Sunday, May 10, 2020

The project in a nutshell

I had no idea what to write for the first post, but then I figured it probably makes sense to explain what this project is, why I'm doing it and why I'm sharing it.

It may sound extremely lame to some (although I know a lot of you reading this blog love this stuff coz you are all awesome), but I really like science. Especially when it comes to behaviour. Human or animal.

Basically: Why does that thing do that thing when these other things are happening? Or some other variation on that...


After not making the most of my time while studying for my Bachelor's and Master's (and my PGCE tbf...), I would talk to my sister - who is studying to become a doctor - and feel ENVIOUS whenever she would talk about the essays she's writing or the topics she's studying. Then, when I found out someone else I know was doing a PhD, I was like "OK. I have to find something to do"

Over the last couple of months or so, I've had a few ideas, but nothing that ever stuck.

Then, one day, while I was coming out of a low spell mentally, I realised after doing a training session with my dog (Honey), I felt happier. So I wanted to test it.

The question I will be exploring is: "Does training a dog using positive reinforcement increase overall happiness for handler?"

I will be using the Subjective Happiness Scale (Lepper & Lyubomirsky, 1999) to record my happiness at 3 points during the day. Once in the morning, once in the evening and at a random point during the day. At the same time, I will also be tracking the days that I train Honey and recording details about each training session.

Of course there are A LOT of grey areas in a study like this, and I will be doing my best to eliminate them as much as possible (any hints welcome!).

In addition to satisfying my need to get my "science on", this study also has other aims:

1. It should help improve my dog training.

Since I am doing an experiment that is focused around the use of positive reinforcement, I will need to ensure that all training sessions maintain a high standard of positive dog training. If a training session, for any reason, begins to fall away from this standard then the training will be stopped. Details will be recorded in all cases. To further help maintain a high standard, I will be planning my training sessions which should also help improve my training.

2. Encourages me to be more self aware.

Since I will be exploring my own emotions on a daily basis, this study should (by proxy) make me more self aware. Which is particularly useful since I am diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Despite that, becoming more self aware is something we should all strive for. 

So far I have sharing the early stages of this project through my Instagram (@c3dbatofficial) and a lot of you seemed pretty interested, so I thought a blog was the best way forward for this! Of course I will be still be sharing progress on my Instagram, but it won't be nowhere near as detailed than here.

So if you're interested, then keep an eye on this blog page and my Instagram as that's where I'll be sharing this stuff!

- Ce xoxo

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