Re: Looking for a name.

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun 21 Mar 2004 - 18:14:35 GMT

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    At 10:07 PM 20/03/04 -0500, frankie wrote:
    >Keith wrote:
    >>Indeed. You would have an interesting time getting a research proposal
    >>through an ethics committee. On the other hand, you probably *could*
    >>analyze saliva samples of Marines going though basic training to get a
    >>feel for just what brew of chemicals was soaking their brains. You could
    >>compare their brain hormone profile against that of battered women and
    >The problem with using battered women is that many of them formed the bond
    >with their husbands *first* and then endured the abuse. The
    >naturally-formed pair bond might confound your capture-bond. Also women
    >still have their friends/family although they are just as likely to
    >*increase* the chances of staying either directly (if they know and
    >encourage the woman to stay) or indirectly (if she is ashamed/embarrassed
    >to let on what is happening). It seems to me that when interpersonal
    >violence takes place in the context of an established trust-bond
    >relationship, the victim often blames him/herself (abused children etc)
    >while in instances of kidnapping it is very easy for the person to say
    >that what happened to them is *not their fault*.

    All of this is true, a battered wife has not been captured in the same sense as a primitive tribal woman. People undergoing fraternity hazing or B&D are not captured in the same sense either. That's not my point. My claim is that the same relatively simple psychological mechanism to bond with a captor/abuser is being turned on--and that tribal capture-bonding is the evolutionary origin of this trait.

    >What about some of the primate models? Mutual reciprocity which seems to
    >be pretty hard-wired in us might play a role here: gratitude for saving
    >his/her life plus any small kindness shown in a situation where small
    >kindnesses are huge. Especially if that person performs those acts in
    >view of other group members - suggesting a possible protective
    >alliance. I've read lots of instances in primate research about the
    >behavior of an animal trying to join a new troop.

    The hardwiring in humans for reciprocation and other psychological traits is astonishing. I have been reading a 1984 book, _Influence_ by Robert Cialdini lately. After discussing fixed-action patterns, in turkeys and animal male territorial defense:

          "Before we enjoy too smugly the ease with which lower animals can be tricked by trigger features into reacting in ways wholly inappropriate to the situation, we might realize two things. First, the automatic, fixed-action patterns of these animals work very well the great majority of the time. For example, because only healthy, normal turkey chicks make the peculiar sound of baby turkeys, it makes sense for mother turkeys to respond maternally to that single "cheep-cheep" noise. By reacting to just that one stimulus, the average mother turkey will nearly always behave correctly. It takes a trickster like a scientist to make her tapelike response seem silly. The second important thing to understand is that we, too, have our preprogrammed tapes; and, although they usually work to our advantage, the trigger features that activate them can be used to dupe us into playing them at the wrong times.

          "This parallel form of human automatic action is aptly demonstrated in an experiment by Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer. A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do. Langer demonstrated this unsurprising fact by asking a small favor of people waiting in line to use a library copying machine: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush? The effectiveness of this request plus-reason was nearly total: ninety-four percent of those asked let her skip ahead of them in line. Compare this success rate to the results when she made the request only: Excuse me, 1 have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine.? Under those circumstances only 60 percent of those asked complied. At first glance, it appears that the crucial difference between the two requests was the additional information provided by the words "because I'm in a rush." But a third type of request tried by Langer showed that this was not the case. It seems that it was not the whole series of words, but the first one, "because," that made the difference. Instead of including a real reason for compliance, Langer's third type of request used the word
    "because" and then, adding nothing new, merely restated the obvious: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies? The result was that once again nearly all (93 percent) agreed, even though no real reason, no new information was added to justify their compliance. just as the "cheep-cheep" sound of turkey chicks triggered an automatic mothering response from maternal turkeys, even when it emanated from a stuffed polecat, so the word "because" triggered an automatic compliance response from Langer's subjects, even when they were given no subsequent reason to comply. Click, whirr!"

    The next chapter (3) discusses how humans are very close to hardwired for reciprocation.

