Sunday, May 28, 2017

September 12, 2016

September 12, 2016

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader,

This is my fourth response to “Sound, Symbolism, and Swearing; an Affect Induction Perspective” (2010) by B. Yardy. In the discussion section of the paper Yardy is referring to the Bouba-Kiki Effect as he states “the ordinal rank order of the different consonants is precisely what would have been expected based on our hypothesis that harsher sounding plosive consonants will be more commonly associated with jagged imagery and smoother sounding consonants will be more commonly associated with rounded imagery.”  

Once we have become familiar with the distinction between Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB) and Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB) aspects of this sound hierarchy will become clear that relate to how we talk: people who were introduced to the SVB/NVB distinction unanimously pair SVB with rounded imagery and smoother sounding consonants and NVB with jagged imagery and harsher sounding plosive consonants. 

It is wonderful that Yardy specifically points out “the phonemic and acoustic effects of affect induction” although affect induction, of course, “is not limited to the auditory domain.” This emphasis on auditory aspects of the AIM supports the SVB/NVB distinction, which, in my opinion, is more needed in this world than anything else.

Without evolutionary evidence for the primacy ofsound we get carried away by what we say and by other modalities that influence us. Owren, Rendall & Ryan (2010) point out “The Affect Induction perspective of signaling can be applied to all sense modalities as all senses can be manipulated and influenced.” With the SVB/NVB distinction we also get clear about affective signals other than vocal sound production.

The rattle of the rattle snake is a “harsh sound pattern with rapid onset (Fenton & Licht, 1990) and can therefore be considered as an example of NVB. “The authors conclude that the rattle is not meant for communication between rattlesnakes because the signals are most intense outside the sensitive hearing range of snakes; instead, the authors argue that this acoustic pattern has been selected to instill fear in potential predators by startling them” (Fenton & Licht, 1990). 

Once we distinguish between SVB and NVB it becomes evident that NVB is not even meant for communication, but for intimidation and domination. Similar to rattle snakes, the sound that we make when we engage in NVB is outside of our sensitive, conscious hearing range. 

Once we have acknowledged the SVB/NVB distinction, we can begin to make sense of Yardy’s finding that “swearwords/profanity contained a higher proportion of words with harsh, plosive consonants than did lullabies, which contained a higher proportion of words with smooth, sonorant consonants.” Also, the findings of other researchers fall into place when we focus on the importance of how we sound while we speak. 

“Swearing is considered part of “automatic” speech and even individuals with aphasia that struggle to say other words are able to swear fluently with appropriate prosody” (Lancker & Cummings, 1999). It is my clinical experience with bipolar clients, who often swear, that this “automatic” speech is decreases as a result of my SVB interventions. 

I have found SVB can also decreases symptoms of individuals diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. “Swearwords and swearing may also be distinctive neurologically in being processed in lower (limbic) level than words that are primary referential, and thus cortically processed (Lanker & Cummings, 1999). I predict that our NVB, like swearing, is a response class that “is neurologically distinctive in being processed on a lower (limbic) level.”  In SVB, on the other hand, our words “are primarily referential” as they are processed on a higher cortical level.  

September 11, 2016

September 11, 2016 

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader,

This is my third response to “Sound, Symbolism, and Swearing; an Affect Induction Perspective” (2010) by Yardy. “The Affect Induction Model (AIM) has particular implications for animals that display dominance hierarchies.” The AIM has important implications for the presence or absence of human dominance hierarchies as well. 

In the presence of dominance hierarchies we will predictably engage in Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB), but only in the absence of dominance hierarchies will we be able to engage in Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB). 

“A low ranking animal that cannot defend itself in an agonistic context is predicted to produce vocalizations that produce negative or unconditioned effects on listeners, such as abrupt-onset and noisy, broadband shrieks and screams.” Owren and Rendall (1997) have, albeit unknowingly, given us a very detailed description of NVB. 

The vocalizations produced by inferior animals were either preceded by or co-occurring with vocalizations by dominant animals. Such dominant animals “are predicted to produce calls with prominent cues to individual identity and combine these with behavioral acts (aggression) with salient affective consequences for subordinates.”

The AIM explains the evolutionary origins of our coercive NVB, which, as we all know, is ubiquitous across the globe. However, the fact that humans evolved to have language allowed them to describe what communication would be like if there was no such dominance hierarchy. Such a conversation is scientific and cannot be anything else but SVB. There is neither a need to dominate nor to defend in SVB, as there is a total absence of aversive stimulation; SVB is the science of peace. 

The AIM also accounts for the origins of SVB. “The Affect Induction model of animal communication has predictions for the types of vocalizations used not only in agonistic or hostile situations but also in affiliative or social situations.” Here we read another description which characterizes the distinction between NVB and SVB; NVB is a function of hostile situations, whereas SVB is a function of peaceful situations. 

