PS124: Introduction to Psychology
August 27, 2013
The theory of B.F. Skinner is based upon the idea that learning is a function of change in the explicit behavior. Changes in the behavior are the result of an individual’s response to stimuli that occur in the environment. A response produces a consequence such as training a puppy, teaching a child how to walk, and getting good or bad grades. When a particular Stimulus-Response pattern is rewarded, that individual is conditioned to respond. The distinctive characteristic of Operant Conditioning relative to previous forms of behaviorism (Thorndike, Hull) is that the organism can emit responses instead of only eliciting response due to an external stimulus.
To understand positive/negative reinforcement/punishment each word must be defined precisely in its own way. Positive would mean the addition of an outside variable in correlation with a previous action, either positive or negative would be the removal of this variable. Reinforcement can be defined in rewarding or stimulating a specified behavior. Punishment would result in the action being taken to avoid a specific behavior.
Operant conditioning relies on the consequences of an exhibited behavior, and the impact the behavior has on certain learning experiences. This type of conditioning requires stimuli and reinforcers (both positive and negative) (Olsen & Hergenhahn, 2009). An example of Operant Conditioning is training a puppy how to use the bathroom outside. A positive of training a puppy is when he or she uses the bathroom outside they would get a treat. A negative of training a puppy could result in when he or she uses the bathroom inside and get locks up inside their cage with no treat. This is done because punishments or reinforcements are used to adapt or eliminate a specific behavior.
Positive punishment weakens a response by presenting something typically unpleasant after the response,...