Social Psychology: An Analysis of Social Behavior

Chapter 6: Anticipatory Habit Schemes

Kimball Young

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A. External and Internal Factors Determining Behavior.

Behavior is determined by factors external and internal to the organism. The external influences are brought to the individual through the exteroceptive sense organs. The internal come through the proprioceptive and interoceptive organs. Moreover, conditioning and integration of past sensory-response reactions intervene between the present stimulus and response. From the very outset of life, both internal and external stimulation play a part in activity. As we have seen, "drives" to hunger, thirst, and sex come from internal bodily changes, while withdrawal from pain, rage, and fear are stimulated by external situations. These two sets of factors determine the adjustment of the organism to its environment. In terms of a functional psychology, we may describe the whole field of direction of response to situations under the rubric of attention. By attention we mean merely the orientation of the organism toward the environmental situation. This orientation is always selective. Some features of the total environment are neglected for others. We focus our reactions upon the core of the selected segment of environment, leaving other segments on the margin of awareness. This orientation is determined by two sets of factors: external and internal.

1. External Factors Determining Behavior: The size, form, intensity, and mode of presentation and repetition of the stimuli greatly affect the orientation of the organism toward the same and hence affect the response. At the level of original nature, we noted that intensely loud sounds set off crying and other emotional responses, likewise that the blocking of free movements of the legs and arms produced rage, and that bright lights, large objects, intense odors caused different responses. The facial and bodily stimulations of the mother, for instance, have a definite place in the social conditioning of the child. As we grow older, all sorts of conditioned

(96) stimuli come to affect us in terms of novelty, size, intensity, repetition, and mode of presentation. The newness of fads and fashions, the size and type of advertisements, the vigor of emotional appeals through speakers and the press, illustrate these external factors in behavior. Visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli are perhaps the three most significant exteroceptive determinants of conduct. The sight of our mother, father, and relatives around us, the hearing of their voices, the tactile fondling of us as children, the clasping of hands in friendship, are typical examples.

2. Internal Factors in Behavior.— The internal conditions of reaction, however, are quite as important. Not infrequently in these days of tremendous and rapidly changing external stimuli, in which everything mechanical and in large quantities is so overemphasized, we neglect the significance of the internal or covert changes which help to determine our conduct. Yet these factors are highly significant, for they determine the meanings and values which we give the world outside ourselves. Without the current internal conditionings even the material world we worship so abjectly today might be otherwise interpreted. After all, it is ideology which supports both our physical and our social world.

As we saw in Chapter III, the basic internal stimuli are the physiological determinants of behavior— hunger, thirst, sex, fatigue, eliminative needs. Correlated with these physiological conditions, but dependent upon 'the functioning of the cerebral cortex, are the feelings and emotions which accompany the responses. Likewise the muscle tensions produce the proprioceptive stimulations which give us an awareness of bodily movement. These are especially significant in gestures, attitudes, and speech reactions. In crowd situations, for example, the sense of bodily movement is correlated with exteroceptive stimuli of visual, auditory, and tactile sorts from others around us.

Very important internal factors, however, arise through conditioning in relation to retention and association. Wundt used the term apperception to describe the whole array of images and ideas which, themselves the product of past conditioning, alter and transform the manner in which we perceive and react to the `World around us. The images and ideas of mother, father, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies, country, church, of right and wrong conduct— in fact, the entire range of imagery and ideas connected with our behavior in reference to other persons— comes into play here. What we shall discuss hereafter under the content of behavior, in-

(97) -ternal and external, as illustrated by stereotypes, myths, and legends, is dependent upon the apperceptive mass. Growing out of these internal associations retained from earlier experience are aims, ideals, purposes, attitudes, and values which affect the orientation of the individual to his social world.

It is evident that the external and internal factors which direct behavior are combined. They do not exist in separate compartments of our being, but are at all times a part of the total stimulus-response arrangements. It is often impossible to state which set of factors has most weight in any particular activity. Yet any attempt to understand and interpret human behavior which fails to recognize both sets of factors must be inadequate if not actually false. In the balance of this chapter we shall be concerned particularly with the internal factors.

B. Anticipatory and Consummatory Responses.

1. Long and Short Circuit Reactions: Covert and Overt Behavior. —  The individual, as soon as he comes into contact with the social world, begins to exhibit two distinct types of reaction. One of these is direct, the other indirect. The one is a kind of short circuit, the other a long circuit between stimulus and response. The direct, short-circuit type of activity is evident in the infant. His hunger and thirst needs lead, ordinarily, to immediate satisfactions, unless modified by other persons. His eliminative functions operate with a directness which only time and training can change. His responses to pain, fear, and anger stimuli are direct and animal in character. Such behavior as this in an older child or adult is called "impulsive" or "primitive." The response follows very directly upon the stimulus. This is the purely unlearned biological, almost vegetative, reaction. Through social conditioning, there are interposed between the stimuli and the final response, other types of stimuli and response which alter the course of the impulsive behavior. Through training, the hunger and thirst demands are compressed into a regularity of time which at the outset runs counter to nature's way. Rage and fear are conditioned and inhibited in manifold ways. Bodily eliminations become habitual according to the cultural standards of the group in which one happens to be born. In this manner indirect and long-circuit items are introduced between bodily need or tension and the consummation of activity provoked by these needs.


