Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Appropriate Systemic Culture

While some moral imperatives may be universally significant, many principles are defined by the systemic culture. (Vauclair & Fischer, 2011) Systems that embrace moral ideals can increase the frequency of positive behaviors by establishing appropriate procedures. (Zimbardo, 2007) To ensure appropriate organizational motivations, the legitimacy of the authority and culture should be continuously evaluated in the context of objective assessments. (Kilmann, Saxton, & Serpa, 1986) Effective policies are adopted when the ideology of an organization is founded on valid perceptions regarding the nature of the environment rather than illegitimate distortions of reality.

Although concepts like justice and fairness may be independent of organizational values, other principles are often established to maintain the continuity of systemic arrangements. (Vauclair & Fischer, 2011) The culture of an organization is a representation of the essential values embraced by the hierarchical authorities. (Zimbardo, 2007) Values are the abstract motivations that guide and justify the attitudes and behaviors of an individual. (Vauclair & Fischer, 2011) A positive organizational culture promotes behaviors that serve the purpose of the institution. (Kilmann et al., 1986)

Systems are power structures that implement procedures in order to promote the achievement of authority motivations. (Zimbardo, 2007) An institution establishes specific procedures to generate particular situations and behaviors that are consistent with the general objectives of the organizational culture. (Zimbardo, 2007) The definitive policies of an organization include behavioral prescriptions that describe the nature of appropriate relationships within the system. (Vauclair & Fischer, 2011) In almost all institutions, the moral judgment of individual behaviors is relative to these systemic priorities. (Vauclair & Fischer, 2011)

An organization may ensure the universal application of essential principles by emphasizing the individuality of each person. (Zimbardo, 2007) By acknowledging the intrinsic value of all subjects, the institution inhibits dehumanization through labels and stereotypes. (Zimbardo, 2007) Additionally, recognizing each person’s unique identity may prevent many moral transgressions that are enabled by de-individuation. (Zimbardo, 2007) By encouraging personal accountability, systems may elicit behaviors that are consistent with moral standards. (Zimbardo, 2007) To prevent deviations from the expectations of the organization, no person should be allowed to diffuse or defer responsibility for their actions. (Zimbardo, 2007)

An organization may promote moral and ethical standards by prioritizing the validity of authority and policy over any other ideal. Systemic principles should be founded on authentic assessments in order to create appropriate procedures. (Zimbardo, 2007) The legitimacy of the authority should be continuously measured by the degree to which the organizational priorities are consistent with objective evaluations. (Kilmann et al., 1986) A moral system should be open to continuous criticism to enable the identification of invalid motivations. (Zimbardo, 2007) By preventing the imposition of a single set of perceptions, an organization may avoid culture founded on subjective distortions of reality. (Zimbardo, 2007)

While the collective arrangement may be maintained by universal priorities of security and stability, the dominant culture defines many behavior expectations within the system. (Vauclair & Fischer, 2011) The culture is founded on an ideology that is created by the authorities to justify the operations of the institution. (Zimbardo, 2007) In order to maintain effective policies, an organizational culture must be able to adapt to shifting conditions. (Kilmann et al., 1986) The validity of institutional procedures is increased by continuous evaluations of progress in the context of objective measures. (Kilmann et al., 1986)


Kilmann, R. H., Saxton, M. J., & Serpa, R. (1986) Issues in understanding and changing culture. California Management Review. 28(2), 87-94.

Vauclair, C., & Fischer, R. (2011) Do cultural values predict individuals’ moral attitudes? A cross-cultural multilevel approach. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 645-657. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.794

Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer Effect. Random House: New York

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Conformity and Submission

Systemic forces establish specific conditions to shape the perceptions and behavior of individuals. (Zimbardo, 2007) Through the process of socialization, each individual submits to cultural norms that perpetuate the order and continuity of an institution. (Williams, 2011) An individual conforms to the dominant culture through the adoption of perspectives and values that are consistent with systemic prescriptions. This socialization is promoted by the intrinsic needs of personal development as well as the constructed contingencies of an organization. (Guandong, Qinhai, Fangfei, & Lin, 2012) The cultural institution maintains control through the application of a general ideological essence in particular operating procedures. (Zimbardo, 2007)

