Thursday, November 02, 2006

Gorillas and Bananas

The Gorillas and the Bananas Story

An experiment was conducted with four gorillas who were moved into the same cage. When the gorillas were first introduced into the environment, the experimenters would lower bananas into the centre of the cage. When the gorillas went after the food, all were hosed down with a high-pressure water hose. Even if only one went after the food, all received the same treatment.

As expected, soon the gorillas did not go after the bananas when they were lowered into the cage. Behaviour was trained and reinforced.

Now, the experimenters replaced one of the gorillas.
When the bananas were lowered into the cage, the new gorilla, of course, started toward the free meal. The other three gorillas knew what would happen, so they quickly jumped the new gorilla, keeping him from causing the dreaded response of water,

Although perplexed, the new gorilla quickly learned not to go after the food lowered into the cage, and to jump any other gorilla that did the same.

The experimenters continued by slowing replacing each gorilla one by one. The result was the same: the new one went for the food the others jumped him.

Soon the experimenters had replaced all of the four original gorillas. Keep in mind that the high-pressure water hose had not been used since the first four gorillas were together. But every time a new gorilla went for the food lowered into the cage, the others stopped him cold.

The experimenters were able to go several generations away from the original four gorillas, but still the behaviour did not change. None of the gorillas knew why they shouldn’t go for the food, but they knew what to do if any one did. It was what was done before them, and before them, and so on. A proud tradition was born.

You ever heard the response when some one asks "Why did you do that?"......

"That's the way we do things round here."

Lesson: Behaviour is learned

Acknowledgement - Stuart Emmett


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When the bananas were lowered into the cage, the new gorilla, of course, ...