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Our Pavlovian Preseason Pattern...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
This is kinda out there. Perhaps really out there - and will likely get me into trouble but oh well. Also, this topic seems to fit well here in the Teaching/Technical Forum since that’s where it manifests itself best.


I’ve been doing research into All Things Skiing for quite a while now. Pretty fun. Lots of forums on the Internet to review. Lots of websites with endless ski-related material to explore. And books galore of course.

Over time I’ve noticed a Commonality across many of the internet ski forums that seems quite Pavlovian in nature. Specifically, there appears to be a predictable preseason increase in participant sensitivity and aggression expressed thru Typographical Wrath on many ski forums this time of year.


Foundational Background

Pavlov's ideas were always of great interest to me. Growing up on a farm I’ve had considerable experience with dogs. All kinds of dogs over many years. As a child, I commonly got the job of feeding our many dogs. Usually all the dogs got along just fine. No real fights. No sustained arguments. Just a few growls and a bit of posturing here and there.

But - when I would approach their kennel with Food all that quickly changed:
  • With the approach of myself and the coming Bowls of Food each Dog’s demeanor would darkly descend. They would became loud and rambunctious - unyielding to any command.
  • They’d dance around in tight little circles while barking and snapping at each other. They’d jump up and down & bound all around with little regard for who or what they might be trampling upon.
  • They’d also be quite hypersensitive. When one dog would bump another during their delirious dance of anticipation the 'bumped' critter would respond way out of proportion to the accidental affront. The slightest unintended physical contact could result in snapping, snarling and a brief all-out attack. With the Approach of Food even the most mild-mannered of critters would exhibit unusually aggressive behavior.
  • This would go on until they all got sufficient Food to Eat.
  • Once the Bowls of Food were on the ground for them to Eat - a blissful silence would ensue as they would satiate themselves on their much-savored Chunky Chow. …At least until the Food was nearly gone. Then, a kind of defensive (perhaps desperate) anxiety would to develop within them.
  • With their Food quickly disappearing (and no ability to envision its future return) they would again become highly defensive and hypersensitive to inconsequential contact - snapping and snarling at any other dog who might encroach on their last nibbles of Food.
  • This strained behavior would continue until the last morsel of Food was gone from every Bowl.
  • Eventually, with all the Food gone their demeanor would return grudgingly to normal - until the next Approach of Food.
---
Reading my Foundational Background above you’ve probably already guessed where I’m going with this.

Recent (and many past) EpicSki Threads in the Teaching/Technique Forum demonstrate a similar Pavlovian Response to the coming of Snow. So much so that I’m directly reminded of those beloved critters of my past.

Without a doubt there's some kind of High-Anxiety Anticipatory Reaction by forum participants just prior to the onset of ski season (and again just prior to its expected end) where the overall tone of conversation sharply deteriorates:
  • With the approach of Winter and the coming Bowls of Deep Powder Snow our daily demeanor darkly descends. We become loud and unruly - unyielding in the positions we take.
  • We dance around direct questions in convoluted little circles while barking and snapping at the slightest dissent of others. We jump up and down & denounce all around with little regard for the ideas and opinions of others we may trample.
  • We’re also quite hypersensitive to any comment that may be taken as insult, snub or scoff. The slightest unintended tread upon our beliefs or opinions may trigger snapping, snarling and perhaps an all-out textual attack way out of proportion to the accidental affront. With the Approach of Snow even the most polite and respectful among us seem to exhibit a short fuse.
  • This seems to go on until we all get sufficient Snow to Ski.
  • Once those Bowls of Snow are on the ground for us to Ski - a blissful silence ensues as we satiate ourselves in our much-savored White Delight. ...At least until our Snow is nearly gone. Then, a kind of defensive (perhaps desperate) anxiety develops within us.
  • With our Snow quickly disappearing we again become highly defensive and hypersensitive to the comments of others - snapping & snarling at any perceived nibbling-away at our well-held beliefs and opinions.
  • This strained behavior seems to continue until the last skiable Snow is gone from every Bowl.
  • Eventually, with all the Snow gone our forum demeanor returns grudgingly to normal - until the next Approach of Snow.
Fortunately, our Bowls of Snow tend to last a bit longer than those Bowls of Food did (at least, in most years).

I'm curious, has anyone else ever noticed this weird kind of Pavlovian Pattern in our Preseason Postings? :

.ma
post #2 of 15
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Absolutely not.

YOU DON'T HAVE A CLUE.

(spoken by an Irish Wolfhound)



Fair point, actually.
post #3 of 15
Hmmmm,,,, this spunky Airedale just polished off a healthy bowl of white kibble at Loveland yesterday.

Therefore,,, WOW, Michael, great post!!
post #4 of 15
Perhaps this explains the sudden appearance of that unruly Snowdog character a couple seasons ago.
post #5 of 15
Rick,
Down boy!

Where's the bell? would that be labor day weekend?
post #6 of 15

pavlov

Pavlov showed that the Natural response-salivating for food---could be Conditioned to occur for an initially unrelated Stimulus----the bell.
In skiing, the Natural response---lets call it joy---is conditioned to occur for an initially unrelated stimulus----Skiing. ( the first time wasnt so much fun, was it
The preseason is more like fighting to see who is top dog and gets the food first when it comes.
post #7 of 15
Your description of your dogs is not a pavlovian resoponse at all. Its a social phemonemon and probably caused by poor training. As far as the hostility on the forum, again nothing to do with pavlov, more likely more people frequenting the forum since skiing is on their mind, as well as more newbs coming on asking "silly" questions getting people riled up.
post #8 of 15
I've seen jealousy do this a lot.

