The Principles of Behavior Analysis Applied To: TheLoraxBy Dr. Seuss Interpreted by Paula Koskinen PSY 3600
In the time that “The Lorax” was published in the 1971, Ted Geisel the political cartoonist had already made a successful name for himself as a childrens' author under the moniker Dr. Seuss. “The Lorax” reflects Geisel's observations about the population around him in regards to their environment, and anti-consumerism as well. (The characters in his books “Yertle the Turtle” and “The Sneetches” are his voice to address social issues, such as the arms race and anti-consumerism, respectively.)
The story begins as a boy wanders to the edge of town where the old Once-ler lives, in a stilted shack on the top of a hill. The boy pays a small toll into a lowered bucket to hear the story of why the Lorax went away, and never ever came back to what was now ‘The Street of the Lifted Lorax’.
One day, the Once-ler brought his wagon to the land bearing the Truffula Trees, and was enthralled by their crop of beautfiul, useful flora. He unloads his wagon and sets up shop, thwhacking a single tree for its mop.
The Ineffective Natural Contingency BeforeThe Once-ler will have many Truffula Trees around tomorrow BehaviorHe cuts down one Truffula Tree AfterThe Once-ler will have slightly fewer trees around tomorrow
He presents a rule that is hard to follow: which describes a small but cumulatively significant outcome. Out of the stump where the Truffula was cut, the Lorax appears and promptly begins to badger the Once-ler at the top of his lungs.
BeforeNo money BehaviorKnits one Thneed The Simple Reinforcement Contingency AfterReceives money
At this time are two competing stimuli: the aversive condition of the Lorax calling him “Crazy! Greedy!”, and the reinforcer of somewho buying the sweater that he knit (occurred within 60 seconds). So the Once-ler got right to work, building his business and calling upon the whole Once-ler family to join him in the land bearing the Truffula.
BeforeNo sight of The Lorax BehaviorOnce-ler steps outside of doorway Crazy! Greedy! After: The Punishment Contingency
The sight of the Lorax has become a conditioned stimulus: a stimulus that has aquired its eliciting properties through previous pairing with another stimulus. Even if the Once-ler was a nonverbal animal, the yelling and furious furry animal in his face would be aversive. Rule: If you cut down the Truffula Trees, the Bar-ba-loots will leave. If you grow them, they will stay. Unfortunately, the true reinforceris the money from the Thneeds (sweaters).
Another Punishment Contingency… BeforeNo sight of starving Bar-ba-loots BehaviorAnswers the door (under condition that the Lorax knocks) AfterSight of starving Bar-ba-loots
The Lorax, because of this repeated instance, makes the sound of a dainty knock at the door become a: warning stimulus: a stimulus that precedes an aversive condition and becomes a learned aversive stimulus. discriminative stimulus: a stimulus in the presence of which a particular response will be reinforced or punished.
The behavior of we, the non-verbal animals, the Bar-ba-loots who are starving, and the Swomee Swans who cannot breathe the smoggy air, is under… They both leave the land bearing the Truffula in search of new fruits and clean air. The Lorax knows not where they go, and he stays. contingency control: direct control of behavior by a contingency, without the involvement of rules.
Then the Once-ler does not see the Lorax for some time. Many chaps are coming to his door regarding his Thneed factory and his biggering business, and the sound of small knocks will not be paired with the sight of the Lorax at the door for some time. He sees him out and about down on the hill where is stilted shack isbuilt. The pause caused: respondent extinction: presenting the conditioned stimulus without pairing it with the conditioned stimulus, and the CS will lose its eliciting power.
The Analog to Avoidance Contingency Prevention of the loss of a reinforcer… During this lapse, the Once-ler chops down many more Truffulas in pursuit of biggering his money Keep opportunity to make money SD: (deadline) before demand surpasses supply Knits one Thneed Will lose opportunity to make money soon Lose opportunity to make money S-delta: after demand surpasses supply
Upon the third encounter with the Lorax, the furry yellow learned aversive condition barges into the his Thneed factory He tells the Once-ler that every last one of his contraptions is foolish and selfish. The Once-leragresses toward the Lorax in an outburst of anger and tells him what's what.
AfterNo more badgering from the Lorax BehaviorOutburst, yelling BeforeOnce-ler hears badgering from the Lorax The Escape Contingency
Inevitably, one day, the last tree is thwacked. The Once-ler family packs up their wagons and leave town in search of greener pastures. They leave the land ravaged and polluted, no living things remain, except the Loraxand the Once-ler. Mourning the loss of his home one last time, he glances at the Once-ler and takes leave of that place through a hole in the smog. Now the Once-ler and his big empty factory remain, vacant and lonely, until the boy from the beginning of the story comes upon the elusive creature and hears of the tale.
He realizes that the relic left behind by the Lorax, the stone well reading “Unless”, has a meaning that was unknown to him before because of a metaphorical lens called ‘learned helplessness’. Iheld the last hope in my pocket all of those years, the last Truffula seed, and had never gone outside to plant and tend to it. He figures out that the Lorax meant that unless someone cared for the land bearing the Truffula Trees a whole lot more that he had, the land had hope for prosperity.
An Indirect-Acting Analog to Avoidance Contingency… Once-ler will not lose the opportunity to alleviate his sadness SD: (deadline) While the boy is outside (before he leaves) BeforeThe Once-ler will lose the opportunity to alleviate his sadness and replant the Truffula Trees BehaviorTosses the Truffula seed outside Once-ler will lose his opportunity to alleviate sadness, trees will not be replanted S-delta: When the boy leaves