Golf Addiction


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Apr 12, 2012
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Many years ago, the Father of Behavioral Psychology, one B.F. Skinner (not unanimously accepted as such), sought to answer the question of why we behave as we do - actually, why all living creatures behave as they do, including humans.

He famously introduced the "Skinner box," which was a tool for observing and impacting certain behaviors, in furtherance of his studies. Most famously, the box contained a button, set in a position where a subject pigeon could peck at it easily. Pecking is natural pigeon behavior; they peck at everything, constantly.

Skinner set up the box so that, initially, when the pigeon pecked the button, it would get a small morsel of food. It took a while, but eventually the bird made the association between pecking the button and getting food; predictably, the pigeon would start pecking that button all the time. So Skinner modified the programming of the button so that it had to be pecked twice in order for the food to come out. Then three times, and on and on.

Skinner discovered that the pigeon would soon figuratively say, "Fuck it," and move on. Too many pecks required.

But Skinner was smarter than the bird. He began changing the number of pecks that were required to get the food. First it would be a single peck. Then two. Then 5. Then 2. Then 10. And so on. Skinner found that he could get the damn pigeon to peck that button hundreds of times for a single pellet of food, if conditioned gradually over time. It's called "Intermittent Reinforcement."

And there you have it.

For the average (bad) golfer, hitting an excellent golf shot gives a figurative shot of dopamine (pleasure). And because there is no telling when a good shot will come again - it might be on the next shot and it might not occur for another week - the golfer will keep coming back in the hope of experiencing that same pleasure from another good shot. And the day after the round in question, the golfer may vaguely remember all the terrible shots he hit - especially the REALLY terrible shots - but he will vividly recall the excellent shots and after a while that's all he remembers about that round.

That's why bad golfers keep coming back. Same for bowling. And I suppose it's the same for gambling.


Award Winning USMB Paid Messageboard Poster
Gold Supporting Member
Aug 4, 2009
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I agree with your view on golf

I can hit two amazing shots and ten stinkers
At the end of the day, I only remember the amazing ones

Natural Citizen

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Aug 8, 2016
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I can't hit the long irons worth a darn. Everything else I'm okay swingin. I left my good pitching wedge in a pond downstate a few years ago, but think I was drunk at the time. I'm pretty sure I was. I kept trying to pop it over the ponsd and land it softly on the green, but it kept landing in the pond just short of the green. Think I lost a sleeve and a half of brand new Callys on that one hole.

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