Behaviorism dies last

We need to make a bunch of hammocks.  The problem is we are a bit out of practice and several of our key hammocks makers are missing in action.

The community was founded along behaviorist principals.  The inspirational work Walden Two described a place where an interlocking system of rewards gently conditioned members into good behaviors.  And thus a fictional utopia was created.  The founders of Twin Oaks found this an inspiring model and tried to build something in this image.  The problem of course is the book is science fiction and is not actually an effective blue print.  For example, work quota in the book is 24 hours a week, but nowhere in the book do they say how the community makes any income.  Here on the commune we need to do 42 hours a week to make our internal economics work.  And in the early days we worked 49 hours a week.

But this was only the beginning of the problems.  It turned out that as a core value, behaviorism was less important than other things we wanted to promote, specifically egalitarianism and non-violence.  The flavor of egalitarianism which favors equal distribution of resources runs quickly afoul of the behaviorist tool of using rewards to inspire people to do things.  And while most behaviorists avoid the use of punishments to alter behavior, non-violence (including psychological violence) blocks most punitive measures.

So after about 7 years most of the behaviorist aspects of the original design faded away.  No longer did we give extra labor credits for doing unpopular jobs (turns out once you get past a population of about 40 people there are no universally unpopular jobs).  We found that even the smallest reward caused labor to flock to an unpopular job and even very small reductions in payment for popular work caused our volunteer labor to flee from it.  So we were pushed into the desirable philosophical position that all work should be evaluated the same.

And behaviorism is powerful.  Right now there is a push by both some of the community planners and the Econ Team to raise quota if we dont make our hammocks goals.  This is both unpopular and historically quite effective.  So effective in fact that simply the threat of raising quota gets people into the hx shop and keeps us mostly making our goals and not raising quota.  And it is coercive.   Behaviorism trumps non-violence.  Stay tuned.