Created By: Stormtroper on April 29, 2011 Last Edited By: calmestofdoves on March 4, 2016
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Behavioral Conditioning

A character either undergoes or perpetrates some form of behavioral conditioning.

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Just think of it like... behavioral easter eggs.

Behavioral Conditioning is when a character is trained over time, either knowingly or unknowingly, to do one or more of the following:
  • react reflexively to a previously neutral stimulus
  • react positively to a previously negative stimulus, or the reverse
  • respond to a cue automatically, regardless of circumstance
  • perform an action in response to a seemingly unrelated cue
  • suppress a previously ingrained behavior

At its most mundane, "behavioral conditioning" is just a fancy way to say "habit." If you eat lunch at the same time every day, you will start to feel hungry around that time; if you normally wear glasses, you'll go to push them up your nose even when you're not wearing them; etc. In such cases, you're the one conditioning yourself.

Behavioral conditioning is also commonly used by parents and teachers to mold children into functioning members of society: kids get put on time-out when they misbehave, get given shiny stickers when they do their chores, and are prompted at appropriate intervals until "please" and "thank you" become instinctive. And, of course, we use it to train our pets.

But behavioral conditioning can be so, so much more than that. Represented in the popular consciousness by Dr. Ivan Pavlov and his bell-loving dogs, the behavioral approach to psychology produced a mountain of clinical research on the many strange quirks of the brain that govern learned behavior.

Behaviorists divide conditioning into two main categories:

  • Classical Conditioning, also known as Pavlovian conditioning, is when a subject comes to so strongly associate a neutral stimulus (say, a bell ringing) with a potent stimulus (say, the presence of food) that they begin to react to the neutral stimulus as though it were the potent stimulus (say, by salivating at the ring of a bell.) No attempt is made to alter or suppress the behavior itself, only to shift what can trigger it. Despite this narrow definition, people will commonly refer to any kind of learned response as "Pavlovian."

    • Aversion Therapy is a technique developed based on the principles of classical conditioning that involves exposing someone to a specific stimulus while simultaneously subjecting them to some form of discomfort (as opposed to punishing them after the fact for performing a behavior.) If the exposure to the stimulus is involuntary and inescapable because the subject has been strapped to a chair with their eyes forced open, that's The Ludovico Technique.

  • Operant Conditioning, by contrast, involves the use of a complex suite of positive and negative punishments and reinforcements in order to strengthen, weaken, or re-shape a particular behavior. note 

Intentionally using the principles of behavioral conditioning on an unsuspecting victim is one of the Dirty Social Tricks sometimes employed by people with a solid grasp of Social Engineering.

When Played for Laughs, the joke will either rely on conditioning a character to do something inherently ridiculous, conditioning a character to do something hilariously out of character, or mocking how easy it was to condition a character to do something, anything, without their realizing it.

When Played for Horror, the horror comes from the trauma of the initial conditioning — usually some combination of Cold-Blooded Torture and Brainwashing — compounded by the resulting inability to trust your own mind. The brainwashed character may go about their life as normal, only to spring into action at the sound of a specific Trigger Phrase.

When Played for Drama, the conditioning is usually an inadvertent result of patterns established in long-term situations or relationships. The character's conditioned response brings up questions or memories about days gone by, and it's the reference to happier times or the hint of a Dark and Troubled Past that elicits an emotional response from the audience. For example, a character might break down crying at the scent of the perfume worn by The Lost Lenore, or visibly brace for a punch when raised voices remind them of their Abusive Parents. Or perhaps the drama will come when the brainwashed Manchurian Agent has his programming broken by The Power of Love.

Not to be confused with physical conditioning. For that, see Training from Hell.


Examples

Film — Animated
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The vikings are conditioned to look around in a panic whenever "Night Fury!" is called out, even at the end when all the dragons are peaceful.

Film — Live Action
  • Secret secret agent Jason Bourne from The Bourne Identity suffers from Laser-Guided Amnesia, yet retains much of his secret agent training. Lampshaded when he wonders to his associate why he memorized the license plates of the cars in parking lot, and why he analyzed the combat capacity of diner patrons.
  • In the Stephen King movie Cat's Eye, there's a sequence involving doing a Pavlovian experiment involving a cat and an electrified floor. But instead of a bell being the trigger song, it's a 60s soft rock number.
  • Hook: Captain Hook has defeated the monster crocodile prior to the events of the film, but he still has a strong aversive reaction to clocks because of the distinctive ticking noise that always emanated from the clock in the crocodile's stomach.
  • In Latter Days, a young Mormon is subjected to an ice bath as part of undergoing now-discredited "conversion therapy" for his homosexuality.

