The other night, I found myself in a bar, drinking a pint of Blue Moon, chatting with a drummer. He started explaining to me why he loves playing music as much as he does.
"There's just nothing like the high you get from playing good music, when you and the other band members are really on, and the crowd is really into it, you just get that great high, you know? But it's not always there, you don't always get that high, sometimes you're on and you get it, and sometimes you don't. You can always get a high from drugs or good sex, but the high from playing music, you don't know when you're gonna get it or not, so you keep on playing." Sipping beer, "Not that I do a lot of drugs or anything."
You have no idea how hard it was for me to not respond, "That's because you're being rewarded on a variable ratio schedule*, which is the most powerful schedule of behavioral reinforcement. Sex and drugs are reinforcing on a continuous schedule, meaning that you will always get that same high from those activities. But the fact that you sometimes get the high from playing music and sometimes you don't, and the unpredictability of receiving that high, causes you to continue to play music, each time hoping that you will receive that pleasurable high." Sipping beer, "This is a fascinating example of the operant paradigm at work." Throwing back a shot, "It's science, man." (Ok, I don't actually take shots, it just seemed like a good dramatic flourish for this story.)
People like me should not be allowed in bars.
*Note: This is probably why I'm addicted to the internet.