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Looking for reinforcement: the government has chosen intimidation, and now it's taking revenge on it - Walla! Business


The government's choice to intimidate the public has worked for the first time, but experience, history and psychology show that this tactic only works for a short time. Positive reinforcements, however, would produce the opposite effect

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Looking for reinforcement: The government has chosen intimidation, and now it is taking revenge on it

The government's choice to intimidate the public has worked for the first time, but experience, history and psychology show that this tactic only works for a short time.

Positive reinforcements, however, would produce the opposite effect


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Dana Pan Luzon

Thursday, 01 October 2020, 09:05

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In the video: Police interrogate two women who were documented insulting a soldier and a policewoman at the checkpoint for enforcing the closure (Walla! NEWS system)

The guidelines do not work, the public does not obey the laws.

This is, in essence, the essence of the current closure.

It is possible to enter into a debate that divides who is more to blame for the situation, the religious or the protesters, but perhaps it is worth looking at the whole picture - the government has managed to cause the biggest social chaos that has been here recently and perhaps at all.

What has so far motivated people to obey has been the intimidation effect, but unfortunately for the government the fear can work for a limited time.

As time goes on, what becomes more significant and affects the observance of the guidelines is the personal and social aspect.

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The attempt to deter and prevent demonstrations does not work either (Photo: Yonatan Zindel, Flash 90)

Our human system works on the principle of reinforcements.

We will continue to take action if it receives feedback that is positive reinforcement in return.

If we look at the actions we are asked to perform, such as wearing a mask, there is no immediate and tangible feedback of positive reinforcement in this action.

There is no change in the situation that helps us convince ourselves to repeat the action.

Our starting point in wearing the mask is that we are healthy, and if we wear a mask we are basically maintaining the same starting point.

The positive reinforcement here is basically that we did not get infected.

We are not sick, but in fact we have not been sick before.

This is why the positive reinforcement here is problematic - it is not noticeable, there is no change, the action is actually a preventive action and when you stay at the same point and just maintain the existing or prevent, it is very difficult to persevere in the action.

The lack of positive reinforcement is supported by the "bias of optimism," the same so familiar thinking of "it won't happen to me," that grows stronger as time goes on and you or someone close to you is not infected.

The government was faced with a problem: to ask the public to wear a mask over time in an action that results in no tangible positive reinforcement.

What did she choose?

In a system of punishment.

A fine was imposed for not wearing a mask.

It has already undergone two incarnations and cost five hundred shekels, along with a fine for a gathering, for violating the maximum distance from home, more laws and more and fines.

Apparently they forgot to keep up to date there that the fines are ineffective.

Fines and penalties are ineffective over time, as opposed to positive reinforcements and rewards.

Social punishments work for a short time (we have been in the same situation for over half a year), laws and fines mostly bring to mind how to get around and find loopholes.

Punishments imposed against plague of an epidemic are even dangerous.

They make us wear a mask for the wrong reason.

If we do not wear a mask, we will pay 500 shekels - this is the punishment that is mediated for us, when the real punishment is that not wearing a mask will make us sick.

The monetary penalty covers the real punishment and the real reason why people should want to put on a mask, which means that in places where you do not see enforcement you are not afraid to take off the mask.

We mediate punishments and fines, and forget the main thing: the war on the plague (Photo: Reuven Castro)

Heavy punishment is a mistake.

The more fines and laws there are, the more people act for the wrong reason.

Their motive is to avoid punishment and their motivation, instead of being internal and logical, is managed by an external system of punishment.

When the state imposes a closure and it mediates legally with a fine, as soon as the closure is removed people think psychologically that the danger has passed along with the punishment system, but they forget that whoever has not disappeared and is the real punishment is the plague.

This is exactly what happened in the first closure.

When it was removed we all burst out, went out to celebrate with the encouragement of the Prime Minister ("Make a living") and no one remembered that maybe along with the closure the punishment was also removed, but the plague is still around.

And lo and behold, today we are paying for the result.

Instead of the public being wary of the plague it is preoccupied with punishments and policemen, it is preoccupied with the enforcement system more than it is preoccupied with defending itself against the disease.

Instead of the government thinking of a system of positive reinforcement, like giving money to someone who sticks to a mask pen instead of a fine to someone who does not, like receiving an award as long as you keep the guidelines and do not open your workplace or a certificate of outstanding citizen.

But no, taking more money from the public is always the preferred choice.

Edward Thorndike, one of the first psychologists in the field of learning, studied cats in a "riddle box", a cage where the animal is in one room.

She can reach the second room, where she eats in a variety of ways - pulling a rope, pressing a pedal and other actions.

The cats turned around and happened to make the right move so that the transition to food would happen - that is, they received positive reinforcement.

Thus, from an accidental action it became such an action that created learned behavior.

After several attempts the cats came to a perfect execution.

Thorndike argued that there must be positive reinforcement.

A desirable result reinforces the connection between a stimulus and a reaction while an undesirable result (punishment, say if the cat had not received food but an electric shock) weakens the action.

When there is a situation, he argued, positive reinforcement will cause a stronger bond to perform the action, while results that are not accompanied by satisfaction or unpleasantness will weaken the strength of the bond and the likelihood of their appearance will decrease.

In Martin Seligman's study on learning in dogs, a dog received an electric shock regardless of its actions.

The dog was in a state of complete lack of control over the appearance or non-appearance of the electric shock.

The dogs in this group experienced clinical depression, which was defined as acquired helplessness.

The punishment did not create any learning, there is no positive result here other than attrition.

Attrition that we also experience today.

You preferred to give fines, you got violations.

Netanyahu (Photo: Government Press Office)

Dana Pan Luzon (Photo: Nir Keidar)

The government does not understand why the public behaves this way, how mass parties are tried to evade punishment, how the religious sit, study and congregate, how the demonstrations against the aggravation of frightening anti-democratic laws take the people to the streets. The answer is simple: you preferred to pay fines, you received violations.

The headlines show preparations for mass violations on Sukkot. Dear Government, Failing a Diligent Failure You have succeeded in making the entire public in Israel forget the real danger of the plague, when the aggravation of enforcement and punishment has led to the opposite result. If you did not remember to work on positive reinforcement, did not remember to make a cognitive separation between quarantine and fines and the plague already the first time and aggravated the second time, you succeeded in only one thing - to make an entire public think how it defends you and not the plague.

The author holds a bachelor's degree in communication, economics and psychology.

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Source: walla

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