Operant Conditioning

Topics: Reinforcement, Operant conditioning, Experimental analysis of behavior Pages: 6 (1308 words) Published: August 21, 2012
Operant Conditioning
Group C: Team C
Everest University

Identify the main theorists and their contributions.
Compare and contrast the different reinforcements of operant learning. Distinguish between continuous and intermittent schedules of reinforcement. Be able to answer: What are the benefits of using reinforcement and punishment in altering the behaviors of children?

What is Operant Conditioning?
Operant conditioning is “learning in which a voluntary response is strengthened or weakened, depending on its favorable or unfavorable consequences.” (Robert S. Feldman; Pg. 173) Key Concepts:
The Law of Effect
Operant Conditioning
Operant Conditioning and the Law of Effect:
* The principles of the operant conditioning theory began with Edward L. Thorndike’s theory of the Stimulus-Response theory (the Law of Effect). * Theory states that stimuli that are followed by the satisfaction or discomfort of a respondent makes it more likely for the situation to either increase or decrease behavior (Thorndike 1914). * Thorndike used “puzzle boxes” to observe how cats used their environments to leave the box and obtain food. (Robert S. Feldman; Pg. 174) Operant Conditioning and Skinner:

* B.F Skinner expanded on Thorndike’s theory of behavior being based on consequences. * Skinner used similar methods as Thorndike when he created what is now known as “The Skinner Box”: 1. “A highly controlled environment that was used to study operant conditioning processes.” (Robert S. Feldman; Pg. 174) 2. Differed from Thorndike’s puzzle box by having animal subjects obtain food by using the environment within the box instead of trying to get out. * Skinner introduced reinforcement into the theory of the Law of Effect and later created the newer theory of Operant Conditioning (1948). What is Reinforcement and Punishment?

Reinforcement is a process in which behavior is strengthened and increased. Punishment is a process in which behavior is weakened and decreased. Key Concepts:
Four types of reinforcers
Two types of punishers
* Reinforcers are anything “that increase the chances that a preceding behavior will occur again.” (Robert S. Feldman; Pg. 175). * Primary reinforcers – Satisfies basic needs (i.e. food, warmth). * Secondary reinforcers – Stimulus turned to a reinforcer because respondents associated it with primary reinforcers (i.e. money to buy food). * Positive reinforcers – A stimulus added to an environment that increases the response of good performance. * Negative reinforcers – An unpleasant stimulus that, when removed, will likely cause a respondent to repeat the response it took to remove the unpleasant stimulus.

* Positive punishers – Decreases the chances of repetition by adding an unpleasant situation. * Negative punishers – Decreases the frequency of an action by taking away something the respondent holds in high regards. Extinction:

* Extinction is when a particular behavior is weakened by the consequence of not experiencing a positive consequence or stopping a negative consequence. Schedules of Reinforcement
Schedules of reinforcement are plans that determine how often and how much reinforcement is given when a participant acts out a behavior that is acceptable. Key Concepts:
Continuous reinforcement schedule
Partial reinforcement schedule
Two types of fixed schedules
Two types of variable schedules
Continuous Reinforcement Schedule:
* Every instance of the behavior is reinforced often and in large amounts. 1. “It will not produce long-term changes in behavior. If only continuous reinforcement is used, once it is withdrawn, the desired behavior will also cease.” (Kerr, M.M., & Nelson, C.M. (1989). Strategies for managing behavior problems in the classroom. 2nd Ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing.)

Intermittent Reinforcement Schedule:
* Behavior is reinforced only...

References: Casey, Cooper-Brown, & Wacher (2006); Gottlieb (2004); Reed (2007); Staddon & Cerutti (2003)
Feldman, Robert S. (Robert Stephen); Essentials of Understanding Psychology; ninth ed. New York: McGraw-Hill
Kerr, M.M., & Nelson, C.M. (1989). Strategies for managing behavior problems in the classroom. 2nd Ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing.
McLeod, S. A. (2007). B.F. Skinner | Operant Conditioning. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
Skinner, B. F. (1938). The behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis. New York: Appleton-Century
Zirpoli, T.J., & Melloy, K.J. (1993). Behavior management: Applications for teachers and parents. New York: Macmillan Publishing. Retrieved from
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • operant conditioning Essay
  • Operant Conditioning and Superstition Essay
  • The Theory of Operant Conditioning Essay
  • Conditioning Procedures in Shaping Children's Behaviour Essay
  • Essay about Operant Conditioning
  • Operant Conditioning Essay
  • Essay on Operant Conditioning
  • Conditioning Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free