Sunday, September 29, 2013
The excerpt below, taken from the Aspergermanagent site article, "Dealing with Difficult People" speaks volumes to me...
Posted by Malcolm:
Looking back, it is perhaps certain types of behavioural trait that has presented difficulties and which are found in varying degrees in the four aforementioned personalities. I have identified four that I think are pertinent to me:
• “Low intellect”;
• “Unfair criticism”;
• “Moral iniquity”.
Personality Traits & their Impact on Asperger syndrome
I have tended to find dealing with people with low levels of intellect difficult.
The reason for this is that their actions are sometimes not based on rational argument, but weak logic and personal ego or power rather than objective analysis. In many cases the people concerned have been aggressive or are “aggressors”.
Aggression is often based on power, the objective of which is often to satisfy a personal requirement or preference irrespective of other people’s input. As this is not based on logic or reason; it is for me, therefore, unfair.
People can be argumentative and project a view I totally disagree with, i.e. argue their case vigorously, but this is something that they are entitled, in my eyes, to do providing it is objective and factually – not personally - based.
If I am dealing with a person with a high or reasonable level of intellect, I usually find that I have a chance of forming a workable relationship, and communicating with, them.
The reason for this is that such personalities are normally prepared to listen to what I am advocating or believe in. I may not agree with their viewpoint, or what they are saying or doing, but I can connect, and communicate, with them.
The major problems I have experienced have tended to arise when I am dealing with managers or people with lower levels of intellect or, perhaps more pertinently, those who may not be intellectually capable but who in the “here and now” are very sharp.
The reasons for this are, I believe, twofold:
i) because of my [AS] tendency to “intellectualise” issues or view scenarios logically or factually, rather than also empathising (incorporating attendant personal emotion) or resonating with others’ alternative mode of thinking. This tests the limited patience of those who do not seek to gauge a situation beyond their view or any alternative possibilities.
ii) the quirks of my personality. i.e. non-neurotypicals are not well understood or tolerated by those with a limited capacity to, or who actually try, to empathise with people who do not conform to their stereotypical requirements.
If I cannot “connect” with someone via logical dialogue, it has also tended to result in outward frustration on my part which, in turn, has the potential to irritate and antagonise others.
The “total autocratic” personality also presents difficulties, due in some ways, to the intellectual factor mentioned above. I dislike inflexible autocracy intensely. I do not believe that has ever been, nor will there ever be, a manager who knows everything.
A good manager, I believe, listens to people, accommodates – though does not always agree with – alternative views. They listen, and then argue their case, before making the ultimate decision which, as the final arbiter, they are entitled to do.
This also accords with traits associated with my Asperger: fairness, respect for the power ones’ authority gives over others and, the intellectual necessity and value of listening and being considerate to alternative perspectives.
Against this, of course, managers have the right to be autocratic and make whatever decisions they see fit for a business. Subordinates do not have the right to dictate that they should do otherwise because of the norm of decision-making power hierarchies. Because of this, accepting extreme cases of autocratic power has for me, been at times difficult.
My current boss is in some ways autocratic. He has very clear views on things and the way that they ought to be done. However, he is a highly intelligent man and always listens, is prepared to accommodate other views and approaches and seeks to argue his case. He may ultimately not side with the views of others, but that is his prerogative.
For someone with Asperger syndrome, this outlook is in many ways ideal. I can argue my case and, being intelligent, my manager appreciates the need to listen to, and appraise, what I have to say.
He is also an “output” manager. He looks at what the final result is in terms of performance, which means he is prepared to allow licence in terms of personal modus operandi. He evaluates what is ultimately done, not what is said, how one acts or how one goes about delivering! For someone with an unconventional way of working because of my condition, this is invaluable.
The total autocratic on the other hand I have found, refuses to listen, has a one-track mode of thinking and operating and will not consider any method other than their own. Subordinates also have to conform totally to their perception as to how things are done.
