CHAPTER 4: Developing and maintaining behaviour with conditioned
Unconditioned reinforcers: a stimulus that is a reinforcer without prior learning or
stimulus that is reinforcing without being conditioned. ! they are sometimes also called
primary or unlearned reinforcers.
!For example: food for a hungry person, water for a thirsty person, warmth for
someone who is cold and sexual contacts for someone who has been deprived of such
Conditioned reinforcers: a stimulus that is a reinforcer as a result of having been paired
with other reinforcers. This is because conditioning is needed to establish such stimuli as
reinforcers. ! they are sometimes also called secondary or learned reinforcers.
!For example praise, a picture of a loved one, books that we like to read, our favourite
television programs and clothes that makes us look good.
Backup reinforcers: a stimulus that causes other stimuli to become conditioned
reinforcers when they are paired with it; typically used to establish and maintain the
strength of conditioned reinforcers.
!For example: the type of training conducted with dolphins at Sea World. Early in
training, the trainer pairs the sound from a hand-held clicker with the delivery of fish to a
dolphin. A fish is a backup reinforcer, and after a number of pairings, the clicking
sound becomes a conditioned reinforcer. Later when teaching a dolphin to perform a
trick, the sound of the clicking is presented as immediate conditioned reinforcer, and
the clicker sound continues to be intermittently paired with fish. **Backup reinforcers
can be either conditioned or unconditioned reinforcers**.
**Positive reinforcers have a direct-acting effect on behaviours that immediately
** Direct-acting effect a principle of positive reinforcement where there is an increase in
frequency of response followed immediately by reinforcer. **
See example on page 52-53 [basketball & coach example]
Token: conditioned reinforcers that can be accumulated and exchanged for backup
Token System: A behaviour modification program in which individuals can earn token
for specific behaviours and can cash in their token for backup reinforcers.
! Token constitute one type of conditioned reinforcers. A common example, already
mentioned is “praise”. A mother who expresses pleasure at her child’s good behaviour is