As a slave in ancient Greece, Aesop would have been well versed in conditioned responses. A command was given, and a whipping probably followed for good measure. After awhile, all it would take is the commanding voice to cause a wince in anticipation of the pain. And that was, let's see, in 550 BC. For those that slept late, that is a long, long time before American Idol went on air.
It wasn't until much later that society learned the adage of 'getting more with honey than with vinegar.' That is to say, rewarding someone for doing good, rather than kicking them in the crotch for doing not so good (hahaha) increases the reliability of the behavior you want to develop.
So after all of this time, it seems the undisputed experts in understanding conditioned responses are the canine familiaris, the dog, followed closely by kids. If you have a dog (or kids!), then you know of what I speak. They are experts in human behavior.
Ethan: Smells Tonya's Vegetarian Breast .... gets excited and salivates (well, me too actually. Pavlov would be so proud). And The behavior gets reinforced by getting fed.
Emily: Emily wants a sleepover...so she becomes an angel. And her good behavior gets reinforced by being granted a sleepover.
So when we expect, shape, mold or cajole behavior in order for those wishes to be met, we begin to turn the corner on understanding who is exactly training who....
We mentioned earlier about Mr. Ivan Pavlov. In that post we went into greater detail about behavioral responses, remember? If not, click here for a refresher.
Because of the similarity (now stay with me on this...) in how behaviors are reinforced, the study and application of how to develop reliable behaviors is not as species specific as we might think. A simple, easy to understand, common sense book on the topic is "Don't Shoot The Dog". I recommend it for parents, people in a relationship and pet owners. It is not a science book, just a simple, easy to read and understand practical book on how to get the reliable behaviors you want out of the people and things you want. The woman who wrote it pioneered the training of marine mammals (dolphins) to do tricks and underwater mine detection, etc. You can't put a leash on a killer whale to enforce a command so when you go to Sea World and see Shamu do his thing, you can thank Ms. Pryor's and Pavlov's pioneering work. Anyway, the 2nd page of my Daddios Recommended Reads over on the right panel has the book listed and you can research it more, order it or get the scoop and go buy it at the bookstore.
Hopefully this weekend we can all find a positive behavior (in ourselves, in our kids, in our spouses, and/or our pets) to breed into their bones in order to create a more reliable comportment. Because once a behavior is habituated and it sticks to the flesh, life can be predictably and appreciably better. Unless you are hungry and the flesh is actually attached to a pork rib at a cookout of course.....in which case: bon appétit!
Want to learn more? You can go to any of the Google search bars located for your enjoyment on the right or at the bottom and search the web for anything and everything....