An institution of authority functions through operating procedures that define the expectations for each subordinate. These rules secure the system against potential deviations. The organizational culture is defined by a collection of regulations that represent the abstract priorities of the hierarchical arrangement. (Zimbardo, 2007) Ideologies are normative concepts that shape the perceptions of an individual. (Skirbekk, 2010) These ideals often provide the justification for the definitive convictions and conventions of an organization. (Skirbekk, 2010) In the process of socialization, a particular value structure is imposed on individuals to generate behavior patterns that are consistent with the dominant priorities of a culture. (Skirbekk, 2010) In the context of this systemic culture, the measure of an action is relative to ideological values rather than authentic validity.

Conformity is the adoption of behaviors and attitudes that are of objective origin. (Guandong et al., 2012) Generally, people will develop perceptions that conform to those of the majority. (Zimbardo, 2007) Socialization processes often promote the internalization of cultural concepts rather than the construction of original ideas. The resulting value orientations are defined in terms of axiomatic assumptions rather than objective assessments. (Skirbekk, 2010) Within this organizational context, evaluations merely represent a comparison with cultural priorities. (Skirbekk, 2010) The systemic forces generate the convergence of individual perspectives in order to promote the continuity of specific principles and arrangements. The organization manipulates the intrinsic properties of learning to impose a particular conceptual perspective.

Natural methods of information acquisition construct meaning by interpreting experience in the context of previously derived knowledge. New sensations are understood by forming perceptual connections between present events and relevant propositions of significance. However, the subjective perceptions must be modified in response to contradictory evidence. Conformity may be motivated by rational considerations that maintain psychological consistency. (Guandong et al., 2012) This type of conformity is enables the integration of alternative knowledge and perspectives without resulting in the experience of dissonance. (Zimbardo, 2007) A learning individual alters the essence of their understanding when confronted with sufficient information that is contrary to their own ideas.

An individual may also be motivated to adopt the dominant perceptions and behavior patterns because of extrinsic or instrumental contingencies. (Guandong et al., 2012) The institution promotes submission by establishing a complex of operating consequences. (Williams, 2011) Systemic forces arrange situations that compel individuals to act in a manner consistent with organizational principles. Through sanctions and rewards, the institution controls the thoughts and behaviors of peoples to prevent deviation or revolution. (Williams, 2011)

Society is structured by norms that govern behavior within hierarchical institutions. (Williams, 2011) These norms are transmitted through the process of socialization in which each member of society is trained to appreciate and comply with expectations. (Williams, 2011) Socialization is achieved through the imposition of specific cultural values as well as the construction of compelling situational arrangements. (Guandong et al., 2012) By submitting to the values of the culture, an individual perpetuates the authority of the systemic hierarchy. (Williams, 2011) The organization maintains control by establishing ideological and physical constraints that prevent various forms of deviant individuality.


Guandong, S., Qinhai, M., Fangfei, W., & Lin, L. (2012). The psychological explanation of conformity. Social Behavior & Personality, 40(8), 1365-1372. doi: 10.2224/sbp.2012.40.8.1365

Skirbekk, S. N. (2010) Ideologies, myths, belief systems: Tools for analyzing cultures. Comparative Civilizations Review, 63, 7-18.

Williams, D. (2011) Why revolution ain’t easy: Violating norms, re-socializing society. Contemporary Justice Review. 14(2), 167-187. doi: 10.1080/10282580.2011.565975

Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer Effect. Random House: New York

Friday, December 14, 2012

Evil of Omission

Virtue requires positive action in addition to the abstinence from evil deeds. (Zimbardo, 2007) Omission is a form of evil when it causes persistent unjustified harm. (Staub, 1999) Implicit support of a behavior is communicated by the failure to intervene. (Zimbardo, 2007) It is morally imperative that each person evaluate the motivations and consequences of the behaviors of others in addition to their own. If an individual causes or intends to cause suffering for another, any conscious person has an ethical responsibility to take action.

