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Observational & One-trial learning

July 15th, 2009 by psy4chai


   We discussed in class the outlook of rewarding or reinforcing desired behavior and ignoring undesired behavior.  While I think the merits of this practice are valid–I could consider a case-by-case example where the “old-fashioned” method can provide a swift and acceptable result.  I look to an oft-told story my mother relates in which one of her friend’s children pulled a kicking-screaming-lying-on-the-floor-tantrum in order to get a toy.  The mother–embarrassed–bought the toy to pacify the child. OOPS, eh?

    Shortly after my observing this behavior, Mom tells me that I attempted to reproduce this event : Wow–observational learning  in action!  The girl was NOISY; which certainly riveted my attention, she got what she wanted; which served as a motivation to learn, and apparently I retained this learning in my memory in order to try it myself.

   My career in bodacious tantrums was short-lived, however; my mother says that she froze for approximately 5 seconds in awe of the sheer volume of noise her child had never before produced.  Then, she snatched my fly-weight little form up off the floor in one swift movement and delivered a pop to the fanny.  Silence.  According to mom, I didn’t even cry–although I looked very surprised–and I never , ever,  repeated that behavior.  My punishment was immediate and apparently very effective.  I suppose we can call this  response an example of one-trial learning.

   While I do not remember the event at all, I do remember that when we were out shopping…that I would normally not ask for anything unless invited to choose.  I remember being reticent and eyeing things that I wanted–with great longing sometimes–but looking to Mom for cues that a purchase was an option.  She had always shared money concerns with me–even though my concept of money was pretty weak–I was aware that her not buying me something was not a sign of “you don’t love me– I want I want I want!” ( hmmm –the id coming out a little here?), but a reality of a tight budget (ego).  I am willing to bet that my reticence was a result of my tantrum…I may not remember throwing one or getting punished, but I did remember to behave! 

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