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Learn the Art of Logic and Persuasion (Collection) by Leigh Thompson, Jonathan Herring

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Truth 26. The reinforcement principle

A group of sneaky students got together before class and decided to test the power of the reinforcement principle. Whenever the instructor walked on the right side of the classroom, they attentively smiled, nodded, and sat forward in their seats. However, when the instructor paced over to the left side of the classroom, the students slumped, averted their eyes, and disengaged. On which side of the classroom did the teacher spend the most time: the right or the left? The obvious answer is that he spent dramatically more time on the right side of the classroom. The students had positively reinforced the speaker’s behavior. Yet, the instructor was unaware of why he ended up on the right side of the room by the ...

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