Anticipatory Conditioning? [B. F. Skinner]

Behaviorism as a superseded Theory. 

These days, for the most part, the behaviorist school of psychology has been superseded by the more cognitive schools of psychology and is currently relegated to the background in psychological research. However, the behaviorist school was the primary mover in psychological research since it was inaugurated by John Watson in about 1920, and reached its peak in the meticulous work of B. F. Skinner in the 1940s-80s. This research is vast and still has much to tell us today if only we are able to see past the ideas, that ignore internal cognitive processes, and try to understand the research in terms that allow for internal cognitive processes.

It should also be noted, that although behaviorist ideas are no longer at the forefront of academic acceptability, they are still having an enormous impact on the average person in the street. Behaviorist ideas have seeped into the general consciousness of people in today's societies. This is so much so that behaviorist ideas are often taken to be common sense.


But often popular behaviorist ideas are a misunderstanding of behaviorism, where the fact that all parties are being conditioned is completely ignored. Although one individual is being punished, the punisher is rewarded for punishing by cessation of a target behavior or by the endorphins and dopermine produced by anger and exercise. Parents are negatively reinforced to put the baby in their bed because it causes the baby to stop crying. The baby is reinforced to often cry at night.


These populist behaviorist ideas have further been widely accepted by our educational institutions, which seem only dimly aware of the newer ideas in psychology and social psychology. Thus it seems any discussion of learning must begin with some attempt to deal with behaviorist ideas and find a way of perceiving behaviorist research from a different perspective.

Operant conditioning.  

B. F. Skinner and the other behaviorists have tried to create a science of learning that is free of subjective experience. To this end, they like to talk about only behavior and environmental conditions. They ignore what is going on inside organisms in favor of that which can be observed. They called this way of studying or working operant conditioning. They have some idea that anything which cannot be observed is not real. However, if pushed, most will provide a subjective explanation of what they believe is happening.

The behaviorist explanation is, that behavior is channeled by the association of pleasure and pain with other events. They will explain some events are associated with pleasure and that organisms try to replicate those events. Similarly, some events are associated with pain and organisms try to escape from or avoid such events. They believe that pleasure moves us forward and that pain holds us back. This seems to make sense, unless we look clearly at what the implications are for an organism. Are we just pleasure seeking, pain avoiding organisms? A cursory glance at any human activity simply denies that this is true.

bathwaterThrowing out the baby with the bath water. 

We have a choice; we can either say that behaviorist ideas are deficient and must be discarded or we can try to reinterpret and modify their ideas in terms of more viable theories of learning i.e.. Kelly's, Maslow's, Deci and Ryan's, Dweck's or Popper's. Thus we can draw on the vast experiments performed by the behaviorists and see how their theories work perceived in terms of Kelly's constructs or as Popper's idea that organisms need to search for consistency in the universe. This site chooses to do the latter. We do not have to throw out the baby with the bath water.


Operant Conditioning?

    Positive Reinforcement? 

    This is the cornerstone idea of the behaviorists. The behaviorists commandeered the word reinforcement in order to avoid any implication of intervening (not observable) events. Reinforcement was used previously to mean to make a structure stronger, more durable and more resistant to change. The behaviorist use it to mean to make a behavior stronger, more durable and more resistant to change. This completely ignores the organism performing the behavior and in particular its intentions. It's worth noting that animal trainers have long realized that they have to give rewards even if an animal does not perform the way the trainer wants. Otherwise the relationship between the trainer and the animal will be crushed. Behaviorists never took into account the need for relationships and how they would affect outcomes.

    Be that as it may, the behaviorists imply that pleasure or as they put it "reinforcement" is associated with that behavior which makes it likelier to re-occur. These behaviorists tend to apply their ideas to all organisms. By this they could mean a human, a rat or an insect. Skinner worked with what he called emitted behaviors. These are behaviors performed by the organism, for whatever reason, which the experimenter tries to make more likely to occur again by reinforcing it. Reinforcement usually takes the form of some kind of reward. For an animal the reward might be food. For a human it might be praise. The reward is given to the organism within moments of completing the required behavior. Not surprisingly the organism tends to perform the behavior statistically more often than before. Unfortunately for humans at home and in schools when positive reinforcement is used it usually takes the form of conditional positive reinforcement where the behavior is not emitted by the person and then reinforced. Instead the person is told in advance that, if they do this they will get a reward. This carries unpleasant side effects like feeling controlled or manipulated. 

