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Thread: social gestalt

  1. #1

    Default social gestalt

    I have been thinking about group dynamics, and it seems to me that it can help explain behavior as much as personality types do.

    ----
    Consider the following situation:
    Say we have a group of college/high-school age friends that hang out regularly. One, say Brandon, is more fanciful in speech than the rest(or insert other oddness here). One person, say Jon, mocks Brandon for it, though not maliciously. Brandon shrugs this off since Jon is a good friend. Others in the group (also without malicious intent) also mock Brandon for fanciful speech. Brandon comes to identify himself as the person who uses fanciful speech in the group. He also has a subtle feeling that it is not a trait that is well liked.
    The group of friends move-on, and go their separate ways. Brandon comes to meet another group of friends, all quite fanciful in speech, so he fits right in in this setting. However, their group is mocked by outsiders in very malicious tones. There is often physical bullying involved. Denial of access to certain things and ostracizing of the whole group that uses fanciful speech. Here Brandon takes a stand: "There is nothing wrong with fanciful speech. It is just a preference. These bullies are evil."
    He returns to his old home town to hang-out with his old friends. They start mocking him for his fanciful speech as they used to (again without malicious intent), but this time he blows-up at them. "You guys are bullies-- evil people. You are not my friends. You have never been my friends. You've always mocked me for this." The friends believe "Brandon has changed. He's gone psycho." Friendships are lost.
    ----

    I think there are many circumstances that arise simply out of the mindsets that people are "primed" to at the inception of social interactions. The behavior is as much a result of this "priming" as it is the "innate" nature of the individuals involved.

    Thoughts?

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #2
    Highly Hollow Wandering's Avatar
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    I have a hard time reconciling "mocking" with "no malicious intent". Especially when it's repetitive and eventually conducive to someone thinking something is wrong with them. I would not consider acquaintances that would mock me in that way to be friends in the first place.

    JMO, of course.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wandering View Post
    I have a hard time reconciling "mocking" with "no malicious intent".
    I suppose it is a guy thing.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    I've witnessed it in myself when I've lashed out at people for innocently touching upon a touchy subject.. That is why you should be careful when making fun of people. I have never understood it, and I am glad I don't.

  5. #5
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    So you say that different group dynamics require different behaviour from the individuals or different levels of social ineptness?
    I'd say this might be true in younger ages, ie, childhood, adolescence.

  6. #6

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    I hope people don't get too hung up on the particular example I chose.

    Unfortunately, I don't have the proper words to describe the "priming" of individuals in social situations...

    Her is another situation:
    Rob was a very creative an innovative employee of a Fortune 500 company. Prior to the 2000 tech bubble bursting, he was seen as a very creative and valuable employee. He had lots of ideas, and generated a lot of different things for the company to try. He also brought in many like minded co-workers that brought the level of creativity of the organization up.
    Then after the tech bubble burst, the company downsized a lot, and there were tight budget constraints, etc. Rob's ideas started getting on people's nerves. "We have enough work to do already." "Why do you keep rocking the boat?" "If it ain't broke don't fix it." "Show me a good business reason." (of course no reason was good enough) "You are speculating." (Rob saw it as "risk taking"). Rob (along with many others like him) left the company stating that "The environment has changed." The few weeks before Rob left, instead of being the high-energy motivated employee he usually was. He dragged his feet accomplishing things, ant was overheard shouting, "I hate my miserable job."

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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    Well, dunno, in this example too I see exactly the same thing. Different situations call for different behaviour, abilities or lack of, etc, and what is accepted and/or appreciated under particular circumstances, is not well-received under different ones.
    Maybe if you explained what you meant without examples, since sometimes they tend to be a little confusing.

  8. #8

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    I wasn't really thinking of it in terms of requirements or ineptness. Just something that happens.

    People get "primed" in certain ways from past experienced (even experiences just minutes or seconds earlier) and that contributes to/explains behavior as much as innateness of inborn personality.

    That statement is the hypothesis I am playing with in my head. But the statement isn't quite right. That's why I wanted to stick to examples for a while.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  9. #9
    RDF
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    I think that one also has to factor in external circumstances like growth, a changing environment, etc.

    In Brandon's case: Brandon may put up with good-natured mocking from childhood buddies as a kid. But once he gets away to college and sees mocking being used in other contexts, he may decide that he wants to discourage the mocking back home. IOW, one could just read that as part of a natural and predictable process of maturation on Brandon's part.

    In Rob's case: A corporate downsizing often leads to a change in corporate culture (change in strategy and direction due to less money and personnel), and many of the old-timers may resent the new culture. Downsizings and "refocusings" often result in a wave of departures among the older generation of managers and workers. Again, it's a natural and predictable consequence in corporate settings of undergoing downsizings.

    This isn't necessarily a refutation of your theory about social "priming." People have expectations; some person or factor in the group or the environment changes; and the group may have difficulty adjusting to the change.

    I think sociologists and economists usually deal with this kind of situation by talking about "expectations": rising expectations, falling expectations, wages not keeping up with expectations, etc. So if you equate "priming" to expectations in some manner, I'm sure you could make your theory work in that manner.

    Just an off-the-cuff observation.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I wasn't really thinking of it in terms of requirements or ineptness. Just something that happens.

    People get "primed" in certain ways from past experienced (even experiences just minutes or seconds earlier) and that contributes to/explains behavior as much as innateness of inborn personality.
    I guess you have a point here (if I understand you well, at least). This can function in various ways, ie, calling a child stupid, one might create a self-image to this child, in which they will adapt later, by acting indeed stupid or by trying too much to prove themselves intelligent.
    But what would happen if this child at somepoint, as an adult maybe, find themselves in an environment that they can play at their own strengths? I think it depends very much of the level of maturity of the person (which is more innate than environmental, IMO).

    Or maybe you mean that the perceptions other people have regarding ourselves kind of prescribe our behaviour/reactions on several situations?

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