Monday, October 19, 2009

Early behavior may predict career choice

I suspect that early in some children's lives, they demonstrate a propensity toward callousness or cruelty. If a caring caregiver is nearby and can instill the idea that such behavior is inappropriate, these children probably develop more or less normally and go on to lead lives that are not filled with hurting others routinely.

But if someone isn't nearby to correct them when these first manifestations of cruelty emerge, then the enjoyment they receive may be sufficient reinforcement to crystallize the behavior, to make cruelty a part of their "normal" repertoire of behavior.

By the time these children get to college, they may have already determined that a career in a branch of biology that gives them access to animals is a good fit for them.

Take the case of Erin D. Gleason, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Somewhere in her past, if we could replay her life, after she had already learned to be cruel, someone encouraged her to keep it up. Maybe it was a family member, a twisted neighbor or teacher, even she may not know when or why she started to enjoy hurting animals. It probably came naturally to her and was not stifled when she was first acting out her inclinations.

Most behaviors can be reinforced with an appropriate system of reward and punishment. Erin was recently rewarded for her cruelty by being able to make a presentation to others like herself in a setting that she probably felt was prestigious. She was further reinforced by having her research showcased in the paper:
Fatherly behavior may be learned early

Chicago Sun-Times
Monifa Thomas
October 19, 2009

How a father raises his offspring may be influenced by the care he received from his own father as an infant, new animal research suggests.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience being held at McCormick Place, is one of the first to show that paternal behavior, like maternal behavior, may be passed on from generation to generation through non-genetic means.

To test this idea, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison observed the parenting skills of two sets of male California mice: those raised by castrated fathers and those whose fathers weren't castrated. Castrating California mice makes them less attentive, hands-on fathers.

Researchers found that the sons of castrated mice spent less time with their offspring and left the nest more frequently. These mice also engaged in less huddling and grooming with their offspring.

"Our results suggest that early behavioral environment, and in particular the paternal care received during development, may shape the amount and quality of paternal behaviors expressed by mammalian fathers, perhaps including humans," lead researcher Erin Gleason said.
To me, her results suggest that castrating California mice disrupts their behavior. Period. Conjecture about what this may or may not say about human behavior is pure prattle, something young developing vivisectors are taught to say in order to give their work a facade of justifiability and to shield their ilk and industry from public condemnation.

Consider some of her past experiences:
2003-2004, Senior Honors at Bates College: In Cheryl McCormick’s lab, we had previously determined that chronic restraint and social stress during adolescence cause long-term, sex-specific changes in a rat’s behavioral response to nicotine. I repeated these studies and performed Fos-immunocytochemistry on females to identify brain regions involved in this phenomenon.
(A look at the publication list from the McCormick lab helps explain how one might become ever more inured to suffering.)


Anonymous said...

At least she publishes her work under her actual name - why not put who you are out instead of hiding under the blog rock?

Unknown said...

Thanks for this post, Rick. I recently published a piece touching on a similar issue:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should devote your clearly copious amounts of free time to actually helping animals (people included), rather than spending it vilifying someone who is unquestionably a far kinder (and less cruel!) person than you are.