K.A.I. and Changes in Social Structures: on the Anatomy of Catastrophy

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By: Popko P. van der Molen

Chapter in: Adaptors and Innovators, Styles of Creativity and Problem Solving

edited by Michael J. Kirton

1989, Routledge, London & New York


The writing of this chapter 7, Adaption-Innovation and Changes in Social Structure: on the anatomy of catastrophe, by P.P. van der Molen, has been supported by a grant of the ANO foundation. Comments and criticism from Michael Kirton, Vernon Reynolds and Robin Dunbar were of great help to improve the text, which is not to imply that they are responsible for any flaws in the basic line of argumentation defended here. The help of Ben Hoffschulte in refining and presenting this text is also gratefully acknowledged.

Preface to Michael J. Kirton's book: Adaptors and Innovators, Styles of Creativity and Problem Solving

✰✰ <level 2>   The mental processes which underlie concepts of creativity, problem solving and decision making are of continuing interest to researchers and teachers and are increasingly recognised by managers as directly relevant to the problems which they encounter in introducing change. There are good logical reasons for linking the three concepts. A decision is essentially based on the choice of solution to a problem - in other words, if there is no choice of solution to a problem no decision is needed. Further, both creativity and problem- solving have in common at least the implication of originality and novelty. Most often the three concepts have been kept apart, in theory and in research design and practice. One possible reason for this may be a lack of clarity in their relationship to intelligence. All scholars class intelligence as a concept of capacity or level; most accept that intelligence is heavily implicated in observed individual differences in problem solving and subsequent decision making. There is, however, much less clarity or certainty on what relationship should be hypothesized between creativity and intelligence. Studies that are founded on comprehensive reviews of pertinent literature and involve careful measurement, have on occasion added to the general confusion by not being able to make a clear prediction.

Guilford (1950) whilst predicting a modest relationship between intelligence test scores and many types of creative performance concludes: 'we must look well beyond the boundaries of IQ if we are to fathom the domain of creativity'. Getzels and Jackson (1962) emphasized: 'we are not saying there is no relationship between IQ and creative thinking. Obviously the feeble minded by IQ standards are not going to be creative. But at the high average level and above the two are sufficiently independent to warrant differentiation.' These standpoints have a tentative air that do not make for sharp hypotheses that can be the subject of a clear test.

In contrast Adaption-Innovation theory takes an unequivocal stance. It postulates and through its measure, the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI) demonstrates, that the preferred cognitive style of the individual is wholly unrelated statistically to that individual's level, i.e., capacity. That key distinction between level and style has wide implications, which are explored in this book, for the management of organizations and for the direction of future research. It brings clarity to the debate when the factors affecting an individual's response in a particular situation are being considered. It makes it possible to examine the concepts of creativity, problem solving and decision making of individuals and to predict their behaviour and that of the groups which they make up, with a greater degree of confidence than has previously been possible. It is, however, made clear that level and style are only two of the variables which affect the performance of individuals. Other individual variables; motivation, knowledge, social skills and many others and the particular activity and organizational context in which the activity takes place, will all have a powerful impact on the outcome. It is, however, apparent from the volume of research already carried out into the application of adaption-innovation theory, in more than a dozen countries, that there is value in- being able to demonstrate the existence of a stable preferred form of behaviour in the individual and to measure it with confidence. One example of the value of re-examining assumptions, in the light of the clear level-style distinction which Adaption-Innovation offers, is in the concept of creativity as applied to occupational groups. Artists are generally accepted as being creative people (e.g. Myers, 1962). Architects are also often so accepted, aided no doubt by MacKinnon's (1962) seminal work on them; businessmen or engineers have so far received scant attention (e.g. MacKinnon, 1987), mainly because they are so often viewed as lacking in creativity. If, however, the level-style distinction is here applied, then a more precise differentiation can be made that is closer to general experience.

The members of these or any other profession may differ in ability, and even more widely in experience and behaviour, however defined and measured. They may also range widely over the Adaption-Innovation dimension, working closely to their relevant paradigms or not, in accord as far as possible with their preferred cognitive style. The first chapter of this book sets out the theory, explores these and other underlying assumptions, describes typical adaptors and innovators, introduces the theory's measure: the KAI and uses it to test some of the theoretical standpoints taken. The principal issues addressed are the distinctness of cognitive capacity and cognitive style; the stability, persistence and early setting of style; the relationship to personality and the concept of coping behaviour as an intervening variable.

The second chapter is written by a psychologist in management, Professor Ronald Goldsmith, at The Florida State University. With style firmly separated from level, the way is clearer to relate cognitive style to personality trait. Goldsmith puts forward a number of propositions: that KAI is a summary measure of behaviour, acting as a substitute for aggregate measures of behaviour over time; that Adaption-Innovation may lie in scope between personality traits and any individual behavioural act, being more specific than the former and more general than the latter; schematically, however, Adaption-Innovation may underlie personality trait clusters. He touches also on interesting measurement issues.

Chapter three reviews the structures, nature and performance of the KAI from the validation studies in the early 1970s, to its present widespread international use by scholars and practitioners. Steven de Ciantis, of Shell UK Ltd, shares the authorship of the next chapter which assembles the evidence from numerous studies for the notion of cognitive climate, placing it as an element within organizational climate. We examine the possible impact on the individual and the coping behaviour and clashes that may result.

Harry Schroder built a scholarly reputation as a Professor at Princeton University in the study of cognitive complexity and group functioning. He now continues to build this reputation as a scholar and practitioner in the theory and measurement of management competencies and their use in his Center for Organizational Effectiveness at the University of South Florida. He shows that as Adaption-Innovation theory predicts, management competencies being measures of capacity are unrelated to cognitive style. When taken together the effect is that groups of adaptor managers will exhibit their competency in clearly characteristically adaptive ways. The converse for innovators is also true. This has obvious teaching value for training departments as well as academics.

The penultimate chapter is by psychologist Gordon Foxall, Professor of Marketing at Strathclyde University. He reviews studies based on decades of expectation in marketing and marketing research that a secure link should exist between personality characteristics and early or late adoption of novel products. His research shows that 'innovative consumers' in marketing terminology cannot be simply equated to innovators as measured by the KAI. One significant complication is the degree of innovativeness of the novel product. Another significant factor is the extent to which the buyer may be assiduously collecting products within a novel range. These applications seem amenable to being unravelled by the Adaption-Innovation theory and successfully tested by use of KAI. The implications for marketing may be that old intuitions may yet be supported by more relevant theory, sounder measures and more sophisticated research design.

Popko van der Molen's work at the State University of Groningen in the Netherlands spans biology, psychology and sociology and both animal and human behaviour. In this final chapter, he explores the implications of the conflict which exists in all social animals between the drive to satisfy individual physical needs and the urge to maintain social contact and interaction. The importance of the Adaption- Innovation orientation of individuals as a basic determinant of human behaviour in such conflicts, led van der Molen to theorize that the Adaption-Innovation dimension had a biological root and he marshals data from a wide range of research on human and animal behaviour to sustain the argument. He considers the impact of this approach for the apparent cyclical rise and fall of social groups and the need for man to find a compromise between the all too slow evolutionary process of change and the all too disturbing revolutionary alternative.

The central aim of the book has been to bring together the work already done in refining and applying Adaption- Innovation theory and to consider its wider implications. The conclusions in it are based on reliable data and will, I hope, lead to a wider application of the theory and measure. Where there is speculation it will, I hope, stimulate further research including cross-disciplinary research where that is appropriate.

In order to achieve fluency the masculine personal pronoun has been used throughout the book. Where he, him and his has been used please read also she, her and hers. Notes have been grouped at the end of each chapter and referred to in the text.


by P.P. van der Molen


✰✰✰ <level 3>   This chapter deals with the questions: 'Why do social structures tend to harden and ossify in time?' or 'Why do social structures appear to have a limited life span?' and 'What can Adaption-Innovation theory teach us about these phenomena?'.

Kirton has suggested that Adaption-Innovation differences are set very early in life and are relatively stable. As will be pointed out below, this is not surprising, since similar individual differences, and their genetic basis, can even be traced in non-human mammals that have social group life. Therefore the underlying biological organization must, from an evolutionary point of view, be very old and elementary. Insight into these underlying biological mechanisms and their effects in social groups, may increase our understanding of a wide range of intriguing, and sometimes disquieting phenomena. These phenomena range from educational and organizational strategies to the emergence and the, sometimes catastrophic, collapse of companies and other social group structures, including the way social roles and positions tend to be distributed, and the evolutionary consequences.

First, this chapter suggests why, from a biological point of view, adaption-innovation differences between individuals are theoretically to be expected among social mammals. Second, the chapter investigates the consequences of these behavioural differences on the level of social interaction. A life-span theory of social structures and organizations will be introduced, which includes the likelihood of catastrophic collapses as a major implication. Third, these assumptions are related to some experimental results and data from the literature. Experimental and empirical findings from biological and psychological research will be presented which support the notion of a biological basis of Adaption-Innovation - and related inter-individual differences. Finally, the chapter explores how this type of understanding may enable us to map the processes underlying periodic catastrophe and may teach us how to exercise a degree of control on the process.

