Through the Behavior Looking Glass
I am a behavior geek. I love discussing the science of behavior, observing behavior, and changing behavior. This is the lens through which I see life. I hope this blog post inspires you to recognize the power of behavior science and embrace the lifestyle.
This blog post started while I was on a family reunion cruise with my husband’s family. Our first day in port was in Roatan, Honduras. We hired a driver, Remy, to take us to the beach. Remy was genuinely kind and took excellent care of us. He didn’t just drop us off at the beach. He helped us negotiate a guided snorkeling trip, helped us get WiFi at the resort (48 hours off the grid was enough), helped my brother-in-law buy some local rum, and came back 45 minutes early for our pick up. Remy’s responses to our requests were positively reinforcing, and we reinforced him in kind with a tip.
After a lovely day in Roatan, we lined up to board the ship. As we waited in line, the cruise staff offered us cool washcloths and popsicles, and greeted us with an enthusiastic ‘welcome back’. I found their offerings and behavior very reinforcing. They now had a great recall with me! That, and I didn’t want to be left behind.
My husband and I thank each other for doing household chores. The chores must be done and neither of us particularly enjoys spending our precious time off doing them. Sharing our gratitude with each other is the positive reinforcement grease that keeps our home running like a well-oiled machine.
But life is not all rainbows and sunshine. So, what do you do when people are rude? Do what I did when my brother-in-law drank too much rum and wanted to start an argument with me. I did not respond. I did not look at him and I did not speak. My husband knew exactly what I was doing and could not believe how stone-faced I could be. After the 10 second timeout, my husband re-engaged his brother in a calm manner and the tension subsided.
Watching the nightly news can bring up feelings of anger and anxiety. Many people are on edge. I make an effort to treat strangers with kindness. Ask the person ringing up your groceries how their day is going. Say please and thank you. Be kind, because everyone is going through something. Embrace the positive reinforcement lifestyle, not just for your pets, but for people too!