Have you ever noticed that you seem to spend more time interacting with people who are in a good mood rather than a bad mood? We also seem to have a natural tendency to avoid people with whom we have uncomfortable or awkward interactions with. This can be directly attributed to Operant Conditioning.

A short definition of Operant Conditioning is: A method of learning in which learned behavior is a consequence of rewards or punishments of that certain behavior. For example: A dog that receives a treat after rolling over is likely to repeat the behavior of rolling over. Or an individual who receives a traffic ticket for running a red light is less likely to repeat the offense.


From this definition of Operant Conditioning it is clear to see why we avoid people who are in bad moods. We have previously experienced an interaction with a person who is in a bad mood and it is very unpleasant to us. The more times we experience this, the more likely we will be able to know when a person is in a foul mood. We learn to identify a person who will create an unpleasant experience. Once they are identified, we will attempt to avoid them (escape/avoidance). Even when contact is necessary we keep the interaction from getting too uncomfortable

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Okay, so what can we learn from this? We are conditioned to avoid people who are in bad moods but sometimes interaction with them is inevitable. I suggest trying to make a conscious effort of making decisions and try to turn off our automated reactions. Instead of always avoiding these people, we could be able to help them into a better mood.

disclaimer: but do not attempt to help them if you know it will surely fail, you will cause an unpleasant experience for the both of you.

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PHOTO TAKEN FORM: http://www.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/

8 responses to "Being Aware of the Moods of Others (Operant Conditioning)"

  1. Thanks for refreshing my memory. It's been a while since Phych 1 haha

  2. Thanks man, good insite.

  3. I've always ignored my natural reactions, is that bad?

  4. can be useful!

  5. Very true, I work in retail and if there is an angry or just cranky looking customer i tend to avoid them.

  6. Who wants to deal with angry people? No one likes getting anger taken out on them.

  7. should use this at work

    thanks for the blog

  8. i like to meet people at their mood level when talking to them, and then bring them us a notch or two. little salesmen trick to closing the deal

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