[Paleopsych] threat and signals of commitment
Thrst4knw at aol.com
Thrst4knw at aol.com
Wed Mar 2 16:48:35 UTC 2005
Some thoughts about Alice and Gerry's email.
I'm in agreement with Alice's thought, though I think the situation is
greatly exacerbated by fear. Threat shuts down higher planning functions and the
facilties that make measured evaluation possible, and leans us toward more
hard-wired action schema. The need for action draws on our capacity to find
salient patterns in massive amounts of noise very rapidly. Most of us have a deep
revulsion to behavior in people around us who seem to be vacilating or entering
reflective thought when action seems to be called for. We recognize that we
can respond to threat with action or succomb. Under conditions of fear, it is
very difficult to persuade anyone that what is needed is calm reflection. We
pick up mostly on signals that show people are willing to commit to decisive
action. Witness the sudden popularity of firemen and policemen following
The whole point of much political propaganda is to create this sense of
threat so that people will pull toward these quick impressions, with the assumption
that they are then more easily persuaded because this simplifies the decision
process. If you instill fear, some people will become paralyzed, but many
will fall back on instinctive moral realism and their decisions become much more
predictable. This greatly facilitates group coordination. It happens
naturally, but obviously can be exploited readily.
Under these conditions, "moderates" are viewed with particularly deep
suspicion by everyone else, because they don't seem to be willing or able to commit
to action when needed. Our idealized belief that wisdom lies somewhere in
measured reflection and balancing different viewpoints quickly dissolves under
conditions of perceived threat.
We recognize the need for commitment to action (or signals of the capacity
for commitment) in each other. This is often exploited in politics by confusing
the capacity for commitment with commitment to particular causes.
Does that make sense? It seems to me to explain a lot of our social
In a message dated 2/23/2005 8:59:35 AM Eastern Standard Time,
andrewsa at newpaltz.edu writes:
----- Original Message -----
From: G. Reinhart-Waller
To: The new improved paleopsych list
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2005 9:55 PM
Subject: Re: [Paleopsych] Re: paleopsych Digest, Vol 9, Issue 20
>> Someone beyond the liberal/conservative
dichotomy may be rejected by both sides as a nuisance,
a threat to shared assumptions that define a group
This is absolutely amazing! Why would any audience
reject someone who cannot plop into either the liberal
or conservative camp? Please explain the threat you
feel is apparent. This I need to hear!
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