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By BeckyField Nov 18, 2013 1159 Words

Becky Field PS124: Psychology November 24th, 2013
Operant Conditioning

Also called instrumental learning, operant conditioning is a kind of learning in which a person or animal modifies behavior as a result of behavioral consequences. Unlike classical conditioning (which is largely passive), during operant conditioning what one does (one's "operation") affects outcomes. For example, one might earn praise through hard work, a child receives praise for getting good grades in school; doing chores around the house. Consequences that strengthen a behavior are instances of positive reinforcement, including praise and treats. Negative reinforcement such as: removing privileges from a child with bad behavior, or a boss that docks your pay because you’re late; weakens behavior, making it less likely to occur. Extinction occurs when a behavior produces no consequence; for example, raccoons might stop raiding garbage cans if they find nothing to eat in them. Some psychologists, notably behaviorists, explain behavior through operant conditioning; its principles are also used in fields such as education and animal training. This method was popular with my mom and dad, when my sister and I were growing up. Whether it was doing chores around the house, getting good grades in school, or going out for extracurricular activities, they were always right there behind us; encouraging us to aim higher, to do better or praising us for our efforts and having the courage to try. Another thing they were very big on was respect, and treating others how we would like to be treated. When we were caught doing otherwise, they were all too happy to show us the right way.

Positive Punishment

Positive punishment is a concept used in B. F. Skinner's theory of operant conditioning. The goal of punishment is to decrease the behavior that it follows. In the case of positive punishment, it involves presenting an unfavorable outcome or event following an undesirable behavior. The concept of positive punishment can difficult to remember, especially because it seems like a contradiction. How can punishment be positive? The easiest way to remember this concept is to note that it involves an aversive stimulus that is added to the situation. For this reason, positive punishment is sometimes referred to as punishment by application. Examples of Positive Punishment:

1. You wear your favorite baseball cap to class, but are spoken to by your instructor for violating your school's dress code.

2. Because you're late to work one morning, you drive over the speed limit through a school zone. As a result, you get pulled over by a police officer receive a ticket, and get your pay docked, as well verbally warned by your boss.

3. You’re grounded and cell phone privileges suspended because of bad grades or failure to adhere to the rules at home; this is especially traumatizing for a teenager.

Negative Punishment

Negative punishment is an important concept in B. F. Skinner's theory of operant conditioning. In behavioral psychology, the goal of punishment is to decrease the behavior that precedes it. In the case of negative punishment, it involves taking something good or desirable away in order to reduce the occurrence of a particular behavior. One of the easiest ways to remember this concept is to note that in behavioral terms, positive means adding something while negative means taking something away. For this reason, negative punishment is often referred to as punishment by removal.

Examples of Negative Punishment:
1. I never was really that good at sharing when I was a kid. When my sister would try to use my stuff or maybe a new toy my parents had gotten me, I would usually end up having it taken away from me because I didn’t want to share. She always broke my stuff why would I? 2. When my sister or I would stay out past curfew, or end up somewhere where we weren’t supposed to be, we usually ended up grounded

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement works by presenting a motivating/reinforcing stimulus to the person after the desired behavior is exhibited, making the behavior more likely to happen in the future. One of the examples I would like to choose for positive reinforcement hasn’t happened yet, but I wanted to use it any way. There are days when the work load seems a little overwhelming and often question myself but then, I think about at the end of it all, in September, 2014, I will be standing there with a degree in my hand because of determination and hard work, that’s my positive reinforcement.

Examples of Positive Reinforcement:
1. A child receiving an allowance for doing chores around the house. 2. An adult receiving a raise at work for all their hard work.

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement occurs when a certain stimulus (usually an aversive stimulus) is removed after a particular behavior is exhibited. The likelihood of the particular behavior occurring again in the future is increased because of removing/avoiding the negative consequence. Negative reinforcement should not be thought of as a punishment procedure. With negative reinforcement, you are increasing a behavior, whereas with punishment, you are decreasing a behavior. When thinking about reinforcement, always remember that the end result is to try to increase the behavior, whereas punishment procedures are used to decrease behavior. For positive reinforcement, think of it as adding something positive in order to increase a response. For negative reinforcement, think of it as taking something negative away in order to increase a response.

Examples of Negative Reinforcement:
1. My son Steven doing chores around the house to avoid me nagging. 2. I remember when I was a kid, whenever something new was put on the table I was never permitted to get up from the table until I at least tried it. Imposes on freewill. The control and manipulation of rewards in order to change behavior is considered unethical by some. The best interest of the individual is not always considered when the reinforcement strategy is implemented. The above methods may improve one’s behavior, but may not improve the situation for the adult or child through personal or professional growth. The second ethical consideration is that of potential manipulation. When the desired behaviors are set in place by parents, teachers, bosses, etc… the child or adult may feel as though they have little or no choice but to follow the behaviors suggested by others.

Cherry, K. (n.d.). Negative Punishment. Retrieved from Cherry, K. (n.d.). Positive Punishment: Definition and Examples. Retrieved from Prince, K. (2013, February 5). The Difference between Positive/Negative Reinforcement and Positive/Negative Punishment | Behavior Analysts Tampa: ABA Therapy, Autism, Behavior Problems, ADHD/Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from

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