Friday, October 16, 2009

Personal observation: Adaptive behavior as gullibility (S. Greenspan's position)

I've not spent as much time discussing conceptual, theoretical, empirical and measurement issues surrounding the second prong of MR determination...namely, deficits in adaptive behavior.  I simply have not had time to delve into this literature as much as I would like...but I will eventually.

That above being said, I had a personal experience/observation last week consistent with Stephen Greenspan's campaign to ground adaptive behavior in the concept of "everyday intelligence" and the notions of "gullibility" or "foolish actions."

I've been going to a local health club for over 15+ years.  One time I left a nice watch behind in the locker I had used (when done they are unlocked as you take your lock with you)...only to return within an hour (after recognizing that I had left it behind) to find it missing.  No one had turned it in....and it never surfaced.  Another time I left my iPod on a locker bench and went to shower.  Upon return it was MIA....and yes...never to be reported or returned.  I learned my lesson and should have known better.  I tend to be an absent-minded professor at times.

Last week I entered the locker room and saw a watch sitting on the ledge by a large mirror.  As I dressed to work out I kept an eye to see if someone had simply put it down temporarily.  I decided to let it sit.   When I returned after my work out (45 minutes later), the watch was still sitting on the ledge.  I decided that if it was still there when I had showered and dressed that I'd take it to the front desk and give it to them.  Just prior to departure a young man walked in from the swimming pool area and calmly picked up the watch and put it on his wrist.  He clearly had simply left it there on purpose while he swam.  On first glance, he did not look physically different from many other young men...although a bit overweight.  Within a few minutes another young man came from the swimming pool along with an older male.  They started talking and it became clear the two young men were developmentally disabled (mentally retarded in old terminology) and the older man was their caregiver..who had taken them swimming.  As the young man with the watch talked I could tell he was developmentally delayed.

As I left I recognized that this was just one real world indicator of Stephan Greenspan's notion of gullibility.  Clearly this young man had a naive trust in others. He had deliberately left the watch on the ledge so it would not get wet while swimming...with little awareness of the potential for theft.  I believe this would fit under the definition of gullibility.

Just a personal observation that struck a chord.

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