"House of Stairs" by William Sleater is about this, in a fictional future. Teenagers are kidnapped and placed in a giant building where only stairs and landings are accessable. On some of the landings are toilets, and on one, a food dispenser which releases food at irregular intervals, so the kids start repeating words and gestures they had been saying/doing whenever the machine kicks on, and it becomes an intricate sort of dance. The story explores what kind of affect this could have on humans phychologically and socially. It is a compelling and uncomfortable and interesting read.
Let me guess, at some point they go full conch mode and start killing each other.
Actually, iirc, it was random intervals, if it was fixed intervals the animals would just learn the interval and know to be by the dispenser at feeding time, whereas with random intervals the animal tries to figure out what is triggering the food to appear, and assigns whatever action it was doing as the cause, but when repeating the act doesn't work immediately they build because clearly there must be more to it, so acts get more elaborate as parts are added/removed based on trial and error, but in reality it is all meaningless.
Amusingly this is the same principal behind why slot machines are so addicting.
Source: was a psych major for like 5 years and had at least 3 profs with a hard on for redeeming Skinner since he was demonized in the media for years due to lay people misunderstanding some of his works.
EDIT: it has been pointed out that I could be wrong about the whole random vs regular intervals thing, after some cursory googling I found that regular intervals was at least part of it, but also some stuff that suggest there may have still been a random component. More details down thread somewhere, sorry if someone decided to take my half remembered info as fact, as apparently I was misinformed too (by people much more.qualified than I) and at this point I don't know if I misunderstood them or if they miscommunicated or what but the use of random is widespread enough online to support my hypothesis that it isn't totally inaccurate, at least until proven wrong. I hope someone who can speak with authority on the matter clears it up.
EDIT2: someone more qualified said later experiments toyed with variable intervals, so "random" did indeed come from somewhere. Go check downthread and upvote them
What did people misunderstand?
I believe this is likely the same skinner as the “skinner boxes” guy, where basically it conditions the subject that a certain input will give a certain stimulant/output (push button, get treat)?
...I really just know this from some mentions from Extra Credits but I just think psychology is cool
Look up cargo cults for a somewhat-similar phenomenon in humans. Kind of sad though.
I watched an episode of Mind Field where Michael (the guy from VSauce) did this same experiment but with humans. Not gonna lie, it was pretty funny to watch what they came up with
link for the lazy?
A L L H A I L
P A V L O V I A N S A V I O R
My mom gives the cats treats at the same time every night and all they do is scream at her any time she stands up after 6:00.
One of my cats learned that doing that leads to no treat so he'd just wait til he heard the bag to scream. The other just started trying to get them herself but ya know cats... she just kinda screamed at the bag til I went to it 😅
Big Fucking Skinner
Butt Fucking Skinner
R E L I G E O N
**↓** \+ B
I used to talk about these experiments to anyone who would listen when i was pregnant, with awful hyperemesis gravidum. It was a constant struggle trying to figure out what my nausea triggers were, if there was any pattern at all. Felt i was losing my mind, eating this, not drinking that, don't get up too fast, try this medicine, this herb...i think it works, until it doesn't. Like one of these damned pigeons.
There is a whole [Wikipedia](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_behavior_in_animals) about religious behavior in animals.
the pigeons' condition of ambition and vision was ignition for the decision of the addition of religion
*You Could Make A Religion Out Of This*
From a different perspective
B.F. Skinner feeds pigeons every morning. Sees pigeons doing normal pigeon stuff. Tries to convince authorities that he invented pigeon religion.
P I L I G E O N?
My first thought was repigeon
You think that's crazy, he trained pigeons to guide missiles to hit Japanese boats during world War 2.
Turns out, pidgeons pecking at a screen isnt a reliable targeting system
Equal only to the Holy Order of Snails, formerly known as the Snurch.
One of my cats thinks that bringing me a stuffed polar bear or seal twice the size of her head will get her breakfast.
He tried to put them in a bomb
And pavlov gave a fetish of ringing bells to dogs
It was set schedules, the RANDOM schedules. Thats when they got really elaborate with their superstitious dances.
"... in pigeons by giving them food in a cage at set time intervals."
That's called having a pet.
Don't manipulate pigeons like that!
Is this what my cats are doing???
I mean it’s the same reason my cats start SCREAMING at 4pm when they know good and well they aren’t getting fed until 430.
I recently saw a documentary about OCD where one of the experts essentially says that a theory of the cause of OCD is someone who’s brain is too adept at seeing patterns. So someone with OCD will equate patterns with things that don’t necessarily have patterns as a way to stay “safe” from whatever harm they think will befall them or their loved ones.
I feel like this is a similar concept where pigeons have searched for and “found” patterns that will allow them to be fed.
It just seems like a cool (not for people with ocd obviously) evolutionary leftover. I’m wondering if for humans at least, people who have OCD now were considered people who had a knack for sensing danger earlier in evolution.
But pigeons. Hahaha! Pigeons are worshipping their little bird gods!
SEYMOOOOUR!! Superintendent I was just stretching my calf on the windowsill, Isometric exercise, care to join me? Why are there pigeons making satanic rituals next to your oven Seymour? Ooh no that isnt a satanic ritual its a dance, a dance from the dancing pigeons well be watching! MMMM Dancing pigeons! ~Superintendent leaves~ ~Skinner wipes head then proceeds to watch the pigeons make a blood sacrifice~
i'm no longer an atheist
CULT OF THE PIGEON. CULT OF THE PIGEON!!!