Starting with the biological and theoretical viewpoint, let us focus on the basic requirements of social behaviour. Each individual among social mammals is by necessity saddled with a conspicuous bi-polarity in behavioural urges. First, being a social animal, drives for social contact and interaction are by definition an important part of its behaviour-genetical endowment. Second, it also has a set of perhaps even more basic drives to ensure the fulfilment of a range of non-social personal needs, e.g. water, food, cover, warmth, sex, territory, etc. As far as these latter needs are concerned, the amount of resources is often limited, thus causing competition and social conflict. This basic functional conflict exists in every social individual, who inescapably has to reconcile these two sets of urges much of the time. Whenever some of the needed resources are scarce, the ensuing competition will put a strain on social relations. Under such conditions an individual frequently has to choose between either striving for continuation of peaceful social relations or getting an appropriate share of the resources, eventually at the cost of social peace and harmony. Most of the time this dilemma boils down to the question of whether or not to submit to the initiative of other individuals at the cost of fulfilling personal urges and desires.

In any social species this conflict of needs is inescapably present in each individual day after day, the outcome determining how the individual will deal, by and large, with the social situation at hand. It is most desirable to have one's own way most of the time and still maintain close social contact and interaction. But that is more or less identical to what is generally understood by a 'dominant' social role, and such roles are comparatively scarce. It is therefore more interesting to know what happens to the majority of individuals, the various types of subordinates who are under regular pressure to comply and postpone or even abandon part of their individual desires and initiatives.

Fig. 6. Two dimensions of social-role behaviour.

Two dimensions of social-role behaviour

For such non-dominant individuals, the balance between the strength of the desire for social contact and interaction, and the strength of the desires to fulfil other biological needs, determines the outcome of this continuous process of weighing one need against the other. Given a certain pressure to comply, it largely depends on this equilibrium of basic sensitivities within the subordinate individual, as to what the behavioural outcome will be, either drifting gradually into an outcast position or assuming a compliant and socially accepted subordinate position. Such differences between subordinates have indeed frequently been observed in mammals.

What is important for us to note here, is that for any social mammal the competing sets of needs under discussion are very general and basic. We must therefore assume that the variance in the balance between these sets of basic needs has strong genetic roots. The equilibrium discussed above is therefore also an equilibrium between functionally competing parts of the genetic programme. As such, we may consider this equilibrium, varying over individuals, as a trait in the classical sense. We could therefore express this set of behavioural polarities as a set of (inter alia genetically based) trait differences which do have a clearly defined impact on the distribution of social roles, or mathematically speaking - as p(ω/not-α) or as 1-p(β/not-α) see Figure 6). (In the cross-specific behavioural literature the symbols α, β and ω are used for: dominant role (α), compliant and tolerated subordinate role (β), and non- compliant, non-tolerated type of subordinate, frequently leading to an outcast role (ω); the p stands for probability and refers to the indeterminancy of the social roles to be acquired, because of environmental influences).

Up to this point, three basic assumptions have been made about the behaviour of social mammals in general:

1. There is a strong functional link between, on the level of behavioural orientation, the frequency of social behaviour versus thing-oriented individualistic behaviour, and, on the level of the distribution of social roles, conformity and compliance with authority versus a self-willed attitude. These two polarities cannot be separated, they do have the same behavioural basis. Therefore a range of personality characteristics have to be strongly intercorrelated, e.g. self-will, thing- orientedness, individualism, and innovative creativity on the one pole, and compliance, person-orientedness, sociability, conformity, and adaptiveness to rules and traditions, on the other pole.

2. Individuals differ from one another as far as the balance between these polarities is concerned.

3. This variation between individuals must have genetic components. Later in this chapter we will check these assumptions against experimental data, but before doing that, we will first investigate their logical consequences. At this point one might justly retort: 'Why so much ado about nothing?' It seems self-evident that these polarities in behaviour are interconnected, and since for most broad behavioural characteristics it is likely that differences in behaviour are partly caused by genetic differences, in particular if they are of very old phylogenetic origin, which these behaviours apparently are, it is rather tautological to state that they have genetic roots.

The point is, first, that this notion of a biological basis of certain behaviours may be self-evident to behaviour biologists, it is certainly not for large groups of sociologists and psychologists. Second, these three assumptions do have peculiar and important consequences if applied to the sociology of group structures, the incrowd-outcast dynamism and the concomitant behavioural reflexes in particular. In order to discuss these consequences we have to add one more assumption, which is rather a definition, namely:

4. In what follows 'Social groups' will mean groups over which individuals are distributed discretely. In other words, individuals can recognize one another as either belonging to the 'social group' in question or not - and treat each other accordingly.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   If defined this way, the previous four assumptions imply that within such 'social groups' - and other discrete social structures for that matter - there is exercised a more or less continuous selection pressure in favour of compliance and sociability. This is so because the most compliant - and thus most socially-orientated and rule-adaptive - individuals are most likely to establish long-lasting accommodation within the group. Self-willed individualists on the other hand (also being innovative and thing-oriented according to assumption 1), are most likely to run into trouble and disagreement with the dominant individuals and/or habits and rules in the group. They are least prepared to pay time and again the price of postponing or giving up personal urges and initiatives in order to keep the peace and social harmony. As a consequence, such individuals are most likely either to fight hard for attaining a dominant position, or if failing, to drift into marginal omega-like social positions and eventually become outcasts and leave the social structure.

For any eventual influx of individuals into the social group or structure, the opposite holds. Individuals will be most readily accepted if they do not pose a threat to the individuals and/or habits ruling group life, which of course favours rule-adaptive compliants. The effect of such a continuous selection pressure is that the behavioural make-up of a group will shift gradually towards compliance and sociable rule-adaptiveness. Because of assumption 1, this also implies a shift towards less and less independent creativity and thing-oriented innovativeness. And because of assumption 3, this shifting of group characteristics is (genetically) consolidated.

What then automatically happens with every social group and structure is a gradual loss of innovativeness and behavioural flexibility. In the end such a gradual ossification reduces the effectiveness of the group (structure), whether its function be the preservation of a territorial area with sufficient resources to keep a deme of mice alive, or, in man, the enhancement of some sport, the maintenance of political ideals, the aim to get a better share of the market, or the preservation of a political state. At any level of organization a price has to be paid in the end. Such ossification especially matters whenever novel challenges turn up in the form of environmental changes or the emergence of competing groups. The disadvantages of a lowered flexibility and innovative creativity weigh most when, because of changing circumstances, innovations and a change of habits are urgently required.

In such circumstances the advantages of the old social system in terms of experience, solidly established routines, compliance, malleability of all members, and sheer size, may easily be outdone by the innovativeness, flexibility and efficiency of a younger, and often much smaller, social group (structure), on which these selection pressures have not yet been working for such a long period of time. At such a moment the old structure will yield to the younger structure in a relatively sudden way.

Therefore, provided the above mentioned assumptions are valid, social groups and structures only have a limited life-span. The life-cycle of a social institution then, e.g., in human society, can roughly be indicated as: Foundation Consolidation -> Internal selection pressure Increasing ossification and a reduction of flexibility of the social structure -> Eventual attempts to compensate these effects by means of more striving for growth and power -> Further increase of rigidity and ossification Catastrophic collapse by sudden environmental changes or competition (see Figure 7).

Fig. 7. Change in time of the average characteristics of the prevalent social group structures and their incrowd members.

This model implies a departure from notions of mere gradual changes in societal structures. The probability of sudden catastrophic turn-over events, increasing in time with cumulating selection effects, can graphically be represented and mathematically be described with help of the bi-stable models from the mathematical branch of catastrophe theory (Thorn and Zeernan, 1974; Zeeman, 1976; Woodcock and Davis, 1978). Figure 8 shows a cusp catastrophe, visualizing the relation between the continuous and the discontinuous part of the cycle. After foundation of a social structure, the level of overt challenges tends to decrease and the stability of the structure tends to increase until the inefficiency begins to take its toll, after which the stability of the structure decreases again. During the process the average level of self-will (% of innovators) decreases. An increase in the level of overt challenge may then sooner or later lead to a catastrophic turn-over event. In the new structure the percentage of innovators (average level of self-will) starts at a high level again, and so on.

The selection rate determines the speed of ossification, and the life expectancy of a social structure is therefore roughly inversely proportional to the internal selection pressure. Such sudden turn-overs of social structures are therefore bound to happen at any level at which discrete social group structures are operating, as long as individuals can be recognized by one another as either belonging or not belonging to that group, and as long as there is some outflow or neutralization (and eventually a selected influx) of individuals. Depending on the level of organization, such a turn-over goes by the labels 'conquest', 'close-down', 'discontinuance', 'bankruptcy', 'revolution', 'subjugation', 'extermination', or 'genocide'.

Once the old, ossified social structure has been replaced by one or more younger competitor-structures, the individuals from the population as a whole have been reshuffled in favour of resourceful self-willed innovators, who now occupy the 'incrowd' positions. The rule-adaptive compliants who formed the bulk of the establishment of the former social structure in power, have drifted by then into marginal positions and run the worst risks from then on. (Many "Last" will be "first" and many "First" will be "last".) Thus the previous internal shift in genetic make-up has been undone, and a new selection cycle is started in these new structures.

The selective advantages for individuals are therefore different within and outside of social groups and structures, and also different depending on the stage of the life-cycle an institution is in. A compliant, adaptive and sociable temperament gives a selective advantage within large, and especially within older social systems, whereas a thing- orientated, innovative and self-willed temperament is selectively advantageous outside of the protective maze of established structures, or within small and young systems.

Fig. 8. Turn-over cycles in terms of personality characteristics and institutional functioning.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   Notwithstanding the above-mentioned unpleasant aspects of turn-over catastrophes, such a scheme of automatic and unavoidable cyclic changes in social-behavioural structures does have conspicuous evolutionary advantages. It is, for instance, clear that this mechanism keeps everything moving, structures, individuals and, finally, genes. After every turn-over event (or catastrophe) there occurs a thorough re-shuffling of individuals.

And when in the ensuing chaos new combinations of individuals reassemble in the newly emerging social group (structures), novel combinations of gene sets are also eventually formed.

Apart from this advantage at the level of interpersonal social reorganization and consequently of ensuing recombination of gene sets, there is also an advantage at the level of migration, exploration and colonization of the environment (e.g., Lancaster, 1986). Most mammals are reluctant to go beyond the limits of familiar territory - their home range - and generally must be forced one way or other to do so (Christian, 1970).

Every time an old structure breaks down, a large number of individuals is forced to move and is therefore added to the extra-group surplus population. This will produce a sudden increase in inter-individual competition outside of the group (structures) and therefore also a sudden increase in the pressure on other established group (structures), catalizing the eventually impending catastrophic collapse of more systems, thus locally adding to the already existing chaos. This spatial synchronization causes migratory and related pressures to occur spasmodically and strongly instead of continuously and rather weakly. This may be an advantage where geographical barriers for example, need to be overcome in order to enable further migratory moves of the population or species as a whole. Many authors have commented on the importance of surplus out-group individuals for the production of strong dispersal pressures (Darlington, 1957), and from the model discussed above it may be clear that social hierarchies constitute by themselves a major force for dispersion.

This is also stressed by Christian (1970) in a review of population dynamics research in mammals. He adds the conclusion that it is primarily on outcasts that the process of evolution can really work. The implication is that the Darwinian 'struggle for life' is in fact a process with much irony and relativity, since those individuals with, apparently, maximum reproductive success, the dominants, create by the very violence of their success the outcasts that carry on the process which we call evolution (Hoffschulte, 1986). The ethologist and social psychologist Calhoun (1974) comments on our own origins:

The strong remain where conditions are most salubrious to preserving the old life-style. The weak must emigrate - bodily, behaviourally or intellectually. Our most distant ancestors swung from trees. Slightly less distant ones lost that race and won another. Population pressure forced them out of forest islands to wander across the African plains in search of another patch of forest where they could renew the old ways. Successive losses and successive demands for adjusting culminated in upright walking creatures like ourselves. So it has been through all of evolution; the weak (eventually) survive, changed, to open new routes into the future. The meek do inherit the earth. (Calhoun, 1974:302-3)

The importance of deviants and scapegoats for these processes on the level of culture and social organization in man, is emphasized in the comprehensive works of Coser (e.g. 1956, 1978) and Girard (e.g. 1982). Girard desribes how throughout human history the distribution of social role positions has been brought about by means of violent acts of social repression. Not only is the dramatic shifting of non- average, deviant subordinate persons into outcast positions just as common as in lower mammals, but, according to Girard, the very development of our culture even depended on it. Only through acts of violence and the collective commemoration of the victim-outcast or scapegoat do human groups find the social-cognitive norms and unanimity from which culture can develop. Culture in our species is therefore not to be considered as an immaculate attainment with which we have overcome primitive forms of violence. On the contrary, it is precisely through the violent social collisions themselves, that human culture emerged from the animal background. The threatening circle around victims who are found guilty of social disorders is, so to say, the daily bread of social cultural order (Hoffschulte, 1986, on Girard).

In summary, if a similar mechanism of population- and group-cycles exists, it would facilitate speciation through genetic adaption to marginal habitats, would help to overcome migratory bottlenecks, and even would, in the case of man, serve to motor the evolution of culture. It would also have significant effects on other levels of social organization. On the level of industrial companies for instance, such periodic outbursts of organizational turn-over may cause an enormous series of "domino bankruptcies', but they also trigger synchronized waves of entrepreneurial creativity and innovative initiatives, thus inducing large- scale industrial reshuffling and renewal. Similar considerations apply to the other levels of social organization.

The actual turn-over catastrophes themselves may not be pleasant for the participants at all, but that is irrelevant from an evolutionary perspective. On this grand scale it is not the feeling and suffering of the individual involved that counts, but the long-term behavioural and behavioural-genetic output that does.

These evolutionary considerations suggest that if in the case of man his superior capacity for learning plays a modifying role in these matters, that the organization of his intellectual capacities will probably have evolved in such a way, as to enhance the occurrence of the cyclic changes under discussion, rather than thwart it. (We shall return later to this particular consequence, i.e. the peculiar phenomenon of blind spots in our cognitive system as far as social role interactions are concerned.)

Having outlined these intriguing, and also somewhat disquieting consequences of the four assumptions made, I will now present some data that may help us assess the validity of those four assumptions. First, some ethological research on behavioural differences between individual mice will be presented, especially in so far as these data shed light on the probabilities of non-dominant animals drifting into an omega-role (outcast-like) or adapting to a subordinate (beta) role. Then a short literature review will be presented on inter-individual differences in (innovative) self-will versus (adaptive) compliance and its correlates in other socially living mammals and especially in man.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   As is reported in more detail elsewhere (van der Molen, 1973, 1988), data supporting these assumptions, were obtained from mouse research. This research investigated:

(a) how social role differences could be manipulated;

(b) which part of the behavioural differences had to be ascribed to those role differences; and

(c) which part of the behavioural differences was due to innate 'trait'-factors.

Dominance appeared to determine the behaviour of an individual to a great extent, thus being an indispensable tool for ethological descriptions of inter-individual differences. It could also be shown experimentally that becoming dominant or subordinate was mainly dependent on coincidence and contingencies, and only to a limited extent on individual characteristics such as body-weight, social- and fighting-experience, self-will, etc. Within the categories of dominants and subordinates there appeared large differences in tolerance for other individuals. Some dominant mice behaved far more aggressively towards their subordinates than did others and these differences determined to a large extent the number of subordinates eventually holding out with such a dominant. Another role-difference which can easily be manipulated experimentally is the 'incrowd/outcast' difference in subordinates, or rather, the difference between betas and omegas (the usual terms in mouse research). These differences in tolerance versus aggressiveness among dominants and subordinates largely determined the population density in the observation areas.

'Self-willed conflict-proneness' was found to be strongly correlated with a high frequency of 'exploratory' and 'thing-orientated' behaviour, whereas 'compliance' was found to be strongly correlated with a high frequency of 'social' and 'partner-orientated' behaviour. Every time a group of four males and two females was placed in a large observation cage for the first time, there were at first no clear alpha-, beta-, or omega-roles. In the course of the following days (or weeks) an alpha male would emerge and the differences in behaviour between the subordinate males would still be rather vague. Subsequently, differences would gradually evolve between the behaviour patterns of the subordinates. The subordinate mice who adapted to the initiatives of the alpha, behaved submissively more regularly and underwent the manipulations of the alpha more often. They were, however, less often disturbed by aggressive attacks from the alpha, and did not much care whether the alpha was awake or asleep. The subordinates who put up more resistance towards the alpha showed, on the other hand, a conversely adjusted type of activity pattern; they kept silent as long as they sensed that the alpha was active, and walked around when he was asleep.

These gradually developing behavioural differences between subordinates can be described as differences in 'staying' (beta types) and 'fleeing' (omega types), since the latter type showed a tendency to flee the territory if possible. In experimental situations in which opportunities for fleeing are provided, a large proportion of the (young) subordinate males flee from the territory (Van Zegeren, personal communication). This is similar in many other rodent species (e.g., Healey, 1967; Ewer, 1971; Wilson, 1977:278; and Barash, 1977).

In the process of a subordinate gradually becoming an omega, the behaviour of the alpha gradually changes towards treating the omega ever more as a stranger. What is important to note here however, is that the behavioural differences between betas and omegas seemed to develop before the alpha in question would begin to treat the subordinates in a different way. This suggests that these beta/omega differences are caused by differences between the individual subordinates themselves. It could in principle also be explained by assuming that an alpha male initiates these differences by having a dislike for one of the subordinates, and that this subordinate thereupon avoids the alpha more than the other subordinates do. These differences in treatment by the alpha might initially be of such a subtle nature that even though the subordinate in question reacts promptly with increased avoidance behaviour, these differences have escaped our attention.

In cross-breeding experiments it could however be demonstrated that strong hereditary factors determine the likelihood of drifting into a compliant subordinate (β-) position versus the likelihood of drifting into an outcast - (ω-) position. Consequently, differences between omegas and betas of the same population appeared to originate, at least for a greater part, from genetic differences between the subordinate individuals. We label these differences accordingly as 'self-will', 'intolerance', 'tendency to have one's own way', or for that matter, 'tendency to dominate'. And these temperamental differences appeared to determine in a similar way the style of an individual's dominant behaviour.

