Good and Bad, an illusory dimension as the cornerstone of human personality

From Point Omega Research
Jump to: navigation, search

This chapter is under construction. -- weed out doubles -- -- referenties nog achteraan toevoegen; ook toevoegen aan de grote referentie-lijst achteraan -- -- nog paragrafen mergen --


✰✰ <level 2>  It is a common layman's misconception that personality differences only occur among human beings. In animals differences in behaviour between individuals occur in a similar way. And in the case of socially living animals, our closest kin in evolution, the differences in behaviour between individuals are very similar to what is found in humans.

The personality-dimension which is the focus of this article, the "Good-Bad", "Positive versus Negative" or "Appreciatedness" dimension, is the only major personality dimension that is exclusively human. Peculiarly, precisely this dimension is virtual and in a sense not real. It does namely not refer to or relate to any actual behaviour of the rated person, but instead just refers to the relationship between the rater and the ratee. In short, the only exclusively human personality dimension does not describe any actual behaviour or any real personality characteristic.

Still, as we will see, this virtual dimension plays a central and crucial role in our understanding of human personality and of the dynamics between the various personality dimensions.

As described in more detail in other chapters (see "Personality Traits in terms of Social-Role Probabilities; an innovative theoretical essay on the possibility of overcoming the chaotic diversity in personality theories"(***), and also see "Personality of Mice and Men" and "Example 1" in "Escaping from Chaos: Temperamental Personality Traits in terms of Social-Role Probabilities"), the Good-Bad dimension appears on the one hand to be the largest, mathematically most important of all personality dimensions but on the other hand is merely a subsidiary function of two major dimensions of interpersonal behaviour or social-role behaviour. More precisely, it refers not to actual social role behaviour of the rated person, but results from the relationship between rater and ratee. It describes the characteristics of how social roles (actual behaviours) are worked out and are stabilized in time between these two parties. More specifically, this virtual Good-Bad dimension emerges from interactions between dominant and subordinate group members and between incrowd and outcast group members. In other words: the virtual Good-Bad dimension is a tool for our social-interactive behaviour, but not the behaviour itself.

Social Interactions, two dimensions of the multi-dimensional personality space

✰✰✰ <level 3>   To set the stage for a closer investigation, let's have a look again at the two above mentioned social role dimensions describing the major varieties of social behaviour, "Dominance versus Subordinancy" and "Incrowd versus Outcast".

In summarizing studies and reviews of social psychological research two more or less orthogonal dimensions generally emerge as the most important points of reference (Wiggins, 1979,1982; Kiesler, 1982,1983). One of these may be labeled "Ascendancy" or "Dominant versus Submissive" and the other dimension "Acceptance versus Rejection", "Love versus Hate" or "Positive Affiliation versus Hostility" (dimensions [9] and [10] in fig.1). Specifically, the following interpretations emerge in factoranalytic studies: "Dominance versus Submission" and "Love/Positive versus Hate/Negative/Hostility" (Leary, 1957; Foa, 1961; Lorr & McNair, 1965; Hare, 1972); "Assertiveness" and "Sociableness" (Borgatta, 1963); "Authority" and "Solidarity" (Gouman, Hofstee & de Raad, 1973); "Authority/Control" and "Affection/Intimacy" (Sampson, 1971); "Aggressive Dominance" and "Affiliation/Sociability" (Golding & Knudson, 1975). And these factoranalytic dimensions of social behaviour may be found on the verbal level as well as on the non-verbal level of behaviour: "Positiveness" (affiliative behaviour) and "Dominance vs. Submission" (relaxation) are two of the most conspicuous dimensions which Mehrabian (1972) found in his R-type factor-analytic studies on non-verbal social behaviour in man. (Refer to van der Molen (1979) for a comparison of the use of R-, Q- and other types of factoranalysis in observational behaviour studies.)*****(deze referenties nog toevoegen achteraan)*******

Peabody (1970) points at a very basic distinction between the two axes spanning this two-dimensional domain. One of them represents "asymmetrical" interactions, whereas the other describes "symmetrical" interactions. Relations involving "love/hate" or "affiliation" (dimension [10]) tend to be symmetrical - i.e., involving similar characteristics for the two parties - and relations involving "power" (dimension [9]) tend to be asymmetrical - i.e., involving dissimilar characteristics for the two parties - (see also Wiggins, 1982 and Kiesler, 1983 for recent reviews of research on this aspect). (The numbers between brackets refer to the dimensions in fig. ......... ******************)

                • Ongeveer hier diverse plaatjes ******************

Fig.1 about here; komt uit "Personality Traits in terms of ..." (Acceptedness * Ascendancy)

Wellicht beter: Fig.1 uit Stockholm voordracht 1988 (bevat nummering uit periodiek systeem)

From social-psychological literature the following 2 examples are given of 2-dimensional circumplex structures showing the relationships between social-psychological attitudes and characteristics.

