Prof. Rainer Mausfeld – Neoliberal indoctrination: Why do the lambs remain silent?

www.uni-kiel.de/psychologie/mausfeld/
Mausfeld_Why do the lambs remain silent_2015
Mausfeld focuses on perceptual psychology and also works on the theoretical foundations of experimental psychology and the psychology of understanding. He also deals with the rivalry of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience in cognitive science. Another area of interest is the history of ideas in the natural sciences. He sees a major problem of the relationship between psychology and biology in neurological neo-reductionism. In contrast to biologistic approaches, he sees the peculiarity of the spiritual, inter alia, in the intrinsic multiperspectivity of the mind.
Mausfeld points out that knowledge of neural circuitry and activity is not enough to explain consciousness and thought processes. Not even the behavior of nematodes can be deduced from the activity of their 302 neurons. According to Mausfeld’s view, the relationship between nature and mind must be below the neural level in the sphere of physics. Evidence is given by the fact that nature is actually more enigmatic to us than our consciousness in itself. In modern physics it has become clear that the physical does not have the properties of matter ascribed to it. Mausfeld sees the special aspect of consciousness in the simplicity and wholeness of the subjective experience, which, however, reveals itself to the psychologist as a complex interaction of unconscious factors. The intrinsic multiperspectivity of thinking, which first opens up the possibilities for thought and action alternatives to humans after mouse field, results from the complex interplay of the most varied of factors.
White torture and responsibility of science
In his work, Mausfeld illustrates the role of psychologists in the development, application and justification of modern white torture methods. These goals are not, as claimed, the extraction of information, but rather breaking the will, disciplining, humiliating and shaming the victims. In his account, an American Psychological Association (APA) working group to investigate the involvement of psychologists acting on behalf of the Defense Secretary. Mausfeld uses the example of torture research to define ethical and legal principles and limits of scientific work. He regards the observance of human rights as fully binding.

Mausfeld, R.. (2009). Psychology , ’ white torture ’ and the responsibility of scientists. Psychologische Rundschau

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1186/s12882-018-0886-5
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Mausfeld, R.. (2009). Psychologie, weiße folter’ und die verantwortlichkeit von wissenschaftlern. Psychologische Rundschau

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1026/0033-3042.60.4.229
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Cognitive techniques

According to Mausfeld, the cognitive ones are more important than the affective techniques, since opinions are more stable than emotions. Here Mausfeld examines the following methods:

  • Representation of facts as opinion
  • Fragmenting coherent facts so that the context, such as the historical context, is lost
  • Decontextualization of facts: The context of the facts is removed, so that the facts become incomprehensible isolated individual cases, which have no general relevance
  • Misleading recontextualization: Information is embedded in a foreign context, so that they take on a different character and, for example, no longer lead to outrage in human rights violations.
  • Repetition supports the “perceived truth”
  • Designing the range of opinions so that the desired seems to be in the middle, which most people strive for, if they are unfamiliar, because they then keep to the middle seein it as “neutral and balanced”
  • Making facts invisible through media selection, distraction and attention control
  • “Meta-propaganda”: It is part of every propaganda to claim that the news of the enemy is wrong because it is propaganda

The development of more efficient manipulation techniques rests on identifying psychological “weak spots” – those intrinsic design aspects of our mind and principles of human information processing that can be exploited for manipulation purposes. Most importantly, such principles are, by the very nature of our cognitive architecture, beyond conscious control. (…) Our mind has many hard-wired weaknesses that can be exploited for manipulative purposes, that facilitate our utilitarian abuse by the political and economic elites for maintaining and expanding their power. However, we also innately dispose of a rich repertoire of ways to use our reasoning capabilities to recognize manipulative contexts and to actively avoid them. This repertoire is akin to a natural cognitive immune system against being manipulated, but we have to take the deliberate decision to actually use it.


