domingo, janeiro 07, 2007

...always drawn to the random lever...

« . . .When one of Skinner's rats pressed a lever, it was given a food pellet. By experiment Skinner then established that if a pellet was delivered only on the 10th press of the lever, the rat would quickly learn to press the lever 10 times. If, however, a random element was introduced to the lever-pressing, whereby a pellet was still introduced on average one in 10 times, but sometimes delivered twice or three times in a row and sometimes not for 20 or more presses, the rat apparently became obsessed with the lever-operation itself.
The rats on a fixed one-in-10 schedule only pressed their levers when they were hungry, confident that the food would arrive when they needed it; the rest of the time they got on with their rat lives. The rats on the variable schedule, by contrast, stood almost constantly by the lever, pressing furiously, mesmerised by the uncertainty of delivery, apparently hoping to work out the system, or hit the three-in-a-row pellet jackpot.
Further, when faced with a choice of levers - between one which delivered food predictably, and one which did so randomly, sometimes all at once, sometimes not at all - the rats were nearly always drawn to the random lever, seduced by the risk. Rats, Skinner suggested, were gamblers at heart. »

- The Observer

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