The final, completed activity at the organic level, then, is immediate and impulsive. At the psychological or conditioned level, the final consummatory activity is controlled through delay. This control is possible through the mechanism of conditioning and inhibition. As we know, the unlearned impulses from the receptor organs pass in the first instance through the spinal cord and lower brain centers. The central neurons make but slight modification in their course. The learned behavior, on the other hand, takes place through the interposition of. the cerebrum. Between the stimulation and the final overt act, therefore, cerebral processes intervene which give a new and more complicated direction to the final act itself. We may then distinguish between the direct, impulsive activity and the indirect, circuitous type in terms of the presence of these central cortical changes.

These cortical changes become a system themselves. They are known to us in the form of attitudes, images, ideas. The attitude is a form of incipient habit. The image is the result of retentive capacities in the cerebral cortex. The idea or concept is an outgrowth of imagery. It is closely related to the rise of language. Through manipulation not of objects outside oneself, but of representations of them called images, one may decide a course of action which in the end is much more satisfying to the organism as a whole. At a higher level one may rearrange ideas or verbal concepts about the attributes and relations of objects and in similar fashion be better able to control one's environment in the final consummatory activity. Likewise the attitudes, being incipient motor habits, are the key to the final activity. In a sense the attitude is a shadow of the consummatory activity, but confined to incipient responses in the peripheral musculature and not to more obvious and complete acts. The meaning of behavior depends upon a combination of image or idea and the accompanying incipient attitude or overt act. We may thus divide man's range of behavior into two systems. One has to do with anticipatory activity confined largely within the organism; the other, with final, complete or consummatory activity in reference to the external environment, physical and social. ,The first type of behavior we may call covert, the latter overt. The first is a form of preparation, a looking forward to activity, usually, of course, with some reference to the past. It is a method of preliminary trial and error, although it is not necessarily of a rational sort. The world of art, literature, science, and philosophy exists, in a

(99) measure, in this area of behavior. The whole scope of language is related to this covert field of behavior. This separation of covert from overt behavior is the source of the classical controversy over the mind and body in psychology and philosophy. The former is the field of mind. The anticipatory type of experience may become so extended that it scarcely ever reaches any final, overt, practical activity. This is the case with much symbolic logic and the elaborations of non-euclidian systems of mathematics. So, too, in the field of literature, and the other arts, it might be held that these also never reach any culmination in overt action except that involved in writing and printing or otherwise producing them. In the chapters which follow we shall see, however, that this covert, anticipatory sphere of human experience is the veritable basis of social reality. The final pragmatic test of any image, idea, or attitude may be: Will it work? Will it engage the total organism in modification of the physical or social world? Much depends on what one means by the word "work." Certainly, as we shall see, the images and ideas of men, even of the most fantastical sort, profoundly modify not only their conception of the world, but their consummatory habits as well.

To summarize: Overt behavior involves the total organism in some adjustment to the external environment, be it material or social. This is the field of habit formation, of consummatory response patterns. Here it is we come upon the completion of response which ends any particular cycle of activity. In the case of covert activity, however, there is a kind of cycle built up within the anticipatory field when this cycle does not directly involve the organic survival of the individual. Nevertheless, as valuable as anticipatory activity is, the physiological demands of the organism sooner or later put a limitation upon the extent to which it may go. For example, while images and ideas may be of great assistance in seeking food, ultimately this internal anticipation must lead to some overt act of grasping and eating food, else the organism perishes. Still in many types of activity, not immediately concerned with survival, a certain cycle of internal, indirect sort may be constructed. This is illustrated in art, in systems of philosophy and in Science, Which reinterpret our world for us. It is also seen in more fantastic forms. It is the purpose of this chapter to examine some aspects of this anticipatory system. In subsequent chapters its social implications will be uncovered.

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2. Intelligence and Consciousness as Phases of Anticipatory Response.

Consciousness is a function of this anticipatory, incomplete aspect of the total behavior. Whatever the controversialists may say about consciousness the evidence is clear from clinical and experimental observation that it belongs in that dimension of behavior which is dependent upon the functioning of the cerebral cortex. In short, it is a name for a large section of anticipatory behavior. It is distinctly concerned with the field of images, ideas, and attitudes. In the older psychology the first two were said to belong to the cognitive or intellectual phase of man's life. Intelligence, in the sense used by students of mental measurement, is but another name for an aspect of this conscious, anticipatory phase of behavior. When we speak of intelligence as the capacity to learn and of differences in intelligence as measured by the ability to master new conditions, to acquire new techniques of response, we are simply stating, in other language, certain facts about covert, anticipatory behavior and its variability among individuals. Learning by experience is man's greatest asset, and the degree to which he can do this is a measure of the control which the covert phase of behavior has over the overt. Stern defined intelligence as "a general capacity of an individual consciously to adjust his thinking to new requirements— it is general mental adaptability to new problems and conditions of life."[1] Binet, who is famous for his scale for measuring intelligence, describes intelligence, according to Terman, as "(1) the tendency of thought to take and maintain a definite direction, (2) the capacity to make adaptations for the purpose of attaining the desired end, and (3) the power of self-criticism." [2] Intelligence is defined by many psychologists as the ability to carry on abstract thought, to handle conceptual symbols, to generalize— in brief, to indulge in logical reasoning.

