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AP Psychology Unit VI. Part Two: Operant Conditioning: Reward and Punishment. We learn to associate a response and its consequence (what comes after). Operant Conditioning. Classical vs. Operant Conditioning. Operant vs Classical Conditioning.

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AP Psychology Unit VI

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Ap psychology unit vi

AP Psychology Unit VI

Part Two: Operant Conditioning:

Reward and Punishment

Operant conditioning

  • We learn to associate a response

  • and its consequence (what comes after)

Operant Conditioning

Classical vs operant conditioning

Classical vs. Operant Conditioning

Operant vs classical conditioning

Operant vs Classical Conditioning

Ap psychology unit vi

SOUTH TEACH: Explain (3) differences between Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning30 seconds…

Operant conditioning1

  • Operant Conditioning

    • type of learning in which behavior is strengthened if followed by reinforcement or diminished if followed by punishment

  • Law of Effect

    • Thorndike’s principle that behaviors followed by favorable consequences become more likely, and behaviors followed by unfavorable consequences become less likely

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning2

  • B.F. Skinner (1904-1990)

    • elaborated Thorndike’s Law of Effect

    • developed behavioral technology

    • Skinner box

Operant Conditioning

Operant chamber

  • Skinner Box

    • chamber with a bar or key that an animal manipulates to obtain a food or water reinforcer

    • contains devices to record responses

Operant Chamber

Skinner box


  • http://youtu.be/I_ctJqjlrHA

  • BF Skinner – “radical behavioralist”

  • Wanted to demonstrate that uniquely human behaviors were the product of conditioning.

  • Starved 8 pigeons. Then rewarded them with food every 15 s, no matter what they did.

Ap psychology unit vi

  • Results:

    • 6 of 8 bird developed superstitions

      • Turning counter-clockwise in a circle

      • Thrusting head toward a specific corner of cage

      • “tossing” an imaginary ball with its head

      • Head bobbing with accompanying steps (2 birds)

      • “fake” pecking

Operant conditioning3

  • Reinforcer

    • any event that strengthens the behavior it follows

  • Shaping

    • operant conditioning procedure in which reinforcers guide behavior toward closer approximations of a desired goal

    • http://youtu.be/BVbGSVhKGwA

Operant Conditioning



Principles of reinforcement

  • We are rewarded (reinforced) by something we need or something we want related to what we need

  • 1. Primary Reinforcer

    • innately reinforcing stimulus

    • i.e., satisfies a biological need

  • 2. Conditioned/ Secondary Reinforcer

    • stimulus that gains its reinforcing power through its association with primary reinforcer

Principles of Reinforcement

  • With your partners or trio, create examples of:

  • Primary reinforcer

  • 2) Secondary reinforcer

  • And relate each to a behavior

Schedules of reinforcement

Continuous Reinforcement

  • reinforcing the desired response every time it occurs

    Partial (Intermittent) Reinforcement

  • reinforcing a response only part of the time

  • results in slower acquisition

  • greater resistance to extinction **gambling**

Schedules of Reinforcement

How often should we reward behaviors? The frequency of reinforcement are called the schedules.

Reinforcement schedules

Reinforcement Schedules

  • Fixed ratio – set number ($1 every 3 hands)

  • Variable Ratio – unpredictable number of responses ($1/? of times)

  • Fixed interval – set amount of time ($1/per hour of play)

  • Variable interval – unpredictable amount of time ($1/ ? amount of time)

Schedules of reinforcement1

  • Fixed Ratio (FR)

    • reinforces a response only after a specified number of responses

    • faster you respond the more rewards you get

    • different ratios

    • very high rate of responding

    • like piecework pay

    • With your table, come up with one school-based example.

Schedules of Reinforcement

Schedules of reinforcement2

  • Variable Ratio (VR)

    • reinforces a response after an unpredictable number of responses

    • average ratios

    • like gambling, fishing

    • very hard to extinguish because of unpredictability

    • With your table, come up with one school-based example.

Schedules of Reinforcement

Schedules of reinforcement3

  • Fixed Interval (FI)

    • reinforces a response only after a specified time has elapsed

    • response occurs more frequently as the anticipated time for reward draws near

    • With your table, come up with one school-based example.

Schedules of Reinforcement

Schedules of reinforcement4

  • Variable Interval (VI)

    • reinforces a response at unpredictable time intervals

    • produces slow steady responding

    • Like random employee bonuses

    • With your table, come up with one school-based example.

Schedules of Reinforcement

Reinforcement increases behavior punishment decreases behavior



  • With your partners or trio, create an examples of

  • a school-related reinforcer and school-related punishment

  • and connect them to behaviors


  • Punishment

    • aversive event that decreases the behavior that it follows

    • powerful controller of unwanted behavior


With your table, share three examples of punishment that a boyfriend or girlfriend might use to decrease unwanted behavior in his/her partner

Ap psychology unit vi

Choose one example shared by another table and identify whether it was positive or negative punishment

Problems with punishment

Problems with Punishment

  • it models aggression as a way to solve problems

  • breeds anger in the recipient

  • doesn’t provide an alternative behavior. Therefore, the behavior only goes away when the punisher is around.

Ap psychology unit vi1

AP Psychology Unit VI

Learning: Part III-

Observational Learning

(and other learning that can exist

without reward or punishment…)

Observational learning

Observational Learning

  • Observational Learning

    • learning by observing others

  • Modeling

    • process of observing and imitating a specific behavior

  • Albert Bandura – Bobo doll experiment

  • http://youtu.be/8ZXOp5PopIA

Three different groups of children watched different endings

Three different groups of children watched different endings



  • ProsocialBehavior– positive and constructive behavior

  • Antisocial Behavior– negative, unproductive or destructive behavior

With your table, come up with an example of each that has been modeled for you this week

Observational learning1

  • Mirror Neurons

    • frontal lobe neurons that fire when performing certain actions or when observing another doing so

    • may enable imitation, language learning, and empathy

Observational Learning

Cognition and operant conditioning

  • Cognitive Map

    • mental representation of the layout of one’s environment

      *after exploring a maze, rats act as if they have learned a cognitive map of it

    • When/how might this be useful?

  • Latent Learning

    • learning that occurs, but is not apparent until there is an incentive to demonstrate it

    • * Example?

Cognition and Operant Conditioning

Cognition and operant conditioning1

  • Overjustification Effect

    • the effect of promising a reward for doing what one already likes to do

      • the person may now see the reward, rather than intrinsic interest, as the motivation for performing the task

    • Where might we see this happen in the workplace?

Cognition and Operant Conditioning

Cognition and operant conditioning2

  • Intrinsic Motivation

    • Desire to perform a behavior for its own sake and to be effective

  • Extrinsic Motivation

    • Desire to perform a behavior due to promised rewards or threats of punishments

Cognition and Operant Conditioning

Critique of behavioralism

Critique of Behavioralism

  • Deemphasizes the role of internal thoughts and feelings in behavior; Presents humans as lacking free will

  • Ignores biological predispositions:

Experiments with humans and animals both indicate that biological predispositions influence conditioning.

a. Animal training

b. Human societies built on behavioralist principles.

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