Chocolate...?

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The portrayal of operant conditioning in the popular sitcom "Big Bang Theory" quite accurately depicts the simplicity of said phenomenon in psychology. One of the characters simply offers another character a piece of chocolate each time she does something acceptable... she is un-knowingly being trained during this process. This may seem like a very bare-bones, simplistic example of how operant conditioning can be utilized, but it is also very accurate. Today the world of animal training completely revolves around this concept of positive reinforcement to shape an animals behaviors. dolphin.jpgDolphin trainers at Sea World live by this theory and their efforts pay off each time they perform a show. I find it very interesting that such an elementary concept is so effective. Something that takes five minute for a sitcom to introduce, humorously, can be directly applied to real life situations. As long as the specimens: the character or dolphins, are presented with a stimulus that ignites the response of pleasure/enjoyment: chocolate or a rub on the belly, the training is almost inevitable. These dolphins perform amazing feats and obey their trainers unbelievably well. I find enjoyment in discovering psychological ideas being implemented in the world around me.

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After doing the readings, watching the lectures, and attending discussions it has become apparent that animal training is quite simple and effective if trained in a correct way. I do not own dogs, but I have been around dogs quite a bit. I think that it is bad behavior of any dog to jump up on people excessively, eat food for humans, or any other behavior that the owner is against. I think that because animal training is "easy" people should be required to train their animals. I do not appreciate when a dog owner has to apologize for their animals behavior, when clearly there are ways to train correct behavior.

I agree with you that this type of training is very simple and easy. Almost as if it is a no brainer. This type of training may be used mostly with animals but I think it is used with humans to in blinding way. Parents may use this when they are trying to teach their kids right from wrong and praise them when do something in the right way. I think that the one being trained just doesn't consciously know that it is happening.

To respond to weisp010, I feel that while yes, animals are "simple" to train, there also needs to be some sort of understanding from a person. Animals are still animals and when excited may not always listen. Take the 3 different cases of a killer whale "suddenly" going vicious on a trainer they had known and listened to for years. It takes a small trigger to change an animal from it's "acceptable" behavior and its animal instincts. There was a man in a circus who, during part of his show, would go into a cage with tigers. He had done the same act for years, been the one to train them for years, he wears a new shiny outfit that had never been used in a performance this triggered something primal in one of the tigers and that tiger killed his trainer. While there are correct ways to train them, some people may not know how to successfully train their animal and may not have the money to spend on doggy classes. This may lead someone to say then why don't they just get another pet or none at all. But this seems slightly naive because if a person would like a dog and the dog is a problem when people come over, all they need to do is "contain" that animal in a basement or backyard or other places, and the person entering the home should also have a little bit of tolerance.

I was surprised to see that the shaping was discovered B.F. Skinner in UofM. I think shaping is the key for the animal training and I appreciate it. Without the discovery of shaping, we couldn't have seen the dolphin's amazing performances at the Sea World.

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This page contains a single entry by neilx035 published on February 24, 2012 7:55 PM.

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