    Regardless, what is really happening in the behaviorist experiments? First of all such things as food or praise might be better characterized as part of satisfying that creature's needs. Most important here, however, is the point of view of the organism. How does the organism see, understand or construe what is happening. The moment we put ourselves in the organism's place, what is really happening becomes quite clear. The organism is anticipating being rewarded with food or praise or whatever if it performs the required behavior. This is to say, it has consciously or unconsciously formed a conjecture that this behavior will be followed by something it wishes to happen. The organism is not at the mercy of drives beyond its control. It chooses to do something that it anticipates will cause something pleasant or satisfying to occur. If the reward is not forthcoming obviously the likelihood of the subject continuing to perform the activity will lessen with each lack of reward. For more on learning and positive reinforcement click here. Extrinsic rewards work best when they most faithfully follow the behaviorist methodology or when they are given randomly and unexpectedly so that unpleasant associations do not occur.

    Negative Reinforcement? 

    Negative reinforcement is nearly the same as positive reinforcement. The behavior of the organism is still rewarded, and thus reinforced, but this is accomplished using a negative stimulus. The organism is placed in a situation where it is continually unpleasantly stimulated. The reward or reinforcement occurs when the organism is released from the discomfort of the unpleasant stimulation or even just by its reduction. Negative reinforcement usually takes the form of some kind of escape from punishment. An animal might be allowed to escape from an unpleasant environment, or a human might escape or be allowed to seek relief from social pressures. If cessation of punishment occurs within moments of completing the required behavior, of course the organism tends to perform the behavior statistically more often than before.


    To really understand why the behaviorist view is likely to be only partially correct, we must again put ourselves in the position of the organism. Surely the organism is anticipating being able to escape from discomfiture if it performs a behavior. This is to say, that more is happening than can be observed and the organism has formed a conscious or unconscious conjecture that this behavior will be followed by, being able to avoid something it does not wish to happen. For instance the baby in the cartoon below wishes to escape the fear caused by being alone in the dark. 


    Organisms are not at the mercy of automatic mechanisms that determine their response but rather this response is mediated by anticipation. Thus they choose to perform an action that they anticipate will allow them to avoid something that is likely to be unpleasant. For more on learning and negative reinforcement click here.

    Positive punishment? 

    Positive aversion (punishment) could be said to be the opposite of positive reinforcement in that it has as its goal the reduction or extinction of a behavior. The idea is that pain, discomfiture, or any unpleasantness (i.e. a negative stimulus) is associated with a behavior. This is accomplished by following the behavior with a negative stimulus. This, the behaviorists initially believed would lead to the statistical reduction of the behavior and its eventual extinction. Working with emitted behaviors the experimenters tried to make some behavior less likely to occur again by creating an aversion to it. Clearly the action or behavior was being punished. The organism was punished within moments of completing the behavior.

    The behaviorists were most likely surprised to find that while the organism tended to perform the behavior statistically less often than before, that this had even less lasting effect than did positive reinforcement. Not only that, but they discovered that when previously reinforced behaviors were subjected to strenuous and continuous negative stimuli, the behaviors became less regular, but the organism eventually had what could only be interpreted as a nervous breakdown. In other words they were no longer able to be guided properly by whatever intellect they had.


    These problems with punishment, or the creating of an aversion, becomes clearer if we are willing to accept that something else is going on, and not just a reflexive response. Organisms process the information coming in, and anticipate being punished if they perform that behavior. The organisms consciously or unconsciously form a conjecture that the behavior will be followed by something they wish to avoid happening. Again the organisms are deciding what to do. They are choosing not to do something that they anticipate will enable them to avoid unpleasantness. However if the behavior is also rewarding they may decide to risk the punishment (unpleasantness) in order to get the reward. Too much of this reward/punishment conflict causes all creatures including humans to become very disturbed. Of course it is possible to create real aversions both in humans and animals but these are more like mental disorders. We call them phobias and they are understood to be irrational. Punishment also has the unfortunate side effect of tuning the subjects into punishers as that is the behavior that is being modeled for them. For more on learning and positive aversion click here.

    Negative punishment? 