Literature
  • Jules Verne's Phineas Fogg from Around the World in 80 Days is so punctilious that the waitstaff at Fogg's social club prepare his table and set out his lunch before Fogg even walks in the door, certain that he will arrive at the exact minute. Many Londoners remark, "You can set your pocketwatch by Phineas Fogg."
  • Brave New World conditions its citizens from childhood to be content with their respective class factions.
    • Through judicious teaching of Marxism, meritocracy, and their various alternatives, the children in each group are conditioned to be happy that they aren't in any of the other groups.
    • Punishment early in life conditions children to reflexively respond negatively towards certain triggers going into adulthood. For example, a group of Deltas is given electric shocks to make them afraid of books and nature so that they'll "choose" to work rather than use their free time.
    • Words like 'mother' elicit such a negative reaction from the characters that it's clear they were conditioned to respond negatively to other triggers as well.
  • The protagonist of A Clockwork Orange and the film of the same name is a fan of "ultraviolence", the act of engaging in gratuitous and extreme acts of sexual and physical violence for fun. When he is caught and sent to prison, he voluntarily undergoes The Ludovico Technique as a method of securing his early release. The Technique involves forcing him to watch videos of violence while being injected with drugs that induce nausea. As a result, the thought of violence makes him sick to his stomach. The story explores the moral ramifications of this kind of conditioning, even when accepted voluntarily.
  • Dune is sprinkled with examples across its factions:
    • Suk school conditioning that produces doctors incapable of doing harm.
    • In the novel Dune Messiah, the ghola Hayt (a clone of Duncan Idaho) is conditioned by his Tleilaxu creators so he can be controlled by the Tleilaxu dwarf Bijaz.
  • In Peter Pan the crocodile that ate Hook's hand has also swallowed a ticking clock, leading everyone in Neverland to associate ticking with the presence of the crocodile. Peter uses this to his advantage by faking a ticking noise in order to spook Hook. And when the clock runs down...
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The Seanchan use Slave Collars to condition female magic-users into practically mindless slaves by meting out pain and pleasure through the collars' leashes. Disturbingly, the series treats this process as irresistable, such that anyone captured long enough will become conditioned, no matter how strong-willed or intelligent—with the exception of one minor character.
    • When Perrin is suffering unwilling seduction attempts from Berelain, he notices that she keeps laying a gentle hand on him, and realizes what she's doing when he considers training a colt: you get it used to being touched so that it doesn't shy. Then you put on the blanket and get it used to that. Then the saddle. Then the bridle. Then you get on. After he realizes this is going on, Perrin resorts to shouting at her whenever she comes into view, which causes more problems.

Live-Action TV
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon gives Penny a chocolate every time she does something he asks her to and every time she does something he considers well-mannered. It doesn't take long before her personality has changed almost completely and she's performing the actions without encouragement.
  • Community: In "Documentary Filming: Redux", Britta and Troy become averse to hugging each other after a twelve-hour-long shooting of one scene for a Greendale Community College ad because they now associate hugging each other with the Dean screaming at them.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
  • T He Office. One of Jim's pranks on Dwight involves offering him an altoid mint every time Jim reboots his computer for several weeks, until finally Dwight hears the reboot noise and puts out his hand for an altoid before Jim can offer one. Jim acts like he has no idea what Dwight is doing.
    Dwight: My mouth tastes so bad all of a sudden...
  • The Prisoner episode "The Schizoid Man." The Village personnel use aversion therapy involving electric shocks to change Number 6's handedness and mental conditioning to change his food and tobacco product preferences, then wipe his memory. After he realizes what has occurred, Number 6 uses an electrical shock to reverse the effect and return himself to normal.
  • One skit on Saturday Night Live involved a talk show about dogs, hosted and run by intelligent dogs. The guest on the show was a dog who'd been living for years among humans, enduring bizarre abuse. When the host commanded the techs to "roll" a film clip, the guest dog rolled on the floor, to the astonishment of the host.

Tabletop RPG
  • Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, section "Sanity Tests": Mind Rehabilitation involves electroshock therapy, massive drug injections, and bombardment by subsonic "Love the Computer" messages. After undergoing it, a clone will snap to attention when anyone says the word "computer."

Video Games
  • In The Witcher saga, Ciri is conditioned by the Witchers to fight reflexively, meaning that she will try to kill anyone who attacks her even if she doesn't want to fight.

Webcomics
  • Girl Genius: A Running Gag involves the protagonists unthinkingly completing the grandiose self-introduction routine of Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer on his behalf. Happens here in the "Revenge of the Weasel Queen" story.
    Villager: You know we sent for the great Othar Tryggvassen?
    Krosp: ...gentleman adven—(horrified) WHAT AM I DOING?!
  • Mac Hall: In "DDR", Matt's boss's intermittent reinforcement leaves Matt somewhat crazed. This Shout-Out to Star Trek: The Next Generation suggests that he's broken under torture:
    Matt: There are five lights!
  • XKCD:
    • Strip 242, "The Difference," suggests that positive punishment doesn't always work very quickly on curious minds.
    • While parents using conditioning techniques on their children is considered standard practice, the parent in strip 573, "Parental Trolling," did some decidedly non-standard conditioning.

Web Video
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Whereas in the original Dragon Ball Z series Gohan simply panicked when expected to attack Nappa, in the Abridged version he runs away because Piccolo inadvertently conditioned him to duck and run every time Piccolo yelled "dodge."
    Piccolo: "Gohan! Hurry up and blast him with all your strength, before he has time to DODGE!"
    (Gohan has unpleasant flashbacks of being hit every time Piccolo yells "DODGE!", and cowers instead of attacking Nappa)
    Piccolo: "DAMN YOU, PAVLOV!"
  • Incognito Cinema Warriors XP: Rick, Topsy and Johnny were once trapped in a theater surrounded by zombies and were forced into Theater 6 by Mr. Kincaid, who told them they had to continually watch bad movies lest the zombies broke into the theater and consumed them. After Rick returns from a five-year disappearance and learns that Kincaid is dead, and moreover that the presence of zombies after five years is highly unlikely, he still heads straight for the theater upon hearing the Zombie Signal. Topsy and Johnny call his behavior "Pavlonian."