(ducks)
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Geeze Rick,
Talk about OneUpsManShip this time of year… I stay up until 1:40am - so you stay up until 2:17am?

Duke & Freeskier -
After having fed those critters months on end, whenever I approached the kennel they would act the same crazy way - even if it were only a single dog in there at the time (thus no social dependency). It certainly seemed like a natural (excited) response to my approach - just as carnivorous critters in the wild get all excited when an easy meal walks by. After a while, it simply didn’t matter if I had a bowl of food with me or not - the aerobic antics would begin. Didn’t happen when others approached the kennel. In my view Emotional responses are as just as physiological as Salivating.

As to forum hostility, no doubt more people frequent this place with the onset of winter. Still, much of the PreSeasonal Tussling is between regulars - those of us whose consistent postings leave an attitudinal bread-crumb trail that might make for an interesting seasonal graph. Such things may not be ‘Pavlovian’ by strict definition but they’re certainly some sort of conditioned response.

Perhaps freeskier’s own testy and ‘corrective’ response to my taking liberties with the Pavlovian Idea may be driven in part by preseasonal anxiety? Me, I’m just having fun with it.

.ma
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post
Geeze Rick,
Talk about OneUpsManShip this time of year… I stay up until 1:40am - so you stay up until 2:17am?

Duke & Freeskier -
After having fed those critters months on end, whenever I approached the kennel they would act the same crazy way - even if it were only a single dog in there at the time (thus no social dependency). It certainly seemed like a natural (excited) response to my approach - just as carnivorous critters in the wild get all excited when an easy meal walks by. After a while, it simply didn’t matter if I had a bowl of food with me or not - the aerobic antics would begin. Didn’t happen when others approached the kennel. In my view Emotional responses are as just as physiological as Salivating.

As to forum hostility, no doubt more people frequent this place with the onset of winter. Still, much of the PreSeasonal Tussling is between regulars - those of us whose consistent postings leave an attitudinal bread-crumb trail that might make for an interesting seasonal graph. Such things may not be ‘Pavlovian’ by strict definition but they’re certainly some sort of conditioned response.

Perhaps freeskier’s own testy and ‘corrective’ response to my taking liberties with the Pavlovian Idea may be driven in part by preseasonal anxiety? Me, I’m just having fun with it.

.ma
No my "testy" response is mainly because I'm an engineer, and worked at a research lab on some pavlovian projects. REEALLY interesting stuff.

As far as your dogs, there are too many variables. You said you commonly got the job of feeding them, maybe you also tended to open their cage more and give them more affection. That'd explain some of the behavior.

btw, I don't have a preseason.
post #11 of 15
No snow in the Sierras yet and the pack is beginning to organize sniffing the air to the East....
post #12 of 15
Great post and Ideas.

It has been my experience that your research is missing a critical element. You are referring to the Internet.

While valid within the ski community if you go to other types of forums you will find the same type of behavior, even when nothing anticipatory is involved.

People on the internet tend to be more picky, easily annoyed, rife to criticize, and fast to take any chance to show their prowess in any area.

It may be the anonymous factor, it may also have to do with the type of people who populate internet forums.

In reading this I find I am catagorizing myself into what you and I are both saying, so I will shut up now as I am not an expert at anything.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarzan
While valid within the ski community if you go to other types of forums you will find the same type of behavior, even when nothing anticipatory is involved.
Yep, no contest there: we humans need little reason to become unruly in person or with written text.

I don’t mean to imply a necessary cause for all the effects I described - although we may well scribble out a nasty post just because our coffee is too hot. I just see a pattern of increase at certain times of the year that decreases back to ‘normal’ when we actually get on snow. There are peaks and valleys to our tone all the time but the peaks seem higher, closer together and more sustained in the preseason.

I’d agree that anonymity probably plays a role in the extent we’re willing to step across the courtesy line - but that also improves many discussions because less assertive people may feel more at ease posting unusual ideas and perspectives.

‘Free Speech’ is often constrained more by culture and social interaction than by laws and powers-that-be. Consider the individual who posts an all-out loud & nasty response to a less-assertive dissident - it has the effect of stifling that dissident's voice because they don’t come back to hold their ground - which is exactly why the aggressor posted such an obnoxious response in the first place - to deter the dissident from continuing to dissent.


Freeskier75,
One usually equates ‘engineer’ with things mechanical, aeronautical, architectural, electronic, etc. - the realm of the inanimate. We equate the Pavlovian thing with living critters and physiology. Might I inquire on those ‘interesting Pavlovian projects’ and your own role? (but don’t tell me if you’ll just have to kill me afterward).

---
I wonder what conditioned responses we students and instructors may display when on the hill?

How about a ‘fear response’ at the top of a steep run - even though we’ve skied that run safely and easily many times before? And what of our physical response when looking favorably at a preferred run from the chair - only to hear the grinding scrape skis across ice by a descending skier?

What of the overall rate of injuries incurred on the Last-Run-of-the-Day vs. the Second-to-Last-Run? Are we really that much more tired and weak performing that single added run - or is it possible we unknowingly incur a premature ‘relaxation response’ - from knowing that we're headed in? With my own classes I now avoid telling students "This is the last run" specifically because I've seen too many Last-Run mishaps.


Our own Pack is meeting tonight, Perhaps to discuss this year’s Herding Techniques?

.ma
post #14 of 15
I worked extensively with pavlov's ideas at a biomedical research lab. Details I am not permitted to disclose.
post #15 of 15
71 degrees in PA today. I do not so much want to snap and growl as just curl up into a ball in the corner and whimper.

It'll never snow here again . . . oh no . . . precioussss is lost . . . forever . . . precioussssssssss . . . . my preciousssssss
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