There are some situations in which a man may be more intelligent than in others. Thorndike has maintained that there are three general categories of intelligence: motor intelligence, abstract or logical intelligence, and social intelligence. The first has to do with control of material things in terms of manual dexterity, as in the skilled trades and certain arts. The second is witnessed in mathematics, science, and philosophy. The third is seen. in control of other social beings and in the capacity to make social

(101) adjustments. Whatever one may make of Thorndike's classifications, it is evident that intelligence has a distinct relationship to social approval or disapproval and to social situations. What one's group considers sane in the way of responses, will have much to do with the direction which one's intellectual choices will take. Tredgold recognizes the factor of social approval and social adjustment when he defines feeblemindedness or paucity of intelligence as:

A state of restricted potentiality for, or arrest of, cerebral development, in consequence of which the person affected is incapable at maturity of so adapting himself to his environment or to the requirements of the community as to maintain existence independently of external support.[3]

C. Psychological Processes in Anticipatory Behavior.

To get a closer view of the influence of anticipatory behavior— conscious and unconscious— on overt behavior, we must examine the psychological processes on which it rests. The long-circuiting of the total behavior is due to the existence of three fundamental capacities of the organism: that for sensation-perception; for retention of past impressions, or of behavior changes; and for conditioning and integrative alterations. It is through the operation of these processes that our experience acquires meaning. And this meaning rests firmly, as we shall see, on our exposure to the social environment. All three of these processes correlate to determine the course of anticipatory responses. Sensation alone from any of the receptors, internal and external, does not give direction to behavior. Changes made in the course of stimulus-response patterns by the effects of retained experiences, and the manner in which they are associated and integrated together, are highly important. It is not only what the eyes, ears, tactile organs, and other senses bring us which directs our activity, but associated past experiences have much to do with such direction. The images of previous experience arise to help us interpret and to direct the course of present action. Moreover, these images give rise to ideas or concepts which aid in the process of perception. All of these internal processes are tied together in patterns or forms by the associative and integrative function of the cerebral cortex. Let us briefly review some important phases of perception, memory, and association which throw light on the mechanisms which come into

(102) play in social conditioning. The interaction of persons in producing the content of anticipatory responses will be dealt with subsequently.

1. Perception.— The following incident from Binet at once introduces us to the problem of perception:

One evening, when [a friend] was walking alone in a country broken up by a large woods, he perceived, in a clearing, a large fire lighted. Then, immediately after, he saw an encampment of gypsies around this fire. There they were, with their bronzed faces, lying on the ground and engaged in cooking. The night was dark, and the place very lonely. Our young man was afraid, he lost his head completely, and, brandishing the stick he held in his hand, he dashed furiously into the gypsies' camp. A moment after he was in the middle of a pond, convulsively clasping a tree-trunk with his arms, and feeling the chill of water which rose as far as his knees. Then he saw a will-o'-the-wisp flickering on the surface of the pond; it was this shining spot which had been the starting point of his sensory illusion.[4]

We see at once the true nature of perception. It is sensory stimulation plus its interpretation from the images, ideas, and emotions which accompany it. The question whether there is anything such as pure sensation

Figure 3. Reversable drawing of staircase illustrating principle of visual perception

need not detain us. From birth on, one experience or another has added a component to all sensation which makes whatever is new in our stimulation area interpretable in terms of past experiences. Look at Figure 3. Is it a staircase? Does the original perception remain, or does it change to

(103) another? Is it a staircase viewed from underneath? Is it a section of a type of cornice? Sometimes this figure is called the staircase illusion, but it is not an illusion unless all perception be so denominated. What one sees, however, is determined by what one contributes to the sensation from past seeing and interpreting. The term apperception mass designates the combination of factors from past experience which contribute to present perception. We might better say that we apperceive external objects. As Witmer remarks, "every perception is a synthesis, or combination, of the part contributed by apperception and the part contributed by sensation." The significance of previous conditioning in present perception is nicely illustrated by the ancient story of the six blind men of Indostan who went to see an elephant.

First blind man, falling against the elephant's side:

"God bless me! but this elephant
Is very like a wall."

Second blind man, feeling the tusk:

"This wonder of an elephant
Is very like a spear."

Third blind man, grasping the squirming trunk:

"I see," quoth he, "the elephant
Is very like a snake."

The fourth blind man, clasping the knee:

"'Tis clear enough, the elephant
Is very like a tree."

The fifth blind man, catching the ear:

"This marvel of an elephant
Is very like a Fan."

The sixth, seizing the swinging tail:

"I see," quoth he, "the elephant
Is very like a rope."


And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong.[5]

All interpretation rests upon personal-social and cultural conditioning plus any admixture of individual organic emotional and feeling responses which may accompany the perception. The perception of space and time has been a favorite subject of the psychologist. Stratton many years ago showed how the wearing of glasses which invert the world around us handicaps a person only for a short time. Very soon upside-down-ness seems as normal as right-side-up-ness. So, too, the alteration of left and right makes no difference so soon as past association and present sensation become integrated in activity. Similarly, customs at first considered strange seem later quite natural and right.

