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The percentage for the French 'Game of Death' was 80%.

Milgram's was lower.

The links below are NOT for the sensitive. Especially the latter. Really.
Some discussion of it - in French:

The actual French documentary (or at least some of it):
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Some of you may be interested in the article, Social Consequences of the Internet for Adolescents - A Decade of Research, by Patti M. Valkenberg and Jochen Peter; in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol 18, No. 1.
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This article - and the paper it is derived from - deal with the notion of correspondent inference theory and how we determine what the motivation/intention of an action/of a person/of a group must be.

I think some of you will find it very interesting.
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I talked a bit ago about a lecture I attended on the subject of resilience. Well, Smithsonian has an interview with the author of a new book. From the page I linked:

Psychiatrist Stuart Hauser answers questions about his new book, Out of the Woods, which chronicles four emotionally disturbed teenagers

I can tell you that I will be getting the book and that just the interview has given me plenty to think about. And it makes an interesting companion piece for this, from the NY Times:

Troubled Children:
Parenting as Therapy for Child’s Mental Disorders

And this, also from the times:

It's an essay, entitled Sometimes, the Why Really Isn’t Crucial, about the issues and difficulties of causation in therapeutic work.
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I noticed a couple days ago that I was seeing an above average number of emails in response to my essay (article? chapter?) on Underachievement from the Inside Out. I wondered about it for a bit, until I got an email from Drew O, a former student whom I know through ESP, who explained that I was listed in a person's blog!

The entry in his blog is:

But still, it seemed like a lot of email, given the way these things flow.

Today, I discovered what was really happening!

His blog got featured on MSNBC, at

So, that link got Steve Olson a flood of looks. From there, some 900 extra people looked at my page, and from that, I got a half-dozen emails.

Pretty entertaining!
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I don't know that I have anything original to add here, but between my post and a number of others, coupled with a few conversations over the last week and some news articles, I have reactions, at least.

As I noted tother day about the Human Development Experiments, the pull to behave as the masses do is very strong. Apparently, this may go beyond simple perception of fitting in. In a separate bit of news, we were told that laughter IS contagious. The brain reacts to heard laughter by triggering muscles that will smile.

Colleges attract more students by raising their prices, because if their prices are as high as the competitive colleges' are, then they must be almost as good, right?

What if that is what happens with almost any externally observed behavior? There is a perception of what is the norm and the individual is programmed to follow that perception? I was talking with one of my Voyagers students about expectations. Yes, if the patients in the hospital have it made clear to them that they are ignorant and should not question the professionals, the patients are easier to work with. Students who learn to respect the authority of the teachers, unquestioningly, are unquestionably easier to teach - or at least, to control in the classroom!

So, when a person follows the pack's behavior - to mock another person's clothes or intellect or habits, are they not responsible for their behavior? Are they following a preprogrammed path laid out for them?

Go along to get along, not as philosophy but as genetic predisposition?

Now, we come up with plenty of rationalizations for why it is okay to mistreat that person, ignore this one, behave this way or that, even though we are really trying to convince ourselves.

Because, as I see it, even if the 'pack mentality" theory is right, there are still people who do not do it by instinct.

Some do not do it at all. They tend to be outsiders, they tend to be the scorned.

There are others who tire of being the outsiders, of being scorned. And so, they act in order to fit in, to belong. They choose the path, engage in the hurtful behaviors, while knowing full well what they are doing.

And they salve their conscience with the reassurance that at least they fit in.

Personally, I prefer to think that with education, nobody would behave like the guards at Abu Ghraib or in the Stanford Prison Experiment. I would like to think that casual cruelty to those who are different from the ostensible norm would no longer be so present, so casual.

But I am not currently convinced that there is enough education in the world. The siren's call to fit in is powerful. Don't see what you are not supposed to see. Don't question what you are not supposed to question.

Ask any homeless person.
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As a part of the lecture series I was attending this fall, I went to a presentation on resilience. I was singularly disappointed. While there were two remarkable 20-somethings there to talk about their experiences (one as part of the gender issues presentation) and one 50-something physician/school counselor with her own story, the bottom line came down to a several-page handout that detailed what was needed for resilience in children.

The list had 100 items, some external to the child and some internal. But many of each of those are beyond intervention! It is all well and good to tell me that children with a higher number of those 100 things seem to be more resilient, but if there is no way to provide the at risk child with those items, then it is an exercise in futility and frustration. I found it maddening.

The discussion tried to talk about what was learned by the female 'example,' but given that (unsurprisingly) her sister has not found the same road, the success story tells us merely what worked for that one person and nothing that we can generalize from.

The following is from the US's National Institutes of Health:

Those attempting to describe and develop the construct of resilience have found that the ability to successfully cope with stress and adversity arises from the interaction of several elements in a child's life. These include the following:

* The child's biological makeup and internal characteristics, especially intelligence.
* The child's temperament and internal locus of control or mastery.
* The family and community environments in which the child is raised, especially the extent to which significant nurturing and supportive qualities are present.
* The number, intensity, and duration of stressful or adverse circumstances faced by the child, especially at an early age.

There is clearly suggestive evidence that each of these elements plays a role in a child's development of resilience. Further, some elements (e.g., the child's personality development) are amenable to intervention strategies, whereas others (e.g., the child's biological traits) are not. Because research on resilience is still in an early, descriptive stage, it is unknown how these elements act and interact with each other, either in children or in families (Garmezy, 1993), and many questions remain unanswered. For example, to what extent does resilience rely and build on biological traits, as opposed to learned patterns of behavior? Can everyone learn to be resilient, or must certain conditions be present? Can families and communities learn to be resilient, or only individuals?

This is akin to the line from a developmental study of gifted children that observed, "Traumatic events can have positive or negative affects on the lives of gifted children."

(this post was inspired by a recent post by [ profile] siderea that had a chart of Characteristics of Families (functional and dysfunctional). (The chart was not hers, just the post.)
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I watched the Sundance Channel this evening, on which was being aired a documentary called The Human Behavior Experiments. It included footage, discussion, and retrospective interviews with some participants in the Milgram and Stanford Prison Experiments, along with other experiments, the Kitty Genovese murder, and Abu Ghraib.

These are all tied together, conceptually, in how people behave in groups versus alone, along with how they respond to the voice of authority. The kicker, for me at least, was the case of the strip searches ordered by a voice on the phone.

For approximately a decade, a man has been calling up restaurants and other places, pretending to be a police detective, and ordering the person who answers the phone (or whomever is in charge and handed the phone) to conduct strip searches of employees - and a lot of other things.

The behaviors of those on the phones is amazing. It is appalling. And, apparently, it is human nature more than not.

A report and some very disturbing footage is here: <>. I seriously recommend not watching it if inappropriate behavior and dehumanizing behavior disturbs you or makes you too uncomfortable.

The special didn't really tell me anything I didn't know about human behavior. It showed me some experiments I hadn't seen, in addition to the McDonald's strip search (and others) and it did a good job of tying it into Abu Ghraib. The similarities between the Stanford pictures and those from Iraq are eerie - and not just to me, but to some of those involved in the Stanford Prison Experiment.

If you get Sundance, I commend the show to interested people (and others who are unfamiliar and can handle it). It will be on again, I am sure.


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