Hier 2 figuren uit de Stockholm presentatie; "The 1982 Interpersonal Circle" en Fig. 2 van Donald Kiesler (Location of IAS, ICL, IBI and IMI segments on the 1982 Interpersonal Circle)

Als vóór-laatste hier de circumplex figuur uit "Escaping from Chaos: ....."

Note: In the trans-specific behavioural literature the symbols α, β and ω are generally used for: dominant role (α), compliant and tolerated subordinate role (β), and non-compliant, non-tolerated type of subordinate, leading to an outcast role (ω)).

These 2 major dimensions of social behaviour characteristics are part of the total realm of personality dimensions. See fig. ........ (periodiek systeem)******(hier invoegen)************. The total of the realm of personality differences encompasses also hereditary/congenital dimensions and dimensions of learned behaviour and skills. (See fig. ....(zelfde)........)(See other chapters for more details)*****************(Verwijzing hier)****************.

For understanding the coherence and the dynamic functional relationships between the many personality dimensions, a good understanding of these 2 major social-role dimensions and the dynamic relations thereof is of crucial importance. Without such understanding, no clarity can be obtained. And part of that understanding pertains to the cognitive tool emerging from social-role interactions, the virtual Good-Bad dimension of personality.

Styles of Dominance

✰✰✰ <level 3>  In the chapter "Personality Traits in terms of Social-Role Probabilities" different personal styles of dominance and different personal styles of subordinacy are discussed. Both in dominant and in subordinate individuals one finds behavioural differences between individuals in either a more socially accepted direction or in a more outcast-like direction.

In order to gain more insight into the possible relationship between these dimensions of social role behaviour and other personality dimensions, like for instance congenital traits of temperament, we have to take a closer look at how these two social-role dimensions work out (see fig.1(???)******* above). Let us first therefore focus on how the "Affiliation" ("Sociableness") dimension [10] has to be interpreted at the High-Ascendancy/Dominance side of the "Dominant versus Submissive" axis [9].

Dominating individuals may behave in an easy-going way towards their companions or they may not. On the one hand a dominating person may exert a lot of aggressive dominance, bullying his subordinates all the time, on the other hand he may act as a sort of "controller" who governs social relations by social skill, sustained by appreciation from his companions, rather than by aggressive intimidation.

This polarity in possible dominance styles is so general and basic that it has also frequently been reported in animal research (See for instance the empirical and experimental findings about differences in dominant behaviour in e.g., langurs by Poirier (1970), stumptail macaques by Bertrand (1969), in japanese monkeys by Itani et al.(1963) and by Yamada (1966), in mountain gorillas by Fossey (1972), and in chimpanzees by Reynolds & Luscombe (1969)). Differences of this sort between dominant individuals have been described in a number of species including man by Chance & Jolly (1970) and Wilson (1977,pp.311-313), and in Man by e.g., Lippitt & White (1958) and Krech et al. (1962,ch. 12). Gibb (1969), Strayer & Strayer (1976), Hold (1976), and Sluckin & Smith (1977) report such differences in dominance-styles of children, and of adolescents (Savin-Williams, 1977). Hold labels these differences thus (p. 194) : " , there are two opposite leadership styles, called by Gibb (1969) "leadership" and "domination". With leadership, authority is spontaneously accorded by fellow group members whereas with domination there is little or no shared feeling or joint action and authority derives from some extra-group power."

Benjamin(1974,1979) and Golding & Knudson (1975), evaluating and revising earlier theories (Leary, 1957; Schaefer, 1965), construct a three-dimensional structural analytic model of interpersonal behaviour in which "differences in dominance style" is one of the crucial dimensions. In their model this dimension is labeled "aggressive dominance" versus "autonomy" and is suggested to depend on a sort of social learning. Individuals may learn to or be trained to behave less dependent and more autonomous, thus overcoming negative and aggressive dominant behavioural tendencies towards (dependent) subordinates. Similar differences are labeled as "authoritarian" versus "democratic" leadership in a survey by Krech et al. (1962).

Kirton (personal comm., 1986) also distinguishes different types of leaders, "innovators" and "adaptors". The latter tend to be more in line with group norms, traditions and established working methods. They can more often be characterized as "consensus-leaders" than the former type of leaders, the "innovators". Innovators have a tendency to be abrasive and insensitive at the social level, causing involuntarily a great deal of unintentional havoc and conflict.

Styles of Subordinacy

✰✰✰ <level 3>  Having reviewed these aspects of dominance, we shall now take a closer look at subordinacy and the varying forms it may assume.