For someone with Asperger I find this anxiety provoking. With one manager I worked for, everything needed to be done five minutes previously, even if it was largely impossible. From my experience, such managers also tend to look at not what is actually done, but more how much “noise” is made by – generally - dominant personalities that they resonate and empathise with. In other words, judgement is made on personal [subjective] – not [objective] performance – factors.
There often tends to be a bullying element with total autocrats. As this is illogical to my mode of thinking (i.e. counterproductive in a commercial context) and anathema to the fairness inherent within my AS character, I tend to object – and react – to it.
Autocratic behaviour, when it is not personal but based on commercial considerations, is on the other hand, something that I can come to terms with internally as I can understand why it may at times be necessary, (if there is a serious financial crisis for example).
Unfair criticism presents unique problems for me. I can accept criticism providing it is factual not personal, and is constructive not negative. I struggle to accept negative criticism, especially in a commercial context, as criticism morally should be, in my eyes, objective. That is not always the case of course; in fact, it is often the opposite.
Often I have found that criticism is aligned to status. Every person has the right to pass criticism; especially if they are a senior manager with ultimate responsibility for critical business decisions and commercial outcomes.
The logicality of my thinking and attendant sense of fairness, have meant however, that I take exception to those higher up being negatively critical or asserting that I have to be overly subservient to them personally. The latter simply relates to egos.
If someone higher up is respectful towards me, and bases any criticism fairly on performance, then I can accept that and respond positively.
If it is a case of being told – albeit sub-consciously – via the “hidden agenda” of having to be in tow on a personal basis to that manager, then I have tended to display distain and may react negatively. This I have found, can seriously affront others and become a source of real tension and problems later, and is something that I have had to adjust to and accept.
• Moral Iniquity
Allied to the last point is morality. People in a work context have a duty in my view to act “ethically”. Aspects such as personal performance should be solely based on objective facts.
Morality and commercial requirements do not always make easy bed fellows. However, my pronounced sense of “right and wrong” has sometimes antagonised managers who do share my perception of ethicacy.
As with most of the difficulties I have encountered in the workplace as a result of my Asperger, I try to start from the position that prevention is better than cure.
If I am having difficulties dealing with somebody, I try to begin with to empathize more closely with them. If I disagree with a decision or action they make that impacts upon me, I ask in a friendly way why they have chosen to do so. In other words, I enquire about the action not the person.
Sometimes criticism is based on me as a person. Here, I have found it helpful to ask myself if there is any truth in the criticism and, if so, acknowledge that to the other person. This establishes a degree of compromise.
In the past, this has been something that my condition has made it very hard to do. Just because I may be reserved in some situations due to the anxiety I may feel from feeling unsure in a new environment, it does not actually mean that I am being arrogant as others sometimes have perceived.
If people still “thwart” or refuse to respond to my positive questions, I try not to become outwardly confrontational as I have done, at times, in the past. Instead I maintain the same approach of objectively re-iterating my point to avoid antagonising the other person. This is being assertive whilst retaining control and so prevents the other party resorting to personal criticism or negative, confrontational tactics themselves.
Another factor that I have found to be incredibly important for someone with Asperger syndrome, is not to be negatively self-judgemental or automatically blame myself.
In the past I have tended to assume that, because of my condition, I must be in some way to blame or to have antagonised the other person in some way initially. This is not to say that I am not totally honest with myself or ask searching questions: if I have contributed detrimentally in any way, I need to acknowledge it; but, likewise, I should not automatically accept blame where it is unjustified. To do the latter requires retaining self-composure whilst projecting myself assertively.
I have also developed more specific strategies for dealing with the personalities I have identified as being especially problematic for me:
• “Aggressors” (non-Intellectuals)
Here it is especially important: a) not to antagonise these people initially and; b) not to automatically assume self-blame.
