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Social Attitudes and Other Acquired Behavioral Dispositions.

Donald T. Campbell

Social psychology
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Five procommunist and five anticommunist students were presented with anti-Soviet and pro-Soviet paragraphs and tested for recall. The learning and forgetting curves over a nine-week period show that each group excelled in learning and retaining the ideas of the paragraph fitting the attitudes of the group, and the memory divergence between groups increased with time. The more violent paragraph produced greater group differences in memory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)
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We shall be concerned in this paper with the notion of “purpose,” a notion that has long troubled social and biological scientists. It has been held by some psychologists that a phenomenological observation of organismic behavior immediately reveals the essential goal directedness, the purposiveness, of this behavior, and that to talk of an animal’s purpose in reaching a goal is legitimate as long as “purpose” is “defined” behaviorally. Other psychologists have insisted vehemently that teleological concepts such as “purpose” either have no place in an objective account of behavior, or at most can be introduced only after they have been derived from primary principles. In this paper we shall attempt to show how such terms as “purpose” and “teleology” may be used with scientific respectability in connection with the primary principles of learning. In fact, we believe that these notions are essential to psychology, and, when properly used, make clear just what it is that the learning theorist is making laws about. It should be emphasized at the outset that no attempt is being made here to reintroduce into psychology mentalistic notions or entelechies that psychologists have labored so long to eliminate from their science.
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The development of sociology as a natural science has been hindered by: (1) emphasis upon its normative rather than upon its descriptive aspects; (2) too much attention to subjective factors, such as ideas, ideals, motives, sentiments wishes, and attitudes, and too little attention to objective, overt behavior; (3) the inaccuracy, indefiniteness, and anarchistic confusion of sociological concepts. A critical examination of the concept attitude reveals its scientific shortcomings from all three points of view. It is all things to all men; it is seldom used consistently by any one writer; it is normative, valuative, subjective; it refers to verbal responses, opinion, habits, vegetative processes, tendencies to act, impulses to act, inhibitive impulses, feelings, wishes, values, motor sets, and various combinations of these. The attempt to differentiate attitudes and values is shown to be impossible in practice. Most so called attidues research is really opinion research. The concept is lergely in ...
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Darwin has shown how the seemingly purposeful process of evolution could be explained by the piling up of random variations properly selected. Applied to learning this principle bridges the gap between the ideas based on mechanical principles of behavior and those based on “intelligence” or “purposefulness,” much the same way as this gap is being bridged in servo-technology. It is suggested that all existing learning theories contain explicit or implicit assumptions about some selective principle operating on initially random responses, assumptions which Ashby has carefully spelled out and utilized in the construction of his Homeostat.
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If the theory advanced by Watson and Morgan (in 'Emotional Reactions and Psychological Experimentation,' American Journal of Psychology, April, 1917, Vol. 28, pp. 163-174) to the effect that in infancy the original emotional reaction patterns are few, consisting so far as observed of fear, rage and love, then there must be some simple method by means of which the range of stimuli which can call out these emotions and their compounds is greatly increased. Otherwise, complexity in adult response could not be accounted for. These authors without adequate experimental evidence advanced the view that this range was increased by means of conditioned reflex factors. It was suggested there that the early home life of the child furnishes a laboratory situation for establishing conditioned emotional responses. The present authors present their experimental findings of conditioned fear responses in a male infant beginning at 11 months of age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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36 words were chosen to represent the 6 values of the Allport-Vernon Study. Length and familiarity of words were equated in each category. Each word was shown to each of 25 college students at exposures starting at .01 second and increasing until recognition occurred. Average recognition time was .065 sec. for words of the category in which a subject had the highest value score of the Allport-Vernon Study, and .097 sec. for the lowest value category. A chisquare test indicates significant relationship between value orientation and recognition time. Words guessed before correct recognition were classified as Covaluant, Contravaluant, Structurally similar, Nonsense, and Unrelated responses. More covaluant responses were given to high-valued words, and more nonsense or contravaluant responses to low-valued words. It is proposed that value orientation produces selective sensitization, lowering thresholds for acceptable stimuli and raising thresholds for unacceptable stimuli. Guesses are not haphazard. Perceptual defense leads a person to avoid the meaning of low-value words, whereas value resonance keeps a person responding in terms of valued objects even before perception is certain. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)
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Social Attitudes and Other Acquired Behavioral Dispositions.” is a paper by Donald T. Campbell published in the journal McGraw-Hill eBooks in 1963. It was published by McGraw-Hill. It has an Open Access status of “closed”. You can read and download a PDF Full Text of this paper here.