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Chapter 9

Chapter 9.pdf

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John Bassili

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Chapter 9: Shaping
Shaping: differential reinforcement of successive approximations of a target behaviour until the
person exhibits the target behaviour
Differential reinforcement involves basic principle of reinforcement and extinction
o Occurs when one particular behaviour is reinforced and all other behaviours are not
reinforced in a particular situation. Thus, behaviour that is reinforced increases and the
ones not reinforced decreases through extinction
Shaping used for developing language: successive approximations or shaping steps include
babbling, word sounds, part words, whole words, string of words and sentences
1. Starting behaviour (first approximation) reinforce this & behaviour increases
2. Stop reinforcing extinction burst novel behaviours appear
3. Reinforce novel behaviour closer approximation to target, thus person exhibits novel
behaviour more and previous behaviour less
o Process of differential reinforcement (reinforcement of a closer approximation and
extinction of a previous approximation) continues until the person finally exhibits target
Timing is important in shaping want to deliver reinforcer at the exact instant that the correct
approximation occurs
Why trainers establish clicking sound as reinforcer timing; and also, this conditioned reinforcer
is used so dolphins don’t become satiated with fish
O’Neill and Garner used shaping to get Mrs. F to walk again, and get Mrs. S to increase the time
between bathroom visits
Thus, shaping can be used in following ways:
1. Generating a novel behaviour (language in a young child, lever-pressing in lab rat, tricks
from the dolphin)
2. Reinstating previously exhibited behaviour (walking)
3. Changing some dimension of an existing behaviour (time between urination)
Research shows shaping used: high level athletic performance, therapeutic exercise for
headache control, toileting in infants, compliance with medical interventions by individuals with
mental retardation, children’s use of contact lenses
How to Use Shaping (Shaping Guidelines):
1. Define the target behaviour
2. Determine whether shaping is the most appropriate procedure
If person already engages in target behaviour at least occasionally, don’t need
shaping (use differential reinforcement to increase frequency of target behaviour)
Do not need shaping if you can simply tell a person how to engage in the target
behaviour, if you can show the person the correct behaviour, or if you can physically
assist the person to engage in the correct behaviour
3. Identify the starting behaviour
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