With each incantation of the Russian scientist, we mindlessly verify our teachers raised arm, the signal to partake of a fingertip dab of lemonade powder. As the backs of our tongues tighten from the sour sample, we resume playing solitaire, checking emails, or staring at the wall/sleeping till the next PAVLOV.
In my psychology class, we are classically conditioning ourselves—we have become Pavlov’s salivating dogs. The goal is to make ourselves salivate when we hear the word PAVLOV (without the aid of sour lemonade).
And what’s crazy is, it worked. The next day in class, the teacher yelled PAVLOV in the midst of her lecture, and on cue, I start drooling. Don’t get me wrong, I'm sure he was a nice person with a great personality, but dead Russian psychologists generally aren’t my type.
To give us a break from the strenuous work of tasting lemonade power, we had the pleasure of making an acquaintance with our fish. We're going to train them to perform stunning feats of skill using operant conditioning (using a reward—food—to encourage desired behavior).
My fish is Marvin. I'm a bit nervous about the
responsibility of training a fish, let alone keeping him alive, seeing as my
fish track record is not so good. The only two fish I had as a child, Scooby
and Doo, died from...well, lets just say severe cases of malnutrition.