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date: 27 October 2021

(p. xxi) Preface

(p. xxi) Preface

Jim and Tom had different developmental paths that brought them into the Oregon group studying social interaction patterns in families of aggressive, antisocial children. Jim had been to Vietnam, and then attended graduate school in clinical psychology. He wrote a dissertation that replicated the effects of parent management training on the reduction of children’s aggressive behavior. Tom rolled into Eugene in 1978 in a VW camper van, looking for a job and career. It was luck that brought him to Oregon and to the menial task of transcribing home observers’ descriptions of family interactions. The observers’ whispers were transcribed onto coding sheets, which looked like musical scrolls. In viewing the musical scroll, the pattern between the mom’s nattering and the children’s aggression was visually quite clear.

Implicit Knowledge

  • Gerald R. Patterson
  • 08/2011
  • The musician plays in my garden
  • Her soft notes tentative
  • Tiny fingers reach through the music
  • Caressing the meaning beneath the notes
  • Unveiling the structure of my statistical model

Even in 1978, those observing family interaction patterns did not assume that the interactions were causing the aggressive behavior. Causality came into the picture when Marion Forgatch became involved in 1980. After a month or so of transcribing the family interactions it was time for an intervention. The intervention was simple: put an earphone in mom’s ear and whisper parenting skills to her to replace coercive antecedents. Like magic, the aggressive behavior was reduced to normal levels. Thus stimulus control was established, and families’ quality of life improved.

Jim and Tom did not meet in Oregon until some years later (mid-1980s). Jim came to Oregon Social Learning Center for a senior-level postdoc. There was clearly a “click” between Jim and the entire Oregon group, and in the ensuing years several advances were made in the formulation of the coercion model with respect to studying escalation, measuring the relative rate of reinforcement, and the matching law.

Right around the time Jim came to Oregon for a year, the Oregon group became interested in extending the coercion dynamic into developmental models that hopefully would inform prevention and treatment strategies. With fervor, (p. xxii) the group advanced headlong into longitudinal modeling. Among behavioral scientists, high-inferential constructs are often avoided, if not eschewed. However, the statistical framework in psychology was growing, and now it was possible to translate latent constructs into very specific measurements of behavior. These were exciting times at OSLC, and the early career researchers blossomed. Jerry Patterson, John Reid, and Patti Chamberlain collaborated to create a highly supportive scientific environment that would lead to innovation in intervention and theory. The OSLC “Bull Sessions” were the venue for trying out new ideas, statistical consultation, and general support for the research enterprise. There were no rules except that criticism was to be kept at a minimum, and discussion and brainstorming flowed naturally. From the OSLC Bull Sessions emerged several evidence-based practices for the prevention and treatment of antisocial behavior in children and adolescents: Parent Management Training–Oregon Model, Treatment Foster Care–Oregon model, Family Check-Up, and the LIFT program. Freewheeling discussions and data exploration sensitized the group to expand the model to include the broader ecology of antisocial behavior. Tom initiated research into deviancy training by the peer group, which unveiled the prominent role of peer interactions in the persistence of antisocial behavior and its escalation to more serious forms.

Listen to the Music

  • Gerald R. Patterson
  • 4/2013
  • The trees stand silent
  • Listen to their music
  • No thinking—just rhythm
  • Oh, the beauty of it
  • Skis floating
  • Dive into space
  • The music deep inside
  • Oh, the beauty
  • On the blackboard
  • Three latent constructs
  • A single path shimmering through all three
  • Oh, the beauty of it
  • She stands alone
  • Join her
  • Hear the music
  • Oh the beauty of it
  • Oh the beauty
  • Oh

As time marched on we witnessed the field of developmental psychology and intervention science grow in various ways, improving societies’ capacity to understand, prevent, and treat antisocial behavior in children and families and to help couples reduce destructive cycles of conflict. Understanding, measuring, and intervening to reduce coercive dynamics in families and couples became accepted as the cornerstone of evidence-based interventions and a critical aspect of (p. xxiii) developmental theory. We all moved on in our careers but remained friendly and often collaborative despite our busy professional and personal lives. To continue learning and supporting studies on relationships and families, Jerry proposed periodic Chautauquas that brought in scientists able to mix a bit of fun with a lot of science. Jim and Tom were always part of these events and collaborated to write many of the ensuing papers and edit special issues.

As it became clear that work relevant to coercion theory was branching into new areas of discovery, we thought it was time to create this Oxford Handbook, to reflect on the progress that has been made, and to clarify new and promising future directions of scientific inquiry. It made sense for Tom and Jim to collaborate closely on this project. However, as time and change go hand in hand, the coordination and editing of this volume came with its challenges, with heart surgery and cancer treatment being significant disruptors to the editorial process.

With some flexibility and persistence, the Handbook was finished. We are grateful for the patience, talent, and dedication of the authors of this Handbook. With their own litany of career and life events, the group pulled through to contribute the best thinking on etiology of coercion and interventions that reduce it. We thank Cheryl Mikkola for her tactful guidance and skilled forbearance with the editors. As you will see from the interesting chapters in this Handbook, progress in science takes many unexpected turns. The study of coercion began with the careful analysis of single individuals as they interacted with family members and moved toward developmental models that included hundreds of couples, families, and peers. This nonlinear scientific momentum culminated in the past decade to encompass national efforts to successfully implement intervention strategies that address coercion and reduce child and adolescent aggression. It has been an interesting journey, and this book reflects what can be accomplished when scientists cooperate to answer important questions. It is also possible have a little fun and make some friends along the way. (p. xxiv)