In the mouse experiments some of the populations were manipulated in such a way that some males shifted through subordinate as well as through dominant social positions. It was found, that 'tolerant', 'compliant' males, apt to take up a beta role instead of an omega role when in a subordinate position, were tolerant of (their) subordinates when performing an alpha role, contrary to males with a high level of 'self-will' or 'tendency to dominate'. The latter would sooner end up in an outcast or omega position when subordinate and when they achieved dominance, they would tend to perform their dominant roles with much intolerant aggressiveness. Besides, self-willed individuals, when either in a dominant or in a subordinate position, tended to display more thing-orientated and explorative (innovative) behaviour, whereas compliant, adaptive individuals tended to display more social-interactive behaviour. And when in a dominant position, compliant, adaptive individuals tended to maintain a more peaceful reign than did self-willed individuals, though the peacefulness of the social group involved was of course also strongly influenced by the level of self-willedness of the other (non-dominant) group members.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   The plausibility of this 'self-will versus compliance' or 'individualistic, thing-orientated versus social' dimension in the domain of temperament traits is furthermore corroborated by a substantial amount of other ethological and personality-psychological literature.

In practice, it is often difficult to distinguish successfully between temperamental traits and social-role dimensions, since it is clear that amount and kind of 'social' behaviour never merely depend on congenital trait-differences, but by definition also depend strongly on the actually assumed roles. Our aim here is to look for the trait 'explorative versus social' as a label for basic individual predilections and as far as it indicates within-role variance in personal style between individuals (see e.g. Strelau, 1974 on the differences between these two classes of inter-individual (differences). Only then can we be sure to be dealing with differences in temperament in the sense of behavioural traits with a stable and inherited component (Buss and Plomin, 1975).

In many species differences between individuals have been found which resemble the above-mentioned differences between male mice. From ethological field research it appears to be a general characteristic of social mammals that some individuals exert a lot of aggressive dominance, bullying their subordinates much of the time, whereas other dominants act as sort of 'social controllers', governing the social relations in the group by social skill, sustained by appreciation from companions rather than by aggressive intimidation. These differences are for instance reported from ethological research on mountain gorillas by Fossey (1972), on chimpanzees by Reynolds and Luscombe (1969), on a number of species including man by Chance and Jolly (1970) and Wilson (1977:311-13) and on man by Lippit and White (1958), Krech et al. (1962), ch. 12), Gibb (1969), Strayer and Strayer (1976), Hold (1976), and Sluckin and Smith (1977). Wilson comments on these differences (p. 294):

It is not wholly imprecise to speak of much of the residual variance in dominance behaviour as being due to 'personality'. The dominance system of (e.g.) the Nilgiri langur (Presbytis johnii) is weakly developed and highly variable from troop to troop. Alliances are present or absent, there is a single adult male or else several animals coexist uneasily, and the patterns of interaction differ from one troop to another. Much of this variation depends on idiosyncratic behavioural traits of individuals, especially of the dominant males. (Poirier, 1970)

To continue with non-human primates, Itani et al. (1963) and Yamada (1966) describe the behaviour of extreme beta-type males in Japanese Monkeys (Macaca fuscata) and indicate that a compliant temperament seems to be conditional for assuming such a role. Yamada further points out that, when eventually achieving a dominant position, a tendency for independence sometimes seems to exclude a tolerant attitude towards subordinates.

Differences between dominant males of this sort have also been described in stumptail macaques (Macaca speciosa) by Bertrand (1969), who describes both 'bullies' and 'fair alpha males' (p. 127) and stresses that aggressiveness is not always a necessary factor for dominance (p. 261). She states that stumptail macaques differ considerably in the amount of intolerance and aggression displayed, and that in certain cases the sustained aggressiveness of some individuals who were followed up for several years, seemed a personality trait appearing early in childhood (pp. 126, 127 and 261). She also concluded that the amount of investigative behaviour shown by an individual depended, apart from social rank, age and conditions of captivity, also on the predisposition of each monkey. Some individuals were far more adventurous than others (Bertrand, 1969:153, 154 and 262). This personality dependence of investigative behaviour overruled age and rank dependent behaviour in particular when the stimuli were frightening or ambivalent.

Earlier it was pointed out that in socially-living mammals at least two sets of basic urges have to be postulated, which, independently from one another, vary over individuals, thus producing inter alia the adaptor/innovator differences. The first set contains drives for social contact and interaction, leading to gregarious types of behaviour. The second set contains the drives for thing-orientated behaviour. From recent neuro-anatomical and endocrinological research it appears that there is probably a strong link between these two distinct sets of drives on the one hand and specific neuro-endocrine systems on the other.

Cloninger (1986, 1987) presented a biosocial theory of personality, based on a synthesis of information from family studies, studies of personality structure, as well as neuropharmacologic and neuroanatomical studies of behavioural conditioning and learning in man and other animals. He describes three dimensions of personality that are genetically independent, two of which, the 'novelty seeking' dimension and the, more socially oriented, 'reward dependence' dimension, relate to the two distinct sets of basic drives mentioned above.

One of his dimensions of personality trait differences is principally ruled by the monoamine neuromodulator 'dopamine'. This system determines the heritable tendency toward intense exhilaration and excitement, leading to frequent exploratory activity (novelty seeking) and avoidance of monotony. Individuals, high on this dimension, are generally also characterized as impulsive, quick-tempered and disorderly. They tend to neglect details and are quickly distracted or bored. They are also easily provoked to prepare for fight or flight. The other dimension is principally ruled by the monoamine neuromodulator norepinephrine. This system determines the heritable tendency to respond intensely to signals of social reward and approval, sentiment and succour. Individuals, high on this dimension, are generally characterized as eager to help and please others, persistent, industrious, warmly sympathetic, sentimental, and sensitive to social cues, praise and personal succour, but also able to delay gratification with the expectation of eventually being - socially - rewarded.

According to Cloninger, a person high on 'novelty seeking' (the dopamine system) and low on 'reward dependence' (the norepinephrine system), is characterized as:

seeking thrilling adventures and exploration; disorderly and unpredictable; intolerant of structure and monotony, regardless of consequences; frequently trying to break rules and to introduce change; quick tempered and strongly engaged with new ideas and activities; socially detached; independent nonconformist; content to be alone; minimal ambition and motivation to please others, and insensitive to social cues and pressures anyway.

Conversely, a person, low on 'novelty seeking' (dopamine) and high on 'reward dependence' (norepinephrine) is characterized as:

dependent on emotional support and intimacy with others; sensitive to social cues and responsive to social pressure; sentimental; crying easily; rigid; orderly and well organized; trying to impose stable structure and consistent routine; rarely becoming angry or excited; an analytical decision maker who always requires detailed analysis of complete information; slow to form and change interests and social attachments.

This is strikingly similar to descriptions of Kirton's innovator v. adaptor dimension, which illustrates once more the biological roots of A-I differences.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   Gibb (1969), Strayer and Strayer (1976), Hold (1976) and Sluckin and Smith (1977) report similar differences in dominance-styles of children, and of adolescents (Savin- Williams, 1979, 1980). Hold labels these differences thus:

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. (Hold, 1976:194)

Turning from dominance styles to more general differences in behavioural style, Abrams and Neubauer (1976) report that human infants differ considerably in the way they divide their attention between persons and objects. This trait dimension, which they called 'Thing- versus Human-Orientedness', was manifest as early as in the second month of life. They found that the more thing-orientated child shows a greater freedom in exploration. Therefore we might label this dimension of 'Thing - versus Human Orientedness' (or sociability) also as 'explorative versus social', parallel to the vocabulary in Bertrand's (1969) longitudinal research on macaques. Abrams and Neubauer (1976) suggest furthermore that learning processes are shaped in a way which is different for each type of child:

Training issues are characterized essentially as "tasks" for the more thing oriented child; for the human- disposed infant, they are characterized as acts in the spectrum of approval or disapproval. ... If earlier impressions were that the more thing-oriented children are more outer-directed, by the third year of life they appeared more inclined to be motivated by inner determinants and resources, a distinction which seems to persist thereafter . . . The dispositions of infants are re-inforced in the milieu, as implements in evolving strategies are cycled back into the psychological system and thus inevitably emerge as traits of character.

Hold (1976) reports that children who rank high in the attention structure tend to set initiatives instead of complying to the initiatives of other children and that they

prefer to play alone when the leading role was already taken by another high-ranking child. It seems that these children do not like to be commanded by other children.

This runs essentially parallel to what has been said in the introduction, in that self-willed individuals are more prone to become either dominants or 'loners' than to become beta-type compliant subordinates. Hold's findings also suggest that such self-willed individuals are prone to become more thing-orientated and less social, since 'loners' are by definition less sociable.

A similar trait contrast is employed by McClain (1978, in his study on the behaviour of adult women. He distinguishes between women (e.g. feminists) who are dominated by a need for independence and women who are dominated by a need for affiliation. McClain, like Ausubel (1952), points out that two basically opposing patterns of maturation occur in the parent-child relationship during a youngster's early years. He terms the resulting personality types as 'satellizers' who tend to adapt to existing rules, versus 'nonsatellizers' who tend to behave more individualistically (hence feminists' irritation at failing to imbue all women with their views).

