Understanding modalities

Methods and means of supporting critical thinking in education
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Understanding modalities

Post by vanderpoel » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:16 pm

All education is special. Special education is what is needed for educators,
not students.
Difficulties in communication are often nothing more than a lack of education,
a failure to recognize our various preferences and preferred modalities when we access or represent information.

But we can fix this right now.

- Preferences include hearing, seeing and feeling, but also the often overlooked olfactory, gustatory and intuitive senses.
- We can recognize these preferences by the predicates used, whether you see what I'm saying, hear me or feel me.
- Recognize that preferences (how we access and represent information) are different, yet of the same value.
- Matching predicates helps communication.
- Understanding introverts, extraverts, thinking, feeling, sensing, perceiving or judging types, helps your approach.

Here's an excerpt from my writings elsewhere on the subject:

“If you were actually a thinking type, I would give you honest, frank, logical, reasoned feedback and positive comments, while staying detached. But since you’re more of a feeling type, I would take time to develop rapport, I wouldn’t be so honest and I wouldn’t critique or challenge you. If you were a perceiving type, I would allow much more time before deciding and I wouldn’t draw conclusions when speaking. I would describe situations rather than evaluating them and I’d consider all options, including last minute changes. If you were a judging type, I would decide quickly and negotiate specific deadlines, narrow my focus and options and I wouldn’t make last minute changes.” “What if I were a sensing type?” “I would be practical, provide details, facts and immediate applications, all in a linear presentation and I would not use analogies or deep metaphors. And I’d use words relating to sensory and reallife imagery. But if you were an intuitive type, I would consider far fetched ideas and I’d brainstorm with you. I wouldn’t get bogged down in facts and details and I would let you share your dreams and help you link your ideas to reality.” “What about extraverts?” “I’d let you know that I’m listening and when I’d like to say something, or I might lean forward and feign interest, enthusiasm and above all, I’d keep eye contact. I would remember that extraverts often think out loud, so I wouldn’t have to take them too seriously.” “And introverts?” “Tough Jan, tough. I’d have to think before I speak and respect your privacy. I’d wait for you to take all the time in the world to respond to my questions and I wouldn’t fill in the silence with small talk. Certainly, I wouldn’t be imposing or expect immediate responses and I would provide information ahead of time and summarize and share direction.”

Hope this helps a bit.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:12 am

Thanks for your thoughtful post. It's pretty obvious that you have given a lot of thought to the question of how communication could be improved.

Question:

What evidence is there that teaching a student using methods based on his preferred learning style or modality will result in better learning? Is there any evidence which shows that it doesn't help much?
Last edited by zorba on Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by vanderpoel » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:22 pm

Well, thank you zorba, for the challenge and your questions, and welcome to the forum.

We all seem to have the same questions as evidenced by the numerous posts on each and everyone of yours and yes, some of these posts have links to credible evidence, so I refer you to the index for answers.

Nevertheless, you are doing an excellent job of being a skeptic and I'll accept your challenge to be more of the same.
But not, of course, because of your appeal to authority.

We might narrow this discussion to understanding modalities.
Here is what I stated and I believe it to be evident:

"- Preferences include hearing, seeing and feeling, but also the often overlooked olfactory, gustatory and intuitive senses.
- We can recognize these preferences by the predicates used, whether you see what I'm saying, hear me or feel me.
- Recognize that preferences (how we access and represent information) are different, yet of the same value.
- Matching predicates helps communication.
- Understanding introverts, extraverts, thinking, feeling, sensing, perceiving or judging types, helps your approach."


Please feel free to challenge me on supporting evidence for these statements, but I am not the estate of Isabel Meyers, the MBTI or the National Academy of Sciences, so you might ask them about supporting evidence for their assumptions.

When I come to this forum I leave my credentials at home, it liberates me.
It frees me to share an excerpt from a published book on the subject of advertising and psychographics, where I was careful to say how I would do it.
I said: "Hope this helps a bit."

I could have said: "Hope this helps a bit if anyone out there wants to lecture me on skepticism and challenge my Unified Theory of Advertising." But I didn't.

