Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Why I could become a stripper

Coming to the end of my time at university and wondering which direction to take, I frequently get asked ‘what do you like doing the most’ or ‘what are your best assets?’. If I were to take this literally, I do have an asset which I could exploit quickly and easily. My body. This is why, I've decided to become a stripper. Just kidding. However, if I were to take this as a career path, due to the laws of operant conditioning, I could be successful.

It is clear that positive reinforcement plays a major role in insuring the continuing success of a dancer’s career. If the customer likes what they get for their money, they will pay again. In this example, the behaviour is the giving of the money, and the positive reinforcer is the nice dance they receive in return. So, according to Skinner’s operant conditioning laws (Skinner, 1985; Skinner, 1972), as long as I can dance well enough, the customer will keep coming back.

Besides having to work on my dancing technique, there is another force at play here that ensures the customer pays again. It has been shown that time out (TO) from positive reinforcement is unpleasant enough to act as an aversive stimulus in itself (Leitenberg, 1965). In other words, once my amazing dance is over, the customer will feel so sad, that they will want to pay again. This could be thought of as a negative reinforcer, by paying for another dance they remove the aversive feeling of TO from the positive reinforcer.

Finally, the other gentlemen in the club would also help business along nicely. If another customer is seen by a potential customer to pay for a dance and be happy afterwards, this may reinforce such behaviour in my customer. Through Vicarious reinforcement (Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1963), the behaviour of paying for a dance would be reinforced by seeing the resulting happy customer and so a potential customer would be more likely to follow suit.

Therefore, I can become a stripper and maintain my clientele numbers through positive and negative reinforcement.

Leitenberg, H. (1965). Is time-out from positive reinforcement an aversive event? A review of the experimental evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 64(6), 428.

Skinner, B. F.(1972). Beyond freedom and dignity (p. 22). New York: Bantam Books.

Skinner, B. F. (1958). Reinforcement today. American Psychologist, 13(3), 94.

Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). Vicarious reinforcement and imitative learning. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology67, 601-607.

Sophie Housden - Blog 4

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