[From Rick Marken (980613.1245)]
Chris Cherpas (980612.1600 PT) --
The topic of "giving up" reminds me of the EAB research on
progressive ratio schedules: each time the rat completes a
ratio, the ratio requirement is increased, until finally, the rat
reaches a breaking point where no bar-presses are observed for a
substantial period of time (e.g., 10 minutes). The rat is still
hungry, and each bar-press would bring it one step closer to food,
but it stops pressing. Does this situation describe anything
related to what you are discussing?
Yes. Definitely. If the rat is controlling some aspect of the rein-
forcement (and there is still some question about whether rats can
actually control reinforcement _at all_ in the typical operant
situation) then what you describe looks like "giving up" to me.
Another example of the phneomenon of "giving up" that comes to
mind occurs in studies of "learned helplessness". I was too
squeemish to read these studies in detail (I'm a bleeding heart
liberal when it comes to the treatment of "lower" animals, too)
but I think they would throw rats into canisters of water with
slick sides that could not be scaled. The rats would struggle for
a while but eventually "give up" and just drown. (Some of the work
was done by another Bruce named Overmeyer at the U of M. I knew
Bruce and he was a real nice guy -- though the rats probably
didn't think so;-))
Bob C.(980613.0048) --
First, I think taking into account evolution will help constrain
the search for variables people and animals control especially
when what they are actually controlling for is different than what
they are purportedly controlling.
I think this is a good point. But I think it will work both ways.
Evolutionary considerations may constrain our _hypotheses_ about
the kids of variables an organism is controlling. But then we have
to test these hypotheses (using the Test for the Controlled Variable).
The Test may reveal that our hypotheses were wrong; that the organism
is controlling variables that are quite different than the ones
suggested by evolutionary considerations. This should lead to a
reevaluation of the evolutionary considerations that led us to our
initial hypotheses about the variables the organism controls.
Second, I agree wtih others who think there is a blind variation
and selective retention process within an individual and that this
is a big piece of how reorganization works.
Control theory suggests an interesting alternative to the "natural
selection" model of evolution; I'd call it "purposeful selection".
In natural selection, the selecting is done by the environment;
variants that survive and reproduce are selected. In purposeful
selection, the selecting is done by the organisms themselves;
variants that allow good control are selected because they reproduce
sans mutation; variants that allow only poor control are not
selected because they are more likely to reproduce with (not
necessarily "good") mutation.
I must caution that my primary mission in life at this point is
to be the best clinical psychologist I can be.
That sounds like a very good goal. I think PCT can defintely help
you achieve this goal. And I think you can also help PCT as you
go about trying to achieve this goal.