Mostly because I'm still falsifying it.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:21 am

Vanderpoel,

I appreciated your reply. After reading it, I began to realize that you may have a more balanced understanding of how to make a positive use of this forum than I do. With that thought in mind, I reread your first post and my first post. In retrospect, I felt I could have done a lot better in saying what I was trying to say. I fear that I may have come on too strong and I may have given the impression that I think I know a lot of stuff that you should learn from me. Actually, I probably do know a lot of stuff, and I bet you do too.

"I challenge you ..." Please permit me to rephrase that: To the extent that you find it interesting, useful, and helpful; I invite you to consider some of these questions. The degree of thoroughness and rigor is up to you. Whether or not you want to share what you find or your answers is up to you. I suggest the questions for you to use in whatever way you want for your benefit.

Over the years I have read a lot, investigated, and thought about some of these questions. What I have found may surprise or interest you, but I don't want to start telling you about something that may seem like I'm trying to prove that your way of thinking, believing, and doing things is misinformed, illogical, unscientific, or whatever. The question about modalities is the one I have investigated the least and know the least about. I would like to hear more about what you know about it and why you believe it works. If you are happy with what you are doing, and you find your way of thinking and doing things in education makes sense to you, I don't want to throw a wet blanket on it or lead you to have negative feelings about it. If you would like to know what I have read or learned about some of the questions, you may ask and I will share. If you would like to suggest questions, that would be good too. I don't want to review or debate educational research. No footnotes or bibliography.

I'm a bit of a moderate when it comes to being a skeptic. Because of my background which includes a lot of math, logic, statistics, and psychology, I am somewhat better prepared to evaluate research and evidence than a lot of teachers are. But I'm no expert, and I don't believe that rational or scientific evidence is the only thing we should base our beliefs and practices on. We also need to consider our values, whether the beliefs seem to be leading us in a positive direction, and whether what we do in education is going to be fun and interesting. (I loved Zorba the Greek because it explores questions about "the head vs. the heart.")

We would like to have our beliefs and practices verified by research, but I have discovered that a lot of the research in education and psychology doesn't prove very much one way or the other. It often leads to the conclusion that "We could find no evidence that [whatever] is true (or that it works.)" That's not the same as saying that they proved something is not true or that it doesn't work. So after examining the evidence, we often realize that we still don't know for sure. In the midst of our uncertainty, we still have to get up and go to school tomorrow and teach our students whether we know the best way or not. Sometimes truth is "Doing the best you can do;" "Whatever helps you make it through the night;" or "First, do no harm." Sometimes, " I did it that way because it seemed like a good idea at the time, " was the best I could come up with. Oh yeah, I've just winged it a time or two.

I like it when an author slaps me upside of the head to get my attention and then helps me see something from a new perspective.

Some books I have read recently: Michael Shermer's new book, The Believing Brain; The Invisible Gorilla (psy. research about perception); Hollow Kids: ... the Self-Esteem Myth by Laura L. Smith Ph.D. and Charles Elliott (Aug 7, 2001) (Well researched and balanced answers to the questions about self esteem.)

Some books I'm planning to read: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins; and 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology

I'm still trying to learn that brevity is the essence of eloquence.
In a study which was recently completed at the University of Chicago, scientists concluded that 54% of all statistics are just made up.

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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by vanderpoel » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:06 am

Hey Zorba, thank you for your reply. I will definitely choose some topics that we both seem to be interested in and pick this up.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by vanderpoel » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:29 pm

"When you put a toucan on a monkey’s ass, don’t be fooled by the brightly colored plumage, beware of the enormous bill!"

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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:29 am

Vanderpoel,

Lots of good stuff in those posts. Good advice for speakers.

Some questions about your first post:

I was first exposed to these ideas about 20 years ago when I was a math teacher. I had always been told that teaching by the lecture method was the least effective method for most students. I tried many different ways to do math lessons. Sometimes I didn't try to teach math, just to have fun and build a connection with the students.

In your example, you are teaching each student using a method customized for him/her. But the reality in my classroom was "to cover the material" with 33 students during a 50 minute class which left 35 to 40 minutes teaching time after book keeping and other house keeping chores. I tried variations in presenting lessons, but if I wanted to present all of the math topics I was required to present in 180 lessons, I had to spend most of my time demonstrating how to work math problems. I could do it on a blackboard, on an overhead, in a video, or let them read and discuss examples in a book. But the only way the students were going to be evaluated (on ACT or SAT or achievement tests, for example) was on their ability to work math problems.

