Two years ago, I had blind dates and met few boys. I can remember a guy who wanted to date with me again after the first date. Actually I did not dislike him, but after a week having a date with him, I met a man who is now my ex-boyfriend. So the blind date guy was out of my interest. So whenever he called me, I just did not answer or occasionally called him back. I thought he would stop calling and asking me to date soon. However he tried to be hooked up with me more than three months. Even thought I just dated with him only once in a while, about one or two times a week. We did not have date a lot, so it was quite surprising that he tried for that long. Now reading the chapter 6, I am thinking it would be a kind of example of operant conditioning and the importance of the schedule of reinforcement. This could help to understand his behavior.
This video clip contains Skinners' operant conditioning experiment with pigeons. In this video, Skinner himself explains about the experiment and the schedule of reinforcement too. This is a still amazing and interesting set of experiment even after decades. There are lots of experiments which ended with the same or similar results. There are a bunch of studies and experiments but I want to focus on the schedule of reinforcement. In the experiment, pigeons would have a reward (food) by pecking a disk in the Skinner box. However the reward was given to them in a variable ratio schedule. Since the reward was to increase the frequency of the response-or the specific behavior researchers wanted-, this is a kind of positive reinforcement. Using a variable schedule of reinforcement means the reward was provided after a certain number of the behavior which varies randomly. Usually it makes subject response more frequently. Because the subjects do the aimed behavior obsessively in a hope that this time there will be the reward. As Skinner said in the video, this is why gambling is so addictive and many people do not stop gambling. With the hope of striking it rich, people are excited by just simple actions; inserting coins and pulling levers of slot machines.
In my story, the reward was my answer and the behavior -or his response- was calling me or asking me to go out. Reinforcement was not given in a certain cycle, he might have thought that this time or next time I would answer him or call him back. Anyway I lived up to his hope few times, and then his response had become more intensive. At first time he just made phone calls but later he came in front of my home and waited for me. This was quite surprising. I have realized that a variable ratio schedule would make the intensity of a behavior increase in a real world setting. After three month or more, I totally ignored him so that eventually he stopped acting like that. This could be the extinction. Since there was no more reinforcement, he stopped the behavior.
Here comes the reason why the concept of the operant conditioning and scheduling reinforcement is important. Understanding the cause of behavior can allow people act according to their free will rather than being manipulated by others. Of course, human behaviors involve more complex mechanisms and emotions. Besides I know there is something in human behavior and learning which cannot be explained by the classic or operant conditioning. However as many replicated experiments have shown, this is the fact that conditioning has influence on animals or human behaviors.