Modern Welfare: Differential Reinforcement of Dependent Behavior

Modern Welfare: Differential Reinforcement of Dependent Behavior

As a practicing psychologist I commonly encounter clients who are on various welfare programs. Many, not all, are certain to remain on welfare for a very long time…even a life-time.

Many need this support, some could get schooling and eventually work (but most just talk about it), a few are blatantly scamming the welfare system and working tax payers.

When any society gives people significant amounts of money and other material benefits for doing nothing, the Laws and Principles of Psychology dictate that increasing proportions of the population will become dependent upon such hand-outs. In more technical terms if you provide individuals with positive reinforcement contingent upon doing nothing, they will learn to do nothing…other than engage in frivolous forms of self-stimulation and become dependent upon governmental “non-contingent” reinforcement.

You may wish to see an earlier blog that I did on this topic: “Don’t Feed the Animals: It Will Make Them Dependent”.

A recent report by the Cato Institute has demonstrated, that in many states, those who receive full welfare benefits will actually make more than those working for minimum wage. Even for those who do not make more than those who work, the additional hassles and costs (child care, clothes, transportation, and inconvenience), make it likely that they will choose to remain on welfare and not go to work.

The 1996 work-requirements that became a part of America’s welfare system has generally become increasingly lenient with many exemptions now available. The results of this administrative back-sliding are perfectly predictable.

Psychology’s Law of Effect states that consequences control behavior…What more do you need to know?

The following Cato Institute article is short and clear. I hope you will read it  and it on to others.

VTM,  3/20/14

P.S. Thanks to Lee Hornack for informing me of this article.

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