As we shall see in describing behavior of people in the field of prejudice, the negro is apperceived very differently by some than by others. Again, to some persons the world around them is rich in fantasies that to others are nonsense. In the excitement of the mob, men apperceive very differently than in the calm situation of a deliberative counsel. What we apperceive will be the subject of subsequent chapters. The essential thing is to understand that perception is not a mere passivity of the organism in the presence of stimuli, but an active, dynamic, integrative process.

2. Imagery.—  If one looks steadily at a picture for a moment, one will be able to retain an impression, or positive after-image, of it with considerable detail for a brief time thereafter. Here, however, we are concerned more particularly with the true memory image. This is the recall or revival of the representation of the perception some time after the originating stimulus for the perception has disappeared. A perception, although distinctly affected by central or internal factors, is externally aroused. Its inception lies in the stimulation of the receptor organs. In contrast, the inception of the memory image is through association from the internal or cortical field. The image is a kind of incipient, anticipatory perception centrally controlled.


Types of images follow upon the sense organs concerned in perception. In social intercourse, after all, visual and auditory stimulation are most significant. It naturally follows that visual and auditory imagery are the most common, although there are distinct individual differences in imagery. In the process of so-called thinking, vocal-motor or speech imagery is highly important.

3. Memory.— The image, then, rests upon retentive capacity. Let us look more closely at the nature of this process of memory. The conditioning by successive stimulation described in Chapter V is a form of memory reflex, in which the effects of the first stimulation are associated with another set before the first have disappeared. But as we go up the scale of intelligence, in human beings and animals, the delay between first stimulation and the association with new response may be extended. A number of studies of the delayed reaction have been made:

In one experiment, apparatus is arranged so that the animal or child may be placed in front of three boxes or doors. The animal or chili's exit from the apparatus is blocked except through the door of the lighted box. When the animal or child is released it must learn, by conditioning, to go through the door over which the light appeared and return to the release box where food is given. After this conditioned reaction is set up, the real problem begins. The animal or child is now placed in the release box. The light is turned on over one of the three doors to the boxes. When the subject has seen the light, it is turned off. The subject is then retained in the release box for a certain period of time before being let go. Will animal or child go out the door of the box which was most recently lighted? If this is the case, the interval of time between stimulus and release is increased until the limit of ability is reached. The maximum periods of successful delayed reaction from a number of experiments are given in the following table from Hunter:

Table 2: Showing Differences in Delayed Reaction Times
Rats 1 to 5 seconds
Dogs 1 to 3 minutes
Raccoons 10 to 25 seconds
Cats 16 to 18 seconds
Child 2Y2 yrs. . . . . . . .. .. . . 20 seconds
Child 5 yrs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At least 20 minutes [6]

(106) As Hunter says, the cue to this delayed response is very likely a kinesthetic orientation. In the case of rats, cats, and dogs the animal's body must be kept oriented toward the proper box if the delayed response is to prove successful. In the other subjects this orientation was unnecessary. The function of this set is much the same as that of an idea, "because it enables the animal to react to an absent object in a selective manner, although it —  the cue— has not been continuously present." These associations of present stimuli with past stimulus-response processes are basic to memory, image, and all of the higher associative mechanisms.

The whole memory process, however, is not a mere reproduction of perceptions. The memory images are constantly being altered by additional conditioning, by the effects of fading out of vividness, and by association with other images. Modern psychology and psychiatry have made us particularly aware of the dynamic, changing character of memory and associative processes. Freud long ago pointed out that the dream showed evidences of memories which were thrown together in novel forms, often unrecognized as actual experiences by the sleeper. He showed how elements of time and space were displaced or interchanged, how items in experience were condensed into mere symbols of the perceptual experience, how secondary elaboration took place, that is, how details were added to the dream from other experiences having no relation to the basic images of the dream. Finally, he pointed out the personified, dramatized form .in which the dream appeared. Studies made in the field of forgetting, especially by Whipple, Crosland, and others, indicate that these processes operate in ordinary memories. Crosland exposed a number of pictures, bits of sculpture, writing, and other stimuli to a number of observers and then had them return to the laboratory, at intervals of a few days, for periods ranging from one to even three years to tell him how much of this material they could recall. He points out how details of the original perception were lost, how only parts of pictures remained to stand for the whole, how the recalled images showed confusion of two perceptions, how transpositions of time and space relations took place, and how absolutely extraneous details were added. Moreover, the persons were often very certain that their own elaborations were a part of the original perception. These facts lead us at once into the heart of the whole problem of perception, imagery, memory, and association.

Many studies have been made of memory recall in order to test the

(107) validity of our perceptions and their reproduction. One of the best known is that of the famous experiment at the Congress of Psychologists at Göttingen, where a faked murder was put on, unknown, of course, to the psychologists, and a report was asked for from every one present. Even with men trained to careful observation in the laboratory, it was found that there were a large number of errors. Of the forty reports sent in, only one had less than twenty per cent of mistakes; twelve, from forty to fifty per cent; and thirteen, more than fifty. In more than half of the accounts ten per cent of the details were pure inventions. Some accounts had even more than ten per cent of actual added material which was superimposed on the recalled perception.