    The idea with negative punishment is still to make a behavior of an organism less likely to occur, but this is accomplished using the absence of pleasure rather than punishment as such. The organism is placed in a situation where it is continually pleasantly stimulated. The organism is then deprived of this pleasure during or just following the behavior that is to be reduced or eliminated. Here the organism is not trying to escape punishment but rather trying to maintain the situation of continual reward. This kind of absence of reward is often used by parents in punishing children as in the idea of being grounded (not allowed the pleasure of going out.), having one's cellphone withheld or not being allowed to watch T. V. or deprived of ice cream. If pleasure ceases during or within moments of the completion of a behavior of course the organism tends to perform the behavior statistically less often than before. 

    But what is the point of view of the organism? How and why does the organism react to what is happening? Only by putting ourselves in the organism's position can we begin to see past the behaviorist view of what is happening. Again the organism is anticipating being deprived of food or loosing the privilege of going out if it performs the behavior. This is to say, it has consciously or unconsciously formed a conjecture that this behavior will be followed by the loss of something it enjoys. Again the organism is not at the mercy of drives beyond its control. It chooses not to do something that it anticipates will allow it to avoid the loss of something pleasant. However, if the behavior is also rewarding the organism may decide to risk the loss of pleasantness in order to get something more pleasant. This kind of punishment is obviously less dangerous in that it is less likely to produce a nervous breakdown, but is clearly not very effective. To the organism it now seems that it is being asked to choose between two pleasures or two rewards and can obviously choose the one it prefers. For more on learning and negative aversion click here.

Interest and Disinterest. 

What the behaviorists call the environmental conditioning of learning is actually the development of interest and disinterest on the one hand and habits on the other. All creatures, far from being conditioned to learn, learn instead because they anticipate. They anticipate learning will be followed by the satisfaction of needs or be accompanied by pleasure. All creatures, (organisms) will choose to learn because they anticipate its desirability. Creatures far from being conditioned not to learn, rather do not learn because they anticipate that learning will be accompanied by failure in the satisfaction of needs or be followed by displeasure. Creatures, organisms if you will, choose not to learn because they anticipate its undesirability. The development of interests and disinterests is the conscious part of dealing with rewards and punishments or pleasure and pain. With interest and disinterest the conscious brain is understood to intervene and make logical choices. The behaviorists simply ignored this because it was subjective experience and as such could not be tested.

Habits and superstitions.

Habits in many ways are what behaviorists were studying. They are actions that are rewarded usually without intension or by accident. They are much more like automatic reflexes than other behaviors because we do not take notice of the rewards involved and our conscious brains do not intervene to make choices. Indeed the only conscious intervention in habits are those performed after a habit is formed in an effort to break the habit. 

         lucky pants      

Superstitions on the other hand form the same way as habits, but are to do with beliefs rather than just performing actions, and are usually held in contradiction of logic and common sense. While humans can react rationally to form expectations and anticipate events, we do not always do so. Our brains and the brains of other creatures are pattern seeking devices that seek to find ways of controlling events.


Scientifically we understand that we can control events through the process of causation. If we can see a relation between action A and event B where we understand A causes B we can implement event B by performing action A. The behaviorists of course ignore all this subjective intervention, and instead of invoking causality and anticipation, simply rely on associations of time and place.


Causation and superstition. 

Our brains seek causation, and sometimes we seem to find it even though it isn't there. When this occurs we cease real learning and become superstitious. We find ourselves performing actions to cause or avoid events where there is no causal relationship. Two things happen in close proximity of time and space and we react as if there is a causal effect between them, even when we understand on a rational level that there is no causal relation. This mechanism in our brains that seeks causality is usually fairly good at finding causality, but sometimes as in this case it leads us astray.


Coincidence gambling and sport. 

The real relationship in these cases is that of coincidence. We tend to ignore this however, and rationalize these actions as rituals we perform for luck. Some of these are curious cultural leftovers from primitive times such as unlucky 13, black cats, knocking on wood and spilt salt, which are all easily recognized as socially pervasive superstitions.


