Extinction – Friend or Foe?
What do you do when your computer freezes up, or your normally reliable car fails to start? What kind of learning history have you had? Are you resilient and resourceful, or do you become frustrated and angry? What has your experience with extinction been?
When you think about how frustrating events like those described above can make you feel, it’s easy to understand why you want to avoid extinction in training. Extinction in a training context means you are no longer reinforcing something that was previously being reinforced. Confusion, frustration, and anger are often part of emotional fallout—and sound like things we would want to avoid. So why is extinction often part of training? And is it always something to avoid?
We’ll look at extinction by dividing it into three categories that will help us evaluate and determine whether to work with extinction:
- Inadvertent extinction
In sum, you want to avoid the first two categories and learn to use the third. We’ll explore what these terms mean, and other related questions. When do they occur? What are some of the alternatives that can let handlers avoid the negative emotional fallout that accompanies the use of macro-extinction?
Used well, micro-extinction can help you train animals that are eager puzzle-solvers. When it’s not immediately obvious what is needed to get a click, instead of quitting, these learners keep working at the puzzle. They are confident, clever puzzle-solvers because the trainer has learned to be a resourceful, clever puzzle creator. We’ll be looking at strategies that build both successful puzzle-solvers and creators.