But what I always came back to, and what the students preferred most, was "chalk and talk" on the blackboard, the same way it has been done for 100's of years. And with the same results. At the end of the school year, most of the students had passed most of my math tests with a fairly decent grade. But really, a maximum of 10 to 20% of the students had a good understanding of the concepts which I taught. And I was considered by many to be one of the best math teachers. What do you suggest in a situation like that other than silence, suicide, or rebellion?

Another question: Much of your first post consisted of how to respond to people's type preferences as specified by the MBTI. It is common practice for teachers and parents to try to influence the degree or strength of a preference. For instance, a parent or teacher may try to encourage an introvert to get more involved in group activities. (We hope that these well meaning people do not inadvertently send the message that there is something wrong with being an introvert.) The parents or teacher might try to gradually introduce the introvert into more group activities, in a safe, non-threatening (we hope) situation. We might also try to teach the introvert social skills like how to carry on small talk. I'm pretty sure that such efforts will not result in changing an introvert into an extrovert, but could it help them learn to function more comfortably in a group? You can't really change the preference, and you probably shouldn't want to. But couldn't helping an introvert sometimes act in ways that are similar to an extravert broaden his range of choices and reduce his social anxiety?

Similar situations might occur when a math teacher tries to encourage a feeling type student to learn logical thinking skills better and to use them more often. Therapists often try to encourage thinking type clients to express their feelings more often and with more overt display of emotion. Again, we don't want to convey the message that there is something wrong with being emotionally reserved, but it might give the T-man some of the skills he needs to communicate better with his wife and children. Are such attempts doomed to failure? Obviously, after attempts to teach him to express his feelings, he will still be a T-man. But is it possible for him to make much progress toward acting contrary to his preference? Are there good methods for at least making an attempt to help someone to learn to behave in a way that is incompatible with their inborn preference? (I am aware of cases where exceptionally motivated and unusually flexible people have made remarkable levels of change, often through their own efforts with little help. But is much change possible for most people?)

One more question. I have read of research which supposedly shows that teaching according to a child's preferred modality doesn't help much over the long run. I haven't seen or examined the evidence, but I have read that there is a lot of research demonstrating that hypothesis, especially with regard to sensory modes ( focusing on mostly auditory and visual modes.) Supposedly, according to such research, catering to a child's auditory preference might not give him the opportunity and encouragement to learn to use his visual mode better. The researchers apparently believed that students with a preference for the auditory mode were capable of improving their ability to use other modes, if you gave them help and the opportunity.

The reality of public school and most college classes is that almost all students need to be able to learn efficiently in both auditory and visual modes. Have you heard of that approach? What do you think? I hope it is not just a glorified version of "sink or swim."
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by vanderpoel » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:54 am

Thank you Zorba. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a pseudo science, primarily because it is based on observations from the practice of Dr. Milton Erickson by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, and their conclusions about these observations that were never falsified and from which they later backed off. Read: "Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, Volumes I & II"

As an instrument of psychotherapy it is unreliable because it depends on the skill of the psychiatrist for it's effectiveness and as a tool for hypnotherapy it's results depend on the expertise of the hypnotist.

But for an adman like myself, various aspects have been effective advertising tools for the last 30 years. Bandler and Grinder claimed that NLP was a therapeutic method, I don't know about that, maybe in the hands of the few, but it was certainly a study of communication, and by the late 1970s Grinder and Bandler were marketing it as a business tool.

I've developed my own cocktail of traditional methods of change, with selling the absence of information, a method of using deliberately imprecise language to affect buying decisions at an unconscious or somatic level rather than a cognitive level.

And while it is very unscientific to advance theories without falsification, it has not stopped megabucks in support of the practice in advertising. Now we're data-mining social network sites, we can target people on psychological common denominators, such as preferences, but also by psychological type. Whether you are an extravert, introvert, sensing, intuitive, thinking, feeling, perspective or judging type, plays a role in how I advertise to you. I can reverse engineer your type by knowing the behavior and then advertise to how you perceive and decide.