However, most of what should be called superstition is personal, specific to individual persons, and has become formed out of coincidences that have occurred in that person's life. Gamblers and sports people in particular are very prone to these kinds of false, scientifically ridiculous beliefs. In his book "Don't Believe Everything You Think" Thomas Kida provides the following examples:

"Wade Boggs was one of the most proficient hitters in the history of baseball. He won the batting title five times and had a lifetime batting average of .363. He is also highly superstitious. Early on in his career he formed the belief that he could hit better after eating chicken. For that reason, he ate chicken almost every day for twenty years when he played baseball. He is not alone in his superstitious behavior. Wayne Gretzky, the great hockey star, always tucked in the right side of his jersey behind the hip pads. Jim Kelly, the Buffalo Bills quarterback, forced himself to vomit before every game. Bjorn Borg did not shave after he began to play in a major tennis tournament. Bill Parcells would buy coffee from two different coffee shops before every game when he coached the New York Giants.

black cat  underwear

Superstition in Pigeons. 

Perhaps Skinner's most important contribution in understanding how learning works is his paper "Superstition in the Pigeon". This paper convincingly demonstrated that coincidence develops superstitious behavior. Again in his book "Don't Believe Everything You Think" Thomas Kida explains the experiment behind Skinner's paper:

"Skinner put pigeons into separate cages and had a prize (food) dropped periodically (remarkably similar to slot machine payouts!) After just a few minutes, each bird exhibited a different bizarre behavior. Some bobbed their heads up and down, others walked in circles, while still others thrust their heads into different places in the cage. It turned out that the birds repeated the behaviors they  performed just prior to receiving the food. Since they were doing different things just before the food arrived, they developed different rituals. In essence, the pigeons' behavior was the result of coincidence based on what they were doing when the food appeared. So it is with many human superstitions."

pigeon superstition

Superstition and persistence. 

The above experiment is easy to repeat, and it is almost impossible to imagine another explanation for the strange behaviors of the birds. In other words all the variables are accounted for and nothing needs to be controlled for. If the birds are not fed they die. If plenty of food is placed in each of the cages the birds are not motivated. More food coming into the cage is unimportant to the birds if they are well fed. The birds feel the necessity to try and control their feed drop because it is not quite enough and the birds are hungry.


Basically the pigeons want some thing to happen (the food to drop down). It seems to happen when they do something. So they try doing that thing again. Of course it does not work but the birds do not stop trying. The birds try again and again. Suddenly it does seem to work. The pigeons try again and it does not work. But now the pigeons are much more committed to their ritual. It has worked on at least two occasions. The pigeons become persistent in their actions. They perform the actions over and over again until eventually it does seem to work again.


Superstition and intermittent reward. 

In the parlance of the behaviorists, these pigeons are being reinforced in their actions. This kind of reinforcement is called intermittent reinforcement. It is intermittent because the pigeons are not always rewarded. The birds are only rewarded sometimes, but this has been examined at length in behaviorist literature, and found to be very effective in motivating.

The development of human superstitious ritual. 

How does this work in the world of human superstition? Let us consider a gambler. Suppose this gambler blows on his dice just before he roles them. Suppose he wins. Next time he blows on the dice and loses. Does he give up blowing on the dice? No. He blows on the dice and roles again. perhaps he loses again. Perhaps he blows and loses three times in a row. Does he give up? Probably not. Perhaps he blows and wins. Now the desire to blow on the dice is greater. It has worked twice. (Never mind all the times it didn't work.) Perhaps if he blew on the dice twenty times in a row and lost each time he would stop blowing on the dice. But the likelihood of losing twenty times in a row is small. In this way seemingly the human also gets intermittently rewarded for blowing on the dice. What happens if it is pointed out to the person that there cannot be a causal connection between the  blowing on the dice and whether he wins or not? Scientifically this is a given, so the person may be able to be convinced that there is no causal relationship. Does this mean he will stop blowing on the dice? Not likely. Even though people fully understand it is irrational they will usually still persist in performing superstitious ritual.

Logic and intermittent reward. 

The point is that the more intermittent the reward the longer this superstitious behavior will persist. This makes perfect common sense as who or what would not continue to try if they believed that the reward would only come sometimes. It is worth noting that organisms conditioned in this way many times may not be able to stop performing the action. It may become a compulsion.

Justification and rationalization. 

If asked why they are continuing to perform such an irrational action superstitious people may try to rationalize or justify the action. In the case of the man blowing on the dice he may say that doing it hurts no one. He may suggest that there are possibilities beyond those understood in science. He may say that an action, no matter how illogical or how unlikely of being effective, is worth doing if the reward is high enough and the effort required is small.


Humans are not completely rational. 