Reacting means losing control and showing disrespect for them and their view. This is counterproductive as it makes opposing any unfair criticism or behaviour more difficult by bringing a personal element into the equation.
Instead, I try to empathize wherever possible but also be persistent in confronting unacceptable behaviour by using the anti-thwarting tactic described above. It is important, and essential, to establish “boundaries” towards what is for me unacceptable behaviour.
In extreme cases dealing with aggressors may require courage and a determination for someone with Asperger to confront someone, along with a willingness to even take legal redress, whilst being aware of the potential – negative – consequences of confronting someone more senior.
Here I firstly ask questions of myself: am I not listening to the other party or, perhaps, not even trying to (maybe because of my own dislike of them personally).
Here I have found it is important to select the right moment when trying to communicate with them. If this type of personality is hyped up, they will almost certainly not listen. Waiting for when they are calmer usually provides a better opportunity to assert my position.
What I have found also essential with such personalities is to ensure that I acknowledge that they have some form of valid point initially. They will usually think they are right, so it is important to let them know you believe they are so in some way.
My Asperger – and perception of my self esteem – dictate that what others think about is important.
By asking for the opinion of others – and so, in a way, inviting criticism, makes me less defensive and able to cope more effectively with it. In other words, I am dealing with the criticism on my terms.
This enables me to express my feelings in a non-defensive way and assert my right to defend myself against the criticism. It is also the best way for me to counter the other person’s criticism by refuting it using facts.
• Moral Iniquity
My Asperger means I genuinely like to help others. However, I have come to understand that there are times when I need to not approach others and leave them be. The reason being is that I may be construed as interfering, albeit unconsciously.
In addition, questioning others’ ethically, or trying to deflect criticism of the perception that I am not accepted or liked by doing “good turns” for others when they do not want them, can cause resentment.
I have found that being totally honest with myself and acknowledging my own shortcomings in this area, makes me less concerned and irritated by the actions of others. Sometimes I have to say that I too have not always with hindsight acted with complete proprietary.
If I still believe that someone is acting immorally, explaining to them why I believe they are in a dispassionate, non-judgemental way I have found is the best path. Looking back on my career, there have actually been very few cases where I believe others have acted unethically and, overall, refusing to be drawn into this area is the best practice.
“Difficult” people will always exist for me in the workplace, though how difficult I find them depends to a large degree on how I perceive them.
I can deal with difficult people, but only if I make personal adjustments also. In fact, in many ways, doing so is a pre-requisite for implementing the strategies I have devised to accommodate difficult people. Central to this, is understanding how my Asperger can impact upon them.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Neural Basis of Preference for Human Social Hierarchy versus Egalitarianism
By Joan Y. Chiao, Vani A. Mathur, Tokiko Harada, and Trixie Lipkea, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University and Northwestern University, Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Evanston, Illinois
A fundamental way that individuals differ is in the degree to which they prefer social dominance hierarchy over egalitarianism as a guiding principle of societal structure, a phenomenon known as social dominance orientation.
Here we show that preference for hierarchical rather than egalitarian social relations varies as a function of neural responses within left anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortices.
Our findings provide novel evidence that preference for social dominance hierarchy is associated with neural functioning within brain regions that are associated with the ability to share and
feel concern for the pain of others; this suggests a neurobiological basis for social and political attitudes.
Implications of these findings for research on the social neuroscience of fairness, justice, and intergroup relations are discussed.
Key words: fMRI; social dominance orientation; emotion; anterior cingulate cortex; anterior insula; social hierarchy; egalitarianism; empathy; political attitudes; justice
One of the oldest and most controversial dogmas throughout human history is the notion that some social groups are fundamentally superior to others. From Sir Francis Galton’s theory of eugenics to the religious holy wars waged at the turn of the first millennium AD, human history is rife with examples of intergroup conflict driven by an intrinsic belief in social dominance hierarchy across groups and individuals.
