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Earlier I talked about how the psychological study of memory can give us clues about what qualities cause a story to be considered “good.” Today I’d like to examine the role behavioral psychology might play.

When people talk about behavioral psychology, the name that most often comes up is B.F. Skinner. Anyone who’s taken an introductory psychology course will have heard of him: he’s best known for his experiments with pigeons and rats in which he investigated how environmental stimuli affected their behavior. The principles he wrote about—particularly, that giving a reward (reinforcement) increases a behavior, while introducing a punishment decreases it—are widely used in many parts of our lives. Kids in school get stickers for good work and detention for bad behavior. An employee may get a raise for excellent performance and a reprimand for carelessness. Stop for a moment and think, and you can probably come up with a dozen ways you are reinforced (directly or subtly) for behaving “correctly,” and punished for a misstep.

But what does all that have to do with stories? I’d say rather a lot.

Read on!


As before, comments both there and here are welcomed. :)

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Originally published at Megan Crewe - another world, not quite ours. You can comment here or there.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
authorwithin
Oct. 31st, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
Ah, so true! I've picked up a book based on the back cover blurb (or sometimes based on the cover picture only) and been disappointed that it wasn't what I had expected. In some cases I've continued to read but in others I put it down.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

My Books


Earth & Sky
(Earth & Sky #1, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014


The Clouded Sky
(Earth & Sky #2, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012


The Lives We Lost
(Fallen World #2, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2013


The Worlds We Make
(Fallen World #3, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014


Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014


Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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