Saturday, 21 May 2011

Unwelcome ideas - part V

As the clip explains, the pigeons playing a version of ping-pong have been conditioned to play by a reward mechanism. It rewards ‘winning’ by giving food and punishes ‘losing’ by not giving food, so ‘winning’ behaviour is what the pigeons adopt as best they can. They have no choice - their environment controls their behaviour

Similarly, there is no need to invoke ‘choice’ when we play our human games, whether traditional games like ping-pong, or the numerous, subtle games we play in the great game of life. There too, just like the pigeons, we play the game for reward or to avoid punishment. We play in whatever fashion we have found to be most advantageous or least disadvantageous. There are reasons why we play our games as we do, but that’s all. Choice doesn’t come into it – just reasons.

If we watch the pigeons and absorb what their behaviour can tell us about ourselves, a whole raft of unwelcome ideas are loosed from their moorings.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Christ that's cruel! They didn't even give them little bats or anything.

A K Haart said...

Toughens up the beaks though.

Greg said...

We were in our psychology class laughing at how stupid Pavlov's dogs were when the bell rang and we all left and went to lunch.

A K Haart said...

Hi Greg and welcome.

Yes - it's what we do isn't it? This conditioning stuff can't possibly apply to me.