Understanding how advertisers use psychographics to influence behavior may be of use in education, so we know how we are manipulated in the media, our religious institutions, our armed services and in politics.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:24 am

vanderpoel,

Thanks for your answers and comments. I have been certified and licensed as a hypnotherapist, and I agree that the effects of hypnosis are highly dependent on the skill of the hypnotist and how good a subject he is working with.

I have often believed that if anyone really wants to understand the nuts and bolts of psychology, he should listen to people who create advertisements.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Wed Aug 17, 2011 6:49 pm

Vanderpoel wrote:

All people are logically following their preferences, even though they may not be in the area what we would call logic. For instance, they may arrive at conclusions or make decisions that solve problems intuitively, whereas logical reasoning and scientific evidence may not. What is effective may not be falsifiable or logical, but we have to respect it when it is solving a problem.


Vanderpoel, you are preaching to the choir. In several previous posts and in other threads, you have mistakenly assumed that I think one personality preference, type, or style is better than another. I have a pretty good understanding of Jungian and MB theories of personality types, and I know that a basic principle in those theories (and in almost all personality theories) is that one personality type, preference, or style is not better than another. To me, it is inappropriate and just plain dumb to think that someone with a personality preference or style should have a different preference or style.

"All people are logically following their preferences.." I generally agree with what you are saying here, in that given a person's personal history, values, beliefs, personality preferences, and current knowledge; that person's behavior, beliefs, and feelings generally make sense. Within that set of givens, their behavior is often efficient, compatible with their feelings and values, and conducive to good results.

I value both intuitive reasoning styles and conscious logical reasoning, and I recognize that both approaches are capable of leading to conclusions which are logical, practical, useful, and efficient in solving problems. I do respect and appreciate the large variety of ways in which people figure things out and solve problems in ways which are consistent with their preferences. I don't assume that conscious logical reasoning is the best method for every person or for every situation.

But it's also true that both thinking modes (as well as the modalities of thinking and feeling types) sometimes result in non-logical (or illogical) conclusions, conclusions which are contrary to demonstrable facts, and behavior which leads to problems in people's lives. The fact that a person's behavior, beliefs, and decisions are consistent with his/her preferences does not imply that it is logical, or that it is advantageous in that person's life. Some things that people do and believe within the context of their preferences don't work for them (or don't work as well as some other alternatives might.) This is true even when "advantageous" is evaluated from the POV of the person's values and preferences. Helping people to become more aware of how their current ways of thinking and behaving leads to problems in their lives is a major part of what therapists do. That's why Dr. Phil frequently asks, "And how is that working for you?"

Vanderpoel wrote:

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a pseudo science,


Are you under the impression that something I am saying is related to or derived from NLP, or are those comments directed to previous posts related to advertising which you have shared?
Last edited by zorba on Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by rickoshay85 » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:21 pm

Difficulties in communication are often nothing more than a lack of education,
a failure to recognize our various preferences and preferred modalities when we access or represent information. >>

An effective teacher can always find ways to get student's wandering attention, the most important part of the learning process.

The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth. W. Somerset Maugham
What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is WHAT WE DO. John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:38 am

vanderpoel,

You and I are are talking from different theoretical perspectives. We can't resolve major differences in personality theories in this forum. Sometimes in the interest of brevity, I have not defined all of my terms carefully or described my views in sufficient detail to help you understand where I am coming from. Sometimes I am trying to synthesize so many ideas from so many sources and perspectives, that my views have not gelled into a coherent and consistent theory. Sometimes I'm still at the level of of walking along the beach and picking up a shell and comparing it to other shells I have seen and examining it from several different perspectives.

You seem to be coming from a perspective derived from Jungian and Meyers Briggs personality theories. I am well read in that theory, and I have a good understanding of it (though not perhaps your variation or evolved understanding of it.) The Jungian and MB theories are among the most popular and the MBTI is the most widely used personality test. I have examined the theory, and found it to be less useful than other perspectives. I, and many personality theorists, find the use of binary or dichotomous preferences and 16 personality types to be a poor model for explaining many known facts and observations about how people think, learn, and behave. You seem pretty firmly committed to the use of this type theory, and I don't think it is worth while to debate it.

I believe you have often misunderstood my positions and my perspective. Part of that, I believe, is probably the result of my inability to communicate my ideas with clarity and thoroughness through this kind of forum. I will not speculate on other possible causes for that misunderstanding.

