Author Archives: Julie Amanda Stair

Questioning Reinforcement (Extra Credit)

Positive reinforcement strengthens a behavior, negative reinforcement removing a negative stimulus after doing a certain behavior. Positive punishment is when a stimulus is added after a certain behavior and negative punishment is when something is taken away after a bad behavior.

I think as children we all deal with some types of reinforcement/ punishment at least once in our lives. Reading the previous comments, everyone said at least one kind of reinforcement and/ or punishment that they remember as a child. In my opinion, this isn’t a coincidence. I would say that reinforcement and punishment are the most common and most effective ways to motivate children to do what is right and to learn. I think reinforcement is an interesting topic and was definitely used in my childhood. When I was younger my grandparents would always give me a dollar if I set the table and helped clean the table after dinner. This always encouraged me to help. Now I question, how do you stop the child from expecting reinforcement after doing something good?

In third grade, my teacher had a big bucket of prizes. At the beginning of the year she would let you pick a prize if you did something good but then towards the middle of the year when she started running out of prizes she would randomly choose when you do something good for you to get a prize, so you wouldn’t get one too often even if you did something good every day. In the last month or two of the school year she “ran out of prizes” but most of the students continued to do good things just like the beginning of the year even though she made it clear and we knew there were no prizes left.

I always questioned how people stopped expecting prizes and still continued to do things but then I thought of the third grade year and how our teacher slowly weaned us off of getting prizes for doing good things. I also think that third grade is around the time where a child starts to look at the world and start conforming to everyone around them and it makes them realize what they actually need to act like and do to fit in with the human population. That and slowly weaning the reinforcement away plays a huge role into doing good things without expecting anything in return.

Fear of Needles

When I was a little kid I was always afraid of needles. I was always that little kid screaming and being held down to get shots at the doctors office. When I was a young I was really sick and was constantly getting needles stuck into me. This caused me to associate needles with pain and sickness all of the time when the pain was really from me being sick. Once I got better I was still deathly afraid of needles. At one point it got so bad that I had to go to a special dentist just because I was scared of the Novocaine needle at my normal dentist. This new dentist used “smaller” and “more flexible” needle so it would hurt less but little did I know they would also be using less Novocaine than the normal dentist. So imagine a twelve you old girl getting a cavity filled and being able to feel almost everything, yeah, it was not a pretty sight. That did teach me something though. It taught me the the needles prevent me from feeling a lot more pain than the actual needle itself. After that trip to the dentist I have not been scared of needles. I’m now able to go to a normal dentist, I do not flinch or cringe when I get shots, and I even regularly donate blood.

In class we learned about conditioned responses and my situation is a prime example. Me being sick as a child was the US (unconditioned stimulus- cause of the natural response) and the pain I felt from being sick was the UR (unconditioned response- the natural response to the stimulus). The CS (conditioned stimulus- starts out as the stimulus that doesn’t cause any negative respone) was the combination of feeling sick and the needles and the CR (conditioned response- the new response learned) would be my fear of the needle without being sick. My realization at the dentist office caused an extinction of the conditioned response. Over time my fear got weaker and weaker which eventually aused me to quit responding to needles.

Psychoanalysis and Me

There are 5 roots to the history of modern psychology. They are structuralism, functionalism, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and Gestalt psychology. Everyone is different and relates to different roots, and I knew right away that I related it psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis shows that childhood memories influence the mind.  When I was younger I would spend a great amount of time with my grandparents. They would have things that they would do daily, every single day. Every weekday morning we would all watch the Price is Right. That has become such a huge part of my daily routine that I actually plan my schedule around it. I know that sounds weird but I grew up watching it every day so it would feel weird to just stop watching it. Imagine if you did something everyday and then just stopped.

Another thing my childhood influence was my ice cream consumption. Every night after watching the news, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune, my grandparents and I would always have a bowl of ice cream while we watched a movie or a crime related tv show. Not only do I have a bowl of ice cream every night, but watching crime shows night after night has influenced me to pursue a future in forensic science. I believe that I would never have wanted a career in forensic science if it wasn’t for watching all of those crime shows. I feel that if I wasn’t introduced to that at such a young age it would not have made such an impact on my mind and it just wouldn’t interest me as much.

Those are not the only things I did as a child that I still do now but this just shows how much my childhood influenced my mind and choices and was able to make me into the person I am today.