This morning, as I awoke, I had to make the difficult decision whether or not I would go for a run.
Exercise is difficult for many of us, and for me, lacking motivation is my main obstacle. Once I am dressed in my running clothes and my ipod is charged, then it’s pretty certain that I will go for a run. If those first few steps aren’t taken, then I’m already promising myself that I’m going to go tomorrow.
The Matching Law discusses how we can choose between two behaviours. So for me, exercise or not exercise. The Matching Law discusses that the levels of reinforcement associated with each behaviour will determine which behaviour will occur (how much time will be allocated to each response). Responses occur depending on the following:
- The AMOUNT of reinforcement available for that response
- The EFFORT require to obtain the reinforcement
- The IMMEDIACY of the reinforcement (how long do I need to wait?)
- The VALUE of the reinforcement
There may be other parameters affecting behaviour. Reinforcement is an event (or stimulus change) that occurs in the environment following a behaviour.
So running; it’s effort-FUL and losing weight or getting fit doesn’t happen immediately. However, in it’s defence, the value and amount of reinforcement following a run is something you can’t get any other way. The sense of accomplishment and enjoyment I have from running and how relieved I am that I managed to drag myself out, is not available if I stay at home. I also get a lot of socially mediated reinforcement (praise and encouragement) from my friends and family.
The parameters within the Matching Law are always changing; one day I may run and one day I may not. The value of reinforcement is constantly changing, and if I’m feeling more tired the effort to go for a run increases. The Matching Law helps me understand why I choose between these two responses and allocate my time to either one.