The New Hell

More Devil chicken.

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13 Responses to The New Hell

  1. David says:

    To be a complete pedant – the old hell is about “positive punishment” (inflicting noxious stimuli to discourage undesired behaviour) rather than “negative reinforcement” (the removal of noxious stimuli as a reward for desired behaviours.

  2. Natalie says:

    I am a psychology teacher and I love Savage Chickens. I have often used your cartoons in my lessons as you seem to have a bit of a thing for psychology.

    As much as I love this cartoon, I’m afraid there has been a grave misuse of the term “negative reinforcement”. Negative reinforcement refers to the removal of an unpleasant stimulus in order to bring about a behaviour change (e.g. a child getting out of washing the dishes because they have eaten all their vegetables).

    The use of an unpleasant stimulus (such as fire and brimstone)in order to reduce unwanted behaviour is called “positive punishment”.

    However, I am well aware that “positive punishment” would not have made as good a punch line as “negative reinforcement”, but my inner teacher can’t help but point out misuses of psychological terminology!

    Maybe, the negative reinforcement could refer to the removal of fire and brimstone upon a desired change of behaviour? Although this would be a rather different version of hell than we are used to!

    Love your work Doug! A long time fan.

  3. Patrick says:

    Funny cartoon! But isn’t it supposed to be “old positive punishment hell”? #nerding

  4. well then says:

    I GET IT! The chicken in this case is a psychologist and the Devil is tormenting her by misusing “negative reinforcement”!

    Haha… Doug, your readership seems well-educated.

    Just to add my own explanation. It’s actually two separate dimensions: Positive vs. Negative and Reinforce vs. Punish–

    Positive = ADD a stimulus
    Negative = SUBTRACT a stimulus

    Reinforcement = Encourage a behavior
    Punishment = Discourage a behavior

    You can have any of the 4 combinations.

    • Natalie says:

      And don’t forget vicarious learning too!

      I do like your explanation of misusing psychological terms as being a torture device for psychology nerds. I get the same reaction when people talk about the subconscious when they mean the unconscious!

    • David says:

      A hell for nitpickers! Of course. Next the devil will use “disinterested” when he means “uninterested”, put the ice cream in a basket with “10 items or less” and put apostrophes in inappropriate place’s!

  5. Doug says:

    Thank you all for catching this mistake! I’ve always had trouble with those distinctions, even back when I was studying psychology, but I really should have remembered because everybody corrected me the last time I did a negative reinforcement comic! 🙂

    But, like Natalie says, “positive punishment” just doesn’t sound as good as a punchline – maybe because the pop culture idea of negative reinforcement doesn’t jibe with the real thing?

    • Doug says:

      Come to think of it, Devil Chicken should’ve just said “Oh no, that was the old Hell. We only use positive reinforcement now.” hmmm maybe I’ll change it! 🙂

      • Natalie says:

        No! Don’t change it for the sake of us few nerdy psychologist nitpickers! Negative Reinforcement just sounds funnier!

  6. Wildbird says:

    But the smell of brimestones still there

  7. willwot says:

    Doug was put to the grindstone by nerdy psychologist nitpickers . . . positive or negative . . . Heaven or Hell . . . goodness gracious the ramifications for one little cartoon . . .

  8. John says:

    Actually, the ice cream is made of lava…

  9. Tony McGurk says:

    Reading all the comments I’m just all confused now. Perhaps I should just take a Xanax & go lie down for a while. Now I’m wondering it that would be a negative or positive way to self medicate…

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