The satellizing child establishes her life orbit about her parents, whom she perceives as the benign source of all that is good in her life. In contrast, the nonsatellizing child rejects this kind of dependency because she 'believes' that her welfare lies in her freedom to choose her own course. (McClain; 1978: 436)

The material of McClain's study was derived from behaviour of women. Kirton (1976, 1987a) investigates the phenomenon of adaptiveness and innovativeness in adults in general. For Kirton, a person confronted with a problem has a choice: he can do things 'better' or 'more' to solve the problem (adapt) or he can do things 'dfferently' (innovate). Doing things 'better' (Drucker, 1969) implies the acceptance of the old framework, while doing things 'differently' means breaking accepted patterns. As Kirton says:

The Adaptor is right at home in bureaucracies, which tend to become more adaptor-oriented as times goes on . . . whereas . . . the natural position of high Innovators seems to be out on a limb.

Kirton's work is of special significance if for the performance of leaders it can be argued that innovators tend to become initiating and directing 'task'-leaders whereas adaptors tend to become consideration-orientated 'maintenance-specialists' of social relations. This is in line with differences between leader types as described by Bales (1953), Halpin and Winer (1957), Thibaut and Kelley (1959), Krech et al. (1962) and Reddin (1987). From a conceptual point of view, innovativeness may furthermore be considered as a positively appreciated creative variant of non-conformism and disobedience.

'Conformity' as defined by Krech et al. (1962) in their research on the dimensions of social interactive behaviour, is related to the trait dimension 'thing-orientated and self- willed versus social and compliant'. They state:

For another thing, some people are more resistant to group pressures and demands (the hard-core independents and the deviants) than are others (the easy conformists) (Krech et al., 1962: 486)


The above findings offer strong support for the proposition that conformity tendencies are significantly related to enduring personality factors in the individual. (Ibid: 527)

The relevance for our model becomes especially clear where they define Conformity as a 'trait of the person' as opposed to conformity as a 'trait of the situation' (or 'social role' dimension in our words).

. . . conformity might be thought of as a 'trait of the situation', (and) There are also marked individual differences in general readiness to conform, over a wide variety of situations. These differences . . . reflect conformity as a 'trait of the person'. This distinction between conformity as reflecting the conformity-inducing properties of a situation and as reflecting the conforming propensity of a person should be kept well in mind. Much of the controversy and misunderstanding about the facts and theories of conformity stems from a confusion of these two aspects of conformity. (Ibid.)


✰✰✰ <level 3>   Of particular interest is the existence of a similar dimension in factoranalytic personality trait research. Feij (1978) compares the trait models of Heymans (1932), Eysenck (1953), Zuckerman (1974), Strelau (1974), Buss et al. (1973) and Buss and Plomin (1975), amongst others. Although these authors often use different classes of subjects and prefer different final rotations of their resulting factorial personality models, some of their dimensions appear closely related to our trait dimension 'self-willed and individualistic and thing-orientated and explorative' versus 'compliant and social'.

For instance, a high score on Zuckerman's (1974) and Feij's (1978; Feij et al. 1979, 1981) trait dimension of 'sensation seeking' indicates a strong need for change, exploration and new experiences, a tendency towards independence of other people and an anti-authoritarian attitude, while 'low sensation seeking' implies a tendency to comply with conventional values and rules. Feij (1978: 293) stresses that extreme sensation seekers may on the one hand be anti-social, drop-out delinquents but may on the other hand be unconventional but fully accepted creative innovators (For Goldsmith's empirical support, see Chapter 2). This is in agreement with what was postulated above, namely that highly self-willed individuals have a tendency to become either dropouts (omega-role) or accepted innovators in the focus of attention (alpha-role), and that individuals with a low self-will have a higher tendency to assume beta- roles compliantly.

Buss and Plomin's (1975) trait dimension 'sociability' indicates a strong need to be together with others, a high responsiveness toward others and a predilection for social interaction above non-social reinforcers (Feij, 1978).

In most other factoranalytical classification systems (a) dimension(s) may also be discerned which is (are) related to our concept of 'self-will and thing-orientatedness versus compliant and social'. In Cattell's sixteen-personality-factor set for instance, the dimension labelled as 'liberalism' (Ql), indicating among other things behavioural differences like 'conservative' and 'experimenting', is supposed to measure an underlying tendency toward nonconformity and independence versus a need for affiliation (Cattell, Eber and Tatsuoka, 1970; Karson and O'Dell, 1976; McClain, 1978). At least three other dimensions from his 16PF battery also relate to concepts discussed here, namely Cattell's higher order factor IV, indicating 'subduedness versus independence', the factor 'assertiveness' ('E') indicating 'cautious humbleness versus abrasive assertiveness', and the factor 'Superego' ('G'), indicating 'conscientiousness versus expedience' (Kirton and de Ciantis, 1986; Kirton, 1987a).

From all these data it would appear that the personality trait dimension we are looking for, does indeed emerge systematically in one form or other in most factoranalytic personality research. Moreover it appears from the empirical work of, inter alia, Goldsmith (see Chapter 2) that the concepts emerging in all these dimensions from the various authors on personality are indeed related, forming a coherent web of conceptually intertwined behavioural characteristics. Kirton (in Chapter 1) reports numerous different studies, which investigated the interrelations of the KAI with various established dimensions fitting into this mesh of conceptually intertwined personality characteristics. This resulted in over 60 significant correlations with twenty five of these different personality trait dimensions. This is the more interesting because Kirton's A-I theory provides a conceptual framework linking all these aspects of personality in a meaningful way, a framework which ties in seamlessly with the theory as outlined in the previous sections. We shall return to Kirton's research in the following sections.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   These data from personality research are the more relevant because various writers point out that a genetic basis of these dimensions has repeatedly been established firmly (Eysenck, 1967; Buss et al., 1975; Feij, 1978; Claridge et al., 1973; Eaves and Eysenck, 1975; Wilson, 1977; Plomin and Rowe, 1977, 1979).

Feij uses, for instance, two more or less orthogonal dimensions with a hereditary component which seem to be related to our dimension 'self-willed, individualistic, thing- orientated, explorative, versus compliant, social' (See Figure 9). These are labelled by Feij as 'extraversion' and 'sensation seeking'. His topological system does not include a genetically based dimension 'activity' like Buss and Plomin's (1975), for example but both these dimensions of Feij may be conceived as correlated with 'activity' because a high activity enhances a higher score on either scale (Feij, 1978;

Feij et al., 1979). Therefore Feij's two dimensions 'extraversion' and 'sensation seeking', both with hereditary components, appear to be similar (spanning the same two- dimensional personality space) to the dimension we are looking for, together with the dimension 'activity-level' (see Figure 9).

The empirical findings of Kirton (1976, 1978a, 1987b: 90-9 and 114-19) and Ettlie and O'Keefe (1982) are also in line with the notion of a biological basis. They report that differences in innovativeness versus adaptiveness are not significantly related to IQ, level of education, exam results or previous experiences, but are definitely of a more basic personality nature (see Chapter 2). What is clear is that Kirton's concept indicates the 'type' of creativity, and so differs from instruments which measure 'level' of creativity (Kirton, 1978c; Torrance and Horng, 1980) Kirton (1987a) further marshals the evidence that, at the least, the adaption-innovation characteristics must be set early in life. The biological links of the adaptor/innovator differences also show in a correlation with hemispheric preference (Torrance, 1982; Kirton, 1987a; Prato Previde and Carli, 1987).

Fig. 9. Feij's dimensions 'extraversion' and 'sensation seeking', the balance between them – our dimension adaptive – and their relation with 'general activity level'.

The more methodical, planned approach of the left-brain dominated individual relates to adaption, and the more intuitive style of the right-brain dominated individual relates to innovation. In summary, the available data support the view that a genetically based trait dimension 'thing-orientated, explorative versus social' or, in different terms, 'self-willed versus compliant' is indeed conspicuously present.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   As the first three assumptions made at the beginning of this chapter find ample support in ethological and psychological literature, one would conclude that in any class of social (group) systems in which there are clear differences between members and non-members (prerequisite 4), cyclic changes should occur in the sense that each separate social group or structure only has a limited life-span, which life-span is inversely proportional to the effectiveness of the selection pressure in favour of compliance within the (group) structure. The separate life-cycles are then separated by turn-over catastrophes which go by various names, depending on the level of organization: territorial conquest, close-down, discontinuance, bankruptcy, revolution, subjugation, extermination, genocide, etc.

In the literature on animal ecology and population dynamics the research data on population explosions and emigration waves at more or less regular time intervals are renowned (see e.g. Christian, 1970, on various species of lemmings, mice and voles). Whereas Christian points to the importance of these periodic changes in density and migration activity for evolution, the proximal causation of these conspicuous phenomena has up to this moment not yet been explained satisfactorily. It shall be clear that the present model constitutes, among other things, an attempt to fill this gap.

Turning to man, we can, in the psychological literature, find many comments referring to the relevance of the discussed personality dimensions (and the selection thereupon) for the way our human society is run, including data on the selective processes involved (see also, apart from the authors quoted here, Snow, 1961; Etzioni, 1964; Weick, 1969; and Tiger, 1987). Milgram (1974), on the first page of his book on the compliance of people in situations where obedience and conformity conflict with ethics and sympathy, states:

Obedience is the psychological mechanism that links individual action to political purpose. It is the dispositional cement that binds men to systems of authority. Facts of recent history and observation in daily life suggest that for many people obedience may be a deeply ingrained behaviour tendency, indeed, a prepotent impulse overriding training in ethics, sympathy, and moral conduct.

