Positive And Negative Reinforcement

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When teaching a child to complete a task, questions of motivation and reinforcement surface often during the process. Discovering stimuli that are reinforcing enough to change future behavior and responding is an important process in Applied Behavior Analysis. The effectiveness of reinforcement depends on the existing level of motivation for the reinforcement (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007). In other words, for stimulus change to function as reinforcement, the subject must already want it (Cooper & Heron & Heward, 2007). Positive and negative reinforcement are the most important principles behavior analysts use to manipulate behavior (Vollmer & Hackenberg, 2001). As many studies have shown, the most complex behaviors can be modified and maintained by reinforcement contingencies (Vollmer & Hackenber, 2001). Delivery of contingent reinforcement depends on the occurrence of a given response requirement (Vollmer, Hackenberg, 2001). Before an analyst can start in any observation or experiment, a reinforcement assessment must be conducted in order to discover which reinforcers will be likely to reinforce appropriate responding and behavior. Reinforcer assessments determine whether or not a stimulus is, in fact, a reinforcer (Flint, 2011). Effective reinforcers found in an experimental setting may be used in applied setting to promote skill acquisition (Flint, 2011). One of the most commonly used types of reinforcers by behavior analysts is social reinforcement (Vollmer &
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