CUE REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLING.
being here at SUNY, Tom Stewart teaches me to step down from high abstractions
and to think in empirical terms. While chewing on my breakfast
yesterday and looking at the drawing of prof. David Andersen's "New Fadum
Farm", which I have finished the night before, I found myself to
be as empirical, as I can possibly be. The following account should be
the proof of it. Now look the picture and try to see, if the
story of its making has anything to say about „cue representative sampling“.
When I look at this finished „great piece of art“, some questions come back to my mind, which I had to answer without much overt thinking, while at the process of drawing it. What might be their sequence, looking back?
The first step was to decide about the „static structure“ or composition of what the picture should be about, some cut of reality, well known „framing of a problem“. Proportions of objects, their mutual spatial relations. The figure and background. This I have done just by a gentle pencil lines and in addition, took written notes about the Step 2 on the actual place itself, at beautiful David’s home. And then I ran out of time and had to leave. All the rest of drawing was done later at home. (But be cautioned - when I decided upon the place and topic, which might be called „Step zero“, I might implicitly decided about all the steps which are to follow yet!).
The second step was to decide about the scale of colors, which will be used . The basic color image, sites with focuses of most active colors.
third step was to decide where the sources of light are to be located ,
which in turn will impact on the brightness of color layout (step
2). The focused light sources. Will there be just one and placed
on the picture? Will there be more of them and some, perhaps, beyond the
picture itself? Which parts of the picture layout - meaning what colors
- will be affected by these sources of light and how?
Now consequences - colors, lights and texture (their contrasts) may support three dimensional perspective (if there is any) of the static composition, but their main role is to build just the opposite quality - the dynamic impact of the whole thing. Also, the way they are handled results into the degree, in which the outcome is very much subjective interpretation, deviating from reality, or the outcome is close, let us say, to photography.
All of this is a process taking place while working, not always very much conscious - however, the sequence of steps is fixed. The technological process of gradual picture building depends much on technique chosen and there is no need to go into it in our context. Some aspects should be mentioned, however. Decision making regarding the mutual fit (or discrepancy) between figure and background is a strong moment - it leads to dramatic effects or calmness. In the case of David’s „New Fadum Farm“ I went for a dramatic impact. The sky (background) is rather of a night appearance as contrasted to day-bright lights and colors of the figure (David’s household and nearby trees). The night sky (as is my experience) is there usually full of action - stars mingle with planes, approaching the Albany airport. The outside source of light reflects something as always lit nearby railroad station, from where huge freight-trains storm their way up the slope , passing by David’s home, to romantic horizons of distant Chicago or Canada. Thus I got two sources of light in one picture and as a result of that, two stories in one pictures. A night-life impressions of the countryside and the gleaming household and the golden tree in front of it The household „emits“ light, it lives and the golden tree adds to the mysterious feeling. This of, course, is not very natural and represents a deviation from normal appearance of things in the nature. This dramatic effect plus the night sky, living its own life, were my intended goals. Also, the texture of the sky, reminding a sheep wool (which is much of what the life at „The New Fadum“ is about) was also on my mind - a second deviation from reality. As far as I know, it is very rare to have a sky consisting out of sheep wool.
for the representative cue samples.
When the boundaries of the problem are discussed, understood and set (framing effect), some cues do reflect the static structure of the problem (usual problem decomposition phase). They must allow to see what is the figure and what is the background. Try to imagine what form they could take and you will find , that cues taking care of the structural aspect of the task will usually invoke analytical cognition (as Hammond’s cognitive continuum theory suggests). Note, that we just have passed Steps Zero and Step 1!
How to proceed along Steps 2 to 4? In the case of a picture drawing as well as a task within SJT, we are usually limited only to visual cues. How to obtain cues, which relate the dynamic aspect of a given problem (task system)? How are scales of color, light sources, texture (so important for conveying emotions) , contrasts of figure and background and all intended and unintended subjective distortions (which express aims and goals) transformed into the social judgment theory language? How to ensure the representative choice of cues? An what is even more important, how to ensure, that the set of cues will invoke both analytical and intuitive modes of cognition (as the picture surely does)? The task systems surely change over time. Do we reflect their changes by adequate means? The dynamic aspect of a given problem is (as I understand it) expressed only by cue characteristics. For instance, the proportion of nonlinear vs. linear cues would be the only cue characteristics which attempts to express dynamic, hard to grasp quality of a task system. But I am not much sure even about that. Function forms of cues, however, induce analytical mode of cognition. The degree of uncertainty speaks rather about human cognitive systems, but as the cognitive continuum theory assumes, it perhaps reflects even something about the dynamic nature of the task system. A high degree of task uncertainty perhaps really induces intuitive mode of cognition.
Now emotions. To be sure, the task system does not contain emotions, but the cognitive system of humans does. Our representation of the task system needs to contain cues, which address emotional charge, which the problem (task system) induces in us and let us to express our emotions. If this is too overstated (but I doubt it, since if the problem solution gets us really involved, emotions are at play anyway), then at least we need to induce the intuitive mode of cognition. Since cues are offered usually by clients (or research subjects), it is a task of the mediator (researcher) to make sure these cues are not omitted. If included, even intuitive mode of cognition will be at play and (group) discussions may address the dynamic and emotional aspects of problem-solving interaction more adequately,
Now, even though I am really unable to justify that, but the analogy with drawing suggests it, I claim, that means, by which dynamics and emotional impact are expressed are also a factors, which helps us to understand the context. A loose interpretation of information theory says, that only the understanding of context gives us a meaning, which we ascribe to impulses perceived. Only then perceptual impulses turn into a real information, which is processed judgmentally. (As you remember on the picture, the background - the sky and the foreground surrounding the figure of a house with trees - induces more of an intuitive cognition, invokes emotions and moreover, conveys my own specific interpretation - meaning - to otherwise neutral David’s household.) This and the previous paragraph talk about „emotional background“ which cues usually do omit due to their focus on the „figure“ - task system, problem to be solved.
Center for Policy Research at SUNY, Albany.
Masaryk university, Czech republic