Background & Context of Inquiry: Previous Research and Observations
The availability or possession of knowledge does not guarantee wise application. This research consisted of a multiple choice test followed by a text intervention and two subsequent post multiple choice tests. Results showed knowledge is not the significant determinant of behavior, but merely one factor.
Increasingly, technological inventions especially weapons and waste pose risks unlike centuries before where survival of the fittest could be more easily equated with quality of life issues. We live in an age where the consequences of an individuals actions or even mistakes can cost many lives wherein the quality of a persons fitness may not be a significant determinant in their odds of survival. Thus, understanding the motivations of behavior can be helpful in developing solutions where preventing errors may be built-in.
Behaviors including learning are observable and explainable. Behavior can be controlled or modified with interventions that are more and less effective, or more or less efficient. (Maag 1999, Nye 1992 on Skinner.) Behavior is determined by bio-psycho-social factors/stimuli (Schultz 1996 on Tolman, Frued, Bandura). Across cultures each person’s behavior is significantly based on personal and social values and beliefs, but we also know biological or environmental conditions play a significant role in determining behavioral responses and the development and quality of life. Human behaviors are related to self-esteem: how one views and feels about oneself and biology, both of which can be impacted by awareness and decision-making skills. Behavior is driven by motivations such as fear; need fulfillment, self-preservation and personal gratification. Perhaps one of the most central functions in conditioning and determining the range of human behavior involves nurturing and assisting individuals in their adaptation and the maintenance of optimal environments where potential can thrive. Personality like internal and external environments changes throughout development. In the History of Modern Psychology 1996, by Duane Schultz, Carl Rogers explained, “personality is shaped by the present and by how we consciously perceive it.” Indeed there are several contenting theories of personality with trends among the various schools, some of which assume personality is mostly established by the age of 5, and others that have developed elaborate systems for explaining personality types and disorders which help serve are predictors of human behavior in an individual. In general, much of human behavior is emotionally and physically driven with little to no critical thinking involved most of the time. Even when critical thinking is informing behavior, it is not absent of emotional and physical inputs.
In a study conducted at Oregon State University cited by Woody Harrelson on his Organic Living Tour (2001), he commented that, “a ten percent change in behavior upon cue of a sign was noted. In contrast, a 40% change of behavior with one role model and 60% change with two role models was observed.” Perhaps conformity or the desire to fit in and be accepted rather than stand out acted to motivate modeling. According to Woody, that study showed, “it was much more effective with role modeling than with text alone and the more role models the greater the mirroring.” Clearly the age old saying that leading by example is an antidote wisely stated. Still, there are personality types that are non-conformists and it would make for an interesting study to observe differences in results based on personality types. For example, self-actualizing individuals may be less prone to “follow the leader” at the same rate as people with dominant conventional personality traits where it might be easier for someone to follow along. In short, there as those that lead and those that follow, but what is dangerous is when kids are on the school yard and a bully exercises his leadership and the followers follow. The same problem exists in the halls of any business, any Government, and every family. Truthfully every person is both a leader and a follower. Creating incentives for positive leadership, and reinforcing self-leadership is as essential as learning to deal with the bullies of the world.
Critical, skeptical and better-informed people may confront ignorance, errors, unhealthy bias and prejudices in themselves and others. Unhealthy bias is opinion or ideas that are inaccurately portrayed as empirical fact or certainty with which believers or promoters demand and reinforce conformity in various ways. More and different knowledge may provide solutions to identify, prevent, or reduce unhealthy bias and increase healthier objectivity and help combat destructive unhealthy knowledge and unhealthy practices that stem from it (Potter, V.R. 1971).
Can texts motivate, inspire and even provoke readers? The growth in reliance on printed images has impacted cultural traditions around the world for better or worse since its invention. For example, Historians have argued Martin Luther’s translation of biblical text into a more modern language in the 1530’s had a profound impact. Obviously modern life depends on research, analysis, record keeping, or written protocols in many areas of life. Thus, having a better understanding of how text can motivate or inspire responses from readers is an important question that cognitive psychologists work to explain.
