Category: Psychology

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The behaviorist B. F. Skinner originated the definition of “operant conditioning”. He believed the observable, external causes of behavior are the most important. Reinforcement is in two types: positive and negative.

Positive reinforcement is favorable outcomes that are given to the person after it performs the desired behavior. It may be in the form of rewards, praise, etc. For example, the well-behaved students are awarded with extra points by a teacher.  The students realize that they can earn more points by behaving themselves better.

Negative reinforcement is the removal of unpleasant or undesired conditions after the receiving of desired behavior. That is when something that considered negative is removed. As an example when you are leaving the house earlier  on Monday morning in order to prevent problems with traffic and being late for your classes.

Negative reinforcement should not be confused with the punishment because they providing the removal of a negative conditions in purpose of strengthening the behavior. On the other hand, punishment involves either the obviation of the stimulus in purpose to weaken the way of behavior. Negative reinforcements is an effective and fast way to strengthen an individual`s desired behavior as they can cause immediate results. However, negative reinforcements are best suited for a short-time use. When there is a long time period between the reinforcer and the behavior, the person is likely to be much weaker. Sometime the way of behavior that takes place in the timeframe between the reinforcer and initial action are also may be occasionally strengthened as well.

In classroom settings the negative reinforcement should be used carefully since the positive reinforcement is more effective and should be emphasized. The form of reinforcement you choose is a very important decision, but the schedule and frequency also play a significant role in the forming of behavior.

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