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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 11, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta U of L prof: modern life produces anxiety" Wednesday, April 11, 1973 THE LETHBRIDCI HERALD 43 APRIL 12th TO 14th The aggressive, evecy-man- for-bimself lifestyle pursued in today's urban society pro- duces excessive anxiety, says a University of Lethbridge psy etiology professor who has stu- died Canadians' co-operative and competitive urges. "Man is basically a social says Dr. A. G. Mifler, who has recently completed and published studies showing that co-operative or competitive be- havior in very young children is a function of their environ- ment rural children behave more co-operatively than do urban. Findings of Dr. Miller's re- search have been published in "Psychology Today" and in psy- chological abstracts. On June 10, portions of bis re- search will be discussed on the CTV series, "Window on the as part of a program on co-operation. Segments of the television production were filmed on the 17 of L campus at the end of March. "Most people have potential for both competitive and co-op- erative emphasizes Dr. Miller. "Unfortunately, our society emphasizes individual competition, but ignores man's social nature. Most adult North Americans place a premium on individual competitivesness. The successful competitor gets the 'goodies': material wealth, suc- prestige and power. The unsuccessful competitor in our society is frustrated, made to feel unworthy, viewed as a Competition is used inapprop- riately, says the psychology pro- fessor. "The result is a waste of human resources: we don't use the talents of people who lack the luck or aggressiveness to 'get to the top'." One need talk with Dr. Mil- ler only a short while to realize he strongly disapproves of the seemingly compulsive, competi- tiveness which drives our so- ciety. "Look at early the psy- chologist points out. "He was a social primate. He had to work with his fellows co-operation was essential to the group's sur- vival." One of the most damaging as- i pects of adult desires to 'be the best' and 'own the most' is evident in parental pressures on j children, says Dr. Miller. Competitive nature "Children absorb a competi- tive nature from their IK says. "They learn at a very early age that to succeed is to bring glory to the family. To be the best hockey player on the team will make Daddy look pretty good, will make him proud and will most likely re- sult in rewards for Junior." Urban children grow up to be more competitive than their rural counterparts because of the impersonal milieu in which they develop, adds Dr. Miller. They know few of their neigh- bors, there is not the tight com- munity bond that is found in rural areas. People tend to work on their own in an urban set- ting, rather than combining their resources, as is custom- ary in rural societies. "The development of a co-op- erative mode is dependent on very Intricate and sensitive checks and balances placed on social says Dr. Mil- ler. "Co-operation is common where people know a number of other people within the com- munity. Most of our urban life is spent in isolation of our neighbor." Dr. Miller believes that large corporations or factories would be wise to investigate the pos- sibility of solving the chronic labor and production problems besetting them, through experi- ments with a co-operative group' work situation, as opposed to the individual assembly-line. "From a point of view of psy- chological says Dr. Miller, "it would be worth test- ing to see if the co-cperative venture would not be better, both in terms of employee sat- isfaction, and the quality of product turned out." He quotes the success of an Alberta firm as well as the findings of a Swedish car manu- facturer, as evidence that co- operation does pay off in an in- dustrial setting. Co-operation better "Employee satisfact i o n says Dr. Miller, "both instances demonstrate that the finished product of a group co- operative effort is as good, if not better, than that which re- sults from an individual assem- bly line process." He cites an example whereby a group of people in a factory setting are responsible from start to finish for the assembly of a car: "personal satisfaction is high, absenteeism drops sharply, each person is impor- tant as a member of the group for the skills and personality he brings to the job each day, he feels he is a worthwhile person, making a valuable contribu- tion." In such a setting, says Dr. Jrf'lrr. the team cr group members are important to each other. Within the work group, the individual is permitted ex- pression of his own skills. "Co-operation doesn't mean we have to co-operate all the time." he adds. "Void working in co- operative groups would still leave lime for individual writ- ers or artists to pursue their own talents outside the group." i Dr. Miller says the 'human- ity through cooperation' theory i is now being used by some psy- chologists and psychiatrists