4/17/08

Beautiful Music in the Morning


In psychology there exists a phenomenon called conditioning. There is classical conditioning, and operant conditioning. Operant conditioning deals more with controlling voluntary behavior, much like how you train a child, with rewards and punishments. Classical conditioning is the process Pavlov used to teach his dogs.

"Just because you took an Intro to Psychology course a few years back does no make you an expert. Also, you cannot assume everyone knows who Pavlov is, and what he did with his dogs. How about you give the people a little background."

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist, psychologist, and physician. He won a Nobel Prize in 1904, but not for the stuff I am talking about. He is mostly known for describing classical conditioning. He noticed that his dogs started to salivate before they received their food. His altered his research to figure out why. It turns out that the dogs were “conditioned” to respond to anything that meant, “food is coming”. At one point he would ring a bell then feed the dogs. After a few times of this, he noticed that once he rung the bell the dogs would begin to salivate, whether they received food or not.

"Thanks Stew. We have all become a little smarter thanks to you. Why are you telling us this?"

In psychology there exists a phenomenon called conditioning. There is classical conditioning, and operant conditioning. Operant conditioning deals more with controlling voluntary behavior, much like how you train a child, with rewards and punishments. Classical conditioning is the process Pavlov used to teach his dogs.

"Just because you took an Intro to Psychology course a few years back does no make you an expert. Also, you cannot assume everyone knows who Pavlov is, and what he did with his dogs. How about you give the people a little background."

"Thanks Stew. We have all become a little smarter thanks to you. Why are you telling us this?"

I HATE MORNING BIRDS!!!


"Ok. Calm down. What are morning birds? Are they a specific species, or are you just making stuff up again?"

They are just birds that sing in the morning. I don't know what kind they are. I am not a bird watcher. I don't even own a pair of binoculars.

"Oh. Well continue."

The funny thing about classical conditioning is that it can happen to you, and you would not even be cognizant of it. I started out my undergrad with professional physics as my major. (Only to change it to environmental geophysics my junior year) This means that once you get past your freshman year, you are taking at least 2 or 3 physics class every semester, and every semester the became progressively harder. This also means that pulling all-nighters were commonplace. We would be up until 4 or 5 in the morning 3 or 4 days a week. Most animals are sleep during that time, except for morning birds. It seems as if they are waking up right about the time when you are the most frustrated and you feel like burning every textbook and every page of notes you can get your hands on. Those birds would just be singing their little hearts out while I am frustrated trying to solve the equation of motion for a ball rolling down a slope.

"What does this have to do with conditioning?"

I was conditioned to associate morning birds with anger and frustration. Now whenever I hear them, those feelings return, no matter what I am doing. The worst thing about it is that there was this big tree right next to the window that we always kept open, so sometimes it felt like the bird was right beside me chirping in my ear. A few times I could have sworn I saw bird crap on my shoulder. I naively thought that these birds did not exist anywhere but in THAT tree right outside THAT window. Imagine my surprise when I was outside of my parent’s house early in the morning and heard them there too. Next thing I know, I am reaching for my lighter and my modern physics book.

"There is no need to take your lack of discipline out on birds. If you would have done your work when you would were supposed to do it, you would not have had to wait until the night before to get it finished. I have no sympathy for you. You are the cause of all this. It is like a chain reaction. Here is how it went: You knew that stuff was going to be hard, yet you still decided to wait until the night before. But you and I both know that you are not going to be proactive and get you work finished early. So when the work got difficult you should not have gotten frustrated because you had to stay up all night. If you didn't get frustrated then you would not have to worry about associating innocent birds with your self induced frustration. Point Proven."

Well it happened, and now I am scarred for life. It is starting to wear off some though. I don’t get as angry as I used to, but I still think about being in that room. Bic in one hand, Zippo in the other.

But man, those birds do sing a beautiful song.

~sTeW~

2 comments:

karrie b. said...

yup. psych 101 was my fav class by far.

in comparison to ur birdies, i think i've been conditioned to associate this radio station called 10.10 wins new with my mom tickling me while simultaneously singing "itsy bitsy spider" to wake me up. when i was a chap of course.

-KB

Niki.Mac said...

its kind of crazy how many things i associate with completely arbitrary items.

i especially have this problem with music.... there are some songs that i CANNOT not link with an event/person.

also, smells do this too..... for example, the smell of magnolia trees always brings back memories of being a kid in my grandma's front yard...

this post is great stewie... keep up the great work :)