Chapter 4 - Reinforcement
What is Reinforcement? 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. (Thorndike, cat in cage - law of effect). Getting to the food was
the consequence that reinforced (strengthened) the cat's behavior of hitting the lever with a paw.
Another example from B.F Skinner (rat presses the lever = response...and immediately food is
presented = the consequence. The outcome is that the rat is more likely to pres the lever in the
1) The occurrence of a particular behavior 2) is followed by an immediate consequence 3) that
results in the strengthening of the behavior.
Operant Behavior: A behavior that is strengthened through the process of reinforcement
Reinforce: The consequence that strengthens an operant behavior
Example table 4.1 pg 76
+ When the occurrence of a behavior is reinforced it increases in frequency over time. Other
dimensions of behaviour may also increase as a function of reinforcement.
Positive vs. negative reinforcement
Positive Reinforcement: 1) The occurrence of a behavior 2) is followed by the addition of a
stimulus (a positive reinforce) or an increase in the intensity of a stimulus 3) which results in the
strengthening of the behavior
Negative Reinforcement: 1) The occurrence of a behavior 2) is followed by the removal of a
stimulus (an aversive stimulus) or a decrease in the intensity of a stimulus 3) which results in the
strengthening of the behavior
It is an object or event that can be detected by our senses, having an influence on the person.
Object or event may be a feature of the physical or social environment.
+ Negative reinforcement like positive reinforcement increases or strengthens behavior... on the
other hand punishment decreases or weakens a behavior. Examples of both reinforcement on
page 76 table 4.1
Social vs. automatic reinforcement
What is Social Reinforcement? When a behavior produces a reinforcement consequence
through the actions of another person. Ex, social positive reinforcement is if you ask friends to
www.notesolution.com bring you the bag of chips. Ex, social negative reinforcement is if you ask your roommate to turn
down the TV when it’s too loud.
What is Automatic reinforcement? When the behavior produces a reinforcing consequence
through the direct contact with the physical environment. Ex, automatic positive reinforcement
would be if you go to the kitchen to get the bag of chips yourself. Ex, automatic negative
reinforcement if you turn the TV down when it’s too loud yourself.
What is the Premark Principle? A type of positive reinforcement involving to engage in a high
probability behavior (playing) as a consequence of a low probability behavior (homework). Ex
the opportunity to play after finishing homework reinforces the behavior to do homework.
Escape and avoidance behaviors
Escape Behavior: occurrence of the behavior results in the termination of an aversive stimulus
that was already present when the behavior occurred. O the person escapes aversive stimulus by
engaging in a particular behavior.
Avoidance behavior: the occurrence of the behavior prevents the presentation of an aversive
stimulus. So the person avoids the aversive stems by engaging in a particular behavior, and that
behavior is strengthened. A warning stimulus often signals the occurrence of an aversive stimulus
and person engages in an avoidance behavior when warning is present.
Rat example: escape = (response) shock is given rat jumps to other side and (consequence) the
rat escapes from shock. (
Outcome) The rat is more likely to jump in the future. Avoidance = (response) tone is present rate
jumps to other side. (Consequence) rat avoids the electric shock. (Outcome) rat is more likely to
jump to the other side in the future when a tone is present.
Conditioned and unconditioned reinforces
Unconditioned reinforces : natural reinforces that contribute to our survival, they function as
reinforces the first time they are presented to most human beings no prior experience with these
stimuli is needed for them to function as reinforcers. Sometimes called primary reinforces. Ex
natural positive reinforce is food and water. Ex natural negative reinforce is escape from the cold
Conditioned reinforces: also called secondary reinforces, it is a stimulus that was once neutral
but can become an established reinforce only if they are paired with unconditioned or already
established conditioned reinforces. Ex parents attention because most children’s attention seeking
involves food. Ex money, because it can buy many conditioned and unconditioned reinforces,
when money is no longer used for buying it is not considered a conditioned reinforce.
Factors that influence the effectiveness of reinforcement
www.notesolution.com 1) Immediacy: For a consequence to be most effective as a reinforce is hold ovule immediately
after the behavior o