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Volume 2

Expanded Contents


1. Introduction and Summary
2. The Concept of Field
3. Reality and the Intentional Field
4. Freedom and Intentional Humanism
5. Perceiving Another
6. Intentions, Attitudes, and Interests
7. Perceiving and Behaving
8. Behavior
9. Social Behavior and Interaction
10. Types of Social Interaction
12. The Transition to a Sociocultural Field
13. The Sociocultural Space
14. The Field of Social Forces
15. The Sociocultural Field
16. Distances
17. Status Distance
18. Status Distance and Behavior
19. The Fundamental Nature of Power
20. Social Power
21. The Family of Power
22. Social Fields and Antifields
23. Groups and Antifields
24. Class
25. Social Class And the Class-Literature
26. Conflict
27. Conflict in the Sociocultural Field
28. The Elements of Social Conflict
29. The Process of Conflict
30. Social Fields and Types of Societies
31. The State and Political System
32. Societies, Politics, and Conflict
33. Societies in Empirical Perspective
34. Testing for the Existence of Exchange, Authoritative, and Coercive Societies
35. Is Conflict Manifest as Theorized?

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace
Vol. 5: The Just Peace

Other Related Work

The Conflict Helix: Principles and Practices...


Chapter 11

The Equation
Social Behavior*

By R.J. Rummel

Newtonian space and time were established in rigid severance from the phenomena investigated and, thus viewed, were called "absolute. " More recent physics absorbs its spaces and times into its observed facts; it passes beyond namings to statements, its facts and its space-time become in their way obverse and converse expressions of event. Into the Newtonian space "mind" could not fit itself, but as Protuberant Psyche there stood forth. In the new spaces and times "psyche" ceases to protrude and becomes at last itself event in the world. Physics, out of its own experience of growth, now gives students of behavior justification for choosing their own frames of space and time to fit their facts. It frees them from the old rigidity. An opening for work appears, for which all determined students of behavior give thanks.
---- Bentley, 1954

In Chapter 7, I conceptually sketched the relationship between perception and behavior within the dynamic psychological field. Now I will make that sketch more analytic, especially regarding social behavior. This will provide more detail on the psychological framework of social behavior and serve as an analytic basis for discussing the relationship between individuals in the sociocultural space.

Let me call two socially interacting individuals i and j. At its simplest, i's behavioral dispositions towards j will be a consequence of i's perception of j and the occasion; i's actual behavior, however, will be a result of the relationship between these dispositions and i's expectations of their outcomes. Similarly, j's reciprocal behavior will be a result of j's perception, the occasion constituting in part i's behavior, j's behavioral dispositions, and j's expectations of the outcome. Thus, in this social interaction we have an interfusing of mutual perceptions each other, perceived occasion, behavioral dispositions, expectations, and actual social behavior.

Figure 11.1

To display this social interaction, I will have to make explicit relevant aspects of the dynamic psychological field. Now, i's dynamic psychological field is a space, whose components describe i's needs, attitudes, roles, sentiments, temperaments, abilities, moods, and states--i's personality. These components are common latent functions that similarly span the psychological spaces of everyone. For example, hunger is such a component delineating a need which motivates us all.

Within i's psychological space, i has a vector location by virtue of i's personality profile, i's specific personality. This is shown in Figure 11.1a. Since motivations are also aspects of personality, this vector also comprises i's superordinate goal and i's intentions towards others, including j. This space also includes what i perceives. From previous discussion, i's awareness of external reality is a balance between i's outward reaching perspective and that which bears upon i, a balance in part between the forces of i's personality and beliefs and the power of that perceived. This balance, our actual perception, I call a situation.

When we perceive another as a situation, he becomes a field of expression, a complex of myriad, transitory manifestations, of more stable dispositions and determinables, of powers and potentialities. But this perceived situation, this field of expression, is also given a unity, a balance, a gestalt, by perceived latents. Thus, we perceptually transform patches of pink, blacks, and blues and configurations of lines and shapes into a soldier, a woman, our friend John, our boss Mr. Howard, and so on.

Now, these latents are organized psychologically by common latent functions, the components of our psychological space. That is, we organize our perception of others in terms of their temperaments, needs, roles, sentiments, and the rest. Or, in a more sociologically relevant language, we see others in terms of their interests (which are intentions, roles, sentiments, and values), capabilities (temperament, abilities, moods, and states), and wills (credibility, behavioral dispositions).

Within our psychological space the other is perceived relative to our selves. That is, we relate another person to our own personality; we see their interests, capabilities and credibility relative to our own; we perceive their distance from ourselves. This is exemplified in Figure 11.1b, which shows j as a perceived situation relative to i in i's psychological space. This situation is a vector, in that it has direction and magnitude, and its location describes the perceived personality of j relative to i. The corresponding perceived distance between i and j is the vector shown in Figure 11.1c. This distance reflects the differences and similarities in interests, capabilities, and credibility that i perceives between him and j.