          "The Krishnas' resolution was brilliant. They switched to a fund-raising tactic that made it unnecessary for target persons to have positive feelings toward the fund raisers. They began to employ a donation-request procedure that engaged the rule for reciprocation, which, as demonstrated by the Regan study, is strong enough to overcome the factor of dislike for the requester. The new strategy still involves the solicitation of contributions in public places with much pedestrian traffic
    (airports are a favorite), but now, before a donation is requested, the target person is given a "gift"-a book (usually the Bhagavad Gita), the Back to Godhead magazine of the society, or, in the most cost-effective version, a flower. The unsuspecting passerby who suddenly finds a flower pressed into his hands or pinned to his jacket is under no circumstances allowed to give it back, even if he asserts that he does not want it. "No, it is our gift to you," says the solicitor, refusing to accept it. Only after the Krishna member has thus brought the force of the reciprocation rule to bear on the situation is the target asked to provide a contribution to the society. This benefactor-before-beggar strategy has been wildly successful for the Hare Krishna Society, producing large-scale economic gains and funding the ownership of temples, businesses, houses, and property in 108 centers in the United States and overseas.

          "As an aside, it is instructive that the reciprocation rule has begun to outlive its usefulness for the Krishnas, not because the rule itself is any less potent societally, but because we have found ways to prevent the Krishnas from using it on us. After once falling victim to their tactic, many travelers are now alert to the presence of robed Krishna Society solicitors in airports and train stations, adjusting their paths to avoid an encounter and preparing beforehand to ward off a solicitor's "gift." Although the Society has tried to counter this increased vigilance by instructing members to be dressed and groomed in modern styles to avoid immediate recognition when soliciting (some actually carry flight bags or suitcases, Figure 2-1), even disguise has not worked especially well for the Krishnas. Too many individuals now know better than to accept unrequested offerings in public places like airports. Furthermore, airport administrators have initiated a number of procedures designed to forewarn us of the Krishnas' true identity and intent. Thus, it is now common airport practice to restrict the Krishnas' soliciting activity to certain areas of the airport and to announce via signs and the public address system that the Krishnas are soliciting there. It is a testament to the societal value of reciprocation that we have chosen to fight the Krishnas mostly by seeking to avoid rather than to withstand the force of their gift giving. The reciprocity rule that empowers their tactic is too strong-and socially beneficial-for us to want to violate it."

    Amazon has the contents of this book on the web. You can find this material by using "turkey" and "Krishnas" in their page search function, though you might just want to buy the book and read it. You can also find a batch of related references by putting Krishnas reciprocity in Google.

    >Another group of people who might be worth looking at are Peace Corps
    >volunteers. They are not captured but, they are placed in remote areas,
    >far removed from their known culture/social context and have to learn new
    >group norms with complete strangers. The social disorientation is very
    >similar to what you describe and is often quite traumatic itself. They
    >"go native" all the time. Maybe their saliva would test differently than
    >others who don't go native.

    That's possible. Of course getting any research done on this topic is going to be hard.

    >Maybe your capture bond is the combination of a "trying to survive joining
    >a new group" thing combined with some trauma stuff and learned
    >helplessness. One of the most interesting definitions I read of trauma
    >was that it was an experience which required a major overhaul
    >(accommodation) of your operational schemata (as in Piaget)- and that what
    >was most disorienting was that none of your rules for "how the world
    >operates" were guaranteed to work anymore - you were "flying blind" in a
    >life or death situation.

    This is exactly true. When a completely new situation arises,
    "instinctive" or genetic origin programs that encode successful outcomes of your ancestors experiences are all you can fall back on.

    >Successfully integrating the new experience and modifying your schema was
    >the working model for trauma resolution. But people are most vulnerable
    >at that time of re-integration, and can incorporate some really strange
    >stuff in the process. Everything is up for grabs.

    It figures from evolutionary first principles that people who survived the process of being captured from one tribe to another would be wide open to new ways of rubbing blue mud in their belly buttons during a window while their brains were being soaked in stress chemicals. It is perhaps noteworthy that Pavlov's dogs forgot their conditioning when they were nearly drowned in a flood.

    Keith Henson

    PS here is a web site I ran across in researching for this reply,

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