By Lisa Spector, Canine Music Expert, Juilliard Graduate, and co-creator of Through a Dog’s Ear.
Because I am a concert pianist, the delightful video below has arrived in my inbox dozens of times. No matter how many times I watch it, it always brings a smile to my face. It is part of the Volkswagen “Fun Theory,” based on the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better. When I read those words and watched a few more of the winning videos in their contest, I realized that’s what I wrote about in my blogs last month about dog training.
January was National Dog Training Month, and my Care2 blogs attempted to educate readers on the benefits of reward-based, positive reinforcement dog training. In summary, instead of correcting dogs for the behavior you don’t want, you reward them for behavior you do want. What naturally happens when you reward the behaviors you want? You get more behaviors you want, from the dog’s own free will, and consequently it’s a lot more fun for both canine and their human counterpart.
But, how does that relate to Volkswagen and their Fun Theory? Well, it’s exactly the same thing, but applied to people. Before the stairs were turned into a musical keyboard, a hidden camera revealed that almost everyone took the escalator. But, when the musical keyboard was installed, people were curious and it became so much more fun to take the stairs than the escalator. They were benefiting from the exercise without even realizing it, because they were just having fun making music while climbing stairs. Most adults are aware that it’s better for their health to take the stairs instead of the elevator, but previously the reward for taking the stairs just wasn’t very enticing without a fun factor. With the musical addition, they are rewarded with music making and fun!
Next: The first place winner of the Fun Theory contest
The video above, that won first place in the Volkswagen Fun Theory contest, demonstrates my point even clearer. Kevin Richardson won 1st place with The Speed Camera Lottery video. He knows that the number of people speeding aren’t reduced by giving more speeding tickets. In dog training language that would be the equivalent of expecting a dog’s unwanted behaviors to decrease by punishing those behaviors. It may work in the short term, but rarely in the long haul and often escalates into additional undesired behaviors.
Similarly, when you receive a speeding ticket, you are more apt to pay attention to your speedometer short term, but it’s not sustainable behavior. However, when you reward people for their good behavior by entering them in a lottery for keeping the speed limit, they are more likely to continually drive under the speed limit, by their own free choice. And they have fun in the process, because the drivers are being rewarded for their good driving behavior. Where do their lottery winnings come from? The people who were caught speeding! Brilliant!
Can you think of any areas in your life where you’ve been more apt to change a behavior because you were rewarded for your desired behavior rather than corrected for your unwanted behavior? How about ways in which you’ve raised your children with those same concepts? Thanks for clicking on “comment” below and sharing.