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Archive: December 2020

Holiday Cognition with B.F. Skinner

Holiday Cognition with B.F. Skinner

December 9, 2020

     It's the holiday season! Are my follow readers going to again become rats in the maze and respond this season to the psychological traps of the holiday with their spending? This year you can pick which psychological door you will open and follow - let's take a look at the thought processes that 20th Century psychologist B. F. Skinner brought to us.

     Will you follow the operant conditioning mode and follow the trigger of the holiday season and grab that nearest credit card? We've all learned that putting plastic cards into machines will result in goods, services and presents being deposited into our shopping carts with little concern for the unseen and mounting holiday debt. We've grown to love that conditioning.

     Other fellow shoppers will engage in reinforcement and run out to their banks looking for an increase in their line of credit hoping for a low interest rate (positive reinforcement), making the continued ability to buy, buy, buy a pleasant experience, even if only on a temporary basis.

     Not to be forgotten is our superstitious holiday shopper, could this be you?  Last year you were able to juggle credit card balances and credit limits and it worked then.  So it will of course work the same way this year . . . no reason to be like that busy squirrel in childhood cartoons who worked so hard all year saving up nuts for the winter rush. 

     Now this year we have the added community burden of COVID-19. Watching credit cards, balancing holiday gift giving against the need for having food, utilities, rent, car and cell payments is going to be even harder. If you can give, please reach out to helping agencies. If you are in need, also reach out to those same helping agencies, family, and the faith-based community.

     At the end of the holidays when January hits us hard and heavy, who will be left with the cycle of punishment if we haven't or couldn't balance our holiday needs? Skinner would have equated that to being stuck with huge credit card payments and little else left to provide the positive feeling that we bought instead of nurtured during the recent holiday cycle . . . but, heck Spring vacation is just right around the corner, along with a COVID-19 vaccine - right?