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Operant Conditioning. A form of learning in which a specific action (an operant response) is made to occur either more frequently or less frequently by manipulating its consequences in the environment. . B.F. Skinner. Operant Response. Changes in Environment. Change in response.

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operant conditioning
Operant Conditioning

A form of learning in which a specific action (an operant response) is made to occur either more frequently or less frequently by manipulating its consequences in the environment.

B.F. Skinner

Operant Response

Changes in Environment

Change in response

Pole beeps, food given

Dog taps target again

Dog taps target

An operant response “operates” on the environment and causes it to change in some way.

The environment, in turn, causes the behavior to change in some way.

operant conditioning versus classical conditioning
Operant Conditioning VersusClassical Conditioning

In Classical Conditioning, the subject’s response has no consequences; it produces no change in the environment.

The dog gets the food after the bell is rung whether or not he salivates to the bell. His behavior doesn’t matter.

In Operant Conditioning, the dog has to tap the target to

get the food. His behavior does matter.

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In other words, in Pavlov’s experiment, the food is not a reward for responding to the bell because it is given no matter what the dog does.

In the Operant Conditioning example, the food is a reward because it depends on the dog’s behavior—he has to tap the target.

Operant Conditioning works on the Law of Effect: behavior changes according to its consequences.

The Law of Effect does not apply to Classical

Conditioning. Reflexes are not sensitive

to their consequences.

operant conditioning research
Operant Conditioning Research

The “Skinner Box”