Sunday, February 6, 2011

Intermittent Reinforcement


"It's amazing how narcissists can end up giving nothing and yet have us scurrying around trying desperately to please----while they keep "moving the cheese." ~Freezerburned

“A Skinner box is a simple apparatus where a rat presses a bar to get a pellet of food. The interesting thing about experiments with Skinner boxes is that we can see what happens when we reward the rats in different ways… [W]hen rats are rewarded randomly, their behaviour is much more resistant to change. Why is this so profound? Because it affects all of our habits in surprising ways. The best example of this is seen in casinos. Slot machines work exactly as Skinner boxes do. If we win once in a while we will keep putting our coins in the machine. Getting rewarded randomly makes bad habits very difficult to break.”

"... Over a period of time the rat becomes obsessed with pressing the lever. So much so that the rat doesn't walk away and go play on it's treadmill or other items in the cage. The rat doesn't even try to drink. In some experiments some rats died from a) exhaustion, b) dehydration, and c) starvation (if not enough pellets were dispensed). In other words, the rat is so focussed and obsessed with intermittent reinforcement that it's attachment to the lever is all encompassing and is unhealthy (to the observer, but not to the rat). It's the same dynamic that pokie machines work on. In fact, pokie machine manufacturers hire hoardes of psychologists to find out the best combinations to get people to become obsessed with their machines."

New Approaches to Violence Against Women
"The situation of alternating aversive and pleasant conditions is an experimental design within learning theory known as intermittent reinforcement/punishment. This process is highly effective in producing long-lasting patterns of behavior which are difficult to change or stop. It is a process which is known to develop the strongest and most long-lasting emotional bonds."


"In animal studies, Skinner found that continuous reinforcement in the early stages of training seems to increase the rate of learning. Later, intermittent reinforcement keeps the response going longer and slows extinction."


“This [intermittent reinforcement] explains the paradox of relationships. If your partner mistreats you in all kinds of emotional or physical ways, you run the risk of getting deeply hooked in. You’d think it would work the other way – that if your partner made you feel secure, safe, and comfortable, you’d have a hard time leaving.  But the irony is that many people feel freer to leave someone who has made them feel secure.  Ever hear “nice guys finish last?” But if they are made to feel chronically insecure, heart-sick, anxious, or hurt, they can get caught up in the drama of the abuse and locked into the dynamics of the relationship– especially if every once in a while, their partner gives them a little crumb of love-- intermittent reinforcement.”


“If people made their decisions on a logical basis only, they would calculate risk and reward on the same scale, and make their decisions accordingly. The stock market would rise and fall predictably - in exact proportion to the earnings of the companies traded. Casinos would go bankrupt. Everyone would drive at the speed limit. Natural disasters would be less costly. There would be a dramatic reduction in crime if every criminal was caught every time. And abuse victims would respond consistently towards the abusive people in our lives. But none of us are like Mr. Spock. We often make decisions with our gut more than we do with our minds and are sometimes driven towards believing what we want to believe rather than believing what we observe.”

“She stays in part because the abuse is intermittently reinforced. If I want to teach you to be scared of me very quickly, I will harm you at random intervals. If I only hit you every Tuesday at 11:30, you’d be able to prepare for it, as well as safely let down your guard and relax all the other times. The random or intermittent nature of abuse keeps her ever hyper-vigilant and confused. One week he likes her to hold his hand, the next week he slaps her for it. She is never sure when to be scared, or what behavior is triggering the abuse, so she remains confused and perpetually frightened. Behaviors are learned rapidly through intermittent reinforcement, but they also last longer than behaviors learned by predictable reinforcement. She learns quickly that he is in control, and her brain locks in that ‘truth’ for even years after the end of the relationship.”

"...Your first two weeks in a new place of work. The resident narcissist comes up to you, and though he ranks no higher than you, he gives you a job evaluation without ever having seen your work. He tells you that you have a lot on the ball. That's your treat. Instead of asking him who he thinks he is to be judging your job performance, you are flattered and want more of what he's selling. You'll get nothing but treats like that for awhile, and then suddenly one day you'll get a painful shock instead. When you greet him, he will give you nothing but the stink-eye and look away, refusing to speak to you. After your shock wears off, you will suffer wondering what terrible thing he thinks you did. You will try to make him give you treats again. But he will always be unpredictable. He will be able to get mad at ANYTHING or to praise you for ANYTHING. It's totally arbitrary, because he can make anything good sound bad and vice versa. He can judge you as "too this" or "too that" at his whim. But you will keep pushing that button till it kills you..."

 “I get results when I take control. It is instant death when you hand over "control" to a woman. My secret is to give women "intermittent reinforcement." This actually is a psychological phenomenon commonly documented in experiments involving rats. The goal of the experiment is to have the rat press a lever as many times as possible. The rat is given a pellet of food after it presses a lever. If the rat gets a pellet every time, it soon gets satiated and stops pressing the lever. If, on the other hand, the rat does not receive a pellet every time the lever is pressed, but receives a pellet intermittently, the rat will increase the frequency with which it presses the lever. The analogy is fairly obvious: how do we get women to "press our lever" as many times as possible? Easy, give her attention intermittently and unpredictably. Don’t give her a pellet too often. Take control of when she receives one. Don’t be at her beck and call.”

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So you don't think narcissists are quite so MachiavellianRead this comment: "Ok, this is really creepy," a WoN member wrote. "My X-husbaNd actually muttered under his breath, "Chronic intermittant reinforcement." I used to get the creeps when he did that and wondered if it was working on me even though I was aware of it. I guess it DID work. What A Creep."
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"Whenever she gets fed up, threatens that she will pull out of the relationship, or doesn't call John for a few days, back he comes, all smiles. The perfect gentleman again. Probably with flowers, or an apology, or a dinner invitation. The “Old John” returns promising that he will change and never treat her badly again. And of course, Jane stays.
Then, she’s just as surprised when the negative, critical, promise-breaking John returns once again, once he’s won her back. Why? Because she’s fallen victim to that wonderful phenomenon of Intermittent Reinforcement..."

 "Social networking sites are another example of modern “trappings of advancement” as they flood users with advertising, music, applications, and the ability to stay constantly connected to friends and family. It is easy to see how this all-encompassing form of communication and pop culture would be so appealing, but it also causes one to become addicted and detached from the outside world. Danielle Pope explains this 21st century addiction, “Frequent Facebook visits actually cause something psychologists refer to as intermittent reinforcement.  Notifications, messages and invites reward you with an unpredictable high, much like gambling. That anticipation can get dangerously addictive” (Pope). Sites such as Facebook and MySpace not only put individuals at risk for neurasthenic symptoms, but the anticipation of connecting with peers can lead to an infatuation and obsession with checking for updates and messages."




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