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PSYC 332 Lecture Notes - Animal Training, Reinforcement, Parsley

Course Code
PSYC 332
Richard Koestner

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Lecture 9: Wednesday January 26, 2011
Beginning here from chapter 3 – effects of environments on our behaviour and our
“What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage”
Using Reinforcement Principles in Our Everyday Life
Shamu – killer whale, does stunts for large audiences
Trained animals using operant conditioning, marine animal trainer focus almost
exclusively on positive reinforcement
Overview of Lecture Questions:
Can we change another person’s personality with operant conditioning?
What can the training of exotic animals teach us about operant conditioning?
The most e-mailed article of 2006
Modern Love: What Shamu Taught Me About A Happy Marriage” by Amy
Sutherland (6/25/06);
oFreelance journalist, married for 12 years
oFor the most part been happily married, but she noticed that certain of her
husband’s behaviours annoyed her, and she asked him to change and get
him upset (sloppy, forgetful etc)
oShe found after 12 years that certain things he did began to get to her, she
encouraged him to go to marriage counseling
oShe said you guys don’t have a problem you communicate well
oAfter that she decided this isn’t the kind of thing you get divorced about,
you are bound to find things that drive you crazy
oShe received a contract to write a big story about the training of exotic
animals and was invited to go to California where they have the top school
of exotic animal training – to spend her weekdays there and travel to
animal shows
oShe said it was eye opening and amazing how learning about these
training tactics affected her bc she came to realize I can influence people
in my lives by changing my behaviour and by reinforcing them for the
things I like and not reinforcing them for the things I don’t like
oFascinated by the animals – made notes on things she could try on her
oAnimals trained to spin, come up on the deck, give kiss to trainers, ride on
the back of the whale
oHow can you train these animals that naturally want to devour humans to
actually be comfortable with them through the use of operant
2007 book
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The central lesson:
she thought she could use this on her husband, and she didn’t tell him…
Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but
lovable species, the American husband.
The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward
behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you don't get a sea lion to
balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American
oEven though you might think your ignoring behaviour you don’t like, you
are indicating non-verbally that don’t qualify as ignoring, they could be
nagging and they are reinforcing the negative behaviours
I was using what trainers call "approximations," rewarding the small steps toward
learning a whole new behavior. You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command
in one session, just as you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking
up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock. With the baboon you
first reward a hop, then a bigger hop, then an even bigger hop. With Scott the husband, I
began to praise every small act every time: if he drove just a mile an hour slower, tossed
one pair of shorts into the hamper, or was on time for anything.
She developed 12 reinforcing kind of things she could do, wanted to develop a
variety so it could remain fresh and interesting
use whistles and clickers – a way of telling the animal you have done it right and you
will get a big juicy fish in a few minutes
what do you do about inappropriate behaviours – most of the time with children and
other people we try and ignoring it
occasionally an animal will have a behaviour you cant tolerate
Training incompatible behaviours:
“Taught African crested cranes to stop landing on his head and shoulders. He did
this by training the leggy birds to land on mats on the ground.”
“Rather than teach the cranes to stop landing on him, the trainer taught the
birds something else, a behavior that would make the undesirable behavior
oIf you put a brightly coloured map on the ground the African crane would
sometimes land on the map instead of landing on you
oTrainer would tsart reinforcing that and whne they are reinforced that they
would always land on the mat and you wouldn’t have to worry about your
arm being punctured
oFind an incompatible behavioyr that occurs and reinforce it with that
oThis lady loves cooking, found her husband was always intruding into her
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