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PSYC 332 - Intro to Personality

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PSYC 332
Richard Koestner

Personality Lecture 9: Wednesday January 26, 2011 Beginning here from chapter 3 – effects of environments on our behaviour and our personality “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); o Freelance journalist, married for 12 years o For 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) o She found after 12 years that certain things he did began to get to her, she encouraged him to go to marriage counseling o She said you guys don’t have a problem you communicate well o After that she decided this isn’t the kind of thing you get divorced about, you are bound to find things that drive you crazy o She 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 o She 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 o Fascinated by the animals – made notes on things she could try on her husband o Animals trained to spin, come up on the deck, give kiss to trainers, ride on the back of the whale o How can you train these animals that naturally want to devour humans to actually be comfortable with them  through the use of operant reinforcement • 2007 book 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 husband. o Even 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 Shaping: 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 impossible.” o If you put a brightly coloured map on the ground the African crane would sometimes land on the map instead of landing on you o Trainer 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 o Find an incompatible behavioyr that occurs and reinforce it with that o This lady loves cooking, found her husband was always intruding into her passion and he would always come in and hover around her – she wished that he wouldn’t corwed around her o So at one of the kitchen island she put parsley, onions and a knife and far away from kitchen she put some chips and salsa and dip to occupy him – if he had some stations to go to, he would stay away from her  she also learned that any reaction can be reinforcing, most of us think its when we praise or give someone something, but she suggests that if were a parent of a young child and if the young child can get us upset and screaming an
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