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B. F. Skinner's Operant Conditioning Theory

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What is the operant conditioning theory? The operant conditioning theory supports the idea that learning is responsible for the change in behavior. One of the most widely known operant conditioner is B. F. Skinner. He believed that the essential learning principles in operant conditioning are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. According to (Troutman & Alberto, 2017), B.F. Skinner began testing this theory by working on animals, preferably white rats and sometimes pigeons. In 1963, Skinner explained while he was in the military, “he and his colleagues began to train the pigeons to perform various behaviors” (Troutman & Alberto, 2017). This began Skinner’s preliminary approach to studying human behavior. My goal is to briefly describe the operant conditioning theory, the theorist B.F. Skinner and his beliefs, and then connect how my case study is related.

There are four essential learning principles: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. “Positive reinforcement describes a functional relation between two environmental events: a behavior and a consequence” (Troutman & Alberto, 2017). Behavior is learned with the assistance of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcements can be anything from “a mother gives her son praise (reinforcing stimulus) for doing homework (behavior)” to “a father gives his daughter candy (reinforcing stimulus) for cleaning up toys
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