Tag Archives: attaboy

Hmmm. Just an Attaboy

Tyler was curious. “Let’s say I buy this positive reinforcement thing. Exactly how do I do that? I mean, do I just walk around all day giving attaboys?”

“Is an attaboy meaningful?” I replied.

“Well, not really. It’s not a real attention grabber.” Tyler flashed a hint of a smirk.

“Positive reinforcement doesn’t have to be earth shattering to be effective. But it does have to be meaningful to the individual to have the behavior repeated.”

“So, give me an example.”

“Have you ever watched a teenager completely absorbed in a video game, relentlessly pushing buttons.” Tyler’s brow furrowed but he was still listening. “Now, you would think that, for a bright young gamer, repetitively pushing buttons for three or four hours at a stretch would become hopelessly boring. Yet, every time a button is pushed, something on the screen glows or a bell dings, or a spaceship blows up. In a video game, so much positive reinforcement occurs, the gamer can become addicted.” Tyler’s curiosity moved to intrigue.

“What gets reinforced, gets repeated.”