Operant Conditioning and Skinner's Method

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Operant Conditioning Introduction Operant conditioning is also referred to as 'instrumental conditioning' and is reported as a "method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior." (Cherry, 2007) Operant conditioning was first examined by B.F. Skinner, a behaviorist and this is why it is referr3ed to as 'Skinnerian conditioning'. (Cherry, 2007) Skinner held that "internal thoughts and motivations could not be used in explaining behavior and that human behavior could be explained both by internal and external factors. I. Examples of Operant Conditioning Examples of Operant conditioning can be found in all areas of life such as children who complete homework and earn a reward from their parents or teacher or employees who complete projects and receive promotions or raises in pay. Cherry (2007) states that the promise of the rewards results in an increase in a specific behavior or alternatively the decrease in a specific and undesired behavior. Operant conditioning involves a voluntary response being followed by a reinforcing stimulus and a reinforcer is stated to be any stimulus that increases the behavior's frequency. In order to be a reinforce stimuli the stimuli is required to follow the response immediately and must be understood as being contingent upon the response. II. Components of Operant Conditioning The components of operant
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