Marston reports an experiment with eighteen lawyers in a class in Legal Psychology in which there was no effort at stage melodrama, but a rather simple incident in the classroom. Each of the students was asked to give a free narration of the event, and to submit, in turn, both to direct and to cross examination. The author thus describes his experiment and gives the results from the three forms of testimony:

The incident used was that of an unknown youth rapping on the door of the lecture room, soon after the beginning of the lecture, entering on the lecturer's request, and delivering an envelope to the lecturer. The latter removed a yellow paper from the envelope, pretended to read a message, and exchanged remarks with the stranger, who thereafter left the room. There were no deliberately false suggestions in the affair to lead witnesses astray, and the actions were of such a usual nature that no emotion beyond mild surprise or curiosity could be evoked from the witnesses.

There were a large number of details, however, of possible and connected legal significance. The predetermined plot was trial of the strange youth for the knifing of a person of his acquaintance. In strict adherence to realism, the youth chosen was a Texan, very quick of hand and temper. He possessed a long, green-handled pocket-knife, the blade of which might well be used for stabbing purposes. With one hand the young Texan could draw and open this knife, all in the same motion. Under his left arm he carried three books, one red, one green, and one blue (colors to furnish psychological primaries), and the predetermined plot included the finding of these books at the scene of the crime. Besides the envelope handed the lecturer, the young man carried a second envelope in the same hand, which might have contained a taunting letter, just received from the murdered acquaintance. While the lecturer read his supposed message, the Texan faced the audience, drew and opened his knife, and scraped at his gloved thumb with it, in supposed embarrassment. The points of .usual legal significance, therefore, would be all those details serving to identify

(108)the Texan, his books, his envelope, and his knife— a not unusual type of legal meaning for any testimony offered. I may anticipate the results by stating that not a single witness noticed the knife at all!

Each observable detail in the above-outlined incident was allotted a score of one point, summing into a total of 147. Similarly, the number of possible points scorable in answering direct and cross-examinations were separately compiled, giving a total of 12o points for direct, and 107 points for cross-examination. Most of these points, of course, were included in the original 147 which might have been obtained, as a perfect score, in the free narration; but for the purpose of comparison of the three methods of eliciting testimony, it was necessary to score each part of the test separately. Table 3, gives the results.

Table 3 Scores of Witnesses Reporting an Unexpected Incident
Free Narration Direct Exam. Cross Exam.
Average of all witnesses


Highest witness  


Lowest witness-



The figures in Table 3, above, represent percentages. The percent "Completeness" means the completeness of the correct points given by the witness. Thus the first figure given in Table 3, which is 23.2 percent completeness as the average for all witnesses in free narration, means that the 18 witnesses testified, correctly, to an average of a little over 34 points during this portion of their testimony . . . .

The figure for these witnesses' average "accuracy" in free narration, which is 94.05 percent, signifies the percentage which their correct points are of their total points given . . . .

The percentage of "Caution," as used in Table 3, signifies that percentage of the total times the witness really didn't know a point, in answer to a question, when that witness declined to answer, or said, "I don't know." The figure is arrived at by totaling the number of errors, "don't know's." and no-answer responses, which total clearly represents the actual total of points unknown to the witness, and then figuring what fraction or percentage of this total is represented by the number of "don't know's" and "no-answers," which clearly constitutes the actual total of points the witness knew he didn't know.[7]


It is evident from this study in perception and memory that free narration is uniformly less complete and more accurate than either direct or cross examination. "Direct examination is both more complete and more accurate than cross examination," whereas cross examination shows greater caution than direct examination. There is, in this latter, no gain in either completeness or accuracy on the average. This study, like others of similar sort, indicates clearly the fallibility of human perception and memory. The figures for completeness, accuracy, and caution show variations under three types of reporting, but all prove how uncertain our testimonies about the world around us may be.

Whipple made a study of observation and report which bears directly upon our problem. He showed that whenever any interval of time intervened between the actual observation and the recording of it by word, gesture, writing or otherwise, the accuracy and completeness of the record tended to be reduced by errors of memory. He gave a group a short paragraph of 18o words of descriptive material entitled "The Dutch Homestead." There were approximately ninety-four items or ideas in the paragraph. Amazing differences in the recall of the items in this paragraph were revealed. The revival was affected by a number of factors which influenced the whole process of memory. We may summarize the more noteworthy of these as follows:

1) The recall of observed materials is open to falsification by the insertion of erroneous items. That is to say, people add details that were not in the original situation at all. These insertions are usually plausible. They generally fit the new experiences into old ones so as to make them accord with ordinary experiences. Moreover, the person is not conscious of any deliberate fraud in his additional material.

2) The recall of observed materials is apt to be falsified by substituting other experiences from the past. This refers not to simple addition as above, but to the dropping-out of some items and the substitution of others, again unconsciously.

3) "This recall is likely to be false because of transpositions in the time, order, and space arrangement of various features." This is frequently seen iii all court testimonies as to what occurred in accidents. The writer recalls seeing an accident in New York City some years ago when a Fifth Avenue bus crashed to a large touring car. An old lady, who had just stepped on the bus a moment before, was thrown violently upon the floor. There were eight or nine people in the bus at the time, but no two accounts were the same even five minutes after the event. Some said that she was just sitting down when thrown

(110) on the floor, others that she was still standing in the aisle, and so on. Within a day alterations in report are still more noticeable, and a week afterwards even more so. As time goes on, accuracy recedes into a vague shadow of the actuality.

