Operant Conditioning And Its Effect On Behavior

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Operant conditioning refers to the method of learning to occur through rewards and punishment for behavior (Staddon & Cerutti 2002). In the operant condition, an association occurs between the behavior and the consequences of the behavior. Behaviorist B.F Skinner coined operant conditioning, and that is why some refer to it as Skinnerian conditioning. Skinner started studying operant conditioning in the late 1920s when he was a graduate student at Harvard University. As a behaviorist B.F Skinner believes that it was obligatory to look at the internal thoughts and motivation so as to explain behavior (Staddon & Cerutti 2002). As an alternative, he did suggest that we should look only at the external and observable causes of human behavior. The characteristics of operant conditioning are that an organism may emit a particular response instead of just eliciting the response because of the external stimulus. Skinner did use the term operant in referring to any active behavior that operates on the environment so as to generate consequences (Doyle-Portillo & Pastorino 2013).
Skinner’s theory explains how we acquire different learned behavior we exhibit daily. The work of psychologists Edward Thorndike greatly influences Skinner’s theory. Thorndike proposed what he called the law of effect. According to the principle, actions followed by desirable outcomes are likely to be repeated while those followed by undesirable outcomes are not likely to be repeated. During his boyhood,

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