Operant conditioning

When I see people out walking dogs, I like reaching a hand out to the creatures and seeing their reactions. Usually the humans are happy about this and volunteer information about the dog’s name and breed. Occasionally, there are people who pointedly ignore me and yank hard on the leash to punish the dog for noticing me.

These people are bad animal trainers.

On the amazing AnimalWonders Montana YouTube channel, Jessi Knudson has done an amazing job of building relationships with a wide variety of animals. She is easily able to encourage a Brazilian prehensile-tailed porcupine to get into his crate for a veterinary appointment, and has taught a dog how to painlessly have its nails cut.

She has a video about clicker training: a form of operant conditioning where the sound of a click is used to teach an animal about the precise behaviour which you are tying to encourage or discourage.

She has two videos specifically about operant conditioning: Law of Effect and Operant Conditioning.

Learning more about operant conditioning seems potentially helpful when it comes to motivating climate volunteers, working with photographic subjects, and teaching students. When things are a bit less hectic, I will need to make a preliminary foray into the literature.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

One thought on “Operant conditioning”

  1. However, ads also do other things. One thing they do is to take a product and to put it next to lots of other things that we already feel positively about. For example, an ad for detergent may have fresh flowers, cute babies, and sunshine in it. All of these things are ones that we probably feel pretty good about already. And repeatedly showing the detergent along with other things that we feel good about can make us feel good about the detergent, too. This transfer of our feelings from one set of items to another is called affective conditioning (the word affect means feelings).

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