People have different learning preferences or pre-dispositions as explained by Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence (Jacobus, L. 1998,p.353.) It is known that visual stimuli do make persuasive impressions. The degree of learning depends on qualities or traits of the individual such as existing preferences (associations), motivations, openness, quality of cognitive functioning, perceptivity, flexibility, interests, stress (mental and biological), prior experience, and ignorance to name some factors. Also the quality, type and frequency of stimuli impacts memory as Herman Ebbinhaus and those after him have well established (Schultz,D. 1996 p.85). Ebbinhaus noted meanings and associations are often pre-assigned to familiar language, which can facilitate learning. Familiar words made it impossible to measure recall memory as precisely as he wished, but understanding memory or potential impacts of text on behaviors is important to measure when considering individual development and the impacts that text as a form of communication may have.
In my pursuit to measure the impact of a text intervention on readers it became necessary to use an individual review method to investigate. Individualized Reviews focus on the thorough review of the individual. Statistical comparisons and averages between groups are of little help in understanding individual cases (B.F. Skinner, 1953 p.19). One of my committee members became concerned that my results were focused largely on describing versus explaining which led me to argue that research that helps describe phenomena is not less valuable than research that helps explain phenomena. Spinoza had argued with his opponent that he was concerned with what he knew and insofar as they tried to dismiss him for what he did not know, he alleged it was not his job to know all sides of the coin. Such attempts would drive a man insane as one can easily slip into an abyss trying to stack his cards neatly to cover every possible angle. Besides, if I argue all sides, it leaves nothing for the critics.
The Driving Question
The central question my query aimed to determine was whether or not text can be correlated with the formation of associations, or the development or alteration of opinions or attitudes and behaviors? If so, can that be observed and/or help explain an individuals motivations?
Text stimuli may only be correlated and credited as informing or motivating behavior partially.
The Process and Observations
The relevancy and effects of a text intervention was assessed through written tests and the self-reports of participants. People did acquire knowledge and modify their selections as reflected in changed answers on tests. Participants did improve their test answers after being exposed to new information as predicted. Thus, some changes in behaviors such as selecting better answers were impacted by changes in awareness.
One interesting area for further research and development in the scientific community that resulted from the series of single subject studies conducted was the need for a design of objective ways to validate introspection and personal interpretations or self-reports where the consciousness of the subject is the center of analysis. Scientific inquiry drives a checks and balance system that attempts to reproduce with precision, yet exactitude was proven a falsity long ago by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. While reproduction is not possible in these cases because personality is fluid and ever changing with multiple uncontrollable inputs motivating it, to assume we can’t accept individualized reviews as being capable of rendering valuable data would be an extreme dis-service to the pursuit of knowledge. However, the process and weight given to any results certainly bare the responsibility to be determined logical and useful, or not. Schultz (1996) comments Kant on Tichner argued that contemplating anything introduces elements not present during the immediate experience and makes the resulting thought a potential enhancement or contaminant altogether different from the experience itself. This is important when considering how interviewing, introspection and meaning is made.
Reviewing the impact of a Text Intervention Research Project on Multiple Single Subjects: Conclusions
The value of any experience, the minds discriminate interests and motivations are dependent upon and determined by the experiencing person because personality interacts with changing conditions and environments. Thus, even the same people responded differently to the same stimuli and the differences in behavior may be explained by the interaction of compounding variables and personality. Mental attitudes are greatly influenced by social standards that are upheld as the norm at any given time in any given culture. Nothing is definite or fixed, especially where interpretation and memory is concerned. Mental and physical experience and conditions impact individual attention and physiological cognitive processes including memory and help explain differences in perception and behavior. People act to meet their conscious and subconscious needs (Engler, B. on Frued S. & Maslow A., 1999.)
Cognition, mental processes such as thinking and remembering, are important to adaptation for the optimal development of potential. The extent or preciseness that text can be correlated to responses is impossible to measure due to the multiplicity of factors that simultaneously impact behavior. A series of single subject observations supported a Stimulus-Observer-Response dynamic (Schultz on Tolman, 1996 p.289) and supported prior observations that conclude that behaviors are influenced and motivated by bio-psycho-social compounding variables. The Stimulus-Observer-Response dynamic is dependent on the observer. Given that personalities differ, varied responses to the same stimuli resulted. The variations are explained further by the contexts in which personality is situated or interacting with such as conditions and environment.
More changes were evident in some items on the test and in some participants versus others. Which Bio-psycho-social compounding factors impact the storing and recall of information in memory and how is a resulting question.