I will make one last attempt at addressing some of your comments.

V: "Preferences are biases in the nervous system, they are innate. It's instinctual and logical for us to follow them, even though the results may not be to our advantage at times."

Z: The belief that preferences are innate and instinctual (and thereby logical) is derived from Jungian theory. It has never been proved or disproved. I don't use those concepts or think in those terms. I sometimes refer to personality styles which have less rigidly defined boundaries than types, and which allows for the possibility of a greater degree of change than the types and preferences which you refer to.

V: "only 10% of us are intuitive types, although all of us use it. Intuitive processes are therefore not efficient for most people"

Z: The intuitive (N) preference is defined and described by the authors of the MBTI and by Jung in a way that is different from the way the term "intuitive" is used in common every day usage and it differs from the definition which is currently used by most research psychologists. Literature from the company which publishes MBTI emphasizes this distinction. Your quote about "10% intuitive types" apparently refers to a MB concept of intuition and has no relevance to anything I have said about intuition. I admit I was being sloppy by writing about intuition without carefully explaining and defining what I was talking about.

The most common definition I have seen used by psychologists is pretty close to some dictionary definitions. I hope I am being accurate by paraphrasing it as "A thinking or reasoning process in which the thinker is not consciously aware of the steps and processes involved." This concept does not imply that intuitive reasoning is non-logical or that it in any way is contradictory to logical processes. It does not imply that it is better or inferior than other kinds of reasoning. In fact, some times intuition seems to carefully following logical steps to give logical solutions. According to current views I have read, both the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere use logical reasoning and intuitive processes.

A current theory among cognitive psychologists about intuitive reasoning is that it is the efficient use of heuristic algorithms (which are kind of like rules of thumb) which usually get correct or "good enough" solutions. Evolutionary psychologists speculate that this kind of thinking evolved to work well for prehistoric hunters and gatherers. You are correct in believing that these kinds of "rules of thumb" often result in the use of categories which are similar to stereotypes. Researchers use different terms like "templates" or "models" to describe these categories.

It would be inaccurate and unfair to characterize anything I have said to be equivalent to advocating the use of stereotyping or profiling. The cognitive theories I have read about intuition are an attempt to describe some of the methods used by the brain to implement intuitive reasoning. According to these theories, each person develops and uses his own set of categories, and those categories are influenced by cultural categories. According to this theory, everyone uses intuitive processes which involve the use of models or templates; that's just the way the human brain works. And yes, that has often resulted in the development of undesirable stereotypes.

V: "Equating personality type with innate preferences is good, proposing that the way we access information dictates the way we think is a stretch. "

Z: You are right; I was being sloppy when I started mixing together Feeling Types with preferences in thinking and cognitive processes without providing more theoretical background, definitions, and explanations. As you know, there are quite a few different books which have been written about the interpretation and meaning of the MB types and preferences. Some of the ones I have read describe the thinking type as one which uses and values conscious logical reasoning more often than feeling types, and describe feeling types as typically using different thinking styles related to different goals and values. I realize that it is not as simple as that.

V: "Wait a minute, this sounds like the kind of chauvinism that has no place on this forum. Not all women are from Venus and not all men are from Mars. "

Z: Aw, gimme a break, V. You are the one who introduced the " feeling woman" in your first post in another thread and you are the one who introduced the statistic that 70% of women are feeling types. I never suggested that all women were feeling types; you are introducing "straw man" and "red herring" stuff here. I used your statistics to infer that 40 something percent of hetero relationships involve a feeling woman and a thinking man. Your Mars-Venus comments are irrelevant to anything I have said. I am aware that recent research has shown that men and women don't have distinctive cognitive styles and I have not suggested that they do.

It has been frequently observed that F and T types (regardless of of gender) frequently communicate on different wave lengths and often have problems understanding each other. Counselors who use MB theories have often noticed that it causes problems in marriages. Therapists and counselors have often observed that the use of most of the cognitive distortions in thinking commonly occurs in both genders as well as with both F and T types. It has nothing to do with chauvinism. Perhaps if I would have chosen an example of a feeling man and thinking woman, I would have provided you with less ammunition to shoot at your straw man.