4) The observer is often unaware of the omissions, insertions, substitutions, and transpositions which influence the accuracy of recall. It is amazing what confidence people have in their recall of events seen and heard. Often it seems that the more confident a person is, the more suspicious one may be of his accuracy, for many people make up in self-assurance what they lack in scientific caution.

5) To recall correctly one feature of an object or event does not mean that the correct recall of other items of the same object or event is forthcoming, although these other features appear logically related. Because a man reports on certain details, it does not follow that he is correct to others. Some people note only one part of a situation; some are trained to see only some things and not others. This is seen very frequently in the giving and taking of expert testimony in the law courts, when experts disagree because each has focused his attention upon the section of the situation with which he is familiar by training and interest. .

6) If several people reporting upon the same situation agree on certain details, it is generally considered that such recall is correct. This is the basis upon which testimony at law is built, and we may assume that, on the whole, this social criterion of agreement is valid.

7) Yet if several individuals agree absolutely in their reports about many minor details under conditions such that observation must have been difficult and recall of the details open to unconscious mistakes, then we are justified in being suspicious of probable collusion. This principle is well known in court procedure, so that too great agreement on details in regard to riots, murder, assault, etc., is looked upon with grave suspicion.

8) Communication of information by one person to another invariably gives rise to inaccuracy. For example, give to a number of persons separately a set of familiar objects, such as a penholder, a pocket knife, a snapshot, a bunch of keys, and ask them to describe the object so completely that anyone who heard this description would have as sufficient an idea of the object as the person who saw it. Let each description be listened to at the time or read afterwards by an other individual. Then request this last individual to imagine just how the object will look. Then show the object to him and ask him if it differs at all from his expectations of it. Was the inadequacy due to the verbal description or to the hearer's interpretation of it?

Such experiments reveal that discrepancies of this sort do not arise from faulty sensations, or from distractions of attention, or omissions, additions or transpositions, but rather from the difficulty of "translating" the objects and events, that are well perceived, into suitable language terms. By suitable terms is meant such words as arouse in the listeners images fairly comparable with

( 111) the original perception. Ordinarily the mistakes are due both to the speaker and to the listener. Like results are found when the observer uses pantomime or gesture or drawings to convey the meaning.

It is further apparent that when the communication of information has to do, not with immediate perceptions, but with materials recalled from memory, the likelihood of inaccuracies in the process of "reporting" (as the psychologist calls this) is greatly enhanced.

9) The most outstanding inaccuracy in description consists in incompleteness or simplification. Omission of details or simplification of details is common in all observation. In a test conducted by Whipple a photograph was exhibited to a group of observers. Taking all the reports into account, twenty-two objects were noted, yet the average number mentioned by any one person was but 9.4.

10) If we mean by an error any definite discrepancy between items recalled and the actual facts, we may say that, even with competent adults observing and reporting under favorable conditions, an errorless report is most unusual. Moreover, if the report gives details the average observer is about seventy-five percent accurate in his report when we do-not count omissions as errors." [8]

It is evident from these ten pertinent psychological comments that perception and memory processes are prone to considerable error. And the errors become more and more evident with the lapse of time. Conversely, imagined details are added with time. We are always faced with a double source of change and alteration in reporting. More and more is forgotten and more and more items are altered and even added to in the recalling. We see, therefore, that both perception and memory change with lapses in time, new perceptions, old associations, and emotional states, and that the added details are often of imaginary character. This leads us at once into the problem of imagination and fantasy.

4. Imagination and Associative Thinking.— The recall of the actual perception in as accurate a form as possible has been called reproductive imagination or memory image. What is normally termed imagination involves more than this. It is marked by decided changes in the make-up of the material or content of the imagery, and has been termed productive imagination. We shall use the term imagination in this latter sense. The line separating true and accurate reproduction and imagination is very indistinct. We can be sure, of course, that productive imagination is limited (3y experience. Whatever elements appeal in imagination have at some time been experienced by the individual. It is the novel organization of im-

( 112) -ages and ideas that makes the imaginative product what it is. Imagination rests definitely upon the associative and integrative mechanism.

On the side of person-to-person relationships, imagination plays a part in the building-up of sympathy. It is distinctly a phase of identification and projection. We shall deal with these in the next chapter.

Imagination may recast the world of perception and memory into forms more acceptable to our emotions and desires; or it may serve the purpose of invention and science in the construction of hypotheses, laws, and new devices. The former type has been called passive imagination, the latter active. Both of these are found in everyone at various degrees of development. In all forms of imagination, associative thinking plays such an important part that passive and active imagination may really be discussed as phases of association. Imagination or associative thinking is but a phase of anticipatory response which is built up in the organism. The passive type of imagination is oriented through those of our wishes that please our egocentric or selfish impulses— those that enhance us in our own eyes or would enhance us in the eyes of others if carried out. This is the world of fantasy or day-dream, and theoretically of the night-dream as well. It is concerned with the world of make-believe. This type of associative thinking or imagination has been called autistic, dereistic,[9] or fantastic thinking. If the child is denied all the jam or candy he wishes, he may dream at night of satiating his appetite. If one's parents are cross and difficult, one may, in time, fancy oneself a foster-child and not really a member of the family in which one is living, but actually someone far superior, from a wealthy or aristocratic background, who has had the misfortune to be left in the hands of these alleged parents. This type of imagination runs all the way from dreams of infantile sort to creative art and literature.

