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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: February 7, 2006
Latest Update: February 7, 2006
- How is understanding the other's perspective like "Sneaky Strokes?"
Consider how many of you immediately recognized sneaky strokes as reverse behavioral modification. You called it that because you realized that in behavioral modification we reinforce the behavior we want. In sneaky strokes we offer the reinforcement when we don't get the behavior we want. But we aren't reinforcing "not getting" the behavior we want. We're searching for something in the relatively recent past for something that was very similar to what we do want, and then reinforcing that. Hopefully, stimulus generalization will serve to help the person whose behavior we're trying to shape generalize to the new behavior we want.
In both sneaky strokes and understanding the other's perspective, we are adding qualitative understanding to our decision for reinforcement. Remember that Thorndike revoked his second law of learning. He acknowledged that punishment does not work. We don't really learn effectively when we are punished for the wrong behavior. We learn instead to avoid the punishment. With sneaky strokes and searching for the other's perspective, we are looking for something we can reinforce rather than simply punishing an omission we're trying to correct.
In transaction analysis therapy, back in the 70's, we used to talk about "good strokes" being better than "bad strokes," and "bad strokes" being better than "no strokes at all." That's because "bad strokes" are at least some connection, some recognition that you exist, but "good strokes" are lots, lots better. That's why Susan and I adopted long ago "Good Dog." We're reminding ourselves to give "good strokes." We all need them. "Good Dog," for us, says "I see where you're going. Yeah, it makes sense. It's feedback, that we're on track. And we often forget to give such feedback, especially as a "good stroke." (See Withholding Compliments in Everyday Life.
- Why am I (jeanne) suggesting that we use the code phrase, "(humility of knowledge)" on transform_dom?
Consider that our purpose on transform_dom is to broaden our understanding of others and build a bridge of lifetime learning with the broader community the college serves. That's an illocutionary discourse goal. But we are also concerned with educating all of us so that we can more readily make decisions we will have to make as citizens on social justice and criminal justice issues. Our values, feelings, beliefs will carry more weight in the field of persuading others if they are well-informed. That means that we want to take into consideration what the academy can share with us on these issues. But academy research carries the perspective of the academy. It's biased. Just like each of us has biases because we experience the world through our own perspective, our own eyes, our own feelings, our own values and beliefs.
If we add the code phrase, "(humility of knowledge)" to an explanation based on academy research, we are reminding ourselves, collectively, to recognize that the academy perspective does not have any privilege that protects it from bias. The academy, like us, must remain constantly aware of the possibility of finding what it wants to find, sometimes on purpose, sometimes without meaning to. There is a long tradition of respecting the academy's "objectivity," but recent events in stem cell research should make it clear to all that the academy falls victim to manipulation and deceit, as well as to out-of-awreness biases to which we are all subjected. We have the same problem with respect for political and governmental authority. Politicians and governments, too, have prespectives. So our code phrase, "(humility of knowledge)" is important with most authorities. And Jan Bonda, in the One Purpose of God, reminds us that religious bodies have the same problem.
And Jan Bonda, in the One Purpose of God, reminds us that religious bodies have the same problem. He says that the whole tradition of his Dutch Reformed Evangelical Church has been wrong about "eternal damnation," and he basis that conclusion on a book-length exegesis of the Christian Scriptures. Now, of course, Bonda could also be wrong. Once again, we need the code phrase, "(humility of knowledge)." The Catholic Church taught me that the Pope was infallible, but I could never figure how they figured that. How does the Pope's perspective become "omniscient"? Isn't that reserved to God? "Omniscient" would suggest that one "knew" all perspectives.
Anyway, isn't humility a Christian virtue?
- What do you think was the main purpose of my posting the Harvard article on Perspective Taking?
I hope everyone has noticed that I always try to give us scholarly sources for a theoretical grounding on which to make our decisions and form our opinions and beliefs. That unfortunately leads me on some of these endless paths from which I have to find my way back to our discussion. I took off on one of these paths when I started to post bits and pieces from the article, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Perspective Taking in Groups. By Eugene M. Caruso, Nicholas Epley, and Max H. Bazerman. Harvard University. Department of Psychology.
The article seemed to me to explain our dilemma on transform_dom. As a discussion community, dedicated to understanding the dominant discourse in our society, and trying to develop our skills for making independent and reasoned judgments instead of just going along with the dominant discourse (what everyone is saying), we keep tripping over own individual needs for instrumental discourse (Greg's debate) and our commitment to understanding and hearing one another (illocutionary discourse). The article helped me to increase my awareness of how complex and difficult it is to not assume the other is selfish or ill prepared or less astute than I would like. We need to remember the needs and pitfalls in trying to understand the other's perspective. And I think the articlecan help us in that.