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operant conditioning bf skinner
Operant Conditioning – BF Skinner

Law of effect (Thorndike) = if a behavior is followed by a better or more satisfying state of affairs, that behavior is more likely to occur again in the future. If a behavior is followed by a less satisfying state of affairs, that behavior is less likely to occur in the future.

operating conditioning continued
Operating Conditioning continued
  • Reinforcer – anything that strengths a behavioral tendency
    • Positive reinforcement = getting something good
    • Negative reinforcement = taking away something aversive
  • Punishment – anything that weakens a behavioral tendency
    • Can remove something positive (from positive to neutral)
    • Can give something negative (go from neutral to negative)
  • Successive approximations
    • Classic example
    • Real life example
    • Causes behavior to change continuously

Issue of persistence: schedules of reinforcement

**partial reinforcement

    • Acquire behaviors quickly if consistent
    • If reinforcement was continuous, behavior goes away quickly when reinforcement is stopped. If reinforcement was partial, behavior is more resistant to extinction.
additional ideas
Additional Ideas
  • Superstitious or “irrational” behavior
      • Noncontigent reinforcement
  • Reinforcement of dimensions of behavior
      • Quality of an action
      • e.g. creativity, thoughtfulness
problematic behavior
Problematic Behavior
  • Problems are behavioral responses that have been learned
  • Don’t care about underlying causes
  • Never talk about low self-esteem or unconscious conflicts
  • examples
in class application
In-class application

A teacher wanted to stop some of the children in her class from losing control and being disruptive. She decided to give them a check-mark every time they lost control. If they went three days with no check-marks, they received a toy car. After a week she gave up because the approach did not seem to be working. Based on what you know about learning principles, evaluate the teacher’s effort, assess why it did not work, and suggest an alternative behavior modification procedure.

behavioral assessment
Behavioral assessment
  • Identify target behavior
  • Identify environmental factors that elicit or reinforce the target behavior. Identify environmental factors that reduce the target behavior.
  • Identify environmental factors that can be manipulated to alter the behavior.
  • ABC method: antecedents, behavior, consequences