Western Animation
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Exploited by The Villain Professor Nimnul in the episode "Does Pavlov Ring A Bell." Nimnul has conditioned a lab rat, Sparky, to pull wires at the sound of a ringing telephone. When Sparky does this inside a bank, it trips an alarm, which triggers a guinea pig, Buzz, into guiding a Giant Mecha through the sewer system into the bank vault. Neither Sparky nor Buzz are aware that they're accessories to robbery; according to Sparky, it's "action without thinking."
  • Garfield and Friends: The U.S. Acres short "Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Wade" had Wade turn into a monster whenever he heard a bell after Booker, during a discussion of Pavlov's experiments, suggests that very thing to Orson while Wade is asleep.
  • The Garfield Show: In "Jon's Night Out", Jon has insomnia, so he, Garfield, and Odie go to an anesthesiologist for a way to help Jon fall asleep. The doctor gives a special remote to Jon, telling him that if he presses the button, he will fall asleep. However, Odie barks right when doctor pushes the button, making Odie's bark into a trigger that can send Jon to sleep and wake him up again. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Gravity Falls: It turns out that Pacifica Northwest's parents have conditioned her by ringing a bell when she steps out of line with their expectations. In the climax, she manages to ignore the bell in order to save the day.
  • In an episode of Rugrats Angelica is in bed and (ab)uses a bell to demand assistance from Tommy's parents, exasperating them. At one point, Tommy's father has a breakdown upon hearing the door's bell.
  • Pinky and the Brain: The short "Pavlov's Mice" has the mice being conditioned by Pavlov himself to dance to the sounds of a bell and gong respectively. At the end, their plan to Take Over the World is foiled when a clocktower goes off with the sounds of bells and gongs.

Community Feedback Replies: 113
  • April 29, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    One season 3 episode ("The Gothowitz Deviation") of The Big Bang Theory has Sheldon using classical conditioning on Penny.
  • April 29, 2011
    HersheleOstropoler
    Used here in xkcd
  • April 29, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    also from XKCD, why it doesn't work on scientists.
  • April 29, 2011
    Artemis92
    I think the finished page should have a Real Life section instead of a Wikipedia link, and mention a couple specific cases and talk more about Pavlov's research.
  • April 29, 2011
    Flioro
    This was a one-off gag in The Office, where one worker conditioned another by offering him a candy from his desk whenever his computer made a sound effect. Eventually, he made his computer beep, and the co-worker extended his hand, expecting a candy.
  • April 30, 2011
    MorganWick
    @Artemis92 This flirts with People Sit On Chairs too much to have a Real Life section.
  • May 1, 2011
    cathstuart
    cocodrile...lol
  • May 3, 2011
    neoYTPism
    That XKCD comic Crypic Mirror linked to would make a good page image.

    Also, if this is supposed to be snowcloned from Hobbes Was Right and Rousseau Was Right, I think it may be worth pointing out that the ideas of Pavlov are generally accepted, whereas those of Hobbes and Rousseau are generally more disputed.
  • May 3, 2011
    c0ry
    Cryptic Mirror, Sheldon was actually using operant, not classical, conditioning on Penny - the difference being that classical conditioning involves involuntary, reflexive responses, whereas operant conditioning is the attempt to induce the subject to perform voluntary actions.

    Classical conditioning is the pairing of two stimuli - say, a bell and meat powder, as in Pavlov's experiment - to transfer the reaction to one (the meat powder) onto the other (the bell), so that whenever the dog hears the bell he reacts (by salivating) in the same way he would as if the meat powder were present.

    Operant conditioning is the pairing of an action and a consequence, usually some form of reinforcement. If one were to give a rat a piece of food every time it pushed a button, that would be operant conditioning (likewise, when Sheldon rewards Penny's good behavior with treats, that is operant conditioning).

    The difference between the two should be made clear in the description of this trope.
  • October 19, 2011
    Prismyriad
    In How To Train Your Dragon, the vikings are conditioned to look around in a panic whenever "Night Fury!" is called out, even at the end when all the dragons are peaceful.

