Speculation: When one reads the usual agenda is to find information useful to the reader, that can be assimilated into their existing knowledge structure. When one studies the agenda is to discover a new pattern of reality, anticipating an accommodation by one’s knowledge structure.  The objective of study is more than to accumulate more data or isolated skills.  Knowledge and wisdom are viewed as patterns of data.

Thus, no matter how comprehensive a system of sems may be in presenting a new pattern, if a person is in the reading mode they will only filter information fitting their pre-existing needs.

  •     The most common response to a long (3+ paragraphs) doc (email, post, or comment) is a short reply related to some small part of the doc.  Seldom is a comment about the integrated content of the doc.
  •     The most frequent comments are emotional, and often one doesn’t know whether the message was accurately comprehended or not.
  • Although I have not researched it, I would expect that the two processes, assimilation and accommodation, have negative interference.
  •     Obviously, there can be exceptions.  A person can self motivate to read in the study mode.  A person could take a formal education course and stay locked into assimilation mode.  Indeed, many courses are primarily vehicles for assimilation.
  •     It is natural that mental systems are conservative with respect to accommodations. Behavior needs to adjust to accommodations and too frequent accommodations might dangerously destabilize a person.   On the other hand, especially in a changing environment, too much resistance to accommodation can be dangerous.

Most contemporary online dialog includes one new idea per message. It is probably natural that singular new ideas would first be processed by assimilation.  If a reader is primed for accommodation (from prior messages) a singular message could catalyze an insight (accommodation).

  •     I frequently experience this, but my mental life has be one long cascade of accommodations followed by floods of assimilation, filling detail into the newly modified knowledge structures.  I do not detect this happening in most of my online correspondence.
  •     Information in a message may be distorted to dampen the impact of a new idea that might have catalyzed an  accommodation.

Accommodations are more likely triggered by an organized pattern of a few new ideas.  Inputting a pattern is more involved than assimilation of a datum or piece of information. Processing patterns involves study.

  •     Perceiving patterns usually require time for extended observation. Otherwise the new pattern is distorted to match a conventional pattern and we have pattern assimilation.

IMPLICATIONS:  I need to design my presentations to require study and anticipated accommodations.

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.