|When I was growing up, there was an expression about "giving" or "earning" a "brownie point"--usually in recognition for someone doing something good or for performing a good deed. The brownie point was similar to a teacher giving a child "a gold star" for exemplary work in school. The American Heritage Dictionary defines "brownie point" and its etymology as
The idea behind a "brownie point" is that it is a symbolic or verbal "positive reinforcement." Behavioral reinforcement is a concept from old-school Behaviorist Psychology that New Wave Psychology likes to poke fun at (see the packet of "Nouveau Behaviorist REINFORCEMENTS" included in the very first issue of the New Wave Psychology Newsletter). One of the basic ideas or values of New Wave Psychology is to encourage people to initiate their own creative actions vs. merely analyzing and responding to the reinforcement contingencies in their environment (i.e., to act vs. respond).
Giving people an opportunity to creativity use and hand out a "brownie point"--as well as the potential to stimulate a creative response to receiving a brownie point--seemed to perfectly exemplify the kind of simple, creative and social "game" that I wanted New Wave Psychology to aspire to. The brownie point on a piece of paper has always been one of my favorite creations and games.
First version of the "brownie point" created circa 1981.
© 2005 Allen Bukoff & FLUXUS Midwest