    I dunno if it has to be a theme name, "Pavlov's Response" could just be the trope. I'm surprised it isn't.
  • October 20, 2011
    Koveras
    • In The Witcher saga, Ciri is conditioned by the Witchers to fight reflexively, meaning that she will try to kill anyone who attacks her even if she doesn't want to fight.
  • October 20, 2011
    Routerie
    The X Was Right snowclones all have bad names. Call this one Pavlovian Response.
  • October 22, 2011
    ImaginationInterpreture
    Possible Real Life example: Video game players will learn to expect a fight or a cut scene when the music changes or fades out no matter the genre. This can lead to minor panic if the sound glitches or cuts out.
  • October 22, 2011
    Teddroe
    How about A Clock Work Orange? One of the most famous examples.
  • October 22, 2011
    DragonQuestZ
  • October 22, 2011
    ImaginationInterpreture
    Another is the novel House Of Stairs by William Sleator. Two of the five characters avert this and actually resist this conditioning. The other three are played straight.
  • October 23, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    The Merchants' War by Frederick Pohl features advertising taken to the ultimate degree: commercials that incorporate remote stimulation of the limbic system, causing instant addiction to the product
  • October 23, 2011
    LuxExterior
    I second the name Pavlovian Conditioning. It's concise and accurate.
  • October 24, 2011
    ImaginationInterpreture
    I agree with Pavlovian Conditioning. It credits Pavlov and the later part is easy to remember to search for.
  • October 31, 2011
    TBeholder
  • November 19, 2011
    Tambov333
  • November 19, 2011
    surgoshan
    • On How I Met Your Mother, Lily uses sex to train Marshall. It's gotten to the point that he gets an erection when he flosses.
  • November 19, 2011
    cityofmist
  • November 28, 2011
    ImaginationInterpreture
    Title suggestion: Ringing A Pavlov Bell
  • November 28, 2011
    TJack
    In the Community episode "Documentary Filming: Redux", Britta and Troy attain aversion to hugging each other after a twelve-hour-long shooting of one scene for a Greendale Community College ad. Bonus fun fact: Britta is a psychology major.
  • November 29, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, section "Sanity Tests". Mind Rehabilitation involves electroshock therapy, massive drug injections and bombardment by subsonic "Love the Computer" messages. After undergoing it, a clone will snap to attention when anyone says the word "computer".
  • November 29, 2011
    Deboss
  • November 29, 2011
    ImaginationInterpreture
    Might want to link this to All Psychology Is Freudian. One of it's 'obsolete concepts/practices/theories' categories is: All Behaviourism Is Pavlovian. If this makes it as a trope, you may be able to link that to this too.
  • November 29, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • In the Stephen King movie Cats Eye, there's a sequence involving doing a Pavlovian experiment involving a cat and an electrified floor. But instead of a bell being the trigger song, it's a 60s soft rock number.
  • December 2, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^ Actually, All Behaviourism Is Pavlovian seems like a better title; the current one just seems vague as to what in particular Pavlov was right about.
  • December 3, 2011
    SilentReverence
    nthing Pavlovian Conditioning for a trope name. Allbehaviourism Is Pavlovian could be a searchable redirect, it looks pretty good as one.
  • March 18, 2012
    Wackd
    In Incognito Cinema Warriors XP, Rick, Topsy and Johnny are trapped in a theater surrounded by zombies and are forced by a Mr. Kincaid into Theater 6 to watch bad movies regularly lest the zombies break into the theater and consume them. After Rick returns from a five-year disappearance and learns that Kincaid is dead, and moreover that the presence of zombies after five years is highly unlikely, he still heads straight for the theater upon hearing the Zombie Signal. Topsy and Johnny call his behavior "Pavlonian".
  • October 12, 2013
    KomodoClassic
    On an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon attempts to do this with Penny by giving her chocolate.
  • October 12, 2013
    DAN004
    All Behaviourism Is Pavlovian is already All Psychology Is Freudian. :P

    Anyways Ring The Pavlov Bell wins for being witty, but I also like Pavlovian Conditioning.
  • October 13, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced work titles and grouped examples by media.
  • October 13, 2013
    Snicka
    All Behaviourism Is Pavlovian would be a good name if it weren't already taken. :(
  • October 13, 2013
    KingZeal
    Possible page quote:

    Piccolo: "Gohan! Hurry up and blast [Nappa] with all your strength, before he has time to DODGE!"
    *Gohan has unpleasant flashbacks of being hit every time Piccolo yells "DODGE!", and cowers away instead of attacking Nappa*
    Piccolo: "DAMN, YOU PAVLOV!"
  • October 13, 2013
    Niria
    It's clear I'm in a distinct minority here, but I still want to express that I love the "X Was Right" trope names. The "Pavlov Was Right" trope name is what caused me to want to look at this entry over many others I might have otherwise chosen.
  • October 13, 2013
    gallium
    ^You aren't the only one. There seems to be a trend on the wiki to make the names duller and duller. Personally I like Pavlov Was Right.
  • October 13, 2013
    DAN004
    ^^^ Well you can always take out redirects...
  • October 13, 2013
    m8e
    Another name suggestion: Pavlovs Characters.(Custom titled to include the '.)
  • October 13, 2013
    AmyGdala
    All Psychology Is Freudian is a bad name for the current page, and All Behaviourism Is Pavlovian would be a bad name for this one.

    This is not about the expectation that behaviorism is Pavlovian. If it were, you'd have to list only aversions, subversions and lampshadings. This is about plain Pavlovian Behaviorism, so that should be the name, or Pavlovian Conditioning.
  • October 13, 2013
    CaveCat
    • Garfield And Friends: The US Acres short "Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Wade" had Wade turn into a monster whenever he heard a bell after Booker accidentally makes that suggestion to Orson while Wade is asleep when discussing to Orson about certain pavlovian principles.
    • In The Garfield Show episode "Jon's Night Out", Jon has insomnia so he, Garfield, and Odie go to see an anesthesiologist about a way to help Jon fall asleep. The doctor then gives a special remote to Jon, telling him that if he presses the button, he will fall asleep. However, the trigger to put Jon to sleep and wake him up is Odie barking instead of the remote, due to Odie barking at a fly at the same time that the doctor pushes the button. Hilarity Ensues
  • October 14, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    another vote for Pavlovian Conditioning here, though i'll suggest Classically Conditioned / Respondently Conditioned [1] as well.
  • October 14, 2013
    Snicka
    I think, as it was pointed out earlier, Lamarck Was Right, Hobbes Was Right, etc. are all named after highly debated or completely debunked scientific theories, that are shown to be true in that given work. Pavlov's theory, however, is highly accepted, so it doesn't follow the above pattern. So I support either Pavlovian Conditioning, or Ring The Pavlov Bell.
  • October 14, 2013
    pawsplay
    X Was Right are tropes about ideas that say a lot about a worldview or general theory. That does not apply to this trope. i can't think of any reason to avoid calling this what is is, either Classical Conditioning or Stimulus Response
  • October 14, 2013
    KingZeal
    • The backstory of the Fallout franchise states that people had become so desensitized to nuclear sirens that when the nukes really did start flying, most people just ignored the sirens until it was too late to do anything about it.
  • October 14, 2013
    Niria
    "I can't think of any reason to avoid calling this what is is, either Classical Conditioning or Stimulus Response."