It is in these differences between subordinate styles that the most crucial keys can be found for a thorough understanding of all personality differences and the dynamic relations between them. And this includes an understanding of the working of the virtual "Good-Bad" dimension.

Variation between subordinate roles in terms of tolerance and acceptedness, in terms of incrowd-outcast differences, and so forth, are reported from social psychological research as well as from research on other socially living mammal species. In general, it appears that individuals who do not manage to attain a dominant role (α-position in fig.1(???*********)) may either stay in a subordinate position while adapting to existing rule, or tend to lose their in-crowd position. Accepted (incrowd-)subordinates (β-position in fig.1(*******??)) may gradually grow into a semi-outcast or outcast position (ω-position in fig.1(*******??)). Such outcast-like subordinates are potential migrators, running all the risks implied (ω — > α ; or ω - >dead), whereas the better accepted incrowd-type subordinates, who show a better adaption to existing hierarchical pressures eventually may succeed the dominant(s) present in case of death or otherwise incapacitation of the latter (β —> α). Especially in relation to dispersal mechanisms operating through young individuals, such differences in social-role types have frequently been observed (Wilson, 1977; Barash, 1977). (Similar descriptions have been given for e.g., deermice (Healey, 1967), free-living populations of black rats (Ewer, 1971,pp. 135-137), free-living lions (Bertram, 1975) rhesus monkeys (Vandenbergh, 1966), free-living japanese monkeys (Itani et al., 1963; Yamada, 1966) and by Eisenberg et al.(1972) for a number of primate species.) Bertrand (1969) reports the occurrence of "scapegoats" in stumptail-macaques and de Waal (1975) in java monkeys. The latter reports that high ranking individuals often formed alliances against the lowest ranking adults or adolescents although each of the highranking monkeys clearly dominated the scapegoat in question also without any help of others. De Waal (1975,p.530) suggests: "...., one might suppose that higher-ranking groupmembers "work off their mutal irritations and tensions" in that way. In other words: the (inevitable) confrontations between them facilitate aggressiveness, which is not expressed in aggressive actions between each other, but in cooperative aggression (re)directed at subordinates which serve as "scapegoats"."

Whatever the reason for this "mobbing against scapegoats" may be, it certainly enlarges already existing differences between β- and ω-type subordinates.

Good-Bad labeling for the consolidation of Social Roles

✰✰✰ <level 3>  Having thus reviewed the various morphs to be found in the realm of social interactive behaviour and the meaning of the summarizing 2-dimensional circumplex model of social behaviour, we can conclude that evidently individuals may move from one social role into the other, but that nevertheless at any specific time and place an individual tends to behave according to a certain specific social morph. These different social roles or social positions do have a certain stability, at least at any one time and place. For that reason such social-role patterns also emerge as part of the personality differences domain.

As can be derived from social-psychological and from ethological literature, it appears that in humans such social role characteristics follow similar dynamic rules as in other socially living mammals. Also, they are effectuated and consolidated by the same automatic reflexes. This means that reflexes of attraction and repulsion and the concomitant aggressive behaviours operate in humans in a similar way as in other social mammals.

And that in turn implies that the results of these social reflexes are not hampered by cognitive processes like sober assessment of the other person's factual behavioural characteristics, i.e. of his or her "personality".

To see what this means in practice, we can take a closer look at what happens cognitively in the field of attraction and repulsion between individuals interacting in the social-psychological sphere. Referring to the figure ........... **********************(eenvoudig circumplex-figure from Escaping from chaos) above(???*******), the way the different social role-players perceive and judge each other can show us something interesting. An α-male is regarded differently by an ω-type subordinate than by a β-type subordinate, even if the α's behaviour is the same. An α's organizational and directive talent may be regarded by an incrowd β-type subordinate as "thorough and supportive", while the Omega-type subordinates describe the same α-behaviour as "nosy" and "insistent". It very much depends on the social role of the rater how this behaviour of the rated α is labeled. Similarly, certain, conformative behaviour of a β-subordinate may be experienced and judged by one individual, another β, as "realistic" and "reliable", whereas the same behaviour is experienced by an ω-type subordinate as "cowardice" and "indifferent".

In fact, for describing any set of social behaviour, we have a double set of adjectives at our disposal, one set with a positive connotation and one set with a negative connotation. The positive set is for instance utilized when an α judges a β subordinate or a β-type judges another β-subordinate. And the negative set is utilized when an α judges an ω-type subordinate or a β subordinate judges an ω-type subordinate or when an ω judges his α counterpart.