I got an undergraduate degree in psychology and then went to work for an animal research lab at a major medical university. When I got there, we'd train the rats to push levers in the operant chambers by manually triggering the hoppers to drop food pellets. Basically, it's pretty much just like telling your dog to sit and then handing your dog a treat.
One day, I was like, "I wonder if I could teach this box to teach the rat to press the levers so that I don't have to sit here in the dark for 8 hours watching the rats learn."
So, I wrote a bunch of code in MedState Notation (the language that ran our operant chambers) that would try to teach the rats to press levers on its own. We ran an entire cohort of 40 rats through the system and all of them started pressing the levers within a few days.
It was pretty amazing! One day, we wanted a video of the rats in the chambers so I put one of the animals in the chamber and started the test routine. The rat was pushing the right levers with about 98% accuracy . . . but she was pushing it by biting it upside down. It was really weird!
I was like, "hmm, lemme record a different rat." I closed her chamber and opened another one. This one would only press the lever with her butt! Then another one and she'd only stand up against the wall and press it with a back leg. Nearly every single one of the 40 rats had developed a superstition about what it looks like to press a lever.
When I sat there in the dark with a button, I'd wait for the rat to push it with her nose or paw and then I'd press the button to deliver food . . . but when the computer trained the rats, it had no idea \_how\_ the rat was pressing the lever . . . just that it had.
It was one of the coolest things that ever happened in my career! :)
you could make a religion out of this
[Full circle. ](https://i.imgur.com/aDyyP7a.jpg)
Delightfully devilish, B.
It's been a decade since High School psych class. The only thing I remember about B.F. Skinner was the mice and the electric plate.
B.F. Skinner made an adult sized Skinner box that he would hang out in when he just wanted to relax.
Did you watch the uprising at congress????? Lol
It's called a "superstitious behavior" and we have to be careful to avoid them in professional animal training
Derren brown did this in an episode of Trick or Treat on channel 4 with a group of people involving David Tennant
It works with people too. We are just a tad smarter than the smartest pigeons. https://youtu.be/BR-eMMCp7tg
Yeah, but THEN what?
The idea that WE are the most evolved organisms out there is scary as hell.
Everybody gangsta till they put one pidgeon in the bed with the captain's daughter
I mean sometimes I do a little dance in my chair when I’m eating a sandwich, who’s to say the pigeons weren’t just excited at the prospect of some good grub?
Not accurate at all. Pigeons were reinforced to exhibit such behaviors at time of feeding. Thus, the motions made were not “superstitions” but more random behaviors that were connected to feeding time. No different than when you are used to driving a manual transmission car and the one time you drive an automatic, when you get in the driver’s seat (conditioned stimulus), first thing you do is stretch your left leg looking to press the clutch before you start it (conditioned response). It’s not superstition, its just that the behavior of starting your car while pressing the clutch was reinforced over and over again (conditioned response). Simple behavioral reinforcement principles at work in our daily lives... no different for those pigeons.
Principal Skinner watching pigeons make up their first religion:
Oh man I’m starving *bobs head and spins in a circle*
Huh. Pigeons are capable of forming Cargo cults. That's actually neat.
P E L I G I O N
The important part was that they were randomly timed.
And yeh they would turn in circles because twice they did it before food came.
Wait is that the same guy as with the pigeon bombs?
Pigeons be Sheeps...
Or simply religion
Sooo religion forms as a way for beings to explain and attempt to control that which is outside of their control?
Has anyone said, "That's me in the corner, losing my pigeon"?
If not, I'd like to throw it out there
Just read about him. I despise the whole reward/punishment model. Thats been pulled on me for 5 years now and it hasnt worked. I dont respond to co ercion, and Im not the only one.
Anywho, animals arent human.
Just replace the human delivering food with the Sun and you’ve got us! All dancing around and talking about the same thing, just alittle differently haha.
"Walden 2" by B.F Skinner is a great book.
Man, everyone in this thread is roasting the shit outta skinner for “torturing animals” like your average biologist doesn’t get trained in the precise ways to kill mice.
Feels terrible, that’s why i work with fish.
You say this like this isn't how human superstitions are formed....looking at baseball and hockey players here.
One *big* critisicm I've heard against this is that "superstition" is an entirely human concept. Linguistically "superstition" is an extremely loaded term that can't realistically be applied in this situation. Now, don't get me wrong, the psychology is very interesting, but there are extremely valid sociological criticisims to be levied here.
Repigion? Anyone? No?
I often wonder if my dog thinks he summons the food by barking at the fridge like a dip shit
So he intentionally trained the pigeons, and they responded by...being trained. BFD
Why are you posting a screenshot of a tumblr post that LITERALLY SAYS "**VIA** [**REDDIT.COM**](https://REDDIT.COM)" IN IT?
where on the image?
So he taught the pigeons a trick and called it a ritual. Big deal.
I see pigeons doing that even now. Does that mean the pigeons this psychologist taught to do that , turned around and taught all the pigeons in the rest of the world to do the same. Get the fuck outta here !!
You see pigeons bobbing their heads and turning in circles because that's normal pigeon behaviour. The pigeons in the test case performed those natural behaviours in specific order and sequences. Rituals develop out of normal behaviour because those are the things the subject is doing that leads them to observe a perceived cause and effect between certain sequences and the rewards attached to them.
You can see this in human religious ritual as well. For example, Catholics cross themselves when they pray. People touch their chests all the time for one reason or another. But what turns chest-touching into a ritual is the sequence of the touching.
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