“Animals that display dominance hierarchies can benefit by using vocalizations that elicit positive affect in conspecifics in those context where close contact is desirable, such as mating and grooming.” And, of course, humans can benefit from such vocalizations, when they create and maintain the context in which SVB is possible and will occur. 

SVB reliably happens in the auditory context which makes it possible. Similarly to primates, humans can pair such vocalizations “with other affiliative behaviors that strengthen the conditioned response and thus strengthen the affective impact of the vocalization.” 

The SVB speaker always induces positive affect in the listener, but the NVB speaker always induce negative affect. Therefore, the AIM, which explains animal communication, validates the SVB/NVB distinction and can be used to explain human communication. “In general, this model predicts that vocal sound patterns change depending on what type of affect the signaler is attempting to induce in a receiver.” 

If our goal was to have SVB, we would be able to have SVB, but this requires that we become scientific about human communication and must pay more attention to how we sound rather than to what we say. 

“In most contexts, harsh and grating sounds are used in conflict situations where they have perceptually aversive effects on listeners; while smoother, more tonal and harmonic sounds are used in affiliative contexts where the relative harmonious qualities have an appeasing or soothing effect on listeners.”

The SVB/NVB distinction couldn’t be described more clearly than that. Evolution teaches us that NVB is a function of threatening situations and SVB is a function of peaceful situations. We need communication labs to explore “the acoustic impact of vocalizations on the listeners.”

September 10, 2016

September 10, 2016

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader,

This is my second response to “Sound, Symbolism, and Swearing; an Affect Induction Perspective” (2010) by Yardy. The Affect Induction Model (AIM) of animal communication totally explains why it makes sense to differentiate between Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB) and Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB) in human spoken communication. 

The AIM “follows the selfish-gene logic of evolution emphasized by Dawkins and Krebs (1978) and “argues that signaling is, first and foremost, a means of influencing others in ways that benefit signalers and might, but need not, benefit receivers as well.” This describes to the reader precisely the great difference between NVB and SVB.

In NVB the speaker influences the listener in ways that ONLY benefit the speaker, but in SVB the speaker influences the listener in ways which ALWAYS benefit BOTH the speaker as well as the listener. One easily recognizes the adaptive value of both ways of talking as NVB is only concerned with the benefits for the individual organism, while SVB is always only about benefits for the entire family or group. 

The AIM also explains why the NVB speaker’s voice is experienced by the listener as an aversive stimulus. Owren and Rendall (1997) explain that the AIM is “likely to involve exploiting low-level auditory and nervous system processes of arousal and motivation that are difficult for receivers to resist.” In NVB, the inferior listener is often not able to turn away from the superior speaker, that is, NVB is hierarchical. 

Owren and Rendal (1997) argue “the acoustic signals are particularly suited to such models of influence because they are especially difficult for receivers to ignore or block out.” An inferior employee may like to, but cannot escape the NVB superior employer as he or she is unable to shut down his or her ears “to minimize the effects of acoustic signals.” 

The conditioning effects of inescapable aversive stimulation have been shown to be very troubling. This makes me think of the many clients I treat who suffer from bipolar disorder. With me they are able to be calm, but with others they get very loud, argumentative and annoying? The AIM tells me why. They were conditioned to remain fearful and unless I or someone else reassures them they are constantly freaking out. 

Could it be that the manic screaming of bipolar clients originates in the frightening sounds animals make while they are facing death? “One dramatic example of affect induction through the use of sounds is that of “death screams,” these are “are harsh sounding vocalizations with abrupt onset and high amplitude that prey animals, such as rabbits, exhibit during an attack” (Wise, Connover & Knowlton, 1999). Bipolar pressured speech occurs at such a high response rate because it is reinforced. This is the only reason they keep screaming for their life. 

While exploring the behavioral history of manic clients, I repeatedly found out they grew up in threatening, abusive, hostile environments in which only their screaming had positive consequences as it made the predator, the dysfunctional parent, back off. What may evolve into mania was negatively reinforced as it warded off threatening stimuli. 

“Death screams are proposed to have an impact on the auditory and nervous systems of the attackers in such a way as to induce an acoustic startle response that potentially enables the prey animal to escape (Reviewed in Rendall et al., 2009). Bipolar clients will produce more or less instances of NVB based upon whether they feel threatened or not. 

