Wednesday, June 22, 2016


       When discussing classical conditioning in chapter 4, Powell mentions three types of procedures that affect conditioning. One of these procedures is called overshadowing, where the most noticeable member of a compound stimulus is more readily conditioned as a conditioned stimulus (CS). As a result, the least noticeable stimulus experiences weaker conditioning. To illustrate the real world applications of this procedure, Powell discusses how overshadowing generates animosity within members of a rock band; the most charismatic member of a band will often receive the most positive attention from the public. Consequently, the other band members become jealous for not receiving their share of the praise.
       Similarly, overshadowing plays a major role in professional sports teams that have multiple superstars. For instance, the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s had two of the best players in basketball on the same team: Shaquille O'Neil and Kobe Bryant. By 2003, the Lakers had won three straight championships. It is worth noting that Shaq, a seasoned veteran at this point in his career, was the Finals MVP in all of those championships; his legacy in Los Angeles as a dominant player was cemented. To explain it psychologically, achieving victory (US) brings out positive emotions (UR) in people. Since Shaq was the Finals MVP for three straight years, it is reasonable to assume that Shaq (NS #1) received more accolades from Lakers fans than Kobe (NS #2). Therefore, Shaq is the more salient member of the two players and now becomes a conditioned stimulus for positive emotions in Lakers fans. In other words, Shaq receives more attention than Kobe. The negative effects of this overshadowing situation became more apparent as their time together continued; both Shaq and Kobe were highly critical of each other's playstyle and leadership. Kobe, for example, ventured to say that "leaders (referring to Shaq) don't beg for a contract extension and negotiate some 30 million per year...and would not demand the ball every time down the floor..." Evidently, overshadowing and its side effects are prominent in professional sports.

Link to details about the Shaq-Kobe feud:

Powell, R., Honey, P., Symbaluk, D. (2013). Introduction to learning and behavior. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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