Operant Conditioning


Negative reinforcement occurs when a specific behavior is encouraged by the ceasing of a negative condition. Something negative is removed to entice the prevalence of a wanted behavior. Therefore, negative reinforcement seeks to encourage an individual by taking away something that they do not like.

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Like reinforcement, punishment is also viewed in terms of positive and negative. Positive punishment requires the presentation of a displeasing and unwanted stimulus. When an individual displays a negative behavior, they are presented with the displeasing stimulus immediately after, which helps to discourage the repetition of that behavior (Stangor, 2010). The purpose of positive punishment is to avoid being presented with the negative stimulus, which can only be done by ceasing the behavior. Negative punishment occurs when something that the individual finds enjoyable is taken away in response to unacceptable or unapproved behavior. This aspect of the punishment system is to avoid having that good thing removed, therefore prompting the individual to cease with their unwanted behavior.

Operant conditioning has proven to be a very beneficial system in the daily lives of many individuals who wish to increase or cease entirely certain behaviors. In my personal life, operant conditioning has been useful in regard to my schoolwork and my need to put an end to detrimental procrastination habits. By implementing positive reinforcement into my study habits, I treat myself to a reward, which is primarily in the form of a break, after I have studied worked for a predetermined amount of time. I apply negative reinforcement by removing all distractions from around my work area. Anything that can aid in my procrastination is moved out of my grasp and line of vision. Positive punishment comes in the form of increased study time if I slack off. The more that I procrastinate, the more that I have to work.

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