Conditioning Procedures in Shaping Children's Behaviour

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2. A child is repeatedly exhibiting inappropriate and unwanted behaviour (e.g. hitting sibling), which conditioning procedures could be used to most effectively stop this? Behaviours that produce favourable consequences are repeated and become habits, but those that produce unfavourable consequences tend not to recur (Ouellette and Wood, 1998 as cited in Martin, 2006). Experience changes the probability of repeating certain behaviours indicating that learning involves adaptation. As time goes on, old behaviours are eliminated and new behaviours are learned. Pavlov discovered and formalized many of the most important laws of classical behaviour, B.F.Skinner (1938) investigated and formalized may of the basic laws of operant behavior. (Sheppard & Willoughby, 1975). Habituation and classical conditioning taught us the stimuli in the environment where we learn to ignore unimportant stimuli and learn those that predict occurrence of the important ones. (Martin, 2006). Operant conditioning involves the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behaviour. Operant conditioning was first discovered by Edward L. Thorndike where he placed a hungry cat in a small chamber called puzzle box with food placed outside as a stimuli where the car need to performed an appropriate response to open the door of the puzzle box. The cat become less random and more efficient until it open the latch without hesitation after several random attempt. Thorndike called this relation between a response and its consequences the law of effect. (Martin, 2006). Although Thorndike discovered the law of effect, B.F Skinner was the one who brought the study of operant conditioning into the lab and devised objective methods for studying human behaviour. He invented the operant chamber which is also known as the Skinner box where animal’s behaviour can be easily observed, manipulated, and automatically recorded. Operant conditioning allows us to learn association between behaviour and outcome. It teaches children to modify their behaviour to maximise the possible rewards they can get and taught them to learn from previous experience. When a child is repeatedly exhibiting inappropriate and unwanted behaviour, operant conditioning can be used to correct the behaviour of the child. There are four basic principles used in the operant conditioning, which can be described as positive reinforcement (reward), negative reinforcement (escape), punishment and omission. (Rachlin, 1976) Positive reinforcement and punishments referred as environmental events that may affect on individuals. Reinforcement Is neither an environmental nor a behavioural event but a relationship between two which tends to increase responding by either positive or negative means. Whereas punishment is a relationship that tends to decrease responding by either positive or negative means. Operant behaviour is modified by its consequences and the consequences which modify behaviour are called reinforcers. Consequences Positive reinforcement is where there is an increase in the frequency of response behaviour that is regularly and reliably followed by a positive stimulus. Positive reinforcement can also be considered in terms of reward. The principle of reward was stated in Thorndike’s “law of effect” – a reward tends to increase the probability that the response to which it is related will recur. (Rachlin, 1976) The effect of the reward will be pleasant and reinforce the behaviour of children. For example candy or attention can serve as rewards for children if they behave properly. This might encourage them to stop the inappropriate behaviour as behaving properly will give them something nice. Negative reinforcement involves the avoidance of an aversive stimulus, also known as escape. Negative reinforcement work in two ways, either it decreases the frequency of occurrence of operant behaviour that it follows or it increases the frequency of...
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