Are there exceptionless psychological laws, not probabilistic and/or not ceteris paribus? The idea that there are seems prima facie wrong and silly.

Suppose that you are running a psychology experiment in which you ask participants to choose between two separate boxes, and you make one box hugely more appealing than other. An example would be a billion dollars and instant bloody decapitation. You run this experiment many times, and no-one has yet chosen "guillotine". At what point do you suppose it is a scientific law that no-one can go freely to their death, at least when there's money involved? Would you universalise the law among all humans, even depressed hermits?

The question is kind of frivolous, but I'm insane, and keep imagining I'm out witting people intent on my destruction. After how many unsuccessful attempts is it reasonable to assume I cannot be outwitted here? Especially given that the choices my assailants make are not nearly as obviously rational as infinite riches and torture?

If there are no such laws, then in no way can I appeal to them in an explanation, in the same way as, if phrenology is false, I cannot explain my success at cards with the shape of my head.

  • At no point. There is a concept of significance in statistics. But at the end of the day, you'll have to decide that e.g 5 sigma is your threshold for discovery. It could also be 6 sigma. Or 5.5 sigma. Or 10 sigma. But this is just a collective agreement, there is no absolute number that would be imposed to us all.
    – Frank
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 1:09
  • is the "at no point" claim anti scientific @Frank and motivated by philosophical assumptions such as 'free will'? i have no idea what degree of belief scientists have even in the empirical results of physics.
    – user65174
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 1:13
  • It's tongue and cheek to provocatively highlight that it's more or less arbitrary. The question is a bit not how it works though. Scientists don't need to "believe" their empirical results. They have models that work more or less well and approximately in various ranges of parameters and that they constantly refine given more observations. They "believe" only that some model is the best they have for some range of parameters and try to find better models.
    – Frank
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 1:18
  • don't know what point you are making @Frank scientists try and prove a theory, and some theories are accepted as true (move along). can we ever do so with non-probabilistic psychological laws?
    – user65174
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 1:22
  • 1
    In all likelihood there is not only one person who can outwit you, but many. If you realise there is nothing you can do about this, you might find it easier to concentrate on things you can control. Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 9:07

2 Answers 2


The problem not in they are not exist, but what are they, because it is preposition of behavior, not a rule for all. I can name several that works always. For example:

  • positive reinforcement. This is a term mean that someone(A) get the unconscious feeling that gets some joy, that mean that important not the thing he/it did, but this practice feeling. How is it work? When B did something and A behavior become more often, that can mean A view the action of B as positive thing, joy, usually dopamine/oxytocin getting, and A will wish to get this joy again. If A behavior is not repeating that doesn't mean that this principle is wrong, that mean that B hadn't find joy factor for A yet. This works for simple reflexes. For example system of likes associated with smile and support feelings and A will get a +hormones and A will continue that he did(several times) again and again, if doesn't accidence crush with Website or something, and if A doesn't know about this thing( B manipulate with A unconscious, If A know this, behavior model can be changed by A will). Dislikes doesn't get 100% guarantees of this, because sometimes unconscious manipulation works on "good" hormones getting, so, A still can get "masochistic" pleasure of dislikes. Why someone does this? - because he/it likes.
  • That you hate, you also don't let to self. Or inverse, you don't let to self that you hate. So, you get the dopamine when you don't do or hate something. All hate is unconscious.
  • If "something" happens it should repeat soon, this works with animals behavior or periodical behavior. And also repeating mean that nothing critical is not happened - unconscious hadn't modified and reflex wasn't switched.

About your boxes - it is not work this way, because box associations is depends on subjective unconscious and conscious knowledge - that is not psyhology. In this case suiciders choose a rip box.

  • It is impossible to think and to do the same. That mean that you can't to criticise your reflex while action. Don't think about "White Elephant" is, a simple example of this phenomen.
  • this is a really nice answer, thanks. also, i like your style of reply, like a postmodern and parodic version of philology. thanks for not laughing haha
    – user65174
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 5:58
  • please can we talk... please.
    – andrós
    Commented Jun 9 at 21:51
  • ok i'll start a room :) thanks!!!
    – andrós
    Commented Jun 9 at 21:56
  • ok, invite me there Commented Jun 9 at 21:56

A scientific law implies that it is not physically possible for the person to go to their impending doom. But it is possible. Therefore it is not a scientific law.

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