Yet, recent centuries have also seen the emergence of prominent egalitarian philosophies, such as
Marxist socialism and Rawlsian liberalism, that challenge the notion of human social dominance
hierarchy as a default mode by which groups and individuals should organize and function.
Such heterogeneity of views reveals a spectrum of ideals regarding fundamental questions about the extent to which social dominance hierarchy or egalitarianism is preferable as a guiding principle in our collective social life.
Social dominance hierarchy is a core principle underlying social structure across the animal
Across species and human cultures, dominant social groups and individuals within the hierarchy often have primary access to precious resources (e.g., territory, food, mates) relative to those of lower rank.
Modern social psychologists have discovered that people vary in the degree to which they prefer
their own social group to dominate others, a phenomenon known as social dominance orientation (SDO).
Across human cultures, SDO is a stable and unique personality trait that predicts a wide variety of social and political attitudes.
For instance, people who strongly prefer social hierarchy (higher in SDO) have been shown to support political ideologies that promote social hierarchy rather than egalitarianism (e.g., politico-economic conservatism), oppose public policies intended to attenuate group-based social inequality (e.g., civil rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights), and seek societal roles that reify dominance hierarchy within social institutions (e.g., law enforcement rather than social work).
Notably, empathic concern is an important attenuator of preference for social hierarchy. Individuals
who exhibit strong empathic concern, a capacity to both share and feel concern for other people’s emotion, tend to prefer egalitarian rather than hierarchical social relations between groups.
Despite a solid understanding of how SDO affects a wide range of social cognition and behavior, little is known about the neurobiological mechanisms underlying an individual’s preference for social dominance hierarchy versus egalitarianism.
Because of the near ubiquitous presence of social hierarchy across species and cultures, it is
plausible that the human ability to successfully navigate hierarchical social interaction arises
from adaptive mechanisms in the mind and brain that support the emergence and maintenance
of social hierarchies within and across social groups.
Given the prior social psychological evidence that empathic concern is inversely related to preference for social hierarchy, we examined the possibility that neural regions associated with empathy underlie the preference for human social hierarchy.
Empathya is supported by a distinct neural matrix of limbic and paralimbic brain regions,
including anterior insula (AI), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), lateral cerebellum, and
AI and ACC are two major regions of the pain matrix thought to code the autonomic and affective dimension of pain and, in particular, the subjective experience of empathy when perceiving pain or distress in others. AI is thought to support experience of social emotions while ACC is thought to code the affective components of pain.
Prior evidence suggests that empathic neural responses within AI and ACC can vary as a function of several modulatory factors of the empathizer, such Empathy is a term that can refer to a number of distinct affective and cognitive processes.
Here we use the termempathy to refer to individuals’ ability to both share and feel concern for other people’s emotional welfare. as their gender, age, and dispositional empathy. Although the relationship between activity in AI and ACC and the affective components of empathic concern are well established,
the neural basis of preference for social dominance hierarchy or egalitarianism remains unknown.
Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the association between SDO and empathic neural responses during perception of pain in others.
We hypothesized that the degree of preference for social dominance hierarchy would significantly vary as a function of neural responses associated with empathy when controlling for other known modulatory factors, such as gender, age, and dispositional empathy.
Correlation between SDO and Empathic Neural Response
Consistent with our neural predictions, the degree of SDO correlated significantly and negatively with response to perceived pain in others within left AI and ACCs.
Additional regions that showed significant correlation with SDO and neural response to painful relative to neutral scenarios include regions previously associated with the mirror neuron system, including right inferior parietal lobe and left inferior frontal gyrus .
There were no additional significant correlations between left AI and ACC activation and age and dispositional empathy. Multiple regression analysis indicated that SDO was the only significant negative predictor of left insula and ACC activity controlling for age and dispositional empathy (e.g., all IRI subscale scores separately).
Our findings show for the first time that individual differences in the preference for social dominance hierarchy predict neural response within left AI and ACCs.