So there it is. We humans are not completely rational. We can be rational, but even the most rigorous scientific minds can be drawn into performing irrational actions akin to magic. This kind of superstitious behavior is so prevalent in human behavior that we are hardly aware that we are indulging in it. All of us have little behavioral quirks where we do things that make no rational sense. 

All of these behaviors can be traced back to what we were doing when something good or bad happened. If something bad happened we try to never again perform that action. If something good happened we will try to perform the action again, as often as is possible. There is in these cases no causal relation, we are aware that there is no causation, but we perform the action anyway. For instance, although most people will say they do not believe in horoscopes, they will still follow the advice of such writings in magazines. The extreme case of this is of course obsessive compulsive disorder.

Changing anticipation & expectation. 

Elsewhere in this site it is explained that extrinsic reward is difficult to make work, because its motivational power tends to evaporate when it is removed. (This is particularly true as extrinsic reward is suddenly transformed into an extrinsic punishment when it is removed.) However, some behaviors persist after a reward or punishment have been withdrawn. This is of course not incompatible with the idea that expectation or anticipation will continue after a reward has been withdrawn. The conjectures that we form about reality are dogmatic so a single event where a reward or punishment is not forthcoming does not invalidate the conjecture, and thus the expectation or anticipation does not weaken immediately. Of course, it is obvious, that if the reward or punishment continues not to be forthcoming over a long period, then our conjecture must be and is revised to fit the events and the expectation or anticipation gradually fades.

Behaviors also sometimes do not fade despite the fact that a reward or punishment is not forthcoming. Expectation and anticipation can explain this far better than the behaviorist associations ever could. The explanation is simple. The behavior continues but the expectation or anticipation change. A new conjecture is formed involving a different reward, probably a different type of reward. In other words the reward has been withdrawn, but is replaced by another reward, one probably not taken into account by the experimenter. With humans, we see evidence of this around us all the time. We start off doing something for one reason (for one type of reward) and end up doing the same thing for quite a different reason (for another type of reward).

Rewards and punishments in clusters.

Any behavior a living organism may perform will involve many conjectures or many anticipations of pleasure and pain. Many of our needs, for instance, can be satisfied by a single action. The person who does good work in the community may satisfy every level on Maslow's hierarchy. The behavior may put food in his mouth, it may make him feel safer. It may help him to gain love and friendship and it will certainly increase the regard in which he is held by others. On top of that, many meta needs may be satisfied such as the need for creation and the need for justice. These satisfactions can all be considered rewards. Then also, learning and accomplishment can also be considered rewards. In the final analysis all these rewards and possible punishments must be considered in the expectations of someone doing good community works. Almost any action taken by an individual can be examined in this way and it will be found the activity is always performed for many different reasons.

Needs necessitate anticipation.

Our needs determine what we will try to anticipate. But if needs provide the expectations of reward, what provides the punishments? The expectations of punishment can be found in the same needs etc. For it is in the successful satisfaction of these needs that they are rewards, and in their deprivation, they are punishments. In making a choice as to whether to perform a behavior, an organism must take into account many anticipated rewards and punishments. It must decide if the pleasures it anticipates are worth the pain it also anticipates. Of course this is probably never done consciously. 

Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. It has been found, however, that if we start off performing an action for an intrinsic reward and are the provided with an extrinsic reward the intrinsic reward will lose its ability to motivate. Unfortunately the reverse is not true. If you start off performing an action for an extrinsic reward this makes it difficult to graduate to being motivated intrinsically. For more on this check out the pages on motivation and creativity.

Skinner boxes and the need to learn.

The Skinner box was invented by B. F. Skinner to enable small animals and birds to have some control over whether they get fed or not. A Skinner box is basically a cage with a leaver, that when pressed, causes a pellet of food to drop into a dispenser in the cage. In his book "The Upside of Irrationality" Dan Ariely describes an experiment performed by psychologist Glen Jensen. In his experiment Jensen places a hungry rat in a Skinner box. The rat accidentally pushes the leaver and learns that when it pushes the leaver, a pellet of food drops into the food dispenser which enables it to eat. The rat then engages in a lot of lever pushing activity. As soon as the rat seemed to get the hang of this Jensen turned off the light in the box and simultaneously deactivated the ability of the lever to dispense pellets of food. The rat of course continues to push the lever but no pellets are forthcoming. Eventually Jensen turns the light back on and reengages the lever's power to dispense pellets. After having experienced this several times the rats learn that the lever only works when the light is on. Jensen then turns the light off in the box and places a cup filled with food pellets into the box. The rat eventually finds this and begins to eat. Then Jensen turns the light back on. Contra to what might be expected, out of hundreds of rats tested, all them eventually returned to pushing the lever. Dan Ariely in "The Upside of Irrationality" tells us the following:

