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Initially by reading the title i assumed the author would have been a trainer at somewhere say sea world, but i was pleasantly surprised to find that instead, she is a journalist who finds passion in all the subjects she writes about. The book was very well written and was never slow. Sutherland begins the book by explaining her marriage and how she went about discovering animal training, and how by following animal trainers, she was able to apply their methods to her life, and produce preferred outcomes from the people around her. The animal training taught the author how to "train" herself, and the people in her life. She notes that although most people recognize the term "training" as having negative connotation, it's more so taking responsibility for your own actions and how they influence others rather than forcing someone to do something. Training is more about communication than anything. How you react or dont react and how you may accidentally reinforce behaviors in other people/animals. I enjoyed how she compared and contrasted people to animals in the sense that we are constantly learning from little details such as body language but we view the world from a very one sided point of view. One of the more important aspects of training yourself is to follow the idea that you cannot assume things. In psychology there is a term called Morgan's Canon in which you cannot assume animals feelings/thoughts, the trainers that the author followed, applied this same rule to their training's.By not assuming emotions/thoughts of the other person the author was then able to take actions less personal and was able to have more patience. Sutherland then covers how teaching patience in yourself is most important. By recognizing why behaviors you don't like have been done, it will teach empathy and patience. Without patience, short outbursts can cause accidental reinforcement. Sutherland states that if you want a behavior done it need to be enforced not punished, and in a timely manner. At one point she quotes the discoveries of Skinner and his ideas of conditioning and how positive and immediate reinforcement is most effective. The trainers taught Sutherland to use variable schedules of reinforcement in which only sometimes a reinforcement is applied, to mix up the different types of reinforcement you use, and to variate how much reinforcement is given. If you constantly give the same reward, the animal loses interest, so to deter from that outcome, different forms of positive reinforcement are used along with different amounts/levels of reinforcement depending on how much reward is actually deserved. Towards the end of the book the author learns that instead of attempting to punish an unwanted behavior, it is better to provide herself with an incompatible behavior aka something else to do that distracts her. By focusing on another behavior she is able to resist starting fights with her husband. By learning to control her own behavior and how to communicate properly, the author is able to supply positive reinforcements in her marriage and with the other people in her life. The book is more about how to train yourself and how that self training effects the training of others. Most people would find this controversial in the sense that it is immoral to attempt to change people. In reality we are constantly changing the people around use regardless of whether we try or not. Page 18 states "Animal trainers argue, why not teach animals purposely? Why leave what they learn to chance?," which then leads Sutherland to ask herself the same about human. I agree with the author. If we are going to directly influence others regardless, why not at least alter our own behaviors so that if we're going to reinforce behaviors, we should at least reinforce positive ones.
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Brian Bauer, San Diego Mesa College. This book was a little bit different than what I thought it was going to be. I read it for my learning and behavior class and I was told that it is about a lady who conditions he husband to act the way that she wants him to. After reading this book I wouldn’t say it’s about conditioning people to act just for you, but kind of how to generalize the way people will act around you. Before I read this in my mind I thought this lady was going to have her husband do every wish like he is a robot! I highly recommend this book to psychology majors, animal trainers, and people who are interested in how we learn certain things. I would recommend getting yourself familiar with psychological terms before reading this book because there are a lot of them in this book. There are so many psychological terms that are straight out of my learning and behavior textbook that I was actually truly amazed! This book is nice in the fact that it actually stays true to what classical conditioning can do, (for example, she flat out tells you that you are not going to be able to get an elephant to jump or a whale to walk.) It also provides some examples that are very useful to help our daily life like how incompatible behaviors are a great way to get rid of a behavior that one doesn’t want. This book also opens one’s eyes to simple things around you that people do purposely to make people pay attention. Over all it is a good book for easy reading and if you want to learn a little bit more about how we learn. One criticism of this book is I’m not sure how many times it was proofread and corrected because I found some typos and some parts were written in present tense when it should have been past tense, but it only occurred like 5 times in the book.
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I am a current Psychology major and taking a course in Learning and Behavior. This book has well illustrated the concepts of positive reinforcement used in training and changing unwanted behaviors. While reading the book I was about to get a full visual and understanding on the concepts of reinforcement. The examples and explanations given in the book are helpful when it comes to the concepts of reinforcement. She applied what she had learned as being a trainer to better her life, love and marriage. I absolutely recommend this book to any student taking a course in Learning and Behavior. It will not only give a better understand of the concepts but also how to apply them which is the most important part of understanding the concept of positive reinforcement. As a current SeaWorld employee (ride operator) I now have a better understanding on how the trainers apply positive reinforcement during the shows. The book also talks about punishment and how it’s not used in training techniques. This led me to another issue that people have with SeaWorld and their animals. Since they are not using punishment in their training, I don’t understand how people can say that SeaWorld is treating Shamu like a slave. When punishment is not applied and they are being rewarded for behavior that the animal does on its own and not by force. (This is my personally opinion based on what I have learned, I understand others people have a different opinion on the issue) Anyways I really enjoyed this read and recommend those who are going into behavioral psychology to read it.