My now-grown son likes to remind me of a “scam” we used to run on him when he was young. We put a special calendar up on the wall just to record his good behavior. He would earn one of those gummed gold stars on the calendar for each of several specified good deeds.
He now tells us that he paid great attention to the opportunity to fill those little calendar squares up with the shiny stars. It caused him to eat way more green beans than he would otherwise have eaten (which would have been none). It was responsible for many more beds made without asking. It just, generally, served to achieve parental purposes at very little cost to Dad and me.
Son now says (good naturedly), “I can’t believe I fell for that! All that effort for a stupid star!”
And we both wonder why it worked like it did.
I was reminded of this the other day as I played my latest time-waste game on my I-Pad – Bedazzled. I become mesmerized by this game, trying to line up like “jewels” so that they will pop and go away, others dropping in their place.
If I’m really good, I get a message, like the “Excellent” shown in this picture. It is always such a thrill to get this message of encouragement.
And, let’s don’t forget the points! You get points for lining up like jewels so that they pop and disappear. And you get even more points for the “special jewels.”
And all this counts for what? Nothing, that’s what. It reminds me of the gold-star scam, above. It makes me wonder about the psychology of reward and what’s really required for our brain to see something as a reward. Surely, it isn’t only identifiable return…
I’ve said it before: It takes so little to amuse me.
Kind of embarrassing when you think about it. - C
PS – don’t take this as some declaration that I’ll quit this time-waste game…