Understanding Behavioral Conditioning

by Dantalion Jones

 

Opperant Conditioning is a form of behavioral conditioning that is designed to create and reinforce new learned behaviors.

Opperant Conditioning is, by it’s very nature manipulative, so you shouldn’t consider it a “bad thing”. Instead think of it as a “teaching tool” and try to teach people to do things that are useful and good for everyone concerned.

Start by thinking of a behavior or outcome you would want to train in to a pet (or a person). Let’s use two examples.

Example 1 – You want your pet to fetch you a ball on command.

Example 2 – You want your spouse to clean the kitchen.

Useful Terms To Know

Just by understanding the vocabulary can be a great first step and can help you make some useful distinctions in how you apply this knowledge.

Reward

Rewards are warm and fuzzy acts of kindness given after the behavior is accomplished.  You can reward your dog with a pet or a treat as soon as he fetches the ball.  You can give your spouse a deep and heartfelt “Thank you.” filled with affection when the kitchen is cleaned.

 

Limitations Pro/Cons

A reward can only happen after  the behavior is complete. The longer the delay in giving the reward the slower the learning so your subject needs to be able to easily link the behavior to the reward.  As a positive there is no pain or punishment used so it is very ecological on the subjects psyche.

On the downside, some subjects can be slow to respond at first to only rewards.  Usually this is because the wrong reward is delivered.  The lesson: pick a reward that you know the subject wants.

 

Random Reward Schedule

A random reward schedule means that rewards are given inconsistently when a behavior is done well.  Interestingly this creates an increased desire to perform the behavior.  The mind, whether it’s a dog or your spouse wants to get that reward and if it doesn’t get it from this attempt maybe the next one will get it.

Think about how gambling can become so addictive.

Use this with a dog who knows how to fetch and he will eager continue the behavior to get your praise. Likewise when your spouse finally knows how to clean the kitchen it will be reinforced more if the rewards vary in frequency and degree.

Positive Feedback

Positive feedback differs from a reward in a matter of timing.  The feedback is given before the behavior is complete and points out what is done right and what still needs to be done to complete the behavior.

Think of training your dog to fetch as a series of steps each of which is followed by positive feedback. The dog picks up the ball and you say “Good dog!”  Then for each step closer to you that the dog brings the ball you cheer him on more and more.

For the spouse cleaning the kitchen you can say “You did the dishes really well. Good start!” If your spouse assumes the job is finished you can say “I know the stove top will look great when you finish that too.”  With each successive step you can say “That was great. You’re almost done/”

Limitations Pro/Cons

A positive aspect of this form of conditioning is that is can help to train people to look forward to doing a process. Combined with reward it will teach people the valuable skill of delayed gratification.

Punishment

Punishment occurs after a behavior is unsuccessfully attempted to indicate that it was not the desired result or outcome.

Your dog walks over to the ball and, instead of retrieving it he urinates on it.  A loud “No!” can act as punishment enough to stop the behavior.

If your spouse is unsuccessful at cleaning the kitchen you can say “We’re not going anywhere until that kitchen is clean!” Yes, nagging is punishment.

Limitations Pro/Cons

 The biggest limitation on using punishment is when it is used too often. This will put the subject in a state of apprehension and fear, not healthy psychological states.

Punishment teaches only when something is not done correctly. It is the irresponsibility of the trainer to also show what the desirable outcome should be. Without that the subject is left to guess.

Negative Feedback

The difference between negative feedback and punishment is a matter of timing. In both cases a stimulus is provided that the subject wants to avoid. In punishment it happens after an unsuccessful attempt.  With negative feedback the uncomfortable stimulus happens continuously until the behavior or outcome is successfully achieved.

For example a dog could receive an annoying electrical shock which will stop only when the ball is retrieved.

Nagging your spouse non-stop until the kitchen is clean is another example.

Limitations Pro/Cons

Using negative feedback creates a very quick learning cycle in which the subject is highly motivated to accomplish the outcome in hopes to avoid the uncomfortable stimulus.

The bad side of negative feedback is that it does  not contribute to the long term health of the subject. Meaning the subject is prone to worry, anxiety and fear.

General Feedback

General feedback has no reward of punishment and consists of simple information about how close or distant  one is to a specific outcome.

I once saw a tennis instructor put a bucket on the opposite side of the tennis net and instruct the student to hit the bucket. The only thing the instructor did is tell the student exactly how far from the bucket the ball struck. It was nothing but pure feedback. No reward or punishment. In a very short time the student could direct his tennis ball to hit the bucket with amazing accuracy.

The Best Combination of Tactics

No one behavioral modification tactic works better than another but if they skillfully combined they can have wonderful results.

About The Author

 

Dantalion Jones is the author of several books on mind control, hypnosis and persuasion. His main web site it http://MindControl101.comand you can order his books from amazon.com

You can also order and download his Mind Control Course by going to http://MastersOfMindControl.com

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