In an associative process of this sort emotions, feelings, and concrete imagery play an important role. Stransky has called dereistic thinking, the "logic of feeling" in contrast with the logic of intellect. The world of fantasy thinking is so bound up with language and social-cultural conditioning that we shall take occasion in Chapter XVI to indicate the importance of the content of this sort of associative thought in a study of behavior and social reality.

Active imagination, in contrast, is oriented to some definite phase of external reality or some task or goal growing out of scientific or common-

( 113) sense experience. It is objective, open to verification by others, and thus capable of statistical and experimental check-up. It has been called directive, objective, or realistic associative thinking.[10] It rests essentially on our experience in manipulating objects or persons outside ourselves and bringing them under our control. The objects and their situational complexes may be checked against a certain consistency of motion and force in the world outside ourselves. Here the association lies between cause and effect of motion and action in the external world. We soon learn, for instance, that planting and reaping of crops give us food, that killing an animal provides meat, that thrusting our hand into hot water produces pain. Thereafter we construct a series of techniques or habits in reference to these experiences. Our imagination based on these, and at all times oriented to them, does not go astray into wish fulfilments and fantasies. It remains anchored to actual, concrete, hard experience with the world of men and objects outside ourselves. Objective imagination is the basis of science. As Karl Pearson puts it, "disciplined imagination has been at the bottom of all great scientific discoveries." In his Grammar of Science he goes on to say that this disciplined imagination means an appreciation of the whole range of facts which have been uncovered through observation and experimentation. These must be subsumed under some generalized statement, and the hypothesis or law so evolved must be checked up in every conceivable manner, in order to discover if the imagination which lies at the basis of the hypothesis or law has played us false and failed to put the law "into real agreement with the whole group of phenomena which it resumes."

In the case of autistic or dereistic thinking, the associations are fantastical. They grow out of mere contiguity of terms, of events or of persons which have no generic cause-and-erect relationship. This is evidenced in the free association of day-dreaming, in magical associations wherein the name comes to stand for the object, as when the primitive wizard or medicine man casts a spell over a man by the use of his name, or by other associations, as when a clay effigy of a person is used to invoke magical power in order to affect injuriously the person's health or fortune. The associations of similars, opposites, of contiguities of time and space are employed, as in objective thinking, but in dereistic associations the connection is imagined rather than genuine. As we shall see in Chapter XVI,

( 114) however, this association may for the personality be as significant as if the association were actual. The contrast of dereistic and objective thinking rests fundamentally, then, upon the social acceptance of the conditioning stimuli and responses, and not upon the mechanisms themselves. It is the manner in which these stimuli are integrated in reference to themselves and to consummatory and socially meaningful behavior which determines the differences between the two sorts of thought. The conditioning in the dereistic field takes place more and more in the realm of imagery and verbal concepts rather than in terms of the objects and situations for which these images and words stand. The full discussion of the place of this type of thinking in social behavior must be left to subsequent treatment.

5. Conceptual Associations.— Abstract thinking constitutes the highest form of anticipatory response. Active and passive imagination, with directive and dereistic associations, leads directly over into the world of abstract conceptualization. The basis of the concept or abstract idea lies in the specificity of response, not to the entire object or situation, but only to some section of it. The fundamental conditioning in the formation of the concept is found in the illustration of the carry-over of emotional fear responses in the child from the furry rat to the furry rabbit, the muff or cotton wool, such as were described in the case of Albert in the foregoing chapter. As we noted above, in dogs for instance, the discriminatory response is very acute, while in children it is not. This very flexibility makes possible transfer of response to other stimuli, similar in some particular but otherwise different from the first artificial or learned stimulus. Thus, in the case of Albert, we may say that his fear reactions were to the quality or attribute of furriness and a certain general form, rather than to a specific rat or other specific furry object.

In the course of time children come to make judgments, that is, to determine courses of action not alone in terms of total stimulus situations, but in reference to specific features of them. Thus, gradually differential systems of response are built up to what we call qualities, attributes, or segments of the situations, which, in turn, may be linked up with like qualities or attributes in other situations or objects. The highest forms of thinking, of anticipatory response, make use of universals or concepts which arise out of these differential reactions. Language furnishes us a means of handling these abstractions. The names of objects or persons in time give way to names or symbols for qualities, attributes, and relation-

( 115) -ships. The names of the latter like the names of objects and persons we learn from our group. Concepts, furthermore, are fundamental to giving meanings to situations, objects, and persons. For the child and illiterate adult most meanings exist at the level of practical usage. A chair is "something to sit on," a knife "is something to cut with," and so on. Conception goes far beyond this and involves us in universals of classifications, categories, and relationships which it is the purpose of formal logic to expose. The whole development of the concept, as the development of associative thinking, is tied up with language, and this, in turn, is related to social conditioning and communication. We shall indicate more fully the place of concepts in behavior when we discuss the rise of language and the place of associative meanings in building up our world of social reality.

