Pavlovian influences

I was sitting, enjoying my first cup of tea this morning when my mobile ‘phone let me know I’d had a message.  Immediately, an image of a person popped into my head and I was suddenly aware that I always associate that particular notification with this particular person.  And it got me thinking …. as many things do, about how this was just as good an example of learned behaviour, as the experiments that Pavlov did with his dogs.

Those of you that aren’t sure what I’m talking about, Ivan Pavlov was experimenting during the 1890’s with what he termed “conditional reflexes”, that is those reflex responses that only occur conditionally based on a ‘specific’ previous experience of the animal, in this case he associated the sound of a bell ringing with the provision of food.  Every time the bell rang, the dogs salivated, even when food wasn’t presented simply because they had associated the sound with the action.  You can read more at here at wikipedia if you like.

Anyway, I digress.  As I continued musing on the fact that the ring tone always made me think about a particular person, I realised that this happens a lot in life.  I know, I can be slow sometimes and I’ve heard this a million times before, but it is essentially the same information that is shared in The Secret and every other tome on changing your thought patterns.  I realised that most of my thoughts are automatic and dependent upon a specific stimuli that triggers them, therefore to change the way I think I need to take action that helps me to prevent the trigger having the automatic effect, to that end ……. I changed my ring tone – job done!

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  1. Hi Linda,

    Very interesting post! I think that noticing automatic thinking is the first step to learning not to interrupt that pathway. To take it out to the edge, I’ve recently been reading about what may happen to us after death. The old adage ‘you can’t take it with you’ applies to everything which exists in our physical world, including money. It seems, though, that what we might take with us is our thinking. So it may pay us dividends to exercise our ability to think with a purpose, as perhaps we will take that with us.
    Interestingly WordPress has provided its own example of its automated ‘thinking’ by listing a possibly related post entitled ‘Cute Pet of the Week’ because you mentioned dogs (which made me laugh). Let’s resist this automated thinking and keep it human where we can!
    Anne x
    PS Any chance of a more cheerful theme? This one automatically makes me think of black clouds 😉