Before I saw your most recent post, I rewrote my examples about men and women in FWTM marriages. As I reread them and tried to rewrite them, I decided that my examples did not accurately convey what I was trying to say. (My rewrite did include a lot more about the problems caused by the failures of thinking men to understand feeling women.) Then I decided to delete them and not use them because my posts were getting too long and the examples seemed irrelevant and didn't convey my point well. I feel no need to defend the examples or to comment on them further.

V: "No, they don't choose preferences depending on the situation, they use their preferences in order. That's why we call them preferences. Based on the consistent use of the preferences we ascribe a type to them"

Z: "I have never said that people choose preferences based on the situation. I, along with many therapists and researchers, (including some who use MB theory) have frequently observed that as many people mature, they often choose to learn behaviors which are generally considered to be incompatible with one or more of their preferences. Sometimes they get pretty proficient at it, and the new behavior becomes a tool in their toolbox which they sometimes choose to use in some situations. A very common example is introverts learning to function comfortably and fairly proficiently in group situations with pretty good group social skills.

This is a widely known and accepted observation among many theorists, therapists and educators who are advocates and users of MB type theory and the MBTI. It is such a common observation that you are one of the few advocates of the theory whom I have ever heard dispute it. Most MB theorists do not believe that preferences rigidly constrain behavior nor do most of the ones I have read or talked to believe that preferences preclude the learning of new and different behavior by motivated and persevering individuals. MB theorists do generally predict that in stressful situations a person will usually default to behavior that is consistent with their originally measured preferences. The fact that people sometimes behave outside of their preference boundaries in no way contradicts or undermines any of the fundamental assumptions or principles of Jungian theory. I don't understand why you bother to dispute it.

It's difficult to prove or disprove that people learn behavior outside of their preferences because it is common for clients to have one or more preferences reclassified when they retake the MBTI after a period of years has passed since the first test. (The E and I type designation is usually pretty stable and reliable.)

But like I said before, this forum is not a place in which we can resolve differences between theories.

I have enjoyed reading your posts. They are well thought out and are often witty and funny. I recognize that you are a very intelligent professional who has had a lot of experience in the use of the MB theory and the MBTI. I think you have good reasons given your experience and background to believe what you believe It seems reasonable for me to believe that the use of MB type theory has helped you to successfully develop ads targeted at certain groups and subgroups. To me, that seems like an intelligent, efficient, and effective use of the theory.

But we have gotten hung up on discussions related to personality theories, and I don't think it's likely that we will be able to resolve our differences and be able to have amiable discussions which are of interest to other members of the forum. I take responsibility for getting off on the wrong foot with you by writing a poorly worded, awkward, and inappropriate first post. I propose that we agree to bring this discussion to an end. I will restrict my future responses to your posts to brief comments of congratulations for your insightful and witty posts. They really are very good, and I find very little in them which I disagree with.
Last edited by zorba on Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by rickoshay85 » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:21 am

I will restrict my future responses to your posts to brief comments of congratulations for your insightful and witty posts. They really are very good, and I find very little in them which I disagree with.>>

You do what you must, I'll do what I must. We both seem to have good instincts, but approach topics from different angles. You as a well-read academic, I as an observant pragmatist with a background of engineering and a variety of different jobs over the years. Add those to a revealing weekend of est back in the seventies and you pretty much have the complete package.

The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth. W. Somerset Maugham.
What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is WHAT WE DO. John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by vanderpoel » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:32 am

zorba wrote:Z: Aw, gimme a break, V. You are the one who introduced the " feeling woman" in your first post in another thread and you are the one who introduced the statistic that 70% of women are feeling types.

That's news to me, I doubt that I said it, but if you can show me where I said such nonsense, I would be glad to take it back.

In general, I'm not sure what the disconnect in our conversation is, maybe I can shed some light on the obvious one. You seem to insist that I am supporting the theories of Isabel Meyers. I'm not.
For type, I follow Walter Lowen's model of the mind. (Dichotomies of the Mind).
Lowen does not look at mental abilities as types, but as capacities. Each capacity allows us to do one thing that is important to consciousness. We use all 16 capacities as adults, but as children we had to develop each capacity in sequence, which explains the constantly shifting focus and increasing abilities of the growing child. We can read these capacities as 16 stages that we go through to develop the characteristics that define us.

