Operant Conditioning

Topics: Reinforcement, Experimental analysis of behavior, B. F. Skinner Pages: 1 (319 words) Published: June 28, 2011
The purpose of this essay is to describe operant conditioning and how the concept can be applied in ways not explicitly covered in the course. I will explain a factually correct definition, a theory that is most closely related to Operant Conditioning, and the methods by which B.F Skinner understood it or had studied it. Learning is a form were a individual response operates on the environment to produce a positive reinforcement or to remove a negative reinforcement, known as operant conditioning For Instance, my young cousin Diane was shopping with her father at the grocery store. As they stood in line she began to whine for candy but her father said no. Diane then began to cry and cried louder when her father continued to refuse to give her the candy. In front of the cashier, Diane the throw herself onto the floor and began screaming. Her father responded by grabbing a candy bar and giving it to her. She quickly quieted down and ate her candy bar. This happens every time she goes to the grocery store with her father. This example is operant conditioning because most of the behaviors are voluntary such as whining, temper tantrums, giving candy bars, and being quiet.

Operant conditioning was discovered in 1937 by Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990). Although Skinner’s theory was based both on reinforcement and punishment, his research focused almost entirely on reinforcement. Skinner considered punishment a relatively ineffective technique with many negative side effects. He believed that practical applications of operant conditioning should be avoided whenever possible. His primary method for studying operant conditioning was the well known piece of apparatus that he invented, which was referred to by others as the Skinner box. The purpose of the Skinner box was to study operant conditioning in rats. For instance, every time the rat pressed down on a brass lever, a food pellet dropped down a
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