What is important to note here, is that the differences in social roles between rater and ratee determine whether the personality characteristics are experienced and labeled in a "positive" way or in a "negative"way. So, in that way the Good-Bad colouring does not refer to actual behaviour, but to the social relationship between rater and ratee.

In summary, an important personality dimension, which does not relate to one or another observable behaviour of the rated person in question is the Evaluation-dimension 'Positive - versus Negative Appreciatedness'. It's score depends on, but is certainly not identical with, the respective social roles and the (social) skills prevalent between and within the rater and the ratee.

From literature it appears that the 'Appreciatedness'-dimension is a typically human attribute, supported by widespread evidence (Horst, 1968; Benjamin, 1974). When forming an opinion concerning other people, humans apparently are leaning strongly on this dimension, which in reality serves as a tool for the individual in his struggle to assert his position in the socio-dynamic processes at the level of social roles. Benjamin (1974) points out that classifying the social-role behaviour of Ss. is only possible after correcting the data for the influence of this dimension of "Appreciation" or "Social Desirability". Van der Molen (1981a) postulates that for claiming and sustaining social roles, individuals tend to focus on 'appreciation' of the ratee instead of on "unbiased estimation" of a ratee's qualities. Individuals thus activate a mechanism which actually serves to obscure opportunities for pure assessment of other peoples qualities. The tendency to be blinded by 'Appreciation' causes involuntary social reflex mechanism of repulsion and attraction to operate fully, without being disturbed by sober and intelligent use of the human faculty to assess people's qualities. He concludes: "In this way primitive mechanisms of social selection can operate without being disturbed by our intellectual faculties."

In this chapter we are primarily discussing the importance of this blindness for behavioural reality, to figure out what it means for how personality dimensions interact, come about and are structured, but its importance is reaching further. It is also crucial for being able to understand population cycles and the concomitant sources of periodic large catastrophes (see here(***) for more information).

The ability to avoid being trapped by the tendency to indulge in Positive versus Negative Evaluation therefore is likely to be a prerequisite for manipulating population- and group-cycles at will. And since human population- and group-dynamics tend to be worked out nowadays at the level of (nuclear) war, genocide and economic strangling techniques, the skill of controlling such population-dynamic forces might be a prerequisite for man's survival. In view of the above, this also requires that mankind will manage to transcend the dictates of the primitive Good-Bad social reflexes and blindness.

The Good-Bad dimension as blinding tool protecting social behavioural reflexes

✰✰✰ <level 3>  So, what we see here is that the "Good-Bad" personality dimension not only does not refer to any real behaviour, but that it works as a blinding tool, hiding our own social reflexes from our intellectual faculties. In fact, the Good-Bad colouring of our judgements enables the primordial social reflexes to operate without being modified by intelligent thinking.

Strikingly, this blinding tool is the largest and one of the most important dimensions of personality. It roughly coincides with the first (unrotated) principal component of personality descriptive adjectives, covering about ........... (look up)************ % of all covariance. Besides, a major part of all personality descriptive adjectives shows some correlation with this first principal component, which means that most of these adjectives have to some degree a positive or a negative flavouring or bias. The consequence thereof is that for most types of personality characteristics there roughly is a double set of descriptive adjectives, a positive set and a negative set.

In the euclidian space of behavioural interactions, judgements and self-assessments, analyses of our verbal repertoire show that in factor analyses of the covariances between the words, labels and phrases, the first principal component before rotation is always the dimension of "Good versus Bad" or something closely related. And, as pointed out above, this apparently most important assessment tool is not related whatsoever with any actual behaviour. It is only related with how the observer or judge is, for personal reasons beyond his own understanding, emotionally colouring in cognitively the behaviours he observes.

Apparently, in human evolution it has been more important to protect social-interactive reflexes from intelligent manipulation than assessing soberly any major real personality characteristics. In other words, our cognitive faculties are first of all utilized to establish a blindness for our own social behaviours and only subsequently can be utilized to assess each other's behaviour. Blinding comes first, sober assessment comes last.

This specific blindness for social role behaviour is just part of a more general tendency to be blind to one's own and to each other's behaviour. This is more extensively discussed in the chapter "Self-blindness in humans as prerequisite for the evolution of advanced intelligence(**)". In that chapter it is also pointed out that the reason for this Blindness to the Self is to prevent Intelligence from interfering with the own personal behavioural reflexes and why this is so.

Breaking out of the customary intelligence ceiling

✰ <level 1> As elaborated on in the above mentioned chapter, blindness evolved to enable us to break out of the customary intelligence ceiling as found in other intelligent species. It is pointed out there that intelligence may / might be used to find – easier - shortcuts to short term satisfaction. And such shortcuts are quite likely to outflank the collateral behavioural effects of those primordial instincts, collaterals that serve procreational purposes, for which reasons those instincts were evolutionarily selected for in the first place. So, intelligence, applied to our own behaviour, therefore quickly leads to sterile behaviour, no matter how satisfactory from a personal emotional (very proximal) point of view.

