How I’ve Been Conditioning my Mom with Dubstep

Could this guy grow a beard or what?

Could this guy grow a beard or what?

Meet Ivan Pavlov. For those of you who don’t know, Ivan Pavlov is a Russian psychologist who is famous for conducting research with dogs, on what’s called a “conditioned response.”

Pavlov would ring a bell every time he fed the pups which would elicit an association between the sound they heard and the meal they received. He noticed that after a while when the dogs heard the bell they would begin to salivate and ready themselves for meal time even if no food was presented.

Funny things these responses – wouldn’t ya know you can condition people too.

Meet subject X:


My Mom.


Since I majored in Psychology, I decided it would only be irresponsible not to pursue it after college. And since I would be returning home and would be able to conduct my field research 24/7, subject X was the perfect candidate.

Hypothesis: By the end of Spring, I will be able to control the mood of subject X by playing 1 of 3 dupstep songs.

Independent Variable: Choice of three songs:

I love it – Icona Pop (not really dubstep at all but it’s my jam)

Sierra Leone – Mt Eden

Crave You – Flight Facilities

Dependent Variable – The state of subject X’s mood: annoyed/angry, tired, or generally good/happy

In the beginning I had to have her grow accustomed to feeling the emotion while the song was playing in order to one day, hopefully, achieve my dream.

A common encounter  follows as such:

“Hey Megan, have you seen the shirt I was planning on wearing today and don’t have time to re-accessorize before my presentation?”

“Why yes Mother dearest, I took it yesterday without asking and it was ripped off by wolves so you may be running late.”

And as I’d notice the steam rising and her face getting redder, I’d cue up Icona and start dancing wildly, innapropriately close to her face.

The seed was planted.

…I don’t care. I love it.

The experiment continued similarly along the three emotions I was hoping to manifest in subject X’s brain.

If she woke up tired I would blast Mt Eden in her face, and if she woke up excited about the day we’d rock out to “Crave You.”

This went on for about a year until one fateful morning. I was listening to Icona Pop at a screeching volume as I got ready for work and attempted to subliminally reach my sleeping mother, when all of a sudden she emerged from her bedroom scratching her head in confusion.

“What’s wrong?” I said.

“I’m really irritated and I can’t think of why… I feel like I’m missing something.”

And just as they crashed their car into the bridge and watched and let it burn, the music slowed; my heart grew louder and I realized… I had done it.

I had successfully manipulated a conditioned response of annoyance in subject X by the subconscious association with Icona Pop.

My name should be published in the Scientific Journal next to Ivan Pavlov himself.

IMG_0710 - Version 2

I’d like to thank the electronic dance music revolution for providing such quality variables for my experiment. Also, the University of Massachusetts – Amherst for their dedication in giving me such a top notch understanding of what it means to be a Psychologist. And of course subject X, without whom this experiment wouldn’t be possible.

And also, sorry I’ve been scientifically manipulating you for the past year.

Although, I think you should be thanking me for putting my higher education that you so generously paid for to good use.

Signing off,

Megan Deford, PhD in Psychological Studies and Lying



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