Part 3: Classical Conditioning To Break Bad Habits
Classical conditioning is MORE than just high school science — it’s also the MOST PERMANENT and MOST EFFECTIVE way to BREAK bad habits.
Lesson 1: The Holy Grail: Breaking Deeply Embedded Bad Habits With Classical Conditioning
The Holy Grail: Breaking Deeply Embedded Bad Habits With Classical Conditioning
For decades, behavioral scientists, psychologists and therapists have told us that truly breaking bad a habit is impossible.
Consider extremely bad habits that turn into full-blown addictions — such as drinking or drugs.
Even the most popular addiction support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous don’t offer a permanent solution beyond lifetime management of the behavior. The rhetoric is, “once an addict, always an addict.”
How can this be? Is the human brain truly that intractable?
For decades, the focus of addiction management has been on the substitution of a bad habit for a better one.
Tools like therapy, “staying busy” or changing your social circle are all helpful — but ultimately, they only temporarily distract you from self-destructive habits — not solve them.
Until today. Enter classical conditioning.
Classical conditioning, as the name would suggest, is not a new development.
The premise is simple: in order to create an intended response, pair it with a stimuli over and over again until the stimuli alone creates the response.
Remember Ivan Pavlov, the Russian physiologist who trained his dogs to salivate every time they heard a bell ring?
At first, they only salivated when food was in front of them. Eventually, Pavlov realized that the dogs even began to salivate when he walked in the room in anticipation of the food. Fascinating. Did that mean that the salivation response was subconsciously “hard-wired” into the dogs, whether food was present or not?
To test his theory, he created a simple experiment by ringing a bell every time he fed the dogs. After they’d become accustomed to hearing the bell at mealtime, he tested his theory by ringing the bell, WITHOUT providing the food.
True to his predictions, the dogs salivated as a result of just hearing the bell because they’d learned to associate it with food. He could create the desired salivation effect on demand by simply ringing a bell.
Pavlov’s dogs are a classic high school history lesson — but the implications of his work have far surpassed salivation in canines.
It turns out that classical conditioning is MORE than just high school science — it’s also the MOST PERMANENT and MOST EFFECTIVE way to BREAK bad habits.
Operant conditioning is the best way to form new habits. Classical conditioning is the best way to break bad habits. At Pavlok, we designed our wearable technology so that you can use the same powerful principles to break your own bad habits and addictions.
The secret lies in the instantaneous pairing of a negative stimulus with the undesired behavior. This is called aversion therapy.
Imagine you’ve been smoking for twenty years. You want to quit, but nothing has worked. You’ve tried everything, from traditional therapy, to prescription medication, to cold turkey. You even tried nicotine patches.
With aversion therapy, every time you smoke, you’ll receive a mild shock instantaneously.
It’s not painful, but it’s certainly annoying. After a very short time, your brain will actually begin to associate smoking with getting shocked. Eventually, not only will you lose interest in smoking…you’ll actually become REPULSED by the idea of picking up a cigarette.
This isn’t hype, and it’s not a gimmick. In fact, research at the Schick-Shadel Hospital has shown that simply self-administering a mild shock from a 9-volt battery as one smokes a cigarette has resulted in a 95% initial success rate in cessation of smoking — and a 50% rate the year after.
These results are far better than any other method of treatment — and the concept of aversion therapy can be applied to any deeply-ingrained negative habit that you want to break — from drinking, to drugs, to biting your nails.
How Pavlok Integrates Classical Conditioning to Change Your Most Difficult Habits
- First, set the bad behavior you want to eradicate
- Then, Pavlok will begin to monitor your behaviour using sophisticated sensors and algorithms
- When you perform that behavior, Pavlok will administer a mild shock that your brain begins to pair with the behavior
But don’t take the wristband off and try to “sneak in” a quick smoke outside, or grab a cookie. Pavlok will soon contain sensors that can measure almost any variable or vital sign, including nicotine levels, blood alcohol content and glucose level. As soon as you put the band back on, you’ll receive a shock.
Don’t want to put the the band back on? Fine. It will charge your bank account every day until you do.
With Pavlok, change is truly inevitable.