Conceptual associations are fundamental to the reasoning process. Reasoning is a form of anticipatory response in which the behavior is foreseen in terms of images, ideas, or concepts before it actually passes over into consummatory or overt conduct. The reasoning of most persons is relatively simple. It depends upon the practical use— concepts such as we noted above: objects and persons do certain things or exist in certain relationships; hence our reasoning about hundreds of daily situations involves habitual judgments which have been built up for us in our social contacts. In matters involving experimentation, invention, and social decisions of more complex sort, the reasoning may involve concepts of more attenuated type. Usually reasoning does not take definite form, the logic books to the contrary. Dewey has analyzed the process into five formal steps, although actually these may not be recognized by the person. At the outset there is a felt difficulty. This means that the habitual, overt systems of response do not satisfy us or that they fail to accomplish our purposes. Secondly, there is an effort to locate and define the difficulty. Ordinarily this definition of the situation is determined for us by our personal-social and cultural conditioning, and we pass at once to overt behavior. But when this fails, we may go on to the third stage of working out, by imagery or ideas, possible solutions to the felt difficulty. In other words, we try to frame a new definition of the situation. In children and adults of little critical training the fourth stage involving development of the bearings of these suggestions, follow fantastic associations, emotional desires, and traditional forms, but in the higher reasoning new combinations of objectives, images, and ideas may take place. The final stage leads to further observa-

( 116) -tion, perhaps experimentation, or preliminary trials at the behavior implications of the suggestions, leading to their rejection or acceptance, that is, to the belief or disbelief in the solution. Upon the basis of this belief, action takes place.

As Lund has pointed out, belief exists in the whole range from mere opinion, "hunch," or guess to thoroughly verified scientific knowledge. In this way the conclusion of the reasoning process throws us back at once upon attitudes in which feelings and emotions play a part. The belief of the scientist in his verified observations and experiments is so complete that he manufactures poison gas, constructs railroads and bridges, enacts tax legislation, or evolves a theory of biological evolution with a certainty that can not be gainsaid. The difference between objective, directive associations, then, which leads to abstract, verifiable reasoning, and dereistic, fanciful associations is found in the ultimate applicability of these processes to human conduct. The voodoo doctor may cure patients of fever, but the chances are that he loses a great many in death, while the sanitary engineer and the physician drain swamps, inoculate patients with serums, and control the spread of infection. As we shall see, in the world of social behavior there still persists an enormous amount of belief and behavior which rests upon dereistic associations. The world of social reality is shot through and through with it. Any understanding of the conduct of persons toward their fellows must take into account the persistence of this sort of conceptual associative thinking. Prejudices, crowd actions, public sentiments, the contact of leader with masses, and dozens of other relationships are overlaid with personal-social and cultural factors in which dereistic thinking, past and present, plays an enormous role.


A. Further Reading: Source Book, for Social Psychology, Chapters VI, Section B, pp. 139-43; IX, no. 58, pp. 210-17; XII, Section A, pp. 268-83 and Section C, pp. 286-9o.

B. Questions and Exercises.

1. Discuss questions and exercises in assignment in Source Book, Chapters VI, p. 143, nos- 7-8; IX, p. 217, nos- 5-6; XII, p. 295, nos. 1-7, 9-10.

2. Why is the field of anticipatory internal behavior of significance in the study of social behavior?

3. Illustrate how social-cultural standards determine largely our concept of who is intelligent.


4. Just what does Patrick mean by his statement: "We see things not as they are, but as we are"?

5. Cite cases of faulty memory and testimony of which you know.

6. Illustrate (a) objective and (b) dereistic thinking.

C. Topics for Class Reports and Longer Written Papers.

1. See assignments for reports and longer papers in Source Book, Chapters VI, p. 144, Section B, nos. 1-5, and Section C, nos. 1-3; XII, p. 295, Section C, nos- 3-4.

2. Report Wells, Mental Adjustments, Chapters II, III on dereistic and objective thinking.


  1. W. Stern, Psychological Methods of Testing intelligence, 1914, p. 3. Courtesy of Warwick and York.
  2. L. M. Terman, The Measurement of Intelligence, 1916, p. 45. Used by permission of, and by arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Company.
  3. A. F. Tredgold, Mental Deficiency, 1916 (2nd edition), p. 8. Courtesy of William Wood Company.
  4. A. Binet, The Psychology of Reasoning (3rd ed.), 1912, p. 6. Courtesy of The Open Court Publishing Company.
  5. Quoted by C. E. Seashore in Elementary Experiments in Psychology, 1908, p. 147-48. Courtesy of Henry Holt and Company.
  6. Adapted from W. S. Hunter, General Psychology (1st ed.), p. 33. Copyright by the University of Chicago Press, 1919.
  7. W. M. Marston, "Studies in Testimony," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 1924, vol. XV, pp. 8-10; 10-11.
  8. Adapted from U. M. Whipple "The Obtaining of Information: Psychology of Observation and Report," Psychological Bulletin, 1918, vol. XV, pp. 235-45.
  9. From de reor, away from reality.
  10. As I shall attempt to show in Chapter XVI, the term realistic hardly applies to this sort of thinking alone, since what is real or unreal is more or less dependent on the cultural norms

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