Individuals who indicated a greater desire for social dominance hierarchy showed less response when perceiving pain in others within fronto-insular regions critical to the ability to share and feel concern for the emotional salience of another person’s misfortune. This modulation of fronto-insular neural responses by preference for social hierarchy and egalitarianism is not explainable by other characteristics of the empathizer, such as gender, age, or dispositional empathy.
Activation of ACC in response to other people’s pain observed in the current study is consistent
with a number of prior studies showing that ACC responds to one’s own experience of pain as well as knowledge that another person is in pain, a process that is thought to reflect neural simulation of their pain.
In addition to coding the affective attributes of pain, ACC has also been previously associated with self-regulation and conflict-monitoring, a process by which individuals detect when their habitual
response is incongruent with the appropriate response given the current situation.
A recent study showed that stronger conservatism is associated with less neurocognitive sensitivity
to response conflicts and greater persistence in habitual response patterns.
By extension to the current study, we show that individuals who prefer social hierarchy across social groups and individuals (e.g., politico-economic conservatism) show less neuroaffective sensitivity to other people’s pain.
Hence, activity within the ACC reflects both affective and cognitive processes that contribute to the neurobiological basis of political attitudes.
These findings compliment growing evidence of a pivotal role for insular cortex and social emotions in judgments of fairness and justice.
Anthropologists, sociologists, and economists have documented a number of instances in economic games whereby humans will reject a monetary reward if they perceive it as unfair relative to the rewards that others are receiving, a phenomenon known as “inequity aversion.”
Recent neuroeconomic studies have associated insular cortex activity with inequity aversion during economic exchanges. In one prior neuroimaging study, greater insula activity predicted the likelihood
of rejecting an unfair offer of monetary reward for one’s self during the ultimatum game.
A more recent neuroimaging study showed that activity within insular cortex similarly predicted
the likelihood that a person would reject an unfair allocation of monetary resources for other
people during a charitable donation task.
The recruitment of insular cortex in the experience of physical and moral disgust indicates that social emotions underlie one’s aversion for inequitable monetary offers both for one’s self and others.
Importantly, our results broaden this notion by showing that insula activity is associated not only with aversion to inequity during economic exchanges (e.g., whether one accepts a fair or unfair monetary allocation for oneself or another person) but more generally with an aversion for any kind of group-level social inequality (e.g., whether different social groups should have equal right to vote or equal access to educational opportunities).
Because social dominance orientation has been shown to be reliably associated with preference for
social hierarchy across many different kinds of social systems (e.g., economic, political, religious,
educational), the inverse relationship between empathic neural response and SDO observed in the current study suggests that insular cortex codes aversion to inequality across a broad range of social situations, from decisions made during small-scale economic interactions to those involving support for social and political attitudes that shape large-scale social and political systems.
The extent to which a person is able to share the emotional salience of another person’s pain or misfortune may subsequently guide their preference for political ideologies, public policies, and societal roles that either promote or attenuate group-based social hierarchy and intergroup conflict.
Future research is needed to determine the precise causal relationship between preference for social hierarchy or egalitarianism and empathic neural response.
Nevertheless, the current evidence reveals SDO as a unique modulator of fronto-insular regions and suggests that these regions may serve as a neural foundation for social and political attitudes underlying prosocial behavior.
Address for correspondence: Joan Y. Chiao, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, 2029 Sheridan Road., Evanston, IL 60208. Voice:+1 847 467 0481; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Social class in the United States is a controversial issue, having many competing definitions, models, and even disagreements over its very existence. Many Americans believe in a simple three-class model that includes the "rich", the "middle class", and the "poor". More complex models that have been proposed describe as many as a dozen class levels; while still others deny the very existence, in the European sense, of "social class" in American society.
Most definitions of class structure group people according to wealth, income, education, type of occupation, and membership in a specific subculture or social network.
