Operant Conditioning Paper

December 20, 2017 Psychology

Operant Conditioning Paper Operant conditioning relies on the consequences of an exhibited behavior, and the impact the behavior has on certain learning experiences. This type of conditioning requires stimuli and reinforcers (both positive and negative) (Olsen & Hergenhahn, 2009). Along with using punishments that exhibit both positive and negative influences, both of which contribute to behavior and learning. Operant conditioning can be observed on a daily basis. It is a typical form of learning that some might take for granted.

Operant conditioning can be used to influence certain behaviors as well as to decrease certain behaviors (Kirsch & Lynn, 2004). This is done when punishments or reinforcements are used to adapt or eliminate a specific behavior (including fear, anxiety and phobias). Reinforcements can be used strengthen or increase a behavior that accompanies the reinforcement (Barash, 2005). Positive reinforcers are events or outcomes that are presented after the behavior, thus allowing for better or continuous behavior.

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Children attaining good grades would receive a positive reinforcement that would allow them to continue to do well in school. Negative reinforcement is the removal of unfavorable events or outcomes after the behavior is displayed (Barash, 2005). This would strengthen the response by removing something that is considered to be unpleasant. Like an unruly animal that causes fear, taking the animal away creates a peaceful environment. When it comes to modifying behaviors some might consider punishment to adapt or modify specific behaviors.

Punishment is the presentation of an adverse event or outcome that causes a decrease in the behavior it follows. There is positive and negative punishments; positive punishments (referred to as punishment by assignment), (Kirsch & Lynn, 2004) involves the presentation of an unfavorable event or outcome in order to weaken the response it follows. This type of punishment would be used to adapt or modify a behavioral disorder that might include anxiety or phobias.

By presenting a positive punishment when a phobia or fear is present the phobia or fear can be weakened with continuous punishment on a positive level (Kirsch & Lynn, 2004). Individuals that exhibit a fear of heights might be introduced to a thought of peacefulness or serenity when facing their fear. Thus combining the fear with something of pleasure could eliminate or reduce the initial response of fear. Negative punishment can decrease a specific behavior; this is done when removal of a favorable event or outcome after a behavior is exhibited (Olsen & Hergenhahn, 2009).

When a child shows disruptive behavior they might loss recess time, thus removing a favorable event would change the individual behavior displayed. Positive reinforcement would be a greater influence in attaining specific behavior (Olsen & Hergenhahn, 2009). Behavior is based on personality and environmental influences, thus utilizing positive reinforcements can benefit an individual’s behavior by instilling good examples of self-worth and self-esteem, as well as self confidence levels. This provides for a well-rounded individual based on the modification of their own behavioral influences.

Having teenage boys can be a challenge, allowing for behavioral changes is a must. However teaching those to stay focused on their school work presents the real challenge. Along with teaching them to get up on their own is an even bigger challenge. It is possible to modify their behavior in both getting up and doing school work on an individual basis. The process could start with small rewards for getting up without assistance. Beginning the reward and praise after the first morning, increasing the reward in small amounts each day thereafter.

Applying the same process when school work is completed but beginning with weekly rewards until the grading period ends and final grades are set. This will create a positive behavior that has been influenced by the environment surrounding the individuals. Following a set schedule of events can allow for adaptations in behavior when expected. It is the unexpected that can create a disruption in an individual’s behavior, no matter how conditioned the individual might be. Tragedy and death can create unexpected experiences in behavioral settings.

It does not matter how well or how much one in prepared, the initial experience can disrupt the behavioral pattern. References Barash, D. P. (2005). B. F. Skinner, Revisited. Chronicle of Higher Education, 51(30), B10. Retrieved from http://retreived from EBSCOhost Kirsch, L. , & Lynn, S. (2004). The role of cognition in classical and operant conditioning. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60(4), 369-392. doi:10. 1002/jclp. 10251 Olsen, M. , & Hergenhahn, B. R. (2009). An Introduction to the Theories of Learning (8th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.


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