The social context of an event is established by the attitudes and actions of people. (Zimbardo, 2007) Evil always occurs within the context of a situation that, in many cases, may passively allow or actively encourage this type of behavior. (Formosa, 2007) Although supporting circumstances are not necessary for the performance of evil deeds, specific conditions increase the probability that certain behaviors will occur. (Formosa, 2007) Often, organizations develop cultures and institutions that are not intrinsically evil, but they may establish preconditions that increase the potential for abuses. (Staub, 1999) The assessment of systems is an important preventative measure for preventing situations that promote evil deeds. An ethical person must act in order to make some change to conditions that contribute to inhumane events.

Although the behavior of an individual may result in great suffering for other people, malevolence is rarely a person’s primary motivation. (Formosa, 2007) The self concept of most perpetrators of inhumanity and abuse is not defined by an intrinsic sense of evil. (Formosa, 2007) Rather, the perspective of many of these people is founded on perceptions that justify their actions. (Formosa, 2007) Most perpetrators present or perceive their actions as a means of achieving some beneficial result. (Staub, 1999)

A distorted belief system may promote harmful actions in service to presumption of intrinsic value. (Staub, 1999) By passively allowing the promotion of any ideology, a person completely submits to the values of the system. Blind acceptance and obedience enable active agents to promote any particular agenda. Ideological beliefs represent systemic principles that justify the means necessary to accomplish essential objectives. (Zimbardo, 2007) The moral action, in the context of a systemic culture, is to continuously question and challenge the foundation of prevalent perceptions. Although submission to some authority is an essential feature of all organizations, criticism and opposition are important checks that prevent the establishment of systemic policies and procedures that enable inhumane actions. (Staub, 1999)


Formosa, P. (2007). Understanding evil acts. Human Studies, 30(2), 57-77. doi: 10.1007/s10746-007-9052-y

Staub, E. (1999). The roots of evil: Social conditions, culture, personality, and basic human needs. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3(3), 179-192.

Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer Effect. Random House: New York

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance and Learning

Cognitive dissonance represents an inconsistency between the actions and beliefs of an individual. (Zimbardo, 2007) Self consciousness is a perceptual representation of the properties of oneself. The concept of cognitive consistency is only valid in relation to propositions regarding the state of affairs. (Gawronski, 2012) Such propositions are often invalidated in comparison with experience. Since any perception is a necessarily imperfect representation of reality, a degree of discrepancy is always present between objectivity and conscious manifestations. This state of tension often initiates changes intended to increase the degree of perceptual coherence. (Zimbardo, 2007) The accuracy of knowledge is improved by alterations that accommodate conflicting information. This process represents the continuous development of artificial concepts that enable meaningful interpretations of existence.

Like all perceptions, self concepts are perpetually incomplete summaries of actual properties. (Gawronski, 2012) The intrinsic limitations of consciousness enable attention to only the salient features of objectivity. Like all types of learning, self discovery is the interpretation of sensory experiences in order to derive meaning. A perceptual representation is constructed by integrating new information within the perspective of one’s personal history. Although the artificial concepts prescribe behavior and expectations, the imperfect nature of understanding prevents absolute consciousness. Subjective constructs must remain modifiable to learn from experience and increase the validity of behavioral responses. (Gawronski, 2012)

People generally attempt to maintain consistent perceptual representations. (Fointat, Somat, & Grosbras, 2011) This sense of coherence is threatened when salient conflicts arise between the essential definitions and sensory manifestations of objectivity. (Fointat et al., 2011) Behavior that is not motivated by conscious inclinations questions the validity of a person’s self concept. (Beauvois, Joule, & Brunetti, 1993) Stability and security are threatened by the uncertainty resulting from experiences that are contrary previously constructed knowledge. This experience of inconsistency arouses an aversive psychological state. (Fointat et al., 2011) However, the modification of perceptions enables the integration of new empirical information into the existing perspective of an individual.

Rationalization is one method of reducing the experience of dissonance by explaining the discrepancy between moral ideals and behavior. (Zimbardo, 2007) Rather than modify previously constructed theories, an individual preserves consistency by creating ad hoc considerations. (Beauvois et al., 1993) This subjective justification of previous perceptual problems creates coherence by modifying the representative concept or producing new behaviors that demonstrate a commitment to an essential principle. (Beauvois et al., 1993) Although rationalizations accommodate novelty, altering the essence of a perception to integrate new information is more appropriate than repeatedly adding supplementary stipulations. Theories that are contradicted by objectivity do not inform valid actions. Abandonment or further analysis is the most appropriate response to the failed verification of a subjective concept.

