Reinforcement In Operant Conditioning

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Reinforcement In Operant Conditioning is open for . The scholarship allows level programm(s) in the field of taught at . The deadline of the scholarship is .

Reinforcement is the main principle of Operant conditioning in psychology. A phenomenon in which a stimulus increases the chance of repetition of previous behavior is called reinforcement. In Skinner’s experiment, the pressing of lever can be referred to reinforcement.

1.    Reinforcer:

The phenomenon of reinforcement involves Reinforcer.  Any stimulus that increases the probability that a preceding behavior will be repeated is called reinforcer e.g. food, bonuses, toys, chocolates, salary etc all are reinforcers. Reinforcer for one person might not be a reinforcer for the other person. It all depends on individual. Reinforcers can be primary, secondary, positive or negative.

1.1.    Primary Reinforcer:

Primary Reinforcers are those which help in satisfying the biological needs of a body. E.g. food acts as a reinforcer for satisfying hunger, water for thirst, warmth for cold etc.

1.2.    Secondary Reinforcer:

Secondary reinforcers are those which are helps in getting the primary reinforcers e.g. money is needed for buying food or chocolates, warm clothes or heaters are required for making oneself warmer.

1.3.    Positive Reinforcer:

If by adding a particular (pleasant) stimulus to the environment, the chance or probability of repetition of previous behavior is increased, we call that stimulus as primary reinforcer e.g. getting good grades after hard work increase the probability of working hard in the future as well. Similarly salaries after a week or a month increase the probability that the person will return to keep the work going.

1.4.    Negative Reinforcer:

If by removing a particular (unpleasant) stimulus from the environment, the chance or probability of preceding behavior is increased, we call it a negative reinforcer. E.g. if a person is suffering from fever (unpleasant stimulus), and we give him a medicine to reduce this unpleasant stimulus (fever), we call medicine a negative reinforcer.

2.    Schedules of Reinforcement:

The process which involves a particular frequency and timing of reinforcing a desired behavior is known as scheduling of reinforcement. These schedules can be continuous or partial.

2.1)     Continuous Schedule:

Reinforcing the behavior every time it is repeated is called continuous schedule e.g. a child wants to learn first 10 digits and we appreciate him every time for learning a single digit. In other words, we reinforce his behavior after learning every single digit.

2.2) Partial Schedule:

When behavior is not reinforced every time it is repeated, we call it partial schedule e.g. it is impossible to praise a child for learning every digit when his target is to learn 100 digits at one time. Partial schedule can be of four types;
2.2.1)    Fixed Ratio
2.2.2)    Variable Ratio
2.2.3)    Fixed Interval
2.2.4)    Variable Interval

On the basis of number of frequencies or responses, partial schedule can be fixed ratio or variable ratio.

2.2.1)    Fixed Ratio:

In this type of Partial schedule, the living being is reinforced to show the previous behavior after showing a specific number of responses e.g. paycheck after 7 days, child appreciated for learning ten digits at a time, awarding best athlete trophy to a person who won more than four games in a tournament.

2.2.2)    Variable Ratio:

Variable Ratio is a type of partial schedule in which the living being is reinforced after variable number of responses e.g. salary bonuses might be given after three months or four months and sometimes after a year, surprise gifts or class surprise tests to ensure that students learn their work in time etc.

On the basis of time interval, partial schedule can be fixed interval or variable interval type.

2.2.3)    Fixed Interval:

A type of partial schedule in which the organism is reinforced after a prefixed time interval is called fixed interval e.g. checking cadets’ haircut after one week, taking class quiz after 2 weeks, paychecks after a week, giving salaries after a month etc.

2.2.4)    Variable Interval:

A type of partial schedule in which the behavior of organism is not reinforced after a fixed time interval is called variable interval partial scheduling e.g. inspection of hospitals, markets, schools by higher government officials, passing contract bills after 3,4 and sometimes 6 months.
Variable interval partial scheduling reinforcement is the most effective in all these types of partial scheduling because time factor is not involved due to which people try to keep themselves prepared for tough situations and secondly the subject does not know when he will be evaluated.

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