    Because it's dull and vanilla?

    I understand what others are saying about "X Was Right" being a name for controversial or debunked ideas that are true in a given work though, but I'd ask for some wit anyway, as with the Ring The Pavlov Bell idea that Snicka suggested.
  • October 14, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    don't like using "conditioning" here, since this is about conditioned people, rather than someone conditioning them. Stimulus Response sounds like something straight out of The Other Wiki. Ring The Pavlov Bell just seems to be a PSOC name to me. (think "hey, that elf knows about pavlov's experiment!" vs "that poor guy's conditioned like a lab rat")
  • October 15, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ "don't like using "conditioning" here, since this is about conditioned people, rather than someone conditioning them."

    What about I say that it's about both?
  • October 15, 2013
    pawsplay
    Why shouldn't it be something that sounds like it came from The Other Wiki? Unless the meaning is altered, this exactly describes Pavlov's classical conditioning. You don't have to come up with witty names for something that already has a name. Ring The Pavlov Bell sounds dialog-like, and frankly a little nonsensical. If you want something less dull and vanilla, sharpen the focus of the trope: Comedic Classical Conditioning, for instance, for Added Alliterative Appeal.
  • October 15, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ BTW this doesn't necessarily have to be comedic, I think. :P

    So what, should we have those TABLE arguments here? I hate the talk of "clear vs witty" again.
  • October 15, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ Yes.

    ^^ Stimulus Response would work then... as a Useful Notes page. if it's just clear, then Classical Conditioning would probably best (if it covers both conditioner and conditioned). if it's witty, Then Bell Conditioned Bitch / Pavlovs Bitch would be a clever reference to his experiment. but sound rather... kinky.
  • October 15, 2013
    Snicka
    ^ And there's another X Was Right trope (although hidden in a Pot Hole)...
  • October 15, 2013
    sgamer82
    • As noted in the page quote above, where in the original Dragon Ball Z series Gohan panicked when expected to attack Nappa, in Dragon Ball Z Abridged he runs away because Piccolo inadvertently conditioned him to try to dodge/evade every time he said the word "dodge."
  • June 12, 2015
    ElodieHiras
    Mass Effects attempts this on the player. You know, that music that plays on the Critical Mission Failure screen? It's the Big Bad's (or rather his Dragon's, Saren) Leitmotiv.
  • June 12, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Oh wow, that's nearly a two-year time jump. This languished for two whole years because people thought the title was too boring?

    Much as I miss Truffaut Was Right, Pavlov Was Right makes absolutely zero sense as a snowclone for this particular trope, which really is so straightforward that it deserves a completely straightforward name like Pavlovian Conditioning.

    I don't see the issue with calling it Conditioning, either, as a properly conditioned person is obviously a walking talking example of classical conditioning, and the -ing would be more general than the -ed, so, yeah. Classical Conditioning seems a little more impersonal than Pavlovian Conditioning, so between the two I'd go with the second one.

    If we're still desperate for a "unique" name, I'd try something like "Good Work, Pavlov!" Everybody knows Pavlov successfully conditioned his test subjects, so it seems clear enough ("good work, pavlov" = "someone has successfully pulled off classical conditioning") but isn't as Other Wiki-esque as the Adjective Noun format and has a bit of the same hat-tip feel as "X Was Right" without the completely erroneous implication that anybody ever thought he might've been wrong.

  • June 12, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    After attempting to do a massive massive revamp of this trope, I've come to the conclusion we've been going about this all wrong. The average person is terrible at remembering the difference between classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and just doing things on autopilot because that's how you did them the last thirty times, so there really shouldn't be a page dedicated solely to classical conditioning because it'll inevitably get filled with examples that are other types.

    Instead, there should be a trope page about behavioral conditioning, in general, with explanations of the various types for those who are interested, but mostly just an umbrella page for any circumstance where someone's been conditioned to do something or expect something.

    We could easily call it BF Skinner Was Right. That would be perfect, since he's the father of Behaviorism and believed that free will was an illusion and all behavior was the result of various types of conditioning. But Behavioral Conditioning or some variant on that would also work. Maybe just have both of those go to the same trope page, like Truffaut Was Right and Do Not Do This Cool Thing.
  • June 12, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    why does this suddenly have hats, it's nowhere near ready???
  • June 13, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    • The Pinky And The Brain short "Pavlov's Mice" has the mice being conditioned by Pavlov himself to dance to the sounds of a bell and gong respectively. At the end, their plan to Take Over The World is foiled when a clocktower goes off with the sounds of bells and gongs.
  • June 13, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    Wouldn't "X was right" just fall under snowclone territory?
  • June 14, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    I'm not actually all that familiar with the rules yet. Were snowclones officially outlawed? This was just meant to be a placeholder name for discussion, anyway. I was thinking of renaming it to Their Conditioning. Just because I have a desperate need to make everything slightly punny even if it's stupid.
  • June 15, 2015
    Arivne
    ^ If they were officially outlawed, someone forgot to change the Everythings Worse With Snowclones page to say so.

