Principles of Learning – Lecture 17
- Application of principles of reinforcement to practical problems of human behaviour
(Positively) Reinforce studying behaviour (praise good studying habits rather than
- Behavioural modifcation useful for children, people with cognitive impairment, people
who just don’t care (where explanations don’t work).
- Sports: you can’t explain how to do it
- Immediate & frequent feedback is important; delay in response is important in operant
conditioning (very short or immediate feedback for optimal learning).
Token Economy (Contingency Management)
- “When docial reinforcement fails”
- Points or tokens are established as secondary reinforcers through pairings with a variety
of potent reinforcers. The advantages:
1. Points or tokens are easy to dispense & can be given immediately
2. They can be used as generalized reinforcers
- Manage the consequences of behaviour using points/tokens that are tangeable to the
- Substance use: called vouchers (can exchange for something you want) – receive
vouchers when you test negative in drug test.
People receiving vouchers lessened drug-use more than other forms of treatment
- Important assumption of behaviour modification: there are sources of reinforcement in
the natural environment that will maintain the desired behaviour if only it can be
established initially. Do something to produce the behaviour in the first place.
- Tactics for encouraging maintenance:
1. Partial reinforcement
2. Reinforcing in a variety of ways 3. Fading
4. Conditioned reinforcers
- Move from reinforcement (reinforce every occurrence) to partial reinforcement (less
sensitive to extinction) – fade it completely away smoothly.
- Start to introduce conditioned reinforcers (every time you give a star, say good boy –
eventually stop giving stars)
Harmful Effects of Reinforcement
- Moral objections: bribery, greed
- The Premack Principle: access to preferred behaviour reinforces less preferred
behaviour & punishes more preferred behaviour
Performing a behaviour can be reinforcing.