This dependence of strongly repressive systems on a strong and dependable compliance of its employees and 'agents', explains what is often considered a paradox in the literature on holocausts like e.g., in 'das Dritte Reich', namely that, surprisingly, the people who were in charge of the extermination machinery quite generally appeared to be extremely docile, middle-class, adapted, morally rigid and reliable house-fathers and exemplary husbands, with an aversion to adventure and violence. As shall be clear from the present theory, this is the only type of person - the highly compliant, non-innovative, non-self-willed adaptor - that can be relied upon to carry through orders ('Befehl ist Befehl!') in situations where obedience strongly conflicts with morals and ethics. Under such extreme circumstances the selection pressure on personality characteristics is therefore also extreme, the not-extremely-compliant individuals trying to avoid such ghastly 'responsibilities' (see e.g. van der Dennen, 1987). As Koestler (1967) eloquently stated:

It is not the murderers, the criminals, the delinquents and the wildly nonconformists who have embarked on the really significant rampages of killing, torture and mayhem. Rather it is the conformist, virtuous citizens, acting in the name of righteous causes and intensely held beliefs who throughout history have perpetrated the fiery holocausts of war, the religious persecutions, the sacks of cities, the wholesale rape of women, the dismemberment of the old and the young and the other unspeakable horrors ... The crimes of violence committed for selfish, personal motives are historically insignificant compared to those committed 'ad majorem gloriam Dei', out of a self-sacrificing devotion to flag, a leader, a religious faith, or a political conviction.

It should be stressed here that this tendency towards obedience and conformity is not the exclusive domain of adaptors. It is a general human characteristic. In fact, it is an undispensable basic characteristic of any social mammal. It is the glue that keeps individuals together in social structures. The difference between adaptors and innovators is a relative one. Adaptors are more often willing to pay the price of giving up personal urges and convictions in favour of social coherence and compliance with authority, whereas innovators are more often prepared to pay the price of social isolation for not giving up personal convictions and desires. Milgram labels the compliant, subordinate style of functioning the 'agentic mode', which expresses that somebody in that mode functions as the 'agent' of some (personal or impersonal) authority. He points out that individuals tend to function in any one situation in either this mode or in its opposite, the 'autonomous mode'. Milgram explains that the readiness to shift from the 'agentic mode' into the 'autonomous mode' in certain conflict situations, differs considerably between adults, and that people differ in the amount of time they spend in either 'mode'.

This discontinuity in the way antagonistic social modes of functioning reverse into each other, is also highlighted by the phenomenological work of Apter and co-workers on "reversal theory' (Apter, 1982, ch. 9, 1983; Apter and Smith, 1976, 1985; Lachenicht, 1985). They label these antagonist meta-motivational modes of functioning as the "negativistic" and the 'conformist' state. Apter (1982: 198) defines:

When high arousal is associated with the negativistic state in the telic (goal-directed, need-motivated, re-active) mode, then the emotion experienced is likely to be that of anger. Indeed, it would appear that it is the operation of the negativistic state which transforms anxiety into anger. Anything which increases the arousal at such a time, e.g., frustration, will also increase the intensity of the anger experience ... Negativism in an individual always involves three related components in his or her phenomenal field. The first consists of some other individual, or some social group or situation, which is perceived as exerting some pressure on him or her. This can be called the 'source'. The second component consists of some perceived expectation, norm, convention, suggestion, request, requirement, rule, law, command, order, injunction, prohibition, threat or dictate, deriving from the source. . . . The third component is a feeling on the part of the individual who perceives the requirement (etc.) and the source, as a desire or need to reject it and act against it. . . . Put at its simplest, then, the feeling of being in a negativistic state can be defined as 'wanting, or feeling compelled, to do something contrary to that required by some external agency'. The conformist state can be defined most simply as the absence of this feeling.

Since individuals tend to reverse from one meta-motivational state into the other in a discrete, all-or-none way, as was also shown by Milgram, negativist/conformist differences between individuals should not so much be regarded as differences in the 'degree' of conformism with which individuals generally operate in their social environment, but rather as differences in the relative frequencies of the antagonist meta-motivational states, viz. the relative frequency of the 'conformist' versus the 'negativist', or, in Milgram's terms, the 'agentic' versus the 'autonomous' state. It is in these frequent or less frequent instances of negativistic states, with all the possibilities of social friction and evoked conflicts involved, that the selective forces exert their systematic pressure.

The differences between individuals in their tendencies either to comply with social standards most of the time, or to act autonomously and independently most of the time, are also important for the way in which bureaucratic structures and other social institutions are run. Kirton elaborates:

the 'adaptor' personality . . . who can be relied upon to carry out a thorough, disciplined search for ways to eliminate problems by 'doing things better' with a minimum of risk and a maximum of continuity and stability. . . . (whereas) . . . innovative change . . . leads to increased risk and less conformity to rules and accepted work patterns (Bright, 1964), and for this reason it rarely occurs in institutions on a large scale. (Kirton 1978c: 611)

It is said that organisations in general (Whyte, 1957; Bakke, 1965; Weber, 1970; Mulkay, 1972) and especially organisations which are large in size and budget (Veblen, 1928; Swatez, 1970) have a tendency to encourage bureaucracy and adaption in order to minimise risk. Weber (1970), Merton (1957) and Parsons (1951) wrote that the aims of a bureaucratic structure are precision, reliability, and efficiency. The bureaucratic structure in its nature exerts constant pressure on officials to be methodical, prudent, and disciplined, resulting in an unusual degree of individual conformity in that situation. (Kirton, 1987c).

Therefore institutions tend to become more adaptor-oriented as time goes on (see Chapter 3) because a selection pressure is continuously exerted against innovators. Hayward and Everett (1983) found empirically that in the case of an adaptive cognitive climate, innovators are more likely to resign than adaptors, which consolidates and strengthens the adaptive climate. But the present model goes even further and predicts also that in the case of an innovative cognitive climate the average level of innovativeness of individuals coming into and staying in the organization, will tend to be a little lower than the current general average, which causes the cognitive climate gradually to shift towards adaptiveness. This is not to deny that in general there is a selection pressure in the direction of the existing cognitive climate, it just means that there must also be another overall selection pressure in the direction of more adaptiveness. In other words, a slight deviance from the average cognitive climate in the adaptive direction should be more acceptable to the established in-crowd than a slight deviance in the innovative direction. One of the reasons for the latter effect is the innovator's lower level of social skills. Even when an innovator finds badly needed novel solutions for pressing problems, it will often fail to render him social approval, because of inherent (sometimes insurmountable) communication problems with his more adaption-orientated colleagues (Kirton, 1987a).

Instead of winning social approval when coming up with the badly needed novel solutions for pressing problems, the innovator rather experiences that tolerance for his innovative style of approach is at its lowest ebb when his adaptor-type colleagues feel under pressure from the need for quick and consensually accepted change (Kirton, 1987c). Even when the novel solutions in question are accepted, it does not generally lead to a suspension of the above discussed selective forces. In an empirical study to investigate the ways by which ideas, which had led to radical changes in some companies, were developed and implemented, Kirton (1961) found that:

There was a marked tendency for the majority of ideas which encountered opposition and delays to have been put forward by managers who were themselves on the fringe, or were even unacceptable to the 'establishment' group. This negativism occurred not only before, but after the ideas had not only become accepted, but had even been rated as highly successful. At the same time other managers putting forward the more palatable (i.e, conventional) ideas were themselves not only initially acceptable, but remained so even if their ideas were later rejected or failed.

It can thus be seen how the failure of ideas is less damaging to the adaptor than to the innovator since any erroneous assumptions upon which the ideas were based were also shared with colleagues and other influential people (Kirton, 1984).


✰✰✰ <level 3>   This relative advantage for adaptors in terms of social selection pressures can even easier be understood if we take into account the fact that adaptors and innovators are also different in their cognitive functioning. As Kirton showed (1985), innovators are more inclined towards consistency between (as distinct from within) paradigms than are adaptors. Adaptors are more likely to use different paradigms at different times, bothering less with their mutual inconsistency, in particular if the use of such different and incompatible paradigms is in line with local habits and expectations.

For instance, it is no problem for many people to go to church on Sundays in snug conviction of their own good Christian faith, while behaving in a rather unchristian fashion during the rest of the week. This results in a conflict of conscience, because nobody is totally indifferent to the contradiction between his Sunday's creeds and his daily deeds. The adaptors have to pay a price for their adherence to consensus and their wish to stick to established but mutually incompatible paradigms for different situations. In order to avoid too much cognitive dissonance they have to keep the paradigms functionally well separated and thus the situations in which each one is applied. As a consequence they also have to accept a lower overall level of rationality. In terms of cognitive logic adaptors tend towards applying 'sufficiency-orientated' paradigms with an empirical ad hoc character in contrast to the bent of the typical innovator for 'necessity-oriented' paradigms with a more general and broad causal validity.

The consequence of the innovator's need for consistency between paradigms is that he appears of necessity less rigidly committed to any one separate paradigm. He will sooner start to explore its limits and reconsider its validity (see Goldsmith and Matherley, 1986b for example). Since his concern is primarily with mutual consistency, he is less concerned with minor details. He will rather squeeze at least one paradigm a bit to make more paradigms fit together into one new encompassing model than have to accept a multitude of different paradigms for different occasions. But his preference for few novel encompassing models above many established models of limited scope, no matter the unavoidable initial lack of sufficient detail of the new paradigms, brings with it the social risk of being regarded a heretic by colleagues. By this cognitive bias the typical innovator is likely to run into trouble with at least three different categories of people.