    According to the third paragraph on that page, a Snow Clone is bad if it requires the reader to be familiar with another already existing trope to understand it. If the meaning of the title is clear on its own, the Snow Clone is O.K.
  • June 16, 2015
    lakingsif
    Yeah, can we not go with the Freud Was Right snow clone - Skinner's work isn't really controversial and is accepted everywhere. Behaviourism and reinforcement theory just are. Also, whilst a lot of people have heard of Freud because of the fact his work was controversial (and, though taught as a history of the development of the growth of psychology, commonly regarded as wrong) but few have heard of Skinner.

    • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon gives Penny a sweet every time she does something he asks her to and that he considers well-mannered. It doesn't take long before her personality has changed almost completely and she's performing the actions without encouragement.
  • June 16, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Okay, page officially revamped.

    The Merchant's War, House of Stairs, and A Clockwork Orange examples all need to be developed into actual examples before I can add them. And I could probably write the one from The Office myself if I had to, but I don't remember it as well as I'd like.

    I know someone earlier (years ago) said that CrypticMirror's XKCD would make the better illustration, but characters having one bad experience and then avoiding it forever is not really why we need this page. The "Parental Trolling" strip is much better, and the quip "behavioral easter eggs" that I stole from the original alt-text makes for a good caption.

    Feedback welcome!
  • June 16, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    • Gravity Falls: It turns out that Pacifica Northwest's parents have conditioned her by ringing a bell when she steps out of line with their expectations. In the climax, she ends up managing to ignore the bell to save the day.
  • June 17, 2015
    lakingsif
    ^^ that was an amazing overhaul. For the image wiki size, though, it's probably best to just have the last two panels placed horizontally.
  • June 17, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Like, one panel on top of two? Or cut the first panel? (And thanks.)
  • June 17, 2015
    randomsurfer
    I think the Big Bang Theory pothole to Getting Crap Past The Radar is unnecessary at best, and IMO incorrect anyway. Just because someone says "come" doesn't mean they're talking about sex.
  • June 17, 2015
    lakingsif
    ^ Just the last two panels next to each other would be best at wiki size, but you can do that first layout and see if it's all still legible.
  • June 17, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    @randomsurfer: The reason I potholed it was because otherwise it's not obvious that it's a very very intentional innuendo on Sheldon's part (to be explicit here, he's trying to condition her in ways that will benefit Leonard in bed so that Leonard will let him keep training her, thus he emphasizes "come again" and "freaky.") If we had an in-universe intentional innuendo trope (not just Accidental Innuendo and Innocent Innuendo) I would've used that, but as it is, he's using the overlap between "come again" and "orgasm twice" to get crap past Penny's radar and into her subconscious, so it seemed appropriate.

    ETA: Changed the wording of the end of the example to be slightly more explicit about Sheldon training Penny for Leonard's sexual benefit.
  • June 17, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    @lakingsif: Made it back into a horizontal comic and moved the words in the second-to-last panel around so that there's no more reference to the missing panels.
  • June 17, 2015
    zarpaulus
    • Dune is full of behavioral conditioning used by all sorts of factions, mostly by fantastic means granted. Such as the Suk school conditioning that produces doctors incapable of doing harm.
  • June 17, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    ^^ Could you elaborate on that at all? "X has a lot of it" is only a step away from "X. Just X."
  • June 18, 2015
    Arivne
    ^^ Another Dune example:

    Literature
    • In the novel Dune Messiah the ghola Hayt (a clone of Duncan Idaho) is conditioned by his Tleilaxu creators so he can be controlled by the Tleilaxu dwarf Bijaz.
  • June 18, 2015
    JohnnyCache
    Used in the creation of a Sleeper Agent.
  • June 18, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^^^^^^Having just watched the clip on youtube, he's not trying to make her more sexually compatible with Leonard. The conversation before the "freaky" bit is explicitly about her "high pitched laugh" and changing her entire voice to a lower, more pleasing to Sheldon, register.
  • June 18, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    You really think it's coincidence that he's making her repeat the word "freaky" rather than something else? Like just from a scriptwriting perspective? "Come again" could be me giving the writers too much credit, though.

    I'll just cut the dialogue part entirely.
  • June 19, 2015
    chicagomel
    Brave New World likes this. Each caste, or level, of kids is conditioned to be happy they aren't in one of the other groups, and in some cases, to react negatively to certain things. A group of Deltas is given electric shocks to make them afraid of books and nature so they'll be more inclined to work and less inclined to spend free time on other things. There's also the negative reaction that words like 'mother' elicit from the characters.

  • June 22, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Any chance you could reformat that as an example? I never had to read Brave New World.