Comprehensive educational designs and assessments should take into consideration the pre-existing associations or bias, existing knowledge, behaviors, re-enforcers and circumstances and conditions of the individual. Preliminary assessments are useful in measuring learning. Pre-test administered to participants showed readers were in need of educational input and that the information provided did meet some identifiable educational needs. This observation is supported by the correction of incorrect selections on multiple choice tests and subsequent selection of more correct selections after exposure to the text intervention on the majority of test subjects. Positive changes between the two pre & two post test results suggests the added text information influenced participants to select more correct answers. For 78% of the study participants, the presented text reportedly fostered further interests in the dynamics of peace and public health. The influence varied from person to person implying or confirming that memory is selective (James,W. 1890) and personality unique. Cognition and behavior is dependent on the individual. The study revealed differences in memory function such as delayed recall memory which may be explained as latent learning or reinforce the theories suggesting various rates or forms of memory and different memory retrieving abilities and variables that impact storage and retrieval. For example, the usefulness of distinguishing between declarative, suppressed, recognition, or recall memory (Coleman, A. 2001, p.187 &721) became obvious. For further reading on memory see Herman Ebbinhaus and George Muller.
Some participants appeared to recall information much later. The delayed recall can be explained by repression and or different coding/ digestion sorting or storage functioning rates of memory. Memory recall rates and memory quality (abilities/capacities) also remain subject to variables such as the effects of trauma, teratogens, aging and or head injuries. A variety of Cognitive disorders explain how brain impairments impact people (Sue, Sue, Sue 2000 p.446.) Many diseases and developmental impairments that impact the mind and other areas of the body can be dramatically prevented or minimized through maintaining optimal nutrition (Balch, J. & Phyllis 1990). Malnutrition is also linked to developmental differences. Stress must also be mentioned as a major determinant of behavior, including bodily functions.
Logical Conclusions: personalization as the Advancement of Education
Predictions of human behavior should consider that individual bias, conditions- all relate with personality and that assumptions, intentions, and interpretations differ greatly between perceivers. Differences from perceptions about events and actual events or between what happens and what is recalled are explained by dynamics present in ever -fluctuating personality. Schults on Hugo Musterberg (1863-1916) explains studies conducted by Munsterberg proved that just witnessed events solicited disagreement between observers and that many assumptions made did not fit with the evidences present in the disputed events (1996 pg. 217.) Thus, physical evidences can and often do contradict awareness.
Reaction Versus Response
It safe to say that even the same individual is capable of responding differently to a similar situation depending on how they feel. We don’t behave the same when were tired, hungry, frustrated by inconsiderate drivers and so on. That is human nature. Information can impact decision-making, but behavior is not always conducted utilizing information someone may be exposed to or have stored in memory. Some modes of human behavior are conducted without much introspection or thinking in action such as immediate behavior, reflexes, or uncontrolled impulses. For example, fight or flight (Walter Cannon1929) reactions are primary, meaning resorted to first generally speaking versus the exercise of skills such as patience and decision making that can help people arrive at more logical and rational understandings. In simple terms people have different abilities and skills in controlling and adapting themselves in response to different conditions. Most of us are aware that when we are stressed we make poorer decisions and many accidents occur during times of stress. Compounding variables can quickly create a context where errors can result in harm. When considering how many emergency room visits are related to accidents it becomes more apparent why this information is significant and costly to us all. Thus, it became clear in the course of this research that while education is an essential part of the conditioning that may help people make better choices by being more informed, a certain amount of behavior, especially behavior that does not allow for much forethought is dependent on the more subtle levels of existence. The primary behaviors established by basic personality types, attitudes, habits and conditioning that begins with food programming in the womb, conditioning and vicarious learning at birth and trail and error in adolescence has a tremendous impact on human potential.
People can have schema or perspective additions or adaptive shifts in response to text stimuli. Knowledge is acquired at different rates depending on the individual’s personality and environment; including cognitive functions, abilities, conditions, and opportunities.
The time intensive nature of individualized learning helps explain why rout learning and modern multiple choice testing is popular. However, assessing the acquisition and practical application of skills gained in more personalized ways are additional ways to measure skills including memory and reasoning to see how the knowledge impacts the person’s ability to adapt. Matching an individual learners preferences and needs may improve success in educational and training programs. Knowles discusses this in terms of a learning contract (1975).
