The Theory of Operant Conditioning

1136 WordsOct 6, 20145 Pages
The Theory of Operant Conditioning PSY390 October 6, 2014 Introduction The study of human behavior by psychologists such as B.F. Skinner, Edward Thorndike, Ivan Pavlov, and Watson is fascinating. These five psychologists each have different theories on human behavior. There are similarities and differences in each of the theories. Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning theory, studied animals and formed the basis for behavioral psychology (Cherry, 2013). Edward Thorndike’s theory of connectionism consisted of studying the learning process of behavior in animals. His studies also included problem solving, administering and evaluating tests and law of effect, the bases for Operant Conditioning. John B. Watsons…show more content…
Skinner (2011), “It has long been known that behavior is affected by its consequences. We reward and punish people, for example, so that they will behave in different ways” (para.1). Effective Reinforcement Although operant conditioning uses positive and negative reinforcers to modify behavior, it is important to understand which of the two is most effective. Negative and positive reinforcers are applied not only in psychological studies, but in everyday life. Negative reinforcement modifies behavior by removing an unpleasant or adverse stimulus. Positive reinforcement is the least effective type of reinforcement. An example is an individual that drinks alcohol to excessive amounts, frequently, or goes to nightclubs and bars then drives while under the influence. The negative reinforcer is the consequence of getting caught driving under the influence by law enforcement or harming others. The consequence of getting caught driving under the influence is the removal of driving privileges, money, and short-terms of freedom (jail). The consequence of fines, loss of freedom, and removal of driving privileges are also considered a punishment. This is because the consequences are designed to eliminate a repeat of the behavior. A negative reinforcer is the most effective type of behavioral modification method. A negative reinforcer removes an unpleasant or adverse stimulus strengthening behavior. An example of this would be an individual driving to from Temecula to
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