Archives for October 18, 2011

5 Dollars

My baby sister is 14 she obviously is still living at home and doesn’t have a job. My dad decided that if she wanted to earn some money she’ll have to help out around the house. So besides doing the dish she must take the garbage s out. This only includes her garbage and two the bathroom garbages.  Garbage day is Thursday so she must do her chore every Wednesday or before my dad takes the garbage can to the street. If she does this she is given 5 bucks.  If she does not do it by Wednesday she doesn’t get 5 bucks.  My dad does not remind her throughout the week or even on Wednesday, she just knows and does it or doesn’t.  The problem with this s is that she always waits until the minute, sometimes late Wednesday or even early Thursday morning. She won’t realize that if she just does the garbage’s every week and on time she’d have a lot of spending money


I once lived right on campus in one of the great EWU dorms. The source of food at the time on campus was Baldy’s, Eagle Shop, and Tawanka (almost sounds like today). I would get morning breakfast at Baldy’s with some friends and that would dictate the day for the most part. I love to see and feel the energy from the workers at the counters. Every morning, I was greeted with a smile, positive vibe, and some little chit chat. That helped me feel happy and positive. There were those days that I went to a counter where the individual was gloomy and dragged me down. This is an example of variable interval. I would receive a negative reaction at unpredictable times. I always hoped that those encounters did not occur much. It rarely did, but those days were pretty bad.

It was great to have many happy days that year!

Evil Slot Machines!

Gambling is a perfect example of Variable-ratio schedule in operant conditioning.  The one I have experience with are slot machines.  First time I went to casino I just went on slot machines while my boyfriend played blackjack.  Though I knew how to play blackjack and wanted to try out, I wasn’t really confident to play against a real person because I only played against a computer on my phone before.  So, I just went to the slot machines because all you have to do is just pressing that one button over and over again… until you win something. (reinforcer!)

I think I spent about $10 on the slot machines, and I lost it all.  It’s funny because I “knew” all about this different schedules of reinforcement back then.  I even explained to my boyfriend that people just sit in front of the slot machines and keep pressing that button non-stop because they all know that “at some point”, which is very random and unpredictable, they are going to get their reinforcement.   And yet, I became one of those “people” that I just described; I sat in front of the machine and kept going until I lost all the money on the card.  I was first on 5-cent slot machine, and when I won even though it wasn’t by that much, it still made me feel pretty good and I kept going.  Even when I started losing the money I was thinking ‘maybe this one more time then I will win back what I lost’, ‘One more time’, or ‘I haven’t won for a while so I should get my “reinforcer” pretty soon’, ‘I will play 5 more times and if I don’t win any I will stop playing’, etc.  Not knowing how many responses I have to make before I can get the reinforcer didn’t really stop me from making the same response… it rather kept me going because I just knew that I was going to get the reinforcer at some point.

The variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement does produces a strong rate of responding (I mean, look at all the people on slot machines or other gambling games at the casino!), and there is no PRP (post reinforcement pause)— people don’t ‘pause’ after getting a reinforcement; they often keep going and play until they lose all their money…  Slot machines can be just evil.


I am not above bribery

Why is that my kids are the ones I see most of my examples in.

Once again this has to do with homework. The other day I asked my son to do his homework, which caused a lot of issues. He currently does not like doing homework unless is has to do with math. Well after about 45 min of constant nagging I thought of an idea. Well he had to rewrite a paragraph that had run-on sentences. So I told him that if he wrote one sentence he could have one chocolate chip. After he was done he looked at me and said he was done so I gave him his chip. I then told him that if he wrote 2 sentences he could have 1 chocolate chip. I kept adding one sentence each time and still only needed to give him one chocolate chip until he was done. It was amazing how fast he worked through that assignment.

After hearing the lecture about reinforcement schedules I thought immediately of this example a fixed ratio schedule. The fact that he had to do one sentence and then receive his reinforcement started it but I had no problem adding one more sentence with each successive trial after that. Oh how powerful a chocolate chip can be…….then again I realize I am bribing my son with food to do his homework.

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