Inconsistency is often an epistemic indicator of errors in a person’s system of beliefs. (Gawronski, 2012) Dissonance represents an illogical relationship between a theory and an experience. (Gawronski, 2012) In this situation an individual must reassess and revise beliefs in order to maintain the rational function of perceptions. (Gawronski, 2012) Learning is the process of increasing the representation of existence within the subjective consciousness. The continuous modification of perceptions enables the generation of behaviors that are increasingly appropriate to the objective context. (Gawronski, 2012) Valid self concepts are founded on behavioral manifestations. Idealized notions that must continuously contort in order to account for deviations are not pragmatic principles. Meaningful perceptions that inform actions do not include irrelevant or false content. The authenticity of conscious representations is increased through the elimination of superfluous beliefs of insignificant consequence. While an individual may attempt to approximate some valued state, this directed development is only inhibited by false assessments and denial. Appropriate changes and actions are founded on serious appraisals of one’s characteristics and behavior patterns.

Cognitive dissonance results from actions that are opposed to a person’s attitudes and motivations. (Zimbardo, 2007) Perceptual consistency is restored through modifications to behavior or perceptions. (Fointat et al., 2011) While behavioral changes may validate existing concepts, the scope of consciousness is increased by the assimilation of new experiences. A person may choose to change themselves in order to develop desired attributes. However, inaccurate perceptions often produce inappropriate behavioral responses. Understanding is founded on authentic information regarding the state of affairs. Cognitive dissonance is an inescapable symptom of the endless potential for new learning.


Beauvois, J., Joule, R., & Brunetti, F. (1993) Cognitive rationalization and act rationalization in an escalation of commitment. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 14(1), 1-17.

Fointat, V., Somat, A., & Grosbras, J. (2011). Saying, but not doing: induced hypocrisy, trivialization, and misattribution. Social Behavior and Personality, 39(4), 465-476. doi: 10.2224/sbp.2011.39.4.465

Gawronski, B. (2012) Back to the future of dissonance theory: Cognitive consistency as a core motive. Social Cognition, 30(6), 652-668. doi: 10.1521/soco.2012.30.6.652.

Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer Effect. Random House: New Yo

Friday, December 7, 2012

Relational Attributions

While the self concept of an individual may lead them to believe that their behavior would conform to personal principles regardless of the situation, the Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrates the control of context on behavioral responses. The state of affairs is often the result of a dynamic interaction between people and circumstances. (Zimbardo, 2007) Without direct experience in a set of conditions, it may be difficult to make accurate predictions regarding the actions of an individual person.

In order to interpret events, people create causal attributions that establish perceptions of significance and meaning. (Eberly, Holley, Johnson, & Mitchell, 2011) The perceptions regarding causal origins influence subsequent behaviors and cognitions. (Eberly et al., 2011) This explanation typically includes an internal or external locus of control. (Eberly et al., 2011) Dispositional attributions emphasize the significance of personal qualities in the cause of a behavior. (Zimbardo, 2007) In contrast, situational descriptions recognize the contribution of circumstance in the generation of individual actions. (Zimbardo, 2007)

However, the distinction between personal and circumstantial controls is not always clear when behaviors are embedded within an organizational structure. (Eberly et al., 2011) Systems of power translate an ideology into specific operating procedures. (Zimbardo, 2007) Organizational authorities construct a hierarchy of dominance by establishing systemic conditions. (Zimbardo, 2007) In this context, relational attributions explain an event as resulting from the dynamics of interactions. (Eberly et al., 2011) The foundation of this type of causal origin is not reducible to either individual alone. (Eberly et al., 2011) Rather, the relationship between individuals determines the nature of results. (Eberly et al., 2011) An organization designs relational properties to produce specific patterns of behavior in order to construct and maintain systems of power.