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Further References

Mausfeld, R.. (2012). On some unwarranted tacit assumptions in cognitive neuroscience. Frontiers in Psychology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00067
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Mausfeld, R., & Heyer, D.. (2012). Colour Perception: Mind and the physical world. Colour Perception: Mind and the Physical World

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198505006.001.0001
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Mausfeld, R.. (2005). The Physicalistic Trap in Perception Theory. In Perception and the Physical World

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1002/0470013427.ch4
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Mausfeld, R.. (2012). Der Schein des Realen.. Näher Dran? Zur Phänomenologie Des Wahrnehmens
Mausfeld, R.. (2009). Psychologie, weiße folter’ und die verantwortlichkeit von wissenschaftlern. Psychologische Rundschau

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1026/0033-3042.60.4.229
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Wendt, G., Faul, F., & Mausfeld, R.. (2008). Highlight disparity contributes to the authenticity and strength of perceived glossiness. Journal of Vision

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1167/8.1.14
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Mausfeld, R.. (2010). Psychologie, biologie, kognitive neurowissenschaften zur gegenwärtigen dominanz neuroreduktionistischer positionen zu ihren stillschweigenden grundannahmen. Psychologische Rundschau

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1026/0033-3042/a000045
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Heyer, D., & Mausfeld, R.. (2002). Perception and the physical world: psychological and philosophical issues in perception. Perception
Narens, L., & Mausfeld, R.. (1992). On the Relationship of the Psychological and the Physical in Psychophysics. Psychological Review

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.99.3.467
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Mausfeld, R.. (2012). “Colour” As Part of the Format of Different Perceptual Primitives: The Dual Coding of Colour. In Colour Perception: Mind and the Physical World

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198505006.003.0013
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Mausfeld, R.. (2013). The Attribute of Realness and the Internal Organization of Perceptual Reality. In Handbook of Experimental Phenomenology: Visual Perception of Shape, Space and Appearance

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1002/9781118329016.ch3
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Mausfeld, R.. (2001). What’s within? Can the internal structure of perception be derived from regularities of the external world?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X01530083
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Mausfeld, R., & Andres, J.. (2002). Second-order statistics of colour codes modulate transformations that effectuate varying degrees of scene invariance and illumination invariance. Perception

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1068/p07sp
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Mausfeld, R.. (2006). Wahrnehmung: Geschichte und Ansätze. In Handbuch der Allgemeinen Psychologie – Kognition

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2008.07177.x
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Mausfeld, R.. (2010). Intrinsic multiperspectivity: On the architectural foundations of a distinctive mental capacity. In Cognition and Neuropsychology: International Perspectives on Psychological Science

Plain numerical DOI: 10.4324/9780203845820
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Mausfeld, R.. (2013). The Biological Function of Sensory Systems. In Neurosciences – From Molecule to Behavior: a university textbook

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-10769-6_12
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Andres, J., & Mausfeld, R.. (2008). Structural description and qualitative content in perception theory. Consciousness and Cognition

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2006.11.005
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Mausfeld, R., Wendt, G., & Golz, J.. (2014). Lustrous material Appearances: Internal and external constraints on triggering conditions for binocular lustre. I-Perception

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1068/i0603
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Supernormal stimuli

A supernormal stimulus or superstimulus is an exaggerated version of a stimulus to which there is an existing response tendency, or any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved.

For example, when it comes to eggs, a bird can be made to prefer the artificial versions to their own,[1] and humans can be similarly exploited by junk food.[2] The idea is that the elicited behaviours evolved for the “normal” stimuli of the ancestor’s natural environment, but the behaviours are now hijacked by the supernormal stimulus.

British academic Nigel Spivey demonstrates the effect in the first episode of the 2005 BBC documentary series How Art Made the World to illustrate neuroscientist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran‘s speculation that this might be the reason for the grossly exaggerated body image demonstrated in works of art from the Venus of Willendorf right up to the present day.

In biology

In the 1950s, Konrad Lorenz observed that birds would select brooding eggs that resembled those of their own species but which were larger, and Niko Tinbergen, following his extensive analysis of the stimulus features that elicited food-begging in the chick of the herring gull, constructed an artificial stimulus consisting of a red knitting needle with three white bands painted around it; this elicited a stronger response than an accurate three-dimensional model of the parent’s head (white) and bill (yellow with a red spot).[3]

Tinbergen and his students studied other variations of this effect. He experimented with dummy plaster eggs of various sizes and markings finding that most birds preferred ones with more exaggerated markings than their own, more saturated versions of their color, and a larger size than their own. Small songbirds which laid light blue grey-dappled eggs preferred to sit on a bright blue black polka-dotted dummy so large they slid off repeatedly. Territorial male stickleback fish would attack wooden floats with red undersides—attacking them more vigorously than invading male sticklebacks if the underside were redder.[1]

Lorenz and Tinbergen accounted for the supernormal stimulus effect in terms of the concept of the innate releasing mechanism; however this concept is no longer widely used.[citation needed] The core observation that simple features of stimuli may be sufficient to trigger a complex response remains valid, however.

