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Video Exceprts from "An Interview with Robert Freed Bales - 1996"

2016 marks the 100th year since the birth of Harvard Professor Emeritus Robert F. Bales, the author and inventor of SYMLOG, and Social Interaction Theory. Freed, as he preferred to be called, worked intimately in the establishment of SYMLOG Consulting Group and its products, from the inception of the organization in 1983 to his death in 2004.

Many of you knew him, worked with him, or at the very least are aware of his seminal contribution to the field of social psychology. In 1996, Freed gave an interview which runs about 150 minutes in its entirety.

In honor of him, we are posting his answers to questions from this interview over the course of the next year. It is our hope that by watching you will get to know his work better, his wonderful wit and intellect, and the significance of his contribution to the study and advancement in the field of social interaction.

Please watch, enjoy, and share with your friends

Q1        Professor Bales, what role has art played in your career?
C1a       Relationship of SYMLOG to color theory
C1b       Ways that values, like colors, can harmonize or clash
Q2        What are you thinking about when you are painting?
C2a       Exploring field theory and the “field effect”
Q3        Is SYMLOG related to music in your mind as well as to art?
Q4        How is SYMLOG related to “describing the context” and “systems thinking”?
C4a       SYMLOG is a theory of what is most relevant in social interaction.
C4b       “Systems thinking” vs. “rat in a maze” approach to psychology
C4c       SYMLOG as a diagnostic system—data collection, data handback, and group discussion
Q5        What is the relationship between conflict and values?
C5a       Conflicting motives are built into personalities.
C5b       Conflict is inevitable in any personality and any social interaction system.
C5c       Leadership and the resolution of conflict
Q6        Is SYMLOG relevant to, and effective in, the real world?
C6a       The early days of research—building a system for observing groups.
C6b       Out of the laboratory—developing SYMLOG Consulting Group
Q7        How valuable is your old accumulated data to these conclusions?
Q8        Is SYMLOG really worth paying for?  Can it really help an organization or team leader?
C8a       The Unabomber case.  The sociology of survival.
C8b       SYMLOG and studies regarding individual and organizational effectiveness
C8c       SYMLOG and Organizational Development
Q9        SYMLOG seems complex to some people and often doesn’t provide many easy answers.  Can it be simplified?
C9a       An example of an approach-approach type of conflict
C9b       An example of an approach-avoidance (and even worse) type of conflict
C9c       Conflicts are complex value dilemmas we can illustrate using SYMLOG and the game of donkeys and dogs.
Q10       Why do consultants ask questions on opposing concepts such as Wish and Reject?  L
Q11       How does SYMLOG simplify understanding something as complex as social interaction?
Q12       What simplifications have been specifically produced and refined by SYMLOG?
Q13       What is this Forward-Backward Dimension?  How was it named?
Q14       What is authority?  How does authority relate to the Forward-Backward Dimension?
C14a      Legitimate authority is in the eyes of the beholder
C14b      Leadership always involves dealing with groups of people who have different values.
Q15       Is there a difficulty with the naming of the directions in the SYMLOG space?
Q16       Validity and reliability are always issues.  Is SYMLOG reliable?
C16a      Most people experience SYMLOG as valid—this is not necessarily always positive, so be careful.
Q17       What is the optimum guide for changing your personal behavior—the SYMLOG E-line or what co-workers feel would be ideal?
Q18       Why do some items seem so similar to some of the other items when filling out the rating form?
Q19       Why do some of the words in some of the items seem to conflict with other words in the very same item?
Q20       How would you convince someone to make SYMLOG ratings?
Q21       How is SYMLOG different from other instruments?
Q22       How can your data relate to a client’s special and unique problems?
Q23       The client may ask:  “How is our company profile different from others?”
Q24       When is the best time to bring SYMLOG into an organization?
Q25       How well does a team need to know each other in order to make the ratings meaningful?
Q26       Are you able to use repeated measures to assess change?
Q27       How often should repeated measures be done?
Q28       What is meant by "multiple levels" when referring to SYMLOG?
Q29       Is SYMLOG a theory of personality? Group dynamics? Society? Ideology?
Q30       What are the discoveries and contributions of SYMLOG that are really new and truly important?
Q31       Where is SYMLOG headed?
Q32     How are you feeling now that SYMLOG is being used worldwide?  
Q33     Is there anything we haven’t asked you that you want us to know?
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