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Posts Tagged ‘avoidance’

Emotion research is now routinely referenced as a part of an evolutionary substrate. However, explicit experimental evolutionary analyses of emotions remain rare.

The implications of natural selection for several classic questions about emotions and emotional disorders should be the focus of research programs that are stagnant with 19th and early 20th Century hypotheses that cannot be proven but are failed to be dismissed by those doing research in the area marring if not diluting the term ‘social scientist’.

Emotions are NOT special modes of operation or unique states shaped by natural selection. They ARE conditioned artifacts of centuries of classical conditioning between flight or fight related contingencies that then are conditioned using conditioned products of those states to set up additional pairings that come to elicit response once related to fear, threat, escape from danger, avoidance of peril, and other euphemisms of exhaust [with all the physiological and nervous system components apparent as if a real threat or escape from isolation were present] from contingencies involving wide swings in homeostasis. They are conditioned most assuredly and supported by the environments (including people) that have notions [history in context] of similar states.

Collectively they are, or they make up, a large scale of response parameters [behavior sets] that may have or potentially do increase fitness by learned adaptations to challenging situations that occurred over the course of the individual’s history and were taught to generations over the course of that tree’s evolution. Some societies are almost devoid of emotional content while others are mired in emotional waves as a ‘tradition’ or a cultural response to the vagaries of life’s changes.

In all cases emotions are valenced.

Valence, as used here means the property along a continuum (positive – negative) of an event, object, or state. Ambivalence here would refer to no particular valance based on the context or history of the organism. No, valences are not just for humans but are represented differentially by any organism that displays changes in affectations based on behavior.

Valence is not an absolute property of any identified emotion but is relative based on context and history. Selection shapes each case where contingencies that have influenced fitness in the past shape expression. In situations that decrease fitness, negative emotions are useful and positive emotions are harmful.

Selection has partially differentiated subtypes of emotions from generic precursor states to deal with specialized situations: our communication of internal states that are not available to view by the outside world. This communication of subjective states – emotions – has resulted in untidy associations that blur across dimensions rendering the quest for simple or objectivity futile. For some social scientists this state of affairs doubles their efforts. For others, the recognition of emotions as exhaust is good enough for both communication and but also the redirection of research time and effort on things, events and states that lead to a better understanding of what’s going on in the world. Non-scientists use the same approach to make their course corrections only those sets of changes lack a unique vocabulary to allow communication and efforts to be reinforced effectively by the environment.

Selection has shaped mechanisms that control the expression of emotions on the basis of an individual’s appraised value of a state based on the past and the current context. This is the conversion of data to meaning. This meaning of events, etc. is the synthesis for the individual to use in evaluation of subsequent conditions – some of which may be related to avoidance and some of which may be related to acquisition of reinforcers whether they are goals, etc. or states of existence.

The prevalence of emotional disorders can be attributed to several conflicting values [also conditioned in us all] and valences that go with them as factors that contribute to something being a ‘disorder’ [negative] or a ‘passion’ [positive].

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I was going to title this “Not found @ 2009 Consumer Electronics Show…” but I’d get punished.

People invest in training for their education, work, entertainment and even lifestyles. The society as a whole invests billions in training and education for all its children and encourages more of it after high school. Collectively, corporations spend hundreds of billions of dollars on training of all levels; from simple tasks (MS Office) to the ultra complex (Billings fMRI certification). Training can be hands-on, case studies, role-play, webcasts, podcasts, virtual, instructor led, eLearning, Learning communities and even blog solutions groups. Then there is mentoring for individuals to complement sales training, technical training, service training, partner training and vendor training.

