This is the final note on the topic of behavioural conditioning.
In an earlier piece, I discussed the view among readers that using punishment to condition improved trading behaviour was unlikely to be effective. In the piece, I said ‘… even though I’ll admit I still don’t really appreciate why punishment won’t work, there is an overwhelming consensus from experienced readers that it is not the way forward. So, I will stop venturing further down this potentially dangerous road …’
Michelle B has kindly posted a follow-up comment, providing a clear explanation:
Punishing yourself, especially via bodily pain, constitutes behavioural conditioning. I could be wrong but I think that behavioural conditioning and psychology has gotten a bit of a beating from cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology changes behaviour by focusing on changing thought and thought patterns. You change the thought, you change the behaviour. Behavioural conditioning to me seems inadequate and ineffective because behaviour which has to be conditioned can become unconditioned through time and through lack of conditioning stimulus, while via cognitive changes, the actual neural connections are modified, therefore effecting a permanent change. To me, psychological conditioning is a quick fix, but not lasting. Cognitive changes are more challenging but certainly not impossible to accomplish, and though they may be more slow acting, the changes are lasting.
Making an analogy with dieting, the best approach is to change your approach to eating/exercise, not adhering or trying to adhere to a restrictive diet or a punishing physical regime, but to learn how to choose the best kind of nourishing food (low calorie, nutrient dense) and the amount of it which you can reasonably eat via greater knowledge of nutrition and energy expenditure via physical exercise. When the pounds come off, they stay off, because you have changed your environment surrounding eating. Same thing with the cognitive approach, you change your mental environment via brain changes.
Thanks Michelle. Your explanation makes perfect, logical sense. I can see why behavioural conditioning is unlikely to have a lasting effect: ‘behaviour which has to be (behaviourally) conditioned can become unconditioned through time and through lack of conditioning stimulus’. So, it’s back to good old, slow-burning will-power.