Sociologists Dennis Gilbert, William Thompson, Joseph Hickey, and James Henslin have proposed class systems with six distinct social classes. These class models feature an upper or capitalist class consisting of the rich and powerful, an upper middle class consisting of highly educated and affluent professionals, a middle class consisting of college-educated individuals employed in white-collar industries, a lower middle class, a working class constituted by clerical and blue collar workers whose work is highly routinized, and a lower class divided between the working poor and the unemployed underclass.
The Corporate Structure
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
From yee Wiki:
By 1950 Robert O. Anderson owned several refineries, had built a pipeline system and had become a wildcatter. He entered the top ranks of independent oil producers in 1957 with a major find at the Empire-Abo field in New Mexico.
In 1963, Anderson merged his company into the Atlantic Refining Company of Philadelphia. In 1966, as Atlantic's chairman and chief executive, he merged with Richfield Oil of Los Angeles, forming Atlantic Richfield Company (later shortened to "ARCO". Headquarters were based in New York.
In 1967, he approved recommendations from ARCO, Alaska staff including geologists Marvin Mangus and John M. Sweet. His approval led to ARCO's discovery of still the largest oil field yet found in North America at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope. That oil field has produced billions of barrels of crude and accounts for a fifth of domestic oil production. Soon after, due to the wealth gained by the finding of Prudhoe Bay oil, he merged again with Sinclair Oil, forming the United States' seventh-biggest oil company.
Anderson led ARCO's move from New York to Los Angeles in 1972, when it opened Atlantic Richfield Plaza on Flower street, which unfortunately and disastrously, from a preservation and cultural perspective, displaced (Richfield Tower Morgan, Walls & Clements, built 1928-1929, demolished 1968-1969.)
Anderson's long-time friendship with Herbert Bayer, former Bauhaus Master, led to Anderson's interest and eventual passion for contemporary art. An enthusiastic collector, his personal collection spilled over into his offices. By the time he and ARCO moved to LA, the Atlantic Richfield Company Corporate Art Collection had grown to more than 3,000 works, consisting of original paintings, drawings, sculpture, limited edition prints and signed photographs.
The centerpiece of ARCO Plaza is the Sculpture Fountain designed by Bayer, entitled Double Ascension. It was said to have been named by Anderson with Bayer present. Apparently Anderson laughed out loud when he first heard the original title (saying he loved it, but doubted "the Board Members and Shareholders would appreciate a sculpture titled Stairs to Nowhere").
ARCO's nationwide art collection grew to over 15,000 original pieces under the direction of Herbert Bayer and ARCO Corporate Art Collection staff, with part of the collection housed in ARCO offices in cities other than Los Angeles. The collection was displayed throughout ARCO buildings, on both executive and working floors, in common areas, lobbies and offices as well as in many file and copy-machine rooms. ARCO was one of the first entities to utilize computer data-entry to keep track of and inventory a major art collection.
When asked why a Fortune 500 company should invest in modern art, Anderson replied: "Because I like it. It makes you think. I didn't get where I am because I took the same path as everyone else. One of the reasons ARCO is successful is that I encourage my people to look at all issues from every possible angle. That's one of the many reasons contemporary art is beneficial to society. It inspires you to think outside the box and use your imagination. If you examine a problem closely and think about all the possible solutions, you'll come up with the best possible answer. That's part of what made ARCO a success."
Always a visionary, Anderson also led the seven-company effort to develop the Alaskan oil pipeline in 1974.
From 1966 to 1982, through acquisitions and strategic diversification, Anderson grew ARCO's revenues 20-fold (from $1 billion to over $20 billion). In 1985, with crude oil prices set to plunge and hostile corporate takeovers in the offing, Anderson led a major restructuring of ARCO.
Upon mandatory retirement from ARCO in 1986, Anderson left to form Hondo Oil & Gas Company, Roswell, New Mexico, where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from September 1986 to February 1994.