The Premack principle can make the lockdown more bearable for several reasons. First, because it is an ideal psychological tool to improve productivity and establish better behavioral patterns. Second, because it can be applied to countless areas of your life.
In this exceptional situation we are in now, many people make an effort to do many different things every day. On social media, you are likely to see friends, acquaintances, and influencers doing sports, cooking, or studying, among many other activities.
Obviously, each of us is dealing with the lockdown differently. Everyone uses their time as they see fit. It is just as permissible to take a nap as it is to redecorate your house five days a week. During this quarantine, the Premack principle is therefore both interesting and useful. Keep reading to find out why!
The Premack principle can make the lockdown more bearable
Before we delve deeper into the reasons why the Premack principle can make lockdown more bearable, let’s clarify what this theory is all about and where it comes from. This approach is inspired by the operant or instrumental conditioning of psychologist BF Skinner.
The ideas are based on a simple premise: people and animals do or stop doing things based on a psychological dimension that motivates them or makes that behavior disappear.
Here’s an example. “I stopped studying German because I was bored. Now I spend more and more time on different streaming platforms because I like TV series.”
Well, something that the Premack principle tries to do is make our motivated behavior act like an impulse so that we can make less interesting things happen as well.
In other words, I could use my love for series as a reward mechanism to study German every day. This technique is often used to modify behavior and even to treat addictions or phobias. Below you will discover the ways in which the Premack principle can make the lockdown more bearable.
The Premack Principle for Organizing Time and Creating Routines
One of the recommendations to manage the quarantine is the need to establish routines. You should try to organize your time to ensure that you have enough time for both your obligations and leisure activities.
The Premack Principle can make quarantine more bearable if you organize your schedule by alternating motivational and positive tasks with other tasks that you dislike. For example, you may feel apathetic one day when you wake up. When this happens, you may not want to do chores.
In this case, according to the Premack principle, it would be best to start with the activity you don’t feel like doing, knowing that if you spend an hour and a half on that task, you’ll be able to watch the next season of TV. series you’re addicted to watching.
The same applies if you work from home. Although you have to start the day with work, you can promise yourself that in a few hours you will take a short break and do something more fun.
The Premack Principle and Food
During quarantine, it is very likely that you will start snacking on unhealthy foods and not paying attention to what you eat. You start eating unhealthy snacks that help relieve your anxiety.
The Premack principle can then make this period more bearable and can be very helpful in your eating habits. Here’s an example, whenever you’re hungry or want a snack, do the following.
- Grab an apple and also the snack you really wanted to eat (a brownie for example).
- Then eat the less appealing snack (the apple) first and then the other.
- In this case, and given the fact that apples are quite filling, it’s very likely that you won’t feel like eating the other snack anymore.
Making the quarantine with children more bearable
The Premack principle can also make quarantine with our children more bearable. It will help them achieve more with their schoolwork. Here’s how this works.
Children have an attention span of about 40 to 45 minutes. It is therefore best to start the day with the tasks they hate the most or find the most difficult (arithmetic for example). However, they can do it knowing that after 45 minutes they can take a break and do something fun for a few minutes.
It is best to focus on academic activities in the morning and leisure activities in the afternoon. Between those morning work hours, you can allow them to do short activities that they enjoy.
As you have seen, this strategy is based on the use of positive reinforcers. During the lockdown this could be exactly what we need. Try it out today!