The OC Pop Quiz

Stacy Braslau-Schneck, MA

This was a "pop quiz" submitted in 1997 to the ClickTrain e-mail discussion list, which focuses on animal training using Operant Conditioning and, in particular, Conditioned Reinforcers.

The following questions present situations of the classical Operant Conditioning sequence. This sequence was nicely summarized as ABC by Pam Reid (and probably others) as:

Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence

For the correct answer, describe the consequence using the terms R+, R-, P+ or P-. Some have more than one answer, partially because most have more than one actor, and you can look at what the consequence was for each. Many of these come from my own experience. It might help if you think about what behavior each actor is being reinforced or punished for.

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1. A trainer pulls up on a dog's collar and commands the dog to "sit". The dog sits, and the trainer releases the tension on the collar.


2. A puppy jumps on her returning, beloved person. The person says nothing, folds his arms over his chest, and faces the door. The puppy stops jumping and begins barking instead.


3. A puppy jumps on his returning, beloved person. The person yells, "No!" and pushes the puppy away with her hands. The puppy jumps up again.


4. A dog jumps up on the table and steals a steak. She runs off and eats it. The cook comes back from another room, sees the steak gone, yells, "No" and throws a rolled-up towel ("bonker") at the dog. The dog "counter-surfs" from then on and avoids towels.


5. While the family is out, the dog jumps up on the table and eats an entire box of fine chocolate truffles that the owner’s uncle had brought. A few hours later, the dog is violently ill all over the owner’s bed. The dog sniffs at food on the table after that doesn’t take any of it. (This happened to me and Shayna!)


6. A dolphin jumps up in response to a known cue and instead of touching her trainer’s hands with her fins, she bites the trainer’s hand. The trainer immediately gives an established conditioned P- signal ("Delta") and removes herself and the bucket of fish. The trainer warns all the other trainers, but the dolphin bites two more people in similar circumstances, though the first trainer avoids any behaviors that involve her hands over the water and escapes further bites. (This happened to me and Elele!).


7. The first day at a dog beach, an owner calls her dog when she’s ready to leave. The dog runs up and the owner puts on the leash and pulls the dog home. The owner later complains that the dog doesn’t really "come" when "he doesn’t want to".


 8. A "troll" sends a post that reads "I love dolphins - they taste delicious!" to the newsgroup "alt.animals.dolphins". Numerous readers of the group send messages to the list decrying this horrible attitude. The "troll" does not post again to that group but moves on to post "You are all sinners" to the pagan, homosexual, and newsgroups. He also posts "how much wood could a woodchuck chuck?" questions to the Internet Oracle. (A "troll" is someone who intentionally starts up "flame-wars" by posting controversial messages to newsgroups or listservers).


9. Every day, a dog pulls at the end of his leash while on a walk. The owner says "Don’t pull!" and holds the leash tight. The dog makes all sorts of gasping and choking sounds the whole way to the park. 


10. A student experiences a large earthquake as she studies physics on the floor of her boyfriend’s apartment. She declines all further invitations to study at his house thereafter (this happened to me and Dave!).


11. A fire alarm goes off and the house-owner runs to cover the forgotten, burning brownies. The alarm turns off when enough of the smoke has cleared (of course this has happened to me)


12. Every Sunday morning, a mother calls to find out if her daughter has yet found a "real" job that uses the skills the daughter spent years at grad school acquiring. The daughter stays with her old job but starts leaving the house early on Sunday morning, before the phone call (of course this has never happened to me - right).


13. A non-profit organization sends free address labels with their solicitation to a non-sympathetic postal costumer. The recipient keeps and uses the labels but doesn’t donate any money to cause. He checks further solicitations for more labels.


14. A non-profit organization promises to send a free gift for every high-level donation. The recipient donates enough money to the cause. The recipient gets the gift and renews every year.


15. A non-profit organization does a telephone solicitation and incessantly demands consideration of their cause. The recipient of the phone call agrees to donate and gives them his credit card number.


16. A man eats a high-cholesterol diet all his life, and has a painful, debilitating bypass surgery. He does not significantly change his diet and requires more heart surgeries over the next fifteen years.


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