Friday, November 07, 2014

Human Animals

Nonhuman animal behavior has provided many insights into our own species’ psychology. Just take the experiments of Pavlov with dogs around conditioning. When dogs associate certain cues with food, they respond to the cue as they would do to the food itself. The best example is your dog rushing to the refrigerator whenever you open it. The dogs “know” there’s food inside that huge metal box. The smart ones also “know” that if they look cute enough, or hungry enough (or, best of all, cute and hungry enough), they stand a good chance of their human getting something from the metal box to give to them. Pavlov’s experiments, and legions of other psychologists who followed his footsteps to look into conditioning, were important in the development of psychology. Reward people to reinforce “good” behavior, and punish them to reduce “bad” behavior. Our understanding of conditioning in human psychology later went back to nonhuman animals with “clicker training,” where you use a simple little gadget that gives a clicking sound for training. The success of clicker training of dogs and dolphins later went back to human applications. Amy Sutherland, who trained dolphins using clickers, later wrote a book titled “What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage.” ... This “clicker wife” suggests that you should not reinforce the bad behavior but that rather than nag, you can offer “rewards” to make the husband want to be good. more

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