Forming and Strengthening Operant Behavior

Forming and Strengthening Operant
EQ: How do we form operant behavior and how do
we strengthen that behavior?
How does life operantly train us?
 Part of what and how we learn comes from the
situations we are in
 If we are in school, for example, we learn through
rewards and punishments
 We also learn in the workforce that we are rewarded
for good work
 This also applies to relationships
 In short, we are always being reinforced or punished
based on our behavior
 There are, however, certain variables that can
strengthen these reinforcements
 Shaping is the concept that we progressively reward
for getting closer a to demonstrating the desired
response we are training a subject for
 An example would be in potty training
 If junior pees next to the toilet, we might reinforce him
with something like, “Good job, you almost got it in
the potty.”
 If a week later, Junior gets most of it in the potty, we
might reinforce the almost success
 Eventually, the subject will be shaped into
demonstrating the correct response
Primary and Secondary Reinforcers:
 A primary reinforcer is a given to a subject when they
demonstrate the operant that is rewarding to them
 A secondary reinforcer is a reward given to a subject
that the learn to like
 An example of a primary enforcer would be the treat
you give your dog when he demonstrates good
 The secondary reinforcer might be the belly rub you
give him when he rolls over
Delay and Size of Reinforcers:
 Occasionally, we might delay the reinforcer until we
are satisfied with the result we want to see
 To lose weight, for example, we might want decide to
give ourselves a tasty treat for every 5 pounds we lose
 This reinforcer does not directly impact us today, but
it will eventually be a reward that we work toward
 Sometimes, if the reward is huge, we may have to work
for a long time to get it
EX: If I save an extra $100 per month, I can retire
at 58 instead of 64
Schedule Reinforcement:
 In Schedule reinforcement, we are trying to use
schedules to reinforce our behavior
 A Continuous Reinforcement Schedule is designed to
reward a subject every time they demonstrate a
desired response
 A Partial Reinforcement Schedule is designed to
reward only some of the time
Schedules and Extinction:
 If the goal of Conditioning is extinction, then we must
work toward either getting rid of the unwanted
behavior or to get rid of the reinforcement
 To do this we can slowly stop reinforcing as we begin
to see the result that we wish to see
 Eventually, we should completely get rid of the
EX: none of us gets rewarded for going peepee on
the potty
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