Professional athletic organizations spend billions of dollars globally each year to train not only the muscles of their athletes but the way they think about themselves, their competitors, and how to handle work-life balance issues that can be anything but normal. The ‘natural’ athletic ability of athletes like Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, Paton Manning, Dana Torres, and Mario Williams comes at the price of eight+ hours of practice a day for years in order to be an over-night success. People watch super athletes perform a bevy of athletic feats and too frequently ascribe their behavior to a “natural ability” rather than to intense training in multiple areas that is required to do what they do. The US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, has classes for athletes on handling the media, food, injuries and anger. Organizations also spend millions more to learn new methods of training world class athletes for elite competition in every sport imaginable from both forms of football, baseball and basketball to lesser but intensely played X-games, tennis and ping pong.

All this time, all this money and all these people invest daily in what they can learn today that will take them to the next level tomorrow. They are all committed to acquiring whatever will improve performance, profit, presentation or information that will serve them in the pursuit of what each of them is organized to value.

However when any of these individuals, groups or organizations are presented with the learning and conditioning rules that apply to their training there is push back and denunciation conditioning. While even a grade school track coach knows how the Krebs cycle affects a ‘kick’ at the end of a 440, they know next to nothing of the methods of reinforcement and avoidance, chaining and fading, discrimination training or schedules effect those they train. Even the arguments against the use of conditioning and learning techniques as being relevant are learned using the very contingency management they deny is involved.

So, am I missing something? Did we all learn to read blogs by reflex? Was divination involved in finding the right partner to marry? Was it always their ‘motivation’ or was it due to a ‘calling’ he turned that MBA from University of Colorado into a creative design position for www.getgreen.com?

The value for us is that learning and conditioning is everywhere. It is harder to find a behavior that didn’t come about due to past consequences than it is to keep up with pop logic that eating chocolate is good for me or that purging is a disease. Please! The effects of learning and conditioning are everywhere; drug cartels, congressman, Joel Osteen, Rev. Wright, moms, brothers sisters and you too.

Maybe we ought to take the rules of learning seriously in order to understand the big stuff about what the heck is going on in the world. Then we can start on the tough stuff.

Find me a behavior that was acquired without conditioning and I’ll pay you money.

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Can you remember back to your days in 1975 while in Psychology 210: “Psych for the New World”?

A Negative Reinforcer is a stimulus or stimulus set that when removed or terminated increases the probability of that same response in the future.

Richard Fuld claims that ‘we’ made him and the others like him that have tetra dollar salaries and Mega stock and bonuses with parachutes the size of which could fund small nations… Well, he may be right. The contingencies that came together were those things that favored him doing what he did.

We did it or at least reinforced it when it happened. We got them there and we gave them the keys to the kingdom and told them all that we wanted order and profit – if not in that order, we still wanted it. Those that could claim [reliably] to be able to bring it were vetted, signed and installed.

Ugly isn’t it. Guess what…??? Fuld and those like him were the instruments of the body that didn’t want to face the clients, other boards, other nations, regulators and the zealots of legislature on the right, down the middle and the left. Fuld said he’d do it if they, the boards of directors, paid him. They did and he did.

Competition says what the compensation will be. In effect he responded. “You want more, pay me more. You want your assets and reserves and exchanges managed? Get a manager! I bring it to new levels by risking my reputation for the good of the investors and clients. Anything short of that you can get someone from GE to sit at the desk…”

That is what the board wanted to hear…

Now he is doing his job to escape aversive stimuli [career ending sanctions, indictments, loss of pensions, bonuses, and parachutes] which is reinforcing to him and his companies… it is as reinforcing to him as it is to you and I only his scale of success makes it seem more gluttonous. Perhaps you nick the IRS a bit, use the corporate cards for discretionary spending, turn in to corporate gas mileage for the trip to see sick Aunt Gert? Same difference…

We hail those who beat the system [– ironically, we’re the system]. Of course he is going to explain the run around that favors his position, just as we explain our positions favorably when it of value to us to do so…

Reinforcement is just one behavioral property that helps explain what is going on. It even explains the behavior of those tinkering to prevent it from happening again as they figure out how to restructure the economy to get our hats out of our butts.

Don’t think that it is possible to use negative reinforcement this way? Whattabet?

