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between two or more individuals whose behavior is interlocked in a social 
system must be explained in its entirety, certain variables may remain obscure. ... Sometimes a 
reciprocal interchange explains the behavior in terms of reinforcement. Each individual has 
something to offer by way of reinforcing the other, and once established, the interchange sustains 
itself. We may detect mutual reinforcement in the case of a mother and a child. Instead of tendencies 
to behave in certain ways, they may illustrate tendencies to be reinforced by certain social 
stimuli. Aside from this, the group may manipulate special variables to generate tendencies to 
behave in ways which result in the reinforcement of others. The group may reinforce the individual 
for telling the truth, helping others, returning favors, and reinforcing others in turn for doing the 
same. The Golden Rule is a generalized statement of the behavior thus supported by the group. 
Many important interlocking systems of social behavior could not be maintained without such 
conventional practices. This is an important point in explaining the success of cultural practices 
characteristic of the group. (p. 309-3010) 
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To the extent that prior reinforcement by the group determines the suitability of the behavior of the 
individual for the individual for an interlocking system, the system itself is not wholly self-
sustaining. The instability is demonstrated when an individual who is not adequately controlled by 
the culture gains a temporary personal advantage by exploiting the system. ... The boy in the fable 
cries, "Wolf!" because certain patterns of social behavior have been established by the community 
and he finds the resulting behavior of his neighbors amusing. The aggressive door-to-door salesman 
imposes upon the good manners of the housewife to hold her attention in the same way. In each case 
the system eventually breaks down: the neighbors longer respond to the cry of "Wolf!" and the 
housewife slams the door. (p. 310) 
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The behavior of two individuals may be related in a social episode, not primarily through an 
interchange between them, but through common external variables. The classic example is 
competition. Two individuals come into competition when the behavior of one can be reinforced 
only at the cost of the reinforcement of the other. Social behavior as here defined is not necessarily 
involved. Catching a rabbit before it runs away is not very different from catching it before someone 
else does. In the latter case, a social interchange may occur as a by-product if one 
individual attacks the other. (p. 310-311) 
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Cooperation, in which the reinforcement of two or more individuals depends upon the behavior of 
both or all of them, is obviously not the opposite of competition for its appears to require an 
interlocking system. (p. 311) 
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The Group as a Behaving Unit. It is common to speak of families, clans, nations, races and other 
groups as if they were individuals. Such concepts as "the group mind", "the instinct of the herd", and 
"national character" have been invented to support this practice. Is always the individual who 
behaves, however. The problem presented by the larger group is to explain why many people 
behave together. Why does a boy join in a gang? Why does a man join a club or fall in with q 
lynching mob? We may answer questions of this sort by examining the variables generated by the 
group which encourage the behavior of joining and conforming. We cannot do this simply by saying 
that two individuals will behave together cooperatively if it is "in their common interest to do so". 
We must point to specific variables affecting the behavior of each of them. From a practical point of 
view, as in setting up cooperative behavior in the pigeon demonstration just described, an analysis 
of the relevant variables is also essential. The particular contingencies controlling the behavior of 
the co-operators must be carefully maintained. (p. 311) 
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Some progress toward explaining the participation in a group is made by the analysis of imitation. In 
general, behaving as others behave is likely to be reinforcing. Stopping to look in a store window 
which has already attracted a crowd is more likely to be reinforced than stopping to look in store 
windows which have not attracted crowds. Using words which have already been used by others, 
rather than strange terms, is more likely to be reinforced positively or to be free of aversive 
consequences. Situations of this sort multiplied a thousand fold generate and sustain an enormous 
tendency to behave as others are behaving. (p. 311-312) 
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To this principle we must add another of perhaps greater importance. If it is always the individual 
who behaves, it is nevertheless the group which has more powerful effect. By joining a group the 
individual increases his power to achieve reinforcement. The man who pulls on a rope is reinforced 
by the movement of the rope regardless of the fact that others may be pulling at the same time. The 
man attired in full uniform, parading smartly down the street, is reinforced by the acclaim of the 
crowd even though it would not be forthcoming if he were marching alone. The coward in the 
lynching mob is reinforced when his victim writhes in terror as he shouts at him - regardless of the 
fact that a hundred others are, and must be, shouting at him also. The reinforcing consequences 
generated by the group easily exceed the sums of the consequences which could be achieved by the 
members separately. The total reinforcing effect is enormously increased. (p. 312) 
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In the important case now to be considered the effect is one of reinforcement. A behaves in a way 
which alters B's behavior because of the consequences which B's behavior has for A. We say, 
colloquially, that A is deliberately controlling B. This does not mean that A is necessarily able to 
identify the cause or effect of his action. When a baby cries for his mother's attention, he generates 
an aversive stimulus which he withdraws when the mother pays attention. As a result, the behavior 
of the mother in paying attention is reinforced. Neither the baby nor the mother may understand the 
processes involved, but we may still say that the baby has learned how to control his mother in this 
respect. (p. 313) 
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The controller's relation to the controllee may then be characterized as that of governor to governed, 
priest to communicant, therapist to patient, employer to employee, teacher to pupil, and so on. But 
almost everyone controls some relevant variables, apart from such a role, which he may employ to 
his own advantage. This we may speak of as personal control. ... The strong man uses the variables 
which derive from his strength. The wealthy man resorts to money. The pretty girl uses primary or 
conditioned sexual reinforcement. The weakling becomes a sycophant. The shrew controls through 
aversive stimulation. (p. 314) 
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When compared with the practices of organized agencies, personal control is nevertheless weak. A 
man of great wealth, a gangster with a gun, or an extremely beautiful woman is the occasional 
exception to the rule that the individual is rarely, simply as an individual, able to alter the variables 
affecting other people in very important ways. (p. 314) 
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The limitations of personal control have led to standard practice in which available variables are 
first manipulated in order to establish and maintain contact between controller and controllee. If this 
move is successful, further possibilities of control may then be developed. (p. 314) 
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