Aspects of Psychology

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Date Submitted: 10/29/2010 07:30 AM

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Positive reinforcement is a procedure whereby a student, contingent upon performing a specific behavior, is immediately rewarded to maintain or increase that behavior. Also, the term reinforce means to strengthen, and is used in psychology to refer to anything stimulus which strengthens or increases the probability of a specific response. For example, if you want your dog to sit on command, you may give him a treat every time he sits for you. The dog will eventually come to understand that sitting when told to will result in a treat. This treat is reinforcing because he likes it and will result in him sitting when instructed to do so. Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal of an aversive stimulus (commonly seen as unpleasant) thereby increasing that behavior's frequency. Though many people associate negative reinforcement with punishment, this is simply not true. Instead, negative reinforcement serves to encourage a certain positive behavior by taking away a negative stimulus.

Positive Punishment occurs when a negative consequence is applied in response to an undesired behavior. Other behaviors are ignored. Over time, positive punishment can decrease the likelihood that the behavior will continue. As an example of positive punishment is, Julia has a social phobia that causes her to skip meetings where she might have to speak. She decides that every time she skips a meeting, she will have to do an extra hour of paperwork. The extra paperwork is a positive punishment for avoiding the meeting.

Negative Punishment occurs when something desired is taken away as a consequence of a certain behavior. Over time, this can decrease the frequency of the undesired behavior. As an example, Maria wants to combat her agoraphobia. On days that she does not go out, she locks her prized laptop in a closet. Over time, she decides that the use of the laptop is worth making at least a short daily trip. According to M. Deeley, 1998,...