Operant Conditioning Essay

1233 Words5 Pages
According to B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning, is punishment of unwanted behaviors or reinforcement of good behaviors more effective in childrearing? B.F. Skinner believed that it is more productive to study behaviors that can be observed rather than mental thinking, and therefore created his theory of operant conditioning. In 1938 when Skinner coined the term operant conditioning he stated that it means roughly changing behaviors by the use of reinforcement, which is given after the desired response1. Reinforcement is the strengthening of behaviors by either adding to a situation or removing something from a situation. Skinner studied the effects both positive and negative reinforcement had on rats. Skinner studied the effects of positive reinforcement (adding to a situation) by placing hungry rats in a box which contained a lever that if touched would release a food pellet into the box. Skinner found that the positive reinforcement of releasing the pellet every time the rat pushed the lever strengthened their behavior by providing a consequence that the rats found rewarding, this will therefore increase the chances that this behavior will occur in the future1. In order to test negative reinforcement (removing from a situation), Skinner administered unpleasant electric shocks to the rats, but when the touched the lever in the Skinner box the electric shock would be switched off1. Skinner found that the removal of a negative reinforcer also strengthened behavior and increased the likelihood that it will occur in the future3. Skinner believed that the way in which reinforcements are administered determines their resistance to extinction. Skinner came up with eight schedules of reinforcement: Continuous reinforcement, intermittent reinforcement, ratio reinforcement fixed ratio reinforcement, variable fixed reinforcement, interval reinforcement, fixed
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