Thursday, April 22, 2010

Behaviorism: Burrhus Frederick Skinner's Operant Conditioning

Burrhus Frederick Skinner or more popularly known as B.F. Skinner is one of behaviorists who believe on the S-R model of behavior. Like the rest of behaviorist psychologists, he concentrated on the observable behavior and external factors in learning. His theory is usually referred to as Operant Conditioning since this focuses on the behavior of an individual operating or instrumental in his/her environment. Sometimes this is also called Instrumental Conditioning. In short, the behavior of an individual is "instrumental" or "operates" that produces consequences. If this is reinforced, then more likely a conditioned response will take place. If punished, then the result will be otherwise. To make this simpler, I will just discuss the 2 major factors about this theory: Reinforcement and Punishment.

Reinforcement is a result that strengthen or increases the chances that a behavior will happen. This can be a positive reinforcer or a negative reinforcer. A positive reinforcer is something that is given or awarded. Examples are when teachers give candies, stars or plus points for very good pupils, or parents bought a new toy or dress for their child who is doing well in school. This can be in any form like toys, food, money and also verbal praises. On the other hand, negative reinforcer is something that is removed. For example, if pupils will be well behaved when the visitors arrived, they will have no test in their good conduct class, or if a child will get a high mark in his exam, he will not wash the dishes anymore. Take note, negative reinforcer is a reward. It is not a punishment.

A punishment is a result that decreases or discourages a certain behavior. For example, a teacher will give extra tasks to accomplish for those who didn't study their lesson, or will not allow the pupils to join in the game if they will be noisy.

Further, there is also the term non-reinforcement or behavior that are not reinforced will probably not be repeated like some pupil minor misconduct extinguished just by ignoring it

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