Operant Conditioning

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The section on operant conditioning really got me thinking because its really interesting to me how we can extrapolate these experiments with animals into understanding how operant conditioning can be applied to human behaviors. Before I started reading the chapter I would have been sure that a fixed ratio schedule would be more beneficial in changing some ones behavior. Its just intuitive to me that if one is knowingly getting a reward after a fixed number positive behaviors they would be more likely to continue those good behaviors. It turns out that conditioning is more effective on a variable ratio schedule where reinforcement is given the same amount on average, but varies randomly. This got me to thinking about our day-to-day relationships, whether it is with friends or our girlfriends/boyfriends. I've always been taught good morals that were instilled in my through my parents, that should be repeated continuously with no variation (basically a fixed ratio schedule). However, it always was interesting and irked me how in romantic relationships men and women seemingly were attracted to people who treated them poorly a high percentage of the time over those who treat someone better with more consistency. Then I realized that this is explained well with the variable ratio schedule. If treating your partner/friend well is a stimulus that keeps someone interested in a relationship, then according to the variable ratio schedule its not optimal to be nice consistently. When this variable schedule of good behavior is implemented it's in the partners best interest to stick around longer to ensure that a reward is received (good behavior from ones partner) through droughts of good behavior. In relationships with friends or with partners, my morals suggest to be nice to others no matter what consistently. This contrasts with the optimal conditioning suggested in the book (variable ratio schedule), which is scientifically more effective in emitting a beneficial response. I'm at a crossroads based on the values my parents have taught me, which seem correct, and what is deemed optimal conditioning.

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This page contains a single entry by frtiz001 published on October 23, 2011 9:35 PM.

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