Hi my friend, I see you came here seeking a solution for your career problems, don’t worry my friend I got you covered, through this series of office politics articles we will discuss the ins and outs of the secret weapons your boss uses against you, to mold you into a consumerist slave who takes his salary each month to spend it on stuff you don’t need with the money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like just to come back next month to get more of that salary.

We will start our first part of the office politics series explaining classical conditioning and how your brain can be programmed without you knowing but first let’s watch a very funny clip from ” The Office” series and then come back to the real business

Jim uses classical conditioning to prank Dwight

As you can see in the video after a while Dwight started to crave mint candy as soon as he hears a certain small sound clip, how can that happen? and can our complex brains be tricked using such a simple trick?

What is Classical Conditioning?

First, let’s go back in time to understand how we discovered classical conditioning by chance.

Back in 1897 The best-known and most thorough early work on classical conditioning was done by Ivan Pavlov, although Edwin Twitmyer published some related findings a year earlier. During his research on the physiology of digestion in dogs, Pavlov developed a procedure that enabled him to study the digestive processes of animals over long periods of time. He redirected the animal’s digestive fluids outside the body, where they could be measured. Pavlov noticed that his dogs began to salivate in the presence of the technician who normally fed them, rather than simply salivating in the presence of food. Pavlov called the dogs’ anticipatory salivation “psychic secretion”. Putting these informal observations to an experimental test, Pavlov presented a stimulus (e.g. the sound of a metronome) and then gave the dog food; after a few repetitions, the dogs started to salivate in response to the stimulus. Pavlov concluded that if a particular stimulus in the dog’s surroundings was present when the dog was given food then that stimulus could become associated with food and cause salivation on its own.

The basic classical conditioning procedure goes like this: a neutral stimulus is paired with an unconditional stimulus (UCS). The neutral stimulus can be anything, as long as it does not provoke any sort of response in the organism. On the other hand, the unconditional stimulus is something that reliably results in a natural response. For example, if you shine a light into a human eye, the pupil will automatically constrict (you can actually see this happen if you watch your eyes in a mirror as you turn on and off a light). Pavlov called this the “unconditional response.” (UCR)

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To put it in simpler terms, when you play a bell before you give a dog his food he will start drolling over the food and after a while if you play the bell the dog will start drolling without even giving him food as his brain has associated the sound of the bell with the upcoming of food.

And it’s not a surprise that we as humans can be affected by similar tricks, and of course, you are thinking to yourself that I never been tricked like this before, no my friend, you have been, multiple time, let’s take for example TV ads, especially carbonated drinks like Coca-Cola or Pepsi and who they play their ads everyday conditioning your brain to associate thirst with their products so as you hear the bubbling sound of opening a can you immediately feel thirsty.

I swear I just got thirsty while I am writing this sentence and I bet you are probably the same, let me just go drink a cup of water and come back.

I hope this article gave you a simple overview of the technique of classical conditioning and how it’s used everywhere around us, join me next time to discuss how such trick can be used in office and workplaces to program emploeeys and mold them to their managers’ bidings.

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