Since we're talking about psychological preferences as how you become aware, how you focus, perceive, judge and orientate yourself, it is not helpful to limit the discussion to feeling and thinking types. I have clearly expressed the purpose of my post as an effort to broaden our understanding of type and to be inclusive of all types, capacities and preferences.

Curiously, the study of type is compartmentalized to data and observations, without much understanding of how to communicate with type through the use of matching predicates with preferences. Many of the things you have stated about MBTI and other studies may be true, but you and I might focus on a more narrow scope of issues, such as the benefits of understanding and using preferences to communicate.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:22 am

Thanks for explaining that you are using Walter Lowen's theory. I will try to look into it and try to learn more about it. Like you, I am also interested in many aspects of personality besides feeling and thinking. One trait which I have studied recently is conscientiousness.

You are right. I mistakenly assumed that you were talking about MB theory. It sure sounded like it to me. My mistaken assumptions combined with some of my vague writing (parts of which were ambiguous and used poorly defined or undefined terms) were definitely the major causes of the misunderstandings. In fact, I am willing to concede that it is quite possible that I alone bear the entire responsibility for the misunderstandings. I apologize. I hope I have not caused you to feel upset, and I hope that the incident does not leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Obviously, I need to learn more about Lowen's theory before commenting on it. I would still prefer to drop our muddled discussion of personality theory and personality types.
In a study which was recently completed at the University of Chicago, scientists concluded that 54% of all statistics are just made up.

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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by vanderpoel » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:09 pm

Nah, no harm done, we'll share the blame if need be. But you might stop apologizing, your posts are well written and extremely polite. That is not much of a surprise since I deduct from your overwhelming use of feeling predicates and your judgments in terms of good or bad, instead of right or wrong, that you might be a feeling type. For feeling types, any criticism is hard to swallow and for our conversations to be fruitful I may have to limit my terse comments for the other types on this forum.

Susan Scanlon used to have a publication in the 80's that was called "The Type Reporter" in which she explained Walter Lowen's Model of the Mind. I don't know if that publication still exists, but regardless, I want to make it clear that Lowen's model is a hypothesis. He's trying to combine neuroscience and psychological type, two bodies of knowledge that have never been researched together.

Lowen's hypothesis is that the cerebral cortex has four levels, each responsible for a different part of the body. He recognizes gross motor skills, fine motor skills, verbal skills and intellectual skills, while one level is dominant, causing the personality to be skillful with a certain part of the body corresponding to type. Lowe also hypothesized that the characteristics we call extraversion come from the front of the brain, and the characteristics we call introversion come from the back of the brain.

In other words, the front of the brain is responsible for action on internal needs, while the back of the brain is responsible for reflection on the external world. Based on this theory, he "located" the 16 capacities, with the four main functions of: identification, pattern recognition, contrast recognition and the gestalt. There are some similarities between MB type indicators and Lowen's descriptions, but they are arrived at differently.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:40 pm

vanderpoel,

Thanks for your conciliatory remarks and expressions of good will. They are most appreciated. Thanks for sharing some of your ideas about Lowen's theories. I suspect that if we were to meet in person, we would find much to agree upon, and we could each share some pretty interesting stories and experiences.

Some of your speculations about me are astute and pretty accurate. I am not yet well adapted to the rough and tumble environment of this type of forum where many posts are of the "hit and run" variety. I prefer genuine dialog among well informed people who are more interested in working together than in winning arguments. And I do wish to avoid putting anyone down for their beliefs and theories.

You are probably correct in suggesting that I may be apologizing too much. My comments about my sloppy writing were exaggerated, and many of my comments which referred to dichotomous type theories and Jungian types are still relevant.

In my previous post, I was kicking myself for not knowing Lowen's theory because I usually try to avoid the "shoot first and ask questions later" approach. That was premature. After checking some of my previous work, I remembered that I read and studied Lowen's theory a few years ago when I was involved in a project comparing type theories. But I have read a lot of theories over the years, and I had forgotten his name.

I do remember enough about it to say that Lowen's theory is brilliant and insightful. His theory has much more logical coherence than most; and his attempt to relate personality types to brain structures is innovative, impressive, and promising. The connection to brain structures addresses a major shortcoming of trait theories and other type theories.

