Scene: Carl Rogers and Burrhus Frederic (B.F.) Skinner, probably the two most influential psychologists in the later half of the twentieth century, are somehow alive in modern day America. And best friends. They’re hanging out at a bar, where the conversation turns to Tinder.
Skinner: So I’ve been killing it on Tinder. 💪😎💪
Rogers: Go on.
Skinner: I’ve figured out the laws of pickup. Give me a woman and I’ll shape her into anything. [Sips Red Bull vodka]
Rogers: If by “pickup” you mean “being a huge creep”, sure.
Skinner: I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. So, there are two things to optimize your swipe-to-laid ratio. First point: stop acting like you know what she’s feeling… pay attention to her behavior. Remember, there’s no such thing as consciousness or “feelings”.
Rogers: Then why do I feel like throat punching you? [Takes large sip of his Manhattan]
Skinner: Funny, asshole. Second point: picking up on Tinder is all about shaping your target with the right positive or negative reinforcement. You give her attention when she does something you like, i.e. she moves closer to your bedroom. You give her less attention when she does something you don’t like, i.e. she moves away from your bedroom.
Rogers: And when do you slip them some ghb?
Rogers: LOL, seriously though bro. You don’t need these fancy schmancy tactics. The strange paradox is that when you accept yourself as as you are, women will be attracted to you. P.S. You know I love you no matter how stupid you sound. 😘
Skinner: Sure, Lennon. What is love except another name for the use of positive reinforcement?
Rogers: [Gives Skinner a bear hug] Aww, you do have fweelings. 👬
Skinner: Stop emasculating us. Look, feelings are merely epiphenomenal. When we’re unable to understand how or why the person we see behaves as he does, we attribute his behavior to some “little person” “inside” their “mind”, whatever that means. Do you even science, bro? 🤔
Rogers: Well you don’t like it when I bring up how the American Psychological Association gave me the…
Skinner: Shut up, don’t answer that.
Rogers: … Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology Award ;D
Skinner: Not true, I’m not jealous. The APA are idiots. It’s only a matter of time before society implements my philosophy. Like how people are totally just like other animals. Actually, the major difference between rats and people is that rats learn from experience.
Skinner: Haha, just kidding. But check this out. One of the things I discovered is that if I randomly (like a lottery) give my rats a food pellet after they press a lever, their response rate increases like crazy… and stays crazy. Corollary: so do women. Example: I respond to their texts randomly. Sometimes I’ll reply immediately, other times I’ll wait. Sometimes I’ll send a word. Other times I’ll write a paragraph. Keep things unpredictable… all animals love that. How do you explain that?
Rogers: Of course your techniques work. I never doubted their efficacy. I think the more important question is: how do women feel when you’re manipulating them?
Skinner: They feel great. Why else do they keep holding hands with me while naked? [Adjusts his man bun]
Rogers: That’s where I guess we’ll never see eye to eye. People are ends unto themselves. Not rats in one of your damn Skinner boxes. So here’s my theory. I’ve found the most satisfying interactions with people require three conditions. Be honest (genuineness), try to walk in their shoes (empathy), and the hardest and most important, accept people for who they are (unconditional positive regard).
Skinner: You’re so basic. That’s why you always finish last. 😂
Rogers: One of the most satisfying feelings I know—and also one of the most growth-promoting experiences for another person—comes from my appreciating another person in the same way that I appreciate a sunset. People are just as wonderful as sunsets, if I can let them be. In fact, perhaps the reason we can truly appreciate a sunset is that we can’t control it.
Skinner: You make it sound like people are in control of your their own behavior. That’s just not true. Free will doesn’t exist.
Rogers: Are you saying you don’t have any desires, wishes, dreams? WHY do you even science, bro? 🤔
Skinner: I did not direct my life. I didn’t design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That’s what life is.
Rogers: But even you say people can change their behavior by changing their environment. So we do have some control over our lives. People are naturally motivated to set and achieve goals, to master their environment, to build better relationships, to create a better world.
Skinner: Hey look! Yoko Ono is over there. Anyway, a “self” is nothing but a collection of behaviors guided by a set of rewards and punishments. Some of us learn self-control, more or less by accident. The rest of us go all our lives not even understanding how it is possible, and blame our failure on being born the wrong way.
Rogers: Whether the motivation arises from within or without, whether the environment is favorable or unfavorable, the behaviors of an organism can be counted on to be in the direction of maintaining, enhancing, and reproducing itself. This is the very nature of the process we call life. This actualizing tendency is operative at all times. Indeed, only the presence or absence of this total directional process enables us to tell whether a given organism is alive or dead.
Skinner: Well, no one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at, unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn’t die out, it’s wiped out. Holy shit, I guess we agree on something!
Rogers: Cheers to that! 🍻
Skinner: Speaking of babies… Did I ever tell you about my idea for a baby crib designed like a Skinner box?