Those that consider this or that to be a result of single causes should bite your tongue and go take a “time out” while you consider how contingencies work; antecedents events, current state, shaped past consequences for similar behavior…

Consider this mornings Google News events from today.

FIND THE ARTICLE THAT IS NOT CONTROLLED BY CONSEQUENCES

10/6/08 Auto-generated 10 minutes ago

German Stocks Fall to Lowest Since 2006; Hypo Real Estate Drops
Bloomberg – 2 hours ago
By Michael Patterson Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) — German stocks fell the most in eight months, sending the DAX Index to the lowest since July 2006, as the deepening credit crunch forced the country’s financial industry to double a credit line for Hypo Real

Barack Obama accuses Republicans of distracting voters from the …
Los Angeles Times – 2 hours ago
‘TURN THE PAGE’: Obama in Asheville. His poll ratings have risen recently, even in red states such as North Carolina. John McCain wants to ‘distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance,’ the Democrat says in Asheville, NC,

Northern California bus crash leaves 10 dead
The Associated Press – 48 minutes ago
WILLIAMS, Calif. (AP) – A casino-bound charter bus flipped over about 10 miles from its destination, ejecting passengers and crushing others as it rolled into a ditch.

UPDATE 1-RESEARCH ALERT-FBR raises Wells Fargo price target
Reuters – 46 minutes ago
Oct 6 (Reuters) – Friedman Billings Ramsey raised its price target on the stock of Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the fifth-largest US bank, by $5 to $25, saying the proposed merger with Wachovia Corp (WB.

ImClone Announces Merger Agreement with Eli Lilly at $70 Per Share
MarketWatch – 48 minutes ago
, , ) , pursuant to which Lilly has agreed to commence a tender offer for no less than a majority of the issued and outstanding shares of ImClone common stock at a net price per share of $70 in cash.

European countries ramp up deposit protection
Washington Post – 39 minutes ago
By MATT MOORE AP STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Nordic countries Denmark and Sweden moved Monday to bolster protection of bank accounts as stock exchanges across Europe opened lower and central banks pumped more money to cash-starved banks.

Sony Expands E-book Reader Range
PC World – 9 hours ago
Sony is introducing a second electronic book reader to its range in the US that comes with upgraded hardware and will go on sale in November.

IBM Expands Cloud Computing Offerings
CRN – 1 hour ago
By Rick Whiting, ChannelWeb IBM expanded its cloud computing efforts Monday, debuting new on-demand services for ISVs and customers the company said would make it easier for businesses to adopt cloud computing practices for improving collaboration,

Facebook co-founder Moskovitz leaves to start group collaboration …
VentureBeat – 5 hours ago
Facebook co-foudner Dustin Moskovitz (left) and colleague Justin Rosenstein (right) said this weekend they are leaving Facebook to start their own company.

McCain, Obama campaigns trade barbs
The Associated Press – 38 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AP) – Officials with the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama are trading fresh accusations of mudslinging a month before voters choose George Bush’s successor.

Under Financial Restraints, McCain Drops Michigan
ABC News – 1 hour ago
By RUSSELL GOLDMAN The electoral map shrank for John McCain Thursday as he abandoned his campaign in Michigan, raising the stakes in other battleground states such as Ohio.

‘SNL’ Keeps It Political
New York Times – 7 hours ago
Once again, “Saturday Night Live” led off the weekend’s show with Tina Fey, above, the Emmy Award-winning creator of “30 Rock,” as the Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska.

‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ tops weekend box office
Los Angeles Times – 4 hours ago
A nation of Chihuahua dogs living in the Lost City of Techichi. in the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” The Disney film does better than expected, grossing $29 million and knocking ‘Eagle Eye’ into second place.

OJ Simpson jury: Tapes did football legend in
New York Daily News – 5 hours ago
BY NANCY DILLON Jurors, including Dora Pettit (with mike), say they set aside personal feelings and based guilty OJ Simpson conviction on facts.

Yes, it is sort of a trick question but it explains all you are seeing in Washington, DC, Wall Street and Main Street…

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