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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 437: The Words we Speak Depend on Who may be Listening

This is a continuation from my previous posts starting here - please read for context.

One way that social psychologists assess the extent to which people's reported attitudes depend on the expected audiences is by varying who can be expected to learn of their attitude position. For example, people seeking membership in a fraternity or sorority (eg, pledges) express different attitudes about other fraternities and sororities depending on whether they believe their attitudes will remain private or will become known to the powerful members of their group who will be controlling their admittance (Noel, Wann, & Branscombe, 1995). When they believe that other members will learn of their responses, they express derogatory opinions of other fraternities or sororities; this communicates to decision makers of their desired organization that they belong with their group. Yet when they believe their responses will be private, they do not disparage other fraternities or sororities. Thus both the attitudes we form and the ones we express can depend on the responses given for holding them - rewards received in the past and those we expect to receive in the future. - Social Psychology (Twelfth Edition), by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donne Byrne

This is another testament to how we are designed to only respond to a reward-system. We will always act in order to receive the greatest reward, well, the greatest reward as far as we can work out anyway.

We'll suck up when it will benefit us, we'll bad-mouth when it will benefit us. We have no real "personality" of our own, because we are always changing ourselves to adapt to our situation - not even counting that we are simply the products of our environments.

Who are we really? What is our true nature like? Are we the kinder, more accepting version of ourselves that we express when we are not concerned about our image or potential rewards, or are we the more ambitious and vicious version of ourselves that comes out when we are trying to obtain some reward? I'd like to believe that we as humanity still have some kind of chance to improve the world, that would be nice, but in reality it is easy to see that we are much quicker to show aggression and meanness than we are willing to show how much we actually care about other people and this life.

Consider an ambitious person who has fought tooth and nail to get to the position they are in - now they have to do and say certain things and act in a certain way in order to maintain their image and therefore position, but outside of this position they are the complete opposite. How likely do you think it is that a person will give up their ambition in order to live in a way that is actually more congruent with who they are? Quite unlikely, unfortunately. What is more likely, is that this person will integrate this particular "personality" (the way they talk and act in order to maintain their position for which they worked so hard) into the rest of their lives and end up becoming completely this personality that was designed specifically by themselves to get and then keep a particular position.

We are who we choose to be in every moment. We are the words we choose to say. We are the thoughts we allow to exist within us. Obviously, this means that the nature of who we are has become fractured - we are not one complete being with one expression - we are many different personalities and expressions, picking and choosing which personality will suit our needs best in each moment. We are fickle and false, changing like the wind. How is it that no one wonders why it is that we all are this way? How can it be that no one has questioned why we teach our children not to stand firm within who they are? How can it be that no one has questioned our society functioning according to the principles of deceit? Why do we still encourage our children to deceive themselves? Where is our honesty with ourselves - we cannot even remember who we wanted to be, only who we think we have to be in order to survive..?

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