Psychology 1010 W1 Summer III
Mr. Byrne can't understand why scolding his seventh-grade students for disruptive classroom behaviors makes them more unruly. Explain Mr. Byrne's predicament in terms of operant conditioning principles. Show how he could use operant conditioning techniques to (a) reduce disruptive behaviors and (b) increase cooperative behaviors.
Answer: Mr. Byrne is having difficulty with his students because he is trying to get them to stop disruptive behavior by using a punisher. By doing this he is actually diminishing the behavior that he wants which are the students to behave. In order for him to be successful in terms of operant conditioning principles he needs to strengthen their behavior by using a reinforcer. If he were to use a shaping technique which he would use a reinforcer i.e. candy to guide the children’s actions until the desired behavior is achieved. This is referred to as positive reinforcement, where you are increasing a behavior by presenting a positive stimulus thereby strengthning the response. Mr. Bryne can change his approach by using food/candy as a positive reinforcer, using the candy to get the children to settle down they will stay settled rather than him scolding them.
B.F. Skinner’s experiments on modern behavior are the basis for the experiment on shaping with reinforcers. He used rats and used food to guide the rats until they touched the bar. Skinner would wait until they moved, the rats realized they would only be rewarded with movement kept moving until they did the desired action (touch the bar) then they were rewarded with the food.
(Information gathered from p 236-238 of Exploring Psychology eighth edition)