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28 Feb 2011
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CHAPTER 4 – REINFORCEMENT
Introduction
reinforcement – process in which the behavior is strengthened by the immediate consequence that reliably
follows its occurrence
owhen behavior is strengthened it is more likely to occur in the future
oThorndikes cat
cat place in cage where lever would open a door to some food
Defining Reinforcement
operant behavior – behavior strengthened by reinforcement
oacts on the environment to produce a consequence and, in turn, is controlled by, or occurs again in
the future as a result of its immediate consequence
reinforcer – the consequence that strengthens the operant behavior
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
both positive and negative reinforcement strengthen a behavior
othey are distinguished by the nature of the consequence
positive reinforcement – the occurrence of a behavior is followed by the ADDITION of a
stimulus (a positive reinforcer) or an INCREASE in the intensity of the stimulus, which
results in strengthening of the behavior
negative reinforcement – the occurrence of a behavior is followed by the REMOVAL of a
stimulus (an aversive stimulus) or an DECREASE in the intensity of the stimulus, which
results in strengthening of the behavior
stimulus – an object or event that can be detected by one of the senses, and thus
has potential to influence us
oobject may be a feature of the physical/social environment
omay be a POSITIVE REINFORCER or an AVERSIVE STIMULUS
whenever asked to distinguish between what kind of reinforcement it as ask 3 things
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owhat is the behavior
owhat is the consequence (was stimulus added or taken away)
owhat happened to future behavior (was it strengthened or weakened)
social versus automatic reinforcement
osocial reinforcement – when behavior produces a consequence through the actions of another
person
oautomatic reinforcement – when behavior produces a consequence through direct contact to the
physical environment
oPremack principle – POSITIVE reinforcement involving the opportunity to engage in a HIGH-
probability behavior (a PREFERRED behavior) as a consequence for a LOW-probability behavior
(LESS preferred) to increase the LOW-probability behavior
example: parents require child to complete homework (LOW-probability behavior) first
before getting to play outside (HIGH-probability behavior) reinforces the behavior of
doing homework
Escape and Avoidance Behaviors
distinguishing NEGATIVE reinforcement
oescape behavior – occurrence of behavior results in the termination of an aversive stimuli that was
already present when the behavior occurred
person escapes from aversive stimuli by engaging in a particular behavior and that
behavior is strengthened
oavoidance behavior – occurrence of behavior prevents presentation of aversive stimuli
person avoids aversive stimuli by engaging in a particular behavior that behavior
strengthens
usually there is a WARNING STIMULUS that indicates occurrence of aversive stimuli
Conditioned and Unconditioned Reinforcers
unconditioned reinforcer (primary reinforcers) – natural reinforcers; function as reinforcers the first time
they are presented to most human beings; no prior experience necessary for them to function
opositive examples: food, water, sex
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Document Summary

Behavior strengthened by reinforcement: acts on the environment to produce a consequence and, in turn, is controlled by, or occurs again in the future as a result of its immediate consequence reinforcer. The consequence that strengthens the operant behavior. Positive and negative reinforcement both positive and negative reinforcement strengthen a behavior: they are distinguished by the nature of the consequence positive reinforcement. The occurrence of a behavior is followed by the addition of a stimulus (a positive reinforcer) or an increase in the intensity of the stimulus, which results in strengthening of the behavior negative reinforcement. The occurrence of a behavior is followed by the removal of a stimulus (an aversive stimulus) or an decrease in the intensity of the stimulus, which results in strengthening of the behavior stimulus. When behavior produces a consequence through the actions of another person: automatic reinforcement. When behavior produces a consequence through direct contact to the physical environment: premack principle.

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