Punishing for Success?

As wearables get bigger and bigger, it seems there’s a wristband for everything. The latest is the Pavlok wristband, featured in this BuzzFeed article my sister sent me  last night – which delivers an electronic shock every time users give in to a bad habit.

Yup, you read that right.

Basically, you program the app to — in Pavlok’s words “turn your resolutions into reality.”

Who needs a personal trainer when you can zap yourself into gear?!

While this idea might work for some people, I can assure you — as someone with a history of self-punishing (specifically: if I ate to much, I would overexercise) a wristband that would buzz me when I failed/screwed up/didn’t perform would only make matters worse. Even now, fully recovered, I often have to talk myself out of overexercising when I’ve overeaten; it’s a hard mind game  to beat, and though I’m doing fine with it, I still have moments where I need to step back and reassess what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

So, for me, this wristband would be a no-no.

Like with a child, I find positive reinforcement works better than negative. This doesn’t mean I don’t put Maya on a break when she is misbehaving — of course I do — but I also make sure to reward her for good behavior, as well — be it a verbal ‘kudos,’ a hug, a special treat, or doing something special she wants to do.

I find I get much more mileage from positive reinforcement with her than negative — and it comes as little surprise. Dogs are the same — they respond better to treats than punishment. When training a puppy, for example, you reward a puppy for his/her good behavior. That’s what they remember, and they want to please you (and get a treat) so they do it again and again; it becomes habit.

Since I’m not motivated by punishment, instead of wearing a wrist-band on my arm that delivers an electric shock when I’ve been “bad,” I’d much prefer to put $1/jar per workout or something similar. I will be curious to see how this product is received when it comes to market in 2015.

How about you: Would you want a Pavlok wristband to motivate you?

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