Thirty One: Concerning predictable unpredicability

Originally Posted 4th March 2011

I have talked here before about obsessions, I have talked about hobbies and habits (although not Hobbits…yet). The question that concerns me today is how much of this is really conditioned behaviour, not so much the Pavlov’s dogs conditioning but more social conditioning. How much of what we do is because we always have, or because our parents did that, or because our group of friends do? Taking that one step further, how much of what we do in life is through choice, and how much is done because it is part of an ingrained social convention that we have been conditioned to conform to since birth.

This was a tough topic to represent in a photo, but in the end I chose this:

not so much a picture of social conditioning, more of a social convention and indeed a great British tradition!

That aside, I was brought up by parents who encouraged me to do what I wanted, I was taught about how things worked and given cars to play with as well as dolls. Both of my Parents worked, and indeed my Mum gained a more senior position than my Dad in her working life. What I am trying to say is I was brought up to believe that it didn’t matter what others thought you should do but that you should stay true to yourself (although I don’t think anyone said it like that!). I was however brought up in a conventional, 2 parent family with parents who remained married, I am grateful for this as they gave me a great start, but It does make me think that environment has a great deal to do with unconscious social conditioning. After all I consider myself to be relatively unconventional in some ways, I am a female with an engineering degree and at least a working knowledge of an internal combustion engine after all; I also enjoy sewing, knitting, baking and other such traditional activities.

I have a suspicion that there is a far greater degree of conditioned behaviour in everyone’s habits then most people would care to admit and that there are some habits ingrained so deep that no matter what unconventional or non traditional activities we engage in we just can’t avoid them.

It is also entirely possible that we can try so hard to do the opposite of what is expected of us that we become predictably unpredictable…a case in point…I am still wearing 2 watches and everyone who knows me knows why if they really think about it!


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