really the source of autonomy in these systems since they are set by the system itself (rather than by an outside “user” as in artificial control systems), would be constantly varying (Powers has called it “secular variation” and I have followed suit). Since the control of behavior that is seen in the rubber band demo occurs when S (the controllee) adopts a fixed reference for the controlled variable (knot on coin), I thought the ability of E (the controller) to control S’s behavior (finger position) would be compromised if S’s reference for the controlled variable were constantly changing.

RM: It was actually Bruce Abbott who predicted that secular variation in the controllee’s reference would not affect E’s ability to control S’s behavior. I strongly rejected Bruce’s suggestion, inventing all kinds of mental scenarios to justify my belief that secular variations in the controllee’s reference would preserve S’s autonomy and make it impossible for E to control S’s behavior.

RM: But I finally calmed down and set up a computer model/demo to test my idea. What I set up was essentially the same as current Control of Behavior demo (but without the cute dog and sheep). This was done in 2003 and the demo is still up on the net as a java program, which you can run if your computer will let you run java (http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemosJava/Coercion.html).

RM: Well, it turns out that ol’ Bruce was right. The demo showed that secular variation in the controllee’s reference for the controlled variable had no effect at all on the controller’s ability to control the controlee’s behavior via disturbance to the controlled variable. This was kind of a disappointing finding, not least because I had to admit that Bruce was right and I was wrong;-) But facts is facts.

RM: But I now understand that this was a very important finding about the nature of living control systems. It shows that, while living control systems are autonomous (in the sense that they set their own goals for what they should be experiencing) they are also controllable. And what makes control systems controllable is the fact that they have references for the way things should be. Since references are basically the same as “wants”, another way to say this is that what makes us controllable is our wants.

RM: So to the extent that being controllable is not being free, the PCT model tells us that what deprives us of our freedom is the fact that we want (have references for the way our perceptions should be). So true freedom – perfect autonomy – would be achieved if we could stop wanting, which seems rather Buddhist, doesn’t it. Indeed, I think Bill has said that when he was first discovering MOL and was practicing it on himself himself he managed to get his consciousness to a level above he could not go. At this level he was above all want (above all references in the hierarchy). I think he described it as a “wantless” state – one of perfect freedom. PCT nirvana. I think I’ve managed to get there once or twice and it is lovely.

RM: So, surprise. This apparently awful discovery of the controllability of control systems may suggest a path to one’s Buddha nature. Who would have guessed;-)

Namaste

Rick

[From: Richard Pfau (2014.11.21 17:03 Nepal Time)]

Would additional consensus in the discussion going on be reached if the term “sometimes” was included in Rick’s statement that “the behavior of a control system can be controlled by another control system”? – that is, by stating:

“the behavior of a control system can sometimes be controlled by another control system”

– or perhaps even more precisely by stating that:

“the behavior of a control system B as perceived by another control system A can sometimes be controlled by control system A.”

Namaste,

Richard Pfau

BP: While I need to make time to re-read and ponder this, and at the risk of sounding contrary to my dad (!), and to you, Rick, I think I’m still more comfortable with the word, “influence,” rather than control. Admittedly, I tend to nit-pick about words and their precise meaning. I’m not arguing one way or the other right now, just thinking out loud.

I’m thinking of years ago, when I would ask my kids what they wanted for dinner. I had learned from somewhere (Piaget?) that if you offer a child two choices, hamburgers or hot dogs, there is a strong tendency for them to choose the latter, as it was the last thing they heard and most immediately remembered. In this way, I could give them the satisfaction of making a choice, and still make the dinner I’d rather make. It worked often, but not always.

In any case when we try to control someone else, it still appears to boils down to whether they have their own reasons to comply or not, or how important it is to them (winning a game, rejoining the herd). Some people are want-less and go with the flow because it doesn’t matter to them. This can appear apathetic, and also be very satisfying to their friends who may be very controlling and in need of things to go exactly their way.

*barb

···

On Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 4:18 AM, richardpfau4153@aol.com csgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

[From: Richard Pfau (2014.11.21 17:03 Nepal Time)]

Would additional consensus in the discussion going on be reached if the term “sometimes” was included in Rick’s statement that “the behavior of a control system can be controlled by another control system”? – that is, by stating:

“the behavior of a control system can sometimes be controlled by another control system”

– or perhaps even more precisely by stating that:

“the behavior of a control system B as perceived by another control system A can sometimes be controlled by control system A.”

Namaste,

Richard Pfau

[Martin Taylor 2014.11.21.11.26]

There seems to be a different rubber-band phenomenon going here -- it snaps back to where it was before after being stretched.

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.20.2220)]

RM:All the verbal counter-arguments to to my argument become moot, I believe, in the face of [the sheep-dog] demo. If the measures of "Sheepdog Control" displayed at the end of a run show that there was reasonably good control (a Stability measure > 2) then you (a control system) have controlled the behavior of another control system (the sheep). This is happening whether or not you call the movements of the sheep its "behavior"; it's happening whether the sheep wants to make these movements or not; it's happening whether you are controlling the position of the sheep well or poorly.