Our hominid ancestors however, still less intelligent at that time in evolution, were living in circumstances where a high intelligence did indeed yield very high premiums. Complex communication skills for instance would increase the effectiveness of group hunting tremendously. Better communication and other advantages of intelligence would enable those hominids to become far more effective hunters. However, a too high intelligence, higher than the "intelligence ceiling", would on the other hand yield detrimental procreational effects if applied to the own (social) behaviour. There was, in those pre-human ancestors of ours, a strong structural conflict situation between proximate reasons for behaviour and the ultimate reasons for the same behaviour.

Therefore our hypothesis is this: mother nature finally came up with a solution for this stalemate evolutionary situation. It "invented" in our hominid ancestors a specific awareness block regarding the own behaviour. And once this specific "Blindness for the Self" was emerging, the evolution of intelligence could carry on, also beyond the aeons old upper limit or upper ceiling as applicable in all other "intelligent" animal species.

If this hypothesis is correct, a superior capacity for language and for complex communication and for tool making only could develop in our human ancestors "in exchange for" blindness for the Self.

Built in blindness and well consolidated ignorance towards the self have therefore been the key to the evolution of higher human intelligence. And if our hypothesis is correct, this condition for a higher intelligence would hold for any form of intelligence, evolving wherever in the universe.

With this in mind we can now understand why in the realm of personality descriptive adjectives there exists such an important part that serves to protect social reflexes from being hampered by intelligent interference. That part is the Good-Bad colouring of personality descriptive adjectives, just virtual, not real, but nevertheless of crucial importance.

Self Blindness and Social-role Blindness

✰✰ <level 2>  So, for evolutionary reasons, we have a peculiar situation in Homo sapiens. We can put a man on the moon, we can dive to the bottom of the deepest oceans, we have produced Hydrogen bombs, but . . . . . . we cannot think clearly in front of a mirror and we cannot soberly assess each other's social behaviour.

Very strange indeed ! But now we can at least understand how this strange situation came about.

In summary, it is quite obvious that we are not capable of understanding our own behaviour, let alone organize it in a mutually useful way. It seems for instance far more easy to organize war involuntarily than to organize lasting peace. This failure to understand our own behaviour can indeed also be corroborated by vast quantities of psychological research from the last half century. It appears that human beings possess an uncanny capacity to not-see how they are functioning themselves. We are struck with a very strong form of blindness for our own emotions, motivations and feelings. Of course, we do have some sort of notion of what we feel, what we see and what we want, but, as an overwhelming avalanche of scientific psychological research shows, these personal, internal notions differ greatly from reality. (See for instance: Bateson, 1972,1979, Dixon, 1976, Laing, 1967,1969,1970)

What is more, human beings in fact spend surprising amounts of energy and brain capacity to mystify and hide their own behaviour from sober and intelligent investigation, by themselves as well as by each other. And the first principal component of all personality descriptive adjectives is one of the results thereof.(see the paragraph on the "Good-Bad"dimension in the realm of personality dimensions Evidently, it appears that this typical blindness, blocking our awareness and thinking power in certain areas, does have a significant evolutionary advantage. This human blindness apparently is an ESS, an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy, and the first principal component of all personality descriptive adjectives is part of this E.S.S. It may be virtual and unreal, but it is evolutionarily very important nevertheless.

In the chapter "Self blindness in humans as prerequisite for the evolution of advanced intelligence"(**) it is therefore argued to establish a research discipline of "Amathology" or the science of ignorance. Figuring out how precisely this Blindness ESS works out in the realm of personality psychology, should in fact be one of the main targets of Amathology.

Physical energy spent on maintaining blindness and illusion

✰✰ <level 2>  *********** Dit qua energie beter specificeren, b.v. halsslagader % bloed *********** (Is dit dubbel ????)*************** From these personality psychological research data it appears that it must apparently be of great evolutionary importance that our cognitive system spends so much processing capacity and time on maintaining the notion of Good versus Bad and the blindness for the Self coming with it. Evidently, being the most important of all dimensions of human assessment and social judgement, this cognitive dimension also consumes a considerable part of the energy consumption in our brain. Our brain is one of the most energy consuming parts of our body. Our carotid arteries are relatively wide compared to those of other, closely related, species. We humans spend the greater part of our time on thinking. And a considerable part of that thinking time is spent on thinking about our own and other people's behaviour and what it means to us. Being socially living mammals this is of crucial and vital importance to us. And as the above mentioned factoranalyses of the conceptual tools of that thinking show, the larger part of all that energy is spent on the first principal component of all those concepts and ideas, taking care of colouring in what we see and think with the delusive colours of "Good", "Bad", "pro- and con-".

