Operant Conditioning Paper

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Operant Conditioning Paper

Christina Ewing


January 21, 2012
Esther Siler Colbert

Operant Conditioning Paper

The theory of operant conditioning was thought of by B.F. Skinner. Skinner came up with this theory based on the work of Thorndike (1905). The theory of operant conditioning states that organisms learn to act or behave in a way which obtains or gets a reward yet avoids a punishment. It is an instrumental type of conditioning. Type R conditioning is also known as operant conditioning. Type R conditioning is shown by the response rate. Type S conditioning is determined by the amount of the conditioned response. Skinners R conditioning is similar to Thorndike’s instrumental conditioning, and Skinners S conditioning is very similar to Pavlov’s classical conditioning (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009). The focus in operant conditioning is on a behavior and the consequences surrounding that behavior. The organism must behave in a way to cause stimulus reinforcement. This is also known as contingent or dependent reinforcement because getting the reinforcement or reward is based on a particular behavior or performance by the organism. An example of this would be, if a dog wants a treat, he must do a new trick hew has been taught. Positive reinforcements are those which cause a behavior to be repeated. An example would be a child crying at night (when they should be sleeping) and knowing that when he or she cries someone will come. This may be a positive reinforcement for the young child or baby because the child is being comforted and getting attention like he or she wants whenever they cry. The positive reinforcement is the person coming. On the other hand it could be negative for the person getting awakened. They do not want to have to get up in the middle of the night. They may eventually just let the child self soothe. Then eventually the person, if he or she decided not to respond to the child would not come anymore....
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