Textbook Notes (381,007)
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PSYB45H3 (1,085)
Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Notes

9 Pages
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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB45H3
Professor
Zachariah Campbell

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Chapter 4: Reinforcement
Reinforcement is the process in which a behavior is strengthened by the immediate consequence
that reliably follows its occurrence.
When a behavior is strengthened, it is more likely to occur again in the future.
The earliest demonstration of reinforcement was reported by Thorndike in 1911, The law of effect.
Thorndike placed a hungry cat in a cage and put food outside the cage where the cat could see it.
He rigged the cage so that a door would open if the cat hit a lever with its paw.
The cat was clawing and biting the bars of the cage, trying to get out of the cage.
Eventually by accident the cat hit the lever, the door opened and the cat got out of the cage and ate
the food
When the hungry cat was put back into the cage, the cat was more likely to hit the lever because
this behavior had resulted in an immediate consequence: escaping the cage and getting food.
Getting to the food was the consequence that reinforced (strengthened) the cats behavior of
hitting the lever with a paw.
In the 1930s, Skinner conducted numerous similar studies on the principle of reinforcement in
laboratory animals such as rats and pigeons.
Defining Reinforcement
Reinforcement may occur naturally as a result of our day-to-day interactions with our social and
physical environment, or it may be planned as part of a behavior modification program used to
change a persons behavior.
Reinforcement is defined as:
1. The occurrence of a particular behavior
2. Is followed by an immediate consequence.
3. That results in strengthening the behavior. (The person is more likely to engage in the
behavior again in the future).
A behavior strengthened through the process of reinforcement is called an operant behavior. An
operant behavior 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.
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The consequence that strengthens an operant behavior is called a reinforcer.
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
Important to remember that both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement are processes
that strengthen a behavior. (More likely it will occur in the future.)
Positive reinforcement is defined as follows:
o1. The occurrence of a behavior
o2. is followed by the addition of a stimulus (a reinforcer) or an increase in the intensity of a
stimulus,
o3. which results in the strengthening of the behavior.
Negative reinforcement, by contrast is defined as follows.
o1. The occurrence of a behavior
o2. is followed by the removal of a stimulus (an aversive stimulus) or a decrease in the intensity
of a stimulus,
o3. which results in the strengthening of the behavior.
A stimulus is an object or event that can be detected by one of the senses, and thus has the
potential to influence the person. The object or event may be a feature of the physical environment
or the social environment.
In positive reinforcement, the stimulus that is presented or that appears after the behavior is called
a positive enforcer.
In negative reinforcement, the stimulus that is removed or avoided after the behavior is called an
aversive stimulus.
The essential difference , therefore, is that in positive reinforcement, a response produces a
stimulus (a positive reinforcer), whereas in negative reinforcement, a response removes or prevents
the occurrence of a stimulus (an aversive stimulus).
Some people confuse negative reinforcement and punishment .They are not the same. Negative
reinforcement increases or strengthens a behavior. Punishment, in contrast, decreases or
weakens a behavior.
Reinforcement is always defined by the effect if has on the behavior. This is called a functional
definition.
www.notesolution.com
To determine whether a particular consequence will be a reinforcer for a particular person, you
have to try it out and measure its effects on the behavior.
Whenever you have to analyze a situation and determine whether it illustrates positive or negative
reinforcement, ask yourself three questions:
o1. What is the behavior?
o2. What happened immediately after the behavior? (Was a stimulus added or removed?)
o3. What happened to the behavior in the future? (Was the behavior strengthened? Was it
more likely to occur?)
Social versus Automatic Reinforcement
When a behavior produces a reinforcing consequence through the actions of another person, the
process is social reinforcement.
An example of social positive reinforcement is asking your roommate to bring you the bag of
chips.
An example of social negative reinforcement is asking your roommate to turn down the tv when it
is too loud.
When the behavior produces a reinforcing consequence through direct contact with the physical
environment, the process is automatic reinforcement.
An example of an automatic positive reinforcement would be going to the kitchen and getting the
bag of chips yourself.
An example of an automatic negative reinforcement would be if you got the remote and turned
down the tv yourself.
One type of positive reinforcement involves the opportunity to engage in a high-probability
behavior (a preferred behavior) as a consequence for a low-probability behavior (a less-preferred
behavior), to increase the low probability behavior. This is called the Premack principle.
An example of the Premack principle is when parents require their son to complete his homework
before he can go outside to play with his friends. The opportunity to play (high –probability
behavior) after the completion of the homework (low-probability behavior) reinforces the behavior
of doing homework.
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Description
Chapter 4: Reinforcement Reinforcement is the process in which a behavior is strengthened by the immediate consequence that reliably follows its occurrence. When a behavior is strengthened, it is more likely to occur again in the future. The earliest demonstration of reinforcement was reported by Thorndike in 1911, The law of effect. Thorndike placed a hungry cat in a cage and put food outside the cage where the cat could see it. He rigged the cage so that a door would open if the cat hit a lever with its paw. The cat was clawing and biting the bars of the cage, trying to get out of the cage. Eventually by accident the cat hit the lever, the door opened and the cat got out of the cage and ate the food When the hungry cat was put back into the cage, the cat was more likely to hit the lever because this behavior had resulted in an immediate consequence: escaping the cage and getting food. Getting to the food was the consequence that reinforced (strengthened) the cats behavior of hitting the lever with a paw. In the 1930s, Skinner conducted numerous similar studies on the principle of reinforcement in laboratory animals such as rats and pigeons. Defining Reinforcement Reinforcement may occur naturally as a result of our day-to-day interactions with our social and physical environment, or it may be planned as part of a behavior modification program used to change a persons behavior. Reinforcement is defined as: 1. The occurrence of a particular behavior 2. Is followed by an immediate consequence. 3. That results in strengthening the behavior. (The person is more likely to engage in the behavior again in the future). A behavior strengthened through the process of reinforcement is called an operant behavior. An operant behavior 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. www.notesolution.com
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