Adaptive Preference Formation

By Jon Hillenbrand In Photography, Stories

You can’t reach the grapes so they are probably not ripe anyway, right?  This attitude is known as Adaptive Preference Formation.  It’s what we do, as humans, to justify our failures.  The other day, I had to do a photo shoot where I KNEW that most of the photos were never going to be used.  It’s what I call a “Political Shoot” where I am asked to show up an event in order to demonstrate to the attendees that the corporation believes the event is so important that they’ve sent a photographer to document the proceedings.  In other words, I am no different from the paid off crowds at Communist Party rallies in China, there to cheer for the Will of the State no matter the message, to appear in the background like so much propaganda, to convince the rest of the cattle that the ramp is benign.  I might be mixing my metaphors, but the paper is still stained with my ink.  Sadly, I’m somewhat comfortable with my role as a propaganda tool for a corporation.  “Buying In” (which may or may not be the same as “Selling Out”) is one of those things which you swore you would never sacrifice about yourself back in college.  But soon you find your honor to be for sale to the highest bidder once rent comes due or the blue of a Yamaha sport bike invades the desire center of your brain.  Happily, I held out for a very long time and my recent realizations of possibly having sold out come to me as a surprise, or at least an uncomfortable awakening.  Ideally, I would do something to relieve my richeous indignation and restore my honor, but real life keeps interfering.

My apartment is very dirty and I am going to go clean it now instead of finishing this post.

  1. Arvin Mosley September 28, 2013

    Major league baseball used adaptive preference formation when they used a default response of treating the outcome of baseball games as just a joke when they frequently lost to Negro League teams. That response was used to cover up many visceral emotions like a feeling of inferiority, latent integration and a comparative analysis of talent. For most of them this exposure was embarrasing and did not allow them to reinforce their supposed superiority; so, the joke response was an example of addaptive preference formation.

    • Jon Hillenbrand October 2, 2013

      Pretty interesting. Thanks for the comment! I’m glad times have changed for the better in many ways.


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