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Positive and Negative Reinforcement, Research Paper Example

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A negative reinforcement is the removal of an aversive stimulus in order to increase the likelihood of a particular behavior in the future(Wasserman). An example would be not to force a child to make his/her bed if he sleeps on time. A positive reinforcement is the awarding of a desirable stimulus in order to increase the likelihood of a particular behavior in the future(Wasserman). An example would be a child’s willingness to study an extra hour after he/she is taken to a favorite fast food restaurant.

A positive punishment is the awarding of an unpleasant stimulus following a behavior and will decrease the probability of the targeted behavior in the future(Wasserman, Punishment). If a child dislikes carrot but is forced to eat carrot for lunch every time he misses his/her assignment, the child will become more punctual in the future. Similarly, a negative punishment is the removal of a pleasant stimulus following a behavior and will increase the probability of the targeted behavior in the future(Wasserman, Punishment). If a dollar is deducted from a daily allowance every time a child fails to sleep in time, the child will be more motivated to sleep on time punctually in the future.

Sometimes people unknowingly reinforce undesirable behaviors. In the above example, a visit to fast food restaurant was an incentive for harder work in studies. But such an incentive may also make the children become addicted to fast food over the long term, developing unhealthy eating habits in the process. Thus, one should carefully think about any reward including both pros and cons instead of just analyzing it for its potential to encourage or discourage a particular behavior. As far as the child is concerned, I will recommend the teacher to make use of a positive reinforcement such as persuading the parents to give a dollar to the child for every assignment completed on time. In addition, I will recommend complementing positive reinforcement with a negative punishment such as making the child attend a probationary class during after-school hours or shortening his lunch break every time he misses the deadline.

References

Wasserman, E. (n.d.). Punishment. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/faculty/wasserman/glossary/punishment.html

Wasserman, E. (n.d.). Reinforcement. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/faculty/wasserman/glossary/reinforcement.html#nr example

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