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  1. hanna joergel
    hanna joergel June 25, 2006 at 10:06 pm |

    But as easy as it is to letting the click-treat mindset when you’re training a dog cross over into other areas of your life, it’s just distasteful to read an article like this, setting out in the New York Times the idea that men are just there to be shaped and women are manipulative.

    Oh yes, and add in that facing the problem head-on and telling the man exactly what behaviors you would prefer is called “nagging.”

    And once you’ve trained the dog and you don’t need it anymore, you realize how much hard work it is to use this strategy and give up trying to use it to “train” the people around you.

  2. Diane S.
    Diane S. June 25, 2006 at 10:41 pm |

    it’s just distasteful to read an article like this, setting out in the New York Times the idea that men are just there to be shaped and women are manipulative

    .

    I feel the same way everytime I read an article that assumes women are dying to get married and all men are trying like hell to avoid it. Especially since studies show that married men are happier than single men, but single women are happier than married women.

  3. mikey
    mikey June 25, 2006 at 10:55 pm |

    And the punchline of the article is that her husband was training her, too. I guess that makes it okay.

    The problem – maybe – is treating one’s life partner like an upgradeable consumer product.

  4. jenofiniquity
    jenofiniquity June 26, 2006 at 12:27 am |

    The article is crass and disgustingly married-smug in tone, but I live with a habitual key-, cell phone-, sock- and wallet-loser, and the only possible reaction after living with this for awhile is to look at the person blankly as they storm around in a panic, attemping to enlist your help, and then continue on your way. But I never thought of it in terms of training; I just felt hostile that this was continually becoming my problem, and not responding is very pleasurable. Saying “please quit losing your stuff and then making it my problem” is not a winning strategy even though it should be.

  5. Raznor
    Raznor June 26, 2006 at 1:02 am |

    My theory of women “changing” their men is based on the idea that women should marry the first man they can at 18 and be stuck with him until one of you croaks. Sure he’s not going to be perfect, or even good, but if you can change him to something you like, you’ll forced marriage will be bearable. Hurrah.

  6. fishbane
    fishbane June 26, 2006 at 1:21 am |

    I used the same technique to get reliable blowjobs from my submissive. True fact. I don’t use the mechanism often, but it works.

    Wait, treating others like animals isn’t accepted here? What?

  7. Freeman
    Freeman June 26, 2006 at 2:35 am |

    Wow. I can smell the reek of gender stereotypes wafting off of this article. That just pisses me off.

  8. The Countess
    The Countess June 26, 2006 at 7:18 am |

    Why should treating someone with courtesy and respect be reduced to a “click-treat”? When you treat anyone with courtesy and respect, you’ll see a happier person.

    I treat The Count with courtesy and respect because I love him, not because I want him to act a certain way. I had a job where I and my colleague were constantly belittled and yelled at. We were so stressed out that it was no wonder our work suffered. In that kind of abusive environment, you’re going to see people not want to do their best. Why try to do your best when all you get are insults? In some ways, the article is right, but it’s insulting to treat people as if they are dogs or dolphins to be trained.

  9. tigtog
    tigtog June 26, 2006 at 7:26 am |

    The gender stereotyping indulged in by the author is annoying, but the technique itself is basic operant conditioning. It’s how I trained my kids once they were verbal – do what I want and get a reward – (praise and/or an extra privilege like recreational computer time). Don’t do what Mummy/Daddy expects, no reward, and maybe withdrawal of standard privileges. All fully explained as happening – no silent withdrawals.

    When my husband occasionally falls into old passive/aggressive habits like loudly groaning when he doesn’t find the kitchen utensil he wants where he expects it, I ignore him. When he asks me where it is without whining, I help him find it (usually either in the sink or the dishwasher).

    This is controversial? Who wants to be a whining nag? Ignore/reward is so much less hassle, as well as more effective in obtaining preferred behaviours. Not that I’m perfect – I can still be provoked to yells, but when I’m not we’re all happier and what needs done gets done more quickly.

  10. Kat
    Kat June 26, 2006 at 4:57 pm |

    reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t

    This is the basic premise of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy, which is widely used with children with autism.

    Once I began using ABA therapy with my child with autism I naturally progressed to using it unintentionally with other relationships as well (I guess I got used to doing it and that was that). Its human nature to respond to praise. It really has just been a different approach to dealing with people that takes less emotional toll on me and gets a better response.

  11. Compcat
    Compcat June 26, 2006 at 5:03 pm |

    In the book that brought this training technique to the mainstream called, “Don’t Shoot the Dog”, the author suggests that this learning technique can be used on all sorts of species, and includes an example of how one lady from her class erased some obnoxious behavior from her in-laws using it.

    It’s now used for teaching kids in gym classes, since it gives them the exact moment that they do the move right, it was tested on fighter pilots, all sorts of applications. I just wish that folks would quit pretending that they are using an “animal training” technique on people. It’s a behavoral modification technique that should be a basic skill set for everyone. It is also quite useful for managing the family dog or dolphin.

    I would think that getting a blank stare from someone that you are fond of when you talk about your foot hurting or something would be a negative reinforcer (punishment), which would encourage you to interact with that person less. If that’s what you want in your marriage, whatever. A blank stare is not a non-reaction in people, it makes you feel bad.

    zuzu, you do know that you can use another marker, if the clicker scares your dog? Like a flashlight, or even just a ballpoint pen. I just use the word “good”, since I constantly fumble the clicker. It’s not quite as precise, but my dogs seem to roll with it quite well.

  12. Deborah
    Deborah June 26, 2006 at 7:47 pm |

    What the article ignores, and what operant conditioning is helpful in, is that nagging is a behavior that a wife is manipulated into.

    The basic stereotyped relationship is: He does or doesn’t do something harmful to the relationship or aggravating or whatever, she nags. He fails to respond. He justifies his failure to respond because, after all, she’s a nag. He has, simply by remaining passive and ignoring her, manipulated her into being a person it’s sensible to ignore. He can also enlist their friends onto his side; after all, she’s such a nag.

    This is, you may have guessed, the story of my marriage, and I am stunned to look back and know how two feminist, educated, liberal Pagans managed to Live The Stereotype.

    Operant conditioning removes the nag from the position of being the nag, and reduces her aggravation.

    One of two things will happen; his behavior will change or it won’t.

    (I am divorced. Guess which happend.)

  13. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 26, 2006 at 9:18 pm |

    I have to admit, I found the story kind of appealing, for reasons Deborah explains. It seemed like an escape hatch, a way for a woman not to have to make the brutal choice between putting up with being relegated to either a servant or a nag. The uterine homing device bit seemed like an especially nice relief. My ex used to do that, walk around wondering where he left his keys until I dropped everything and searched and found them for him. Which just made me jumpy and angry but if I told him so, boom! Nag.

    It’s super appealing to believe that it was possible to break the cycle by instead just willfully pretending he wasn’t there until he gave up trying to nag me into doing everything for him. Maybe he would have learned to find his own damn keys, I think. But I honestly doubt it.

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