This underlines again empirically the great biological and evolutionary importance of this blinding dimension of Good and Bad.

In summary (???)

An important part of all personality descriptive adjectives etc. are not correlated with any actual behaviour, but are used to maintain a colouring of the personality characteristics with strikes of goodness versus strikes of badness, thus inducing and stabilizing an attitude of support for or of resistance against the rated person in question. Sober and objective assessment of persons' behaviour is thus replaced by cognitively hiding the actual behaviours in question and by the creation of an emotional foundation for the already existing social role relationship between rater and ratee. Intelligent objective assessment is thus replaced by unhampered primordial social reflexes, serving primordial evolutionary targets for our species.

This good-bad dimension in personality research is so overwhelmingly important that it can be found in multivariate statistical analyses as the unrotated first principal component in factor analysis. The largest part of the correlations between personality descriptive adjectives is therefore not describing any actual behaviour or actual personality characteristics at all, but is just a tool for cognitively protecting primordial, primitive social reflexes against sober intellectual investigation. It should be possible to calculate from basic correlation matrixes of personality descriptive adjectives and from basic fysiological data on blood streams to the human head, how much of human energy is on average spent on maintaining a specific blindness towards own and other people's characteristics in order to protect crucial social reflexes from being understood intellectually.

Other evolutionary advantages of blindness for self and the Good-Bad or Appreciatedness dimension of personality

<level 1>  Power structures of course derive advantage from concealing that they “steal” human well being and happiness. And the best way to conceal that is to strengthen the already typical human blindness for the own behaviour, reflexes and feelings and subsequently to use that area of murky perception for inducing the dictums, norms and rules that the power structure needs. However, the latter are norms and rules that would tend to induce aversive feelings in its carriers, us modern humans, in particular in case these dictums and rules could be perceived clearly and undistortedly.

(********** dit dubbel ???)********To achieve this required level of blindness, a basic trick and cornerstone of all existing large power structures is the central notion of “Good and Bad” and of “primal sin”. As shown in this chapter, the Good and Bad dimension is one of the most conspicuous and striking features of the human system of assessment and judgement. We do spend enormous amounts of time and energy to keep this illusive notion of "Good and Bad" upright and kicking. It does direct human normative systems and rules of behaviour and channels our social behaviour as well. In fact, that dimension of "Good and Bad" takes care of the consolidation of our social relations and social predictability. It helps us to socially "stay in place" and it automatically makes us act as to try keeping other people socially "in place" as well.

The illusory aspects of the Positive/negative or Good/Bad dimension

✰✰ <level 2>  Strikingly however, as pointed out above, it can also be shown from ethological research on humans, that this Good-Bad dimension, being one of our major tools of social behaviour, does not correlate whatsoever with actual behaviour. Of course the notions of good and bad are quite useful in describing what is good for our health and survival and what is physically harmful. As such there is no problem and it shall be clear that such notions must be of crucial importance for our communication about what to avoid and what to strive after. However, there has evolved a catch in us humans. Applying these notions of Good and Bad on our own behaviour and on the behaviour of others appears to be a tricky business. Rather than just labelling other individuals as Good or Bad, which certainly also happens, we humans tend to colour any judgement or qualification with either a positive, wished for variety of that judgement, or to colour it in with a negative, not wanted variety of the same descriptive qualification.

For instance, a boss who is renowned to be a very effective and strong leader, issuing clear directives to his subordinates, in general is perceived and judged quite differently by different subordinates. A subordinate who is always compliant with the directives in the department and has no difficulty in following clear and strict instructions from above (β-like), is more likely to describe the style of management of the boss in question in positive terms like "strong, energetic, dynamic, bold and charismatic", whereas a subordinate who has difficulties in adapting to the existing rules and limitations of the department and who may be at the verge of being dismissed as "not sufficiently in compliance with company needs and directives", is more likely to describe that same style of management of the boss rather as "bossy, insensitive, dictatorial, repressive, autocratic and despotic". Listening to both types of judges, one would not expect them to describe the same person (that boss) in the same working situation. (For more information about these cognitive reflexes distorting our judgement of other individuals and of ourselves, see the article on Social Role Blindness(*).)

In a similar vein, people in love describe their partner in positive, flowery terms, whereas that same partner's characteristics will be described in very negative terms once the relationship has broken down. Typically, the judging person will ascribe that to a dramatic change in the behaviour of that partner, but in general the judgee has not changed that much as the change of judgement suggests. For the persons issuing those judgements, it is almost impossible to objectively recognize the importance of the changes in their own perception.

Effect of the "double standard"

✰✰ <level 2>   Without being aware of it, we humans are in fact applying a "double" toolbox of qualifications, carrying positive sets of qualificative descriptions and negative sets of qualificative descriptions. Whereas such positive or negative qualifications in fact often refer to the same actual behaviours, we human judges, applying these judgement sets, are not aware that the positive or negative colourings of these judgements are just our own imagination. We are not aware that the positively judged behaviour is actually the same as the negatively judged behaviour, even in cases where we can show experimentally that the behaviour in question is or was exactly the same. So, apart from being very simple and useful tools for describing what items in our environment are harmful or beneficial to us, the Good and Bad differences also serve to colour all types of descriptive qualifications of one's own and other people's behaviours. In fact, by that mechanism, we are utilizing double sets of descriptions for behaviour. At the same time, we ascribe reality value to those positive and negative descriptions, beyond the actual objective assessment of what kind of behaviour has or shall occur. In other words, we, as judges, do not know that the qualifications we apply for ourselves and other people, express in particular whether we are in favour of that person, or not. We utilize a complete descriptive set of behaviours and characteristics on the positive side as well as a complete descriptive set of behaviours and characteristics on the negative side. But we do hold the differences between those two sets for actual behavioural differences, which they are not. Those differences just and only exist in our heads. The only effect they have on us, is that they do consolidate and stabilize our attitude to the judged persons in question. In that way these double judgement sets obscure reality from our sober perception and what in fact happens is that primordial social reflexes of attraction and repulsion are consolidated and stabilized by the colouring in of our cognitive social world, protecting them from intelligent investigation and understanding.

In summary, the positive - negative colouring in of judgements and assessments of behaviour, which we could label as the Good versus Bad dimension, just serves to subjectively colour our perception of behaviour and is thus merely a tool of directing our own reactions on behaviour. Instead of helping to sort out reality, it serves to mask reality and blocks a clean and sober understanding of the behaviours observed. In other words, the evidently most important tool we humans utilize for assessing our own and each other’s behaviour is a tool that primarily serves for enforcing our blindness for behaviour. Apparently, it evolutionarily pays off for us humans to spend a major part of our intellectual activity and our energy on this blinding tool of mystification and delusion.

The tale of Adam and Eve, the result of eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

✰✰ <level 2>  In spite of needing to maximize confusion in their carriers (us) about the carrier's own behaviour(al impulses), a number of great religions harbour the tale of Adam and Eve, who were thrown out of paradise after eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and bad.

This tale is in fact a very adequate summary of what has been delineated in the pages above and what is the most basic condition of mankind. What the tale summarizes is what happened since the beginning of the agricultural revolution, when meme-level power structures took over the lead in human evolution and we humans had to get adapted to the basic requirements of such power structures, the "N-needs". From that point in time on, we humans started to suffer from the friction between our primordial P-feelings and the newly imposed N-needs (for more details about "P-feelings" and "N-needs" see here(**)). The N-needs brought with them the illusory, but very strong notions about "good" and "evil", growing on the tree of the tale. What followed was ever more confusion and stress and a massive spreading of fear and neuroticism, gradually becoming the norm, rather than the exception. In short, humanity fell out of Eden, out of Paradise. The implication was not so much a falling away from intelligent thinking. The superior intelligence of Homo sapiens had already been blocked against tampering with the own behaviour for hundreds of thousands of years. Those specific awareness blocks already were in place in a relatively organic and harmonious way. No, when the agricultural revolution started it was rather a process of being drowned ever further into swamps of fear, intimidation and organized lies. Escaping from mass neuroticism became ever more difficult. Humanity fell out of Eden in a very real sense. In a very real sense life has become hell for us since that time.

So, on the one hand these great religions refer to and harbour the feeling deep within that something has gone tremendously wrong and that there is potentially available a very different option in our human behavioural repertoire of possibilities, an option that we lost somewhere in our history. On the other hand the religions tell us that the loss of that much more pleasant option has been our own fault, is due to our own failure, thus imposing a very deep feeling of guilt and fear into our hearts and minds.

Understanding the above, it shall be clear that putting the blame on us humans is very far from the truth indeed. As we pointed out elsewhere on this Wiki, the emergence of the meme-level power structures taking over the evolutionary lead, was unavoidable, once the evolution of human intelligence had reached a certain level. It was unavoidable and a consequence, to happen sooner or later, of the very existence of an intelligence of that level. So, there never has been, nor could there exist, any responsibility on our side for any of this happening. So, putting this particular blame for being thrown out of Eden on our necks, is just one - but a very powerful one - example of how power structures keep us subdued in neurotic misery, how they keep us malleable and predictable carriers of the power structure's memes in question. This illustrates quite clearly how parts of the truth of our situation are absorbed in an intricate system of fairy tales and lies and are converted into a tool of confusion and enslavement rather than being used as tools for bringing truth and understanding and - possibly - liberation.