First, he will clash with supporters of each separate established classical paradigm which he tries to incorporate in his novel grand design, and these supporters are likely to be a majority. Second, he will clash with anybody who is slow at accepting new ideas - typical adaptors fit into the category, but also anybody feeling too insecure to let go of the anchorage of fixed old ideas and beliefs. In itself, this category is also likely to be a majority. Third, standing out by his deviant points of view, he is, as pointed out in the section on ethological and endocrinological data, likely to be sought out by people who are on the look-out for scapegoats.

All in all, the innovator is apt to run into social trouble just because he is trying to solve his personal paradigm inconsistencies, let alone the rest of his less appreciated behavioural predilections. Little wonder then, that the innovator, on average is unlikely to beat the adaptor within the system, be it science (Kuhn, 1970) or organization (Whyte, 1957).

As a consequence of this continuous selection pressure, discussed in the previous two sections, ageing institutions suffer in the end from the disadvantages of not having innovator type creative input available in times of change when policy and methods are required to change as well. Such necessary changes are therefore often brought about only when a 'precipitating event', or a crisis, occurs when at last the adaptor needs, and so collaborates with, the innovator (Kirton, 1961). Therefore, although the adaptor clearly has qualities essential to any institution, he should not be the only type to be rewarded by promotion. Despite the fact that the innovator has weaknesses - he is erratic, insensitive to the needs of others, impatient, and a risk-taker - which are potentially dangerous to an organization, he also has qualities essential to that organization. (Kirton, 1978c: 661)

Scientific research is one of the areas where the effects of the selective forces as discussed earlier can clearly be recognized. The very goal of scientific research is to find ever better conceptual and instrumental frameworks. But, as Kuhn (1970) points out, changing the paradigms which are hitherto accepted without question by an entire scientific community, requires a breakdown of previously accepted rules. Such breakdowns are the very process of scientific revolution and this revolutionary process is also fundamental to scientific advance.

In scientific institutions, the innovator type input is therefore not only needed in rarely occurring times of change, but very regularly, since 'precipitating events' or conceptual crises are the very thing that scientific efforts are supposed to be aimed at. Some ageing institutions, like production or administrative units, that have an unconscious adaptive bias in selection and in promotion policies may initially not be very disadvantaged. For as long as no drastic external challenges turn up, they can go on producing their output ever more efficiently with excellent results. But in ageing research units it is eventually disastrous if the 'cognitive climate' becomes more and more adaptor-orientated. The innovator type creative output, consisting of (often disquieting) conceptual challenges and explorations of the unknown and 'unthought', will in that case gradually be replaced by adaptor type output consisting of residual puzzle-solving and inter-paradigm discoveries with lesser conceptual threat. After an initially fruitful phase of consolidation, the prevailing paradigms will become overpowerful. It is clear that in a government-protected scientific community, even more than in government-protected industrial companies, competition does not operate freely. On the contrary, the scientific community tends to be controlled by people whose career and existence depend on the dominant paradigms and who, as a consequence, are neither able nor willing to view the world and its phenomena in a different way. This may postpone organization-structural turnover considerably, and thus the timely rejuvenation and de-ossifications science continually needs; eventually catastrophe intervenes.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   Apart from these specific ossification phenomena, many more areas in human society can be found where the effects of the selection mechanisms are manifest. These selection mechanisms are apparently operative in lower social mammals as well as in man. They must therefore be anchored quite solidly in the behavioural system. This is not surprising because this mechanism does indeed have considerable evolutionary advantages, not only in animals, but, at least up to recent times, also in the case of man. As mentioned earlier, it facilitates speciation through genetic adaption to marginal habitats, helps in many species to overcome migratory bottlenecks, and even serves to motor the evolution of culture in the case of man. It seems, therefore, plausible that if, in the case of man, our superior capacity for learning plays a modifying role in these matters, that the organization of our intellectual capacities will have evolved in such a way, as to enhance the occurrence of selection cycles, rather than to thwart them. The mechanism of selection cycles and periodic turn-over catastrophes is basically powered by the involuntary forces of attraction and repulsion within social groups and structures. Therefore it must have been evolutionarily advantageous for behavioural and cognitive 'master-programmes' to develop, serving to prevent the intellectual capacities from interfering with the involuntary biases in social interactions.

As we shall see, this is indeed what can be found. Generally speaking, people are quite well able to assess their own as well as other people's basic behavioural tendencies and personality characteristics. People are found to be quite proficient in the utilization of personality descriptive adjectives and other personality descriptive language (Norman, 1963; Goldberg, 1978; Brokken, 1978; de Raad, 1985). From an evolutionary point of view this ability is not surprising. After all, it is extremely important for us, as a socially living and intelligent mammal species, to predict other people's actions correctly. People are for instance quite well able to estimate their own and other's position on the adaptor-innovator dimension accurately (Kirton and McCarthy, 1985).

Knowing this, one would suggest that it should be even easier to assess one's own and other people's characteristics at the level of overt social behaviour, and still easier to evaluate objectively and reliably one's own and other's social actions in hindsight. This, however, is contrary to what is found. Human beings appear to be peculiarly unable to assess objectively the quality of their own social-role behaviour and the role-behaviour of other people they are dealing with in the social group. There is, it appears, a sort of 'social-role blindness', of specific blind spots in our cognitive capacities, safeguarding primitive, elementary tendencies of being either attracted or repulsed by other people, depending on their own and on the other's social role and position. As in the experiments with mice, described earlier, the omega-like subordinates, the peripheral non-conforming types, are also in humans most likely to be disliked by the established leaders as well as by the conforming and compliant other subordinates. This is in fact of course a tautological statement, since drifting into a marginal or an outcast position (omega-type in Figure 6), is just another way of saying that one is less acceptable to, and less accepting of, the in-group as Lindsay's (1985) KAI case study shows.

What is important to note here, however, is that human individuals are hardly aware that the way they assess the other person's qualities is to a large extent coloured by their positive or negative feelings towards that other person, resulting from the involuntary forces of attraction and repulsion in operation. A considerable part of human communication consists not of transferring pure information, but of more or less involuntary emotional expressions of praise, admiration, criticism, ridicule, and insults, as is shown for instance in the ethological work of Weisfeld (1980) on social role behaviour in adolescent boys, or in the sociological investigations by Segerstrale (1986) into the Wilson-Lewontin 'scientific' debate as part of the sociobiological controversy. To a large extent the use of language serves to support or to camouflage non-verbal actions, actions for manipulating other people and for staking out and sustaining social roles (Scheflen and Scheflen, 1972; Mehrabian, 1972; Argyle, 1976 a, b).

In fact analytic research on the social interactions between people, the first and by far the largest principal component is in general the so called 'evaluation-' or 'positive-negative dimension', describing to what extent one appreciates or disappreciates the rated other. In questionnaire research where elucidation of the actual social behavioural attitudes and social-role distributions is the primary goal, the raw data are therefore in general first 'corrected' for the positive-negative evaluation' or 'social desirability' dimension by partialling out its influence (Benjamin, 1974; 419). Raters colour their judgements with 'appreciation' or 'disapproval' to indicate, 'explain' and consolidate the social relations between themselves and the rated person (e.g., Kipnis, 1976: ch. 9).

The importance of this negative or positive bias in the way we think about our companions is also expressed in the fact that most behavioural attitudes and personality characteristics can be expressed in positive as well as in negative terms, giving us virtually a double set of conceptual labels for other people's actions and behavioural attitudes. This cumbersome and at first sight inefficient cognitive organization, in which the pure assessment of other people's behavioural qualities is blurred to a great extent by the strong involuntary bias of 'appreciation' or 'disappreciation', can only be evolutionarily advantageous if it serves an essential purpose. This purpose may be the protection of the involuntary attraction and repulsion reflexes, which direct our social behaviour, against our intelligent faculties. Indeed, people do not generally realize that their, say negative, labelling of (the behaviour of) an important other, can easily be changed into its positive counterpart by simply regarding the same behaviour from the point of view of a supporter, and vice versa. They tend instead to attach a sense of permanence and absoluteness to their (negative) judgement, and they are in particular not aware of the relativity of the judgement in terms of its dependence on the mutual social positions of the rater and the ratee.

In summary, the postulated blind spots and 'no entry' signs in our intellectual faculties apparently do indeed exist. Despite our vaunted intellect and our protestations of rational and scientific know-how, we humans show a disturbing tendency to reserve our intellectual powers strictly for certain specific tasks. In other specific areas of functioning, like the mechanisms of social attraction and repulsion mentioned above, we tend to rely on intuitive biases while allowing the intellectual faculties to be effectively blocked.

The result of these cognitive biases is that, in many instances, we cannot help to foster involuntarily a lower esteem for other persons if they happen to be less 'in-crowd' than ourselves. And in more extreme cases, we cannot help tending to join others in 'mobbing' or in 'scapegoating'. We tend to justify the actions taken through our (biased) evaluations of the outcast's or scapegoat's qualities, attitudes and behaviour (unless we incidentally happen to be one of the outcast's supporters). Being in the 'agentic' or 'systemic' (Milgram, 1974) or 'compliant' (Apter and Smith, 1976, 1985) motivational mode while dealing with a victim, we involuntarily tend to see the person in question to a larger or lesser extent as inferior, or even repulsive, detestable or evil. This tendency is so powerful it is considered the behavioural basis of torture by Amnesty International (1973).

