Saturday, September 15, 2012

If the Sky was Pink All Day

People who live near mountains get so used to them, they hardly bother to look.  These are the same mountains others might drive hundreds of miles to see.  What's happening to the reinforcer value here?

California sunset ©Ken R. Schneider
  Imagine if the sky was pink all day, and only blue at sunrise
  and sunset. People would gather to watch the wonderful
  blue emerge, and sigh as it slowly faded away--much as
  they do now for glorious pink sunrises and sunsets.

  Frequently, things that are easy to get, like a blue sky, are
  less powerful rewards than things that are harder to get, like
  a pretty sunset.  The schedule of reinforcement is different,
  for sure: You can't just walk outside and marvel at a sunset
  any time of day.   

Another factor is satiation:  For many rewards, too much of a good thing is not a better thing.  Two or three delicious candies might be a longed-for treat, but a whole box is a surfeit with no extra immediate value.  Indeed, being forced to eat a whole box might be a punisher.

I don't know that anyone's ever had a surfeit of sunsets, but I suppose a photographer trying to capture the perfect one, evening after evening after evening, could find blue skies a lot more appealing!

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