Operant Conditioning Paper

Essay by shampoo0000A, July 2010

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Downloaded 151 times

Operant Conditioning � PAGE �1�


Operant Conditioning Paper

Shayolonda Herron

Learning and Cognition / PSY 390

April 26, 2010

Dr. Christa Lynch


Operant Conditioning Paper

Operant conditioning was first introduced by B.F. Skinner through his work with respondent behavior and operant behavior. Along with these two types of behavior, Skinner suggested two types of conditioning related to learning: type S, sometimes referred to as respondent conditioning and similar to classical conditioning, and type R, also called operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is an approach to learning that occurs through reward and punishment by creating a connection between a specific behavior and a consequence for that behavior. Skinner utilized the term 'operant' to refer specifically to an "active behavior that operates upon the environment to generate consequences" (McLeod, 2007, ¶ 4).

The theory of operant condition suggests two major principles: (1) any response that is followed by a reinforcing stimulus is likely to be repeated; and (2) a reinforcing stimulus is anything that increases the rate with which an operant response occurs (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2009).

In this type of learning, the focus is on behavior and its positive or negative significance - the owner of the behavior must respond in a manner that produces the reinforcing stimulus. Contingent reinforcement exemplifies this process because the reinforcer is dependent upon certain responses from the organism whose behavior is being modified. Other major concepts of Skinners Theory of Operant Conditioning include: the Skinner box, cumulative recording, shaping (including differential reinforcement and successive approximation), extinction, spontaneous recovery, secondary reinforcement, generalized reinforcers, chaining, and positive or negative reinforcers (2009).

Positive and negative reinforcers are two of the most important concepts in operant conditioning. Primary positive reinforcement occurs when something naturally reinforcing (and related to survival) is added to the...