Yes. The critical words are "controlling ... well or poorly."

...
RM: I think I understand where people are coming from on this "control of behavior" issue because I was there myself until relatively recently. I wanted to believe that people are autonomous and uncontrollable. But I knew from the "rubber band demo" described in B:CP (p. 245 in the 2nd edition) that it was possible to control the behavior of a human control system. [For those who take Bill's words rather than the model as scripture, note that in the third paragraph on that page Bill says: "Therefore, if S wants to control the knot, E can control S's finger".]

Bill ignored "well or poorly", and that E controlled only E's PERCEPTION of S's finger. If S didn't care much about controlling the knot location and thus controlled it poorly, E would still control _E's perception of _ S's finger, but poorly. If S wasn't at all interested interested in the position of the knot, E could still control _E's perception of _ S's finger if E wanted, but unsuccessfully. E NEVER controls S's finger, no matter what Bill wrote (at least not without using physical force while holding the finger).

Barb says E may "influence" S's finger, but that's wrong, too. E's actions influence a perception S may or may not be controlling. If S is controlling a perception influenced by E's actions, then S's control will produce action output. If E does something that would move a knot whose location is a perception S controls, E's action to correct the perception of the knot position will be to move E's finger to where S wants to perceive it. But E doesn't "influence S's finger" unless E physically touches it.

All this thread is arguing about is the success or otherwise of someone's control of A PERCEPTION of some aspect of another's behaviour. Using language that suggests control exists only when an external environmental variable is successfully stabilized creates much of the confusion so painfully manifest in this thread. I'm really surprised that such a thread can exist on a mailing list largely populated by people who profess to agree that "behaviour is the control of perception".

Please, PLEASE, let us remember that we are talking about control of PERCEPTION, and that control doesn't stop just because it isn't working well or at all.

Martin

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.21.1730)]

···

On Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 5:57 AM, “bara0361@gmail.comcsgnet@lists.illinois.edu wrote:

BP: While I need to make time to re-read and ponder this, and at the risk of sounding contrary to my dad (!), and to you, Rick, I think I’m still more comfortable with the word, “influence,” rather than control.

RM: I think you might like the word “influence” better than “control” because you are trying to say that the control of the behavior of a control system is not very reliable. If I’m right, then you agree with me (and your Dad) that it is possible to control the behavior of a control system but you want to make sure that it’s understood that it can’t be done very reliably, particularly when the behavior to be controlled is that of a human control system.

RM: If, however, you are using “influence” rather than “control” to say that control of the behavior of a control system is impossible, then that would be demonstrably wrong (the demonstration being the rubber band demo of “control by manipulation” (p. 245 of B:CP) and my “Control of Behavior” demo of control of the behavior of a sheep).

RM: If you only mean to say that the control of the behavior of a control system is unreliable, then I would strongly suggest that you still describe it using the word “control” rather than “influence”. “Influence” is not a good word to describe control (even when it’s poor) because it means something quite different than control. “Influence” means something like “have an effect on”, which is only part of what is involved in control.

RM: In order to control a variable you have to be able to influence (have an effect on) it. but that influence has to be in the right “direction” so that it is aimed at getting the variable to a goal state. For example, the furnace in your house influences the temperature of the air in the house but the thermostat uses that influence to move the temperature to a goal state (your setting of the temperature) and maintain it there by turning the furnace on and off so as to have the appropriate influence on it – when the temperature is below the goal the furnace is turned on so as to influence the temperature to get higher; when the temperature is above the goal the furnace is turned off so as to influence the temperature to get lower. So control involves influencing a controlling variable appropriately so that it remains at (or near) the goal (reference) state.

RM: So when people say that you can only influence behavior they typically mean that you can’t control it. This was certainly what Boris meant when he said:

HB : As I see it, he wrote that CONTROL SYSTEM CAN »INFLUENCE« OTHER CONTROL SYSTEM, BUT CAN NOT ACTUALLY CONTROL BEHAVIOR OF THAT SYSTEM. Dog can not control sheep behavior, but can influence that behavior via »disturbances«.

RM: Boris is implying that your Dad said something like this, which I find impossible to believe because Bill certainly knew that it was possible to control (and not just influence) the behavior of a control system (as per p.245 in B:CP). I have no problem with people disagreeing with your Dad (or me). But attributing fake statements to make it seem like your Dad agreed with them would be rather poor form, I think. If the capitalized sentence above is actually something your Dad said then I hope Boris will prove it by showing us where he said it; and if it proves to be true that your Dad said it then I would just be dismayed that Bill would say such a thing. But if this is a fake attribution then I think Boris would deserve a good old fashioned shaming.