Whether we acknowledge this or not, are aware of this or not or are willing to admit this or not, the fact remains that people really don’t like being threatened and will produce NVB to defend themselves.  Stated differently, NVB and SVB are simply two ends of a continuum

September 9, 2016

September 9, 2016

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader,

This is my response to “Sound, Symbolism, and Swearing; an Affect Induction Perspective” (2010) by Yardy. The “Affect Induction model of animal communication offers a natural explanation for some forms of sound symbolism in language” and is evidence for the existence of Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB) and Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB). 

According to the Affect Induction model, the physical properties of signals influence receiver affect and behavior in specific ways through relatively direct effects on core sensory, psychological and affective processes.”  The speaker influences the listener with his or her voice, but the speaker also influences him or herself with his or her voice. 
In SVB the speaker’s voice is experienced by the listener as an appetitive stimulus, but in NVB the speaker’s voice is experienced as an aversive stimulus. Also the so-called bouba-kiki effect provides evidence for the SVB/NVB distinction. “Ramachandran and Hubbard (2001) showed English speaking participants and Tamil speaking participants a jagged image and a rounded image and asked “Which is bouba? Which is kiki?” Over 95% of participants agreed the angular image belonged with the word kiki and the rounded image with bouba.” 

After the difference between SVB and NVB was demonstrated, 95% of students or mental health clients associate SVB with bouba and NVB with kiki.  If “synesthetic inter-sensory cross-connections drive the bouba kiki effect” then these inter-sensory cross-connections provide us the ability to differentiate between SVB and NVB. “Synesthesia is the phenomenon where stimulation in one sense modality has an automatic sensory experience in another sense modality.” 

Additional evidence for the SVB/NVB distinction comes from Bolinger (1964, 1978), who found that speakers who are unsure, polite or lack confidence use higher or a rising fundamental frequency, while those who are confident, assertive and authoritative, use low or falling fundamental frequency; the former maps onto NVB, the latter maps onto SVB. This so-called “frequency code” (Ohala, 1994) is “biologically grounded, though it requires some experience and learning.” 

Other authors (Dawkins & Krebs, 1978) take on “a broader evolutionary perspective” and argue that “communication can be viewed as simply another means by which an organism can influence others.” On this view the speaker can simply be said to either have a positive or a negative influence on the listener. However, during NVB the superior speaker is unconscious about his or her forceful influence on the inferior listener.

No one is inferior or superior in SVB. The conscious SVB speaker has a positive influence on the listener, who is equal to the speaker and who is allowed to be a speaker as well.  During SVB, the speaker and the listener mutually reinforce each other, but in NVB “the signaler can be viewed as a self-interested actor that uses signals to manipulate and influence others to its own advantage” (Dawkins & Krebs, 1978). 

We can now recognize that although we behave verbally during NVB, the basic phenomenon that determines the outcome of this so-called communication is the aversive sound of the speaker’s voice. In NVB the the speaker is not as verbal as he or she believes him or herself to be.

NVB is the expression of hierarchical relationship in which the speaker behaves non-verbally rather than verbally, as he or she uses his or her voice to demand from the listener whatever it is that he or she wants.
SVB is the expression of heterarchical relationship in which speakers can be truly verbal as their voices induce only an appetitive non-verbal experience in the listener. In SVB the listener is completely at ease as the speaker doesn’t dominate or aversively stimulate him or her.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

September 8, 2016

September 8, 2016 

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader,

This is my twelfth and last response to “Verbal behavior in clinical context: behavior analysis methodological contributions” by Zamignani and Meyer (2007). I think that the “methodological challenges” are maintained by high rates of Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB) and can and will be resolved by high rates of Sound Verbal Behaivor (SVB).

I agree with these researchers that “The success of the enterprise of the analytical-behavioral clinic research will depend on the way that the methodological challenges are carried out.” If behaviorist knew how often they, just like everyone else, are trapped in NVB, they would immediately acknowledge the importance of the SVB/NVB distinction.  

“The nature of the phenomenon being dealt with in the clinic, as well as specificities of the analytical-behavioral theory in the interpretation
of these phenomenons impose a search for new methodologies and the recognition of the reach and limitations of each method used.”

I write these words to present a methodology which far outreaches the methods described in this paper. Although “many steps have been taken towards comprehending the clinical interaction” they haven’t and couldn’t lead to an understanding of the SVB/NVB distinction, as they were “questions” by speakers who weren’t listening to themselves.

These investigators aim to understand  phenomena but downplay the importance of experiencing them. Their emphasis on what we say and their lack of attention for how we say it describes NVB, disembodied or decontextualized communication.  Unless we explore the paths of investigation that will be open to us if we learn to stimulate and maintain SVB, our theories remain more important than practice.

Researchers must listen to those who actually practice “analytical- behavioral therapy,” as only they really know what it takes to help clients solve their problems. The questions that “guarantee the obtention of useful responses” come only from therapists with SVB.