We cannot help hating our (self-created) enemies and we cannot help loving primarily, those individuals who the selection-cycle mechanism urges us to appreciate. On the level of the behaviour of managers for instance, this can be illustrated by the findings of Kirton (1987c):

Problems of fruitful collaboration between innovators and adaptors are not infrequently based on the coloured and often inaccurate perceptions which each group has of the other. Innovators tend to be seen by adaptors as abrasive, insensitive and disruptive, unaware of the havoc they are causing. Adaptors are seen by innovators, on the other hand, as stuffy and unenterprising, wedded to systems, rules and norms of behaviour which (in the opinion of the innovators) are restrictive and ineffectual. Consquently, disagreement and conflict are likely to arise when the more extreme types of innovator and adaptor come into working contact. . . . When the extreme types view each other pejoratively (as they tend to do - see also Myers 1962: 76) the innovator claims that the adaptor originates with a finger on the stop button; the adaptor sees the innovator as an originator who cannot find such a button.

When it comes to evaluating the contributions of adaptors versus those of innovators, the effect of systematic evaluative distortions becomes even more apparent. Kirton points out that when ideas fail, initiators who are adaptors, are less likely to be blamed than those who are innovators, since the former share with the establishment the same set of basic assumptions. To condemn them would be, in the eyes of the establishment, to condemn themselves. As a consequence, such failure is likely to be written off as 'bad luck' or due to 'unforeseeable events', thereby directing the blame away from the individuals concerned. The opposite is found for the authors of innovative ideas, ideas which depart from and may even challenge the beliefs, values and practices of the group. They tend to be viewed with suspicion, and may be subjected to derision, and such rejection or virtual hostility may very well persist even after those ideas have been shown to be successful. Nonconformists are not forgiven for being right. Authors of adaptive ideas, being themselves in most cases adaptors, generally appear to be in a relationship of mutual admiration with the establishment, which leads those managers of the opposite turn of mind - the innovators - to assert that adaptors owe their success to and maintain their position simply by agreeing with their superiors. Kirton (1977) showed, however, that such opinions are not supported by empirical evidence. They are part of the systematic cognitive distortions, in this case cherished by the typical innovators.


✰✰✰ <level 3>   It could be argued that, at least in man, social structure cycles with their turn-over catastrophes might occur merely because of mechanisms on the cognitive psychological level. In that case one would not need to postulate a genetic background for these gradual shifts in social structures to occur. Indeed, as we saw above, social-role blindness and related cognitive biases are a very powerful influence in man. Moreover, we can also find a wealth of empirical and experimental data on the various constraints on learning in man, on habit-forming, traditions and the transfer of cultural information, on perceptual biases like the cognitive dissonance theory, etc., all showing that our behaviour is organized in such a way, that a great inertia of ideas, concepts and habits is safeguarded in spite of our capacity to keep learning. These data would suggest that enough mechanisms at a purely cognitive and cultural level can be traced as to make social-structural cycles likely to occur. Indeed, the basic requirement for the postulated selection cycles is not so much that there is a genetic basis to it, but rather that individuals, once their phenotypes in these areas of functioning have established themselves, cannot be reshaped into their opposites. As we saw above, this inflexibility aspect, irrespective of its causes, has been firmly established by psychological research. Moreover, the evidence for genetic influence cannot be neglected. These mechanisms are therefore most probably implemented on the genetic as well as on the learning level. That in man, the learning animal par excellence, the influence of learning will be important goes without saying.

Another, related, critique is the argument that where a multi-gene basis of these differences should be expected, a strong enough selection pressure and a quick selection response are difficult to imagine. However, no high mortality, or low fecundity or whatever on the part of the declining morph needs to be assumed at all. Basic to the model is rather the existence of differences between in-crowd and outcast-individuals. No physical elimination whatsoever needs to be assumed to let the cycles run. The only thing which needs to be postulated is that the in-group/out-group and the in-crowd/outcast distribution of social roles and positions is subject to reshuffling. It depends on the level of organization we are talking about whether the postulate of a genetic effect needs to be included in a description of the cycles or not. In man this will, in my view, probably only be indispensable in the case of very long-term cycles on a very large scale. On most levels of human social structures the individuals selected against just need to be shifted into outgroup- or outcast positions, relative to the unit(s) of organization in question. The very presence of the removed individuals in the organizational periphery then represents the growing danger of a turn-over catastrophe.

As was pointed out above, the duration of social-structural cycles is predicted to be roughly inversely proportional to speed and intensity of selection for the trait under discussion. In an industrial company the intensity of selection and the take-on/dismissal percentages are much higher than the selection intensity and the immigration /emigration percentages in the much larger units of political states for instance. Therefore the average cycle periods are likely to vary from a few decades in companies (refer for illustrative material on cycles to Schumpeter, 1939; Kirton, 1961, 1976) or in political parties (Ostrogorski, 1982) to a few centuries in political states (Olson, 1982), or even to one or two millennia in the case of whole civilizations (for illustration refer to Spengler, 1918; Toynbee, 1972) (1. p.197) Darlington, 1969; Davis, 1974). The small-scale turn-over cycles with a relatively stronger and quicker selection effect, are thus superimposed on the larger-scale turn-over cycles with a longer life-span. Individuals may therefore be outcasts in terms of some small-scale social structure while at the same time being totally accepted 'incrowd' members in terms of some larger-scale social structure. The small- scale cycles may thus be seen as the ripples on the surface of the long-range waves of the large-scale cycles. What happens with a person at the social role level of a sports club is not necessarily paralleled at the level of the village community or the nation.

This chapter has however argued that the sociological theory of a mechanism of cyclic changes and periodic turn-over catastrophes is anchored firmly and intricately in our behavioural system, rooted in genetically based social patterns and protected against rational inquiry by specific awareness blocks. This leads to a rather gloomy perspective. A limited life-span for industrial companies and other social organizations does seem natural, ending in their bankruptcy or takeover. In the case of animals this natural course of events in social structures would seem inevitable. They can do nothing about their behavioural programme. The human case, however, is an altogether different matter. Man's saving grace is his unparalleled capacity to learn. Once a sufficient number of people succeed in gaining a clear understanding of these mechanisms and come to grips with them the opportunity exists to mitigate these biological tendencies.

The aim to keep harvesting the benefits of the periodic widespread change to new and novel circumstances (which is progress), without suffering so much damage from catastrophe, (e.g., Weisbord, 1987) such as global economic slump or devastating war. Mankind as a whole has up to now been able to survive these self-induced disasters. But it must be worthwhile to search for ways to replace or short- circuit nature's hitherto applied selection tricks with which it powered our evolution, and to substitute alternative and less dangerous mechanisms for it. As Kirton (1987c) points out, individuals may acquire coping strategies, compensating for the set-backs, concomitant with their particular cognitive style. Similarly, society as a whole, may learn to overcome the catastrophic events, concomitant with the unchecked progression of the cyclic social changes, if the mechanisms are better understood. This elaboration of Adaption-Innovation theory is admittedly still tentative, but its relevance for our very existence might urge us to search for further experimental evidence for or against it.

This elaboration contains several related parts. Initially Kirton's suggestion that Adaption-Innovation differences are set up early in an individual's life is taken up, and it is demonstrated that most probably they are innate and certainly, basically not confined to man. Then the argument develops by reference to the already well-established research on changes in animal groups. It highlights the gradual 'ageing' effect in social structures leading to disastrous destabilization from intruding, less compliant individuals and groups, a situation paralleled in human institutions and described in earlier chapters. In short, the concept of individual preferred style to solve basic social problems has explanatory power in understanding group phenomena. Kirton and his associates have been concerned with the influence of these individual differences on industrial type organizations but there is no apparent reason why the same influences should not bear on the State itself. Organizations, however large, can be affected by selection drift into adaption domination, first establishing 'evolutionary' type change which is orderly, safe and largely acceptable, then gradually slowing the pace of that change. As the pace of change slows, the range of flexibility narrows closer to well-chosen, but 'ageing' paradigms, so the pressure for innovative change banks up until drastic 'revolutionary' type catastrophe threatens discontinuous rupture of whole societies. What can be tolerated in small groups of social animals - however uncomfortable to the individual - cannot be readily accepted for whole swathes of mankind.

This chapter suggests that the same mitigating processes that aid individuals and small groups again applies on larger scales: insight through knowledge and a wide range of learnt, acceptable forms of coping behaviour may enable society to avoid catastrophic events.


1. Toynbee disagrees with what he calls Spengler's 'determinism'. Though he (Toynbee) gives abundant material to illustrate the point made here, he emphasizes that one cannot convincingly speak of some or other predetermined and fixed 'life span' of societies. The present theory would support Spengler's view. But it would also give room for something that Toynbee stresses, namely that, as far as their life-span and their spin-off in terms of disseminative effect towards other societies is concerned, societies differ greatly from one another. According to the present theory, it very much depends on incidental environmental factors how effective selective emigration can be, and how strong the differential propagation within the structures themselves. And it depends on the actual presence of competing structures how quickly the effects of the internal selection processes will precipitate an eventual turnover catastrophe.


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