« Stop Me If I’ve Said This Before: coping mechanisms | Main | Fajitas »

October 03, 2020



HA. That's the thing, imaginary characters can *totally* do that, and yes, it sounds all woo-woo and stupid the way most people say it, but yes, I think most of the time it boils down to an internal-consistency who-this-person-is thing: would this person pass the marshmallow test or not? If oh, yeah, they'd be jamming that marshmallow in their mouth as soon as the researcher tells them the conditions, then no, they're unlikely to use/have the self-control to hold back when there's something they want right in front of them... etc.

I mean, there's also that your unconscious brain can surprise your conscious brain with things, too.

But that does sound like you're getting more and more a feel for what's plausible/natural vs. unlikely for characters in your novel, and that is a Good Thing for ending up with something that makes sense out the other side of this process. Congratulations!


KC - I just added the marshmallow-test to the Proust questionnaire.


I find that hilarious (and also oddly gratifying). :-) Although, perhaps, with the Proust questionnaire, it should be a madeleine instead of a marshmallow...

(I would incidentally note that there has been followup research on the marshmallow tests and variants, which I have *no* idea how it got past the ethics boards, that demonstrate that when researchers leave a sheet of stickers with kids, saying "if you don't use these stickers, I'll bring a bunch of sheets for you to use on your art project" and then *fail* to follow through on their promise to bring more stickers and when they come back, oops, time is up, no time for art project, no stickers for you at all... then the kids, next time, *use* the stickers instead of waiting, showing a correctly adaptive response to The Way Things Apparently Work. And I think this is a correctly adaptive response in the marshmallow test, sometimes - if a kid is normally in circumstances such that if you don't grab a thing now, it'll go away, then you *eat the marshmallow* of course, because that's what gets you one marshmallow instead of zero. What the kid has learned to do from their life up until now is, of course, going to be either positively adapted [functional] or maladaptive [not-ideally-functional] depending on what circumstances they get thrown into, but... yeah. It's not that the kid is "not as smart" or "not able to do things even in their own self-interest" - it's that what the kid has been trained on in terms of expectations and reliability/stability - and therefore what *is* the way of optimizing any given situation - turns out to be fundamentally different from the researchers' assumptions. At least in part.)


KC - who was that guy who administered electric shocks? Milgram? Where were the ethics boards there? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment


Ethics boards have been... developing, we'll say... over the last century or so.

Aka: I'm not actually sure that they had to pass psychology research past any ethics boards at that time! I think there were some medical-trials ethics in place, however (including consent). The Stanford Prison experiment is also a really really weird and really really creepy one.

It is also possible that, since there wasn't actually any shocking going on, that modern ethics boards would have cleared Milgram, anyway; I'm not quite clear on what the ethics boards consider to be psychological damage (apparently they were recently still chill with demonstrating that you can teach small children that authority figures can't be trusted to follow through on promises, so... I have no clue).


KC - thank Stanley Milgram for the “six degrees of separation” idea, too. Thanks for the reminder about the prison experiment, I had forgotten that one, and that article drew me toward the Third Wave experiment, and I had never heard of that one before. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave_(experiment)


Yeah, I had heard of it, and apparently Cult Murder Leader Jones tried to get teacher-Jones to spill as to how he had created that environment, but he wouldn't. It's... good... to remember that we need to keep an eye on ourselves and on our environments.


KC - evidently there’s an interesting doc by one of the Third Wave students. Interesting in times of fascism.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)