Rule-governed behavior

We have many different ways of learning behavior. We may experience the consequences of touching a flame and avoid hot surfaces afterwards. We may observe someone receive a reward for their hard work and then decide to follow suit. Another way we learn which behaviors are beneficial are through rules. Rules or instructions use language to tell us what we must do or not do otherwise we will be given certain punishments. Rules and observational learning are good ways to learn appropriate behavior patterns without having to experience any consequences ourselves. As children, we often learn how to behave from either instructions given by our caregivers or by rules. Although they can sometimes annoying to follow, rules are generally put in place so that we don’t have to face undesirable consequences. The example in the book is don’t run a red light or you will get a ticket-but you’re not just avoiding a ticket you are avoiding reckless behavior that can lead to an accident. It is much better to avoid that lesson all together. The drawback of rule-governed behavior is that it is less efficient than behaviors that have been learned from personal experiences.