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In trying to change a behavior, reason will take you only so far, incentives must be taken into account as well.
In psychology, operant conditioning is a type of learning in which the strength of a behavior is modified by its consequences, such as reward or punishment. This is the predominant theory on how humans behave.
Studies on reinforcement revealed that the best way for us to learn complex behaviors is via continuous reinforcement, in which the desired behavior is rewarded every time it’s performed. Consistency and timing are the keys.
Nonetheless, some argue that intermittent reinforcement is the most efficient way to maintain an already learnt behavior. It consists of giving reinforcement only some of the times that the desired behavior occurs.
Scheduling the rewards on intermittent reinforcement can be used on various schedules, each with its own degree of effectiveness and situations to which it can be appropriately applied. Some of the schedules are:
Procrastination is delaying an intended course of action despite expecting negative consequences for the delay.
Possible causes for procrastination:
Learned industriousness claims that when you are rewarded for expending higher effort, the experience of effortful activity itself is reinforced, leading to a willingness to work harder for bigger payoffs.