But I really want seafood!

While at the grocery store this morning.

Wife: Tell me one thing you always crave that we can easily make today.

Me: seafood

Wife: You’re don’t crave seafood.

Me: All the time.

Wife: Whenever I ask where you want to go, you never say seafood. You say chinese food.

Me: Because I know your answer will be, “no” to seafood. You’re usually more likely to say yes to chinese food.

I find this to be a great example of how verbal behavior can easily be extinguished (in other words the behavior doesn’t get reinforced and therefore rarely if ever appears). Even though I still have the desire to eat seafood often, the response of stating I want it rarely gets reinforced. Additionally, it’s easy to substitute one verbal response for one that is more likely to get a positive result. In this case, I may not desire chinese food as much as seafood. However, considering that it is more likely to yield a positive result, my tendency is to ask for chinese food. My wife interpreted my not ever asking to mean that I don’t ever want it.

It’s an interesting dynamic that I admit I rarely ever consider in my daily life (by that I mean nonprofessional life). Are there instances in your daily life when you unintentionally extinguish the behavior of another person?


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