Cues or Commands? What’s the Difference?

green-lightOkay, here it is.  Semantics, Part II.  😀

Cues.  Commands.  What’s the difference and who cares?

The definition of the word “cue”:
1. Anything said or done, on or off stage, that is followed by a specific line or action;
2. Anything that excites to action; stimulus.

In some analogies, a “cue” is the green light signaling to the learner that now is the time to perform that behavior because it will get reinforced this time.

The definition of the word “command”:liontamer

Verb (used with object)
1. to direct with specific authority or prerogative; order: The captain commanded his men to attack.
2. to require authoritatively; demand: She commanded silence.
3. to have or exercise authority or control over; be master of; have at one’s bidding or disposal: The Pharaoh commanded 10,000 slaves.
4. to deserve and receive (respect, sympathy, attention, etc.): He commands much respect for his attitude.
5. to dominate by reason of location; overlook:  The hill commands the sea.
6. to have authority over and responsibility for (a military or naval unit or installation); be in charge of

Verb without an object:
7. to issue an order or orders.
8. to be in charge; have authority.
9. to occupy a dominating position; look down upon or over a body of water, region, etc.

10. the act of commanding or ordering.
11. an order given by one in authority: The colonel gave the command to attack.
12. Military:
an order in prescribed words, usually given in a loud voice to troops at close-order drill: The command was “Right shoulder arms!”.
b.  the order of execution or the second part of any two-part close-order drill command, as face in Right face!
(initial capital letter) a principal component of the U.S. Air Force:  Strategic Air Command.
body of troops or a station, ship, etc., under a commander.
13. the possession or exercise of controlling authority: a lieutenant in command of a platoon.
14. expertise; mastery: He has a command of French, Russian, and German.
15. British. a royal order.
16. power of dominating a region by reason of location; extent of view or outlook: the command of the valley from the hill.

Note that the word “command” has a hint of threat in it.  As in, “If you don’t do what I command, I will do something you don’t like.”

But a cue is simply a signal to go.  If you do what the cue suggests, you’ll get reinforced.  If you don’t, you won’t.  But there won’t be any escalating pressure to MAKE you do it.  Have fun.  Get reinforced.  Repeat.

Give cues, not commands.  Have fun!Lion Ate Tamer



About Laurie Higgins

I play with clicker training - with my horses, dogs, and cats. I also attempt to grow vegetables with the hope of one day being able to feed my family from my garden. My daughter and I are learning ballroom dancing. Well, we were. But she left me for a paying horse job, so now my husband and I are learning ballroom dancing. I'm also now helping Peggy Hogan, of Clicker Training Horses (and The Best Whisper is a Click) to teach people how to train their own horses using "clicker training".
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