But I do not wish to rehash or to continue the discussions, nor am I trying to retract my apology. I do feel that I went overboard in some areas, and I still believe that, mostly due to my mistakes, the discussions were not headed in a positive direction.

Some general observations about personality theories:

All of the major theories have a lot of advocates and fans, but no theory has currently emerged as a dominant theory which most psychologists support or agree upon. For many theories, there is some evidence which supports parts of the theory. All of the theories contain parts which are unproved. All of the theories rest on assumptions, some of which are unproved and/or unprovable. Most of the major theories contain some useful insights, and are helpful in some areas. In general, the theories based on traits share many of the same strengths and limitations. The same can be said about theories based on types.

All of the theories have weaknesses in some areas and all are vulnerable to criticisms that parts of the theory are unsupported by evidence. As a result, it's pretty easy to take pot shots, find weaknesses, point out flaws, and criticize when we look at the other guy's theory. That is a legitimate part of the scientific method. But it's difficult to offer a better alternative theory which can be proved.

A dyed in the wool skeptic could find reasons to reject all of the current personality theories. But a lot of people are trying to make a living or to accomplish something worthwhile which requires the use of a serviceable and usable theory. They must rummage through their boxes and trunks of imperfect and partly unproved theories, pick one which seems likely to be useful, and figure out a way to make it work in their situation. You have apparently been successful in doing that.
In a study which was recently completed at the University of Chicago, scientists concluded that 54% of all statistics are just made up.

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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by vanderpoel » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:04 pm

I want to be successful sharing what I know about advertising and strategies for change. Hopefully, it is of value as a deterrent to gullibility about their use in the hands of the media, the preachers and the politicians. I actually wrote a book about it during the time that I was so sorely missed on this forum. Since this forum is my guilty pleasure, I don't want to trumpet a link to where I dine, but I'm sure you can find your way to Amazon on your own. In the meantime, I'm not forwarding any theories here in a scientific manner, but I've found that I've been successfully selling the absence of information for years.

There is some reward in studying type and psychology at a university level, but simply following the money lands you in the realm of psychographics and the dirty tricks departments of the best ad agencies. Does it work? Like I said, follow the money, we're way deeper involved in data mining social network sites than anybody expects. Most business owners will tell you that half of your advertising budget is wasted, but that they don't know which half until they understand these strategies.

The problem that scientists have with ideas is that they need to be falsified.
Advertisers don't have that limitation, they need to be monetized. The burden of proof is the bottom line, a much lower threshold to be sure, but a better incentive for investing in behavioral research than, for instance, the study of engrams in rats.

Scientific falsification of ideas is but one of the various methods by which we gather wisdom and insight. Flying without a net is a high-wire act but it can get you to the other side. Leif Ericson didn't sail to Newfoundland knowing that the earth was round either and yet his profound paddling, spirited decision making, and entrepreneurial instincts and influence can be seen today in the likes of BigTim and in the Northern regions of Canada where bearded guys with Nordic names like Gord hang out.
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Re: Understanding modalities

Post by zorba » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:12 am

vanderpoel:

Excellent post. I study theories and many other things because I am driven by curiosity and a desire to understand. Often the money seems to come along for the ride without having to focus on it. If not, I have other ways to make money. I am at a point where I can focus most of my energy on understanding without being affiliated with an institution.

I am capable of following the money and seeking understanding. That's what I meant in the last paragraph of my previous post. Even if our theories and knowledge don't fully meet our criteria for truth or our need for certainty, at some point we must act. So we seize an idea and run with it. It may not be completely true, but we figure out a way to make it work for us.

vanderpoel wrote: Flying without a net is a high-wire act but it can get you to the other side.


I agree. I have not limited myself to academic pursuits. In the past, I was involved in planning and conducting evaluation and training programs (non military) which placed individuals and/or small groups into novel, stressful, sometimes risky, and challenging situations. Sometimes we pushed the trainees to their physical and emotional limits. We used few pencil and paper questionnaires or tests, but I did interview each trainee (or client) in depth 3 or more times. Our programs yielded a pass or fail recommendation and a subjective evaluation. We were guided by intuitive and subjective ideas and observations, but we did not refer to any established theories. Great fun.
In a study which was recently completed at the University of Chicago, scientists concluded that 54% of all statistics are just made up.