    Wasn't around for a few days and let this sit, but I'll try to keep adding my own examples until this gets hats. I think the description and page image are pretty solid, unless anyone else has objections.
  • June 22, 2015
    lakingsif
    • Brave New World features different "levels" of kids - from factions comparable to proletariats all the way to mock-aristocracy. Each group is conditioned to be happy that they aren't in any of the other groups - through teaching of Marxism, meritocracy, and bourgeois equivalents to the appropriate kids. On top of that, they are conditioned through reinforcement theory to reflexively respond negatively towards certain things going into adulthood. Specifically, a group of Deltas is given electric shocks to make them afraid of books and nature so that they'll choose to work and not have free time: because they are subconsciously scared of what might happen if they do anything in free time, as well as the government wanting them to feel like it's their own choice. There's also the negative reaction that words like 'mother' elicit from the characters.
  • June 23, 2015
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • The Prisoner episode "The Schizoid Man". The Village personnel use aversion therapy involving electric shocks to change Number 6's handedness and mental conditioning to change his food and tobacco product preferences, then wipe his memory. After he realizes what has occurred, Number 6 uses an electrical shock to reverse the effect and return himself to normal.
  • June 24, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Added most recent examples and made a few tweaks to the description, including the addition of a Sleeper Agent reference and fixing the image link to conform to the image guidelines, which say that images should never link to outside pages.
  • June 24, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Friendly shoutout to anyone who could write up examples from the following:
  • June 24, 2015
    SolipSchism
    I got Clockwork. I only saw the movie, but it's the premise, so presumably they didn't change it that much.

    Nevertheless, bear in mind that this is based on knowledge of the movie, not the book.

    Literature:
    • The protagonist of A Clockwork Orange and the film of the same name is a fan of "ultraviolence", the act of engaging in gratuitous and extreme acts of sexual and physical violence for fun. When he is caught and sent to prison, he voluntarily undergoes The Ludovico Technique as a method of securing his early release. The Technique involves forcing him to watch videos of violence while being injected with drugs that induce nausea. As a result, the thought of violence makes him sick to his stomach. The story explores the moral ramifications of this kind of conditioning, even when accepted voluntarily.

    (And for the record, Clockwork is in fact the trope namer for The Ludovico Technique, which was originally a form of behavioral conditioning and exactly this trope. Later imitators aren't all about behavior, but the original was.)
  • June 24, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    If you've only seen the movie, there's no particular reason you couldn't just write your example for the movie namespace. But either way, thanks!

    On reflection, it seems like I should add a bullet point for Aversion Therapy after Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning...
  • June 24, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ^ Well, I understand having a page for both the film and the book, but I think it's a little silly to write separate examples for each unless it's really significantly different. And I can't imagine this example would be very different, since it's the premise of the entire story. Like, I'm pretty sure if I described what The Matrix, it wouldn't matter if I was describing the film or a novelization of the film; the description is going to be the same.

    tl;dr Even without reading the book, I'm like 99% sure that example I wrote applies to both the book and the film.
  • June 24, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Oh I'm sure it's fine for both. I was just wondering why you chose to put it under "literature" rather than "film."
  • June 24, 2015
    Avurai
    'Conditioning' not 'Conditiong'.

    It happens.
  • June 24, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    OH WOW. wooowww.

    Let's pretend this didn't happen.
  • June 24, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Exploited by The Villain Professor Nimnul in the Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Does Pavlov Ring A Bell," who has conditioned a lab rat, Sparky, to pull wires at the sound of a ringing telephone. When Sparky does this inside a bank, it trips an alarm, which triggers a guinea pig, Buzz, into guiding a Giant Mecha through the sewer system into the bank vault. Neither Sparky nor Buzz are aware that they're accessories to robbery; according to Sparky, it's "action without thinking."
  • June 25, 2015
    SolipSchism
    ^^^^ Mostly just because the film was an adaptation of the book; the book was the original.

    One of these days I need to get around to actually reading it... But I'm just too busy reading Greg Egan and Vernor Vinge.
  • June 26, 2015
    dalek955
    In the laconic, the word is "perpetrates" (or maybe just "performs"), not "perpetuates"
  • June 26, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Wow, I'm on just fire with thoughtless typos in the header, aren't I?

    • added the two newest examples
    • added paragraph about Aversion Therapy under Classical Conditioning bullet
    • corrected "perpetuates" to "perpetrates" because "performs some form" sounded weird
  • June 26, 2015
    Generality
    • In The Wheel Of Time:
      • The Seanchan use Slave Collars to condition female magic-users into practically mindless slaves by meting out pain and pleasure through the collars (there's a strong element of Author Appeal behind this). Disturbingly, the series treats this process as irresistable, and anyone captured long enough will become conditioned, no matter how strong-willed or intelligent, with the exception of one minor character.
      • When Perrin is suffering unwilling seduction attempts from Berelain, he notices that she keeps laying a hand gently on him, and realizes what she's doing when he considers training a colt: you get it used to being touched so that it doesn't shy. Then you put on the blanket and get it used to that. Then the saddle. Then the bridle. Then you get on. After he realizes this is going on, Perrin resorts to shouting at her whenever she comes into view, which causes more problems.
  • June 26, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    ^ Added.

