Friday, December 08, 2006

PUNISHMENT AND REWARDS

These are the results of doing right or doing wrong; they are administered by others, judgmentally or otherwise. They include parents, teachers, bosses, marital partners, social groups, peers and even our children. They can all make us aware of our successes or failures, great or small. In the nineteen fifties the school of behavioral therapy and operant conditioning came into prominence, and most of us have never been quite the same since.

We have learned to call these things positive or negative reinforcement, more politically if not socially correct. This is still reward or punish, and may hurt or please the recipients. We now are able to train and modify (This is sometimes called behavior modification) the behavior of animals, most children, and adults with behavioral disorders, as never before. Practitioners need to be trained and licensed, however, and may often (and most probably should) draw the line at some requests for their skills.

So much for the didactic stuff; other “people” may do these things to us but “Life” does not. It has been observed that in life there are no rewards or punishment, only “experience” as the teaching medium. Learning from experience is essential to continued well-being and success, but the latter is still up to us. Rewards may or may not follow; results are always in the eye of the beholder.

4 comments:

Rethabile said...

"We have learned to call these things positive or negative reinforcement."
----------
A hug or a whipping, in other words...

GoGo said...

Hmm. I am glad for your post, I appreciate the raw satirical humor in it all.

ren.kat said...

yeah, 'cause if life is teaching us something through all these great experiences, I'd like to know what the knowledge I'm getting is supposed to be for. . . -

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Ah, so true about the 'experience' of life.