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Why Root Hunting is so Addictive
Posted on Sunday, August 15 @ 19:35:16 UTC by Neomie
B F Skinner, America's leading Neo Behaviorist who died in 1990, is known in the field of psychology for his famous animal experiments in which he discovered and demonstrated the power of reinforcement (rewards) on behaviour.
Amongst the terrible deeds of which Skinner is accused, including association with Nazis, abuse of animals and possibly his own child, Skinner made various discoveries about behaviour which explain why searching for a root is so addictive.
Keeping rats in a box, Skinner consistently rewarded lever pressing rats with food. If the animal pressed a lever, for instance three times, his treat would tumble. With a different set of rats, he would do the same thing but require the rats to press the lever five times ... or ten times ... any specific number. The rat would work out that if he pressed the lever the particular amount of times, the treat would tumble.
Pressing the lever once was no good. Pressing it twice was not rewarded. So the animals soon learned to press the lever the requisite amount of times in quick succession to get the reward. Different contingencies of demand and reward changed the animal's response. This lead to a much greater discovery than the mere fact that small mammals can count.
How does an experiment with rats in a box, give us any clues about trichotillomania and root searching?
Skinner then began to vary the schedule and to make the rewards random, rather than systematic at a specific count.
You'd think that random rewards would lead to distress and cessation of the behavior, but it didn't - it had the reverse effect. The rarer and more random the reward, the more the animal would continue to try for it. When the rewards tumbled at random - rarely - the animal became addicted to lever-pressing.
This was a break-through explanation into compulsive gambling, people addicted to violent yet randomly loving relationships and gives us the answer, as to why we root hunters hunt on for that perfect root.
Irregularly rewarded behaviour is the hardest of all to erradicate.
We search for split ends, for instance, because not every hair has one and they're randomly distributed. We pull out our hair searching for the root that's slightly more bulbous - more juicy - the random reward.
It's not all about reinforcement - positive or negative - it's more about excitement ... the not knowing whether you're going to get that magical juicy root or have just lost a hair for no "reason".
We're seeking stimulation because we're bored - we're just as bored as if we were kept in a box - and root hunting is about stimulation. Stimulation is rewarding whether it's positive or negative - and if you get the great root, the stimulation is an adrenalin rush - If you get just a hair, you get the stimulation of a thunk of misery - heads you win, tails you win ...
Re: Why Root Hunting is so Addictive (Score: 1) by Tory on Tuesday, August 17 @ 16:15:16 UTC (User Info | Send a Message)
so, get me out..get out..of the box seems the answer..metaphorically or actually..my theory surrounding this is that we all feel trapped to an extent..waiting, in anticipation of something happening that hasnt yet happened..and the pulling is almsot part of that anticipation..Skinner's experiments were extreme, but interesting as a parallel of humans feeling trapped with 'random' rewards coming at any time..or not at all..and the pulling could be part of that wait..something to do until it happens...whatever 'it' is. anyway i shall be quoted soemtime no doubt when i get my scientific act together..in the meantime musing is no bad thing.
Re: Why Root Hunting is so Addictive (Score: 0) by Anonymous on Wednesday, February 09 @ 16:28:48 UTC
that is so true that it made me cry. We have just been learning that theory in our pshychology lectures at uni. Never related it back to pulling my hair out. It makes so much more sense.
Re: Why Root Hunting is so Addictive (Score: 1) by tigerlily on Friday, October 22 @ 00:55:40 UTC (User Info | Send a Message)
It's like... GAMBLING!
Re: Why Root Hunting is so Addictive (Score: 0) by Anonymous on Saturday, November 06 @ 00:17:43 UTC
Not all of us pull hairs because we are bored. Some battle stress through hair pulling....evening worrying about things to the point of it becoming stressful. Also, I have experienced hair roots bothering me in painful way until I breakdown and pull it out - resulting in a much better feeling. (Itching is also a big reason - or an area of hair roots that have an almost 'sore spot' feeling).
Re: Why Root Hunting is so Addictive (Score: 0) by Anonymous on Tuesday, November 23 @ 02:41:33 UTC
WOW this is so true ~~ I am pull free for 3 weeks and I am very determined not to pull again ~ I'm sick of wearing a wig!!!! I read alot about rosemary oil . what does it do? and where can I buy it ~~ I want to thank all of you ~ this group is really helping me ~ Jacy~~~ abrat365@aol,com
Re: Why Root Hunting is so Addictive (Score: 0) by Anonymous on Sunday, November 28 @ 21:43:21 UTC
From Tamlam (firstname.lastname@example.org) very interesting topic. I think you have to delve slightly deeper though as reading it it touched some truths but there is a need to delve deeper,searching for something, attention seeking etc, that is what the article awakened in me anyway so hope this is useful to you.