What attracts Millennials to ‘Video on Demand ‘– Using the Instrumental Conditioning Model by B.F. Skinner
As previously stated, one of the characteristics of Millennials is that they are familiar with instant satisfaction (Schiffman and Wisenblit, 2015, 329). It follows that this characteristic behaviour is applied to one of the four conditioning techniques of the ‘Instrumental Conditioning Model’ by B.F. Skinner i.e. positive reinforcement. In this specific example, the stimulus situation is that a member of the Millennial generation wants to watch a particular movie. They will proceed their intention with a trial and error process until they experience positive reinforcement resulting from a certain response of their behaviour (Solomon et al. 2016, 264-266). To begin, the Millennial considers watching the desired movie at the local cinema, which may not result in an instant positive reinforcement as wished, because they first have to overcome certain obstacles when they want to watch a movie at the cinema i.e. driving to the cinema, which is an expenditure of time, finding a timeslot in which the movie is shown, wait in line to purchase a ticket for the desired movie, watching the advertisements before the movie starts or perhaps, in the worst case, the desired movie is no longer available at the chosen cinema. Hence, no direct positive reinforcement for the member of the Millennial generation. Furthermore, there may be the possibility for the Millennial to watch the desired movie on his or her television at home. This would solve the issue of no direct positive reinforcement due to a drive to the local cinema. Nevertheless, it may occur that the desired movie is not broadcasted on any channel on television. Moreover, because of a predetermined television program, the viewer will not have the opportunity to watch the requested content immediately and furthermore, will have interruptions in form of television advertisement in between the program. Thus, there is again no instant reinforcement for the Millennial viewer who wants to watch a particular movie. Finally, the viewer could decide to use a ‘Video on Demand’ service such as Netflix to watch the desired movie. In this case, the viewer would not have to leave his or her home. Furthermore, the viewer would not be bound to an existing television program and would not be interrupted by television advertisements. Therefore, it would lead to instant reinforcement for the Millennial. This positive experience in form of a direct reward for the viewer could lead to a repetition of the behaviour since it reinforced the desired response of their behaviour. That is, watching movies over ‘Video on Demand’ services again and perhaps purchasing a subscription to the particular service e.g. Netflix.
Critique of the Instrumental Conditioning Model
Figure 1. (Slideshare, 2017). A Model of Instrumental Conditioning; Figure 2. (The Psychology Notes Headquarters, 2017) Types of Operant Conditioning; Figure 3. (Alchetron, 2017) B. F. Skinner Beyond Freedom and Dignity B F Skinner ABC of Success; Figure 4. (Yin, S. 2017) B.F. Skinner - An inside look; Figure 5. (Simpsons wiki, 2017) Principle Seymour Skinner
Overall, B.F. Skinner created an effect model which can be applied to many parts of psychology. Nevertheless, the instrumental conditioning has some weaknesses as well. First, the conditioning technique used above is called positive reinforcement, which is one of four techniques in B.F. Skinner’s model (Jansson-Boyd, 2012, 29-31). Instrumental conditioning either reinforces a good behaviour with a positive / negative reinforcement or punishes a bad behaviour with a positive / negative punishment (Solomon et al., 2013). Thus, the theory suggests that there are only good or bad behaviours, but nothing in between.
Second, the theory does not take cognitive factors into account and therefore is not a complete illustration of the learning process of humans and animals (McLeod, S. A. 2007). Conversely, the theory of cognitive learning stresses the importance of internal mental processes. The theory suggests that people act as problem-solvers who process information from their environment (Solomon, 2013, 266).
Third, the application of a conditioning model on human beings may be questionable in an ethic way of thinking. It can be argued that these techniques can be used to engineer preselected, specific changes in the behaviour of human beings (Carrera et al., 1970). This may raise the question if it is righteous to manipulate human behaviour regardless of if the results are going to be ’good’, and furthermore, whose it is to judge which behaviour can be considered as ‘good’ and which as ‘bad’? However, Bandura (1977) argues that humans learn from observing the actions of others and monitor the resulting reinforcement they receive from the act.
Finally, the model was tested based on an experiment with a rat in a laboratory (Dai and Ruan, 2010). This may lead to the question if the behaviour of a rat and the behaviour of humans can be generalised under the same theory of behaviour. According to Kohler and Winter (1973), the behaviour of animals differs from that of a human in the process of problem-solving.
To summarise, based on the statistics mentioned above combined with the characteristics of Millennials according to various literature and the application of the ‘Instrumental Conditioning Model onto the Millennial generation, it can be concluded that and why Millennials use ‘Video on demand’ services the most.
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