The situation constituting a perceived other is rather invariant, however. The other as wife, friend, or daughter may be hiking, eating, or conversing with us, and we perceive largely the same person in relation to ourselves. What does vary is the occasion.

We behave socially towards the more or less stable perception of another on the basis of some perceived occasion and for some intention or reason. That is, there is some immediate event which stimulates or triggers, or provides a goal or reason for social behavior. Such an occasion may be another asking us a question, winking at us, writing us a letter, offering us a drink, and so on. The occasion may also be a perceived context, as when we sit next to him at a banquet, pass him in the hall, or hear him fighting with another.
Figure 11.2

From i's perspective, an occasion is a particular perceived situation lying also within i's psychological space, in relation to i's interests, capabilities, and will. Thus occasion is a vector as illustrated in Figure 11.2a.

There is now a psychological unity, a common space and field uniting i's personality, the perceived other, j's distance from i, and the perceived occasion. Our behavioral dispositions towards j in a particular occasion alpha (), then, are a product1 of these two vectors, shown alone in Figure 11.2b. In words, our social behavior towards another, j, depends on j's relationship to our interests, capabilities, and will and the nature of the behaving occasion. Surely, we will act differently towards the same person if the occasion is a party rather than a conference, our supper table rather than a busy intersection, a church rather than our bedroom. Moreover, even if the occasion is the same, our behavioral dispositions will vary depending on whether the other is smiling at us, talking to us, or cursing us.

Behavioral dispositions--the product of distance and occasion--are not, however, behavior. What transforms these dispositions into behavior are the expectations i has about the outcome of i's behavior towards the other. How will the other respond? What will be the consequences? How credible is the other's threat or promise? To understand the relationship between expectations and behavioral dispositions, consider now a region of psychological space called behavior space--the multitude of i's behavioral potentialities and dispositions.2 Since our interest is in social behavior, I will focus on that aspect of the space, and on the basis of my previous discussion, the common components--latent functions--spanning this social behavioral space are familistic, contractual, and compulsory.

Figure 11.3

Figure 11.3a shows as a vector the disposition of i to socially behave towards j in a particular way. This vector, therefore, is an actualization of the behavioral potentialities of this space. The expectations, beta (), that i has of j's behavioral response is shown in Figure 11.3b along with i's dispositions in the same space. Beta defines which of these common behavioral potentialities i perceives that j will actualize as a consequence of i's behavior. Will j be friendly and helpful, strictly legalistic, antagonistic and threatening, and so on? How i behaves towards j is then a product of these two vectors. In other words, what dispositions i manifests, and to what degree, depend on i's expectations of j's responses.

In sum, then, i's behavioral dispositions are generated by i's perception of j's field of expression, j's relative interests, capabilities, and will, and of the occasion. How these dispositions work themselves out into specific social behavior--acts, actions, or practices--towards j then is a function of i's expectations of j's corresponding behavior.3 


* Scanned from Chapter 11 in R.J. Rummel, The Conflict Helix, 1976. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

1. The inner or dot product. I will make this equation more explicit later.

2. "Behavior space is a postulate made at least implicitly by every school of psychology. The differences uncovered in passing from one to another of the above mentioned interpretations are differences in the kinds of and numbers of forces postulated to account for the processal character of experience. The shift from Locke to Berkeley, from Hartley to Bain, from James Mill to J. S. Mill, from Herbart to Lotze, from Wundt to Kuelpe, et al., is, in each case, an attempt not only to increase the number of kinds of items but also the number of organizing structural principles. These authorities are moving closer and closer to the adoption of a thorough going dynamics, but all are hindered in the attempt through their failure to grasp mind as a dynamical field" (Williams, 1938, pp. 69-79).

3. Compare this picture with Tolman's (195 1, p. 296): "A behavior space is thus to be defined as a particularized complex of perceptions (memories and inferences) as to objects and relations and the 'behaving self,' evoked by the given environmental stimulus situation and by a controlling and activated belief-value matrix (or perhaps several such matrices). What is perceived (expected) is thus determined by what is presented by the stimulus situation at the moment and by the store of categorizations, beliefs, and values which the actor brings to the presented stimuli. Or, to put it another way, the immediate behavior space is to be defined as an array of particular objects, in such-and-such particular 'direction' and 'distance' relations to one another, which are perceived by the actor at the given moment. And some of these objects tend to have positive or negative 'valences' on them. Among such particular objects a very crucial one is the actor's self (designated as the behaving self) which is also part of any such perceived array."

For citations see the Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix REFERENCES

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