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It’s a method of learning that depends on rewards and punishment for behavior. This type of learning where the behavior is controlled by consequences. The Burrhus Frederic Skinner is an American psychologist, he developed the learning operant conditioning theory. Skinner’s theory based on the environment. The organism can have a special kind of stimulus which is a reinforcing stimulus.
Skinner believed that the studied behaviors are the only way to psychology, not the internal mental processes. According to Dr. Vince Berger: “The behavior is followed by a consequence and the nature of the consequence modifies the organisms tendency to repeat the behavior in the future”.
Skinner box is the famous experiment of operant conditioning. The experiment started by placing the rat in a special box that has a pedal on one wall, when the rat pressed this pedal it releases the food. In a short period of time, the rat learns that if it pressed the pedal it gives them food. So, it’s learning by repeating, the first time was an accident then it known that the results of the pressed pedal are food. This lead to one of the principles of the operant conditioning which is a behavior followed by a reinforcing stimulus. Also, Skinner did the experiment for the same rat but in another way and he used the light and electric current, which is negative reinforcement.
Moving forward, there are four main concepts in operant conditioning. The first concept is the positive reinforcement, which is giving something pleasant such a reward after the behavior. This reward will lead to increases the probability that the behavior will continue. As an example, the pressing a lever in the Skinner’s box experiment the rat got food like a reward for acceptable behavior.
Another example from our life, when the student answer correctly and the teacher complimenting them this will encourage them to answer another question. So it’s lead to increase the good behavior. The second concept negative reinforcement, which is taking away something unpleasant which is something not good as a result of the behavior that is acceptable. So this reinforcement meant to increase the behavior. As an example, subjecting the rat to an unpleasant electric current which causes some discomfort. So when the rat moves in the box and touch or knocks the lever accidentally and immediately the electric switched off. The rat will be learned to go straight to lever after a few time to escaping from m the electric current ensured. Then the rat will be repeated this act again and again. Therefore Skinner was taught that rat to avoid the electric current by turning on the light, so the rat learned very fast when the light on it press the lever to stop the electric current. These two learned responses are known as Escape and Avoidance learning.
Another example from real life is, the student who takes (A) in the biology test did not have to dissect a frog. Moreover, the third concept is positive punishment which means that the purpose of this punishment is to decrease the bad behavior and presenting something unpleasant after the behavior. The example from the Skinner’s box experiment is when the rat got a wrong answer it received a slight electric shock. Also, as an example from real life: My young sister gets a spanking when she puts her hand in the cookie jar. Finally, the fourth concept is the negative punishment which means that this punishment used to decrease the behavior and is removing something pleasant after the behavior. As an example, “swear jar”, anyone in the family swears, they have to put a Dirham in the jar. So, this is taking the money away which is something pleasant, and decrease the behavior of swearing in the family. Another example, Mohammed trashes his sister’s room and his mom say to him he could not go camping with his friends as a punishment.
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