Valid generalizations may predict behavioral responses when the conditions are sufficiently similar in different scenarios. Given the nearly unanimous conformity of all individuals to the various categories in the Stanford Prison Experiment, one may assume with some degree of certainty that most people would behave similarly when placed in this context. Although there may be a variety of expressions, the results of this analysis indicate that the majority of individuals internalize the normative expectations of their role within an organization. This internalization represents the assumption of a defined identity. (Zimbardo, 2007) The categories of prisoner, guard, administrator and researcher include specific behavior prescriptions that are imposed on people in order to maintain the functionality of an organization. While a person may intend on protesting against the features and dynamics of a system, the hierarchical power structure includes methods of normalization that promote conformity and compliance.


Eberly, M. B., Holley, E. C., Johnson, M. D., & Mitchell, T. R. (2011) Beyond internal and external: A dyadic theory of relational attributions. Academy of Management Review, 36(4), 731-753. doi: 10.5465/amr.2009.0371

Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer Effect. Random House: New York

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Acquisition of Behavior Patterns

The behavior of an individual represents the interaction between dispositional characteristics and situational conditions. (Zimbardo, 2007) However, the response patterns that predispose an individual to certain actions are formed during a history of personal experiences. (Mitchell, Houwer, & Lovibond, 2009) This history represents the collection of situations to which a person has been exposed throughout their lifetime. Situational forces shape the perspective from which stimuli are interpreted and responses are generated. (Skirbekk, 2010) These conditions are often controlled by systems that establish methods and expectations in order to maintain continuity. (Zimbardo, 2007) The systemic principles are often acquired by individuals under the control of the power structure. (Zimbardo, 2007) The Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrates the rapid socialization that results from immersion within a situational context.

Associative learning involves the subjective pairing of previously unrelated stimuli. (Mitchell et al., 2009) Perceptual relationships connect various sensations with unconditioned stimuli that are often biologically relevant. (Mitchell et al., 2009) This association of events is the foundation for mental representations that enable meaningful interpretations of experience. (Mitchell et al., 2009) Through this conditioning process, the behavior patterns of an individual are developed. (Mitchell et al., 2009) The constructed perceptual perspective predisposes a person to certain responses when presented with specific stimuli.

Dispositional characteristics are the distinct behavior patterns exhibited by an individual. (Zimbardo, 2007) If the relationship between stimulus and response is a manifestation of a subjective perspective, then the composition of perceptual constructions is the essential foundation of this type of individuality. Since these phenomenological conceptions are formed in the relation between biologically significant features and the psychological experience of various situations, dispositional characteristics consist primarily in genetic values that control the development of physiological mechanisms. While this inherited identity contributes to the behavior patterns of a person, the majority of individual response differentiations result from a unique personal history of exposure to various environmental characters.

Situational elements interact with the existing properties of an individual to generate a specific action. (Zimbardo, 2007) The nature of a behavioral response is founded on the perceptual interpretation of the sensory experience. Present circumstances are interpreted from the perspective of previously constructed relational propositions. (Mitchell et al., 2009) These propositions are continuously developed in the context of new environmental information. (Mitchell et al., 2009) Through the control of subjective associations, situational forces shape the perceptions that control behavior patterns.

The situational conditions are often established by systems of power that translate an ideology into operating procedures. (Zimbardo, 2007) A cultural ideology is continuous collection of perceptions that composes a normative concept of reality. (Skirbekk, 2010) These cultural concepts are the foundations of central convictions and conventions. (Skirbekk, 2010) The social expectations and polices are internalized by individuals who acquire the values of the organization. (Zimbardo, 2007) People are socialized to behave in a manner that is consistent with the systemic prescriptions. (Skirbekk, 2010) Though cultural learning learning, the conditions of the power structure become the foundation for the interpretive perspective of an individual. Zimbardo’s experiment illustrates to what extent this internalization can occur very quickly. Each participant rapidly acquired the characteristics that were consistent with the expectations of the operating system.


Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer Effect. Random House: New York

Mitchell, C. J., Houwer, J. D., & Lovibond, P. F. (2009). The propositional nature of human associative learning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32, 183-246. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X09000855.

Skirbekk, S. N. (2010) Ideologies, myths, belief systems: Tools for analyzing cultures. Comparative Civilizations Review, 63, 7-18.