On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Paul Marsden (PaulMarsden@email.msn.com)
Tue, 8 Sep 1998 08:36:20 +0100

From: "Paul Marsden" <PaulMarsden@email.msn.com>
To: "memetics" <memetics@mmu.ac.uk>
Subject: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 1998 08:36:20 +0100

Richard said

>I want to understand: How are ideas influenced by other ideas. How are
attitudes towards these ideas formed and
>changed. How are emotions influenced by ideas (why do people kill and
torture or
>want to die for abstract concepts like 'Nation' and 'God', why do they
>about the word 'meme'?), etc. etc. A whole bunch of intriguing insights is

Richard, unlike (some) other(s), you have bothered to research the
literature of social psychology, which,as you know, has made these problems
its central concern. Whilst your book was in part inspired by Dawkins and
memetics, it also drew on and extended the work of the social psychologist
Cialdini, Influence (1988, 1993).

I suspect your point is a rhetorical one - but in case it was missed on
others - You will find the answer to how ideas (beliefs, values, and
attitudes) spread in society in the literature of social psychology.

>Behaviours and material artefacts will learn us little about this.

The act of war, persuasion, and torture and conversion are all behaviours.
The ONLY way of finding out what "idea" you might want to attribute to a
particular brain is for that "idea" to be behaviourally represented - i.e.

Suggested reading

Petty and Caccioppo (1981) Attitudes and Persuasion (especially their ELM
model - which is just crying out for an evolutionary or memetic spin)
Rajecki (1990) Attitudes

Paul Marsden
Graduate Research Centre in the Social Sciences
University of Sussex
e-mail PaulMarsden@msn.com
tel/fax (44) (0) 117 974 1279

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