- Individuals possessed unique personalities that explain their unique responses.
- Knowledge gained from written sources and recalled increased deduced better answers on written multiple-choice tests in the majority of the tested subjects.
- Different people respond differently to the same stimuli and the differences in behavior may be explained by the interaction of compounding variables and personality.
- More changes were evident in some items on the test and in some participants versus others. Which Bio-psycho-social compounding factors impact the storing and recall of information in memory and how is a resulting question.
- Recognition memory varied between participants. Thus, memory was upheld as being selective (James, W. 1890).
- Positive changes between the two pre & two post survey results showed the added text information is influencing participants to select more correct answers.
- The text stimuli/ intervention met demonstrated educational needs. Many less correct answers selected during the first two rounds of testing were corrected after exposure to the text.
- Latent learning or delayed recall memory are also possible explanations for some of the selective behavior of the participants.
Additional concerns and questions rose from analysis:
- Roughly 60% of enrolled participants were able to maintain their commitment to participate and follow directions.
- How does the mind sort information or perceptions into different memory stores i.e. deep consciousness, sub-conscious, preconscious? The suppression and arousal (trigger) of recalled information and cognition as a whole is very contextual and individualized because it depends on the experiences and conditions of the individual. Thus, learning preferences, aptitudes, interests, challenges and goals are highly individualized.
- Measuring impacts based on self-reports and guided answers is significantly limiting. A person’s ability to recognize can be partially measured through route testing, but the relationship of such testing to the usefulness or application of recalling knowledge is not fully ascertained by such tests.
- While guessing and lying can partially be controlled by multiple tests for consistency, guessing or lying can’t be ruled out on multiple-choice tests.
- The mere selection of criteria and the decision making involved in the production of any survey instrument and controls involve leading and a process of exclusion. Varying qualities of bias or discriminations are inherent in such processes. The level of objectivity and standard criteria in scientific studies is largely based on social or cultural assumptions that historically have fluctuated in quality for better and for worse. Testing that is reliant on self-reports or introspection raise concerns due to bias, errors, and illness inherent or potentially present in the process of cognition, perception and interpretation of experiences. Newton’s fourth law of reason and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (Van Doren,C. Pg. 209) support that constant change (Fuller,B. 1938 p.2-21 on Heraclitus 535-475 B.C.) and the inability to be exactly precise are constants. Temporal relevance or approximate truths expressed by Newton’s fourth law suggests acceptance of knowledge within contextual parameters. If similar results are observed on single items across many single subjects then trends or strong indicators may be presented. Where Psychology is concerned with perception, self-reporting is one way to gather data or make observations. The contextual and variable influences on cognition do make single subject cognitive studies more interpretive and less exact than say studies that are more hard science or physical in nature, design and measurement. However, with reasonable methods, indicators that can be reproduced across individual subjects are useful in the advancement of knowledge.
- If conformity or assimilation may be associated with self-gratification or acceptance and motivate behavior what are the potential hazards or implications given much of what is read in society is not verified by readers and the important roles played by so called “experts?”
- How can discipline suggested through learning be more directly implemented and correlated to adding to establishing healthy equilibriums?
- Because our reference point is subjectivity itself in the act of interpretation and because the quality of our senses varies from individual to individual and because our skills vary and change throughout our lives and from generation to generation, the potential to be “error-prone” (Bogner, M. 2003) is in fact constant. People are routinely incongruent and self-contradictory. Thus, limiting the amount of harm they can do to one another is an important idea. The balance between dangerous dictation and helpful prevention are areas of debate where intervention is concerned. Thus the responsive limit is pushed to be an actual danger to self or others which leaves little room to prevent the trespass of freedoms and rights.
- A person’s ability to recognize can be partially measured through route testing, but the relationship of such testing to the usefulness or application of recalling knowledge is not fully ascertained by such tests.
- The design of this study did not account for limiting the impact of peer-pressure or assimilation.
- The solution to the problem of getting consistent measures through re-testing after time lapses to reduce associations and recall interferences presented a new problem. The problem presented was that given the lapse of time between the repeated tests, it is also impossible to rule out that subjects were exposed to new information from remote sources. This weakens validity in the strictest view.
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