Compare and Contrast Reinforcement Approaches

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Compare and Contrast Reinforcement Approaches

There are many theories as to how to reinforce or change behavior. This paper will compare two of the theories, and will discuss which one is better. According to Skinner, one way of reinforcing behavior is through operant conditioning. In this type of reinforcement, a positive or negative stimulus is introduced in the environment to a given response to reinforce the action. For example, if a child cleans his room, he is given his allowance; otherwise the parents confiscate his allowance. There are four factors that will affect operant conditioning – satiation, immediacy, consistency and size. (Coon, Talbot, & Vanchella, 2010, pp. 226) Another way of reinforcing behavior is through setting goals. Setting a goal is a powerful motivator as it helps many to receive appropriate feedback. However, research indicates that goals should be clear and challenging in order to be considered motivating. Goals should be also be agreeable to everyone and everyone should be committed to them. There should also be appropriate feedback so that the behavior can change accordingly. Lastly, if the task is too complex, then appropriate time should be allowed to learn the skill. (MindTools)

Both these approaches are similar in the sense that they rely on feedback to alter their behavior. However, they’re different in the sense that operant conditioning relies on external stimulus, while goal setting emphasizes on internal stimulus. Goal setting requires that the goals be made by the individual setting the goal, and the person must be able to accept the goal wholeheartedly. I believe that goal setting theory is a better way to modify behavior as research shows that intrinsic motivation is better than extrinsic motivation. By setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed) goals, each team can motivate itself to work towards the goal. Operant conditioning is a carrot-stick approach which will not be able to...
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