Hier ergens opnieuw de figuur met het periodiek systeem van pers.heids dimensies er in zetten (= #13)

Personality: virtual versus real

✰✰✰ <level 3>  In 1963 Benjamin J. Kouwer published "Het spel van de persoonlijkheid: Theorieën en systemen in de psychologie van de menselijke persoon". In that famous work he concluded among other things that something like "personality" did not exist. Under scrutiny, "Personality" ended up being not much more than an effect of social interaction between people, the result of a sort of social "game". He explains that a psychological researcher can peel off layer after layer of what seems like a notion of personality differences and that after having explained one layer, another layer emerges, inviting further research by the researcher and also not surviving under scrutiny as a real thing. So he shows that one can peel off all the personality layers, ending up with empty hands. There is no final "kernel" of "real" personality.

As shall be clear from the previous pages, we are of the opinion that reality in the realm of personality differences looks somewhat different. Kouwer's view indeed is well applicable to the most important of all principal components in factoranalytic analyses of personality differences. The Good-Bad dimension, dimension #13 in figure ............. (******), needs to be understood well before anyone can hope to understand the whole of the world of personality differences. Dimension #13 may be virtual and not referring to real behaviour, but it is a crucial factor, needed to understand the dynamics of social role distributions and to understand the role of the underlying temperamental personality differences. So, referring to fig. .............. above, dimension #13 is purely Kouwerian. Besides, the dimensions of social role patterns, #9 and #10, are also Kouwerian, in the sense that they refer to behavioural characteristics that are only stable in certain situations at certain times. Social roles of a person differ and change in time and are always defined and limited to certain specific situations or places. So, these personality differences are real, yes, but they are not very stable characteristics of a person. People want to and need to utilize these notions of social role differences, but in the Kouwerian process of peeling off layers of "personality", these two dimensions also end up on the pile of peels. Subsequently, #11 in figure ....... refers to the - various - skill dimensions. One may read this as one general dimension of general skill level, just to ponder the function this #11 dimension has in the interactions between the various sources of personality. However, in factoranalytic analyses more than one dimension of skills tend to emerge. Anyway, focussing on one or on more skill dimensions, this part of personality differences also tends to end up on Kouwer's pile of peels. Learned skills are something else than congenital trait differences.

However, fig. ............. shows that after partialling out dimensions #13, #9, #10 and #11(multiple), some (3) dimensions remain that look very much like what one would consider to be congenital differences in temperament (## 6,7 and 8, equivalent to ##1,2 and 3 or to ##1,5 and 6, depending on the preferred rotation). And whereas these temperamental trait dimensions only account for a minor percentage of all covariances analysed, they do form the functional and theoretical basis of all personality differences, from which basis all the other dimensions, skills (#11), social roles (#9 and #10) and including the virtual Good-Bad dimension #13, are emerging.

Concluding, Kouwer(1963) suggested that all personality dimensions could be peeled off successively, leaving an empty hole in the end. On this Wiki it is argued that this Kouwerian look mainly applies to the (virtual) Good-Bad dimension, often the first unrotated principal component in factor-analyses, but not to the remainder of the personality dimensions. The social role dimensions may not be very stable, but they are quite real and functionally clear to understand. The Skill dimensions also are real, though also not the same as congenital traits. The remaining 3 dimensions of temperamental traits may be just a minor % of the personality domain, but they are real and congenitally fixed, fulfilling all the requirements of personality that Kouwer did not find.

All in all, it stays a striking finding that the Good-Bad dimension, the largest dimension of all, is just virtual. This underlines once more how important it is for Homo sapiens to spend so much time and energy in the blinding of intelligence in relation to the social role interactions. This can only be because for evolutionary reasons it was of such crucial importance that Homo sapiens would continue to follow his primordial instincts regarding the reflexes between the alpha, bèta and omega roles. And that indeed is the effect of dimension #13.

On the one hand we may conclude that personality dimension #13 is virtual and not real and that it is the final collateral side effect of congenital trait differences, of learned skills and of social role interactions and that it describes, as a sort of end result of all these sources of personality, the interactions between judge and judgee, not referring at all to any actual behaviour of the rated person. But on the other hand, for understanding the whole of the personality domain and for understanding in particular the dynamic relationships between the various classes of personality differences, it is indispensable to first understand the working of this virtual Good-Bad dimension.

This illusory personality dimension is indeed the cornerstone of any understanding of personality.