BP: I’m thinking of years ago, when I would ask my kids what they wanted for dinner. I had learned from somewhere (Piaget?) that if you offer a child two choices, hamburgers or hot dogs, there is a strong tendency for them to choose the latter, as it was the last thing they heard and most immediately remembered. In this way, I could give them the satisfaction of making a choice, and still make the dinner I’d rather make. It worked often, but not always.

RM: This is true of all controlling, not just control of the behavior of a control system. For example, pitchers are said to have “good control” even though the ball does not always go where (and how) the pitcher wants it to go. Driver’s skillfully control their cars, keep them from hitting other cars but not always. The behavior of baseballs and cars is not that of control systems but their behavior is still not always controlled perfectly.

RM: All my “Control of Behavior” and your Dad’s “rubber band” demo show is that the behavior of a control system can be controlled. We’re not saying that it always can be controlled, that it can be controlled well, that it should be controlled, or shouldn’t be controlled. We’re just demonstrating an interesting scientific fact about purposeful (control) systems: their behavior can be controlled, in this case by applying disturbances to a variable that is controlled by the control system.

BP: In any case when we try to control someone else, it still appears to boils down to whether they have their own reasons to comply or not, or how important it is to them (winning a game, rejoining the herd).

RM: My “Control of behavior” demo shows that this is not the case. The sheep in that demo is controlling only one variable: the optical distance between the dog and grass shoot.It is not “cooperating” with the controller (the dog) and it has no reason for getting back to the herd. It doesn’t even know about he herd. The rubber band demo does require some cooperation from S; S must agree to keep the rubber band knot over the coin. But once S agrees to control this variable, E can control S’s finger position, placing it over the other coin, without S’s consent (or any reason on Ss part for having his or her finger over the other coin).

BP: Some people are want-less and go with the flow because it doesn’t matter to them. This can appear apathetic, and also be very satisfying to their friends who may be very controlling and in need of things to go exactly their way.

RM: Actually PCT would say that a no living person is a want-less person. The only flow a want-less person could go with would be the flow of physical forces acting on the mass of their body. They couldn’t go with the flow if the flow was to go out to dinner, for example, because they couldn’t walk, drive, sit up, feed themselves, etc. But a person with wants could be gotten to go with the flow of going out to dinner if doing so achieved a higher level want for the person – such as meeting Bill Powers’ lovely daughter at the restaurant;-)

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.21.1740)]

···

Martin Taylor (2014.11.21.11.26)–

MT: E NEVER controls S’s finger, no matter what Bill wrote (at least not without using physical force while holding the finger).

RM: The perception that E controls does correspond to S’s actual finger. Having been an S in that situation I can vouch for it; it was my finger that was controlled. There is an environment in the PCT model of control, and it is an aspect of that environment – in this case, S’s finger – that corresponds to the perception that is controlled by E. So I think it was perfectly OK to for Bill to say that S’s finger is controlled in the demo. It’s a perception of the finger from E’s perspective but it’s the actual finger from S’s. Perceptions aren’t boojums, you see.

Best

Rick

Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[Martin Taylor 2014.11.21.23.01]

My point exactly.

No they aren’t. If they were, there wouldn’t be much point in
controlling them. Nevertheless, I think it is clear that the
confusion in this thread is caused by insisting that what is
controlled is the environmental variable rather than the perception
of the environmental variable.
Look, I have no problem with accepting that when you control your
perception of an environmental variable well, that environmental
variable is stabilized. What I have a problem with is the result of
saying that it is the environmental variable that is controlled with
the implication that therefore the perception is stabilized. The
causation is, of course, circular, and for life purposes the
stabilization of the environmental variable is more important than
that of the perception. But that doesn’t alter the fact that only
the perception can be controlled. Problems arise in situations like
this thread when the environmental variable is taken to be the
controlled variable. It isn’t, and the fact that you, as a
rubber-band subject, could have opted out of the situation or added
your own variations of the knot position without changing what E was
controlling, demonstrates that it isn’t.
Sometimes wording matters. I’ve taken your side on other occasions
by pointing out that when control is good, the environmental
variable is just as controlled as is the perception, and it really
doesn’t matter much if you say the environmental variable is
controlled. After all, that’s teh foundation for the Test for the
Controlled variable. But when to make that point leads to a
fruitless discussion that could be stopped in its tracks by
insisting on the fact that it is the perception that is controlled,
I think it would be best to not make the point.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2014.11.21.1740)]

            Martin Taylor

(2014.11.21.11.26)–

            MT: E NEVER controls S's finger, no matter what Bill

wrote (at least not without using physical force while
holding the finger).

            RM: The perception that E controls does correspond to

S’s actual finger.

            Having been an S in that situation I can vouch for

it; it was my finger that was controlled. There is an
environment in the PCT model of control, and it is an
aspect of that environment – in this case, S’s finger
– that corresponds to the perception that is controlled
by E. So I think it was perfectly OK to for Bill to say
that S’s finger is controlled in the demo. It’s a
perception of the finger from E’s perspective but it’s
the actual finger from S’s. Perceptions aren’t boojums,
you see.