In 1979, the term supernormal stimulus was used by Richard Dawkins and John Krebs to refer to the exaggeration of pre-existing signs induced by social parasites, noting the manipulation of baby birds (hosts) from these, to illustrate the effectiveness of those signals.[4]

In 1983, entomologists Darryl Gwynne and David Rentz reported on the beetle Julodimorpha bakewelli attempting to copulate with discarded brown stubbies (a type of beer bottles) studded with tubercules (flattened glass beads).[5] This work won them the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize in biology.[6]

Another example of this is the study made by Mauck and colleagues, where they evaluated the effects of a plant pathogen named cucumber mosaic virus or CMV. This study showed that the aphids preferred the healthy plants but are still attracted by the infected plants, because of the manipulation of volatile compounds used by plants to attract them.[7]

Manipulation by parasites

In 2001, Holen et al., analyzed the evolutionary stability of hosts manipulation through exaggerated signals. Their model indicated that intensity of parasitic signals must be below a threshold to ensure acceptance from host. This threshold depends directly on the range of parasitism.[8]

For them, the only evolutionary stable strategy is when the host accepts all signs of the parasite with optimal intensity, which must be below the threshold; if this is not the case, the host can use these signals to identify the parasite.[8]

In psychology

Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett argues that supernormal stimulation govern the behavior of humans as powerfully as that of other animals. In her 2010 book, Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose,[9] she examines the impact of supernormal stimuli on the diversion of impulses for nurturing, sexuality, romance, territoriality, defense, and the entertainment industry’s hijacking of our social instincts. In the earlier book, Waistland,[2] she explains junk food as an exaggerated stimulus to cravings for salt, sugar, and fats and television as an exaggeration of social cues of laughter, smiling faces and attention-grabbing action. Modern artifacts may activate instinctive responses which evolved prior to the modern world, where breast development was a sign of health and fertility in a prospective mate, and fat was a rare and vital nutrient.

In a cross-cultural study, Doyle and Pazhoohi showed that surgically augmented breasts are supernormal stimuli, and they are more attractive than natural breasts, regardless of their size.[10] Also in a theoretical paper, Doyle proposed that how women walk creates supernormal stimuli through continuously alternating motion of the waist and hips causing peak shifts in perceptions of physical attractiveness involving women’s waist-to-hip ratio.[11]

In art

Costa and Corazza (2006),[12] examining 776 artistic portraits covering the whole history of art, showed that eye roundness, lip roundness, eye height, eye width, and lip height were significantly enhanced in artistic portraits compared to photographic ones matched for sex and age. In a second study, forty-two art academy students were requested to draw two self-portraits, one with a mirror and one without (from memory). Eye and lip size and roundness were greater in artistic self-portraits. These results show that the exaggeration and “supernormalization” of key features linked to attractiveness, such as eye and lip size, are frequently found in art.

See also

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernormal_stimulus

Further References

Antenucci, R. G., & Hayes, J. E.. (2015). Nonnutritive sweeteners are not supernormal stimuli. International Journal of Obesity

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2014.109
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Christy, J. H.. (2002). Mimicry, Mate Choice, and the Sensory Trap Hypothesis. The American Naturalist

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1086/285793
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Morris, P. H., White, J., Morrison, E. R., & Fisher, K.. (2013). High heels as supernormal stimuli: How wearing high heels affects judgements of female attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2012.11.006
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Tanaka, K. D., Morimoto, G., Stevens, M., & Ueda, K.. (2011). Rethinking visual supernormal stimuli in cuckoos: Visual modeling of host and parasite signals. Behavioral Ecology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arr084
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Staddon, J. E. R.. (2002). A Note on the Evolutionary Significance of “Supernormal” Stimuli. The American Naturalist

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1086/283025
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Costa, M., & Corazza, L.. (2006). Aesthetic phenomena as supernormal stimuli: The case of eye, lip, and lower-face size and roundness in artistic portraits. Perception

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1068/p3449
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Goodwin, B. C., Browne, M., & Rockloff, M.. (2015). Measuring Preference for Supernormal Over Natural Rewards: A Two-Dimensional Anticipatory Pleasure Scale. Evolutionary Psychology

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1177/1474704915613914
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