The Mistress, from Ken Smith

September 2, 2007 |

GenniferLike elephants, humans retrace. In my 20s a lady friend, whom I had been dating for a couple of years, ended our relationship. But I kept retracing my steps to her threshold. Kept the phone line open to her abode. Wrote notes. For quite some time. Couldn't give up. Not stalking, mind you, nothing rude.She reinforced my behavior by occassionaly allowing me to seduce her. Her desire for my embrace had not burned out. I retraced to her doorstep, her phone number, again and again, sometimes to be rewarded. More often to be denied.

And it was fruitless in the long term.I look back on that and wonder about my common sense.

After March 2000 I retraced my actions in the markets, time and time again, only to be randomly rebuffed or rewarded — but mostly punished. Kept retracing the trades that had rewarded me so much for so long. I could not believe this had turned against me irrevocably.

And it was fruitless in the long term. I look back on that and wonder about my common sense.

Marion Dreyfus explains:

Intermittent reinforcement is actually more powerful than the usual normal, regular reinforcement, and explains our futile return to occasional love-objects as well as to the volatile and heartless Market Mistress. Both give us a seductive taste, then whip it away, but the chance of succeeding again is so tantalizing we hate to give up that chimera of opportunity/reward.





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