"Jensen discovered (and many subsequent experiments confirmed) that many animals - including fish, gerbils, rats, mice, monkeys and chimpanzees - tend to prefer a longer, more indirect route to food than a shorter, more direct one. That is, as long as fish, birds, gerbils, rats, mice, monkeys, and chimpanzees don't have to work too hard they frequently [seem to] prefer to earn their food."


However, Jensen's theory about why this behavior occurs in the rats is what he calls 'Contrafreeloading'. He proposes that the reason the rats go back to lever pressing, despite the free food available in the cup, is because they prefer to work for food, rather than get it for free.

Here's the thing. This is an interesting experiment but it does not prove what Ariely and Jensen suggests above.

Saving against tomorrow.

There can, however, be other reasons why animals might prefer to return to lever pressing instead of gobbling up the free food. One possible reason is that the animals may be motivated to keep their free food as a kind of secure storage against a future where the lever is not working, as with the lights off condition. The rat may feel more secure knowing the storage is there. In this case the rat can feed itself and still have plenty in dire times.

Learning as finding limits through iteration.

But there is another possibility, and a more compelling one, that has to do with learning. From an evolutionary point of view it is more important for an animal to learn how to provide food for itself, than it is to to just eat. It may be possible then, that the act of pressing the lever by an animal, can be construed by that animal as act of learning. Now you might be temped to say, the rat is not learning, as he has already learned well that the lever pushing produces food when the lights are on. But this is a misunderstanding of how learning takes place.

Limits and iteration.

Learning can be seen as a process of finding the limits within which a principle works. Thus learning is the testing of hypotheses to find the conditions within which those hypotheses are not valid. So the question is this; when a rat presses the lever, is that mere repetition of an action it has learned, or is it a variation of past actions used experimentally? Is it an action testing an hypothesis about how to obtain food in the future? If each action the animal performs is a unique effort to test an hypothesis, the action is not simple repetition, but rather an iteration of previous actions meant to test the hypothesis under slightly different conditions.

In the case of the rat, or any other creature provided with an opportunity to choose between free food and pressing a lever to obtain food, the variations in self performance they could be testing are infinite. What might make a difference, as to whether pressing a lever causes food a pellet to drop down? Well the amount of pressure the animal places on the lever will obviously make a difference. Perhaps the speed at which the lever is pressed could make a difference. Maybe how the animal stands or where it stands when it pushes the lever will make a difference. Maybe how far the lever is pushed down will make a difference. Not only all that but pressing the leaver may also be considered an experiment to discover whether the the leaver pressing will still produce a food pallet. In other words it may be a way of ensuring that the creature is still able to control his food supply and not be totally dependent on humans for its nourishment. The point is there may be many limits, and the animal to be secure about its future ability to procure food for itself, must learn as many and as much as it can. 

This is a profoundly important principle of learning. Humans, animals, organisms, all never truly just repeat their actions. Rather we are continually testing hypotheses, continually learning something new, continually refining our actions to be closer and closer to a universal truth. For more information about iteration and how it works as part of learning, click here to go to the iteration page.

The environment and life long learning.

Behaviorists are so concerned with getting something or someone to behave in a particular way that they seem oblivious to the idea that controlling others might not be a good thing. It is one thing to believe, that the associations formed in what they call reinforcement mean we could control the actions and the direction of interest taken by others, but it is another thing to believe that this would be good for society and therefore morally acceptable. Manipulation of people has become such a part of western society that we have become blind to the fact that such control is immoral and unproductive. This is especially true when it comes to learning. As science delves further and further into motivation and how the brain works it is becoming clearer that learning should be in the hands of each individual learner and not some other controlling person. Many educational theorists now agree that the productive direction for the study of learning is to discover how we can direct ourselves to become more interested in many and various things and how we can successfully avoid becoming disinterested in anything. In other words, if we are to structure an environment to facilitate learning, it should an environment that engenders interest in us for anything and everything and not conveniently herd us in a particular direction. If we can do this we will find ourselves living in a world where most people are occupied by learning throughout the lives. 

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