Learning Theory

Behaviorist learning theory's approach studies the external observable behavior that can be quantifiably measured. This theory is based on a stimulus and a response. Behaviorists believe that internal behavior cannot be studied because internal mental processes cannot be observed and measured objectively. This is contrarily to Cognitive learning theory.

On the Octalysis Framework, the behaviorist learning theory can be generalize into the black hat core drives (CD6 and CD8) and white hat core drives (CD2) and extrinsic core drive (CD4).

Positive enforcement lives in CD2 and CD4.

Negative enforcement lives in CD8 loss and avoidance.

Punishments live in CD6 scarcity and impatience and also CD8.

Before going into the theory, read how B.F. Skinner defines his terms and how he conducted his famous Skinner Box experiment.

Behaviorist theory often credits B.F. Skinner as the founding father of behaviorism. He is most known for coining the term "operant conditioning". Operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. He splits 4 types of responses to the stimulus: Neutral, Positive enforcement, Negative enforcement, and Punishment.

Neutral: This is an element that is neither positive or negative. It doesn't increase or decrease a repeated behavior.

Positive enforcement: This is known as rewards that will increase the desired repeated behavior

Negative enforcement: This is an unpleasant consequence to decrease undesired repeated behavior

Punishment: This is when a reward or a pleasant experience is removed or withheld.

A famous experiment Skinner conducted is called Skinner's Operant Conditioning Chamber, also known as Skinner's Box. This is an alternative experiment example of the skinner box. The alternative experiment is to teach the rat how to press the green button. Rats pressing a certain button is not natural for them. So operant conditioning with positive enforcement and negative enforcement was installed to teach the behavior. Positive enforcement was when the rat was rewarded with food when it press the green button. Negative enforcement was when the rat was given an electric jolt pressing the red button.

Instead of a lever, a pressing the correct button is another way to conduct the experiment.

How behaviorist theory fits

into the Octalysis Framework

Before the rat presses any button, the rat would be curious about its environment. This curiosity is an example of CD7 Unpredictability and curiosity.

When the rat presses the "correct" button, the rat is rewarded with food. On the Octalysis, this is an example of CD4 Ownership and possession. When the test subject was rewarded by gaining food, it gained possession of a desirable item. It is a desirable item because it can eat the food and be happy. The process of enjoying eating is CD9 Sensation which is an hidden core drive. On the Octalysis, CD4 Ownership and possession is an Extrinsic Core Drive.

When the rat presses the "incorrect" button, the ran was zapped with a jolt of electricity. On the Octalysis, this is an example of CD8 Loss and avoidance. When the test subject get zapped as it presses the "incorrect" button, the rat learned to avoid pressing that button again. The motivation is now to avoid getting zapped. CD8 is the motivation core drive to teach the rat not to press the "incorrect" button again. Which is why negative enforcement is a Black Hat Core Drive motivator.

In a modified Skinner box, there could be other buttons that has difference responses. If there would be a light and every time the light becomes lit and the rat presses a certain button, that would be a CD6 Scarcity design. Because for a limited time when the light is lit, that is the opportunity to press the 3rd button and gain a new item which is even better.

In a classroom full of humans that require motivation, Skinner Box does not do very well because according to the Octalysis, Black Hat core drives do not sustain long term motivation. Black Hat is only good for short term engagements. It is useful but horrible with long term motivation because humans will burn out and become demotivated. The learning experience would into pure black hat and extrinsic. For long term engagements, refer to the white hat core drives.

Journey though how Octalysis 8-Core Drives

fits into learning theories: