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OBXtra 3

Human Resources
Course Code
MHR 505
Frank Miller

of 3
MHR 505
Week 3
OBXtra 3 Behaviour Modification
Reinforcement Strategies
Behaviour modification/reinforcement theory B.F. Skinners principle that
behaviour is largely a function of its consequences, which may be either positive or
Behaviour modification has been used successfully in a variety of organizations to
shape behaviour and is also considered to be a theory of motivation or learning
It has significant and positive influences on task performance in manufacturing and
service organizations, but more powerful in manufacturing organizations
Incentive-based reinforcement improved performance more than routine pay, social
recognition, or performance feedback
Recent research reveals that nonfinancial incentives had impacts on profits and
customer service that were as significant as the financial ones in the long term
Reinforcement strategies rely on the use of positive and negative consequences
following a specific behaviour that either reinforce or punish that behaviour
oPositive consequences are those that are attractive or pleasurable
oNegative consequences are those that are unattractive or aversive
Law of effect states that behaviours followed by positive consequences are more
likely to recur and behaviours followed by negative consequences are less likely to
Positive/negative consequences must be defined for the person receiving them, so
individual, gender, and cultural differences are important to consider when selecting
Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement an attempt to increase or maintain the frequency of a
desirable behaviour by following It with positive consequences
It can take the form of money, feedback, and social recognition
Research indicates that when positive reinforcers are combined, performance
improved by as much as 45 percent
MHR 505
Week 3
Positive reinforcements are often used to modify undesirable behaviour in children,
and research indicates that it is more effective and with fewer unintended results
that the use of punishment
Negative Reinforcement
Negative reinforcement an attempt to increase or maintain the frequency of
desirable behaviour by withholding expected negative consequences when a
desirable behaviour occurs
Punishment the attempt to eliminate or decrease the frequency of undesirable
behaviour by either introducing negative consequences or withholding positive
A problem with punishment is that it often has unintended results
Because punishment is discomfiting to the individual being punished, the experience
of punishment may result in negative psychological, emotional, performance, or
behavioural consequences
Form an organizational standpoint, the result becomes important when the
punished person translates negative emotional and psychological responses into
negative actions
Work slowdowns, sabotage, and subversive behaviour are all unintended negative
consequences of punishment
Extinction an alternative to punishing undesirable behaviour. It is the attempt to
eliminate or decrease the frequency of a behaviour by attaching no consequences to
it, that is, by ignoring the behaviour
This strategy requires a great deal of patience to be successful; the rationale for
using this strategy is that a behaviour not followed by any consequences is weakened
Extinction may be most effective when used in conjunction with the positive
reinforcement of desirable behaviours
This is not always the optimal strategy; in cases of dangerous behaviour, punishment
might be preferable to deliver a swift, clear lesson
MHR 505
Week 3
Reinforcement Schedules
Reinforcement schedules can be applied according to a variety of schedules; it can be
applied after every response (continuous schedule) or not after every response
Positive Self-Talk
Self-efficacy a concept developed by Albert Bandura refers to an individuals
conviction (or confidence) about his/her abilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive
resources, and courses of action needed to successfully execute a specific task within
a given context
Bandura saw the power of social reinforcement, recognizing that financial and
material rewards often occur following or in conjunction with the approval of others,
whereas undesirable experiences often follow social disapproval
Individuals with high self-efficacy believe that they have the ability to get things
done, that they are capable of putting forth effort to accomplish the task, and that
they can overcome any obstacles to their success
Individuals with low self-efficacy quit trying prematurely and may even fail at a task
There is strong evidence that self-efficacy leads to high performance on a wide
variety of physical and mental tasks
Thus, self-efficacy and social reinforcement can be powerful influences over
behaviour and performance at work
a review of 114 studies found that self-efficacy is positively and strongly related to
work performance, especially for tasks that are nor too complex
High self-efficacy has also led to success in breaking addictions, increasing pain
tolerance, and recovering from illnesses
Four sources of task-specific self-efficacy:
oPrior experiences
oBehaviour models (witnessing the success of others)
oPersuasion from other people
oAssessment of current physical and emotional capabilities