    Also made a few tweaks, most notably converting the definitions of "positive punishment", etc, to a note.
  • June 26, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Live Action TV
    • One skit on Saturday Night Live involved a talk show about dogs, hosted and run by intelligent dogs. The guest on the show was a dog who'd been living for years among humans, enduring bizarre abuse. When the host commanded the techs to roll a film clip, the guest dog rolled on the floor to the astonishment of the host.
  • June 26, 2015
    zarpaulus
    I feel I should note that both of the currently listed examples from Dune were broken by The Power Of Love. Dr. Yueh's Suk conditioning was cracked by Piter torturing his wife so that he could be used as a mole in House Atreides. While Hayt was ordered to kill Duncan's sworn liege, which awakened his Genetic Memory before he could do it. And also:
    • In Children Of Dune Laza Tigers are conditioned to kill the royal twins with brain implants and several sets of twins wearing specific clothes.
  • June 27, 2015
    Generality
    Small fix: I realized I used the wrong word in the Wheel of Time example. A foal is too young to train.
  • June 27, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    Added SNL example and wrote my own Office example.

    ^^ @zarpaulus, could you maybe clarify those a bit more?

    • Assuming based on previous description of the Suk that Dr. Yueh's conditioning was to indoctrinate him into Suicidal Pacifism, I"m guessing that watching Piter hurt his wife was the Berserk Button that finally caused him to hurt someone else. Was it Piter? And how is the mole part relevant?
    • What kind of conditioning did Hayt have to begin with? It can't have been Suk conditioning otherwise they wouldn't have been trying to use him to kill people.
    • Do the tigers use brain implants to kill royal twins, or are the twins the ones with the implants?

    I'm suddenly a little worried that examples about animal training are going to be a little bit People Sit On Chairs, as basically all normal animal training is operant conditioning. Many of the animal examples we have to far are clearly good ones, but if anything about teaching dogs to fetch and sit starts showing up here that's going to get old fast.
  • June 27, 2015
    calmestofdoves
  • June 28, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Literature
    • Jules Verne's Phineas Fogg from Around The World In Eighty Days is so punctilious that the waitstaff at Fogg's social club prepare his table and set out his lunch before Fogg even walks in the door, certain that he will arrive at the exact minute. Many Londoners remark, "You can set your pocketwatch by Phineas Fogg."

    Film
    • Secret agent Jason Bourne from The Bourne Identity suffers from Laser Guided Amnesia, yet retains much of his secret agent training. Lampshaded when he wonders to his associate why he memorized the license plates of the cars in parking lot, and why he analyzed the combat capacity of diner patrons.
  • June 29, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    • Added oneuglybunny's examples
      • Described Jason Bourne as a secret secret agent instead of just a secret agent
    • Changed pothole of "Played for Horror" from Horror Tropes to Psychological Horror. Technically playing for horror is just a type of playing for drama (as there are only two options, funny and serious) but I still felt they deserved to be separated based on how they generally function in narratives.
  • June 29, 2015
    zarpaulus
    • I believe that Yueh snapped under the strain and agreed to act as The Mole in House Atreides if Piter and his employer, the Baron Harkonnen, would "release her from her pain". Even though he knew they probably meant killing her while he was on his mission. And when he delivered the Duke Atreides to them he concealed a capsule of poison gas in the Duke's mouth so he could kill them (only got Piter, the Baron escaped).
    • It's not clear what sort of conditioning was applied to Hayt but it was probably hypnotic or something.
    • The tigers had implants, they stimulated different parts of their brains as the trainers needed. Probably something like setting off their pleasure centers every time they killed a twelve-year-old brother and sister pair who were wearing a specific set of clothes.
  • June 30, 2015
    69BookWorM69
    Film: Latter Days has a young gay Mormon undergo now-discredited "conversion therapy" including an ice bath.
  • October 25, 2015
    calmestofdoves
    welp I was gone for several months and this has five hats now so I'mma launch it if there are no objections~
  • October 25, 2015
    DAN004
    Take off every trope! You know what you are doing. Move trope. For Great Justice.
  • October 27, 2015
    sgamer82
    Since it doesn't look like this has launched yet:

    • Chapter 59 of Inside Mari shows us a flashback from the point of view of a little girl, Fumiko. Throughout the flashback, we learn that Fumiko's mother has a strong dislike of her mother-in-law, who is the one who chose the name "Fumiko". Following the grandmother's passing, Fumiko is taken aside by her mother and taught that her name is no longer Fumiko, it is Mari Yoshizaki. She keeps repeating this until Fumiko goes along with it and agrees it's a cute name.
  • October 28, 2015
    69BookWorM69
    Before you launch, I think the title character in The Manchurian Candidate was subjected to this to make him into an assassin, but I haven't seen the movie in a long time.
  • February 1, 2016
    DAN004
    Bumpity
  • March 4, 2016
    HeroGal2347
    In Belles On Their Toes, Tom unintentionally gives his cat, Fourteen (the authors say that "Tom numbered his cats progressively") an aversion to anyone reaching into the area over the stove, where he keeps the medicine he gives her.
  • March 4, 2016
    DAN004
    Who's gonna work on this? (Hint: not me)
  • March 4, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Can't be me, either, since I'm a trope jinx. And since this proto-trope deals with reactive conditioning:

    Live Action TV
    • The Avengers episode "House Of Cards" has a number of Soviet citizens conditioned to behave just like British citizens. One candidate who errantly used "comrade" was shot on the spot for his mistake. These agents were then installed in Britain, and some actually became British Intelligence agents. However, once the moles received a particular playing card, they reverted to being Soviet assassins, seeking out and killing predetermined targets.
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