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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Positive Reinforcement for Humans?

Sure, why not?  I get asked all the time if positive reinforcement clicker training would work on husbands, wives, children, bosses, etc.  Absolutely!  The same principles apply.  Reinforce desired behaviors, ignore undesired behaviors.  Seems simple, doesn't it?  The hard part comes when we add in emotion (the same could be said for dog training too).

When someone consistently hurts your feelings, it's difficult to not do or say anything, but I truly believe if you ignore them, at some point, they will stop.  When your husband leaves the cabinet doors all wide open, if you nag him, give him grief, yell at him -- it will continue to happen; but if you ignore him and quietly close the doors, he'll get the message.  I tend to get on my "soapbox" every once in a while with my children -- and I go on and on and on and on...  I know they aren't listening or absorbing anything I am saying.  It's purely to make myself feel better.  But I can tell when I am quiet and ignoring their "undesired" behavior, they are getting the message loud and clear!

I often wonder how different our world would be if we all followed the principles of positive reinforcement training -- ignoring bad things and rewarding good things.  What would our crime rate be?  What about military conflicts?  What about our government, our work places, our society in general?  So much time and energy is spent paying attention to negatives, to undesired things, to evil -- what would happen if we turned that around and paid attention to positives, to desired things, to good?  Definitely food for thought.

So does positive reinforcement training work on humans?  Absolutely!  Does it need to take a different form?  Probably.  Although, I think I could be "trained" with copious amounts of chocolate...

For a great example of positive reinforcement in action and a lot of laughs, check out this clip on YouTube from the tv show, Big Bang Theory.  This clip makes me laugh every time I see it, but it also helps to illustrate how effective and wonderful positive reinforcement is.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

Pup Fan said...

I love that clip from Big Bang Theory!

I read an article about this once - tips for training a husband from a dolphin trainer. Definitely the same kind of theory: